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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

IMG_7523With words to devour, pages to turn, people and places and ideas in literature to fill the chasm of time between the onset of the COVID19 and the end of August,  I confess that I have not read much during these many months of pandemic. Unsustained concentration and lack of focus found me in  literary limbo.

It was “out of the mouth of babes” that I was rescued from my malaise.

I mentioned a movie I had recently viewed, Wonder, in a Skype visit with our granddaughter. Kezzie exclaimed “Yia Yia, I told you to read the book!”. I pulled out my list of her recommendations and there it was, with the author and my notes of Kezzie’s synopsis of the book. A delightful conversation ensued and I promptly ordered a copy of the book online after we ended our virtual visit. I read it, post-haste, when it arrived and would like to recommend it to you.  Being different, bullied, feeling different when you look “normal” and your sibling doesn’t, how children (and adults) react to differences and the burdens of life that they may carry. Read it! The author of Wonder is P.J. Palacio. It is part of a series I hope to continue.



 

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Reading Wonder reminded me that children’s literature has always been a place of refuge for me. In these troubling times it just might be what I needed to read. I perused the piles of accumulated books that threaten our floorboards and two such books from a long past trip to a thrift shop arose and begged to be read.

Thimble Summer, with its beautiful cover and Newberry Medal emblem, was a delightful read. I did judge this book by its cover – and judged it well. I remembered another book by the author that I read as a child, The Saturdays, which I loved and read over and over again. Thimble Summer is about a young girl, Garnet, who finds a silver thimble that she believes is magic as wonderful things begin to happen in a time of drought and uncertainly in her Wisconsin farm that summer. Elizabeth Enright is the author.

Hero Over Here  is a mere 54 pages, plucked from the shelves at the same thrift store as Thimble Summer. On that same pre2020 outing, it was another cover that appealed to me, a book about the home front during World War I, and copyrighted in 1990.  The book is dedicated by the author, Kathleen V. Kudlinski – “To my grandmothers, Lillian Veenis and Helen Bowen, Both of whom remembered the flu for me.”  Suddenly, this summer, this little book called out to me. I read it in one sitting. Theodore’s father and older brother are “over there”, fighting WWI. His mother, then his sister are suddenly stricken with the flu epidemic of 1918. Theodore must care for them, he becomes a hero, and he learns life lessons in that horrific time.

What would you do if you learned the date and code name of a massive invasion during World War II?  Emma, is the daughter of a Dutch diplomat, Oscar.  Emma and her husband Carl are at a chance meeting for lunch with Oscar in Geneva. When Carl, a German who works at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, steps away from the table for a few minutes, Emma whispers the coded information in her father’s ear. Carl has confided to Emma that there will be an invasion of Russia by German forces. It is called Operation Barbarossa and will commence on June 22.  Oscar knows there are gestapo in the restaurant. He knows he is being watched. He knows that if he reveals this information, Emma and Carl will be arrested. Oscar’s wife, Kate, works as a nurse in London, aiding injured military. Oscar and Kate are married, live in separate apartments and rarely see each other. Oscar unexpectedly arrives in Kate’s apartment and reveals Emma’s secret. They have differing views of whether or not Oscar should share the information, knowing Emma’s complicity, but knowing they may save thousands of lives. They question if anyone will even believe Oscar.  News from Berlin is by Otto De Kat, translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke.

HatsSome Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler is the captivating memoir of Trudi Kanter, a well respected milliner in pre-WWII Vienna. As the Nazis march into Austria, Trudi realized that she must find a way to get her husband Walter and her parents out of Austria. Walter stubbornly sees no reason for leaving. After all, they are respectable, prosperous and he is not worried about what might happen. Trudi, however, sees the warning signs and knows that they will soon be in dire danger as Jews. Her guile, ingenuity, and determination, as well as her well earned reputation as a talented creator of woman’s hats, are implemented as she sets a plan in motion to save her family and others from the pending horror. A buying trip to Paris, business connections, her line of credit, and her charm are brought into play in this sometimes charming, often harrowing book  that is hard to put down.   This memoir was a self-published in the 1980’s, rediscovered by a graduate student in Cambridge, England. It was eventually reprinted in 2012. It was recommended to me by Centuries and Sleuths bookstore in Forest Park. I was inspired by Trudi’s story, her tenacity and courage and I am appreciative of this recommendation from the unique and amazing independent bookstore  Centuries and Sleuths is.

What have you read lately? Have you had trouble concentrating on books during this time, or read more than you regularly do?

