Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sometimes its a bunch of little things that make up a great day.

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus . . . 

1.  Had a great sleep.
2.  The fire alarm went off in the building.  I figured I better get dressed and put my coat and shoes by the patio door . . . just in case.  Turns out it was a test.  Made me wonder what I would have grabbed if it had been a real fire.  Decided it would be my purse (for ID) and my external hard drive so I wouldn't lose all my photos.
3.  Finished a pile of chores.  My Dreaded To Do List is up to September 7th.
4.  I'm starting to get online orders for my paper piecings.  That's pretty exciting.
5.  One of my books is now on Barnes & Noble.  It was accepted by iTunes a few weeks ago.  I hope my writing career takes off.  I love writing.  I would love it more if I made a living at it.
6.  Had a couple of lovely conversations with Hal who is out west somewhere right now.  He told me not to watch the Weather Network.
7.  Received a couple of lovely letters in the mail.  I should make some time this week to reply.
8.  I got some test results back today and I definitely do not have cancer.  I didn't realize how much I was worrying about it until I felt the absolute relief when I received this news.
9.  I made a lovely spaghetti dinner with chicken and veggies.

1.  I have a paper cut.

Movie Review: The Pledge (2001)

The Pledge, directed by Sean Penn, is another pick from 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen by Leonard Maltin.  I think Maltin has a bit of a dark side because all the suggested movies I've seen so far have had a really dark side to them.

The Pledge is no different.  It is the story of retiring detective Jerry Black, played by the amazing Jack Nicholson, who decides to check out one more murder--the brutal murder of a little girl.  When the detective meets the parents they make him promise to find the killer.  Shortly after a suspect is picked up but commits suicide.  Black doesn't believe the dead suspect is the killer and can't let go of the case.  When several similar unsolved cases come to light, he begins digging deeper into the crimes.

Time goes by and life goes on.  Black buys an old gas station near where the murders had occured and builds a new life.  He meets a young waitress with a little girl and they become a family.  You will just begin to think that the murders are forgotten and then events bring them back into the foreground.  The detective just can't let go.  When each lead doesn't pan out, the murders go to the background of the movie again.  The movie takes its time in revealing clues and between clues we get to enjoy the peace and quiet and beauty of the locale and we get to meet some great characters, played by some well-known actors like Helen Mirren and Sam Shepherd.

The ending is very surprising.  I was expecting a great guns-blazin' finish but that's not what happens.  What we learn is that there are no easy answers.

This movie is not for everyone but if you enjoy a good mystery-drama I think you are going to like it.  Jack Nicholson is awesome.

Book Review: Hidden Ontario by Terry Boyle

Hidden Ontario: Secrets from Ontario's Past

I had such a great time reading this book.  It is a series of stories about some of the funniest, oddest and most interesting events.  I was not familiar with any of the stories which I found very surprising considering the amount of reading I do.  
Terry Boyle's writing story is just ripe with description and you can frequently sense that his tongue is in his cheek as he tells some of the most ridiculous true stories from Ontario's history.
I loved the story about the bridge built across Rice Lake.  The lake freezes every winter and all that nasty ice made the bridge so fragile that when British royalty came to visit alternate means of transportation had to be found rather than risk the visitor's life.  When the train reached the other side of the lake, the Prince of Wales hopped back on.  We have the opposite problem here in St. Thomas.  We have a temporary bridge that was put in at Dalewood Dam many, many years ago and just refuse to break so we can get a permanent bridge.  
There were a few interesting murders with very interesting endings.  I rather admired the gentleman of wit who ran a huge mental health facility in Kingston for many years, and quite well, before it was discovered he had no qualifications for the job.
I'm not going to hint at anymore of the tales.  Pick up the book and find out for yourself.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog

I recently read Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog by Kevin P. White MD PhD.  Dr. White is a Rheumatologist and Epidemiologist practicing in London ON who has spent many years studying what many people think is the recent phenomena of Fibromyalgia.  Dr. White believes this condition has actually been around for centuries but misdiagnosed and misunderstood.  In fact Dr. White suggests that fibromyalgia may be similar to missing limb syndrome, a problem with the nerves in the body not shutting off when they should.  (okay this is a very very simplified version of what he suggests)

I have lived with this condition for many years . . . many many years . . . and most of that time has been spent learning to deal with it on my own since I've never been able to get a referral to someone like Dr. White or much help from my family physician.  But through research and trial and error I have learned to make the most of my life.  Sometimes this condition can be so frustrating because it is hard to see from the outside . . . except occasionally when someone notices that I can't turn my neck or on really bad days when my dear hubby tells me I'm walking like John Wayne . . . again.  Many people don't really believe fibromyalgia exists; that we are just tired or lazy or exaggerating.  I'd like those people to walk a mile in my shoes.

It was very exciting to read Dr. White's book.  It is nice to know that those of us with fibromyalgia are not crazy, that we aren't lazy, that it isn't all in our heads.  (Personally I'd like for it to be all in my head because then some lovely doctor could just give me a pill to make it go away or at least make me forget about it.)

Dr. White challenges all the nay-sayers by offering scientific proof and common sense to explain this mysterious condition.  In fact he writes in a style that suits a medical book and yet takes the time to explain to those of us without medical degrees in a way we can all understand.

Thank you Dr. White for letting me know its not just in my head.  Once the medical community jumps on board perhaps we will find some treatment that doesn't just deal with the symptoms but can actually cure.

