Category Archives: TV Series

The Good Place

Standard

I have to tell you about the funniest show I watched last week called The Good Place, in which a “bad” woman ends up in Heaven by mistake.  Who doesn’t love Kristen Bell? Who doesn’t love Ted Danson?  Who doesn’t love a story about the afterlife? Find it on Netflix, and wait a few weeks for the second season to begin soon on NBC.  A witty bit in the show is when our main character tries to swear (which isn’t allowed in Heaven), so her curse words turn into “Fork!” and “Bullshirt!” and my very favorite, “Holy Motherforking Shirtballs!”

I’ve been trying to incorporate those “almost” curse words into my own lingo, which is especially helpful when I’m raging at the zillions of self-driving Waymo cars constantly cruising through our neighborhood.  When I first spotted these abominations in March, I found it interesting. By May, I was thoroughly irritated . . . and now I’m simply unnerved! Seeing that bulbous-roofed vehicle on every street on every day . . . even Sundays (!!!) is just wrong.  These cars have cameras on them, and how is that legal???  Every time I see one, I say, “Forking Waymos” and give them a special hand gesture.  I contacted a city council member to ask if the city is getting kickbacks and the answer was no.  I’m on the HOA for our ‘hood, so I know we were never asked permission, nor are we getting any money for the inconvenience to our neighborhood.  Last week, I contacted Waymo by email asking when they would be done here and requesting they move on to another neighborhood, citing the fact that our neighborhood was designed specifically to reduce traffic and that having eight Waymo cars constantly driving down our streets is not something any of us likes.  I’m waiting for a response (and am not holding my breath) and will continue to say a heartfelt, “Fork You” to each vehicle that slows me down on the way to the grocery store.

In other news, last week I was super crazy happy to be getting rid of SO MUCH STUFF from my house and donate it to be sold at our high school’s annual percussion garage sale.  You may recall my horror at entering our ASU rental home after I evicted our daughter and her roommates to find they had left so much stuff behind.  Hand on the Bible, it looked like they had merely stepped out for lunch.  The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, and silverware, the fridge and the pantry were full of food, and there was even a wet towel left in the shower. There were couches and dressers and desks. I was so happy to take all of that (in multiple trips in my small Prius) over to the school for sale.

I was also ecstatic to get rid an ugly antique velvet chair which we inherited from Hubby’s grandmother.  Hubby likes to hang onto stuff; he is not a hoarder, but is really sentimental.  The Grandmother Chair came with much history:  GG Mom always told us, “When I’m gone, you must take this chair that Ms. Hoff from across the street gave me. It’s one of a kind; it’s so special. Promise me you’ll take it!”  So of course, when she passed away, we had it shipped from Decatur, Alabama, and it’s sat collecting cat hair in the spare room for 12 years.  I was puzzled why the chair was so important.  Friends suggested there was cash hidden inside (no). I tried to sell it to an antique store, but no luck.  So on Friday, I snuck it over to the school garage sale, feeling so happy to un-clutter my house, and feeling pretty good about the fact that Hubby would never notice.

Well.  Saturday morning we woke up and were each looking at Facebook.  Hubby says, “It looks like the Percussion Garage Sale is today!”  I responded, “Hmmm, I bet everything is pretty much gone by now.”  A minute later, Hubby says, “HEY!  Is that my grandmother’s CHAIR!”  ACCKKK!  Somebody had taken a pic of the goods for sale and posted it!  I held my breath and I waited for World War III, but Hubby was actually very sweet about it, especially after I checked to make sure said chair had been sold to a happy buyer.  (We have toooooo much stuff, and it makes me crazy!)

I hope all is well with all of you during this crazy weather week. PLEASE, Mother Nature, help us out a bit.  Hurricanes?  Fires? Floods?  111 degrees when I get in my car to come home after school?  I’m sending SO MUCH positive energy into the Universe for all of those who are struggling in the hurricane and fire zones.  We have three empty bedrooms if anyone needs a place to wait out the disasters.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Advertisements

Summer’s End

Standard

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!

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail (and Other Stories)

Standard

On this quiet Wednesday evening, I’m trying to remember everything I wanted to tell you.  I leave notes for myself, but days later I can’t crack my own code of shorthanded and abbreviated words written messily in pencil on small scraps of paper.

