Thursday, March 31, 2011

the part I hate

I leave for Washington very early Saturday morning. This means I'm up against the part of travelling I hate -- packing. I get really anxious about it and usually this leads to procrastination. This makes my husband anxious too. So, this time around, I'm going to try approach this differently and start packing tonight.

Anyone else feel this way? If so, what have you found that helps?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quotable - what books reveal

"Lists of books we reread and books we can't finish tell more about us than about the relative worth of the books themselves."

~ Russell Banks, celebrating a birthday today.

On Movies - it's insane!

March Madness got Molly at the Bumbles Blog to thinking about madness or rather insanity. Our task this week is to consider films in which insanity is featured. Turns out that once I started thinking about this, I recalled a flood of films. This is a popular theme it seems. With the exception of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, I'm going to focus on films which depict a true story about a woman who is thought to be "abnormal" or even insane at some point in her life -- a painter, a writer, an actress and a survivor of horrific childhood abuse.

First, I have to start with One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975) because I loved both the film and the book.

But let's turn our attention now to some films about real women who were considered at the least to be eccentric and to the extreme having serious mental health issues requiring involuntary commitment.

Séraphine (2008) I just recently watched this film. It's beautiful to look at and the acting, especially by the actress in the title role is mesmerizing. Here's the trailer:

An all too familiar (and true) story of an unusually gifted woman who is institutionalized for eight years, An Angel at My Table (1990). Fantastic film!

Another film based (loosely, some would argue) on a true story about Frances Farmer, a gifted actress who is also sent to a mental institution where she endures some rather harsh treatments and abuses is Frances (1982).

And lastly, Sybil (1976). This made-for-television film created increased public awareness of multiple personality disorder similar to what The Karen Carpenter Story did for anorexia.

[Cross-posted at Sassy Banana]

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meet Me Monday - to crunch or not to crunch

It's time for this week's Meet Me On Monday via Never Growing Old.

1.  Crunchy or soft tacos?

I go both ways. My favorite tacos are fish tacos with grilled fish. I LOVE them.

2.  Do you scrapbook?


3.  Do you take any daily medications?

I've been taking thyroid medication every morning for the past 4 years. I also try to take Vitamin D3, fish oil and B vitamins everyday. I keep hoping that someday I'll discover the magic combination of vitamins, diet and exercise that will give me superpowers.

4.  What is your favorite sound?

Probably in summer I'd answer this question with "rain." But since we've been having so much rain lately here in northern California, that is not what I want to hear these days. So, here's my back up answer: the sound of babies laughing. You know, before they become self-conscious and they just laugh their natural little Bambi laughs.

Here's a link to the crazy laughing baby video in case you're the only remaining person on Earth who has not seen it or if you need a little dose of sweet silliness right now.

5.  Where were you born?

Los Angeles in the Queen of Angels hospital on All Souls Day.

Go make some new virtual friends at Meet Me Mondays.

Sunday Stills - blue

I'm participating in Sunday Stills for the first time. Today's challenge is to photograph the color blue. Easy-peasy you think....but you can't use the sky and you can't use a photo from your archive.

Check out what the rest of the gang has come up with here.

just a week away

A week from now I'll be visiting Washington DC with my sister. I've always wanted to see the cherry blossoms so I'm pretty dang excited. I've never thought too much about a bucket list, but after these past two years of seeing my mother-in-law at the end of her life and how quickly things changed for her in terms of her independence, dignity, and overall quality of life, it might not be a bad idea to put something together.

I've been to the DC area many times on job-related trips. Once, my husband and daughter joined me for a few days after my work tasks were completed. Lots to do and see in DC. I love the National Gallery of Art and talk about good timing, there is a special Gauguin exhibit we'll get to explore. So, while I'm fairly familiar with the area and have seen a lot of the attractions, the biggest unknown is how it'll work out travelling with my sis. This is a new one for us.

