Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scavenging for Oscar

I just watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona, a Woody Allen film about two friends who go to Spain and fall in love with the same painter who is still entangled with his ex-wife. Light and sparkly and somewhat classic Woody Allen, it's an entertaining film with beautiful people who are fun to watch. But I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have ever watched it were it not for the Academy Awards.

For some reason I think of the Academy Award nominated films as homework. As soon as the nominations come out, I get this obsessive need to check off as many as I can on my "seen it" list.

I don't know when the Academy got this kind of control over me, but I get more obsessive every year. It's almost like a scavenger hunt. Okay. Which ones can I pick up in theaters, which ones sneak in at The Broadway, which ones can I pick up on Netflix, and which ones can I talk friends into pirating for me. (Although I'll deny that last one if anyone in a suit asks me.)

So far here is where I stand:

Seen it:
1. Slumdog Millionaire
2. Frost/Nixon
3. Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Doubt
5. The Visitor
6. Tropic Thunder
7. The Dark Knight
8. Revolutionary Road
9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
10. Australia
11. Kung Fu Panda
12. Wall-E
13. Man on Wire
14. In Bruges

Hope to see it before the Oscars:

1. Milk
2. The Reader
3. The Wrestler
4. Rachel Getting Married
5. Changeling
6. The Duchess
7. Waltz with Bashir
8. The Baader Meinhof Complex
9. Happy-Go-Lucky
10. Frozen River

Not bad I guess. I've seen more than half of the ones I want to. I'd give you my review of each of them, but I'm sure you aren't that patient or interested. And really who cares what I think about them? Although I'm sticking with my favorite so far: Slumdog Millionaire.

Wish me luck on my quest. Looks like I have just over three weeks to get them all in. Am I alone in this little obsession?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crystal Cathedrals

The sights at SunCrest's Village Green today were nothing less than magical. I felt my heart beating a little faster and I could hardly take it all in. An impromptu photo shoot with my friend Bonnie was one of the funnest things I've done in a long time. It was dazzling everywhere we looked. Here are a few of my shots. Luckily with scenery like this, being a novice was a lot less of a handicap.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

From Fog to Snow

Oh what a difference a day makes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Foggy Bottom

I love it when the fog rolls in. It's so soft and silent. Feels like I'm up here alone. No one in the back, no one in the front. Just my little house on a mountain in a cloud. Oh yeah, and the naked guy next door who thinks he is invisible in fog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Sometimes I like to live dangerously, buck the system, be a rebel.

So, today while I was at the doctor I blatantly disregarded this very professionally taped-up sign in the office warning me not to use electronic devices. Ha. I scoff. This room is way too small and boring not to text while in there.

It's just too bad my phone camera takes such crappy evidence pictures. Pus, my phone doesn't look anything like those scary warning pictures.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Find Michelle Obama a Chair

Yes, today was amazing, historic, exciting, and incredibly inspiring. But I think Michelle Obama's feet must hurt! It's possible that really expensive high-heels are a little more comfortable than really cheap high-heels, but still...they made her stand up ALL DAY LONG. (I loved that she was taller than George Bush when they met at the White House. I guess I'm taller than him too since I'm the same height as her.) But standing in those heels had to hurt.

She walked down Pennsylvania Ave., she was standing during the swearing in, she was standing during that WHOLE extremely long, unusually redundant, and excruciatingly drawn-out parade. Come on! Give the new first lady a chair! Now she has to dance in at least 10 different balls and wander around the parties shaking hands with everyone. Her feet have to be killing her, but you'd never know it. She looked gorgeous and put-together the whole time. I have to admit I got teary watching her dance with her husband, but I bet she is exhausted and ready to head to the White House. She's all kinds of a good sport and will be an extremely fun first lady to watch.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ode to Jax

This post is dedicated to my nephew Jaxson just because he's cute.

And he always goes for what he wants.

And because he does a cool trick with one eyebrow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mystery is All Boxed Up

Are there any mysteries any more? Remember when we used to just wonder about things we couldn't figure out? Then we would have to resort to either going to the library or finding some person much smarter than we were to answer our questions.

For example: What is cream of tartar? I know it's used in baking, but the name just sounds...well, wrong. Sorta like the stuff the dentist scrapes off teeth. Umm, not my teeth. Just some hypothetical person's teeth, as it were. I'm admitting to nothing here.

So anyway. Now we don't have to just wonder what this powdery, strange baking stuff is. We can just look it up in this convenient little box full of information called a computer. Just for your information, my box of information says cream of tartar is a natural, pure ingredient left behind after grape juice has fermented to wine. Other sites call it a sediment, a by-product, or a sort of crust on the side of wine bottles that is scraped off and ground up. Really not sounding that good, huh? In this case maybe it was just better not to know.

