Monday, January 31, 2011

I Heart Leu Gardens

This past Saturday Greg and I went to Leu Gardens with our friends, and it was a gorgeous day.  Clear blue sky, yellow sunshine, and we got there early enough to still catch the dew on the flowers.

Greg in his hoodie, contemplating the lake

Dewy camellia

I swear the color wasn't altered in Photoshop, it was just that pretty

If I could write poems, this is what would inspire me

Bee butt!

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out." ~ Alfred Hitchcock

And the Watch More Movies initiative for 2011 continues...
1/14 = Inception (Netflix Blu-ray)
I love that this movie is complicated, but without being tricky.  It all makes sense, and it's fascinating.  The special effects were especially eye-twisting on Blu-ray.  It's nominated for a bunch of Oscars, and I hope it wins best original screenplay. I heard Christopher Nolan spent eight years working on the script, and I can believe it took that long to make it so complex.
1/15 = True Grit (theatre)
I haven't seen the original, but according to the Cohen brothers this is more like the book.  I thought it was brilliant, and I hope it wins a lot of the Oscars it's nominated for.
1/15 = Notorious (HD cable)
This is the biography of Biggie Smalls. I enjoyed this movie, although it seemed too long.  Several things nagged at me a bit, like why Angela Basset's character, who is from Jamaica but lives in New York, speaks like a diction teacher without a hint of either accent.  I liked it a lot, but it is probably more interesting for fans of the 90's rap era (which I am).
1/22 = Forrest Gump (Netflix Blu-ray)
I'm really not sure why, but I have always hated the idea of this movie.  When it came out in 1994, I thought the trailers looked schmaltzy and silly, and despite all the great reviews and accolades, I never saw it and never wanted to.  (I may be the only person who has not seen Forrest Gump, and yet has eaten at the Gump & Co movie themed restaurant.)  But it's one of Greg's favorites, so after a decade of pressure I finally gave in.  I have to admit, it was better than I expected, and I did enjoy it.  Apparently Tom Hanks, deadset against sequels, was similarly worn down, and they are now in the early stages of filming another Forrest Gump movie.
I'm considering trying to watch every one of the ten Oscar nominations for Best Picture, but honestly, some of them don't particularly appeal to me, and several are still in theatres now, which makes it a bit harder (and more expensive). 
I've already seen three:  Inception, The Kids Are All Right, and True Grit.  We have The Social Network and Winter's Bone in our Netflix queue, and will hopefully see those within the next week or two.  I am not especially interested in Toy Story 3, although I understand it's really well done, yadda yadda yadda.  All of the remaining movies, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech and 127 Hours are all still in theatres, so I may have to wait until those come out on DVD.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm Going To Need Butter

When I was wee, back in the olden days, I lived in the country.  On a one-lane, unmarked road that literally started as a cow path, winding along a creek in between two mountains.  With a next-door neighbor that had only an outhouse and no indoor bathrooms, until I was in high school.  Surrounded on all sides by fields of cows.  Go straight past The Waltons and picture Little House On The Praire, but with electricity and mountains.  It is what is euphemistically referred to as "rural".
Across the street lived a nice lady who was known for having the best homemade bread anyone had ever eaten.  She babysat me a few times, and I would "help" her make bread.  This was decades ago, and I still remember the deliciousness of that thick-sliced homemade bread, hot from her oven.  One time I spent the night with her and her husband, and I loved her old two-story house, with its dark wood floors, high ceilings and old-fashioned wallpaper, tall windows and a cozy bed that was so high off the ground I had trouble climbing up into it.
She, now a widow, turned 90 a year ago, but she still thinks of me and she always sends me a Christmas card.  So I always send her one, too, and his year I wrote her a little note, just telling her how fondly I remember making bread with her (and especially eating the bread).  A few days ago I got a hand-written letter from her.  Including the recipe!
Oh my goodness.  Firstly, how sweet is she?   I am sure it wasn't a quick easy task for her to write that all out.  Secondly, I am not exactly a good or experienced cook.  Reading it exitedly, I only got a fraction of the way through the recipe before I was already lost.  Sugar is one of the ingredients?  How do you "scald" milk?  What does "pound it down" mean, exactly?
Well, my friends, it is time for me to become a real woman and learn how to bake bread. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just Missing Dad

