12.24.13 What’s Making Me Happy

Merry Christmas everyone!  It has been so long since I posted (more than a month!) and I’ve done many things, so I’ll try to catch up with a whirlwind post of what’s making me happy:

  • I love firsts – even the first day of winter!  It means the days are getting longer and we are heading towards spring, instead of away from summer.  There was a year when I had a party for every first day of the season (or last day of the season, depending on where it landed in the week).  Maybe someday I’ll reprise, but for now know that I quietly celebrated and remember.
  • I’ve seen movies –

On Netflix DVDs:  

  • Frances Ha (a girl wants to pursue dancing career – and avoid growing up!), 
  • The Kings of Summer (boys build a home in the woods to avoid their families), 
  • Smashed (a married couple goes separate ways when one decides to be sober)
  • and at home right now is The Salt of Life (an Italian movie starring the man in Mid-August Lunch, the inspiration for Ferragosto!)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Christmas DVD Traditions: 

  • Elf
  • Love, Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Family Stone
  • Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

On Netflix Streaming:

And in the Theatre:

  • About Time (I loved this so!  I thought it had such a great message of how to live life… soooo good!  Bummed that it didn’t stay in the theatre long – I will be buying this!), 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (So fun to see this with the girl who loves it best – Gracie.  We went on opening night, so the theatre was filled with other lovers of the series, and there were cheers and boos and sighs throughout.  A good movie!), 
  • Dallas  Buyers Club (Not a feel good movie at all, but outstanding performances, and a thought-provoking glimpse into the government/ pharmacology difficulties in obtaining medications.), 
  • Philomena (a great British film about a woman who goes in search of the son that was taken from her in the 50s while she was “banished” to a convent as an unwed mother – great story, great performances, great movie),  
  • Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn finds out his sperm-donating days have wielded him a passel!  It was not as funny as I like Vince to be, but it was a pretty good movie), 
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (and so it does.  The story is original and the point they make about 24 hour media is pretty spot-on. Not great, but not a bad sequel.), and 
  • American Hustle (I love that “some of this really happened” was the tag line at the beginning of the movie.  Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence were amazing, and the story was fun to follow. )
I do indeed...

I do indeed…

As always during the holidays, there have been Musical Events:

  • Crossings At Carnegie – Becky Schlegel and the 48 High – a great, intimate setting, with fun music – a little country, a little bluegrass!  
  • Messiah “Sing In” – Always a treat to go with Beth!  This year Vicki went as well!  The music seemed harder to sing, but it was a great night.  
  • Take Note! and Winona Brass Band – our concert has been a tradition since 2006 – isn’t that amazing?  It always goes by so fast, but is a fun night at the beginning of the holiday season! 
  • Christmas program at church – Even though it was only 20 minutes long between church services, I was glad to get to the program!  Good smiles, good songs… 
  • Take Note! party – Mom and Dad opened their house for the Christmas party for the choir.  Everyone brought delicious food, we had good weather, good laughs, watched our concert, and had a relaxing afternoon.
  • Festival of Lessons and Carols at the Chapel at St. Mary’s – Gracie has been singing with her choir at this concert for a few years.  It’s a nice time to reflect on the season, listen to beautiful choral music, handbell choirs, and to sing favorite hymns.
  • Dan Chouinard and Peter Ostroushko – Such a great evening of singing and music!  The ability of these two men is awe inspiring, and they make it look effortless.  Such a great Christmas tradition I hope I will do every year!
Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

I’ve read some books: 

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – It’s nice to hear Bridget’s voice again, although she really should grow up, right? It’s a fun read with Bridget antics and a few precious moments.  
  • Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross – Read this for the book club in the ED.  It’s amazing how I never want to read historical fiction and then enjoy it a lot.  This takes place in the 800s and it’s fun to read about their education, religion and beliefs.  Good discussion!  
  • Perfect by Autumn Jordan – Very short Christmas story!  Trying to “pad” my book numbers for 2013!  
  • Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine – on audio – a story about a young man being raised by his older sister.  A good story, which probably would have been better if I had a more consistent listening schedule.  🙂  
  •  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling – Currently listening to this on audio – I love Mindy and can’t wait to listen further. 
  • Wishin’ & Hopin’ by Wally Lamb – another short Christmas story – hoping to maybe make my goal of 32 books in 2013!  
  • Next on my list is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – hear it’s a great YA book!  

football_santa

And then I’ve made it to a few sporting events – 

  • Wrestling – I spent an afternoon watching cousin Trevor wrestle – well, I waited all afternoon to watch Trevor wrestle once, as he had a win by forfeit in his second match of the day and I missed his first one! 🙂  He wrestled hard and I hope to make a few more meets this winter.  
  • Basketball – Trajan is playing Junior Varsity for Mayo, and I’ve made a few of his games so far, hoping for more!  Gracie and Rees will also be playing, so hope I can get to some of those, as well!  

Phew!  I wonder how many will make it to the end of this long list!  I’m hoping to blog again before the end of 2013 so let’s see if that happens!  I know that the days ahead are filled – with work, with fun events, and with family time.  

Christmas

 

I hope that your Christmas holidays are as blessed and a blessing to you!  

Book and Movie Updates

I am so lucky to live very close to a great movie theatre in Rochester and once a year they host an International Film Festival. It started last Friday and runs through Thursday. For the past few years I have tried to go to at least a few movies during the festival.  Memorably, I saw Mid-August Lunch a few years ago, which has inspired my Ferragosto vacation, and I saw a great Greek film, but I don’t remember the name.  It was laugh out loud funny, especially in a theatre filled with Greek descendents!  How fun.

