31 December, 2013

Hello, I must be going

Goodbye twenty-thirteen. In some ways it seems like you just got here and you are already leaving.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… that smart Charlie Dickens knew what he was talking about. It is always the best and worst of times. Every year has some laughter and tears and a share of joy and sorrow. Moments of transcendent enjoyment are usually followed by times that make you shake your head and wonder what the hell just happened, as you pick yourself up out of the mire and try to keep going.
We lost family this year, Joanne Waight (Mom’s sister) and her husband Arthur, died in February and April. It was a horrible one-two punch to my cousins, losing both their parents so close together. I grieve for them, but celebrate the fact that my aunt and uncle had long, interesting, vital lives. God bless them and keep them.
Our little family lost two furry members this year. Ginger died suddenly in January and Morgan died of an unsuspected cancer after only four months with us. They join the long list of Cockers and almost-Cockers we hope to meet again on the other side.
A new  dog, a five year old Cocker Spaniel named Sparky joined our pack. He's a character...
In early February last year Thomas and I helped Mom and Dad move into their new Patrick Square home. It was fun being there at the beginning, being a part of their new adventure. It was also tiring as all getout. I mean to tell you, we unpacked and put away and emptied and drove back and forth to the storage unit, and lifted, hauled, and moved until we were flat-out exhausted. We were back in the summer when the entire family enjoyed a vacation with Gran and Granddad.
Late this year came the news that Toni, my quilting-reading buddy, my neighbor and friend, got the news that the tumors in her brain were growing. She decided on hospice care, with no more debilitating treatments. That has been difficult for everyone, but definitely the right thing for her. She has had, and continues to have, time to spend with her children and family and friends. She’s gotten to do things that she wanted to do, while letting go of a lot of things that are just static when it comes right down to it. I don't even know what to say about my own reactions, other than the fact that I wish it was not so, and that my heart is sore.

Other (less important) things that (nonetheless) happened in 2013:
I had foot surgery in August. Here is the scar I wound up with, which isn't too bad:

We put a herb spiral and a fountain in next to the patio. It was a delightful place to sit this summer. When my cousin was here (I got TWO visits from him this year) we spent a lot of time sitting out there, talking about life, the universe, and whether Princess Anne The Princess Royal likes fruit salad.

I made this quilt over the course of a weekend at West River on my quilt guild's spring retreat. The fabrics are from Aneela Hoey's Sherbet Pips line, and I love, love, love them. The blue fabric features a little dog chasing a cherry colored ball. My sister is now the proud (I hope) owner of the quilt.

I also refinished a chair, made a pillowcase, went to MAQ, gave a talk, volunteered with the Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center, read a couple hundred books, went to work most days (and did not smack a single person while I was there - go me!), walked my dogs, and in general filled the days with enough to keep them interesting, but not so much that I was overwhelmed.

So exits 2013 (not followed by a bear). 2014 is a mystery...

19 December, 2013

Peter Jackson thinks he could have written The Hobbit better than that old Tolkien guy

Toni, Teri, and I went to see the hilariously named Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. To call that name inappropriate is understating the situation. Smaug is on screen less than 45 minutes of a 2 hour, 45 minute movie and there is Not So Much desolation. Admittedly, there is a sad moment when our Dwarves (Thorin and Co.) find the charred and mummified bodies of their dead kinsmen in a caved in tunnel in the Lonely Mountain. It was one of the only touching moments in an otherwise slapstick movie.

Because I am only human, may I just say in regards to Lee Case as the Elven King of Mirkwood, that he is smokin’ hot. Chilly, selfish, manipulative, and arrogant, yes. But smokin’! I think my underpants caught on fire when he was on screen.

