Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 52


Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Week on My TV: December 28, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(Once Upon a Time, S3E5 "Good Form") Sword fighting! Now *that* doesn't get used enough on this show, one of the few shows where it makes perfect sense! -- Young Hook? Yes *please*. -- Sextant and leftenant? Am I watching Once Upon a Time or Sleepy Hollow? -- Second star to the right and straight on til morning! One of my favorite Disney movie quotes. -- Neverland holds the fountain of youth? Interesting spin, for the place where time doesn't exist.-- And cue the love triangle. Because every show must have one, I guess. Will Emma choose Neal or Hook?

**(Elementary, S2E10 "Tremors") I love when Sherlock messes with people. -- I thought the flashbacks through court testimony was a good and original format for telling the story of the week. -- I'm sad that Bell and Sherlock's relationship is under strain.

**(Elementary,  S2E11 "Internal Audit") Sherlock: You're not Alfredo. Unknown Man: You're Sherlock, right? Sherlock: And you are? Man: Randy. Sherlock: Name or adjective? Man we now know as Randy: What? Sherlock: Short for Randall or state of sexual arousal? Randy: Are you asking me if I'm horny?

**(Blue Bloods, S4E11 "Ties That Bind") I kinda love all the Christmas decorations scattered through this episode without looking like they tried too hard. Houses decorated with Christmas lights seen outside the window of Danny's house. The Christmas trees and the candles in the windows of the Reagan homes. Just another way this show feels to "authentic" and "identifiable" for me. -- Oof. I can't imagine Danny's position, being asked to help set up his childhood friend for mob association. -- Is the mayor permanently in a wheel chair as a result of that shooting? -- When whichever law enforcement group that's following Mickey wanted Danny to wear a wire, T asked why they wouldn't use some more modern technology. And then it comes out that Danny didn't wear the wire after all. He installed an app on a second phone, hidden in his sock, and used it to record the conversation with Mickey. ... Moral of the story: never underestimate a former police officer to be one step ahead while watching television. -- I do have one question, though. If it's Christmastime, why are the leaves on trees still all autumn-y? -- Forthwith at 46 minutes! And what's a 1085? Something that can be sent forthwith, that's for sure.

**(Scandal, S3E5 "More Cattle, Less Bull") Shonda Rhimes likes to recycle her actors. Cyrus (formerly Mer's father), Sally (formerly Mer's mother), now whoever this Leo character is (formerly Cooper on Private Practice).  -- BAHAHAHA! Leo just referred to Mellie as a "frigid shrew" right in front of her. -- Leo: But as hallowed as this office is...right now, it smells like desperation. Like losing. It smells like Nixon in '74 in here. -- From some angles, Lisa Kudrow looks exactly the same as always. From others...not so much. I don't like to think about how long it's been since Friends ended. -- I *totally* called it. Congresswoman Josie's baby-given-up is her "sister," Candy. -- ::snort:: Harrison's facial expressions while listening to Abby and Huck on their various phone calls on the car drive to Josie's hometown. -- That basketball game between Fitz and Jake was so clearly about Olivia, for Fitz. -- Cy's "do" boy, whose name I do not know: Sir...we've been Poped. -- I can't help it. Every time Lisa Kudrow comes on the screen as the Congresswoman, I keep thinking of Phoebe in the "what if" episode of Friends, when she's the stressed out money manger. -- Cyrus (after Josie spoke about her teenage pregnancy during the Democratic debate): She just won America's hearts. Olivia Pope...the gift that keeps on giving. -- Ugh. Olivia digging the Fitz phone out of her trash can when it starts ringing. Look up 'pathetic' in the dictionary. -- But oh...the chemistry of that call between Liv and Fitz. Darn it! Why must they be so perfect and yet so terrible for each other? -- David so totally busted Abby's lie when he walks into her office as she's sitting in it, claiming to still be in Montana. -- I feel like whoever is in charge of wardrobe on this show is influenced by too much Once Upon a Time. Olivia's dress was too severe. Mellie's dress was too "fairy tale." Both looked like dresses Regina would wear in Fairy Tale Land, which works for Once Upon a Time, not so much in Washington DC. -- I did NOT expect Mellie to be begging Olivia to come back and run Fitz's re-election campaign. -- Mellie: Do you remember what it was like four years ago, Liv? What *we* were like four years ago? Fresh and young and...full of ideas. now, four years later, my God, look at us. Congress has stalled everything we've tried to push through. Approvals are in freefall. People want change and, of course, that's exactly what the Democrats are running on. That's... I'm not even worried about all that. Anyone can fix that. That's not why he needs *you*. He needs *you*, Olivia. He is tired and broken and it isn't the job. It's doing the job without you. He's not alive when you're not here. He can't breathe when you're not here. He doesn't have the will to run, much less win, when you're not here, because you... You're everything to him, Liv. He needs you...so I need you. Come back. Come back to us. ... WHOA. I had no idea Mellie had that in her. -- Conflicted: I like Jake. I really do. The fact that he has to feel like second fiddle to Fitz makes me sad. -- What. Is. Up. With. Quinn. -- Holy. Crap. Fitz shot down a plane that Olivia's *mother* was on???

**(Once Upon a Time, S3E6 "Ariel") As Snow is running through the forest, The Queen's henchmen on her heels, and she comes to a screeching halt at the top of a cliff, overlooking the sea, I can't help but think that flashbacks lose some of their edge-of-your-seat-edness when you know that Snow still exists in the present day. -- Joanna Garcia Swisher is cast very well as Ariel. -- Regina: Focus! Concentrate!! Emma: It's kind of hard when you're talking in my ear. Regina: And when the wind blows or it's raining or...someone's shooting arrows at you. Yes, concentration's hard. That's the point. -- It's...weird to see Snow and Charming having parental conversations about Emma, who herself is a grown woman, but is still a "child" in the ways of magic. -- I will *never* see Peter Pan the same way again, but man, does that kid play a fantastic role. -- Ariel has on spot on one cheek that is more pink than anywhere else on her face. Lighting? Too much blush? Just the actress's natural coloring? It's distracting. -- Whoa! Rumplestiltskin's illusion of Belle was Pan's Shadow! -- Regina posing as Ursula! Brilliant! -- Did Regina call Mermaid-Snow "The Catch of the Day?" ::snort:: -- Ariel stabbing Regina in the neck with the "mini trident"/salad fork! And Snow told her it wouldn't be valuable. Ha. -- So, Snow's admitted secret in the Echo Cave, that she wants to have a baby, is how the writers are going to spin Ginnifer Goodwin's real life pregnancy?

**(Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, S1E4 "The Serpent") Jafar back story! He was the illegitimate son of the Sultan who sought the help of a sorceress to learn her dark magic for revenge! I approve! -- Very clever of Cyrus to coerce the guard to share his meat scraps with him so he could extract the wishbone to fashion into a tool. -- I totally called it that Jafar eventually turned on the sorceress and transformed her into his snake staff! -- So, the Knave has been turned to stone and Alice has used her first wish. Now what?

**(Scandal, S3E6 "Icarus") I did not even remotely follow Leo's plan for Sally's campaign. -- Quinn is a mess. Trying to secretly teach herself to shoot. Snapping at Huck. Actually referencing Liv and Fitz's relationship out loud. She needs to be reined in. Quickly. -- Jake: Well, I'm digging up dirt on the most powerful man in the world. How dangerous could that possibly be? -- Olivia has the Ugly Cry Face down to a science. -- Cyrus and James fights are more catty than any girl fights I've ever witnessed. -- Freaked out Harrison is very unsettling. His pre-Gladiator life must have run fast and hard to have enemies that make him sweat like this even now. -- Mellie exploiting Sally's husband's wandering eye. Down and dirty. -- Oh boy. Charlie is giving Quinn shooting tips. This is going to spell bad news. Mark my words. She's already treading too close to the dark side as it is. -- I did not expect one of Cy's "people" to be the minister who squealed on Sally's intention to run against Fitz as an Independent. -- Also unexpected: that woman Jake was meeting for details on Liv's mother's flight to be there to shoot him, not provide the promised intel. Nor did I expect "mysterious man from coffee shop" to be Secret Service tailing Jake and not someone reporting back to Rowan. Keeping me on my toes, Scandal! Much more double crossing and I will start wondering if Scandal relocated to Dallas. -- OMG. Fitz didn't know, has never known, that Liv's mother was on the plane that was shot down. The plane it sure seems Fitz shot out of the sky in association with Operation Remington.