One story I DEFINITELY remember is called, “The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail.”  It goes like this:  A few Fridays ago, my adorable sister-in-law LeaAnne and I were cleaning out the last bits of stuff from the ASU House so as to ready it for sale.  (My kids lived there during their college years.)  How we ended up with 20 cans of paint, four large containers of pest control poison, two packages of weed killer, etc., I’ll never know, but we were responsible citizens and drove a whole trunk full of haz mats to the Tempe recycling center on University.  On the drive back we were chatting and when I came to a red light by a train crossing, I remembered that one is never supposed to stop one’s car on a train track.  So I was careful to come to a stop a few yards in front of the tracks.  Lea and I continued to chat, while I kept an eye on the light which seemed like it was red for way too long.  THAT’s when LeaAnne made a strange noise, and we both screamed as the railroad arm came down and bounced off the hood of the SUV.  Then we heard the clanging of the train alert, and I madly tried to put us into reverse.   I’d only driven Hubby’s new car once before and the gear shift is super awkward, but PRAISE THE LORD, the driver behind me had left space, and I backed up JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME as the light rail trains swished by in both directions.  I was shaking and looked around for any sort of warning I may have missed, but all I saw was one small street sign announcing, “Do not park on XX.”  Well.  THAT would have been good to know.  The next day I texted Lea and said, “I’m so so so sorry for almost getting us run over by the light rail yesterday.  Do you think we would have been smart enough to jump out of the car if we were on the tracks??”  She didn’t respond . . . so the next day I texted her again and she said, “I’m still wondering!!!”  All’s well that ends well, and I’m 100% certain I’ll have anxiety anytime I’m near a train crossing for the rest of my life.

Here’s a short list of other interesting moments from the past few weeks:

  • I binge-watched on Netflix Anne with an E, which is an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, which were favorite books when I was a preteen.  I loved every moment of this new series and am so sad that Season Two will not be available for a whole year.
  • I bought a squatty potty from Amazon which had been recommended by teacher friends and by my naturopath, but it turns out Hubby and I are naturally good at doing our business.  This weird stool thing actually worked against me, and when I went online to return it to Amazon, I was given a full refund and was informed they did not want the item back.  Imagine that!  (Let me know if you’d like to try it.)  (Note to self:  Do NOT buy trendy healthcare products.)
  • As long as I’m oversharing, I’ll confide that one hot day last week I decided to go for a long walk in pants that were very uncomfortable and developed a heat rash on my keister.  I was applying Desitin cream before bed each night and the problem was almost resolved.   I put the tube of Desitin in the same drawer as the toothpaste and one night when I was sleepy, I accidentally applied Colgate Optic White which had quite the opposite effect as the one which was desired and again, I think to myself, how can I be so bad at life when I’ve been alive for so many years????
  • I’ve not been able to lose any additional weight which I partially attribute to the fact that a little orange tube of Braunschweiger caught my eye at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and it’s become a sinful late-night snack.  I love it on Saltine crackers. When I was a child, my mom often packed liverwurst on white bread with mustard in my school lunchbox.  It’s not good for you nutritionally and is full o’ fat.  I love it.
  • Today I found a website called MyAnimalWeight.com where I found out my weight equals 7.9 honey badgers, 8.8 ocelots, 14.2 raccoons, 39 hairy tree porcupines, and almost HALF A LION!  Definitely one of the strangest websites I’ve visited–you MUST check it out.   I’m hoping to lose one honey badger by the end of the summer and a raccoon in the Fall so I’ll be slim for our oldest son’s wedding in January. Goodbye liverwurst . . . I’ll be seeing you in my dreams.

Cheers,

Mary

Skeeter Hawks

Standard

Summer has come early to our town in the desert.  We’re ten degrees over the norm, which means temps in the 90s.  Ugh. When you live in a place where it’s pretty much unbearable to be outdoors for six months of the year, this early summer is terrible news. We’re sadly pulling from our gardens lettuces that have too quickly gone to seed, spinach that has turned bitter, and every day I’m picking nasturtium bouquets to leave at friends’ doors because the high temps makes them crumpled and brown and I don’t want them to go to waste.  We’re also experiencing an invasion of “skeeter hawks” which, though harmless, float about the bright lights in the kitchen and whip our house cats into a frenzy.  I find their long legs and slow flight graceful in a weird sort of way.

