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Monday
March 2, 2015
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Rated: 13+ | Book | Cultural | #1437803
My blog. I'm opionated and I just want to sound off.
  This is a way of making myself write something coherent and grammatically correct almost every day. I'm opinionated and need an outlet. I'm also prone to flights of fancy. Thanks for stopping by.
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March 1, 2015 at 11:41pm
March 1, 2015 at 11:41pm
Sunday TV
         Sunday night TV usually stinks. I have a book to read and some housekeeping, but tonight I stumbled upon two good movies back to back. I had to stand up and exercise during the commercials to keep the blood flowing.

         The first starred Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. I can't believe I never heard of a movie starring the two of them. It's called Heartburn, and is based on a book by Nora Euphron. It's from 1986. I loved being reminded how the two actors looked almost 30 years ago. I wasn't overly satisfied with the storyline, but these actors can make anything interesting. As he has frequently done, he played a cad. The story ends when the wife leaves her cheating husband and takes the kids with her. When a movie starts out with a fairy tale romance and idyllic marriage, you know disaster is coming.

         The second movie was made in 1995 with Sandra Bullock, one of my favorites. This one was The Net. I remember hearing of this one, but never saw it, even on a rental or on TV. Despite its intricate details, this one was believable and entertaining. It seems so possible in today's world.

         When I was actually in 1995, I had little experience with a personal PC, or the Internet. I only heard about it, and worked on company systems. I even worked on an IBM system 3 with a big disc at one time. So the movie was showing cutting edge at that time. However, today, no one uses floppy discs. We're probably light years ahead in technology since then, but the concept of viruses is the same. And Sandra was brilliant in coming across as an everyday girl, but in great shape for running and escaping danger. There was always an element of suspense and a little fear.

         So I overdosed on TV tonight, but both movies were good, and I liked the actors involved.
February 28, 2015 at 11:49pm
February 28, 2015 at 11:49pm
Wrinkle Cream
         I have begun the serious search for wrinkle creams. I have sensitive skin that tends to dry, but, alas, looking for those special lotions is not enough any more. I have entered a whole new realm of cosmetic endeavors. I don't worry about war paint, only preservatives!

         Everything seems to be changing very quickly now. I need something for dark circles under the eyes, fine lines almost anywhere, sun spots on the driver's side. I wear UV sunglasses even in the snow and cold weather. I need serious preventatives to stop the my face from sliding down off the skull. I need a heavy duty night cream, as well as a day moisturizer with SPF.

         The problem is how to use them all together. Do toners and moisturizers go on in layers? Does eye cream overlap with other things? Can skin lighteners go with other creams? Do BB oils and CC oils mix? How do I keep from feeling greasy? How do I not spend a fortune on things that don't help at all? I read in Consumer Reports that Eucerin night cream, which sells around $10, is as good as one that costs over $100, but I can't find a store that carries it, even if they have other Eucerin products.

         The bottom line is I hate looking my age. I don't feel my age. I haven't accomplished what I wanted to before I got to be this old. I've missed out on a lot of things that I'm not giving up on. But if I look my age, society may not give me much of a chance. So, I'm embracing this whole new world. I've never been into cosmetics or girly things, and here I am, doing it now. I'll figure out something, and pay for it, too.
February 27, 2015 at 11:17pm
February 27, 2015 at 11:17pm
Teaching Your Daughter To Date
         I believe this is worth repeating, since I know I've said it in the past. It's a good idea to teach your kids how to pick partners and how to date. The best thing parents can do is to demonstrate in their own behavior what they want for their kids. If a mom wants her daughters to be respectful of boys and not bully them, she shouldn't nag her husband or threaten him where the kids can hear. If a father wants his daughters to expect good treatment and not settle for disrespect or abuse, he should make sure he doesn't make rude or disparaging remarks to his wife. He should be respectful of her feelings, thank her for the things she does, give her compliments, help her occasionally. Let the girls see the way a man should treat a woman.