**(Once Upon a Time, S3E7 "Dark Hollow") Meanwhile, back in Storybrooke... I've been wondering what's been going on back there as our little expedition crew has been stumbling around Neverland. -- Who are those guys in the old car that managed to get into Storybrooke before Belle cast the cloaking spell?? -- Snow. Is. Mad. At. Charming. (But even when they fight and yell at each other, there's so much love evident underneath that I can sort of see how Regina has had enough time with them. -- The "power of Rumplestiltskin and Belle's love" is Chip! Nailed it! -- Neal: It's not a star map. It's what we're going to use to trap Pan's Shadow. Hook: Coconut? Are you daft? Neal: You came to Neverland on a pirate ship through a portal. You draw the line at a magic coconut? -- The mysterious guys in Storybrooke are the Darling boys and that's Wendy Darling that Pan's kept hidden in the cage?!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 51


Saturday, December 21, 2013

This Week on My TV: December 21, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(The Carrie Diaries, S2E2 "Express Yourself") Samantha and the nudity. I cannot stop laughing, because that is *exactly* what I would expect from a young Samantha, based on what we knew of adult Samantha. -- Carrie can't deal with hurting feelings. I so get that. It's just easier to disappoint myself than to know I hurt someone else's feelings. -- Watching Tom hide things from his new girlfriend was funny...until it got sad, because he didn't know whether or not to leave out the photos of his dead wife. -- Carrie trying to be in two places at once feels like a nod to scattered adult Carrie. -- Kind of love Samantha giving Carrie advice about demanding respect from guys. -- Sebastian's father is a jerk. -- "Suddenly," by Billy Ocean. Wow, I haven't heard that one in forever. -- Young Samantha says "oh honey" just like adult Samantha! Love! -- Carrie telling Sebastian that he broke her, he broke her heart, and she hates him because she still loves him and hates herself even more for it. Flashes of Big, yes?

**(The Michael J Fox Show, S1E11 "Christmas") I love when they weave Christmas magic into sitcoms: Ian meets "Kris" who gives him the Matchbox car he never got as a little boy. Eve is reminded of Christmas spirit by a Jewish cab driver, which leads her to bailing Mike out from his gift exchange with his wife, after he accidentally gave her gift to his assistant, and Eve came up with a loaf of Italian bread and a stick of salami, just like they had on their first, broke Christmas together. -- Could we try to be a *little* tiny bit creative with the episode titles? I mean seriously, they used both "Christmas" and "Thanksgiving." Lame.

**(Last Man Standing, S3E11 "Elfie") Of course Ryan calls Christmas trees "murder" and bakes "holiday cookies." I truly cringe every time his character appears on camera. -- Hahaha. Eve messing with Boyd via the elf. -- Mike: We can pump this kid full of so much Christmas spirit, he'll be farting candy canes at his dad's house.

**(How I Met Your Mother, S9E13 "Bass Player Needed") The Mother!!! It's a Christmas miracle (and this isn't even a Christmas episode). -- Oh man. Darren is a douche. He told Lily that Robin didn't want her to move away. He told Barney that Ted is moving to Chicago. I suppose this serves a purpose, but if they wanted to create a character that makes you want to reach through the tv screen to punch them in the nose, well, mission accomplished. -- Saddest thing ever: Ted talking to Barney about moving to Chicago because he needs a new start. -- I adore The Mother. Adore. I love that she can't do confrontation. I love that she's sweet. I love that she gets along with all Ted's friends. -- Marshall is back! That reunion between Lily, Marshall and Marvin. ::sniffle:: -- The Mother: There are real villains in this world. But they don't always get real justice, do they? You wanna believe Karma's gonna get 'em but...Karma doesn't always come through. I guess you have to accept that sometimes in life, you just don't get that knockout punch. ... and then we see Ted punch Darren! (Told you he was punchable!) And The Mother bought Ted a bottle of the bar's best scotch! ::swoon::

**(2 Broke Girls, S3E12 "And the French Kiss") Blah. Chef Nicholas is married and making out with Caroline? Bad direction to take a character I thought I'd like.

**(Chicago Fire, S2E6 "Joyriding") Boden bailing on the house. Mouch bailing on the campaign. Shay is involved with a she-douche. I still don't feel a connection to any of the characters. Not even Severide when he saved a kid with a near fatal injury. -- David Eigenberg has the greenest eyes. How did I never notice that before?

**(Blue Bloods, S4E10 "Mistaken Identity") Wait a second. I thought Jamie and his high school girlfriend broke up ages ago?! -- Frank: I hate when you do that. Garrett: My job?? Frank: And why are you in here again? ... Their interactions never fail to slay me. -- The assaulted police officer had "Bert" (as in "Bert and Ernie") eyebrows. -- Danny got a new unmarked police car! He must have broadsided too many other cars during chases in his old one. -- They sure were allowing people to stand awfully close while they deactivated that bomb. -- How long before Jamie ends up with his partner?

**(Mike and Molly, S4E7 "They Shoot Asses, Don't They?") Now I've never been shot in the backside before, but why was Mike on crutches for that? -- Mike was sitting down awfully hard for someone with a bullet hole in his seat. -- I could have done without the bathroom/Vince image. -- I liked that this episode was a bit more reminiscent of Mike and Molly as they were before this season started. They were a good blend between "old and new."

**(Mom, S1E12 "Corned Beef and Handcuffs") Chef Rudy, cute? Not even close. You're full of crazy, Bonnie. And clearly need your eyes and/or taste checked. -- Christy: Walk of shame? Bonnie: Strut of pride! -- Bonnie sure put those slippers on pretty quickly after painting her toes. -- There isn't enough brain bleach in the world to erase the image of French Stewart sucking on Alison Janney's toes.

**(Person of Interest, S3E11 "Lethe") Is Harold trying to ignore The Machine's attempts to send him numbers?! -- I love when I recognize random characters from other shows. This week's Number was Donny from Frasier. -- Was the 1971 flashback supposed to be Harold or Arthur Claypool? -- Reese: How did you find me? Lionel: What? Did you think I won my detective shield in a poker game? -- Totally knew Harold was avoiding this week's Number because he knew him. -- Ah, 1979 flashback implies 1971 was young Harold. -- Reese has gone rogue?! -- There was a second machine?! -- Why does Lionel keep picking fights he can't win? If he couldn't beat HR guy, he's certainly not going to best Reese, not even drunk Reese. -- Whoa. Did not see the "not really his wife" thing coming. Camryn Manheim is Control?! -- Well that was quite a standoff to end this episode! Harold and Shaw's lives on the line and Samaritan perhaps still in existence?

**(CSI, S14E8 "Helpless") Ewww. Bloody corpse in a giant hamster ball rolling down the street? -- The break-in rapist case was at least interesting, but the human hamster ball was just weird and kind of boring. I also felt like incorporating the swing shift CSIs had a lot of unrealized potential. It seemed like it was going to be a good twist, but it ended up fizzling. Bummer.

**(Top Chef, S11E11 "Giving It the College Try") Carrie doesn't know how to MAKE A BED??? -- I'm a little confused that Shirley is so offended that Carlos appears to be "all about himself." This *is* a competition and there is only one winner. If you're NOT all about yourself, what are you doing here? -- Carrie should have gone home. She's lucky she got immunity. -- I was off on my guess this week. I thought Stephanie was going home. I'm relieved it was Justin instead. -- Shirley has come away with two big wins: a large cash prize earlier and now a new car! -- Most importantly: Louis stayed alive in Last Chance Kitchen!



1. What first tells you that winter is here?
The calendar or the weather people on television. Certainly *not* the temperature!

2. Name your five of your favorite distinctively winter habits or customs.
1. Being able to leave the windows open and the air conditioning off, most of the time.
2. Wearing long sleeves some days and not sweating!
3. Keeping both a blanket and the comforter on the bed, because we never know when a night might be chilly enough to actually warrant needing both. (And waking up at night, shivering, is no fun. Much easier to reach to the foot of the bed for an additional layer than to get up and search for one when you'd rather stay asleep.)
4. Making some hot apple cider or hot chocolate to sip.
5. Enjoying the snowy photos shared on social media.

3. What is your favorite smell of winter?

4. What is your favorite taste of winter?

5. Favorite winter memory?
Christmas Eves spent at my Gram's sister's house, having a big family party.

6. What is your favorite part of winter?
The days when the temperature doesn't go above 70. And seeing the Disney parks all dressed up for Christmas.

7. What's your favorite quintessentially winter food? Least favorite?
Favorite: Hot beverages.
Least favorite: trying to make sugar cookies in the humid Florida air.

8. Go-to winter beverage?
Hot apple cider, for a treat.

9. Least favorite/most annoying thing related to winter?
The days when the thermometer climbs towards 80 (or higher) and we have to run the air. I know I live in Florida. I would still like seasonally appropriate weather for my climate and 80 isn't it.

10. Place you'd most want to be in the winter: the lake, the city, the beach or the mountains?
The city. I think cities covered in a blanket of fresh snow are when they are at their most beautiful.

11. Your absolute dream winter day would be:
High of 60. Low of 38. Sunny and brisk. Cozy inside with my blanket and a good book.

