Category Archives: Movie Review

Strong Women


I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I drove down yesterday morning.  We were greeted by a smooth-as-glass sea and short-sleeve weather in the high 70s.  Bonus:  In the group of 20 single-level condos, there are only three occupied.  It feels downright sinful to have this slice of Paradise all to ourselves.  The ocean water is very cold.  After walking barefoot in the tide pools, I was eager to put on my thickest socks to warm my icy feet.

I brought a stack of novels and magazines, but instead sat in a chair on our patiodaydreaming and watching the birds dive into the ocean, admiring a long line of at least twelve dolphins swim slowly by.  I breathed in and out, letting my thoughts go here and there, losing myself in the gentle movements of the ocean.  I smiled thinking about happy hour with best friends the night before.  I LOVE my bossy friends–the strong women who don’t just smile and nod, but instead snort and say, “You’re doing it wrong!”  I was told I am too intrusive in my adult children’s lives, and more importantly that I am NOT allowed to wear sensible flat shoes to our son’s wedding in two weeks.  “But I want to dance all night,” I whined.  They patiently showed me photos of pretty shoes that would not hurt and would have hours of dancing built into them.  Another friend has been coaching my diet, sending me great ideas of how she lost weight last Fall, and another friend tells me how bad my brassieres are every time I see her.  To G, S, T, L, and L:  I will stop starving myself, and I will go to the mall this week to buy pretty party shoes and a new bra.  And I’ll consider not texting my children every day (not making any promises)!  I’m honored to have your love and friendship.

Speaking of strong women, I re-watched Terms of Endearment for probably the twentieth time.  You know, that old movie with Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger.  (I love the expanded viewing choices on Mexican Netflix.)  The scene where Debra Winger gives her mom a small goodbye sign with her hand as she is dying gets me every time.  I thought this movie was an appropo choice since this past week I’ve been negotiating  a new situation of co-existing with our adult daughter.  The film gave me lots to think about and induced some waterworks from yours truly.

I mopped up my tears after the movie and went out on the patio to say goodnight to the stars.  Hubby and I gasped!  It was so dark you could barely see your hand in front of your face, but the sky!!!  The sky looked as if someone had thrown a hand full of diamonds onto black velvet.  It’s been years since I had a proper view of the stars.  The vastness and beauty felt overwhelming!  I was filled with an immense sense of peace while breathing in the ocean air and admiring the sparkling heavens. I felt as if the Universe was giving me a big hug and telling me, “Everything is going to be okay.” (And I’m pretty sure I heard, “And wear comfortable shoes to the wedding.”)




Summer’s End


I always have a song running through my head.  Today’s lyrics were “after the boys of summer have gone.”  Really creative, oh brain of mine!  Tomorrow I return to my job at my wonderful school, and while I am so excited, part of me always feels melancholy about leaving summer behind.

This summer was one of extreme periods of busyness followed by extreme periods of laziness. Hubby and I took vacations to Mexico and then a few weeks later to London and Paris.  After that I visited family in Illinois for a week, and Hubby is currently on business in Atlanta. Preparing for trips takes a lot of energy, as does recouping afterwards.  Between vacations, I facilitated the remodel of our house by Arizona State University where our college-aged children lived for the last seven years (and then sold that house). I’m not sure how I had time to be lazy.  But I did.

I had goals this summer to go the gym daily, yet with my youngest son home from college for the summer, I found myself wanting to stay home to hang out with him, eating grilled cheese sandwiches while watching Games of Thrones, New Girl, and The Ranch. Isn’t it so much more fun to watch tv with friends??  I hope to find my way back to the gym once William and his girlfriend, Katherine, return to Flagstaff in a few weeks, and I don’t regret the five additional pounds around my waist from couch potato-ing with them while eating pizza and french fries.  William is my youngest, and I’m keenly aware of the fact this may be my last summer having one of our kids living at home.

Here are some of the other shows I loved this summer:

Indian Summers is a great drama set in the Himalayas in 1932.  The show focuses on the social politics of the British Empire and the birth of modern India.  If you loved Downton Abbey, you will likely appreciate this PBS mini series which has great acting, dramatic scenery, and beautiful costumes.  Watch it on Amazon Prime.