 

 

 

 

 

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Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé

How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,

and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,

so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn’t mention

that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle

the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and

who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki

Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though

your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked

up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive

that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them

before they went to bed and on the way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don’t put

on the résumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home. – Joyce Sutphen

(from You Tube)

This poem popped up in my email this morning from a daily subscription I receive. The poem, new to me, resonated with my own child raising years and bring to mind my grandchildren’s parents, Katy and Tom, and Jennifer, who sang these words over and over and over again. Perhaps, it will resonate with you in some way as well.

Poem from The Writers Almanac :  “Things You Didn’t Put on Your Résumé” Reproduced from Carrying Water to the Field: New and Selected Poems by Joyce Sutphen by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Forthcoming October 2019 with the University of Nebraska Press.

Bedtime from Francis as seen on Amazon.

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The morning was bright and clear with dashes of sunshine stroking my life. Decorations were scattered about our rambling abode; angels rested on high, books stacked within reach, and there were even a few batches of cookies stored in decorative tins. A rare December day with no meetings on the calendar, a tank full of gas and a list of wonders that I wanted to see, so, off I went with a purpose in mind.

My first stop was to see an exhibit about one of my favorite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life,  at the Elmhurst History Museum. Alas and alack, I arrived to discover it would not open for several more hours, so . . . I promptly reversed my plans and headed, first, to the Wilder Park Conservatory. The Conservatory is an oasis of growth and warmth, history and soulful nourishment nestled into an award-winning park in the western suburbs.

Opening the door, a couple I have known were exiting, two charming grandsons toddling out with them. These two youngsters informed me that there were “fishes” and “elves” inside.

Well, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but, elves here and there and everywhere in the conservatory, along with this poinsettia tree and a cheerful display of the plants all around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In need of a “cuppa” of something warm and a bit of bite to eat, I headed to the north end of town and Brewpoint Coffee and Roastery where I had a tasty blueberry scone and a hot mocha (called Sacagawea).

As luck would have it, on a day filled with good luck, a perfect parking spot awaited me smack dab in the center of town. Like many suburbs around Chicago, parking is at a premium, so I quickly signaled my intent to park, claiming my curbside cradle. My first stop was The Pink Elephant, a well stocked charity shop. I chatted for quite sometime with a woman I did not know as we good-naturedly tried to talk each other into buying something we did not need. Do you ever do that? As a result, this caroler sang her way into my arms and followed me home.

I stopped at a new store, Bread and Butter, where I had purchased a darling pair of earrings a few weeks earlier. It is such a cute shop and the owner, a enterprising young woman, is as delightful as her products. I left with these cute stocking caps meant for bottles that Rudolf absconded with to keep his antlers warm.

My final stop, which was my first on what became a delightful circuitous route, was a tour of the exhibit at the Elmhurst History MuseumIt’s a Wonderful Life. Posters and “stills” from the movie lined the museum’s wall with informative narratives describing scenes, props, biographical information and other tidbits of knowledge about a beloved movie.

Included in this exhibition are photos and information about Elmhurst’s own Christmas traditions and photos of the city around the time depicted in It’s a Wonderful Life.

I did not take many photos, in part to maintain the integrity of the exhibition, and in part to lure you into the museum if you live in the area or are visiting. It is truly worth the visit and is within a short walking distance of not only the conservatory, but, of the renowned Elmhurst Art Museum.

Here are two characters from the movie, the original Bert and Ernie, and another character you might recall, Toots, with her earrings dangling and her infamous red coat.

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I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been – Winnie the Pooh

So, I did!. I walked away from the computer, the garden, the laundry and such, adjusted my newly installed magnificent driver’s side mirror, repositioned my car’s seat and rambled off to the elegant La Grange Theatre. Oh, it was a journey, for certain, for are not all walking aways filled with challenges?

 

The first challenge was my own winding road. The bridge to be crossed is being repaired and down to one lane with a temporary stack of poles and lights  giving drivers the green when the way is clear. I sat for at least 5 precious minutes waiting for the light to turn green, with no car coming the opposite way during the entire wait. Then, a freight train, a very slow moving freight train, ate up another 5 precious minutes, followed by much traffic juggling for parking spaces, turn lanes, pedestrians, and bicyclists who all felt that the road was their very own (when, really, wasn’t it just mine?)

I parked the car in the very last available spot, then I walked as fast a I walk these days and entered the gilded theatre! Ticket in hand, in I went, to the opening strains of a woodsy tea party awaiting Christopher Robin for a sad goodbye as woodland friends gathered in the 100 Acre Woods and were brought to life by the magic of imagination.

I found a seat, which wasn’t hard as there were but a dozen or so “walkers away” in the theatre; a group of women in front of me, a few more mid-section, an older fellow with a soft drink in one hand, a big container of popcorn in the other, and a mother with her preschool aged child across the aisle from me. The little girl was the bow on the gift of this movie. I could hear her uttering her fears in the scary parts, crawling onto her mama’s lap, and her infectious squeals of laughter were as if on cue from the movie’s director, as Tigger bounces, Eeyore laments and Owl pontificates. Quiet moments and mad-cap scenes made all-the-more delightful by this young darling.