12. If you could go anywhere on vacation in the winter, where would you go?

Somewhere it snows, since I haven't really been in the snow post-Florida-relocation back in March 2002.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

9 Songs I Have Three or More Versions of on My iPod
What Child Is This? (6)
I'll Be Home for Christmas (5)
The Christmas Song (5)
Joy to the World (4)
O Come All Ye Faithful (4)
O Holy Night (4)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (3)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (3)
Away in a Manger (3)

8 Favorite Christmas Classics
Caroling, Caroling (Nat King Cole)
The Christmas Waltz (Frank Sinatra)
Mistletoe and Holly (Frank Sinatra)
Here Comes Santa Claus (Gene Autry)
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Bing Crosby)
Silver Bells (Dean Martin)
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (Vaughn Monroe)
O Tannenbaum (Nat King Cole)

7 Songs That Speak to My Soul
Breath of Heaven
Mary, Did You Know
It's the Messiah
Who Comes This Night
In the Bleak Midwinter
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
O Come, O Come Emmanuel

6 Underrated Christmas Songs I Love
O Little Town of Bethlehem
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Angels From the Realms of Glory
We Three Kings

5 Best Independent Christmas Songs You Haven't Heard
A Cradle In Bethlehem (Vince Gill)
Hope Is Born Again (Jim Brickman)
One Bright Star (Vince Gill)
Take a Walk through Bethlehem (Trisha Yearwood)
Let It Be Christmas (Alan Jackson)

4 Songs on my iPod from Christmas Specials and Movies
Baby It's Cold Outside (Elf)
Christmas Time Is Here (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
A Holly Jolly Christmas (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

3 Holiday-Related Songs I Love That Will Cause You to Judge Me But I Don't Care, I Still Love Them
He Came Here for Me (The Carpenters)
Same Old Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg)
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? (The Carpenters)

2 Christmas Songs Guaranteed to Make Me Cry
A Baby Changes Everything (no idea how Faith Hill makes it through this song without weeping, because I have tears running down my face every time)
Silent Night (when we sing it in church, Christmas Eve, with the church lit entirely by cande light)

1 Favorite Secular Christmas Song
White Christmas


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blue Christmas

One of T's traditions: One blue candle, lit day and night, in one of our front windows for the entire Christmas season. In memory of all police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 50


Saturday, December 14, 2013

This Week on My TV: December 14, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(Last Man Standing, S3E10 "Spanking") This episode did nothing to make me like Kristin and Ryan any better. But I sure was amused that Mandy and Eve were making fun of Kristin. -- Vanessa: You didn't hear about our family historical cycle of violence? My ancestors landed at Plymouth Rock, the Indians brought us corn, and we spanked our kids with it.

**(The Mentalist, S6E10 "Green Thumb") So do Lisbon, Jane and Cho still live in California or have they all relocated to Texas now? -- I'm kinda liking scruffy Patrick Jane. -- This is the happiest I have *ever* seen Lisbon! I don't think I've ever really seen her smile before, much less at Patrick, and especially about his antics.

**(Chicago Fire, S2E5 "A Power Move") These fire fighters get around more than the doctors on Grey's Anatomy. Dawson, Shay, Severide. Sheesh. All with random people in random beds. -- Mills searching for toes scattered around a yard? Gross. -- I keep trying to find just one likable character on this show, but the sad thing is that once the episode is over, I can't even remember a single compelling story line. And yet...I keep watching?

**(Mike and Molly, S4E6 "Shoeless Molly Flynn") So... if crazy new Molly doesn't work out in the ratings, will they just count this season as a mental break and switch back to less obnoxious Molly? -- Carl: Don't go in there with a hot head. Remember: Listen. Acknowledge. Admit. Apologize. LAAA. Mike: Oprah? Carl [proudly]: Carl. -- There's only so many times we can do the "Molly shops too much" story. It's just the same jokes every time.

**(CSI, S14E7 "Under a Cloud") I can't remember the last time we saw George Eads. Who is this new chem girl? Is he not coming back? -- Was that Lea Thompson from "Caroline in the City"? -- Hmmm... Is that day shift guy going to be a new love interest for Sarah? -- The more I think about it, that guy who served Greg was creepy.

**(Scandal, S3E4 "Say Hello to My Little Friend") Jake is a good guy. So why am I conflicted about Liv being with him over Fitz? Fitz who is *married*. -- Harrison's victory dance. 'Nuff said. -- Is David wearing a secret white hat, tipping off Pope and Associates about cases he's prosecuting where the defendant needs gladiating? -- Is it bad that I thoroughly enjoyed Mellie's giant misstep with a mic still on? -- Apparently B613s can only have conversations by ambush with guns aimed at one another? That might have been meant as intense, but it came off as comical. -- Did Fitz do a good thing by arranging the Arlington burial for Foster or is there more to this story? And why was Huck lurking there? Oh!! It's the guy Huck killed! ::slaps forehead:: -- Lisa Kudrow! -- It's about time David stood up for himself against Abby's ambivalence. I'm disappointed that all it took was one text from her to make him cave though. -- Quinn was way too into eating that pickle. -- Love love *love* that speech Huck gave Quinn about curbing her curiosity before she finds herself sucked into his kind darkness. -- So we're going to have a little Remington reunion, are we? I wonder how this will go down. -- Given the topic of this week's Olivia Pope client, this may be one of the best episode titles ever!

**(The Middle, S5E9 "The Christmas Tree") Frankie: I'm just excited for Axl to come home for his first Christmas since going away to college. Don't worry. Someday I'll be happy to see you too. -- Frankie: First of all, you're not going to Hooters on Christmas. Second, have you seen the Orson Hooters? -- Sue happy about everything Christmas. I get her. I just get her. I would dive head first into everything Christmas and swim around, if that were possible. -- Mike [about their humongous Christmas tree]: I hope everybody likes where it is, because that's where it's staying until Valentine's Day. -- " "Snark-asm." Now that is awesome. Must remember to file that away with "hangry" for regular vocabulary! -- Sue [after Axl stuffs her face first into the Christmas tree and she can't stop sneezing]: I'm allergic to Christmas! -- Globs of tinsel everywhere. That was the most comical Christmas tree! -- Sue's hermetically sealed Christmas, her face pressed against that giant sheet of plastic separating her from the tree. -- Brick's Christmas fundraiser ponzi scheme. I died when it ended with him taking all the poinsettias from the cemetary to sell them off. -- Brick getting a shirt exactly like the one he's wearing as a Christmas gift. -- Wow. Mike never gets emotional. That was quite a scene with Axl and "The Cat's in the Cradle." -- Sue sitting outside to enjoy the tree since it was the only way she could look at it and still breathe. I just love her. -- This was an excellent episode. Ok, all you other shows doing Christmas episodes. The bar has been set high!

**(Modern Family, S5E10 "The Old Man and the Tree") Jay: What the hell is that? Manny [proudly]: A fiber optic tree. It's way better for the environment than a real one. Jay: Not if the environment is my living room. Manny: Look, I admit it takes some getting used to. But so did Greek yogurt. Now I can't even remember how the old stuff tastes. Jay: Why do we keep changing things that don't need changing? Christmas is real trees, egg nog, Perry Como and Bing on the hifi. Manny: Now you're just making up words. ... I hear ya, Jay. I hear ya! -- Mitchell: Oh...we're calling it The Twelve Gays of Christmas now. Cam: Just be glad I talked him out of Feliz Navi-dude. -- Cam: Ok, I am not pointing fingers, but our daughter had exactly one thing [holds up one finger] on her list and *someone* didn't get it [finger starts to lower] so *someone* needs to go to the mall. Mitchell: You're pointing fingers. Cam: No, it's still a one. It just fell asleep on the job. -- Mitchell [on the phone to Cam] There are no Puppy Pounds *anywhere*. It's like trying to find a Cabbage Patch Kid on Christmas Eve 1983. -- Jay [as he and Manny struggle to cut down a real tree and the saw gets stuck]: What is this wood made out of? They ought to make saws out of it! -- I about died when Jay tied a bunch of rope to the tree with the other ends tied to the car, attempting to pull the tree over that way, but ends up just stripping off a bunch of branches. Manny: It's bald on one side now! Jay: It'll be fine! We'll just comb over some branches! -- Alex: What's going to happen to me? Am I going to just nitpick everyone until they leave me? Haley [comfortingly]: Hey, Mom found somebody...