Christmas Movie Review: The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009)

I watched The Dog Who Saved Christmas yesterday and it was cute . . . very very cute.  Not that this is a bad thing especially when you are watching a movie on YTV.  Zeus is a police dog who screwed up and caused his human partner to become injured which would keep him from firing a gun straight for the rest of his life.  Poor old Zeus ends up unable to bark because of the guilt and in a city pound.

And one day in walks George Bannister, looking for an early Christmas present and home security dog.  George's wife isn't so happy when Zeus and George come home but the kids are thrilled.

While the Bannisters are away visiting Grandma burglars hit their home.  Zeus gets past his guilt and pain, learns to bark and (a la Home Alone) saves the day.

Cute.  Oh yeah, Zeus can talk but only other animals and I can hear him.  Listen close.  You may be able to hear him speak too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Movie Review: Baadasssss! (2004)

Just finished watching another  of the 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen by Leonard Maltin . . . Baadasssss!  I wasn't sure I would actually be interested in the movie.  It tells a unique story that I was so sure I couldn't mesh with.  But then I saw the list of actors . . .



. . . and decided to give it a shot.  The movie is gripping.  The language is often a bit hard to take, i.e. they say a lot of words I don't want to hear, but I get that Mario Van Peebles is going for gritty realism and so the language is necessary.

I was going to watch the movie on Hal's computer while I cleaned my desk.  A few minutes into the movie all thoughts of cleaning were gone.  My eyes were glued to the screen.  I didn't even pick up some knitting!

This movie is more of a documentary and shows the difficulties of the independent film movement, especially for non-white filmmakers, in the 1970s.  Melvin Van Peebles had made a studio film but was determined to create something of relevance to the black community of his time.  This docu/movie shows what Melvin went through to create his landmark 1971 movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song.  

Melvin is not portrayed as a perfect hero.  He most definitely was not a hero.  But he created a movie of huge importance and relevance.  And Melvin did whatever he had to and used whoever he must to create his movie/vision.  Often Melvin was his own worst enemy, alienating the people who were helping him and often putting them at risk.  He even cast his young son Mario in the movie to enact scenes that even some of his strongest supporters thought were wrong.

The cast is amazing and includes the legendary Ossie Davis as Melvin’s father and director John Singleton (who made his mark a generation after Melvin with Boyz N the Hood) has a cameo role as a disc jockey.

This movie is not for the faint of heart but if you do turn it on be prepared to remain riveted to the screen from the first title to the final credits.

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

2 large eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
1 small apple, grated
1-1/4 cups milk
3 cups old-fashioned oats

Butter a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except the oats.

Fold in oats and combine well

Transfer mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread evenly around.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly on top of the oat mixture.  Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 375F.  Unwrap oatmeal and place in the oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes until oatmeal is set and browned on top.

Serve hot with milk or cream.

Deb, Taylor and I taste tested this recipe and feel it needs extra sweetness and perhaps a little more cinnamon so either add some brown sugar into the recipe or have it on the table to add with your milk . . .

Hmmmmmmm . . . I wonder how it would taste with vanilla yogurt or ice cream on top ???  LOL

Christmas Movie Review: Surviving Christmas (2004)

You know Christmas is only a month away when Christmas movies, great and good and bad, start running on TV.

On Thursday I watched Surviving Christmas.  Apparently Ben Affleck opened his own production company in order to direct and star in some very stupid movies.  I hear he's doing better now.  This was an annoying movie because Ben Affleck, as a lonely obnoxious millionaire, played his part way over the top . . . way way over the top.  He could not possibly have been more obnoxious.  In fact, he was way way way too obnoxious.

The high point of this movie is Tom and Christine Valco, played by two amazing actors . . . James Gandolfini and Catherine O'Hara.  The Valcos were just trying to get through the holidays with their kids before telling them that they were splitting up.  Unfortunately for them, Drew Latham (Affleck) grew up in their house.  He tours the house and then offers the Valcos a huge pile of money if they will pretend to be his family for Christmas.

It doesn't go well because Latham is demanding and obnoxious and the Valcos have their own problems.  Like any Christmas movie worth its salt, everything works out in the end.

My favourite little gem in this movie is Bill Macy, playing Latham's Doo-Dah (pretend grandfather).  I remember Bill Macy from the TV show Maude.  Best gag of the movie is when Doo-Dah can't make it to a dinner party at the Valcos and decides to send his understudy, played by Sy Richardson.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paper Piecings for your next card or layout . . .

I will have all my paper piecings with me tomorrow at Ladies' Day Out and of course you can email me any time if you want one or to order a custom piece.  Thanks for making it possible for me to afford my favourite pastime . . . scrapbooking . . .

Red light . . . green light . . .

When I hand off my camera to one of my grandsons I can never be sure what they will capture.  Taylor  (11) took these photos at the Elgin County Railway Museum in August.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My grandchildren enjoy museums and art galleries . . .

My grandsons love hiking and letterboxing and hanging around and computers and arts and crafts and so much more . . . but I am thrilled that they share our love of museums and history and art galleries.  Neither Hal or I are art connoisseurs or experts on history but there is a level of excitement and curiosity in these institutions that give us so much enjoyment.

Hal and Austin spent the day together (July 26) at the St. Thomas Art Centre.  I never was able to make it to this display so I'm glad they remembered to take a photo or two.