There are three things I haven't done before that I'd like to this visit:
  • Take a tour of the White House
  • Go to Politics & Prose bookstore
  • Go to the Newseum

 Do you have any restaurant, coffeehouse or things to do and see recommendations for us?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Snapshot: March Madness

If this daffodil can hang in there, well, so can I.
Crazy spring weather here in northern California. This year's version is snow-covered and includes power outages. I haven't ridden my bike since Thanksgiving Day. Really. The silver lining I suppose, is that when we finally do get spring weather, I will be filled with gratitude (and on my bike). Maybe next week...?

As disappointing as the weather has been lately, it's nothing compared to what people are enduring in Japan. What's happened there puts everything in perspective.

Check out all the other Saturday Snapshots here.

Friday, March 25, 2011


"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher."

~ Flannery O'Connor

Musical Interlude - Beach House

Thursday, March 24, 2011

See this film - Séraphine

There was a night about a week or so ago, where I went on a movie watching binge. I watched three films back to back. I started with Judy Berlin, a film I'd already seen (unusual in itself as I rarely rewatch films), followed by a really good documentary Which Way Home. I wrapped up the impromptu film fest with Séraphine. What a beautiful film. After watching the film, I turned to the internet to learn more about Séraphine's art. In addition to discovering more images of her incredible paintings, I found a drawing in tribute to the artist.

[click on image to enlarge]

I recommend all these films but of the three, I hope you will check out Séraphine as well as the blogger/artist who created the image above. Her blog is here: Always Capra.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quotable - my poetry

"My poetry is suburban, it's domestic, it's middle class, and it's sort of unashamedly that, but I hope there's enough imaginative play in there that it's not simply poems about barbecuing."

~ Billy Collins

"No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart."

[the last line of his poem, Forgetfulness]

Suburban whistfulness?

Wordless Wednesday - a horse with blue eyes

“Horses make a landscape look beautiful.” Alice Walker

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet Me Monday - No Pepsi

My first time playing along with Meet Me On Monday hosted at Never Growing Old.

1.  What jewelry do you wear 24/7?

Right off the bat my dullness is revealed: the only piece of jewelry I wear all the time is my thin gold wedding band. I'm one of those people who can't stand to sleep while wearing any jewelry, so at night everything else comes off.

2.  Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?

I employ the twist/twirl with a cut at the end or else I seem to get stuck in an endless twirl.

3.  How many siblings do you have?

I am the oldest of four girls. My closest in age sister was only 13 months younger (she passed away when she was 18 yrs old from leukemia). Our younger sisters are identical twins. When the twins came home from the hospital, we each claimed one for ourselves.

4.  Were you named after anyone?

Not a someone, but a something. A song...perhaps you know it. I do share my middle name, Lee, with my dad.

5.  Coke or Pepsi?

Neither. I stopped drinking soda nine years ago. I get iced green tea (straight up, no sweetener) from Starbucks now. Before I quit, it was NO Pepsi - Coke for me.

On Movies - foodie films

This week we're considering the role of food in film. Molly directs us to share "movies that are about growing, cooking, serving, eating or any other function of food." Sounds good to me as for the last few days I've been restricted to yogurt and protein smoothies due to oral surgery. I can enjoy food via my film memories! Here goes:

Aaah, there he is, the delicious Stanley Tucci. [Big Night]
1. Big Night [1996] A failing Italian restaurant run by two brothers gambles on one special night to try to save the business. One of my favorite films! 

Nice looking bakery, eh?
2. It's Complicated [2009] Many of scenes in this film were set in the kitchen, around the dinner table or in the main character's bakery/cafe.

3. Botany of Desire [2009] From IMDb: "Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism and a student of food, presents the history of four plants, each of which found a way to make itself essential to humans, thus ensuring widespread propagation." Enjoyed the lush photography as much as learning about Pollan's theory.

Seduced by shrimp.
4. I Am Love [2009] It's set in Italy and the main character falls for a chef. 'Nuf said.