**(Parenthood, S5E5 "Let's Be Mad Together") Crosby changed that diaper wicked fast for being a "number two." -- Sarah's version of plumbing looks like something that would happen to me. -- I love that Hank isn't afraid to do battle for Max's photography talent. -- I suspect I'm supposed to realize Sarah was right to be concerned about Amber and Ryan, but I'm really just annoyed with Sarah for stirring up problems with her own projection onto Amber. -- Not a fan of Peet. Back away from that, Joel. That's just trouble. -- Boy, this season is all about teams that aren't working properly and overstepping boundaries: Adam and Kristina on the campaign. Millie and Zeek on whether or not to sell the house. Julia and Joel conflicting on how to handle Victor's reading problems. Adam and Crosby disagreeing about The Luncheonette also producing its own albums as a private label. Sarah mishandling her boundaries with Amber about her upcoming wedding to Ryan. Sarah's meddling causing disharmony between Amber and Ryan. Crosby and Jasmine navigating the upheaval of a newborn. -- Drunk Joel in the grocery store, staring at cakes. And stumbling over saying 'inebriated.' Haaaahahaha! -- I don't even know who you are anymore, Joel. With the yelling and the looking for fights and the being strong willed. It's like you're suddenly...Julia. -- Well, Ryan, I pretty much love you for being a man and telling Sarah what she wanted answers to and being respectful but still standing your ground. -- I did not cry. Not even one tear. Maybe the only that's happened with this show. Ever.

**(The Big Bang Theory, S7E11 "The Cooper Extraction") OMG that ornament spacing template is so something my dad would use. -- Sheldon: She chose to have a home birth because she wants to live in the Stone Age and a cave wasn't available. -- Raj: If you were having Sheldon's baby, would you really want him in the room? Penny: Yeah, if he's in the room when when they're *making* the baby, I'll give you $10. -- Amy: Hi, Sheldon. Everything ok? Sheldon: No, it's not. I've seen things. Lady things. Amy: Listen to me. That is NOT the way they usually look. Sheldon: Doesn't matter. It is no way to make new humans. People coming out of people. Like some kind of dirty magic show. -- Sheldon: I have two PhDs and somehow I'm the janitor of my sister's birth canal. -- Sheldon: That baby is so irritating. He has literally been crying his entire life. -- Love Leonard showing Amy how she's more important to Sheldon than she thinks...but Sheldon went to Texas without his laptop?! -- The "what if" episodes of Friends were always some of my favorites. And "It's a Wonderful Life" is my very favorite movie. Needless to say, the pressure was high for The Big Bang Theory to live up to this high-set bar. Very well done. Except Leonard, Raj and Stuart in fat suits still weren't as good as Monica in a fat suit.

**(Top Chef, S11E10 "Like Mama Made") The Quick Fire Challenge was sponsored by Dunkin! (This makes me inordinately happy, but my love for Dunkin is no shocker to anyone at this point.) -- I honestly expected them to come up with more coffee-crusted meats for that Quick Fire requiring the use of Dunkin Donuts coffee. -- I love the variations on this challenge: comfort food, food that makes you think of home, foods your mom/gram made. The chefs all get so emotional and passionate. I feel like I need to see that, with how cut-throat they've gotten by this point in the competition. -- T and I were discussing what we'd have to make for this kind of challenge. T: chicken and dumplings or macaroni and cheese. Me: meatloaf. -- Called it: Nick wins, Travis packs his knives and Louis reigns in Last Chance Kitchen!

**(The Carrie Diaries, S2E1 "Win Some, Lose Some") Seriously cute hair, but no one looks that cute first thing in the morning, baby Carrie Bradshaw. Post party Carrie was way more realistic. -- I am totally loving Carrie falling in love with her city. -- What is with all the yellow phones?? Does no one own, say, a brown or black one?! -- The debut of Samantha! With how well they've constructed young Carrie, I am very curious to see how well they can do with young Samantha.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Rose Gold

Back before we owned our house, before we'd even seen it in person, actually, we were browsing online, trying to decide, via a few (usually pretty lame) photos, which homes on the market inspired us enough to make an appointment to walk through. We came across this one house that appeared to... could this be right? Is there a wall-sized *window* in that shower? Looking...outside?! We'd been stuck in a perpetual loop for a long while at this point. Well over eighteen months of looking at houses that ranged from "just not quite right" for this reason or that, all the way to "it would be better for this house if someone accidentally dropped a lit match on their way out the door and left it a heap of burning embers." Long story short, despite the weird window situation, we decided to see what the house looked like in living color. We've been living here for closing in on two years now.

Two years. The time... well, I don't have to tell you.

Back to that window. That strange, curious window...

...that somehow became one of my favorite things, like, ever. It is far from weird or uncomfortable. There is, indeed, a wall-sized window in the master shower that looks outside. But it looks out onto a private patio with a high security fence, *not* across my backyard and into the behind-us neighbors' breakfast nook or any other equally awkward location. I cannot even begin to explain the peaceful sanctuary of showering entirely by soft, natural morning light. How it wakes me up, slowly and gently. I breathe deeply and start the day feeling peaceful.

Even though I fell rapidly and completely in love with this window, it held another surprise. One I wouldn't discover for nearly a year. If time is fleeting -- and surely, it is -- then time is also fluid. The days stretch longer and contract shorter with the revolving seasons. The weather changes the intensity of the light. You look up at a sunset and before you can turn away, it's already changed in a thousand glorious ways.

In mid December, the sun rises just after seven in the morning. In the half hour or so before the sun raises its fiery orange face to illuminate the earth, the light begins to warm in anticipation. From the cool blues of overnight is born this...glow. And for just a few minutes, so brief that if you aren't waiting for it, you'll miss it, that entire patio garden is bathed in the most stunningly beautiful light I have ever seen. It reflects off the creamy fence and is nothing short of magical, a color I can only describe as "rose gold."

I don't have a single photograph of it. It happens exclusively at the time of day when I am physically in the shower -- where, for several reasons, my camera dares not travel -- and the gift of it depends on the whims of Mother Nature, But for a few short weeks, the wonders of this world align to christen a few of my mornings with an exquisite beauty so breathtaking that I cannot help to exhale a prayer of awe-filled thanks.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 49


Saturday, December 7, 2013

This Week on My TV: December 7, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(The Mentalist, S6E9 "My Blue Heaven") Patrick Jane: Turns out being understood is an underrated life pleasure. -- Is Patrick wearing a skirt/sarong?? -- That dancing Patrick was doing? I could do that! -- Totally cracked up when Cho asked Partick where his socks were. -- That was a shady trick by the FBI to agree to Patrick's terms, then go back on it. -- I thought the show did a good job of covering the two years that have passed since Patrick killed Red John. -- I wanna know the secret Patrick told the bellhop before he left the island!

**(Person of Interest, S3E10 "The Devil's Share") Using Johnny Cash's song "Hurt" as the background music for the entire opening? Brilliant. -- Mr Reese is looking rough. Which makes me sad. -- I was thinking: Harold always uses various birds as aliases for his last name. Is Finch really his last name?? Or another alias?? -- Shaw used to be a doctor?! I did not expect that. -- Fusco: Just when I think life with you all can't get any weirder, one of you takes it to the next level. -- Shaw: He lost a lot of blood. I'm going to steal more from Manhattan General. ... Of course she is. -- Elias avenged Joss's murder!!

**(How I Met Your Mother, S9E12 "The Rehearsal Dinner") I didn't like the top Robin was wearing for most of the season, but I love that dress she had for the rehearsal dinner! -- Speaking of rehearsal dinner: finally some forward progress in the timeline! -- Hahaha! Barney trying to make air quotes while handcuffed to that pipe.-- Digureskating Liberace Ted. I have no words. -- That was an awesome and wicked sweet surprise by Barney for Robin to bring Canada to her for the rehearsal dinner. I like when Barney is still Barney, but a sweeter version of his original self.

**(The Blacklist, S1E10 "Anslo Garrick" Part 2) Dembe is alive!!  -- The shooting scenes were confusing with all the people in gear. I couldn't tell who was good and who was bad. -- The shot Ressler to take out the bad guy guard was a nice touch. -- Ewww... Did we really have to watch them dig that chip out of Red's neck? -- A mole in the FBI? For real? I wonder who... -- Mr Kaplan? Is a man? I did not see that coming. And judging by her reaction, neither did Liz. "Mr Kaplan" really reminded me of Edna Mode though. -- I do NOT like seeing Red beaten. -- The people at 8123 are tracking the movements of Tom *and* Red? Just what is going on over there?! -- So that call Liz made that ended up being Cooper on the other end. That was the phone she pulled off Apple Man, right? And if that was the last number dialed, does it implicate Cooper as the potential mole? Also, how did he know it was Liz? He kept saying "Agent Keene" when he answered. -- I do not trust Tom, Sam I am. -- Alan Alda! Now, who is Mr Fitch and what does he have to do with Red? -- what does Red have and what will turn up if Red dies? Don't leave me hanging like this, Alan Alda!! -- Wait, could Diane be the mole?? Who were they watching her talking to? WHAT IS GOING ON??? -- When "Mr Kaplan" said "it's done", what was she talking about? -- Ok. That phone call at the end between Red and Lizzie. She asked, point blank, if he was her father, and though he hesitated, he did answer 'no,' which means they want the viewer to still be questioning whether or not they believe him. I'm still on board with he isn't her father. And then he told her to watch out for her husband. If Red warns against trusting someone, I'm going to have to believe him. And I already don't trust Tom. -- Where is Red? And what is he up to? -- What a fall finale. Can't wait for January 13!