You can watch Versailles on Netflix.  If you loved The Tudors, this is right up your alley.  I was fortunate to visit the Palace at Versailles a few years ago and found this historically- accurate series to be very interesting, not to mention quite titillating with all of the sexual conquests.  Again, very beautifully filmed and wonderful acting.

I love New Girl.  I rewatched the whole show on Netflix with my kids this summer.  It’s clever and hilarious and awkward, and I love it so much.

Rectify.  OMG.  I can’t seem to talk any of my friends into watching it.  I had no idea there was a fourth season on Netflix, and since it had been so long since I watched the first seasons, I started over from the beginning.  The acting is amazing.  The pacing and tension reminds me of Six Feet Under, but I love Rectify so much more.

I re-watched old favorite movies like The Right Stuff, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 13 Going on 30, Millers Crossing, and The English Patient.  Okay, I’ll admit I like many different genres, but I love revisiting an old favorite.

This summer may be one of the best I’ve ever had. The angsty words from the Eagle’s Boys of Summer are still playing on repeat in my head, but I’m feeling so hopeful and excited for a fabulous new school year ahead!







Random Musings on a Wednesday


Since the news last week that our oldest son is engaged to be married, I’ve thought long and hard about losing weight.  I have eating habits similar to that of a college student: pizza, nachos, and chicken wings every chance I get.  I have a lot of changes to make if I’m going to reduce my dress size by three in just one year’s time.  I started my diet yesterday. I did a 15-minute abs and also a 10-minute arms videos, and OUCH my muscles hurt today. I was doing well with the diet (one pint blueberries, a 3-ounce piece of grilled chicken, a salad with light dressing) until I met my sister-in-law for happy hour at Hillside Spot.  We were having so much fun that I had THREE IPAs and came home and ate 1/3 bag of cheese popcorn.  #dietfail  #iheartmysil #beerisfood

I didn’t get much done off my to-do list today.  I did return some awful tunic dresses I bought at Target last week—they were so poorly made I’m sure they would have been unwearable after one time through the wash. I visited PetSmart and bought a $70 bag of prescription cat food.  Our Cosmo has urinary problems with regular food, and since we have three cats, all of them must eat the expensive kibble.  Good thing they reward us each day with their adorableness and love. #dressingfatishard  #lovemycats

I dusted and oiled our wood furniture which is a huge chore, but silly to pay someone to do it.  If you do not live in the Arizona desert, you cannot understand dust the way we have it. It’s been so windy this week, and our old windows don’t keep it out. The dust builds up to an eighth inch weekly over every surface in my house!  Hubby and I bought antiques when we first married; funny that now they are worth practically nothing, but we still enjoy their beauty and history.  I recall my mom complaining about the dust when we first moved to Tempe in 1974–it’s really a thing, but low on the list of things to complain about these days.  #firstworldproblems  #iheartthedesert  #arizonagirl

A library book was due back so I spent an hour skimming through Grit:  The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.  I’d heard her interesting Ted Talk, which made the book a bit redundant.  Her story is about how she didn’t make the cut to be in “gifted” classes in elementary school, but by working hard she proved herself and eventually won a MacArthur Grant (also called a genius grant) and has worked as a teacher, an author, and psychologist.  Fabulous book—a real easy, interesting read.  I was hoping to find a magic cure for my inability to start the novel I want to write and keep making excuses for, but nope.  Nothing stuck.  My story is the opposite:  always in gifted classes but have not one iota of grit.  #lazybum #serialprocrastinator #nogumption #afraidtotry #bigwuss

I spent waaaaaay too much time looking at Facebook, but from all of the pages I’ve liked post-election, I feel like I’m back in college majoring in political science. So many article to read about the current state of affairs.  Reading about Trump’s first week in office made my feel physically sick.  I was extremely careful not to discuss politics pre-election, so much that I would hesitate before hitting “like” for a liberal FB page because I have friends red and blue.  From the few pre-election conversations I had with my “red” friends, what I kept hearing is “Trump just says he’s going to do that stuff.  He’s not really going to  We need a businessman!”  I wonder what they’re thinking this week?  I hope they are having a really bad case of the “on no’s” . . . because he really DID mean all that he said.  #civilrights #meltingpot  #alternativefacts  #scaredforthefuture

Groundhog’s Day is only one week from today!  Are you ready?  When I had my own preschool class, I always made a big deal about Groundhog’s day.  We’d make a cake, and I’d put a photo of a groundhog on top.  We’d sing Groundhog Day songs, and I’d show the children the video of Punxsutawney Phil emerging from his hole to see his shadow . . . or not.  They were mesmerized!  I’m not sure if it’s Phil’s cute little face, the handler dressed in coat and top hat, or just the tradition of the thing, but I’m a sucker for Groundhog’s Day every year. #lovetradition  #billmurrayfan  #weathergeek

I believe that’s enough drivel for today.  I swear if I could control it, I would, but writing is like an addiction–and there’s no help group or prescription gum to make you stop.






