Saturday, January 30, 2016

Anybody Can Change if They Have The Courage &Are Prepared to Do the Work!

Maybe it’s the fact that winter has finally enveloped my Universe; but I’ve felt reflective for the last two weeks.  I think about where I’ve been and how I’ve changed as I drive to my appointments, search for plants to bring life into my home, and ponder the meaning of life as I look out the window at the winter landscape.

In my early 40’s I hit the reset button. The pain I’d experienced caused me to seek the help I needed to reinvent myself for the second half of my life. I went from unhappy to happy; negative to positive; insecure to secure; fearful to fearless; expecting the worst to expecting the best; concerned about the future to celebrating today; dissatisfied to satisfied; trying to change people to accepting them as they are; resistant to change to embracing change. I let go of fear. I let go of negativity; I studied yoga; I embraced Al-Anon and learned to love myself and accept that I couldn’t fix somebody else and that I needed to live without alcoholics in my environment.

I made a list, checked it for weeks, and asked the Universe to bring me the life partner I deserved. And the Universe answered. My guardian angels brought me together with my husband, my life partner that I love and accept for who he is and embrace my good fortune everyday.

I’ve learned to try new things; to embrace challenges; to focus on abundance, beauty, love, peace, serenity, joy and good wine. I’ve learned to let go and accept what is, to celebrate the people who have given me love, to thank those who have given me challenges, to forgive those that have caused me hurt, and to forgive myself for my imperfections.

This afternoon as I was driving home from my errands I recalled the little girl who looked out the window at the school bus bringing children to the school across the street and wishing that someday, I would be one of those children. Wow! The decades have past since I had that dream. But I still feel nostalgia for that little girl – even though she never could have imaged what she would face in her future.

That is the beauty of humankind. We can change our spots – unlike the leopard. I did it! I rebooted my hard drive. And so can you!

Bloodlines by Lynn Lipinski - A Book Review

Bloodlines by Lynn Lipinski is an easy, compelling read involving murder in a trailer park, an alcoholic protagonist that has fallen off the wagon and had a black out and a most inconvenient time, drug trafficking, family dysfunction, and the desperation of people on the fringes to fit in.

Parts of the story felt true while other facets seemed to rely on stereotypes, such as the trailer park dweller on social security disability that watches TV and chain-smokes while her husband rots in jail.  I also had some difficulty accepting the motivation of the lead character, Zane, and his apparent lack of any judgment. I wanted to scream on more than one occasion "No! Don't do that!" He should have listened to the New Age fortune teller!
There is also a plot line that seemingly attempts to bring a bit of TLC reality programming into the trailer park, which felt like Honey Boo Boo meets Gypsy Sisters at The Duggars’ back yard BBQ.

Despite what I felt were shortcomings in the narrative and characterizations, I liked the book and couldn’t put it down.  But who wouldn’t like a book that includes the appearance of a Komodo dragon?

Bloodlines would make a good beach read.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Embracing The Quiet Beauty of a Blizzard

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

I saw the beauty in the blizzard and embraced the quiet, the silence that surrounded us in the country, the landscape devoid of birds, animals, sounds of traffic on the road, the scraping of snow plows, even the wind. Last weekend Mother Nature showered us with 40 inches of snow in approximately 36 hours. We watched through our windows as the snow accumulated on the trees, the deck, the trash bins, the bird feeders. Hour by hour depth increased until we were enveloped in the silence of the brilliant, pure, crystalline white.

As the flakes continued to fall we celebrated the opportunity to curl into our the warmth of our comfortable cocoon-like home that was filled with inviting flames within the fireplace, the soft furry purring bodies of our cats sought refuge next to us and the smells and tastes of comfort food.

For me a day of huddling inside while watching the snow accumulate is a healing, recuperative, meditative experience. The silence is magical, peaceful, beautiful and restorative.

I am a summer girl, born in the midst of July, a child of the moon. I embrace the heat of the sun, the feel of the warmth on my skin even when there is no breeze and the beauty of abundant flowers and plants, the aroma of vegetation and summer rains that create steam, and the sounds of thunder and cicadas and birds singing. But I can only appreciate the joys of summer after hibernating through winter, regenerating my body and soul, and soaking up the silence of a snow day.

Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and this quote really speaks to me. The stark cold silence of winter helps me to appreciate the warm, joyful, carefree days of summer. I am grateful for the blizzard and for my learned ability to embrace the opportunity to just be and experience the silence.

Monday, January 18, 2016

After Downton Abbey I Foolishly Expected More From PBS & Mercy Street!

Only the British should be allowed to make costume dramas. The attention to authenticity to the tiniest detail has been a hallmark of Downton Abbey and numerous other British imports since PBS first broadcast the 1970 series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  Advisors to Downton Abbey monitor the placement of a fork on the dining table. The costumers for Mercy Street could not even manage to place a correct collar on a woman’s dress.

The bodice and skirt should be of the same material & the collar is WRONG!
While it would be foolhardy to expect Hollywood to produce anything resembling authenticity in language, material culture and dress, I had hoped for a bit better from PBS. What is even more disheartening is the accolades in the American media with regard to the alleged authenticity of Mercy Street costumes Vanity Fair and Southern Living, and USA Today

The costumer, Amy Harrell, has convinced herself. PBS, and the uninformed that the costumes are period correct because she located a bolt of 1870’s fabric on eBay and used a couple of CDV’s for inspiration. That is not research. And 1870’s fabric would not have been used in 1862!
Sausage curls/awful dress/ Ugh!
There were also articles stating that Hollywood costume departments were devoid of hoops for the period dresses because of other costume dramas filming concurrently. Hmmm. No thought of contacting a cage maker for living historians to have a few specially made to correct proportions? No thought of spending a couple of extra dollars to have well fitted corsets made for the lead characters? No thought of looking at all of the free excellent museum collections of original garments that could provide guidance for color, cut, fabric, design and fit for a specific year? Furthermore, cage crinolines were not reserved for the wealthy. Women from all walks of life dressed in the fashion of the day, which required a cage.

For me, I couldn’t get beyond the horrendous collars worn by the ladies in the first episode.  Even if this were the best-scripted show on television, I would have been too distracted by the costuming to concentrate.  PBS in particular has a responsibility to the viewing audience to get it right. I’ve already read comments on social media that Civil War re-enactors that do not conduct research but rely on the scholarship of others are getting ideas for new garments based upon what has been depicted on Mercy Street. PBS, in failing to get it right and not caring about authenticity on one of its highly publicized shows does a disservice to history. It is not as if research would have been trying. Just surfing Pinterest would have afforded enough access to original photographs of 1862 to costume the entire series appropriately.
Why not copy the dress n the photo?

I am disappointed. Fortunately, there are seven more episodes of painstakingly researched Downton Abbey left to elevate my spirits and my faith that some still strive for excellence in broadcasting.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Tribute to Ruth Byer Moore, My Husband’s Grandmother Who Left Us at 103

For the last 11 years I’ve had the pleasure of knowing my husband’s amazing Grandma Moore who I thought of as my surrogate grandparent.  She welcomed me to the family, which for me was the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Grandma was born in 1912 before the sinking of the Titanic.  She was the eldest of three children. Her father died in the 1918 flu pandemic while her younger brother Fred was still in-vitro.  Her mother survived the flu and raised Grandma Ruth, her sister Mary Jane and Fred through the Great Depression. 

This amazing lady was the rock for her 6 children after her husband died in 1962.  She worked hard, raised her children to be successful, and lived independently in her own house until the end. She outlived her friends and her younger siblings who passed shortly after Labor Day last fall. Although her sight and hearing were failing, her mind remained sharp until the final year. She remembered the names of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great -great - grandchildren.  She was kind but opinionated. Gentle but strong. She drove a car until her early 90’s.  She was well loved.
But she got tired and lonely. Living to an advanced age is an honor and a privilege. But it is also lonely. Grandma Ruth had her daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great -grandchildren that had the good fortune to know her. But she outlived her friends, her husband, and her siblings. She was ready to join them.

I will miss Grandma Moore. But while I will mourn, I know that she has lived an amazing life that deserves to be celebrated. My heart is heavy for my husband, my in-laws who lived across the street from Grandma, my sister-in-law and her children, and for all of those who were so touched by her life.  I just feel blessed that for this brief 11 years, I had her in my life.