**(2 Broke Girls, S3E11 "And the Life After Death") Once again, another episode dwelling on Caroline not being as important as she thinks she is. Time for some new direction. Or at least some new jokes. -- Not enough Sophie. Not enough Luis. Not enough Chef Nick. The end.

**(Mike and Molly, S4E5 "Poker in the Front, Looker in the Back") I think they are showing these episodes out of order, because last week's episode showed Mike and Molly already back upstairs (which I questioned) and this week they were just moving back up there. -- Making up stories about the neighbors? We so do that!

**(Mom, S1E11 "Cotton Candy and Blended Fish") Violet: Dammit dammit dammit! Christy: What's going on with her? Bonnie: She's 17 and pregnant. I'm surprised she isn't doing that all day. -- Marjorie: I made two batches of brownies for the bakesale. These are regular. And these have no dairy, sugar or gluten. I call them 'frownies'. -- Gabriel: She seemed a lot less crazy when I was sleeping with her. Chef Rudy: They all do. -- The cancer jokes just were not funny. -- Huh. I kinda expected some anger from Marjorie about Christy contacting the son...but then the episode just ended.

**(The Good Wife, S5E10 "The Decision Tree") 100 mph on the speedometer to open the episode. Nice nod to the 100th episode of the show! -- I really with I didn't like Damien's Irish accent so much. -- I don't know which is more shocking to me: that Florrick/Agos sent out eight *hundred* invitations to their Christmas party or that they only received thirty RSVPs. -- John Noble reprising his role as Matthew Ashbaugh through flashbacks! Although, speaking of accents, it always catches me off guard to hear his matural British accent. -- I must say, excellent use of Christmas music as the soundtrack to this episode. -- "Always play the fox. They'll never know you're the sanest man in the room." Words to live by? -- All fo a sudden 835 invitees have RSVPed yes?? -- I thoroughly enjoyed the scene with Will preparing his questioning of Alicia as he pictured her. He is so *not* over her, as is evidenced by the fact that he is using his feelings for her to form his line of questioning. -- Not sure who amuses me more when they mess with Eli: Peter or Jackie. -- That really has to be distracting, Will, to picture being in bed with Alicia while you question her on the stand -- Alicia besting Will made me want to cheer. I know he feels heartbroken personally and betrayed professionally, but he's being a real jerk to her.-- Peter felt like flashes of Mr Big when he was riding in the limo. -- Eli: Thank God. Thank your Christian Jesus God. -- Zach: Sometimes I think of you as mom and other times just as this interesting person who lives in our house. -- Veronica (Alicia's mother, to Marilyn about her pregnancy) Do you have a name yet? Marilyn: I do: Peter. ... Eli spraying his champagne from his mouth upon hearing that was priceless. Now, is Marilyn serious or just getting on board with Peter and Jackie when it comes to driving Eli insane? -- I truly think this is the best season yet!

**(The Middle, S5E8 "The Kiss") Frankie going over all the various house noises. Hee! -- Hey! Darrin in Axl's dorm room! And a mention of Cassidy in the same scene! Dare I hope? -- Sue in charge of Brick and the house while Frankie and Mike are away, housesitting for Frankie's sister. And freaking out over every little thing. Yep, total flashback to my babysitting years.-- Sue: My American Girl Babysitting Manual did not prepare me for this! -- Ah, love: Frankie and Mike trading one pair of reading glasses back and forth. -- The Glossners are multiplying! Right in the Heck living room! Before Sue's very eyes! -- Darrin making a thought bubble from the stolen onion rings. I miss having him on the show more.-- Frankie crunching the potato chips loudly. Something I am certain makes my husband what to beat me with the bag of chips. -- I am pretty sure every couple has the ice cube fight at some point. I think it's like a rite of passage or  something. -- Sue was kissed by a Glossner! Ewwww! And also noooo! No kissing Sue unless you're Darrin! -- It's interesting to see Axl suddenly being so unsure of himself in college after being so self-assured in high school. I like that they're giving his character a little nudge.

**(CSI, S14E6 "Passed Pawns") The dealer was questioned by the pit boss for four hours? Wow. He's...thorough. -- Hey! Mala Noce gang! CSI:Miami nod! -- It's almost always about love or money. Or in this case, both. With a side of greed and stupid. -- Brass has gone hardcore since all that business with his ex-wife and psycho daughter.

**(Modern Family, S5E9 "The Big Game") Haley: I was up really late studying. Alex: She was. I was up really late doing this. [shocked face] -- Cam: They're not superstitions when they work! ... I hear ya, Cam! It's just the law of sports. -- Lily: Dad, you're embarrassing me. Mitchell: Welcome to the rest of your life. - Lily coming into her own. She's been really funny this season. Not just her lines, but her delivery too. -- Dying: Phil with the snake in his shoe, waving a tissue like a bullfighter and charming it with a recorder  to  try get it to come out.

**(The Big Bang Theory, S7E10 "The Discovery Dissipation") Amy [knocking]: Sheldon, may I come in? Sheldon: Do you have cookies? Amy: No... Sheldon: Good, I don't deserve cookies. Come in. -- Raj [to Howard]: There's also a time to stop eating too many jellybeans. It's when you're ten.

**(Top Chef, S11E9 "Restaurant Wars") Seems kind of ironic, Nina, telling her team members to check their egos at the door. -- fin vs found: I thought fin had the better concept overall. And it was pretty clear that fin had the edge the whole night. found was a disaster. -- Travis vs Sara: I never thought, I would say this, but Travis kinda nailed it, charming as the front guy. Sara, on the other hand? Symbolic of the disaster that was her team's restaurant. -- Nick vs Justin: Nick was so calm and his kitchen ran so smoothly, other than the purple goo on Brian's plate. Justin, on the other hand, was an angry spaz and the kitchen was in total disarray. -- Did Sara never watch restaurant wars? No dish descriptions for the judges, except the one time when prompted, and then *unprompted* for her dessert? -- fin blew found our of the water. No pun intended. -- Not sad about Sara packing her knives.

**(Once Upon a Time, S3E3 "Quite a Common Fairy") Henry: I don't like apples. Peter Pan: Who doesn't like apples? Henry: It's a family thing. -- Is it just always night in Neverland? -- I feel like Tinkerbell should be more...sassy. Or something. Cute costuming though. -- Ah, drat. I don't want to like Hook! But he's being so charming. Which is confusing, because there's already a Charming. -- Who did Regina run away from? Who is the Man with the Lion Tattoo?? -- Tinkerbell's lair looks like the Swiss Family Treehouse! -- Revisiting Tinkerbell: Wow. She's angry now, still not sassy. Not as crazy about this costume. -- I really don't understand why Mulan is so upset about Aurora's news about her pregnancy. Did I miss something? -- That was a great scene between Regina and Tinkerbell about how her decision to run away from the Man with the Lion Tattoo was selfish, because she not only ruined her own life, but his too. -- Lion tattoo! Robin Hood?!

**(Parenthood, S5E3 "Nipple Confusion") The campaign budget argument between Adam and Kristina was so real, the pace and the exchange and the tone, that it was completely believable. -- Drew's college dorm bathroom is coed? Really? -- The Founding Fathers mural on Julia's kids' school is a little creepy. -- Drew's roommate used Drew's *sheets*?? Gross. -- I'm so not used to seeing Joel act so stubbornly. Isn't that Julia's shtick? -- This episode's tear-fest: Jasmine standing, hidden, listening to Crosby trying to convince their newborn daughter to finally take a bottle.

**(Chicago Fire, S2E4 "A Nuisance Call") That Jay/mob watchdog guy that was using Dawson? I really don't like his attitude. -- Um, did that Daryl guy seriously put a bullet in his brain with Shay two feet from his face? Whoa. I am not sure how *I* would have reacted, but calm would not be it. -- I still struggle to feel anything about the characters in this show. I should have felt something when Dawson implied that Shay was partially at fault for the suicide or when Hadley showed up at Mouch's campaign meet-and-greet to stir up trouble. What did I feel? A little half-interest, at best. -- When you get a call for assistance at a car accident, I bet you don't expect one of them to be teetering five stories up from the top of a parking structure. -- Why does it appear ratty-rat Clarke is going to set up Mills? -- That couch scene with Shay and Otis was awkward. Like big time, capital A awkward. From drunk-laughing to face down in his lap, suddenly sobbing, and then acting like nothing happened, other to ask him not to tell Severide? -- Nice. Severide's dad is trying to throw Boden under the bus? Guess the grudge match is still on. -- Ok, so Hadley was the arsonist and Clarke is, apparently, *not* the rat, but some other guy I don't recall seeing before *is*?? I am so confused. -- What is going on??? Jay is a *cop*?! I can't keep track of how quickly this show changes directions.