Which brings me to my next question. What is steak tartare? I've always had some vague idea about this stuff, but maybe I should really get this straight. Wikipedia, the font of all unnecessary and inaccurate information, calls it: a meat dish made from finely chopped or ground raw beef or horse meat.

Raw horse meat? Really? Who is eating this? Are they saying, "I'll take the horse meat, but I'd like that raw with some cream of tartar on the side?"

Yeah. Probably not.

So, I just type in: who eats horse tartare? and I find out it's mostly Canadians. Those crazy canucks. Is canuck an offensive, North-of-the-border slur? I don't know, so I type that in too and most of my inside sources like words@random and say it's not offensive. A hockey team is called that after all.

Which brings up icing. What the hell is that? I've been to a handful of hockey games and found them incredibly boring. All that talk of icing has always left me cold--and confused. So I asked Wikipedia again and it said: "Icing in ice hockey occurs when a player shoots the puck across at least two red lines, the opposing team's goal line being the last, and the puck remains untouched." Doesn't clear that up at all, but who cares? I'm already too bored to keep researching.

I think you probably get my point and I could easily do this all night. I'm just happy for this little box full of knowledge. Can't imagine what I did without it.

Mystery solved.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Slumdog is Golden

I'm so glad Slumdog Millionaire won the Golden Globe for best picture tonight! It's a brilliant film and I loved it.

I also loved Kate Winslet's best actress acceptance speech for Revolutionary Road. It's awesome that she won two Golden Globes. Overall a great show. Can't wait for the Oscars now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

And Then the Mountain Went Dark

I could survive. That's all I'm committing to right now—survival. But it wouldn't be pretty. I'm fully addicted to electric power. My life would be dramatically different without it.

Last night the power went out all over SunCrest. I got home to a cold and dark house that just proceeded to get colder and darker. I piled all my blankets on my bed and dove into the middle of them and trusted that the power would be back on by the time I woke up. That's how it usually works. But it wasn't. I woke up to an even colder house and a new quandary. Should I buy a kerosene heater? Should I buy a generator? Should I find a really big candle?

I'm not really prepared for an emergency at all. If something bad happened and the power was out for days, my house would be nearly useless. I can't cook, no hot showers, my phone doesn't work without my modem, my fireplace won't light, my food would all spoil, and my flashlights are all junk. But the real problem would be staying warm. My house was 45 degrees when the power finally came on today. If a power outage lasted for any longer I would be in trouble. I guess I need a plan for emergency heat that doesn't include breaking up the furniture and burning it on a make-shift alter on my kitchen bar.

My emergency plan has always been simply this: go to the farm in Idaho. I remember having this feeling of uneasiness after Hurricane Katrina. I called my dad and told him I was worried that I didn't have an emergency plan. His response was, "sure you do; just come to the farm."

I'm glad I have that option as long as I could get there, but I probably shouldn't just leave it at that. Living without electricity for a day has made me realize how much I rely on it. I'm going to have to think about a plan B.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Put That Down Right Now. This Mountain is NOT a Toy.

I'm convinced I live in a snow globe on top of this mountain and someone won't quit shaking it.

I drove up the hill tonight on completely dry roads, singing songs from the Juno soundtrack at the top of my lungs, and not even watching for deer. I bounced over to my friend's house to play bunko with the neighborhood girls on this sparkly and sorta warm (40 degree) night.

But be warned: you can never, ever let your guard down up here.

Before we even had a chance to get started with the game, we looked out the window and realized we couldn't even see across the street. The wind had whipped up and the snow had blown in and all-of-a-sudden we were in the middle of a good ol' Little House on the Prairie-type blizzard. It was like someone had filled the snow globe with swirling powdered sugar and was whipping it around with abandon.

One of the women lives down the mountain in Sandy, so she grabbed her things and determinedly headed out. Within 20 minutes she was back at the door with the news that a trip down that mountain right now was impossible, and she needed to bunk in the snow globe with the rest of us. The news put a quick end to the dice party and we were pushed by the wind into our cars to try to make it the several blocks home.

Feeling like Mr. Magoo, I pasted my face as close to the windshield as I could get and inched my way to my house in a total white out.

Now I'm just hoping the fun is over soon and whoever is shaking this globe will get distracted by some other interesting toy. I'm sure there's a hurricane on an island somewhere that would be fun to play with.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


It has been a busy night. I went skiing—ran through a few slalom courses, played some doubles tennis, went bowling and bowled my best game ever, and then played a little baseball. And the truth is I'm tired, even though all these activities were done in Bonnie's living room on her Wii. It's pathetic, but I'm going to be sore tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fantasy Shopping

I know there is something wrong with complaining about a self-imposed moratorium on shopping, but man oh man this is kinda getting to me. At first it was just the little things I thought I needed, like black socks and night lights, but now I've started fantasizing about totally redecorating my bedroom. It has been so cold lately that I've taken to climbing into my warm bed early and dreaming about new curtains and furniture and bed linens. I want to replace the chocolate brown and aqua blue with vibrant orange and lively yellows. I've been tossing around plans for new feather pillows and silky sheets that never need ironing. I want billowy fabrics and bright fluffy towels. I'm dying to go to IKEA and go crazy; skip through Bed Bath & Beyond and pile up three carts; run madly through Pottery Barn and fill bags full of bedding! I want a headboard for my bed and a fireplace for the corner and beautiful art on every wall.