This year I knew that the craziness of my work and family schedule wasn’t going to allow too much viewing, but I did get to see two movies that I wanted to see at 9:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday!  Saturday night I saw “A Separation,” which was the 2011 Oscar Winner of Best Foreign Film from Iran and Sunday night I saw “Sound of Noise,” a Swedish film.

“A Separation” was not what I expected.  It was a beautiful story about a woman who wanted to leave Iran in order to pursue a better life, but her husband refused because he was caring for his elderly father with Alzheimer’s. And their beautiful 11 year old daughter is caught in the middle.  A divorce is not granted to them, so they separate for a time as they try to figure things out. And then the story begins.  There is so much in the story without it being preachy or overt.  It’s hard to say that it has a sad ending, but it does. It doesn’t feel sad, but it feels like real life.  Anyway, I’m so glad I got to see it.

Sound of Noise

Sound of Noise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then last night – “Sound of Noise.”  What fun.  First of all, it is a Swedish film and the first five minutes we couldn’t see the subtitles!  Someone asked aloud if anyone in the theatre could translate!  They got the problem fixed and I don’t think we missed too much of the story.  Essentially, a son of musicians with total lack of a musical sense is an anti-terrorist police officer and starts to investigate a group of musical terrorists who are wreaking havoc on their city.  Musical terrorists.  How fun is that?  They are percussionists who are performing a piece entitled “Six Drummers and a City.”  They use bodies and medical equipment in a hospital, they use money and banking machines at a bank (“This is an exhibition!”), they use jack hammers and bull dozers at a classical concert, and finally they use electric wires and power at a power plant.  What fun.

I will not be able to see the Italian movie starring the same actor that was in Mid-August Lunch, but I put it in my Netflix queue.  And maybe I’ll check out the listings for Wednesday, after I’ve had some sleep!

On the book front, it’s pretty pathetic.  I finished reading The Hunger Games, Chasing Fire, and Mockingjay.  I ripped through the first two books and it took longer for me to read the third.  Maybe if I had taken a break I would have had more motivation to finish?  They were good.  It’s hard to recommend books like that, when the topic they are about is so distasteful, so I won’t recommend them, but I’m glad that I read them.

And then I was trying to help Beth figure out her nook library lending, so I went and checked out the first book that looked semi-interesting that was available on the RPL site – and it was a Harlequin romance from the 90s!  What a fun little break for the mind.  Ah.  🙂

So now, what to read?  The pile of books by my bed hasn’t gone down one bit and I’m still behind in my magazine reading.  I’ll see what inspires…

Off to read!

40 Things (40!!!) Happy Birthday, Boof!

thank you note for every language

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Following along with Boof’s 40 Day Challenge leading up to her 40th birthday, DAY 40!  Happy birthday, Boof!

40) A favourite book about a celebration

I’m going to cheat.  I looked through my Goodreads list and couldn’t find anything with a holiday theme that I would call a favorite, so I simply thought about my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) and some great movies that were set around a Thanksgiving theme (and maybe one that isn’t set around Thanksgiving, but another holiday I’ve recently adopted).

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday.  I love thankfulness – thinking about what I’m thankful for, telling people what I’m thankful for, and writing what I’m thankful for.  That “attitude of gratitude” has been preached to us by Oprah and I really believe that it can change your outlook on life.  So, when I started thinking of movies that were centered around a Thanksgiving celebration, a few came to mind.

First, “What’s Cooking?(In LA’s Fairfax district, where ethnic groups abound, four households celebrate Thanksgiving amidst family tensions. In the Nguyen family, the children’s acculturation and immigrant parents’ fears collide. In the Avila family, Isabel’s son has invited her estranged husband to their family dinner. Audrey and Ron Williams want to keep their own family’s ruptures secret from Ron’s visiting mother. In the Seelig household, Herb and Ruth are unwilling to discuss openly their grown daughter’s living with her lover, Carla. Around each table, things come to a head. A gun, an affair, a boyfriend, and a pregnancy precipitate crises forcing each family to find its center. IMDB)  I should re-watch this, but I remember loving it.  Loving how it wrapped up and how cleverly the story was told.

Of course, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” is one of the greatest comedies ever, and just happens to be about getting home for Thanksgiving.  I don’t think I need a synopsis for it. My favorite scene is when they are driving down the highway and being told they are going the wrong way (“How do they know where we’re going?”).  Hilarious.

Home for the Holidays” is also a movie I haven’t seen in a while, but I remember loving it.  (After losing her job, making out with her soon to be ex-boss, and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson has to face spending the holiday with her family. She wonders if she can survive their crazy antics. IMDB).  Ah, family holiday dinners.  🙂  I am thankful that our Thanksgiving dinners are not filled with lots of drama!

A few others that have a Thanksgiving theme that I have seen include “Pieces of April” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.”  Good movies.

The last movie about a holiday that has inspired me is the Italian film, “Mid-August Lunch,” a great movie about Ferragosto – the Italian tradition of getting out of the city for a few weeks during the hot weeks of mid-August.  It is a great movie and a great holiday that I have embraced in the last few years, having my own “lakeside” vacation with Italian flair, right in the middle of Minnesota.

And as to my list, as I admitted yesterday, it was incomplete.  Last night I did some thinking about how I wanted to move forward and here’s what I came up with:  You know I love the Satellite Sisters and I have written about their book “Uncommon Senses.”  I am going to create a list of things that I want to accomplish based upon the “senses” highlighted in their book.

The Sense of Connection
The Sense of Self
The Sense of Humor
The Sense of Adventure
The Sense of Direction.

As I’ve said about their book before, it applies as well today as it did ten years ago when it was written.  And I know that I can find things in all those “senses” that I would like to put out there as challenges for myself.  So as well as writing about books, I will be writing about these challenges.

Thank YOU for following along with these daily posts!

Off to read!