29 December 2008

Marley and Me

Drew and I went to the theater Friday evening, the first time in several weeks as getting ready for Christmas and a bad cold on my part kept us away.

There were quite a few films that looked interesting, but the timing worked out for Marley and Me, based on John Grogan's book by the same name.

Of all the ones we were thinking about, this one had the least to attract me. I've never been a big fan of either of the leads and I don't particularly like dogs. (Before I get hate emails, I'll state in my defense that I'm very allergic and therefore I'm not around animals much at all. And, I'm sure because of the allergies, I'm a magnet whenever I am in the presence of an animal; that's made me a bit stand-offish. Okay, onto the film.)

When the movie started, I wasn't really impressed with either 'John' or 'Jenny'. She was the head of the family and he passively followed. He wasn't willing to talk to her about important issues, for example, having a baby. Instead, he bought her a dog (our eponymous hero) to quiet her biological clock for a few years because he wasn't ready for fatherhood. However, as the story spun itself out, they both grew up. By the end, I was cheering for them. This is a true love story, the story of a marriage, the good and the ugly. No glossing over the difficult parts, but no sentimental nonsense, either.

There were some interesting metaphors, but nothing that an intelligent viewer wouldn't catch. I won't say more, because I don't want to spoil it, but I do recommend it and would like to see it again in theaters (unusual for me).


25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,

And I in my helmet caref’ly watched the bait,

And settled my brain for a long winter's wait —

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

Agent Moore sprang to the window to see what was the matter.

When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

He knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,

"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donner and Blitzen;

"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As Moore drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound;
He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys was flung on his back,

And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack;
His eyes — how they twinkled!
His dimples: how merry,

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of Havana he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly

That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,

As we sprang and surrounded him, with guns and black vests
And cries of “FBI! You’re under arrest!”
We got him on house-breaking, and slave labor too,
For he forced the Elves’ work to get presents to you,
And bypassing Customs, and smuggling gifts,
And those things like LEGOs? They came from shoplifts.
He financed it all through embezzlement and fraud;
This Santa Claus fellow considered himself god!
That night we brought down his criminal empire,
I’m just glad we got him without any gunfire.
We hand-cuffed and led him out to our SWAT van,
Across the yard full of snow and with a snowman.

But I heard him exclaim, as I read him his rights —

“Happy Christmas to all, I’ve had one heck of a night”.

by Benjamin Spear (©2008), who is intrigued by all things FBI.

23 December 2008


Children do not converse.  They say things.  They ask, they tell, and they talk, but they know nothing of one of the great joys of life, conversation.  Then, along about twelve, give or take a year on either side, two young people sitting on their bicycles near a front porch on a summer evening begin to talk about others that they know, and conversation is discovered.  Some confuse conversation with talking, of course, and go on for the rest of their lives, never stopping, boring others with meaningless chatter and complaints.  But real conversation includes asking questions, and asking the right ones before it's too late.
      ~Charles Schulz

19 December 2008

Holiday Fun!

For your holiday enjoyment.  


13 December 2008

Resources for Hand Work

Life's been crazy-busy lately, mostly with making Christmas presents and keeping up with school.

The girls and I found a couple of really cool websites that I thought I'd share.

We're learning how to knit. Well, actually Judith and Rebekah are already pretty good at it, but Melody and Eliza are learning and I'm re-learning (my Mémère Bert taught me to cast on, knit, and purl, but I'd forgotten how - it's been so long). This website has been so helpful!  It includes free video instruction for both English style and Continental style.  My mem taught me English style, and when I first tried Continental, I made a big mess.  But there was a scene in an indie movie we watched the other night (review coming soon) that included a woman knitting Continental style and it finally clicked.  I tried it again the next morning and took off.  It's faster than English, so I've been using it for my current, very basic, project with its Christmas deadline.

The other website is also a gem.  More videos, but this time about hand embroidery.  I love my embroidery machine and am using it lots, but there's something about hand embroidery that is just stunning and a lot of stitches just can't be recreated on a machine.  Sometimes you just need a break from the machinery, time to sit with a needle and thread.  I love technology, but there's there's room in the world for both hand and machine work.  Hand work is good for the soul; it slows you down, gives you time to contemplate, and requires a greater time investment - all antidotes to a hurried modern world.  I also think we must work purposely and intentionally to maintain those old skills.  If we lose them, they'll be gone for good.