I’ve had two stressful weeks trying to clean up our rental house near ASU where our daughter lives with two friends. (I wrote angry posts about this, but deleted them.)  For the past few years, we’ve been busy with our own lives and also cognizant of giving the kids their space, so the list of stuff that needs cleaning and fixing over there is long.  Hubby would say to me on a Sunday morning, “I think I’ll go over to Eve’s and do some work,” and I would say, “I’m sure they are sleeping in and do not want you there.”  So the place is a mess.  We crunched the numbers and (hip hip hooray) have decided to sell this sweet house built in 1952.  After the tenants leave in late April, we likely have a month’s worth of work to do.  I hope someone will be thrilled to have this charming little house so close to campus.  Our family has sentimental attachments to this house which we’ve owned for seven years, but our goal is to make sure we sell to someone who will love it as much as we have. (The only thing I absolutely hate about the house is bright red, plastic-fronted kitchen cabinets from IKEA, which were installed by the architect who owned the place before we did.)

About four weeks ago, I told you the house next door would be going up for sale due to divorce.  I hesitate to talk it up too much to anyone I know because we may not be the best neighbors.  Hubby’s method of relaxing after a long day of work is to watch tv; mine is to dance or sing to music in the backyard.  I swear I never play music very loudly, but hay fever has adjusted my voice to a definitely nasal tone.  Add in the bouts of sneezing that can last up to 15 minutes, which sometimes causes Ruby the Wonder Spaniel to bark incessantly, and Cosmo our Elderly Siamese to yowl.  In the big picture, I firmly believe dancing in the back yard is better than taking a daily mood-enhancing pill, something I’ve never done.  Plus the dancing is good exercise.

Excuse me for a moment.  I must go look at the sunset.

FIVE MINUTES LATER:

Oh my word–that was amazing.  The clouds looked like a long swath of fuzzy pink cotton candy . . . and then the colors deepened and it looked more like a scarlet wool blanket. Now I can see thought the front window that it is violet/gray overhead, with scarlet down at the horizon.  Well done, Mother Nature. Well done.

Life is strange.  For the first time in many years, I find myself with too much free time.  I thought of the word “tumbling” the other day, and it’s an appropriate word to describe my days in which I find myself wandering from room to room, finding something to clean or put away, then responding to my phone or emails, then tumbling upstairs for laundry, then tumbling outside to run an errand or two.  For awhile I had friends lined up to walk with most days, but lately people have been busy with Spring Break vacations, and I feel a bit neglected.  I use the word tumbling because I feel a profound sense of being off-center, with maybe a bit of dizziness;  a definite blurriness of focus.  Close your eyes and remember being a child doing a somersault.  Yes, that’s it.  Tumbling.

I’ve been reading too much (most recently Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, then Vivan Howard’s ten-pound tribute to her hometown in NC with lots of recipes, Deep Run Roots), and watching too much tv (Rectify‘s amazing latest season on Netflix, and rewatching for the millionth time the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls), and cooking too much (I made this carrot cake recipe in muffin form for breakfast and for dinner, and we enjoyed the Creamy Mustard Chicken recipe from the New  York Times, which I can’t access now because I’ve used up my freebies for the month.).

Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law.  They are good listeners, but Paul always says, “Mary, you need more stimulation than anyone I’ve ever met.” I know I’m not good at being alone.  I know I’m a bit spastic.  I’m trying so hard to relax into early retirement or a break from working–whatever we want to call it–to find peace in the quiet of my world.  Now that I think about it, I’m much like those early summer skeeter hawks, floating about without much purpose, simply enjoying family, books, garden, pets, and the fabulous desert sunsets.

Cheers,

Mary

Stalked by Mary Louise Parker

Standard

Finally it’s the weekend!  Hip, hip, hooray!  Last night we celebrated Friday by meeting our old friends, Pete and Gail, at Wilderness Brewing Company.  We’ve had lots of adventures with them over the years including a weird weekend at Mormon Lake when our kids were toddlers. We thought it would be fun to stay in a cabin, enjoy the woods, do some fishing, and get out of the summer desert heat.  Well.  What they didn’t tell us upon booking is that there was an archery tournament in the woods where we had planned to hang out all weekend, so the whole area was roped off with DO NOT ENTER signs.  We looked over our shoulders the whole weekend waiting to get struck by someone’s errant arrow.   We also had no idea that in the summertime, Mormon Lake is more of a mud puddle.  NO FISH.  It was the worst.  Much better was our trip to Europe a few years ago, again with our children who are now all grown up!