And the Watch More Movies initiative continued with going to see True Grit in the theatre this past weekend.  I was really looking forward to seeing this, it's getting great reviews and several friends saw it and loved it. 
The original, which I've never seen, was one of my father's favorite movies.  When I was in my early twenties and had just moved to Florida by myself and was trying to make a life here, he wrote me a letter and said that he was proud of me and that I had "true grit".  And yet I never watched the movie.
I know without any doubt that my Dad loved me, and I know that he knew I loved him.  With the spectre of sudden tragedy never out of my fearful neurotic mind, I really try hard to tell people that I love them, and to spend time with them; I don't want to have any regrets.  But what I didn't know would pluck at my tender heart are the missed opportunities, the things that seem so clearly vital now but didn't even occur to me at the time. 
Why didn't I watch the movie and talk to him about what he loved about it?  Better yet, why didn't I think to sit down and watch it with him during a visit?  I try not to beat myself up for things like that, I can't go back in time and change how my head worked and plant the idea, but it hurts to imagine what a wonderful thing it would have been.  It really, really hurts.
So I sat in the theatre and watched the movie and wondered what Dad would have thought of this new version.  I liked the movie very much, and when it was over Greg and I stayed to read the credits, like we always do.
And all of a sudden I just started sobbing.  I was aware of being kind of sad, but honestly I had no idea that tears were coming.  Greg held me and I cried for a couple of minutes.
A few days ago a friend's father died.  In tribute to him, she got a tattoo, and posted photos of it on her Facebook page.  My sad heart hurts for her.  Last week my co-worker's father passed away, tonight I'll go to the service at the funeral home.  My heart cries for her, too.  It's just too much sadness.
Here's a favorite picture of me and my sweet Daddy:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Diarrhea and Angels

A few days ago I woke up in the middle of the night and felt a little sick.  After lying still in the dark and worrying for several minutes, I got up and went to the bathroom, and felt better.  I shivered back to the bed and got under the covers, all chillbumpy and cold. 
I worried about my stomach.  Could I be getting sick?  I was out of work recently for the flu and then for the migraine, I can't miss any more work.  Maybe, despite being overweight and eating too much, I am actually malnourished. I don't eat enough vegetables, and though I've cut down on fast food, I still eat too many snacks.  I tried to remember what I'd had to eat that day.  My stomach clenched and I started to feel sick again.  I leaned over and got a Tums off the nightstand, and tried to chew quietly so I wouldn't wake up Greg.  Every now and then he has trouble sleeping, and I didn't want to disturb him if he was sleeping well.  
Maybe it's a stomach disease.  My mother had colon cancer and I've never had a colonoscopy.  I should make an appointment, but how expensive are they?  My huge deductible insurance probably won't cover it.  I laid on my back in the dark, clutching the covers and picturing medical equipment, vulnerabule buttcheeks peeking out from hospital gowns, doctors with rubber gloves on...  And then I go back to the bathroom.
A few minutes later I'm back in bed, tense and scared.  My stomach clenches again, and now I can feel a headache starting.  I laid blinking into the darkness and wanting to cry.  What if I died?  I keep meaning to arrange to have a cemetery plot in the tiny graveyard where my father and other relatives are buried, but I haven't done it.  I don't even know who to call about it.  Why haven't I looked into that?
And while I'm lying there, cold and freaking out, a quote pops into my head.  I can't remember it exactly, but it's something about how every blade of grass has its own angel bending over it, whispering, "Grow, grow".  What does that quote even mean?  I don't believe in angels.
But somehow it comforted me, and it occured to me that comforting was what I needed right at that moment.  I pictured an angel bending over me, stroking my forehead, whispering, "It's okay.  You're fine."   And it actually helped, I started to relax under the blankets and I felt better.
Then it occured to me that we do have Pepto Bismol.  I tiptoed down the hallway on the cold ceramic tiles and drink a capful, then tiptoed back to the bed and curled up under the covers, feeling like I'd taken care of myself.
And the next morning, it was all like a distant memory.  I wasn't sick.  Except possibly in the head.  Why does the tiniest thing freak me out beyond all reason, just because it's the middle of the night?  It seems ridiculous now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The WMM Initiative

So far this year I am doing pretty well with my new Watch More Movies initiative. 
Why the movie focus?
  1. Our new 50" Samsung plasma tv.  Mere words cannot adequately describe the gorgeousness.  It is a giant, high-definition, immersive experience unlike our last tv (which was also HD, though smaller and with a much lower refresh rate.)
  2. The new Blu-ray player.  Now we can watch streaming Netflix movies right on the awesome tv, it's super easy, and they look great.  I love technology  :)
  3. Being inspired by friends who watch way, way, way more movies than I do.  Including one (1) friend in Canada who watches at least a movie or two or three or more every single day.  How does he do that?  He does it by not having tv or internet.  When I think of how much time during an average week I spend watching tv shows and being online... yikes. I mean, look; here I am online right now.
  4. Despite how inventive and creative some tv shows are getting (especially the ones on premium cable networks, such as Boardwalk Empire and Dexter) I think movies are still more of an art form, and I want to spend more time watching movies and less time watching tv shows. 
So far I've watched:

12/31 = The Matrix (new remastered version on Blu-ray packaged in a cute little book filled with interesting info about the movie, a Christmas present from Greg)
One of my all-time favorite movies. I actually saw it several times in the theatre, plus I watched it a few times on VHS, then I watched the DVD a time or two, and now clearly The Matrix+Blu-ray prettiness=love.  The Matrix is a classic that genuniely thrills me every single time with the cool techno music, the fascinating storyline about the nature of reality, and, obviously, the cutie-pie Mr. Neo.

