2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Complete Blank

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my May report.

2 Movies

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts – Clever + truthful.  A pregnant, techie-oriented woman, who lives in NYC, goes to LA so that her sister may give her a proper baby shower.  Once on the west coast, the mother-to-be decides to visit her divorced parents.  Her father’s reaction to seeing her is delight, but her off-the-grid mother’s reaction is alternately hilarious or sad.  Recommended if you like honest characters + quiet triumphs.

Jesus Henry Christ – Tedious + confused.  I wanted to like this movie produced by Julia Roberts, but I didn’t.  The premise is that a brilliant 10-year-old boy, whose mother had in vitro fertilization, decides to find out who his biological father really is– and he does.  But the plot dragged on and the characters were of the over-the-top-but-supposed-to-be-endearing variety so that nothing in the story seemed interesting or plausible or worth caring about.  Not recommended.

2 Books

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Extraordinary + compelling.  Rebecca Skloot tells the true story of how one woman’s cells, taken from her without her permission, came to be first “immortal” human cells grown in a medical lab at Johns Hopkins University.  Plus, Skloot tells the story of Henrietta’s life, her children’s lives and all the subsequent injustices done to all of them.  Recommended if you like medical history + family stories that span generations.

Too Much Happiness – Well-written, but forgettable.  I know that Alice Munro is a writer with an enthusiastic following so I decided to read one of her books.  This book of 10 short stories was, perhaps, not her best effort– or maybe I don’t get her.  I found the stories to be depressing &/or mundane;  so much so that even her smooth writing couldn’t overcome it.  Recommended if you like glimpses into the darker side of human nature + need something to read that’s easy to put down and pick up as need be.

1 Complete Blank

In this spot I like to share something clever or funny that I saw/read/heard during the month, but I’m coming up with a blank here.  Oh well, whatever.  If anyone has something inspiring or cheerful that could be in this spot, just let me know & in it goes.  If not, I suggest that we all be like Quakers at a Sunday meeting and sit here silently reflecting upon the Divine.  The choice is yours, gentle readers.

# # #

[As promised above, I’ve added your ideas to inspire or cheer thus filling in my Complete Blank.]

1) From Polly at caughtwriting, an Emily Dickinson quote:

“Forever– is composed of nows.”

2) From Zazzy at zazamataz.com, an e.e. cummings quote:

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

3) From Phil at Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, a Judy Garland rendition of a popular song:

# # #

Call Me!

This June my desk calendar’s picture is an old advertisement for a 1959 Princess Telephone.  The phone is that unique shade of turquoise that was so popular in the 1950s.  Tres chic!

I have no personal recollection of Princess Telephones [Model 702].  We didn’t have one in our home.  Instead, we had a basic white rotary dial Desk Telephone [Model 500] in the kitchen + a yellow Trimline Telephone [Model 220] in my upstairs bedroom.

Yes, we were early adopters with two phones in our small house.  Try not to be jealous.

Even though the following short TV commercial is from the 1950s, I can’t help feeling that I, too, was just as much of a princess as this girl.  I mean, I had a “personal extension phone” in my upstairs bedroom.

On the other hand, I didn’t have a dressing table adorned with bottles of nail polish and a French poodle figurine… nor was I ever inclined to wear bobby socks with a skirt… nor, after years of painful orthodontia, were my teeth as crooked as the girl’s teeth in this commercial…

But other than that, I was just like her.  Yakking on the phone.  Up in my bedroom.  In my own little teenage world.  😉

• • • 

So how about you?  

Did you have a Princess Telephone?  Or a Trimline Telephone?  

Or some other sort of phone entirely?

• • • 

[For photos and descriptions of models mentioned above please go here: Western Electric ~ A look at the evolution of the Dial Telephone.]

[FYI – Phone numbers used to be recited with words at the beginning.  Here’s a chart to help you remember, or understand, what those words meant: Ma Bell’s Officially Recommended Exchange Names.]

The Good News Is That The Neighbors Are Getting A New Roof

I cannot catch a break lately.

Last week as I watched my life get rather wonky, I decided that on this Monday, when I had nothing scheduled, I’d hang out on our screened-in porch.  I figured that I’d take my laptop out there and set up camp for the day.  To do this, all I need to do is to move the round glass-topped side table in front of a wicker lounge chair, add a few pillows for back support, reposition a smaller wooden side table for my mug of coffee– and I’m good to go.

And considering that the weather today is finally sunny + clear + mild, you’d think that I’d be out there, wouldn’t you?  Doing my own suburban take on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Walden Pond lifestyle.  Finding spiritual inspiration sitting next to the trees with the birds chirping and the squirrels squirreling.  Being all peaceful and such.