**(Parenthood, S5E4 "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities") It's making me sad that Sarah is so uneasy about Amber and Ryan's wedding. -- Oh, Drew. Just what no one ever wants to hear from their current crush: Well you know this seals the deal, right? There's no fighting fate. Drew Holt, you are officially my best college friend. -- Hahahaha! I think it's hilarious that when Julia has enough of Sydney and Victor's bickering, she makes them spend the afternoon with Zeek. -- Haaaaa. Drew coming to Adam for girl advice? Haaaaaa. -- Did Amber drag Ryan to bed with their front door wide open? Dude. -- Kristina: Did he explain to you why I passed up on the money? Max: He said you didn't want to be in bed with Harry Lerner. And then I said that I wouldn't want Harry Lerner in my bed either. And then he said that was supposed to be a metaphor and then told me to go play video games. -- Hank gave Max twenty dollars to shut up for one hour. Priceless. -- This episode's tear-fest: Zeek working with Victor on his reading, when everyone else has struck out. And bonus tears: Max giving Kristina his twenty dollars as campaign funds.

**(Once Upon a Time, S3E4 "Nasty Habits") Neal/Baelfire: I'm not a boy anymore, Felix. And I sure as hell ain't lost. -- Speaking of. What are we calling him now? Neal or Bae? -- So...are we just going to make vague passing comments about Dreamshade (Nightshade?) poison and not really address the fact that Charming is, ya know, mortally wounded? -- The Pied Piper and...is that the squid from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea?? What the heck did these writers smoke? -- Pied Piper. Peter Pan. I guess... Alliteration anyway. --- I am still confused how Pan knows Rumplestiltskin. -- Emma: Maybe it's a tiny colander? Regina: Yes, because pre-teen Baelfire made lots of pasta.


Friday, December 6, 2013

20 things I plan to do during the holiday season.

1. Plant a poinsettia in the planter by our front door.
2. Put up the first real Christmas tree I'll have had since I lived at home.
3. Bake four different kinds of cookies.
4. Watch all my favorite Christmas shows and movies. (The Polar Express. Home Alone. A Christmas Carol - both the George C Scott version and the Disney full-length animated version. The Nativity Story. A Christmas Story. It's a Wonderful Life. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Prep and Landing. Prep and Landing: Naughty or Nice. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Elf.)
5. Enjoy eating meals on my newly expanded set of Christmas dishes.
6. Sing along to all my favorite Christmas music on my iPod when I am in the car.
7. Visit Hollywood Studios to enjoy the Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
8. Switch over to burning candles from my stash of winter scents.
9. Attend the Candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve.
10. Take our annual Christmas Eve drive around our area of town to enjoy the Christmas lights.
11. Read my favorite childhood Christmas books again.
12. Admire the lights and lighted wreath my husband puts up on the exterior of our house.
13. Make some hot apple cider.
14. Put up decorations throughout the interior of our home.
15. Breathe in the amazing scent of a real Christmas tree and exclaim over it a hundred times.
16. Turn out the rest of the lights in the house and relax solely by Christmas tree lights.
17. See "Holidays Around the World" at EPCOT.
18. Have a seasonal treat at WDW.
19. Consider planning a fun snack or two for New Year's Eve.
20. Stay in with my husband on New Year's Eve and toast the birth of a brand new year.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Controversial Christmas Tradition.

A while back, a friend of mine (Joe) polled us on Facebook about our favorite movies. After tabulating the results, he asked a bunch of us to do a write-up, each on a specific movie from the Top Twelve. I was honored to receive the nod for my favorite movie. It felt appropriate to share here, given the season, and I'd like to have my words "preserved" for my own record, as it were.
Every single Christmas Eve, without fail, I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I suppose I didn’t realize what a controversial tradition this was — after all, NBC airs it each Christmas Eve — but time and again, I get asked how I can watch such a depressing, dismal movie on one of the happiest, most magical nights of the year. It makes me wonder if I’m watching the same movie. Because I see a story filled with humanity and lessons about not taking the gifts we’ve been given for granted.

Sure, George has a bit of a temper, and he’s harboring some bitterness over giving up his dreams. But George is so much more than his flaws or his goofy facial expressions or his enormous ears that remind me of my Great Uncle Will. He’s compassionate to a fault, he works hard, and he takes over the family business against his will because the ol’ Bailey Building and Loan is important to his town, to those who do “most of the working and paying and living and dying” in Bedford Falls. Far from depressing, there are plenty of humorous moments — I still laugh out loud at the toll keeper when he is so taken aback by Clarence that he falls over in his chair and then makes his escape, shaking his head in wide-eyed disbelief.

It’s the ending, though, that gets me every time. No, not the famous “Look, Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!” It’s when a formerly distraught George has returned to his house, so grateful for everything he has, even if that missing $8,000 he *doesn’t* have means he’ll be on his way to jail … and then they come. All the people he’s ever given a chance to fulfill their dreams at the sacrifice of his own. Mr. Martini, who “bust-a da jukebox,” and Annie with her divorce fund if ever she got a husband, and Sam Wainwright’s telegram from London with instructions to cable George as much money as he needs, “hee-haw and Merry Christmas.” Tears spill from my eyes as George reads the note inside the copy of Tom Sawyer that he finds in the pile of money so freely given by the residents of that little New York town: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Not a feel-good movie? I can’t think of a movie that makes me feel better, as it reminds me that, despite my shortcomings, my life is filled with so much good, especially when I take a good look around me at the people who’ve come through for me — people who see me, not for my flaws, but for the good things I struggle to see in myself. Hot dog!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 48


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: November 2013

A photo of me:

1) Candle scents* this month:
(Autumn smells very delicious!!)
Spiced Pumpkin. Autumn Leaves. Shortbread Cookie. Autumn Wreath. Macintosh Spice. Pumpkin Pie. Mandarin Cranberry. Season's Blessings. Mountain Lodge. Pumpkin Wreath. Vineyard. Farmers Market. Vanilla Chai. Salted Caramel. Cranberry Chutney. Red Apple Wreath. Be Thankful.

2) What I am reading this month (you can find me on Goodreads!):
Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce (Stanley Weintraub) - I finished this one right on November 1. I've been fascinated by this particular event in history, since I first learned of it. Some of the book was a bit fragmented in its telling, jumping from one place to another, sometimes returning to a location, sometimes not. There was enough to get an overall mental image of what was happening though. Being history, some of it was also a bit dry -- what can you do, really, when there are a bunch of names and dates and affiliations to particular military units -- but I tried to remember that I was spoiled by Bill O'Reilly's history re-telling that was more novel-like in its delivery than history text book. Either way, still an interesting topic about which to learn more. I especially enjoyed the final chapter "What if--?" as it speculated all the ways the world we know might have been altered, had it been sent along a different course if the Christmas Truce had actually succeeded in ending World War I 46 months sooner.
Black Moonlight (Amy Patricia Meade) - I really enjoy this series and this may be my favorite book of them all. It was set up something like Clue, in that the number of suspects were limited to the people on the island. My guess was wrong, but the way the facts of the case lined up, it was fun to see the pieces come together. Mostly, I am excited to learn, via Twitter, that there may be more books in this series forthcoming! I will certainly be watching for them.
H.R.H. (Danielle Steel) - Not that Danielle Steel will ever be considered a literary genius, but her books have their place. This one, however, was nowhere near on par with her best work. I could have removed about two-thirds of it as "irrelevant due to repetition" and not lost a single actual detail of this story. It wasn't unreadable or unlikable as a concept, but reading the same "fact" twenty-five times in a 300 page book was, shall we say, a bit heavy-handed on the overkill.
Murder in the Supreme Court (Margaret Truman) - I enjoyed the characters, the complexity of the case, with its multiple layers of suspects, and the pace of the story. My biggest issue is that it seemed to end abruptly. The ending made sense, but I felt like it ended before there were completely satisfying conclusions to two characters' stories.
Shanghai Girls (Lisa See) - As the month ends, I am in the process of reading this book, which has been interesting, even if a bit heavy in content. Looking forward to finding out how it ends.

3) Three things on my mind:
1. I do my best writing in the shower. I can compose amazing blog posts as the water sprays down and my head is all lathered up with shampoo. The problem is transferring them into actual words on the screen. Something gets lost in translation the second I step from the shower and wrap myself in a towel. I can no longer get the exact wording or remember that one phrase that sprang to life so easily just minutes earlier. The words, like the steam, just seem to vanish into thin air.
2. "Being tolerated is not the same as being appreciated and the quicker you learn that, the faster you’ll be happy." Boy howdy, if that isn't a lesson I wish I had learned about a million lifetimes ago. Thankfully, I learned it right around the same time I started dating T, but I question if that's a "chicken or the egg" sort of thing. Point being, life is so much better since I wrapped my pea brain around that concept.
3. "True friends are rare and a gift." This is something I've known, to some degree, for quite a while. It's why I believe in quality over quantity, especially in my social circle. However, one of 2013's most challenging lessons was in just how true this really is. It's a lesson that is humbling, gratifying and heartbreaking.