Holiday Fun


We are having such a lovely holiday break; we’ve spent time with family and friends, slept in every day, and eaten our own weight in baked goods.  Every year, Hubby has off from work Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, and every year, we end up getting snarky with each other.  This morning he verbally committed to doing repairs at Eve’s house tomorrow. Five minutes later when I texted the kids to let them know to expect him, he got all blustery and was so irritated that I was “scheduling his time” for him.  In a patient voice I said, “All I told them is expect you after 10am.  You do not have to be there at 10am.  I’m telling them they don’t have to get up early.”  He huffed and puffed, I rolled my eyes, and we retreated to separate corners.

I texted a few friends to see if anyone wanted to hang out (since clearly being away from Hubby was the first thing on my list) but nobody was available.  I started laundry.  I read a chapter of a book.  I cleaned the toilets.  Hubby puttered in the garage and up in our bathroom. I was still thinking mean thoughts about him when he came downstairs beaming and says, “I cleaned all of the hair out of the drains!”  Well.  If that isn’t true love, then tell me what is?  He gave me a smooch . . . and we put our tiff behind us.

The rest of the days have gone smoothly. We’ve seen movies (Dr. Strange and Fantastic Beasts–both excellent), eaten at a new restaurant (Tom Thumb BBQ and car wash in Scottsdale), and hiked in two new locations.  Our first hike was a 45-minute drive away in the Superstition Mountains and is called the Wave Cave Trail.  A young teacher friend told me it was an easy hike.  HAHAHAHAHA.  I’m the first one to admit I’m out of shape, but wow, this trail kicked me in the arse.  The last half mile is quite steep and winding and involves crawling over large boulders.  Hubby lent me his arm to assist, but there were several points where I gave up my pride and crawled like a dog on all fours.  My heart beat so fast that every two minutes or so, I had to rest to catch my breath.  We persevered and were rewarded with a beautiful view from the cave . . . which slopes rather dramatically toward the cave opening. My fear of heights threatened to take over, but in my head I shouted in a stern voice, GO AWAY!!!  And it worked.  This unreasonable fear is as palpable as a leg cramp, a feeling of nausea, or a headache and can come on just as quickly—and causes me embarrassment and anxiety.

Our next hike was at Spur Cross Trail.  I’d been there two years ago with girlfriends when water was running in the creek.  We’d found the area so charming!  There are clearly two different landscapes situated side by side in this area:  the west side of the conservation area is dense desert with some of the largest saguaros and jumping cholla I’d ever seen, but the eastern trails run by a babbling brook and are rich with ironwood trees shading the paths, green grasses, and here and there you can see melancholy brick foundations of a dude ranch which had its hay day from 1925-1955.  Yesterday Hubby and I found only hot dry trails and no babbling brook.  It was still fun to explore a new place together, however, with no water running in Cave Creek, it wasn’t worth our one-hour drive each way.

To finish up our time off, we have tickets to luminaria night at the botanical gardens for New Year’s Eve (my very favorite holiday event).  New Year’s Day will find us experimenting with our new electric meat smoker and the drone the kids gifted to Hubby for Christmas. Life is good.

Happy New Year!




Dear Hubby,

I know you’ve only been gone 36 hours, but I thought you’d want to know how we’re doing since you boarded that plane for Delhi yesterday morning.  The pictures you posted on Facebook were actually a bit disappointing; I thought it would all look more “foreign.”  I’m sure once you reach Bangalore you will see so many new things, and I hope you’ll take lots of pictures.

So here is a short report of some stuff you missed:

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel keeps barking out the front window at your car parked in the driveway.  We have visited your car five times in the last hour.  She has sniffed it thoroughly, we’ve gone back inside, and ten minutes later, she begins to bark again as if you are home. There has bee a lot of “woo-wooing” for you.  If this goes on for many more days, I will be buying her a muzzle, or perhaps a strong sedative.