But I’m not.

Instead, I’m in my home office with the French doors to the foyer closed, shades on windows down, trying to ignore the loud ruckus that is going on next door– and in front of my house.  This is because my peaceful screened-in porch sanctuary looks out upon the chaos and mess going on next door as a new roof is being installed.  Meaning that I am not feeling passionately at one with the whole world a la RWE, but I am feeling passive like a victim of Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events.

However, be that as it may, looking on the brighter side of things, the neighbors are getting a new roof that they need after theirs was done-in by some hail damage last summer.  So this is necessary.  And when this is all finished I’ll be the one who gets to look at the prettiest roof in town.

So there’s that.

~ ~ • ~ ~

~ Pretty Pillows Not Being Used By Me Today ~
~ Pretty Pillows Not Being Used By Me Today ~


“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

~ ~ • ~ ~

My energy this week has been scattered.  Some moments I’ve been focused + productive.  But other moments (most moments) I’ve been angsty + worried.  Then add in the fact that this is a 4-day work week– and I don’t know what I’m all about.


While it is true that I am more comfortable than most with the vagaries of life, this week I’ve felt out of sorts about my lack of progress or connection or accomplishment or whatever.  Scattered, I tell you.


So yesterday afternoon I decided that the best thing for me to do was to see what I could see outside around the house.  I thought that a distraction would be good.  Naturally I took my camera with me.

DSCN0269It was a hazy sunny day which meant that most of my photos weren’t clear– just kind of a fuzzy, glare-y mess.  Rather like my week.  And with the sun in my eyes, those photos that were clear tended to have lousy composition– off-kilter or scattered.  Still a few of them turned out okay.


And so on that positive note, I’m off to enjoy a summer weekend where being scattered is a plus.  On the agenda we have a walk in a county park [on the other side of town];  a meal at an English pub [in another part of town];  an art show [in an entirely different direction];  and a cocktail hour on the terrace next to the woods [out the back door].  Life may be scattered for me now, but it is good.  Happy Weekend everyone!

Answering Your Questions, I Am [Part 2 of 2]

•  From Lori P who just happens to be my SIL… If you had to do it all again, specifically targeting the choices you made for yourself, would you change anything?

I think the one thing that I’d change is I would have stood my ground about taking a year off between high school and college.  For various reasons, I was emotionally exhausted and mentally unclear about my future when I graduated from high school.  I knew that I needed a break from academics so that I could figure out what to do next, but my mother wouldn’t hear of it.  She forced me to go on to college straightaway.

Had I followed my own instincts, I would have been more mature, rested and focused when I arrived on campus as a freshman.  I suspect that I would have gone to a larger university that had a more diverse student population and offered a wider variety of majors– one of which would have prepared me for a career in something or other.

•  From Kristen Plumer at Kristen Loves Design… What would you describe as your decorating style? Does it match who you really are?  And a related question, if you could decorate however you wanted (money being no object), what would you do?

Our decorating style is relaxed traditional with family antiques, hints of mid-century modern & splashes of spirited color.  It’s eclectic, but to keep it from looking too jumbled the walls are in shades of warm neutrals like khaki gold, creamy white or warm gray– with white trim everywhere.  The style matches who we are to a tee– cheerfully mixed-up with the ability to pull it together when need be.

If money were no object and I could find the right interior designer, I’d like to have a home that has more of what I’d call a California relaxed vibe to it.  Mostly neutrals inside the house because the outdoors is colorful.  Open, sliding doorways from inside living areas to the outside.  Black trim around the windows.  Lots of amazing original artwork.  And perhaps some stucco, arches, Mexican tiles, too.

•  From Zazzy at Zazamataz… What are your favorite foods – to make? to eat? What’s comfort for you? What can you absolutely not stand? 

My favorite foods to make are fruit-based deserts like strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream or bread pudding with raisins or applesauce spice cake with caramel icing.  I also like to make stews and soups in the winter.  All that chopping and blending of ingredients makes me happy.

My favorite foods to eat are fresh fruits and vegetables.  Plus grilled fish + chicken.  I like sourdough bread, and pasta or rice done very simply with a bit of olive oil/butter, onions, herbs.  Also, I am a nut for unsalted nuts.  I really like eating healthy, but do not always have the time & energy to do so.  Which is a bummer, but a reality at this point in my life.

As for comfort food, I occasionally eat a bakery white [or yellow] cake cupcake with vanilla icing– for medicinal purposes, mind you. And the one food that I cannot stand is green or yellow or red peppers.  Yuck.  Won’t eat them at all.

[Yesterday, Part 1]