But back to the actual plot of the movie, it was a nice little story that sort of reminds me of the book. Loosely based on the book? There are new characters. Some plot lines that came directly from the febrile mind of Peter Jackson…like the elf warrior Tauriel who falls in something-like-love with Kili in the 15 minutes they know each other, while Legolas stands around looking pouty, because he has a 600 year old crush on her. To which I say, “Suck it Legolas, you had your chance. If after 600 years, you didn’t make your move, you gotta expect the short man to crash in and sweep her off her feet  
save her from the spider 
get saved by her and then flirt over a rock. It was bound to happen, because Kili was the definitely the most handsome of the dwarfs. Or at least the one whose hair wouldn’t make a girl break down in giggles.

This movie has 2045 times the amount of Orcs and Wargs than the book had. You can’t shoot an arrow without hitting an Orc in the eye. It’s like this eldritch power they have…an arrow flies and bing! an Orc is standing with his eye right in front of it.
Bard the Bowman was actually a very good character, based on a character who was actually (!) IN the book. I was excited about that, although I wish he hadn’t spent all his screen time looking so worried. But then again, Bard has Stephen Fry and some nameless character in a ridiculous hat dogging him all the time, while his kids stood around shouting, “Da! Da! There are spies watching the house and Orcs dropping out of the ceiling, and we haven’t even SHOT our bows yet! Da!” That is all very worrying.
Desolation - Bard the Bowman
The Master of Lake Town and his nameless stooge.
Mad props to the CGI people who created Smaug. He looks gooood. Not as good as Lee Case (must make that clear, Lee Case is the prettiest thing in this movie), but super serpentine and lizardly. He moves like I believe dragons would move, if they just happened to be living in my local deserted treasure hoard.
Considering that the movie is called The Hobbit, and in the book it is all told through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins, our movie Bilbo didn’t have a lot to do. He ringed up (yes, THAT ring) and became invisible a few times, killed some spiders, hissed, “Mine!” in a very Gollum-like manner, talked to Smaug, and had the last line in the film, “What have we done?” Good question Mr. Baggins, good question.
The one thing about the movie that made me really mad, much madder than making up characters who were not in the book, was that they completely got Beorn wrong. Read the damn book Mr. Jackson. Beorn was dangerous, but he was not mean. I missed the scene where Bilbo and Gandalf get Beorn to offer hospitality to them, and then the Dwarves just keep popping up two or three at a time, like rabbits out of a hat, and Beorn accepts them too. He could have spent ten minutes on that by cutting one scene with the fake white Orc!
Despite the fact that I am kvetching, I will definitely go see part three of the film. Got to see how if Kili and Tauriel wind up putting in any sheet time (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and how the kids and their Da, Bard, survive when a very angry Smaug pays a visit.
Oh, and one more thing, SUCK IT Peter Jackson. I grew up pronouncing the name of the dragon as Smog...and that is how I will always pronounce it. And Pluto is SO a planet!!!

05 December, 2013

In which The Author is not Happy at all

There are things going on. A lot of it is just background noise, but some of it is big, important stuff.

My friend Toni's cancer is spreading and growing. Fucking cancer - just one more piece of evidence, as if I needed it, that life is not fair.

I met Toni the year I joined BHQG, which was about 10 years ago. She was pregnant with the baby that was Ned, her youngest. She was tall and beautiful and had the most gorgeous long, blonde hair. She was like a Breck girl: wholesome and outdoorsy. She is still tall, blonde, and beautiful, but the hair is shorter and you can see some of what she's been through in the last seven years. She's one of the funniest, nicest, most down-to-earth people I know.

We like the same kind of books (except for those ones about Phury and Rhage - Toni, those are just ridonkulous!) and movies and tv. She has a great sense of humor and keen sense of the ridiculous. She likes Diet Coke, McDonald's french fries, the Game of Thrones books, pedicures, Labrador Retrievers, and sparkly things. She adores her kids, who admittedly are all characters in their own rights, and has dozens of hilarious stories about them. Toni is my age and has a lot to do with her life. Instead of making those plans, she's thinking about hospice, and doing and saying the things that need to be done and said.

And I hate it. It's not right or fair, or good. What it is, is how things are. And in this case, it sucks.