Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

My movie marathon

A few days ago, I awakened from a movie binge. (At least for me, this many movies in just a few weeks constitutes a binge. For others, maybe it’s just normal viewing activity.)  Looking at this following list, the average age of my movie choices is north of a decade. I’m not a new movie buff, it seems.

Among my newly discovered favorite movies is Secondhand Lions (2003), with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. It’s a heartwarming coming-of-age tale with a “used” lion thrown in for good measure. There’s a reason I mention it first – it’s the pick of the litter.MV5BMTIzNjcyOTcxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODE5Mjk2._V1_SX214_I also caught A River Runs Through It (1992), October Sky (1999) and Good Will Hunting (1997). Let’s just say I’m glad I watched the network cable version of Good Will Hunting, which had a lot of dubbed-over words. And I give high marks to the creativity of the censors – they found a lot of different words to use in lieu of the “f” bomb. And they had many opportunities to use those substitutions.

I watched Stepmom (1998) through tears (again) last week. It’s like dark chocolate – you have to acquire a taste for bittersweet, and on the heels of my recent biopsy, the specter of cancer hit a little closer to home this time around.

As I waded through The English Patient (1996) I was reminded why I prefer Casablanca: it was first, and it knocks an hour off the time it takes to spin the same theme.

And, in no apparent order, I have watched all manner of chick-flicks – many of them in bits and snippets…a few scenes here, an ending there:

  • Clueless (1995), a modern rendering of Austen’s classic “Emma.”
  • The Notebook (2004), a perennial favorite, especially if you love Charleston like I do.
  • The Vow (2012),  in which Ms. McAdams continues to muddle about in a state of confusion when it comes to affairs of her heart, bless her…well, heart.
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006), which makes me thankful for my own ghosts of (gracious) bosses past.
  • Sleepless in Seattle (1993), a MFG (made for girls) movie based on another, older girls movie (An Affair to Remember). But an easy watch nonetheless.
  • Pretty Woman (1990) and Oceans Twelve (2004)…otherwise known as two faces of Julia Roberts.
  • Julie and Julia (2009), the movie that launched a million blogs and sold more than a few cookbooks as well.
  • Juno (2007), which isn’t quite a true chick flick, but it resonates more with girls than boys, I daresay.
  • Jerry Maguire (1996), which is a little bit o’ football, and a whole lotta romance.

To avoid overdosing on all that sweetness, I used Trouble with the Curve (2012) to ease into sports movies, Remember the Titans (2000) and Any Given Sunday (1999), and two prison tales, The Green Mile (1999) and Shawshank Redemption (1994), capped off by the second half of The Bucket List (2007), a dusting of Joe Dirt (2001) and most of Zero Dark Thirty (2012), just for good measure.

See, this is what happens when Mr. Official is off officiating, Swimmer Girl is away at school, and I have full control over the remote for the entire evening several nights each week. Care to join me? Just bring some snacks and drinks, and maybe a few tissues…we’re sure to find something worth watching.  Or send me a list of your favorites, and maybe they’ll become my faves, too.

Happy Monday,


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I have had an annual mammogram every year since I hit my early forties. They aren’t fun for those of us blessed with smaller amounts of “dense” tissue, and I suspect they aren’t much fun for our better-endowed sisters, either.

Most years, it’s an in-and-out process. A few minutes of discomfort, and then I’m done for another year. Twice I’ve had to go back for more close-up photos. The first time, I escaped with a few more mammogram shots, an ultrasound and a lecture on cutting back on caffeine (which I did), but this year I didn’t get away quite so easily.

Long story short, I had a cluster of micro-calcifications – a little 5 mm speck of irregular shaped deposits that an eagle-eyed radiologist spotted. And that quickly led to a stereotactic biopsy.

And that leads me to this post, for any other woman facing this procedure for the first time.

First off, breathe. It may be something, it may be nothing, but until you know, you don’t know, so try to just breathe and do something to de-stress. (Harder than it sounds, I know.)

Forewarned is forearmed. My so-called “specialist” doctor did a lousy job of prepping me for this procedure. Here’s what I wish I had known:

  1. Have acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) on hand. I’d suggest having a bottle of extra-strength and a bottle of TylenolPM (unless you take something else for sleeping). Take a couple extra-strength with food before the procedure, and plan on taking them for at least a day or two. If you routinely take aspirin, NSAIDs or Ibuprofen-based pain relievers, you should stop several days beforehand, if possible. (They thin the blood, which can lead to other post-procedure complications.)
  2. Unlike most surgical procedures, you should eat beforehand. Eat something light and high in protein, and not sugary, but do eat. Trust me.
  3. Wear a good-fitting sports bra, preferably one that fastens in the front. Make sure there’s enough room for a small icepack and possibly a compression wrap. Plan to wear it for at least 24 hours…longer if you had a lot of bleeding.
  4. Wear comfortable, loose, stretchy clothes. I don’t wear yoga pants except to yoga, but I’m glad I did that day.
  5. When they say “avoid strenuous activity” they really, really mean it. No lifting anything heavier than a fork; no vacuuming or cleaning…really, DO NOTHING. And if they don’t tell you how long to avoid activity, assume they intend it for at least 24 and 48 hours if you can manage to lay low that long. Plan on keeping an ice pack on the area for several hours. (So have a couple extra ice packs on hand, too.)

Had I known those five simple things, it’s likely I would have avoided the egg-size hematoma that is slowly (glaciers melt faster) resorbing, and that necessitated a two-week respite from my running schedule. And may cause distorted tissue on future mammograms.

Yes, this bruise is merely an EXTREMELY minor inconvenience compared to having breast cancer. But had I known those tips:

  • I would have felt far more in control of things while I was waiting for THE call with the diagnosis.
  • I would have taken it easy for two full days, kept the compression and ice packs on the incision. In ignorance, I kept the icepack on for an hour or two and then dove into light activity, and assumed the rising lump was an unavoidable part of the process.
  • I might have had a much faster and less painful recovery time. As it is, I have a deep, hard bruise that will do a slow fade, and MAY be gone by the holidays…or maybe not.

fight like a girlSo if you have been putting off a mammogram, please don’t let my experience scare you. And for heaven’s sake, do not procrastinate. Please. No matter how it turns out, early detection is the best weapon we have right now.

To those who are fighting against breast cancer, I say with all my heart, “you go, girl.” To those whose family members lost their battle, I pray for peace and comfort for you and yours. It may be little comfort, but I do think we will conquer this disease in our lifetime.

Happy Friday,

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O Blogger, Where Art Thou?

My blogging muse up and left. Abandoned ship. She went AWOL and MIA. All. Summer. Long.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have stuff to write about. It isn’t that I didn’t have time. I just couldn’t find the words.

A lot of things conspired against my efforts to blog during the past several weeks (err, months.) But I think (hope!) I’m ready to get back in the saddle, or swing, or whatever.

Here’s the upshot of how I spent my summer:

  • We moved Swimmer Girl into her first dorm room in August.  That was an experience filled with growing pains for mom and daughter, but after some shaky days, things have started to steady out. She’s been home once and I’ve been down for a visit once. It gets easier, right? Right???
  • Mr. Official and I discovered we both like hot yoga, so on Tuesday and Thursday mornings you’ll find us at a local yoga studio for an hour of balancing and contorting in sauna-like conditions.
  • My routine mammogram turned out to be not-so-routine. Everything is fine, but it was a wake-up call. More on that later. Suffice it to say that October is breast cancer awareness month, and I have a little different perspective on it this year than in year’s past.
  • The fall TV lineup started without me. I have no clue what’s on these days. But I have caught up on a lot of movies lately. Some new, some repeats, some three-peats.
  • I’ve actually READ a couple books lately, and I’ve started back in on a daily Bible reading program. For now, it consists of reading through 1 John (all 5 chapters) every day for a month, plus each day’s chronological Bible reading I’ve been doing on-and-off all year. Curious? We’ll talk.
  • I’ve added a few (really, just a few) pieces to my new and vintage Fiesta collection, raising eyebrows from family members who mutter things like “hoarder” and “intervention” “how many pieces do you need?” under their breath. I think I just need to learn to intercept the FedEx and UPS trucks before the telltale packages hit the doorstep.
  • UT football is in full swing.  This was us at last Saturday’s game.

    Go Big Orange

    Go Big Orange!

It’s good to be back, and I hope I can catch up on how everyone else’s summer went.

Happy Monday,

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There are many things that make the South charming and endearing.  When I started writing this post, I forgot I did a similar ode to the south almost three years ago. I found it after I finished the draft and compared them.  Some of these are similar, but most are additional things that I find particularly wonderful about my adopted region:

  1. My hairdresser’s salon is attached to her house. I can show up in sweats without  a stitch of makeup, and there’s no judgment. Occasionally I bump into other mutual friends. (It does bear more than a passing resemblence to Truvy’s Beauty Spot.)14864.10.570.359
  2. You can drive down a city street and see a subdivision with huge homes on one side and corn and cotton fields on the other.
  3. Short winters and long summers. Spring and fall are optional some years.
  4. We do sports. I saw this sign recently and I had to chuckle. No surprise it’s made by someone in Smithville, just a few miles away.il_570xN.467823452_ccv0
  5. People pull over for funeral processions. No matter how busy you are or where you’re going, you’ve got a minute to pull over and pay your respects and ponder your own mortality for a moment.
  6. Exploring the nooks and crannies in towns with two names, like Bell Buckle and Leiper’s Fork
  7. We know all about okra. And a thing or two about green tomatoes. And grits.
  8. Just when you need it, someone will hold open a door or hold your baby. Or both.
  9. No matter where you are in the south, the beach is never more than a day’s drive and often less.
  10. Southern Rock. Ever heard anyone brag about Northern Rock or Yankee Rock? Me neither.

I hope no matter where you live, that you love many things about living there. If you don’t love where you live, you might try the South. Just bring your manners and your appetite and you’ll fit right in.

Happy Monday,

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Translated: “Why for you no share any recipes?”


“Hey, what happened to the weekly recipes?”

The realization hit me last week when I finally did post a new recipe: I couldn’t remember the last time I had shared a recipe. The weekly posts had slowed and then altogether stopped. So I asked myself why? And the answer was twofold:

  1. Life has been busier-than-usual, and dinner sometimes takes a backseat to everything else. I have to be home in order to cook. And I find it helpful to have one or more diners on hand if I AM cooking. If one or both of those conditions are not met, dinner doesn’t happen.
  2. When I do cook, I am a terribly forgetful food photographer. I don’t cook with a camera at hand, and by the time I determine we like(d) a new dish, it’s too late to snap any photos. An empty dish may be a positive sign, but it’s not a very appetizing or inspiring image for you, dear reader.

And I felt bad not having gorgeous photos to go with every step of  prep, a la Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate or The Pioneer Woman. In hindsight, I would chide myself and vow to re-create the dish and remember to photograph it to share.

Except I rarely remember to do that, either.

So, my choices were to stop sharing recipes or to share them sans images.

These days, we live our lives surrounded by images; we’re a very visual society. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t always so, and that I still try MANY recipes based on the ingredients, not on a photograph.

So I’m gearing back up to start cranking out a weekly recipe again. If and when I’m on the ball, you’ll get a visual to go along with it. If not, well…trust me: if I share it, it tastes good. Friends don’t give friends bad recipes. So think of my posts like a virtual version of those dog-eared, batter-spattered index cards and clippings of olde.  rhode_island_recipe_box1-540x420
Even if you can’t see what it looks like, it’s still worth a try if you like the ingredients. Stay tuned:  Friday’s recipe is a new cool creamy dessert concoction I whipped up a couple weeks ago.

Happy Monday,

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Paula ain’t perfect, y’all

Much ado has been made over the Paula Deen debate. I’ve never been a huge fan of Paula’s…she’s lays it on a little too thick with the Southern schtick, if you ask me.  And while I’m not a processed food snob, her signature “Gooey Butter Cake” is too artificial and cloyingly sweet for my tastes…well, I guess it’s kinda like Paula.) I do have one of her cookbooks (a gift), and I enjoy perusing it…but no more or less than any other cookbook on my shelf.

I completely agree with those who are concerned by the knee-jerk reaction Paula’s sponsors and employers have had to her admission that she has used the “n” word. If she can be held accountable for words we uttered years ago, then heaven help us all.

And I also concur with those who point out that THAT word (and many other loathsome, misogynistic words) are belted out by rappers without any negative consequences.  In fact, those depraved lyrics often garner awards and sell a lot of concert tickets.

It’s an understatement to say the court of public opinion often renders inconsistent verdicts.

The lawsuit’s allegations – if true – portray a Paula persona that is a little disturbing and dirtier-mouthed than what we see on air.

So….Paula’s a hypocrite. She talks one way when the cameras are rolling and another when they’re not.

To which I would say, so what?

Sure it’s disappointing, but only to the degree that any and all hypocrisy is disappointing. Her sin is no bigger or smaller than mine or yours.

The problem isn’t with Paula. The problem is with us.  A large contingent of her fans hold her up as a goddess, in the same way we elevate celebrities, musicians, pro athletes and a few particularly glib political leaders.

We lift these mere mortals onto pedestals and assume their charisma and talents also mean they are perfect in every aspect of their lives. We worship them much as the ancient Greeks worshiped their mythical gods and goddesses. We pore over their pictures on magazine covers; we wait in line to see them in a game or concert, or to get an autograph and a glimpse of them. We memorize random factoids about them, and look for (or create) similarities between them and us. How many girls have tried to look like  Taylor Swift? How many guys proudly wear their favorite player’s jersey?

These people may have blessed with God-given gifts, but gods they are not.

Unfortunately, when we are faced with the flaws and failings of these objects of our obsession and affection, we turn on them. Savagely. We want them to pay for misleading us, even though we were the ones who deluded ourselves into seeing perfection where it didn’t exist.

If we could stop obsessing over pop culture and devote that same amount of time and energy to seeking to know and worship the One who created us, who spoke this world into existence and who knows every hair on our heads, we might accept that we are all less-than-perfect. And that might make us more compassionate when a fellow human fails to attain perfection.

Paula ain’t perfect. And neither are we.

Happy Monday,

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It’s been kinda hectic at the new/old homestead.  (It’s hard to believe we’ve been here two years, but we have!)

Almost immediately after Swimmer Girl’s graduation, Mr. Official decided we needed a sprinkler system for my plants, so the past few okay several weekends have been devoted to various phases of this project: trenching, assembling, covering, testing, tweaking, sodding, mulching….you get the picture. In addition, I’ve managed to lug home something like 25 new trees and shrubs to plant, in addition to not-counting-not-telling how many hostas and other perennials.  Garden beds are like church pews: there’s always room for more if everyone will just squeeze together a little.

Our fourth All-Summer Bible Vacation series kicked off the first Sunday in June and it looks like we’re going to have another fabulous summer of arts, crafts, games, stories, singing and silliness that goes with kids and summers.

Last week, Swimmer Girl had her mandatory college orientation, and so did her mama. Two days of being reassured that our little fledglings are ready to fly the coop was a bit much, but it seems my generation’s parenting style is way more “hands-on” than our parents’ was. And that’s the polite term for our hovering.

At any rate, we can now check that activity off our summer to-do list, which also means we’ve started the countdown clock to moving date.  Just six short weeks to finish this particular chapter in our parent/child story. And make sure she has all the necessities and niceties that an apartment-style dorm needs. It’s so beyond the old-school new bedspread, lamp and the towels-that-you-don’t-care-if-they-come-back-or-not. We’re talking about outfitting a four bedroom, two bath apartment with a full kitchen and living room. It should be interesting to see what four girls can do to decorate their little corner of the campus.

I’ve updated our “What’s for dinner” in the sidebar, and if any of the new-fangled recipes work out, I’ll post them later this week, as I try to get back in the routine of actual cooking (what???  really???) and cleaning.

Happy Monday!

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