Christopher Robin is a story of finding one’s self while battling the hufflelumps and woofles of life, all on a weekend when the overworked, adult Christopher must work on a way to cut costs for the suitcase company he works for with others’ jobs on the line, while his boss goes off to play golf, and his wife and daughter are off to the Robin cottage in Sussex.

In-the-meantime, long forgotten Winnie cannot find his best friends and misses the long-gone Christopher Robin, who surely would know how to find them. Winnie does, well, what Winnie does, which is to walk away from where he is to find Christopher.

What a beautiful, funny, sad, thought-provoking movie this is. To think, I might not have gone off and walked away had it not been for the fact that yet another certain young girl, who owns my heart, but who lives far, far away, remarked to her mommy upon seeing Christopher Robin that she thought Yia Yia might enjoy it, too – and I did. I most certainly did, and I think that you might as well.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” – Winnie the Pooh

https://movies.disney.com/christopher-robin

(movie trailer from the official Disney site)

 

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It was surprisingly busy for a Sunday afternoon. Long lines at the counters and dressing room. I was in a high-end store in a high-end shopping center in need of a specific item I’ve needed that Nordstrom’s carried. Sunday was the last day of their semi-annual sale and a good deal was to be had!

I queued up for a dressing room, then to make my purchase. I thought about grabbing a quick bite in the restaurant, realized I was all queued out and just needed to head home. I walked toward the escalator, following another flow of shoppers navigating more lines, and approached the rolling staircase.

There I was, a smallish bag in one hand, a largish purse in the other, not well-balanced at all, with the optical illusion of steps before me oscillating downward in a “Now you see me, now you don’t” pattern.

I don’t do steps well. You can imagine my expertise on escalators.

I waited, a second longer than socially acceptable, then dipped my toes onto the outgoing step, grabbing the sliding rail, aware of the growing line-up behind me. I am the pain in the butt you do not want to follow on escalators, but, I am what I am (or is it I yam what I yam?) and stepped on, turning slightly  to see who was on the step behind me.

No one!

No one was behind me – then someone was. Detecting my slight turn of the head, a soft voice said, “You are fine. I’ve got your back.” Someone had my back! Wow! My protector said “I’m a rehab nurse. I saw your hesitation. I do not want you to be hurt and don’t want to have to take care of you on the bottom of the escalator”. We both chuckled, I told her I appreciated her kindness, and disembarked from the disappearing steps as they folded into wherever it is that escalator steps escape to. I tilted my head back toward my rear guard and said “Thank you, dear angel, for having my back”. “You’re welcome”. 

It is comforting to know that someone has your back now-and-then, especially on an escalator.

Has anyone had your back lately?

From YouTube

 

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Oddly enough, Tony Orlando and Dawn have been singing away in my head lately.

Knock three times, on the ceiling if you want me,

twice on the pipes, if the answer is no

There I was, water raining down, my hair all wet and lathered up, when the water pressure slowly diminished until it was but a mere dribble. It would have been easier to rinse with an eye dropper. I somehow managed to get the soap out – and then became shower-deprived, followed by  flusher deprived- if you know what I mean.

For awhile, we were able to wash dishes and hands and use water by tapping on a valve, in the basement, two flights down. This meant we both needed to be in the house. It was, shall I say, an interesting “tap” dance in marital harmony.

I hesitated to complain, but DID, quite vociferously, in fact, to my beloved Antler Man, who had been waiting to shower for a very long time as he recovered from a foot wound. Instead of a shower he was employed in fixing the flusher (which I just wrote for alliteration). We did, in the end, need a new pressure valve and then, a few days later, a new tank. Thank heaven for this dear man who meets many such challenges and for our neighbor Rick who lent a helping hand and some expertise.

All’s well that ends well and a few more horticultural posts are perking away.

Besides being in a flush, I’ve been busy with family, gardening, and life in general and apologize for being absent for such a long while. I hope you are all doing well. For now, while I take another shower, here’s a clip from a movie I enjoy viewing every-now-and-again. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. It reminds me of our recent plumbing issues here on the Cutoff.

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My thoughts, it seems, have been like these wispy clouds afloat in the deep blue sky. My words catch on the tail of the wind and flit around without landing on a sentence. Here it is, more than a week since my last post and I really cannot say why.

I could blame it on the Queen. Not Elizabeth, who just celebrated a historic milestone. No, it is another English queen who ascended the throne of England at the age of 18 and has captured my attention for the past few weeks.