I still have not mopped the spills from our big graduation party on Saturday.  Maybe soon? I hate to mop.  The party was grand, and thanks for all of your help, especially when you knew you were going on this important international work trip early the next morning.  I keep smiling thinking of how many wonderful family and friends attended our event to help us celebrate William and his friends.  We are so very blessed!

I was happy to get back to school today to see my favorite Kindergartners.  The only downside was the song chosen for morning meeting:  “Tooti Ta.”  OMG, I hate that song with a red-hot passion.  The bad news: it’s still stuck in my head.  The good news:  one of our girls scratched a mosquito bite on her leg and was bleeding, so OH DARN, I had to take her to get a band aid and missed most of the song.

I had the most lovely dream this morning that I was roller skating with Dan and Kyle from Bastille.  The three of us were alone in a lush, amazingly beautiful park filled with fragrant flowers and dense trees. We skated on a smooth path and were skating so fast, it felt like we were flying. Afterwards we rested on a grassy knoll, and in a moment of happiness, I leaned over and kissed Dan on the cheek. He didn’t seem to mind too much.  (I know I’m weird and totally embarrassing and too old to be a fan girl–so sorry.)

Eve says she is totally prepared for her big EMT certification test on Wednesday.  She stopped by last night to check on me and the pets.  William has not been around much. Between working and friends he is very busy, but always so good to tell me where he is when I ask.  I stopped by Patrick and Samantha’s and met their five rescue kittens who were tumbling all over each other. They were totally adorable, though extremely stanky after a ringworm treatment at the vet’s.

I watched two wretched movies on Amazon Prime yesterday:  A Walk in the Woods and School of Life.  I finished the first one because the scenery was beautiful (even though the pace was painful), but I only made it through 20 minutes of the next angsty show about a dying teacher at a private school. Egad!  It got four stars! The plot, the cast, and the story line were all total poop!  Who watches these dreadful things???

You’d better sit down for this last bit of news:  After work today, I went to the gym.  That’s right. I swear it’s true.  It was worse than usual since the gym was filled with awkward middle-aged men (some without shirts on–is that even allowed?), but I stuck it out and currently have 15693 steps on my Vivofit step counter.

That’s it for my news.  Please don’t forget to take those malaria pills . . . and be so careful about the water.  Do not buy me a knock-off designer purse because I do not know or care about designers. (Remember the smelly woven leather shirt you brought me from Mexico that one time?)  Get the work done so you don’t have to go back . . . because we miss you.



Troglodyte Cannibals


A week ago Sunday, I read a blog about a man who had taken a “21-Day No Complaining Challenge.” His name is Rabbi Brian and for years I’ve enjoyed reading his “Wisdom Biscuits.” Anyway, it’s usually a Sunday when I decide (for various reasons) my life isn’t working as well as it should, so I jumped on board that no complaining train. I excitedly told Hubby all about it, explaining that I’d been a little too whiny lately and would like to make my sweet disposition even sweeter (lol). How hard could it be?

Well. Halfway through the VERY FIRST HOUR, I realized I had complained four times! My knee hurt, we were out of milk, I’d forgotten laundry in the washer the day before and it was sour, and worst of all, I yelled, “Peeuw! This cat box smells like something died in it!”

After taking a Motrin for my knee, putting milk on the grocery list, fixing the laundry, and scooping the cat box, I sat down to contemplate the matter at hand. Were those things I’d said really complaints? I mean, I was simply stating the truth. The things I said were facts! What was the difference between a negative fact and a complaint?

For the rest of that day and into the next, I mulled over the challenge, putting on my philosopher’s hat. I was still thinking about it at lunch the next day and talked it over with the gals in the teacher’s lunchroom. That’s when someone said, “Maybe what you”re searching for are The Four Gates of Speech. I learned them in yoga.”

YES! I’d heard of this before, but had not been ready to learn the lesson (silly grasshopper). Here is an explanation of The Four Gates of Speech:

An old Sufi tradition advises us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through four gates.

At the first gate, we ask ourselves, “Are these words true?” If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go.

At the second gate we ask, “Are they necessary?”