4) Movies I saw:
There were no movies. Just lots of DVR.

5) Calendar image for the month:
This one is beautiful. A light layer of snow with the dead November grasses poking through, and the thin light of the closing day.

This image makes me both happy and sad. Happy, because I love my team and all their history. Sad, because, for so many reason, their one hundredth year felt like an anti-celebration.

6) Something yummy I made:
Best comfort food ever.

(Meatloaf Patties.)

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Tuscany (in Virginia - went out to dinner with Brad and Angee).

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Being able to turn off our a/c for the last ten or so days of the billing period means our electric bill was $40 less! Can't wait to see what the next one looks like!
2. Oh, microfiber cloth, your ability to remove streaks from my shiny black appliances and bathroom mirrors completes me. Where have you been for the last 21 months?
3. Wide open, flat spaces that give me an unobstructed view of a huge expanse sky, a shade of azure I've seen only in Florida, dotted with so many puffy little clouds, a perfect balance between blue and white, making up an enormous canvas. There's just this feeling I get that I cannot put into words or capture with a photo, but it's one of my favorite feelings ever.
4. A couple of occasions to wear long sleeves! I get so tired of all my warm-weather wardrobe.
5. Visiting some of T's family in Virginia for Thanksgiving. It's very different to be celebrating a holiday in a large group, as compared to our usual "holidays for two," but it was a fun change of pace, the weather was refreshing, the company was good, and it made some great new holiday memories.

9) Three goals I had this month and three goals for next month:
1. No more excuses. None. November and December issues *will* be tackled, plus one month from The Stack. (I'm going to call this one finished, because I did finish all of November and all of the December issues I had received in the mail. A few more came in after the fact, since they are combined December/January issues. I also sent a whole month's worth plus two more to recycling from The Stack!)
2. Start making my various Christmas lists. It will be here before I know it and I hate feeling rushed. (Lists were started. They're still being revised, of course, but I feel like Christmas is mostly under control.)
3. Switch out the Halloween for more autumnal decor. (Done and I *loved* the way it came out this year!)

1. Get through the January issues of magazines, plus at least ten old issues off to recycling!
2. Have all Christmas prep completed -- shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, cards, mailing -- by December 14 so I can sit back and enjoy the rest of the Christmas season.
3. Get the overflowing DVR tamed while most of our shows are on hiatus or limited new episodes this month. Lets shoot for, oh, under 30% full?

10) Something I learned:
Of all places, from watching Sleepy Hollow. Paul Revere didn't make his famed Midnight Ride, calling out "The British are coming! The British are coming!" because the colonists all considered *themselves* British. He actually announced that the "Regulars" were coming.

11) The best part of this month and the worst part of this month:
The best: Thanksgiving trip to Virginia.
The worst: Southwest's flight check-in and boarding method. Give me United any day.

12) A photo I took this month:

*All scents are Yankee Candle, unless otherwise noted.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Week on My TV: November 30, 2013

Disclaimer: Some shows I watch live and with others, I tend to be fairly behind on my tv watching. Even so, consider the fact that there could be spoilers ahead. All I can do is lead in with the show and episode. You read at your own risk!

**(Sleepy Hollow, S1E8 "Necromancer") Abbie teaching Ichabod the fist bump. I don't know how I feel about that, but I completely understand his skepticism. -- Captain: I can hardly believe Jefferson foresaw holding a headless man prisoner. Ichabod: He foresaw holding the worst type of demons that would walk the earth. A product, no doubt, of his years trying to reason with the French. -- ::snicker:: Andy Brooks is "unhappily resurrected." -- Dead guy, mental patient and a time traveler from the Revolution. That's just awesome. -- Is it me or is it really uncomfortable to watch Ichabod talk into the neck where the Horseman's head was severed? -- Screaming that you're in control is generally a pretty accurate indicator you're anything but. -- Sword fights are pretty freaking cool. --  The Horseman is Abraham!! Excellent twist!

**(Revolution, S2E7 "The Patriot Act") Dopey Monroe is funny. -- Rachel's father sold out Aaron. Not cool! -- Nothing like telling someone not to be afraid right after they watch you set two people aflame by looking at them, Aaron.

**(Grey's Anatomy, S10E9 "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word") If there's one thing I've learned from watching television, it's that if someone I don't know approaches me and asks for me by name, I'm going to immediately be suspicious that I am being served. -- Panty hose? Do people still wear those? -- Um, there was a pending Arizone/Callie baby? Man, this show is withholding details all over the place lately and revealing them with the flashbacks. -- Callie's dad weirds me out a little now that I think of him as Mr Alzate from Last Man Standing. -- Why do they make April dress like an old lady? -- If all the doctors are at Callie's lawsuit trial, who is on duty at the hospital? -- Ah crap. I don't like Arizona. But I also can't argue with Callie's father's reminder that they took vows and you don't walk away from the family you've created without trying to make it work.

**(Elementary, S2E8 "Blood Is Thicker") Gosh it seems quiet up on that roof where Sherlock and Mycroft are fencing. I get that they're up on the roof but that's New York City happening below and around them. Shouldn't the city noise carry? -- Is that dwelling where Sherlock and Watson live supposed to be charming? Because I find it kind of gross. -- What is with all these television show hotels and apartments catering to the very wealthy who demand total privacy but no security? -- Does Mycroft own no comb? -- Sherlock's posture, or rather, lack thereof bothers me. -- What exactly is Mycroft up to and with whom??

**(Blue Bloods, S4E9 "Bad Blood") I love sarcastic Frank. Asking Baker where the file was when she made a remark that didn't help the discussion Frank was having with Garrett about Thanksgiving. Calling Garrett "Mrs Reagan" when he was nagging. -- Does Baker have a first name? Does anyone know it? -- I swear, it seems like every police drama has a cop with a bad seed sibling. -- Kirk Acevedo seems to be popping up everywhere since Fringe ended. Blue Bloods. Person of Interest. Law and Order: SVU. -- Frank: Oh, please call me by my first name: Commissioner. -- "Forthwith" used twice this episode, but none by Jamie! I guess they have a quota, but no way to work it in when he only appeared at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

**(CSI, S14E5 "Frame By Frame") Did that girl seriously swallow a roll of film, *dry*? -- Faked death. I did not see that coming. -- Kind of bummed the highly touted return by Catherine was only in flashbacks.

**(Grey's Anatomy, S10E10 "Somebody That I Used to Know") I don't like watching Bailey struggle. -- What is with all the making out in plain sight at the hospital? -- I'm annoyed with the whole Callie/Arizona thing. And I'm annoyed with Leah. They are all acting like children. -- Since when is Alex the most stable member of the group? Weird. -- Jackson has really piercing eyes. When he's on the screen, I find it impossible not to look at them. -- Let's just clear the air: Owen and Cristina are not over each other. Jackson and April are not over each other. -- Cristina and *Shane*?? -- Doctors make the *worst* patients. I'm looking at you, Webber. -- The whole bit when Meredith tells Derek that she kind of liked it when Cristina was mean to other people, but likes it less now that Cristina is being mean to her? In some ways, I sympathize with that. It doesn't feel great when a quality you liked in a friend somehow gets used against you.

**(Top Chef, S11E8 "Piggin' Out") Does anyone have any idea what the Quick Fire Guest Judge, Dr John, was saying? Hip tang? Clipped my wings? Verily hip? That was some lingo...when I could understand a word he said! -- I think I am starting to figure out my favorite contestants: Louis, for sure. Stephanie. And...Shirley or Carlos, maybe? -- That was a whole. freaking. pig. -- Did Nicholas forget to pack a comb? -- Whoa. Best food Tom has had in eleven seasons? That is some high praise! -- Louis? NOOOOOO! And now that means he is facing Janine in Last Chance Kitchen and I was rooting for her there. I have to stop picking favorites.

**(How I Met Your Mother, S9E11 "Bedtime Stories") All in rhyme. Here we go! -- Ha! Rhyming using names from the Yankees! -- Nice! Dude on the bus managed to rhyme 'Canada' with 'janitah'. -- The Council of Players all played by Barney. Bronx Donnie. Tuxedo Charlie. Staten Island Lou. Pickle Jar Bob. Captain Bill. Boom. The end. True story.

**(2 Broke Girls, S3E10 "And the First Day of School") Sophie, Luis and Chef Nicholas! All in one episode! Jackpot! -- Caroline whining about how there were no gifts for her. At least she wasn't using the whiny voice from that episode earlier this season, I guess? -- One of the chefs in Max's class looks like a young Manny Ramirez (of Boston Red Sox fame). It's a trifle unsettling. (Ha. Trifle. Max is in pastry school. I slay me.)