Do you recognize Helen Mirren?
5. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover [1989] Shocking shenanigans at Le Hollandais Restaurant.

Be sure to check out Molly and the gang's picks at The Bumbles.

Sunday Secret

This postcard really spoke to me. My mother-in-law passed on January 26 and during her funeral and at gatherings after the funeral, I was struck by how deeply her death affected our daughter and other grandchildren. I also remember the unique loss I felt when my grandmothers passed away. I still try to plant fall bulbs on my grandma's birthday each October. The relationship between grandmothers and grandchildren is a special one.

Source: Post Secret.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Snapshot: functional art

Stylish and well-used bike rack in Eton, England.
After touring Windsor Castle, we wandered over to nearby Eton. This was in late May of 2009 on a visit to London and surrounding areas with my parents. My mother is originally from England.

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quotable - catch a breeze

"...during the latter days of human evolution, one might explain God by asking them to turn up the music, take off their shoes, walk in the grass, unleash the dogs, free the canary, catch a breeze, ride a wave, dance every day, get up early, take a nap, stay out late, eat chocolate, feel the love, give stuff away, earn it back, give some more, and laugh.... Really."

~ the Universe (aka Mike Dooley)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

“May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Snapshot: gloaming

I've driven past this old cemetary many times and have often thought there might be something that would be fun to photograph. Finally stopped the other day right as the sun was setting.

Check out all the other Saturday Snapshots at Alyce's.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women's Day

"Why dedicate a day exclusively to the celebration of the world's women? In adopting its resolution on the observance of Women's Day, the General Assembly cited two reasons: to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security. For the women of the world, the Day's symbolism has a wider meaning: It is an occasion to review how far they have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. It is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilize for meaningful change."
International Women's Day

Monday, March 7, 2011

in defense of libraries

I'm already a strong supporter of libraries but thought I should do my bloggy part in helping to get this message of support out by posting this video. You're welcome.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quotable - a little in love

"I have this experience when I interview someone, if it's going well and we're really talking in a serious way, and they're telling me these very personal things, I fall in love a little. They're sharing so much of themselves. If you have half a heart, how can you not?"

~ Ira Glass, host of This American Life

Punching Out

I'm reading and enjoying Paul Clemens's memoir Made In Detroit. He has a new book that has just been published titled Punching Out. Here's the promotional video:

H/T to Citizen Reader who has guided me toward many gifted writers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Quotable - the gift economy

"The book I most often give as a gift is The Gift, by Lewis Hyde. I keep four or five copies around the house at all times, for swift giving to people who need them. Most often they are artists of one kind or another, and are worrying about the disconnect between what they do and how hard they work, and how little money they make. Hyde's book explains the differences between the money economy in which we think we live, and the gift economy, in which we also live. Gifts – including artistic gifts – travel in mysterious ways, but travel they must, or else they die."
~ Margaret Atwood, talking about World Book Night

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Prize Worthy Books

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has announced finalists for its Book of the Year awards. I've bolded the titles I've read. Not too many, unfortunately.


Great House, by Nicole Krauss
How to Read the Air, by Dinaw Mengestu
Room, by Emma Donoghue
The Surrendered, by Chang-rae Lee
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell
A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan


At Home, by Bill Bryson
Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff
Let’s Take the Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell
The Tiger, by John Vaillant
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
The Wave, by Susan Casey


Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, by Maaza Mengiste
The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes
The Quickening, by Michelle Hoover
The Wake of Forgiveness, by Bruce Machart

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the more that you read

I'm young enough to remember learning to read. And old enough to remember the Dick & Jane books. I believe a debt of gratitude is owed Dr. Seuss for making the process of learning to read so much fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

be happy or else

Here's an enlightening and entertaining animation based on Barbara Ehrenreich's lecture on her excellent book Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America.

"A sharp-witted knockdown of America’s love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism."