Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The County Fair

I love old-fashioned county fairs. Ours is tiny with no fancy commercially-scented buildings or toxic anything. Lots of natural air mixed with the farm-fresh scent of cow shit. If one takes their time, seeing the whole thing every booth and barn takes about thirty minutes. It's definitely small.

The art building is often nearly empty every year which is disturbing. I have in the past entered artworks, but truthfully, I don't like being judged as if I'm in grade school. This year I dabbled in two new art forms: glass-on-glass mosaics and painted rocks. I like displaying them for fun. I didn't realize one could enter the fair under a Q category and not get judged.

Due to my ignorance of the process, I thought I'd get clever and volunteer at the fair. I offered to be an art judge. This way I could enter and not be judged! Then I discovered painted rocks aren't considered art, they are "hobbies" so I ended up being judged anyway. My one mosaic I entered was a challenge to hang, but it did end up in the art building and not judged.



Judging was fairly non-toxic since it takes place the day before the fair. I checked to see if the building superintendent wore perfumes or if there was another judge. I realized they had no idea what I was talking about so I prepared myself with an escape route just in case.

No one is supposed to be in the building while the judge is judging, but people were milling about, looking, talking. At one point I kept passing a table and smelling something not-so-good. Finally I took a closer look and someone laid an opened bag of moth balls on it. Eeeww! I definitely have a keen nose for chemicals! I threw it in the garbage and placed plastic over it. Near the end of my tenure, the superintendent invited a herd of children to help her post the ribbons and the stench of toxic stink permeated the air. I couldn't wait to get out of there and survived with only migraines and nausea.

Still, it was a very interesting learning experience. I'd like to do it again only next time I'll request the building is closed during judging.

And I also won blue and purple ribbons for my painted rocks!


Summer Projects

I didn't have many summer projects this year, but I think that is really good since most of the summer it either rained or I was exhausted. I think it rained at least once a week which makes it really difficult to get outside painting done!

In the past two years I painted my house which I admit was crazy...and exhausting. However, as I was informed, I saved about $10,000 doing it myself. Hooray!

This year I had to do the house trim on the dormers which I completed early in the summer and paint the garage. I prepped and cleaned it last year but was just too exhausted to get it done then. Once again I armed myself  with gloves, overalls, goggles, and a respirator which can be very hot and uncomfortable in warm weather, but necessary.



So beautiful. Unfortunately with our wet summer and now that the fall thunderstorms have begun, I didn't get to the back. I'll save it for next year. No one looks at the back anyway, it was done in indestructible oil-based paint, and it has no damage so it can wait. It also needs new fascia boards so that's also on my list for next year.

Saving the Apple Tree

I can't believe the summer has come and gone already!

Last year, I realized too late my apple tree had some kind of disease. The limbs were literally rotting before my eyes. Raccoons would climb it and fall out of the tree because the limbs would break. I was in a panic, but figured if I couldn't fix it, I'd have to remove the whole tree. I read this was my fault. The year before I doused it with rabbit manure tea too early in the spring and with all the rain and damp created a nesting area for bad bacteria. Oh well. Live and learn. I'll never do that again!

I went to the local organic gardening center and asked what to do. They gave me a recipe to treat the tree and add nutrients, expensive nutrients. I bought Neem Oil, Fish Fertilizer, and Sea Crop to mix and spray on the tree once a month all winter. That Sea Crop is made from ocean minerals and at $40 per quart it's GOLD! The Neem Oil is nearly as expensive. I also sprayed the cherry and Italian prune trees just to be safe. I was really afraid the disease would spread as it normally does through fallen leaves and spores.

Then a friend of mine told me to paint a mixture of baking soda and molasses on the trunk and affected limbs. She didn't know why, but I assumed molasses is high in iron and baking soda neutralizes fungi and viruses. I worried rodents, raccoons or opossums might want to eat the bark. Later I was told deer LOVE molasses and are attracted by the smell. Do you blame them?? Thankfully I have a five foot fence around my yard so at least the deer weren't tempted to nibble.


I'm not sure which of the above remedies worked, but the apples are much better than last year. Bigger, hardly any blemishes or bugs, but fewer which is better anyway since the weight of too many apples is hard on the limbs. Bigger and fewer is usually from good nutrients. And so tasty!


The bark and limbs seem to be healing. I keep wondering if it's my imagination, but then I remembered I took photos last year to share with my friend.  Is it my imagination?

Last fall:


This fall:


Are the welts closing up? And the trunk seems to be healing:


It seems to suck up all the molasses as it doesn't sit on the surface, well, either than or the critters are licking it off!

Unfortunately, it didn't seem to do anything for the cherry tree which has gotten worse and I think the nutrients were too much for the Italian prune which only produced four prunes this year (one of them was hanging over my fence...the postman stole it...grrrr!) compared to 2500 prunes last year.

I'm going to invest in some more supplies and continue to treat the apple and cherry trees this winter and pray this disease doesn't get to the Italian prune. So happy to be able to save the apple tree.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Sightseeing

I've always wanted to see this old covered bridge that is two hours away, but never took the time. Here it is!










It was a little scary walking over the bridge with no where to jump if a car came. And dark! I didn't think a driver could see me. You don't see huge beams and floor planks like that anymore.

Beautiful area. Beautiful day for being a tourist.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Independence Day!


I have to be honest. I'm torn. A recent poll indicated less than fifty percent of the population are feeling patriotic lately. Their prediction is this lack of love for the country stems from the disgust toward the current administration. The administration that puts parade before people.

Presidunce Dump has spent $92 million on a pretentious, ostentatious 4th of July celebration befitting a dictator while ignoring the immigrants in concentration camps. Last week he claimed something should be done about the rampant homelessness and claims this just started two years ago. Really? On what planet, let alone, what country is he living?? This shows how totally out of touch he is with the reality of most Americans. As long as he can spend his days golfing and eating cheeseburgers, he doesn't care and is really not interested. Just think what could have been done with that $92 million to shelter and feed the homeless and help immigrants? What an atrocity! Is it any wonder people aren't feeling patriotic? Our country is failing miserably at providing a safe and healthy place to live for most.

In 2016 the national debt was $19.8 trillion. Today it is $22.5 trillion. So where is all the savings he promised his Trumptards?  As they lay around the house unemployed and lacking in adequate health care, I'm sure they will enjoy the televised parade. Personally, I'm boycotting it. It's embarrassing.

Well...I'm patriotically looking forward to next year.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

MAKE AMERICA HONORABLE AGAIN!

RESTORE AMERICAN VALUES!

REMOVE THE RAPIST FROM THE WHITE HOUSE!

VOTE 2020!

PLEASE!!!!


Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Middle Finger


The national call for impeachment protest was held yesterday, Saturday, June 15th, maybe in honor of the Dump's birthday.



"Happy Birthday, Asshole! 
You're FIRED!"



We had maybe 100 people at the one I attended. We marched with our signs and bullhorns up to a busy round-about intersection and waved and smiled at everyone.  Drivers honked, waved, gave thumbs up, and hung out their windows and cheered us on. It was such a happy event.



Well...for most. A very small percent of the drivers remained stone-faced, staring straight forward like they couldn't see us. I wondered if they were worried they'd get in a fender-bender from all the distraction, but I think more likely Trumptards. A smaller percentage gave us thumbs down or shook their heads. This only motivated us to cheer louder and wave harder. We ARE a happy bunch.



One person with signs on her car drove down the street, around the block, through the round-about again and again and again giving us the thumbs down with patriotic music blaring as an expression of her opposition. It was kind of funny.

"Oh, here she comes again!" And we'd all start cheering louder, waving harder, and smiling bigger.


One long-haired, white-headed, bushy-bearded, cowboy hat-wearing, old fart in a gigantic, gas-guzzling bright red pick up flipped us off and held it for the duration of his painful drive past the line of protesters. That was the highlight of my day. That made me feel like I made a difference, that all our noise was heard. I did worry he might have a gun. He looked like a brainless, gun-toting, single-minded conservative who mocks authority, discriminates against anyone not like him, and disrespects women, much like his leader. I shared with those around me if we see his bright red truck coming around again we should dive for cover. He didn't return.

It was a glorious day.


Oh, I got lots of complements on my signs. A couple people said, "Are you the one with the painted umbrellas?" I've made a name for myself in the protest community.

I am proud. I am Democrat. Hear me roar.


This sign wins the award for the day. I didn't quite understand it, but I liked her panache or just bold, flagrant use of the term "blow job" out in public. I laughed and then wondered, why would giving Dump a blow job allows us to impeach? Obviously others were as confused because she added the names Mitch and Lindsay to the side - ah ha! This is directed to the Republicans who continue to allow the bad behavior of this presidunce pig.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Raccoon Babies

Here are my baby pictures! Unfortunately, my zoom is lousy so I couldn't get much better close ups. They are so cute! Fluffy. Every time I go out to water the garden she comes out and we stare at each other. I walked around the house and came back in from the other side to take photos. Mama took them on a walk around the shed twice. At one point she climbed the fence and chattered to them from above. They tried to climb up to her but couldn't. It was so fun to watch them jump and play.



This one might have been the best photo if my flash didn't go off!?
This one she kept having problems with. He was always late, behind the others.
Finally she grabbed him and scolded him. HAHAHA




The next day they went on an excursion beyond the shed to the closest garden. They discovered my thyme and enjoyed themselves rolling and romping in it. They played with flowers. Then they went back to where I left the plastic container of water and put their little hands in it. One of them jumped in and walked around. They had so much fun.

I find instead of watching movies at night I watch them. Much more entertaining!

UPDATE: They are GONE! At first I was in a panic seeing the uneaten plate of food and prayed no one trapped the mama and the babies were still under the shed. The last time I saw them they were wrestling and running all over the garden. Where are they? I got online and learned that raccoons will have their babies in crawlspaces, chimneys, and...under sheds, but then when the babies become rambunctious and active at around 8 weeks, she moves them to another den. Probably out in the woods or the field beyond. I found a video online to see what 8 week old babies look like, and they look exactly like my babies. So they are gone. Perhaps they will come back to raid my fruit trees at the end of summer. I hope so. I miss them. I was depressed for days...

Friday, May 31, 2019

May Movie Reviews


*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

The Bookshop was about a widow (Emily Mortimer) in 1959 who fulfills her dream to open a bookshop in a small town in England. The whole town conspires to force her to close at the whim of a self-centered rich woman (Patricia Clarkson).  I thought this would be a cute, warm-hearted British movie with a little comedy...it was dark and depressing. The rich recluse who supports the bookstore owner and seems to be a possible love interest, but he is way too old for her...I think Emily Mortimer was too young for the part of a widow who was married for a long time. Love the costumes and everything English. Love the women wearing rubber farm boots with their dresses. Can I do that? LOL. It was a little slow. **

Burn After Reading Cohen brothers movie...that should say it all. Strange story about a group of bizarre, often stupid people entangled in each other's lives. All-star cast (George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Frances MacDormand, Richard Jenkins) with excellent performances. Brad Pitt as a dim-witted gym employee/trainer was hilarious. Unusual role for him. ***

The Favourite is about Queen Anne of England and her assistant/handmaids/lesbian lovers. Olivia Colman who is Queen Anne is exceptional and hilarious. All performances were great, but I didn't care for the story! I'm really disappointed. The presentation with the different chapters and chapter headings was clever. Costumes and setting were excellent. I just didn't like the story. Other than these details, I had no reason to keep watching. It just wasn't interesting. I had high hopes for this based on the previews. Disappointing. *

Green Book is about a highly-educated, cultured, wealthy, black concert pianist in the early 1960s who opts to tour the Deep South and put up with the racist attitudes in order to effect change. He hires a white, racist club bouncer from the Bronx to be his driver. They have absolutely nothing in common, develop a friendship while crossing all kinds of cultural boundaries learning how different yet how similar they are. At one point the driver tells the piano player, who seems to know very little about black music, black food, and black culture, "I'm more black than you are!" Great story. Outstanding performances, costumes, 1960s sets. I'm not sure how Viggo Mortensen could eat so much in each scene. ****

If Beale Street Could Talk I had bad feelings about this movie based on the DVD cover. It looked like a mushy love story in the 70s...the worst of all plots. BUT I ran out of options so thought I'd give it a chance. I couldn't get through the first fifteen minutes of the dreamy looks, hand-holding, the monotony, melancholic narration, and MATCHING CLOTHES. Really? The love birds had brand new, matching bright yellow and blue clothes. BLAH! Then she's pregnant and he's in jail and I'm thinking this is way too cliche. Then for lack of other movie options the next night I tried watching it again...and turned it off again. *

John Wick Shoot 'em up movie. An extraordinary amount of gun play in every scene. Not my type of movie, usually. It's about a hitman who used to work for the Russian mafia (or something). He retires for love and years later his wife dies from some unexplained illness. After she's dead she has a puppy delivered to him. The Russian mafia bossman's son steals John Wick's car and kills his puppy just for fun not knowing who he is. John Wick is not happy. I think their honor code is a little idiotic...at one point the mafia bossman tells John if he promises not to kill him he'll give him information...this is after he tried to kill him. Why would he keep his promise? Then near the end again he has his gun on the bossman and bossman says,"No guns, just hand to hand." WHY WOULD HE JUST NOT SHOOT HIM DEAD? It was goofy, but somewhat entertaining. I'm curious if the other movies in the series are the same...the next one coming out has Halley Berry with dogs. She had to train with them for six months so I was intrigued to see what this series was all about. ***

Juliet, Naked is about a woman who's boyfriend, Duncan, is an obsessed fanboy of an obscure, alternative rock star, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared after his last performance twenty five years ago. He runs the fan club which boasts 200 [male] members who chat online, following any rumor about the musician, interpreting and reinterpreting his lyrics ad nauseam , and his man cave is lined with collected memorabilia, obscure posters, photos, and recordings. Annie is so tired of hearing about Tucker Crowe for the last fifteen years. Although they agreed not to have children, she now wants them, is re-thinking her relationship, and wonders why her life has always been so responsible and lifeless. Duncan is sent old demos of the rough draft songs from Crowe's one and only album Juliet, titled Juliet, Naked. Annie listens to it and as usual deems it amateurish and depressing. As revenge, she writes an anonymous review of it on Duncan's fan site. Duncan is not pleased. Duncan has an affair with a woman who enjoys Crowe's music and his relationship with Annie falls apart, although I get the impression she's more than relieved not to ever hear about Tucker Crowe again. Then she gets an email...from Tucker Crowe. He agrees with her review. The real Tucker Crowe, really? They begin an online relationship and come to find out the fan club knows nothing about him and has misinterpreted everything he has done and said. It was a fun movie with some LOL moments about human relationships. It was funny when Annie introduces Tucker to Duncan the first time..."Yeah, right and I'm Stevie Wonder." He's so out of context he doesn't even recognize him. ***

Mary Poppins Returns I was worried it would be a cheap copy but it was an excellent sequel. Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins was practically perfect in every way which was really surprising. I don't remember the original Mary Poppins so ARROGANT. She was confident but not arrogant. And this one is a compulsive liar. When did Mary Poppins get so dishonest? Seems like a strange lesson to teach. Great cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colin Firth, Emily Mortimer, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep (!) and Dick VanDyke resurrected the bank president role. Streep's dialogue had to be a challenge. Lots of nods to the original. and I think even a slight nod to Harry Potter with the mysterious alley...looks just like Diagon Alley. OUTSTANDING costumes and great themes. The music didn't disappoint either - same tone and flavor following the same storyline as the original, but a couple songs about loss and grief that were beautiful and tear-jerking. I would have liked to see the kids sing more as they did at the very end, but they were really adorable. Great art and wonderful sets. The choreography is outstanding, not just the dancing, but the staging of some of the scenes where the timing had to be perfect. I wish they had some footage of how they filmed it. There were moments I got tears in my eyes and that happens every time I watch the original, too. Very heartwarming. Kids would love it. Adults, too. *****

Operation Finale is about the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS commander who masterminded the Holocaust and hid in Argentina after the war. Great performances, very intense. Ben Kingsley was superb. ****

A Simple Favor was a comedy (I think?) about the new friendship of very opposite women. When one of them disappears, the other starts investigating. Very dark humor. Anna Kendrick was absolutely superb as the wacky mom with the vlog. ***

Widows is about the wives of a dead crime ring who were obliterated after a heist gone wrong. The money that was stolen was blown to smithereens with them and the other bad guys who were robbed are not happy. They tell the crime ring leader's wife (Viola Davis)  they want their money and she is instructed to liquidate all her assets, the expensive condo, fancy cars, sparkly jewels, and hand it over. She has a month. Problem is, she owns nothing, except the book her husband left with all his heist plans including the one he was planning. She contacts the other widows to get them to help her and they've all been left with nothing as the creditors move in to take everything that was owed. It was interesting especially with a sleazy, corrupt political theme that is behind all the crime. I like the twists. Performances were great. ***

The Wife What a horrid story. It's about a woman Glenn Close) who in the 50s is told that because of the male-dominant publishing industry, she'll never be accepted as a writer. So she has an affair with her married college professor (Jonathan Pryce), who gets fired for this indiscretion, leaves his wife, and marries her. He's a horrid writer so she spends her life as his ghostwriter. Many years later he wins the Nobel Peace Prize while she stands in his shadow being ignored. Great performances. ***

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Roommate...Freeloader

I've had a raccoon living underneath my shed for the last month or so. Initially I thought I should block the hole, but then worried if it's a mama raccoon she might have babies. She leaves around dust, 8-9pm, to begin her nightly adventures. In the middle of the night sometimes I wake up and can hear her drinking water from the little cement ground-level bird bath in the front yard. I re-fill it every morning. Around 5am she returns to the shed and squeezes herself through the hole.

Here she is the first morning I spotted her just outside the shed.

Tonight I went out into the garage and noticed the garden was a bit dry. I hadn't watered it all day and the afternoon became uncommonly warm. I turn the hose on, started walking to the opposite side where the lettuce is growing, but before I noticed I was face to face with her about eight feet away. She must have just exited the shed hole and I surprised her. Too close for comfort for both of us. She froze. I froze. I worried if she did have babies, she'd attack me. Instead she quietly turned around and went back under the shed. I turned off the water and went back into the garage where I have a view of the shed from the window. She carefully came out again, surveyed the area, stared right at me for what seemed like an eternity sizing me up to determine if I was a statue or a real threat. She looked around, never leaving the entrance to under the shed. And then the CUTEST, TINIEST BABIES CAME OUT! They were about five inches long. Three of them. A little shaky on their feet so I wonder if it was their first foray into the world. They explored and played a little then nursed all the while mama kept a look out, listening for movement. SO ADORABLE. I heard her holler at them and they squeaked a chatter in reply and disappeared back under the shed. It finally got too dark to see anything so I moved, went into the house, cut some pieces of apple, and heaved them into her direction. She ate.

So fun. Although I might regret this later when my fruit trees are ripe and all her kids are grown and hungry...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Rejuvenation


It's been too long since my last visit to the beach. My acupuncturist says beach walking is a way to rejuvenate the YIN. OK! There were whales frolicking in the waves. Beautiful weather. Clean air. Lovely day. I should do that more often....

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Acupuncture

I managed to avoid all health care for exactly one year. It's a huge savings especially since the previous three years was such a drain on my bank account. Acupuncture was the only thing I hadn't tried although I did acupuncture many years ago. It was painful. I think she hit a nerve. And I'd bled. It seemed really wrong and it didn't seem to improve anything so I stopped.

About a year ago when in the throes of a non-working colon I went to the local "commune" style acupuncture clinic. This is where you pay a fraction of what an acupuncture treatment would normally cost, but you are in a darkened room with a bunch of people. It was kind of creepy. Every needle was painful, but I laid there obediently praying the time would fly. It didn't. It was the longest half hour of my life and I couldn't wait to get out of there. The acupuncturist said it could be his technique. I assumed he was a newbie.

I looked around for other acupuncturists but most of them do all kinds of fancy, expensive add-ons using moxa which is some kind of smelly thing. Others use incense, essential oils or have other herbal products that stink up their offices. So I gave up and waited.

I wanted to give acupuncture a serious try. I've read on numerous sites it can help with thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune diseases. Since I can't do thyroid medications, I wanted to find something that would get my thyroid working on its own without inciting any kind of autoimmune attack. Most supplements incite attacks.

I found this guy who didn't do herbs or incense. He said he did moxa with some patients, but I opted for the first appointment of the day when the office wouldn't be contaminated. His room smelled fine. I checked out his bathroom before I made the appointment. It's a bad sign when a bathroom has air fresheners or scented soap. It screams UNENLIGHTENED. His bathroom smelled very unscented and clean.

The first appointment was kind of fun. He reviewed my health history, we discussed diet. He said he thought I had a yin deficiency and a yang deficiency and he listed various foods that would support health. This gave me hope. He is the only health care provider who seemed to have a theory for my full-body inflammation and my digestive problems. He asked if I could do the rubbing alcohol he uses to sanitize skin, but told me it wasn't necessary. I appreciated his awareness and thoughtfulness and say, "No thanks. It stinks." At one point he discussed how fear can affect our health in various ways. As I laid there pondering silently why I would be in fear, he said, "It must be frightening to walk into a location or room and wonder if you are going to be poisoned." Wow. He seems to have more of a grasp for my chemically sensitive situation than I do. I was quite happy with him.

I'm very sensitive to everything around me so discomfort wouldn't be a surprise. The first needle he stuck in me inspired a loud, "Ouch" and he removed it opting for some kind of weird band-aid needles that just sit on your skin. Even some of those felt like a bee sting and for the next few days I felt like I had a sliver embedded in my skin. He did some acupressure, kept checking my pulses, looking at my tongue. It was fun. I liked the heater on my cold feet.

I didn't feel any different. At least it didn't make me feel worse. He said it usually takes 3-5 visits to notice a change. OK. I was hopeful.

At the second appointment I arrived early as usual. After an hour and half drive I always have to go to the restroom. It stunk like a toxic waste dump. What the FUCK? So what do I do? I can't lay around with needles in me while my bladder feels like it's exploding and I can't leave and find another bathroom or I'd be late. I peed as quickly as possible, holding my breath for as long as possible. It bothered my lungs but I didn't feel sick or anything.

I lay on the table and before I even know what is happening he swabs me all over with rubbing alcohol. Damn. He does a variety of extra things, more than what he did the first appointment, but he did inform me he is being careful not to overdo it. He also contradicts nearly everything he said during the first appointment, especially about diet. Hmmm...maybe he's having a bad day. It is, after all, his first appointment on a Monday morning.

After the appointment I have to pee again so I find a bathroom in a store. It has air fresheners. Damn. So that's three exposures in a matter of an hour. I'm starting to feel really lousy. I start feeling really hungry. Quadruple damn. I ate a salad for breakfast with no protein and since it's been too long since I ate it and I start to feel it. I get something to eat, but I fear I waited too long. Thirty minutes after the acupuncture treatments, the headaches start. By the time I get home I feel sick, light-headed, joint pain, and I crash. I can hardly sit up due to exhaustion. The migraines become unbearable.

So what happened and what is causing this, my constant question? The usual suspects are the exposures...or the acupuncture. The exposures wouldn't exhaust me. More importantly, I'm ravenous. I can't go an hour without food or the headaches, nausea, and exhaustion return and become debilitating. These are thyroid symptoms, not MCS.

The night before my next acupuncture appointment I am thinking maybe I should give it another try to confirm what my instincts are telling me: the acupuncture treatment worked...it revved up my thyroid too much causing an autoimmune attack. I've been exhausted and sick all week. I don't like the idea I'd have to leave not 1 1/2 hour for the drive, but I'll have to add another half hour to find a suitable bathroom. I'm feeling stressed and angry about this appointment. If it is the acupuncture, I don't want to go through that again. I call and cancel.

At this point I'm convinced it was the acupuncture. I was sick for three weeks before I started feeling better. I might wait a bit and try it again, but three weeks of hell isn't worth another experiment.

That was my last health care option. I'm out of ideas.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Paradise

Oh, how I love spring when everything is growing and blooming! I constantly catch myself gazing out a window marveling in the wonder and miracle of this season. Initially it's a lot of work with an abundance of weeding, cleaning the beds, removing leaves left over from winter hibernation and then planting vegetable seeds and new perennials. This year I'm growing an artichoke plant and I've transplanted about five lilac bushes so my house will be surrounded. But the work feels so rewarding especially as the weather improves, the sun shines and the air smells so fresh.

Yesterday as I was out pulling bluebells, I kept getting hit with a scent so strong my first inclination was to panic. WHERE IS THE PERFUME COMING FROM? It takes my brain a second to realize it's not perfume, but the lilac tree! When the realization settles, I calm, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and revel in the magic of such a glorious smell. I'm pretty sure this is why humans invented toxic perfume as a substitute.



My whole front yard smells like lilacs due to the gigantor tree I have. It seems far more pungent this year perhaps due to the trimming I gave it last fall hoping it'll plump up with more foliage and blossoms...which it did. I've also been cutting the blossoms and putting them in vases and the scent hits me in the house when I least expect it. Every time, my adrenaline rushes for a second before I realize the source. Then I sigh.


I think this is what heaven smells like...



Sunday, May 5, 2019

May Movie Reviews


*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Beast was about a young woman who lives with her parents in a community where a serial killer is killing young women. She begins dating a man who is a suspect. Jessie Buckley who is in the lead role is wonderful. ***

Boundaries is about a woman who feels she was abandoned by her father. She has no boundaries, hoards stray animals, and has a teenage son who rebels by drawing nude pictures of people. Her father gets kick out of his care center so she agrees to drive him to California so he can live with her sister. Along the way he sells his stash of pot with the help of his grandson. Some LOL moments. Great all-star cast. ****

The Clovehitch Killer Sixteen year old Tyler (Charlie Plummer) lives in a community that has been terrorized by a serial killer for longer than he's been alive. His family is very religious. His father (Dylan McDermott) is the scout leader, lectures his son about sex, and seems to watch every move his son makes. After finding photos of bondage and a Polaroid of a woman who might be one of the murder victims in his dad's shed, he starts to believe his father might be the Clovehitch Killer. It's a weird, creepy story. McDermott makes a good clean-cut, religious nut-psychopath. I didn't even recognize him. The rest of the performances were lacking in realism or maybe the script was too cliche. I couldn't tell. A lot of it was unrealistic and staged. Interesting ending, also unrealistic. ***

Colette was about the life of French author, Collette, with Keira Knightley in the leading role. Great costumes, sets and performances, unfortunately I kept wanting to get up or turn it off. It was a little boring.***

Final Portrait is about the final portrait done by Alberti Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) in 1964, Paris. He told the sitter, James Lord, it would only take two hours and twenty days later he's still at it. He paints, then destroys it, starts over. It was a very compelling story, interesting characters, outstanding sets of 1960s Paris. ***

Frontera was about illegal Mexican immigration and all that entails: the good, the bad and the truly ugly. It's about a Mexican man (Michael Peña) who travels across the border onto a rancher's land (Ed Harris). He encounters the rancher's wife (Amy Madigan) who is out riding her horse. She gives him water and a blanket and tells him he'll be safe on her land all the way to the highway. Three teenagers are out with rifles taking pot shots at the Mexicans. The wife hears the gunshots and rides back, her horse spooks and she falls hitting her head on a rock. The Mexican tries to help her but she tells him to get her horse. The husband shows after hearing the gun shots, sees the Mexican holding his wife's horse's reins and points his gun at him. He runs later to be picked up by the police. The wife dies and he's charged with murder assuming he caused her death while trying to steal her horse. Rancher is an ex-police officer and when law enforcement fails to investigate properly, he finds the evidence and witnesses someone in a green and white [border patrol] truck murder a Mexican with a long range rifle. Rancher doesn't think the Mexican caused his wife's death. In the meantime, Mexican's wife (Eva Longoria) is desperately trying to get across the border to get to her husband, pays a sleazy Coyote to help and well, that's never a good plan. Great story from start to finish. Love the beginning. Excellent performances and great cast. Excellent well-informed view of immigration. ****

The Guest OMG Dan Stevens has the most beautiful ice blue eyes. I always really like him in movies but why haven't I ever noticed those eyes before? It's about a family whose son died in the military. A man shows up to their house claiming to be their son's friend. There is a photo of him on their mantle with their son. He is invited to stay and he seems to be fulfilling a vow he made to the friend to protect the family. Then everything goes south and all hell breaks loose. It was outstanding. Excellent performances, excellent story with all kinds of unexpected. ****

A Long Way Down is about four people who go to the top of a skyscraper on New Year's Eve thinking they were going to commit suicide in solitude. Each has their own problems and reasons and after much arguing and trying to save each other make a pact not to do the deed until Valentine's Day. I tried listening to the book on tape and got bored really quickly. Great cast and it has potential, but there are too many things wrong with the story that make me not like it. It's bordering on stupid humor but using a serious topic. It didn't feel right in book form or film. ***

Mahogany  I LOVED this movie when I was a kid at a time when my dream was to be a fashion designer. Diana Ross is gorgeous. Bill Dee Williams is gorgeous. Anthony Perkins is psycho (he plays psycho very well). The costumes were sensational. I remember drooling over her clothes and now decades later, still think her clothes were awesome. Performances were superb. Now that I'm older the message that women should give up their dreams to work to make their men successful is outdated to the extreme although back then I just thought it was romantic. I'm not fond of the main character using sex to get ahead, but our society is still as sexist as it was back then. A great movie. *****

Oh Lucy is about a life-less Japanese woman who buys her niece's English language classes after the niece decides she needs the money. The English teacher (Josh Hartnett) is a little unconventional, hugs his students, makes them wear wigs and gives them American names while teaching them "American" English as in "Hey, how are ya?" When the teacher quits his job to run away with her niece back to America, she seems a little lost and decides to follow. Her sister goes with although they don't get along. It was an interesting story, but gets a little convoluted when she professes her love for the teacher and they have mindless sex. The story had a lot of potential for good humor and life-changing themes, but kind of missed the mark. Lots of suicide themes...everyone was offing themselves which I don't find funny so it was a little confusing..is it a comedy or a drama? It couldn't make up its mind. ***

Pali Road is about a doctor who is in a car accident with her boyfriend just as he's asking her to marry him and she says no she's not ready. She wakes up in a life with the creepy doctor who's been stalking her. Really bad acting, bad script, predictable plot except the ending. I kind of liked the ending - it's unexpected. **

Puzzle is about this mousy, sheltered housewife (Kelly MacDonald) who lives to serve her self-centered husband and two grown sons. She cleans, cooks, and shops for them, isn't allowed to think about anything else let alone do anything else unless it's for the church where she serves more people. She gets a puzzle for her birthday, finds she's really good (fast) at doing it, goes shopping for another and sees a notice at the puzzle store advertising for a partner for the national puzzle competition. She meets (Irrfan Khan) who's wife and puzzle partner just left him, who knows about current events and the world outside his home and they begin practicing for the competition. She falls in love...with her newfound freedom...but confuses it with falling in love with him. I don't like that she breaks both her husband's and the guy's hearts because she finally discovering herself. I've never understood women like her, but the world is full of them. ***

Quaker Oaths  So boring. I can't even comment. *

Quality Problems is about a woman who finds out her breast cancer has returned and all that entails. In addition, her father's Alzheimer's is creating major problems and she's trying to maintain sanity while planning a birthday party for her eight year old daughter. She has an outstanding support system of family and friends. Great story, but more importantly the humor is fresh and hilarious with the exceptional performances. The relationships between characters are what everyone dreams relationships to be. Love the husband. ****

