Sunday, March 29, 2009

4 Minutes of Magic!

Please, if you can spare just under 4 minutes...

A while back I listed one of my favorite films as being "The Black Imp". When most think of Georges Melies they think of his "Trip to the Moon" but for me, this and "The Cook in Trouble" are both delights. Made less than 10 years after the Lumiere Brothers first films; made before there were computers or even a standardized camera/film system, his feats are amazing!

When I had my first VCR many years ago I recorded a PBS show called "Matinee at the Bijou" one afternoon on a whim. I was lucky enough to end up with a Harold Lloyd film called "Dr. Jack". The next week, even luckier, I discovered "Safety Last".

I was so impressed by these I unwired my VCR and took it to my Dad's to show them to him they were just things he'd seen growing up...

A few weeks later I was treated to "The Thief of Bagdad" in a print restored in Britain by a gentleman named Kevin Brownlow.

A trip to the local library turned up "The Parade's Gone By", Brownlow's book on the "silent era" (the movies were never silent and a good many weren't black and white) and cinema became an ongoing love that continues. Some of you remember me posting about watching Mary Pickford movies just after we joined Netflix, things I couldn't rent locally. That local library has a cinema buff working in it's AV department who has made a point of acquiring things through the years; through him I first saw the films of Georges Melies on VHS many years ago, mostly unrestored as that is something that costs much less now in the age of the computer and DVD's than it did even 15 years ago.

I've spoken before of how easily I fall in love, not only with each of you who find your way here, but also those who have touched me through the magic of film. Abel Gance, Chaplin, Keaton, Pickford, Mabel Normand, Roscoe Arbuckle, Louise Brooks...the list is not only most likely endless but still growing.

This all comes up now because just before I retired I heard a piece on NPR about a book: "The Invention of Hugo Cabret". The book, about an orpaned boy living in a Paris railstation who meets an old man running a toy store there...Georges Melies! In the interview they said that when it was nominated for a National Book Award a whole roomful of normally very staid librarians stood, clapped and cheered!

It was the last hardcover book I bought before I retired, hoping it might set my grandchildren on a course to love those same films that I have so dearly. (They have already watched Chaplin's "The Kid" spellbound and talked of it for days after.)

Dillon was already reading the Harry Potter books at the time, but since his parents hadn't heard of it, they said one of them had to read it first. Since neither of them had, I borrowed it back when they were on vacation last week and on Friday I started it at about 3:30 as we left to go to Lawrence for my nephew's last musical program before he graduates.

The book, written by someone who has illustrated other things, combines the illustrations into the narrative in a manner he compares to film. You read "scenes" then scenes are illustrated over the course of 10 pages or so, then the narrative picks up again from the last frame of illustration.

534 pages, by the time the program started at 7:30 I was down to the last 25...sitting in a room full of students and parents along with my wife and sister, having to raise my bifocals to wipe tears from my eyes. An amazing book!

A teacher I met through ICQ many years ago told me that "The Little Prince" is not really a children's book, though everyone thinks it is. I went to the library and found it (in the children's section) and read it for the first time since kindergarten or 1st grade...Ana was right!

This one, "The Invention of Hugh Cabret" may be a children's book to some, but if you've ever loved film...if you've ever had your heart stolen by someone in print or on the silver screen then perhaps it's not a children's book after all, or perhaps you have enough child inside to give your heart once again!

So as I wish you all and warm and kind "rest of your weekend" and a Monday that is kind as well, I'm off to pop a restored collection of Melies films in the DVD player courtesy of Netflix...


P.S.- For those who may wonder, I didn't put a link to Melies "Trip to the Moon" because I couldn't find a YouTube or Google version that was the full 13:48 runtime that didn't have someone narrating it. I don't need someone to explain to me what I can see (unless perhaps it's "Memento" or something similar) and the narrative is so distracting I just couldn't...

Monday, March 23, 2009

36 years ago today...

I enlisted. I was 17, 2 months short of graduating high school and knew that there was no way I was staying home another minute.

Having been told by my Dad that I couldn't accept the full paid music scholarship to a university 180 miles from home because it was too far for me to be from home at 17, the Navy recruiter that had been picking me up to go play "Taps" at the Navy funerals for 2 years had a pretty easy time of it. Originally I had planned to enlist for 4 years and go to the Navy's music school, but at 17 I had to have my parent's permission for that as well and Dad wouldn't sign for a 4 year hitch.

So I ended up signing up for 2 years active duty and 4 years as a Reserve, intending on re-enlisting at the end of 2 and trying to get in the music school then. Christmas of that year found me in the Phillipines.

Things changed of course! The freedom to "be" I found led me through a lot of changes, a lot for the better, a lot that weren't as well. None I regret, even those that probably cost a few brain cells.

Though "the path not taken" always beckons, I can't look at my sons or my grandchildren and have regrets about the one I chose!

May Monday be kind and the week as well!


Thursday, March 19, 2009


When Bill moved we took in Laura's cats, two 8 year old males, until they can afford a house. In D.C..