         Kids are always watching their parents, and step-parents, so if they see bad behavior, they will think that's normal. If Mom isn't respected, if she's treated like a servant, if she's verbally or physically abused, the girls will believe it's okay for boys to do that to her. Likewise, the boys will imitate the fathers. If the mother is a shrew, or is bossy, or controlling in devious ways, the girls will be that way most likely. So the first and most important rule is to be good role models. It won't hurt your relationship either.

         Next, about the time the kids hit junior high school, it's time for Mom and Dad to have "practice" dates with the kids, one on one. A dress up night, whatever dress up means at your house, can demonstrate to a 12 or 13 year old how to act and what to expect (minus kissing and hand holding). A man calls for his "date", the mother has to meet him and give a curfew. He holds the door and takes her somewhere nice for dinner. He treats her like a female companion or co-worker, not his baby girl. He uses his best manners and asks what she would like. They have conversation. When she leaves the table to go to the bathroom, he stands up. He is nice to her, so that she won't accept less from the boys she goes out with. Dad shouldn't spend too much money, because young boys don't usually have a lot of money.

         A special night out with each daughter at least once a year will keep them on track. It will be a special memorable time for both father and daughter. They can talk about it later, the next day, or following week. Mom can reinforce the positive values. When boys come to call, they can establish guidelines together to make sure she's getting respect and proper treatment. When a boy is out of line--too much teasing, immature behavior, etc.--parents may have to instruct him gently in how to treat girls.

         Moms can have practice dates with boys, telling them what girls like, prompting them in advance or as they go in gentlemanly behavior. To let them get by with childishness is letting them set low standards for themselves and doing them a disservice in the long run. Don't baby your son, like so many mothers; be the parent and instructor. (They don't have to tell their friends about it. It's not a date; it's a night my mom forced me to do.) Fathers can reinforce to their sons that they will get more girls by being polite and chivalrous than being macho.

         Everyone wants their kids to be respected and act respectfully towards others. Parents are the primary people to instruct them, by talking about it, demonstrating it, and practicing/role-playing.
February 26, 2015 at 11:40pm
February 26, 2015 at 11:40pm
Writing What's In My Head
         I have a busy imagination. However, when I sit down to write, I freeze. Any time I sit still, my mind goes into movie time. I rewrite scenes all the time. I try different directions,different dialog, different settings. I can do it even when there is activity all around me. The movies in my head are in full color. And, of course, I'm so clever in this make-believe world, so witty and wise. Not that the lines are mine. I'm frequently not a character in the movies at all.

         My characters, which occasionally do make it onto paper, are inspired by real people or people I've seen. A TV actor, for instance, may become the physical model for my villain.Or maybe I use some offbeat character I have known.The personality may differ, but the physical traits, hand gestures, phrasing, and so forth might be modeled after some real person. I don't always get that across in my stories, but in my mind's eye and ear, the character is very real and lifelike.

         If I want to add some humor, I picture someone I think is funny. Sometimes the humor comes after I imagine the funny person. I think maybe I can't commit them to paper because I don't feel the overall theme or purpose. The great scenes, the dramas, just don't come together in a purposeful way. People get drama and melodrama in their everyday lives. Why read a short story about more of the same?

         I would like to get all those stories floating around up there funneled out and onto paper. Maybe I could make sense of them if I could look at them. I hate to admit this, but some of what's up there should stay there. It shouldn't see the light of day.
February 25, 2015 at 11:05pm
February 25, 2015 at 11:05pm
Hospice Workshop
         I went to a workshop tonight at a hospice. My pastor had asked several of us to go, and I signed up--the only one. The write up made it sound like it was going to be about grief counseling. But no, it was grief counseling. Of course, we can all relate once we have a few years We lose people we love.

         So while it wasn't as helpful as I expected, or at least not the way I expected, it was not totally lost on me. We talked about meditation, yoga, distractions, and things that give us comfort in our grieving. Listening to others and being "listened to" are important in the healing. Too often well-meaning people just shower us with platitudes and feel they have to fill the silence. Instead, we just need to listen.

         Some people keep their emotions so bottled up that they can't deal with the emotions. While everyone's story was different, there were so many common elements. Everyone could relate to each other pretty well.