At the third gate we ask, “Are they beneficial?” and at the fourth gate, we ask, “Are they kind?”

If the answer to any of these is no, then what you are about to say should be left unsaid.

This is exactly what I was needing. It’s much clearer than just saying, “No complaining.” Wish me luck with my desire to practice better communication skills . . . with much less blurting and fewer negative observations.

I’ll leave you with a movie review for a film we watched on Netflix Saturday night called Bone Tomahawk. I love a Western and this looked like a good story with a great cast. Kurt Russell (remember The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes . . . and even more importantly he is married to Goldie Hawn), Matthew Fox from Lost, Richard Jenkins, who was amazing in Six Feet Under, Patrick Wilson (who plays the same character in every movie and is always wimpily handsome), and last but not least, Courtney Cox’s ex, David Arquette. Well. I made it through til the end, but only after running away at least four times saying, “I can’t take it anymore!” Seriously, I blame myself. Why on earth the words “kidnapped by troglodyte cannibals” in the description didn’t catch my eye, I’ll never know. Even though I truly thought it was a quality movie, I will never be able to unsee some of the vivid, violent, horrid, and torturous scenes shown in this movie. OMG. And this from a girl who can watch The Walking Dead without flinching. Yep.


Slow West


So here it is the first morning of a three-day weekend.  I jumped for joy just a little bit after my first cup of coffee.  I love my job but working in a classroom with 18 Kindergartners is not only physically demanding but is very overstimulating.  I’m completely worthless on weeknights.  So on my days off, I relish that energy being directed toward myself and my family.

One night this week I found my tired self in my friend Fran’s kitchen sipping a yummy red wine and enjoying a raclette happy hour.  If you’ve never heard of raclette, it’s a Swiss dish of melted cheese, typically eaten with potatoes.  In the center of the table is a small heating element on which you melt your personal small pan of raclette cheese.  Then you eat the cheese with small toasts, pickles, veg, and/or cold cuts.   The cheese is seasonal, but gruyere will work at other times of the year.  What a treat to be with good friends but still, I yawned approximately one hundred times.  I’m so tired of being tired all the time! I’m starting to eye those suspicious little bottles of “Five Hour Energy” potion they sell at the grocery at check out.

We were supposed have a beach weekend in Rocky Point (Mexico) this weekend but it’s just too danged cold.  The main purpose of our trip was to see the whales.  Last January my sister and I stayed an entire week at our little beach condo and had excellent whale sightings.  But the whales have not yet reached our little Sea of Cortez; it’s too cold even for them!  So we decided to enjoy our long weekend here at home and hope to drive south to see the whales next month.

Hubby and I watched a fabulous movie last night called Slow West.  It stars the actor Michael Fassbender and was filmed in New Zealand.  The story is riviting and so visually arresting that I kept gasping, “You could put a frame around this shot and hang it in a museum!”  Which was probably really annoying to Hubby, who was watching the movie with me.  Anyway, it takes place in the American West and in Scotland, and somehow  the colors have been altered which gives the landscape a glowing, vivid quality.  Oh, and the music is hauntingly beautiful.  The plot is slow and simmering.  I love a Western, but I promise you it’s character driven, not “actioney.”  My sons love the “actioney” movies, and I can’t stand them.  This is hands down the best movie I’ve seen in AGES!

We finished the movie and hit the hay.  Lately I’ve had such vivid dreams.  Last night I dreamed I had my old rolltop oak desk and when you rolled it open, there was a kitten on every shelf.  CUTE!  In my dream I was having great fun choosing names for all of them.  The only names I can remember this morning are Lyle (for Lyle Lovett), Fassbender, Slick, and Potluck.   I also dreamed I cleaned the inside of my fridge.  What a disappointment to open it today and find crumbs, smudges of sticky jam, a spilled milk puddle, and cat hair.  Yes, that’s right:  cat hair.  UGH. Perhaps I will do a little drunk cleaning later this afternoon.  Pour a cocktail, crank the tunes, and tackle my worst household jobs. Hubby is working on the design for my latest invention:  a cup holder for my vacuum.

So here I am at the end of my news and it is only 9:41.  I’m starving since all I ate for dinner was ruffled potato chips with onion dip, and an orangarita (OJ and tequila).  My diet is terrible, which explains not only my fatigue but also my robust physique.  For lunch I will most definitely eat a salad.