Last night, Drew and I were chatting with the man who runs the local Viking Sewing Center.  After purchasing some machine embroidery supplies, I asked him if Joann's carried hand embroidery threads (I wasn't expecting beautiful silks, but was hoping for something besides run of the mill floss, and was pleased to find that they did carry some nicer pearl cotton and a tiny bit of very expensive silk - the silk stayed at the store, but I brought home some of the cotton).  He didn't quite understand the attraction of doing it by hand, but told me that he was working on his embroidery software to make it look more like hand work.  But then he shared how astonished he'd been when he was the recipient of a hand-embroidered gift.  He said of the giver, 'It took her three months to embroider it.  She must really care a lot.'  There is something about an investment of time and effort that speaks deeply to the heart.


03 December 2008

Yours, Mine and Ours

We recently watched the original Yours, Mine and Ours, with Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, and a very young Tim Matheson (much, much better than the recent re-make).  There's a particular scene that I love.  Here it is (it has been snipped a bit):

After an altercation between Colleen's step-brother and her boyfriend, Larry, who's been pressuring her to go farther physically in their relationship. Mom, Helen, is upstairs in labor and the house is in chaos.

COLLEEN: Please, I can't talk to mother right now and I've got to talk to somebody.
FRANK: Well, talk fast.
COLLEEN: Larry says he'll never speak to me again unless I grow up. He says that I"m being ridiculous and I don't love him, but I do love him. Am I being ridiculous?
FRANK: You're not being ridiculous.
COLLEEN: Well, do all the other girls, like Larry says? And am I just being old-fashioned?
FRANK: The same idiots were passing the same rumors when I was your age. But if all the girls did, how come I always ended up with the ones who didn't?
COLLEEN: But it's all different now.
FRANK: I don't know, they wrote Fanny Hill in 1742 and they haven't found anything new since.
FRANK: Go to bed, that's who Fanny Hill is.

They walk into the master bedroom where another daughter is helping Helen get ready to go to the hospital.  He helps her up. The following dialgog continues as Frank and Colleen help Helen down the hall, down the stairs, and out to the car, one on each side of her.

COLLEEN: I know this is a terrible time to talk about it, but Larry said...
FRANK: I've got a message for Larry. You tell him this is what's it's all about. This is the real happening. If you want to know what love is take a look around you.
HELEN: What are you two talking about?
FRANK: Take a good look at your mother.
HELEN: Not now.
FRANK: Yes, now. It's giving life that counts. Until you're ready for it all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won't keep it turning. Life isn't a love-in, it's the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and ground round instead of roast beef. And I'll tell you something else: it isn't going to bed with a man that proves you're in love with him, it's getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful, everyday world with him that counts.

I suppose having 19 kids is carrying it a bit too far, but if we had it to do over, who would we skip? You?

02 December 2008

The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is one of those television shows that the actors' unions hate because it uses real people instead of employing actors.  I'm not a big fan of reality television, but we watched this the other day, for the first time, and I found it fascinating to watch the different teams and their greatly different relationships.

One team, 'The Frat Boys', were an object lesson in how not to work toward a goal with someone else.  I wanted to slap one of them upside the head.  All he did was to complain, complain, and complain some more, especially when his partner tried to push him to greater heights.  His self-centeredness blazed out in neon color.  His partner did his best to encourage him to give of himself, but he would have none of it.  He had entered this contest to try to win a million dollars, but viewed the challenges as inconveniences and burdens. He wasn't focused on the goal, but was distracted by how he felt and 'how a team is supposed to work' - meaning how a team is supposed to feel and that he wasn't feeling the right way (obviously his partner's fault).  

Another team stood out in sharp contrast.  A brother and sister team who were single-minded in pursuing their goal.  When one sacrificed, the other was full of encouragement and willingness to sacrifice alongside.  They didn't make excuses, but worked shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve their goal.  They were truly comrades in arms, pushing each other on toward the goal.  Because they weren't fixating on feeling like a team, they achieved the unity and likemindedness that the other team only dreamed of.

The second team 'ran toward the roar' of battle.  Instead of holding back, hesitating, allowing themselves to become distracted by irrelevancies, they pressed on boldly.  

Oh, and by the way, they won that leg of the race.


01 December 2008

Making Mayo

Because most mayonnaises at the grocery store contain vast amounts of soybean oil, because soybeans aren't good for thyroid health, because we already have family-members dealing with hypo-thyroidism, and because soybean-free mayos are pretty expensive, I've been making mayonnaise lately. It also tastes pretty wonderful!

I tried to make it again, yesterday (we have leftover turkey which was begging me to make a sandwich and mayonnaise is a mandatory ingredient on my turkey sandwiches). I must be getting impatient because the last two times I made it, I added the oil too quickly and it broke. The time before, I threw it away (wish now I hadn't). Yesterday, I didn't give up so easily and searched the internet for information about fixing my broken mayo. I found the following two videos and they were extremely helpful, so I'm posting them here, both for your information and for my future reference.  

Bon appetit!