**(Mike and Molly, S4E4 "Careful What You Dig For") Why are Mike and Molly living back upstairs and not in the finished basement they fixed up all of a sudden? Yet another unexplained detail in this season. Don't these writers understand this makes me crazy?? -- Mike: I thought you wanted to dig up some dirt? Molly: I did, but I didn't think I was eating it! -- That scene on the couch with Susan Sarandon was the dictionary definition of awkward. And then they followed it up with the lap dance? -- Did Molly escape in the final scene without shoes?!

**(Mom, S1E10 "Belgian Waffles and Bathroom Privileges") I kept expecting that opening scene to be a dream. -- Christy's house is turning into a clown car. Bonnie on the couch, ex-husband in the driveway. -- Bonnie being domestic is weird. The pimped out furniture brought things semi back to normal. It felt right again after she went running down the street when the cop siren sounded outside the house. -- I do not approve of episodes without Nathan Corrdry.

**(Elementary, S2E9 "On the Line") That opening scene, with the victim setting up her suicide to frame the man she believes murdered her sister, was both disturbing and clever. -- I appreciate Sherlock leveling with Watson, that he isn't nice, that's he's abrasive and difficult, that he isn't sorry and won't change, but that he makes effort for her because he considers her exceptional. I don't think he needs to be nice. He is who he is. -- The cases are interesting, but I keep feeling like the show needs...something. A bigger picture theme or arc or something. Solving a case from week to week isn't enough. Moriarty is in prison and we know Mycroft is up to his ears in something but it still feels like the show needs a little more depth.

**(The Mentalist, S6E8 "Red John") Wow, they sure made short work of that squad room. -- Grace: Where's Jane? Lisbon: Don't ask. Cho: She just did. ... Cho's dry personality kills me. -- After Jane traded phones with the bicyclist, how did he know which payphone number to dial to call Bertram back? -- Agent: FBI! Back it up! Cho: CBI! Back it up yourself! -- The Sheriff is Red John?! I did *not* see that twist coming!! -- What the heck did the Sheriff do with his voice while he was conversing with Patrick?! He was talking normally, then all of a sudden said something about winning the game in this weird high-pitched voice, and then switched right back to his regular speaking voice again, as if it never happened! -- I totally knew, the second Patrick stepped into that church and I recognized it, that he had stashed a gun there on his last visit there. -- How did the Sheriff run that far and that long with a bullet hole in his gut? -- So... now what?

**(The Blacklist, S1E9 "Anslo Garrick") What was that flashback Lizzie had?? -- Red: With all due respect, if the intel were worth having, I would have it. Ressler: There's a price on your head. Red: There's a running price on my head, Agent Ressler.-- Ressler: He doesn't even know this place exists. Red: All he *does* is extract people from places that don't exist! Places exactly like this. -- Who taught those FBI security guys how to come around corners without protecting themselves? They got picked off like sitting ducks! -- I appreciate that Liz didn't just climb out of the vent in the elevator on the first try and without breaking a sweat or suffering so much as a scratch. -- Red: Well, let it never be said I valued a Zegna Venticinque tie over a human life. --Anslo took out his own man shooting the bulletproof glass of Red's cell. Whoops. -- Red: Donald! Donald! Feeling any wittier yet? Any strange cravings for beluga caviar or Marcel Proust? ... Oh, Red. You have the best lines! -- Red: We become who we are. You can't judge a book by its cover. But you can by its first few chapters. And most certainly by its last. -- Ressler: We're not going to live through this. Red: I think we will. Ressler: How? Red: Have you ever sailed across an ocean, Donald? Ressler: No. Red: On a sailboat surrounded by sea with no land in sight? Without the possibility of sighting land for days to come? To stand at the helm of your destiny. I want that one more time. I want to be in the Piazza del Campo in Siena. I want another meal in Paris, at L'Ambrosie in the Place des Vosges. I want another bottle of wine. And then another. I want the warmth of a woman in a cool set of sheets. One more night of jazz at the Vanguard. I want to stand on summits and smoke Cubans and feel the sun on my face for as long as I can. Walk on the wall again. Climb the tower. Ride the river. Stare at the frescos. I want to sit in the garden and read one more good book. Most of all, I want to sleep. I want to sleep like I slept when I was a boy. Give me that. Just one time. That's why I won't allow that punk out there get the best of me, let alone the last of me. -- You always kill the guy after you knock him out, Lizzie. Always always. -- And now my jaw is firmly on the ground. Both Red's bodyguards, dead?? -- I'll tell you what. If the poo hits the fan, I want Red on my side.

**(The Good Wife, S5E9 "Whack-a-Mole") Lockhart/Gardner is playing super dirty now. Stealing the Florrick/Agos office furniture? Not to mention peeking into the files to scavenge the account opposite Florrick/Agos. Wow. -- Damian Boyle's Irish accent is fake?! Or is he just messing with the judge? -- Alicia (about her pin that Damian is now wearing on his lapel after stealing it from her desk): You're the world's number one mom? Damian: Well, I have my moments. -- Witness on the stand, screen name "LotionMyFeet": Call me Mr Feet. Will: Uh, no thanks. -- Jackie: Is that what is was? Confusion? What, 'where were your panties'? Supreme Court nominee, Rachel: That was a long time ago. I was twenty-five. Jackie: Yes. And you have slept with the husband of someone with a shorter memory. -- Did Damian seriously give Kalinda three birthdates when she was vetting him? Oh, he is a piece of work. -- I would not like Jackie as my enemy. She has a real mean streak. -- Kalinda: Cutting out early? Damian: Yeah. This is generally the time I wire my ill-gotten gains to my account in the Caymans. What do you need? ... I don't think I like Damian, but it may be fun watching him square off with Kalinda. -- Eli may kill Jackie. Those two have one of the most amusing relationships on television. -- I think "Kluger the Magnificent" is my favorite judge. But what on earth was he up to asking Alicia out for coffee?!

**(Sleepy Hollow, S1E9 "Sanctuary") Quite possibly the creepiest episode of the season. I'll tell you what: that may have reawakened my old fear of trees, born of the mean, apple-throwing trees in the Wizard of Oz! -- Ummm, Ichabod has a son?? Very curious what became of him.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Unconvetionally Thankful

What may come as a shock to some, I once had a boyfriend who told me that I didn't listen well, that I was very negative and that I often made things difficult for people I care about.

If you happen to be one of those "some," ready to jump to my "defense" and scowl at the faceless image of a long ago beau, let me ask you to pause for a moment:

He was right.

You read that correctly. Long before I was the cheerful, positive person you've likely come to know, I was, well...not. I wasn't unhappy, exactly, but I was unsure. Unsure of life, unsure of myself, unsure of where I stood. Being unsure made me feel insecure and less than. Add to that my naturally quiet nature, at least until I get to know you, and it was a short trip to being negative. And, as I've since learned, being negative makes one unpleasant to be around, for sure, and on the worst days, downright exhausting. It made me high maintenance, because I *didn't* listen well to what he needed or how my actions and attitudes made him feel or even to the good things he tried to share. In short, I made it incredibly difficult for him to be around me as time passed.

Obviously, this relationship ended.

As I got older, I like to think I started to gain some wisdom through introspection. After years of glaring at his harsh criticism (when I wasn't still outright ignoring it), one day, I took a hard look at it and was honest with myself: I needed to do some work on me, because I didn't really like how I was or how it made me feel.

I worked hard, and I continue to work hard, because we're never a completed project, at being a better version of myself. I wanted to be cheerful -- genuinely cheerful -- and I wanted to have a positive outlook on life. I wanted to be low maintenance. I wanted to not be a burden on the people I care about. I wanted to be easy to be around, ready to enjoy this life, willing to *really* listen instead of letting myself spiral into feeling attacked, which lead to the inevitable argument being picked.

It's funny how this decision altered me in ways I never anticipated. I will always have a quiet nature, even more so when I first meet people, but I'm more confident in myself, and even when I'm not, I try to move outside my comfort zone at least some of the time. But the biggest gift for me is that I have found myself profoundly grateful. I am grateful for big things and small, the grand scale and the simple. I think I was generally grateful before, but now I'm more aware of just how much I have to be grateful *for*. And most surprising, I am even grateful for the criticism and grateful for who it made me. At the time, I didn't want to hear it, but now I am grateful for those words being the catalyst for me becoming someone I really like.

People talk about all the various blessings in life for which they are thankful on Thanksgiving -- food and family, friends and creature comforts, and on and on -- and maybe this isn't something we're "supposed" to voice among those expressions of gratitude, but today, I am also grateful for who I have become and for the person whose constructive criticism I rejected for years, because without those frank words, I may not have grown in this way, even if it took me an exceptionally long while to get to the place where I was willing to hear it and do the work. The proof of my efforts is in the shocked reaction of those who didn't know me "before."

Blessings can be big or small, yes, but they can also come wrapped in packages we don't recognize.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Photo-a-Day: Week 47


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