• The Guest Room

    These are transitional years in my family–sons going off to college, transferring to different colleges, graduating from college, going onto grad school, moving into their own apartments. During the interim, like fledgling birds learning to fly on their own, my sons return to the nest–

    Bringing their friends with them.

    Fine. Friends are always welcome to stay the night. At the moment, the house has one VERY active guest bedroom, redecorated in light cherry furniture, with color coordinated curtains, rug, and quilt. It’s lovely. But since I keep farmer’s hours and my kids keep no bedtime schedule whatsoever, some mornings, I don’t know who is sleeping in that lovely guest room. Or, on the sleep sofa. Or, on the other three sofas. Or, on the spare cot. Or, on the floor, for that matter.

    After resorting to counting strange cars in the drive and unfamiliar shoes on the rug by the door, I’ve now asked for a brief note, detailing who is in the house. So far, the system is working. I now have names to go with the winter jackets and scarves strewn all over the floors.

    After the Christmas insanity, the guest bedroom is empty this morning. On the way down to the kitchen for a cup of tea, I went in, just to appreciate the deafening silence.

  • Can Someone Loan Me A List Of New Year’s Resolutions? I Need Something To Break.

    Take down the Christmas tree or go see Rumor Has It–those were yesterday’s choices.

    Needless to say, I put off duty in favor of pleasure. (I am on vacation after all! Though, really,why delude myself? There never was a real choice.)

    So, anyway, off I went to the mall theatre.

    How was the movie?

    Well, I suppose sitting in the dark beat stripping tinsel off the branches, but not by much. Jennifer Aniston was her usual ‘Friends’ self. Cute figure, cute clothes, cute hair. All-around perky. Except, when she cried. Which was, unfortunately, quite a lot. An irascible Shirley MacLaine was given a few salty lines to say, but the delivery seemed a bit forced. And she paused after speaking the lines, as if waiting for a thunderous round of applause. (Her acting was more subtle and nuanced in In Her Shoes) Kevin Costner stretched his acting wings and played an aging entrepreneur rather than an aging athlete. Mark Ruffalo played likable, just like in Just Like Heaven.

    After circling the store for an hour the first time, in covered-wagon formation, I did finally find a parking space the second time around at the new IKEA–“everyday furniture in modern designs, emphasizing function, affordability, and style”. This Scandinavian import really knows how to do PR. With the exception of Disneyworld, I’ve never seen such crowds. Dunno–maybe the lure is the 300 seat cafeteria that serves a .99 breakfast. I spent four hours in the showroom looking . . . and buying . . .things I don’t really need or even want and certainly have no place to put. A personal success for me is only getting yelled at once by store personnel ( I have a poor sense of direction, and on a return trip from the Ladies Room, inadvertently went against the traffic flow in front of the escalator, thus causing a major shopper pile-up). No worries–everyone came out of it alive, and I made a number of new friends.


  • Catfights in Kimonos


    Stay-at-home vacations mean going to the movies. Got a whole list scheduled for this week. Yesterday, Memoirs of a Geisha had its turn. All-in-all, the film didn’t do much for me. The love story lacked intensity. The overdubbed last line pretty much sums up the plot. Basically, I walked out of the theater feeling nothing–never a good thing.


  • Brokeback Mountain

    Where to begin?

    Since last summer, since the first preview crept across the screen at the small artsy-fartsy cinema I frequent with obsessive regularity, I have wanted to see this movie. Knowing the story ended sadly, that there would be no HEA, I still had to go, because of the intensity of its forbidden romance. I wasn’t disappointed, but I was horribly frustrated at the futility and destruction of so many lives. I’m not going to do a film review here or discuss pertinent plot points, but I would like to discuss my mixed-reactions to one scene in particular.
    The kiss.

    That beautiful, hungry–no, starved–kiss, between the two attractive and young male leads. After a lengthy absence, after Ennis and Jack have already consummated their attraction, after Ennis has married and fathered two children, the two lovers meet again.

    And kiss.

    Furtively. Violently. Nothing held back. All their longing for one another, all their despair, all their testosterone-driven male sexuality, all their romantic attachment, is encapsulated in that full body kiss.

    And looking on, seeing all, is Ennis’ downtrodden wife, Alma.

    Ennis is so excited to see Jack again, that he ignores his poverty-stricken, tired and stressed-out wife, the mother of his two young and cranky children.


    I couldn’t stop thinking that the rugged and yes, suffering, cowboy was leaving his family behind to make carefree and romantic whoopee in the mountains, while his victimized wife stayed home and managed the screaming kids. Had this been an illicit and adulterous hetero affair, I would have been outraged. Instead, I felt the pain of all the characters involved.

    Ang Lee did a fair and equitable job of showing the destruction that a secret like this reaps on all involved, so much so, that the two-sided dynamics ruined the romance of that kiss for me.

    I just wanted the kiss, the romance, and what I got instead was a healthy dose of reality.

  • Basking In The Afterglow ( or, Where Do I Stick This Thing Now?)

    Let me first preface this blog with: I love it, guys, I really do love it.


    The sons gave me a Cuisinart coffee maker for Christmas. No doubt about it, this is one high concept piece of design engineering. As soon as I read the 30 page owner’s manual and, for the first time in my coffee drinking career, buy a few pounds of roasted coffee beans, I intend to brew myself a fresh cup of java.

    What a wonderful gift! When I opened the box, the chrome alone was enough to make me gasp. The Cuisinart was so big and shiny, I could actually see my face reflected on the side, horrified expression and all.