We of course, already had an old dog and a 2 year old male cat of our own.

Last week one of my projects was putting a screen door on a bedroom because it was that or buy another 110 window unit air conditioner for that room and pay the bill. The door was cheaper...

Because one of their cats will eat anything in sight, cat food, dog food, the trash. The other one likes to hide and we feared him getting in the basement and not being able to find him.

Also, Frankie doesn't much care for either of them. So he has the run of the house, they have the run of the front bedroom and in the evenings while Frankie's napping on our bed, we let Alley and Willow run loose after we cover the dog food and shut our bedroom door (keeping Willow out of the basement).

I pan for cat turds twice a day now because her cats are huge and they are sharing a litter box...and feed them twice day, holding Alley's food dish so he doesn't eat too fast and make himself "yak".

So, I was about petted out to begin with.

John is taking Noel on a trip for their 10th anniversary. My sister has all 3 kids right now, we'll have Dillon over the weekend and Cindy will be moving to their house on Sunday to get the kids off to school on Monday (they're on break this week).

So he brought their two dogs over this afternoon. A full grown shepard and a knee high something-or-other. So now in addition to the screen door I have two kiddie gates on either end of the kitchen to control who gets to Angel's food and to control who is near the back door to go outside. (One lead and the yard isn't fenced.) Of course that means we get to put them up and take them down each time we need through, or we get to vault them...

And we get to drive to their house twice a day to feed their two cats!

I'm glad I'm already pretty much bald!

May Friday be kind and your weekends be wonderful!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The day after...

the only thing better than St. Patrick's Day is the corned beef leftovers!


In trying to tighten things up where we can, we hadn't been to the store since the 1st and didn't buy corned beef on that run. Yesterday, with Dottie off after working the weekend, we needed milk and Sam's had corned beef in the cooler. She kept saying no, but knowing how much her heritage and the holiday both mean to her (she makes a point every year of sending cards to the kids and grandkids; she still has a grocery store shamrock I bought for her 20 years ago that goes out in the summer and comes in in the winter) there was no way I could not, so I told her she could pick or I would. Of course I was told where my taste is...but at least she picked what she wanted.

The rest of the day was spent with her cooking and me puttering. It was 80 Farenheit yesterday, the windows were not only open all day but all night. Now it's 55 and cloudy and I've closed the windows and re-lit the furnace, happy that they aren't predicting another freeze!

And to loop back to my opening, besides the corned beef sandwich I ate for lunch, I'm truly looking forward to it and leftover potatoes for dinner!

Dillon is supposed to spend the weekend this week and he's very ready to have some time away from his siblings. They are so close in age (2 years apart) I can't blame him, everything is a compromise when he's at home.

I plan on getting another post up before then, but just in case I don't, I'll hope that the rest of the week is kind to each of you and that your weekends are warm and wonderful and turning to thoughts of spring!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday musings...

Uncovered the tulip bed for what I hope is the last time this morning. Yesterday I drained and cleaned the humidifier so it can dry for a few days before I bag it and put it away. The grass is starting to green up and the dog wants to spend every minute she can outside as long as someone else is out there; I don't know if she's worried about her hips or that she can't see well enough to know if she's safe or not. Going on 14 and not a small dog, we know we're on borrowed time and my heart aches thinking about it!

I've spent some time yesterday and today trying to dig my bench out from a winter's accumulation of things it was too cold to sort or put away because I need to make use of it. (Things to work on that are too messy for the kitchen table, lol.) I've been filing job apps and soon enough someone is going to call then all the hours I spent doing other things I'll wish I'd spent making better use of!

I did pick up the county lake permit for our boat on Friday, so that's the last of the state and county licensing for the year. Hopefully I get enough time to make it worthwhile...

So, with that, time for a latte and pb&j then back to the garage!

I hope you are all having wonderful weekends and that Monday is kind to each of you!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Better lucky than good!

We've been trying to use some of the older stuff out of the pantries and for the first time in a long time I'd felt a bit like experimenting with new things. I'd had a jar of oil-packed sun-dried herbed tomatoes hanging around for a while; the jar of capers that went with them had been purged in one of Dottie's "if it doesn't have a date it's going" rampages.

I went through my recipes and couldn't find the one that I originally was going to make...searched on-line and found something close. Modified it a bit, fixed it on Sunday and it was OK enough Dottie wanted it again last night (so the tomatoes that weren't used could go in the trash today since they were dated '07). Last night I hit it pefect:

Baked chicken and sun-dried tomatoes

For two:

Two thawed chicken breasts

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (original called for marjoram, didn't have it...)
2 tablespoons water
10-15 oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, sliced or chopped

Line a 9x9 glass pan with foil (because this burns a bit) then rub the foil with olive oil.

Place chicken breasts in pan

Mix vinegar, seasoning, water and tomatoes in a small mixing bowl; pour or spoon over chicken

Bake 25 minutes at 425 degrees or until chicken reaches 160 internal temperature.