         I would recommend a group like that for someone who has gone through a loss of someone close within the last six months, or longer if they weren't recovering very well. It takes about a year to get through the worst of it. I was surprised that I actually am fairly well equipped to handle grief spiritually and emotionally, which does not mean that I won't hurt. I was just hoping to get more practical advice on helping family members, friends, or fellow church members cope.

         The experts say that it takes about 3 years to get beyond the loss of a spouse before starting to date again or letting someone else into your life. One Jewish woman said that her tradition teaches you have 3 periods of grief spiritually: the first week is the first and most intense level, the first thirty days is the next level, the first year is the next one. After that, you are never fully healed or recovered, but you are through the worst of it and can cope.
February 24, 2015 at 10:42pm
February 24, 2015 at 10:42pm
Oscars
         I didn't watch. I couldn't stand yet one more celebrity award show. I couldn't even watch the red carpet stuff beforehand. When you've seen a few shows of froufrou outfits and borrowed jewels and tuxes, you've seen enough. When you've seen a few low-cut dresses, side revelations, etc., you've seen enough. I'd rather watch "What Not To Wear" with everyday people and realistic clothing.

         Today the word was out that the viewership was down 16% from last year for the Oscars. One theory, on the radio at least, is that the films nominated were independent films that not many people had seen. Had the public voted instead of the Academy, there would be different winners, and perhaps more interest in the awards.

         I think they need to go a step further. These shows have been so edgy and over the top in the past, that they simply fail to entertain us any more. It's just more of the same old stuff, and who cares any way? The world is depressing and dangerous. Give us something that gives us hope, not self-centered accolades on rich people. They get their rewards at the box office and from the critics. Don't interrupt our regular programming for your hollow attempts to be amusing and meaningful.
February 23, 2015 at 9:34pm
February 23, 2015 at 9:34pm
e-books
         My favorite part about the kindle or other e-book is that I don't have to go shopping (I know, I'm female, and I don't like shopping) and I can get it in a few minutes. I can order a book without leaving home, but I have to wait for delivery. That instant gratification without the hassle is wonderful.

         However, the quality of editing stinks. They don't check for typos, grammar, etc. Now I like the free ones, but most cost a few dollars or the same as a hardback, depending on the book. If it's a classic or one I pay for, I want it free of errors.

         There's also the problem of coming back to something later. If you want to mark a passage for quoting, or just to savor it again, it's almost impossible to find it again. Then the contraption itself can freeze and have to be reset. Or if the battery is running low, the pages will be slow to turn or will quit and go back to where you started this session without signaling you that the battery needs charging. I do like that it gives me a percentage of how far I've come, but that only helps irritate me when I've read 84%, and suddenly I find myself back at 60%.

         I still like real books. My mother was an avid reader and left plenty of books. So I can go back to the 80's and 90's for the best sellers of those days with ease. I'm not giving up books I can hold. And I can lend a physical book, or pass it around. I can't push my Kindle off on anyone else, or encourage them to browse my electronic library. For sharing with others, the old-fashioned book is the only way.
February 22, 2015 at 10:12pm
February 22, 2015 at 10:12pm
Funeral Day
         For the second time in six months, I have seen one set of cousins and all their relatives from the other side of their family at a funeral home. Today it was my dad's brother-in-law we laid to rest, the last of his generation in his immediate family. My uncle's sister was there. She's got to be about 90. She has cancer; she didn't last summer. She's lost her hair and is wearing a wig.

         The cemetery was muddy and slushy, deep snow melting in the sun. It was the warmest day we have had in over a week. But it will freeze again tonight and be cold again tomorrow. Several men helped my dad who walks with a cane and several other old people. The service was in the funeral home which is near the cemetery. It's a small town on the James River. It's very quaint but frequently floods. The meal afterward was in the church which is really out in the sticks. We had already driven half an hour in the country to get that far. We went home from the cemetery.