Victoria.

We are just now viewing this delicious historical drama here in the States. My friends from across the pond, or via other televised means, have already seen this lush period piece. For  those among us who await such treasures on PBS’s Masterpiece, we are just now four or five episodes into the first season of Victoria.

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What drama and  maneuvering and courtly demands led to Victoria and Albert’s wedding – replete with a break in tradition. A white wedding gown! Of course, there is much more to this series, but, I do love a wedding.

Have you been watching Victoria?

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I have also been listening to the audio book of Kate Morton’s “The Secret Keeper”,

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and taking my time lost among the leafy pages of “Meetings With Remarkable Trees” by Thomas Pakenham. This volume first came to my attention at L. Marie’s always fascinating blog, El Space.  Her post on trees and this book can be found here.

The arboreal photographs and elegant essays have been welcome companions during the gloomy days and long nights of this winter and they have left me longing for my   wanderings among the forests and preserves around me. I was at last able to satisfy that longing and take a long walk walk around Lake Katherine and . . .

. . . where I found myself under the surveillance of a goosenecked spy!

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Such things happen when one has her head in the clouds.

Thank you, dear friend and readers, for being so patient with me.

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I picked up my keys and called out to Tom.

 “I am leaving” but, he did not hear – understand me.

“What?”

“I said I’m leaving”, and commenced laughing. Poor Tom didn’t think it was funny, but, there I was, laughing; suddenly remembering the movie,  Roxanne – and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Hav you ever had one of these silly moments?

(from YouTube)

 

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House_on_carroll_street_posterTwo movies, viewed a weeks apart, both set in the early 1950’s, one viewed many times, one just once in the theater.

One, a thriller, was a bit of a sleeper, though the venerable Roger Ebert gave it three stars.  The other, a coming of age/love story, is a bit under the popular radar, but, deservedly, up for awards on both sides of the pond.

The House on Carroll Street and Brooklyn both take place, in whole or in part, in New York. Both are rich in setting, mood and nuance, often evoking more in the wordless moments than in the dialogue, especially The House on Carroll Street. Both movies delve into issues of their day, though, in my view, issues not all that different from many issues of these days we live in.

The House on Carroll Street begins with Emily Crane refusing to name names when summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  She is subsequently fired from her job and takes on a part-time position reading to an elderly woman on a quiet street. Curious about an open window and voices across the street from the elderly woman’s dwelling,  Emily snoops from the hidden garden as she leaves her reading. Later, she bumps into one of the men she saw in the window. The other she recognizes as the government official who questioned her at the hearing. So begins a quietly menacing thriller, ala Alfred Hitchcock, with Emily an unlikely heroine in a world where there are still Nazis.

Brooklyn is based on the book written by Colm Tóibín.  I enjoyed the movie so much 11201971_orithat I now have the novel teetering on my ever-present TBR pile. The movie came to my attention through recommendations, trusted blog reviews, and my own instinct that Brooklyn was a movie I wanted to see. This is a simple story, a slow journey through the agony of leaving what was once home, the long ocean voyage in cramped quarters, the bustle of New York City with new sights and smells and foreign faces. It is of life in a boardinghouse, full of all the comes when woman board together. It is the story of adapting to a new country, to working, attending night school to become a bookkeeper (and being the only female in the class). It is about being a young Irish lass, as Eilis Lacey is, and meeting a young Italian boy at a dance, falling in love, meeting his big family, coming of age, and of choices we make, their consequences and their rewards.

Both films are set in the early ’50s. Both are rich in costuming, details, nuances and the unspoken words as much as the spoken. Both evoke an era we sometimes look back to as simpler times, which were, in truth, often fraught with underlying changes and unspoken fear. Both have an unseen character of menace. The menace in one is McCarthyism, the other small-mindedness.

I would like to recommend both movies if you have not seen them.  If you have, I welcome your thoughts. Is there a movie set in the ’50s that you especially enjoy?

 

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Whilst the Irish Soda Bread was baking and the corned beef dinner was  simmering, a few of my favorite Irish films came to mind, and I was wondering what some of your favorite Irish movies might be.

One that always sets me to laughing is Waking Ned Devine

Of course, there is The Quiet Man, which usually shows up in the these parts on St. Patrick’s Day, as it did again this year.

Evelyn is perfect for social justice and protection of children –  and a wee bit of angel rays,

 

and Finian’s Rainbow if just the one for song and dance.

The trailers are from YouTube. A few I couldn’t find but are enjoyable to watch include Da, The Mammy,  The Secret of Roan Inish, and Ryan’s Daughter.

While I’m blathering on about movies, I would like to mention the British import , Moone Boy on PBS? Have you watched it?

What are your favorite films of Ireland?

 

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