1/1 =  Scott Pilgrim vs The World (Netflix Blu-ray disc)
This movie really surprised me.  I have never seen anything like it, as far as I know it is completely unique and utterly creative.  I feel like I spent the whole movie either staring wide-eyed, or laughing. Very fun.

1/8 = The Kids Are All Right (Netflix Blu-ray disc)
I thought this movie was just beautifully written and perfectly acted.  Annette Bening was so lost in her character that I didn't even recognize her at first.  Greg thought it was a bit boring, but still enjoyed it.  It's very character-driven and explores relationships, probably the kind of movie that typically appeals more to women.

1/9 = Exit Through the Gift Shop (Netflix streaming)
A documentary partly about graffitti artists back in the 80's and 90's, partly about one specific man who videotaped and befriended them, partly about pop culture and its influence on art, partly about the definition of art and of the artistic process. Greg and I are still talking about this one, days later.  And still disagreeing about a few points, which makes for more interesting conversations!

  • Inception (Netflix Blu-ray disc), came in the mail today.  We are really looking forward to the sweet special effects.
  • Purple Rain (brand new sooper-dooper remastered Blu-ray, also a present from Greg)
  • True Grit (theatre) was one of my father's favorite movies, and I've never seen the original. I hope we can make time to go see a matinee this weekend.
  • Jane Eyre (in theatres this March) is one of my all-time favorite books, and I am thrilled that this new movie version will apparently be emphasizing the spooky and Gothic elements instead of just another boring period romance.  Lots of juicy suffering and passion! 
  • Is it too early to start looking forward to Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows movie?  I think not.  Eeeee.  :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

I've Finally Gotten My Head Back

From whatever evil monster had taken it away to migraine-land.  That ended up lasting more than a week, which is way, way too long.  Oh, the giddiness when my poor head was finally pain-free!

Update on Donna:  I still haven't called.  I know, I'm a big wuss.  I did, however, compose a script to read, just in case I get her voicemail.  "Hi Donna!  This is Ellen... remember me?  I was just hoping to chat for a few minutes and catch up. I miss you!  It seems like it's just been forever.  Hopefully everything is good and you all had nice holidays.  If you get a minute, you can call me back sometime!  I'm at 000-000-0000.  That's my home number.  Or, I'll just try you back later.  Talk to you soon!"  I figured I'd be better off mentioning the possibility of me calling her back instead of asking her to call me.

Update on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:  It's still there, doing fabulously.  They sold their millionth butterbeer this week.  I am considering having my yearly visit on my birthday this year, March 17.

Update on Mr. Marigold: Despite having to bring him inside twice due to below freezing temperatures and frost (WTF?  This is Florida! Dammit) he is happy and is blooming yellowly.

Update on Mom: She is doing fine and we had a wonderful Christmas visit.  She loved the calendar I got her (Robert Tuckwiller, who paints scenes from... well, apparently from my childhood.  Looking at this calendar makes me homesick), and we had our traditional breakfast for dinner at IHOP the night of our arrival.  Yesterday she had a hand-held shower and a bench installed in her bath, so she can bathe in the shower while sitting down.  I know it's going to take some getting used to, but I think she'll be much happier, and safer.

I didn't have much ability, stuck in the vise grip of a migraine, to think about resolutions for the new year.  Eat healthy, lose weight, exercise, yadda yadda yadda.  Don't I say that every year, with widely varying levels of success?   Whatever.  Really, I want to watch more movies.  I want to WRITE. I want to spend more time outdoors. I want to see friends and family more often.

Most importantly: I want to get a pedicure!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I've had migraines since I was 12, but I have learned to manage them.  I've discovered that I am sensitive to caffeine, so I try to drink very little.  They can be triggered by an ooky muscle in my right shoulder that sends electrical pain currents directly into the center of my head, so I lift hand weights to keep those muscles loose and happy.  I know that my menstrual hormones trigger the migraines too, so I make sure to be aware to avoid caffeine and work out my shoulder muscles extra vigilantly right before/during my period.

My last big migraine, about five years ago, lasted almost a week, and I vowed to do whatever it took to make sure that horror never happened again.  I still get migraines, maybe two or three times a year, but they only last one day, so it's not so horrific.

Until now. Christmas stress + road trip to go visit Mom + drinking coffee + my period + forgetting about the weights because of Christmas busyness = BAD MIGRAINE.

It started in Georgia on Christmas Day, and it hasn't completely gone away yet, although I am finally better today.  I can at last look at a computer screen without feeling vomity.

Oh, computer screen, how I've missed you...

My wonderful husband has been dutifully massaging my shoulder, and I've been lifting weights, and drinking only water, and sleeping in a dark room all day and all night.  FOR DAYS.  I had to miss work, when we were already short-staffed.

I really actually enjoy making a few resolutions for each new year.  I like picking a few important things to focus on, and maybe having a goal or two.  Right now the only thing my poor electricity-riddled brain can think of is, no migraines.  Please, please no more migraines.