Last night was a small adventure:  Wilderness Brewing has yummy beer brewed on the premises, good food (burgers and fried cod–YUM), and the atmosphere is cheery and loud.  While waiting for a table, we sat in the bar area on some homemade log stump chairs that were so uncomfortable I kept thinking sitting on the floor would be better.  We joked later that the owner’s grandpa must’ve made them.  I picture an old beardy coot in overalls with a pipe in his mouth listening to blue grass tunes on an old transistor radio.  I told my friends I should buy one of these torturous chairs for our school to be used as punishment.  “Johnny, go sit in the Uncomfortable Chair and think about making better choices!”

Apparently the greasy fish and fries did not agree with me, because I had bad dreams all night.  After dreaming a tornado hit our house, I dreamed Mary Louise Parker was stalking me.  She kept calling and leaving threatening messages . . . or worse yet, she’d call repeatedly and not leave a message at all.  It was totally creeping me out because I knew why she was calling . . . . and I felt really guilty about it.  I woke up in a cold sweat and had a hard time getting back to my REMs.

Now, if you don’t know who Mary Louise Parker is, google her and likely you will have seen her in something over the years.  She’s been in movies, but her biggest claim to fame is starring in the amazing sitcom Weeds about a young mom selling drugs to support her family after her husband dies.  It’s hilarious.  I love it.

I know Mary Louise Parker.  More accurately, I should say I “knew” her.  I went to high school with her at Marcos de Niza in Tempe.  In all honesty she was very snotty and did not want to be my friend.  She sat behind me in typing class, and I tried so hard to chat her up, but she looked down her nose at most of us and rolled her eyes at me each time I tried to talk to her. Maybe way back then she already knew she was destined for stardom and didn’t have to put up with the likes of us.  She was friends with  my friend Debbie, but I don’t think Debbie’s heard from her lately.

Anyway, a few years ago some male friends were going on and on about how sexy and gorgeous she looked, and I felt really irritated.  It was very small of me, but I brought out the junior high and high school year books to prove how much work the woman had done to achieve her admittedly very attractive look she has now. I’m talking about plastic surgery.   We who knew her in school are irritated by how she won’t admit she’s from Arizona.  She attended at least six years of school in Tempe, but her bios always say she’s from Georgia.  I don’t know why I felt so outraged and why I felt it was my business, but in a very mean-spirited moment, I went online to one of her fan sites and posted a terrible photo of Mary Louise from junior high.  And in my dream last night, THAT is why she was calling me.

All those many years ago, I felt truly terrible about posting the picture and went back the next day to take it down.  Guess what?  It had already been removed.  I don’t remember, but I hope karma caught up to me that week and gave me a cold sore or a flat tire.  Looking back, I’m sure at the time I was feeling unsatisfied in my role as stay-at home mom, and was likely very envious of Mary Louise’s glamourous movie-star life that likely did not involve sticking to a modest budget, doing laundry, and carting small children around town.   I’m not normally mean or petty . . . and I hope Mary Louise Parker never calls me again (even if it’s just in my dreams).

Cheers,

Mary

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Standard

Just when you think your life is balanced and organized and going really quite swimmingly, that’s when you get up in the middle of the night to take the dog out and don’t put on your glasses so you trip over the dog bed (why was it in the middle of the room?) and fall and break your kneecap.

Let’s just say my weekend is not going as planned.

And at this point, I’m pretty sure the kneecap is indeed NOT broken.  I’m having a lot less pain today–and it will be Monday before the x-ray results are in.  But all day yesterday, I sat on my purple couch (ice pack on my knee) trying not to cry because it surely seemed like Life As I Know It was going to be on hold for awhile. Today things are perking up.

I had to miss an important day at work yesterday.  I had to find a docent sub for my North Wing tour at Phoenix Art Museum today where I volunteer.  I can walk, but only if I don’t bend my knee, so each time I stand up and pitch across the kitchen I can’t help but think I belong in the Monty Python sketch called The Ministry of Silly Walks. We docents are supposed to be DIGNIFIED which probably cracks everyone up since that is very low on the list of things I am, so let’s just say I put on a good show at the museum where I can talk art with the best of them.  But gimping through my tour would have been so embarrassing!