Serve with the tomatoes spooned back over chicken...

Sunday night I sided it with some angelhair pasta and garlic bread; last night it was baked potatoes, which bake at the same temp, so it was an really easy meal.

The original recipe called for using a 9x13 pan with the 1/4 cup mix but that cooked up a bit dry; using the 9x9 last night it came out moist and perfect!

I hope the week is being kind to each of you!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

“Not Women Anymore…”

A friend posted this story on her blog and I had to borrow the can click on the header above or here to read the story

So many times in bygone days I would hear a story on NPR or the BBC or one of the international magazine shows on my radio at work, all the way back to the 80's when we were first allowed radios, that would reduce me to tears. A lot of verse was written back then fueled by those stories. Occasionally someone would make the mistake of asking what I was upset about and I got to share something they probably hadn't heard of; that the never dreamt existed.

We all become so focused on our own little world, on what we have to deal with in our own lives that it's very easy to forget that there are those who have less...that the dark powers that control parts of this world would rather we forgot...that only when raise our voices together and say "no more" will it be stopped!

Please click the link...write a Congressman or Senator if you are blessed with one who will listen...please?

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you and may your weekends be filled with joy!


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Awhirl...a swirl...

Some of you might remember the plumbing issues that were ongoing until I dug up the sewer line and we had a massive amount of tree roots cleaned out of it. Before that they had pulled the toilet to try and clean it out; afterwards there had been a slight leak and I changed the "wax ring" at the base, which seemed to take care of it...for a while...

Last week we noticed a few drops on the basement floor again, I tried tightening the base bolts again, but didn't get much of a turn on them. I thought I was going to have to pull it and replace the ring again, figuring I had damaged it when I tried to swing the toilet into it's space by myself.

Over the weekend, while cleaning, I figured out that the back of it was wet below the tank. At 43 years old, I didn't figure there was much chance of getting parts, so I started doing some research, as I have heard too often of problems with "low flush" ones.

I learned of a rating system that's only been in place a few years, "MaP units" that I then went back to try to use as I narrowed my choices.

One that professed to be "high efficiency" and was less than $100 only rated 475 on the scale; the articles said you should consider 500 to be a minimum. I found two for under $200 that rated 1,000, the maximum on the scale. One was actually just under $150, but I sprung for the one that was just under $200 because it has a better finished porcelain that is supposed to stay cleaner...

Dottie was off yesterday so after breakfast we went and bought it, brought it home and took the pieces (it was unassembled) out and found the directions. After one last round through the bathroom, we pulled the old one, assembled the new one and had the water back on in just over an hour. Though it doesn't seem like it could possibly use enough water to work (it is 1.6 gallons, the old one was somewhere around 5, being 1966 vintage) it has each and everytime so far. It will refill before you can get in the shower and turn the water on...the old one you were waiting what seemed like an awfully long time!

By then it was past lunchtime; we ate and then did the shopping together. Since my retirement checks come once a month, we've been trying to buy most everything for the month in one trip, that way her checks (bi-monthly) can pick up the bills that come in later in the month. It also helps cut down on the impulse buying.

I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to give up on finding a part-time job and take a full time one, at least for a while. I have passed over ones I could have probably had because I didn't want to screw up our time together, but I'm almost out of options.

I hope the week is being kind to each of you...


Sunday, March 01, 2009

The heat of the day...

from earlier in the week when we were pushing the 70's (almost 20C.), to right now it's 20 Farenheit (-7C.). Last night it was 6 above O on the old scale, or -14C. without the never-ending wind.

Added to that is the 4-5 inches of snow that fell between Friday night and yesterday afternoon...

Dottie was off on Friday, working the weekend. John needed a babysitter for all 3 kids on Friday night so we kept them, one in here on the bed, one on the couch, one on my exercise mat on the floor (made up with "Cars" sheets, of course). He came and got them about noon yesterday and I spent my afternoon shoveling and transcribing family military service history back to the "Civil" War for my nephew who is applying for a VFW scholarship. Getting all of the oral things I was told through the years written down was probably a good thing, so I printed an extra copy and tucked it away for future generations. I know it's not complete, but the families have spread out so widely through the years that I have no idea about anyone beyond "first cousins". I have a letter one great-uncle wrote my grandfather about the "old soldiers home" he was living in in the early 60's telling him horror stories and that no matter what happened he didn't want to end up in one; I found out yesterday that great-uncle's oldest was a Japanese POW aboard an "exchange ship" in 1944 when it was accidentally sunk by the Americans.

I can't imagine...

Today I'm running laundry and catching up other odds and ends here. Like the proverbial rabbits, they never seem to diminish.

It seems our Governor is the next choice for a cabinet post; she's done very well for us on so many fronts, I hope she fares well and can do the same for our country!

I dread losing her, though because of term limits we'd have lost her in 2010 anyway!

May Monday find you warm and dry, employed if you need to be and happy no matter what!