    Where do I put it?

    No, seriously folks, where do I stick this thing after it comes out from under the tree.

    The kitchen is large, but the counter space is already jam-packed with the Christmas presents of previous years. Short of taking out the stove, where do I install my wonderful Christmas gift? (See that guys? That’s the second “wonderful” in just a few short paragraphs. I love my new coffeemaker, I really do love it.)

    The sons gave DH a new electric guitar. Wrapping still clung to the strings when he plugged it into the amp, strapped it around his neck, and started playing. By the end of the evening, why, he must’ve had that completely portable guitar in every room in the house, taking it with him wherever he went, the logistics of using his new gift no problem whatsoever.

    See where I’m going with this train of thought?

    I need a guitar strap for my new coffeemaker.

  • Transitory Beauty

    ice-716593With the roast beef and lasagna in a slow oven and a 60 minute window of opportunity before both the stuffed mushrooms went in and the company was to due to arrive, DH and I headed out for our usual 2 mile walk along the designated scenic route on which we live. The house on the other side of the stream is circa 1720 or so; the one across the street was a way-station on the Underground Railroad. It’s a walk right out of Currier and Ives, past old stone walls, farm houses, a small church, and an ancient cemetery.

    Every year, a neighbor along the route takes his power saw to a hunk of ice and carves out a Christmas card. But, the weatherman predicted 50 degrees for both yesterday and today, and for once his forecast was right on the money. We figured, no sculpture this year, too unseasonably warm. But there was the ice sculpture anyway.



  • Comfort of the ordinary

    During an interview, author J.K. Rowling mentioned intentionally describing food in her Harry Potter series. She did so, she said, because as a child, descriptions of food comforted her when reading.

    That revelation struck a cord within me. Regardless of how exciting a plot, rarely do I recall action passages in a book; it’s the quiet moments of reflection, of introspection, of human connection . . . of ordinary behavior . . . that I remember, that comfort me. I’m not talking universality in themes or sponsoring reader identification through the creation of sympathetic characters. I’m talking about the deliberate inclusion of the mundane in the reading experience.

    A book by Linda Howard comes to mind. The title escapes me, yet I’ve never forgotten a particular passage wherein the heroine muses about people’s showering habits, about how some folks prefer showering in the morning and how others prefer showering at night, their reasons why and the character’s own personal hygiene slant. This was no life or death struggle here, and only a single paragraph of prose was devoted to the AM and PM showering pros and cons, and yet, including this small ordinary detail of everyday life comforted me.

    Sometimes, it’s the little things.

  • It is what it is

    The Family Stone–I didn’t hate it.

    Cluttered with clichés, peppered with PC, quagmired in quirkiness, and yet the story held my attention. Hey, it ain’t Capote, but I knew that going into the theatre. And that’s okay, because it’s a Christmas movie, right down to the pathos

  • How To Jump From A Bridge Or A Cliff Into A River

    Got my hands on a neat little yellow book entitled: THE WORST CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK (the title is almost larger than the book itself) Authored by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, the handbook details . . . you guessed it . . . survival techniques. Written in a concise format with easy to understand explanations and illustrations, I forsee this little gem coming in handy when I’m writing action scenes. The next time I need to know how to survive when adrift at sea or how to win a sword fight, I’ve got this quick and easy guide to refer to. Limitless possibilities here.

    Years ago, I picked up the tip to head for the YA section of the library when seeking stump-the-writer sorts of research items. And it works. Without having to sift through loads of extraneous crap, YA books get the meat of the information out to the reader in a direct fashion which a time conscious person like myself appreciates.

    As of today, I’m halfway through polishing CAPTIVE, and I must say I’ve enjoyed revisiting with Sage and Aeschine. Their love story remains one of my favorites.

    Here’s to: How to Maneuver on top of a Moving Train . . .

  • Change of movie title

    When we first moved into the house, a neighbor affectionately referred to our property as “On Golden Pond”.

    As of last month, that movie title no longer applies. “On Golden Pond” has now become “A River Runs Through It”.

    During a massive rain storm, we lost the dam. Not the wooden slats we pulled from time to time to aid in aquatic weed control, but a piece of the old retaining wall. A hunk of it broke off and went over the waterfall

    The event was was not unexpected.

    For some time, we’d had our eye on the even-widening crack in the cement. Several years ago, we lowered the water coming in from the stream and patched the wall with hydraulic cement. We were younger then, and used to physical labor, but even so, it was a massive undertaking. We also knew the patch wouldn’t last. The 60 year old wall was in tough shape, and the patch would only provide a temporary solution.

    Also, the only solution.

    A permanent fix would involve the major expense of dredging the pond of silt, letting the muck dry for a year or more, and major terra forming, not to mention the miles of bureaucratic red tape involved in the Wet Lands Conservation Act. So we’ve decided not to do anything, just let nature run its course, allow the pond to narrow to a river, banked by cat o’ nine tails and rushes on either side.

    It’s sad to see the end of the pond. In winter, we all went skating there. I’d make hot chocolate, and out the door we’d go. Even the snow didn’t stop us; we’d shovel the ice off, strap the kids into their skates, and kill a wintry afternoon. The water was never deep enough for a boat, but one summer, during another rain storm, the pond became so bloated, DH and one son actually went rubber rafting over the waterfall and down the winding stream into the woods. They nearly broke their necks, but I pleaded with them to do it again and again, so I could take more shots with the camera.


    Oh, well. I’ve still got the pictures.