Even though I have a long grocery list, and there’s dry cleaning that needs to be delivered, and two books are on hold at the library, I’m too embarrassed to go out into The World whilst walking like a drunken zombie.  Instead I am housebound.  William and Hubby pass through the kitchen, pause at Sad Me lying under a blanket on the purple couch, pat my shoulder, then go about their business as usual.

Sigh.

So let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

I found a fun new show on PBS called A Chef’s Life.  Chef Vivian and her staff and family are charming, and it’s fun to see not only her cooking techniques, but the beautiful North Carolina farming community in which she runs a restaurant.

I’ve won 20 of the last Words with Friends games.  I’m really improving . . . though I’m still not good enough to play Paul, Patrick, or Debbie (darn those smarty pants who crush me every time).  Last night I played WWF for two hours while watching a vastly unpleasant show called Making a Murderer with my guys.  I would be surprised if any of us watched the second episode.  Talk about a bloated story—the whole thing could have been easily told in two hours.  This is the show “everyone is talking about” but I’m thinking it’s definitely a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

My copy of Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry arrived.  I know you’re thinking “uh oh.”  And you’re right to do so.  But if my knee IS broken, how nice that I’ll have a diversion (writing poems)!

Broken Knee by Mary Vaughan #poet in the rough #neverhadonelesson

On the purple couch I rest

My sad and broken knee.

Broken toenails and polish spent

But alas, I cannot reach.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

Knackered

Standard

I’ve been so knackered after work lately that I don’t know if I’m coming or going. Unfortunately there hasn’t been one night this week where I can just curl up on the couch with a relaxing episode of The Walking Dead. Not one! I had fun with friends one evening at the French Dinner/Cooking class at the Hackett House, and other nights I worked on Senior Night stuff for our marching band. Tonight I am baking cupcakes for my school’s Halloween Carnival. On a whim, I bought a cake mix flavored “Butter Pecan.” I love butter pecan ice cream, don’t you? Well. I don’t think anyone will love the cupcakes in this flavor. The smell of the batter was positively disgusting, and I hope the poor child who wins these at the cake walk will not burst into tears . . . then seek me out for revenge next week during recess.

But baking IS relaxing, especially since I have the night alone. Hubby is at a work dinner, and William is at the high school bonfire, so how nice for me to have some quality time alone, just me and Dan. I try to hide my obsession with Bastille from the family as best I can, sneaking in my favorite vids whenever possible. The cupcakes are out now, and they smell, well, edible.

I stayed up way too late last night finishing a wickedly funny book called How to Build a Girl. It’s crass with British humor, and this author does not hold back in any way while describing EVERYTHING that is going on in her heroine’s young, sex-crazed mind. At times, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. How is that for a good review?

Staying up late was a really bad choice, especially since a huge storm rolled in at 3:30 am, complete with crashing thunder that rattled not only our windows but our pets. All three cats ran over our sleeping selves, then tried to hide their furry little bodies between Hubby and myself, alternately purring and mewling like big scaredy cats. Then I heard Ruby whimpering from far away and had to take her out for a tinkle in the pouring rain. Somehow I got back to sleep for a few hours and felt spot-on at school, able to enjoy our pre-Halloween classroom activities. Thank God for my new cool friend, Michelle, who popped her head into the room around noon announcing she was going to Starbucks and would anyone like anything? I am constantly reminded to not be dismayed when the Universe seems unkind; help is on it’s way and will be exactly what you need at the right time (a cup of coffee and a smile from a friend). I feel blessed.

I am not feeling blessed (but again dismayed) that a new study was unveiled this week that says processed meats such as bacon, pepperoni, sausage, and cold cuts are cancer causing. These, dear friends, are my favorite foods. This topic was discussed at length over lunch in the teachers’ break room, and even though I had promised myself I would do some stomach exercises once I was home, I instead worked on my core by having a hot dog. And it was delicious. Who knows when they will no longer be available? I think I made the right choice.

We have no plans for Halloween (imagine me now making a boo-boo face) other than worrying about our two oldest children making good choices while out partying that night (and I’m not talking about eating hot dogs, folks). William will be at a band competition, which I keep thinking is the meanest thing ever to make those kids do on that special night. But it is out of my hands.

Happy Halloween to all of you!
Cheers,
Mary