         The preacher is an independent (no strict creed) and likes to perform. He shouts a lot and plays his guitar as he is led. He changes the tune even when he asks the crowd to join in. I guess before the radio, people like him were in great demand. He sounded awful, yet there was something kind of ancient and down to earth about him and his screeching. He thinks he's good. And a lot of people like him. But he celebrated my uncle's life, and that's what counts. He made it joyful, not sad.

         Funerals are not for the dead. They are for the living. They are meant to help the mourners keep going. They are meant for all of us who are contemplating our own mortality, to remind us that all life counts, that no matter how it may feel from time to time, we have not lived in vain. We are all in this struggle together and could treasure every moment of it.

February 21, 2015 at 11:58pm
February 21, 2015 at 11:58pm
Snowy Saturday
         I finally finished The Fault In Our Stars. It's a terrific book. I love books where the characters mean something to me. When teenage Augustus died, I cried like it was real. I got into Nicholas Sparks' A Walk To Remember and Fannie Flagg's Standing In the Rainbow like that. I felt invested in the characters of all 3 books. At the end of each, I wanted more, like I had lost dear friends.

         The Fault In Our Stars is about teenagers with cancer, but it's not really about the cancer. It's a teenage story where the kids happen to have cancer and have to deal with it. It's about life and death which all of us must deal with at one time or another. We lose people we love. We get sick; we get old; we get hurt. We wonder about the meaning of life, why we are here, what happens when this existence ends. We want to leave some imprint on the world, to feel like we live on in some way. Any age can relate to the issues that plague these very bright young people.

         Two of them make a journey to Amsterdam and visit the Anne Frank museum. They actually are a lot like her. She died at a young age because of war and racism, but also was very bright, questioned the meaning of life and knew her impending doom. They read Shakespearean sonnets and question immortality.

         They become obsessed with a book they read about a teenage girl who dies. The book ends when the girl dies and they don't know what happens to everyone in the story, including the hamster. It becomes obvious they obsess about this piece of fiction because that if much on their minds in their lives. What will happen to the people who love them when they are gone? What will happen to their pets? Their friends? Hazel read that 50% of most couples get a divorce after the loss of a child, so she worries about her parents.

         These characters know they've been dealt a shoddy hand, but they are not bitter with the world or with fate or God. They accept their condition, and worry about others. They are loving, decent kids who balk at lectures from people who don't have cancer, hate platitudes and the misuse of the word "literally".

         It's not an easy book for people who want everything to work out in a story. In this one, you know there will be no miracles. Be prepared for everyday reality with a lot of thought provoking questions.
February 20, 2015 at 11:51pm
February 20, 2015 at 11:51pm
Too Cold
         Boy, has it been cold this week! Minus three last night. Brr. Usually, winter is not bad for me. I go from the house to the car, from the car to a building, no big deal. A walk to the mail box or feeding the birds or shoveling snow (when you work up your own heat) is not bad either.

         For the previous three years, the coldest I got was waiting at a bus stop. Now the bus route has changed, so I changed my routine. It involves walking 6 blocks to a different bus stop, waiting for a bus that might be late, then another walk to my building. Reverse in the afternoon, with the length of waiting on the bus depending on the time I actually get to leave the office. So I've learned to dress like an Eskimo and not care how I look. Two scarves around my neck, a sleeveless fleece vest over my short coat, two pairs of gloves. I haven't bundled up like this in decades. Maybe getting older makes us cold faster.

         The second scarf is a pashmina which I drape over the back of may head and pull up over my chin. The really cold air, like 10 degrees and below makes my sinuses hurt, but I have to be able to see. The eye doctor told me I have to use UV sunglasses, so my breath fogs up the glasses. I'm sure I look ridiculous. My legs get cold despite the knee socks and long pants, my face hurts, and my hands and forearms still get cold.

         The ground is frozen; there are still piles of snow frozen with street slime piled up 4 days ago. A new winter storm is expected tomorrow through Sunday morning. It will melt next week, if predictions hold true. But I'm staying in this weekend. I have hot tea and a stack of books. Next winter I will have a new coat and pants that aren't worn from laundering and new socks. Right now, I'm planning spring shopping.

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