Since I'm not the von Trapp family's nanny and I don't even have a guitar, I can't really justify turning my drapes into play clothes. My towels are too nice to turn into rags. I don't need a headboard because I have big wood paneling on my wall and I already have 800-thread-count sheets and a big fluffy duvet.

But I still want new stuff. I miss shopping. I guess I'll just go buy some crusty bread and fancy olive oil and call it good. Only seven months to go, but who's counting?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mixed Memories and Mash-ups

It might just be time for me to get some new and more exciting stories.

It became painfully obvious to me over the holidays that at some point in your life you stop telling new stories and just start recycling the old ones. And I'm convinced I'm going to need a much bigger bundle of stories than my mother has.

My mom's stories are so familiar to me it's like they have been made into a major motion picture and I've watched it no less than 17 times. I can recite all the dialogue, and the characters are vivid and clear and nuanced in my mind. I could step in and finish every one of my mother's stories after less than five words. In fact, I can name that story in three words. Go ahead. Test me.

It does absolutely no good to say anything once the story has begun. That story is going to get told all the way to the bitter end unless the house catches fire. Even then, my mother would still be finishing that story as we shiver outside with the glow of the burning house on our faces.

My brothers have started taking pieces from all my mom's stories and mashing them together to form an epic, crazy, no-good-very-bad-day kind of story. Much like those inane mash-ups on the radio where some juvenile disc jockey has the brilliant idea of mixing a Barry Manilow song together with Dr. Dre, the result is a nonsensical, jumbled mess that doesn't in any way resemble music, or in this case a story.

We find it hilarious how the pinnacle five words of each story fit together into some less-than-harmonious whole. But my mother just waits for the story mashing escapades to die down and gamely continues with her story as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. "And then your uncle Laurie Whitney said..."

I guess at some point her stories will become my stories and I will pick up the storytelling where she leaves off, because on a remote farm in Idaho there may be no written record, and the only way to keep these stories from dying from the earth is through crushing and unyielding repetition.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No Doubt

I've been on a bit of a movie binge these last couple of weeks. It's my very favorite time of year for movies with all the best films coming out now. I saw Doubt tonight and it was breathtaking. The performances by Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman are absolutely riveting. The story simmers and burns and builds to an explosive confrontation between the two powerful and mesmerizing main characters. It's a must see!

I'd also recommend Seven Pounds and Frost/Nixon, but I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was too long and clunky to hold my attention.

My favorite movie so far this year is still Slumdog Millionaire--a rich and inspiring film that stays with you long after you leave the theater.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cold Enough to Freeze a Calf to the Ground

It's 3 degrees tonight—3! In Idaho we would say it's cold enough to freeze a newborn calf to the ground. Unfortunately that's the harsh reality of life on a dairy farm in Idaho sometimes. Many times on nights like these we would end up with a brand new calf in the tub trying to warm him up on his frigid birthday.

When I was home this year for Christmas I got to visit a new little colt born the week before Christmas. Our neighbor took us out by horse and sleigh and we watched the little colt frolic in the snow. I bet that little guy is cold tonight. I hope his mother is keeping him warm.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Don't Heart Atlanta

Atlanta sucks! Literally. It keeps sucking my friends away and I don't like it one bit. It already sucked one friend right out of these beautiful mountains and now it's working on the second one, my friend Dana. The strength of the suction just got more intense tonight and I'm not ready.

Change always happens quicker than I expect it to. I seem to fool myself into believing I have more control over it than I do and then it sneaks up behind me and takes my breath away. Tonight Dana and I went into a movie in relatively warm, calm weather and came out to a blinding blizzard. The roads, dry when we left, were snow-packed and drifting for the drive up the mountain. By the time we made it home, the windows of my house were all frosted with a fine layer of powdery snow. Now I can't see Dana's house just across the street. But at least tonight I know she's still there. I just won't think about tomorrow.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting My Mojo Back

I've had writer's block. I'm going to try to force myself out of it by posting every day in January. will be watching me to keep me honest and I may just put some very lame crap out there until I get my mojo back. (Unless my mojo is lost forever, in which case the whole month of January will be filled with crap.)

Though 2008 was an extremely momentous year for me, here is hoping that 2009 is even better! Starting now.