The Rider is about a young, barely twenty-something rodeo star who is thrown and is kicked in the head. The story starts after he gets out of the hospital with a metal plate in his head, back home, taking lots of drugs, smoking lots of pot, vomiting and having seizures that paralyzes his hand. He's surrounded by immature, inconsiderate people who are constantly reminding him what he lost, harassing about "cowboying up" and getting back in the saddle before he loses courage, without any consideration for the fact he has been instructed not to ride or rodeo as any injury could be life threatening. Young kids he runs into wants to shake his hand and take photos with him, telling him they look forward to when he's riding again. His life is over and he has to reassess everything he's lived for and has known all his life. He visits his friend who also had a life-altering rodeo injury, but who is unable to walk, talk or function in any meaningful way. His visits involve simulated riding exercises and watching rodeo videos. The story is psychologically driven, understated but emotional performances, well-written, beautifully filmed. Very sad. ****

A Star is Born (1976). Well, I was wrong - Kris Kristofferson is just as cute as Bradley Cooper if not cuter. Way cuter even. Even the same dazzling blue eyes.  Cooper, however, sings better. Great movie. There is absolutely no nakedness in this movie, too, which is unusual compared to contemporary movies where nakedness abounds in every scene, but Streisand does have some serious plunging necklines. Outstanding costumes, classic coolness even by today's standards. And the whole follow-through on the death...he dies, she responds, she grieves, she sings. Still sob worthy. The modern version of this movie failed in so many ways but especially with the death scenario. It has been so long since I last saw the movie I forgot most of it. Yeah, it's dated and Streisand acts goofy like she's in a comedy all the way through it, but she's beautiful and can sing like no other. Great movie. *****

Transcendence is a sci-fi about a computer scientist (Johnny Depp) who is shot by a radical group who think computer technology is evil. He doesn't die but the bullet was laced with radiation so he has about a month to live. His wife (Rebecca Hall) and scientist friend (Paul Bettany) upload his brain into the computer which is then downloaded into the universe. His computer brain and his wife build a huge lab in the middle of no where and the brain starts developing new technology, able to rebuild anything that is destroyed: environment, humans. The government and Morgan Freeman decide it's not Johnny who is doing it but some rogue and dangerous technology and opt to destroy it with a computer virus. It was an interesting story but a little far fetched. ***

A Walk Among the Tombstones is about a retired-cop, ex-alcoholic private investigator (Liam Neeson) who is hired by a drug dealer (Dan Stevens) to find out who kidnapped his wife and chopped her up into little pieces. Other drug dealer wives, girlfriends, and daughters are being kidnapped and murdered as well. Excellent performances, excellent story, gripping murder mystery, outstanding characters who were very interesting and well-developed. ****

Wilby Wonderful is about a little town with an interesting variety of characters in the midst of a "scandal" that is constantly referred to but never detailed. People just want to love and be loved. Great performances.  Made me want to live in a small town...then I remembered I DO live in a small town and it's never as quaint, innocent, friendly, or joyful as they are in the movies. ***

Windstorm is a great "girl-and-her-horse" movie. Girls would love it. Great story. German dubbed in English so that could be why the dialogue was a little cheesy although the acting wasn't that good either. Awesome horse, incredibly trained. ***

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Employment Accommodation or PAY!

A company called Caltrans was sued by a MCSer for failing to accommodate his chemical sensitivity disability. His supervisors called him an "idiot" and fellow employees would harass him by placing perfumed items at his work station. He was awarded $3 million dollars! Then the judge stated he thought that was excessive and believed the jury's award to be based on passion and prejudice and reduced it to $350 thousand. WHAT? This was appealed because the dumb-shit judge didn't give any evidence as to why it should be lowered, and he is now back to being awarded $5 MILLION DOLLARS. That's the summary. You can read the whole article HERE

Hooray for justice! Finally! This sets legal precedent on disability accommodations. Maybe we'll finally be taken seriously.

I sure wish my lawsuit so long ago would have gone so well. I was told not to bother that the judge would throw it out of court. This guy must have had a much better lawyer than I did!


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Naturally-Dyed Easter Eggs


This was so fun! I hadn't dyed Easter eggs for I don't know how long. I used natural dyes.

Red:  Beets
Bright/Dark Blue and Light Blue: Purple Cabbage
Yellow: Turmeric
Orange: Yellow Onion Skins
Tan: Dandelion Leaves
Dark Purple: Blueberries

Green was the only color I couldn't get. I tried spinach, but they turned out ecru, almost white color. (Not pictured - I ate them.)

I'll be eating eggs every meal for a week now! But worth it.

SO FUN!

HAPPY EASTER!