Monday, December 30, 2013

"Saving Mr. Banks"

My family and I went to the movies.  The 3 of them went to The Hobbit,  and I went to Saving Mr. Banks.  I think I saw the better movie!
It was so good, I had to take my husband a 2nd time to see it. 
This time I brought my journal.  Yep...wrote in the dark!  Hard, but not impossible.  The first time I saw it, I cried and was just way into the characters.   I kept telling myself, "I'll remember that line."  Of course, as soon as I got home, I had forgotten all that was said.
My husband just knows that I need my journal.  There are just some things that one simply has to write down, and some of these lines in the movie are just epic. 

Mary Poppins is just so English.  Classic. 

Helen Goff.   The author.  She wrote under the pen name PL Travers. 
What an imagination she had.  I read she was 96 when she died.  She seemed to have quite a life.  Made Walt Disney work for the rights to her story!  I will say that she got into her characters.  Her characters became her family.  An author who writes well, does that.  Makes their characters actually come alive.    Seem real. 

In the movie, PL Travers was real.  I rooted for her and for  "Ginte", the driver, the mother.  They will stick with me for days.  Weeks maybe.  It was just a well done movie. 

There is theme, and story question, and lies that she believes.  Emotion and dark moment, disappointments and epiphany! 
This movie is a must see! 

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Thursday, December 26, 2013


A long day at work done, I was looking forward to picking up the pizza and begin celebrating this season of wonder with my family.  Having already figured out which ingredients I wanted, I ambled up to the register and placed my order. 

Casing my "suitcase" (my family much prefers the term to purse!)  quickly, I wasn't seeing it.   With a line starting to grow, I dug a little deeper.  Out came my notebook, coupon holder, hand lotion, lip balm,  but no wallet.  Spotting a $20 bill in a side pocket, I paid the fee for the pizza and made a beeline for my car. 
My day was about to get longer.
I rehearsed the entire day in my mind over and over on the long ride home.  I knew I had my wallet at the beginning of the day. 
Thinking maybe I had left it at home, I ran inside my home frantically hoping that was the case.  Bolting from room to room, no wallet could be found.   During this freaking out time,  I heard it. 

Beeps.  Annoying beeps coming from my answering machine.  The irritation got to me and so I pushed the button.  Playing back to me  was this haunting voice.  My fears had been confirmed. 
"We think there is fraudulent activity on your account.  Please call us back ASAP."  Sweat immediately dripped from my forehead and pooled in my armpits!  My head was spinning as the next message played nearly the same memo.
My wallet was stolen and someone was going to have a Merry Christmas at my expense. 

I am still astounded at the amount of money that was spent in such a short amount of time.  I can't even do that much damage in a whole day.   
I spent most of Friday night closing accounts and figuring out what was in my wallet. 
I have had to go to the DMV and apply for a new license, make police reports, and I have cried at the loss of a picture of my father that can't be replaced.  It was a favorite picture of him because it showed so well his personality.   My dad died 14 years ago.
I am praying by some miracle that my wallet will be found and I can get that irreplaceable picture back.  The police have been wonderful, but wisely have told me the odds of getting it back are not good.  It simply would be that...a miracle. 
I do believe in miracles and hope to maybe write sometime that indeed it was found. 
I have had a few sleepless nights as I have allowed fear to overwhelm me. 

We had a very Merry Christmas.  I wasn't going to let them take that too.  Slowly, I am putting a new wallet together.  My kids found the exact one that I had before online.  I cried when they gave it to me for my gift this year.  They were perusing the internet right away on Friday night.  
I have much to be thankful for.  I actually feel sorry for those who stole my wallet.  What a life of desperation they must lead to resort to stealing. 

Have any of you ever had your wallet stolen?  

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas tradition...A Christmas Carol. 

We are all familiar with the story. 
Written by Charles Dickens.  Born on February 7, 1812 in the UK. 
He started writing the story in September of 1843 and completed it in six weeks.  The book was then published on December 17, 1843. 
A story of a bitter old man.  Ebenezer Scrooge.  He gets visits from Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. 

Here are a few quotes from Charles Dickens...

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  I will live in the past, the Present, and the Future.  The spirits of all three shall strive within me.  I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"                                  

""Bah," said Scrooge, "Humbug."

"God bless us, every one!"
Here is a link to the Disney preview of the movie A Christmas Carol from a few years ago.  Definitely worth a repeat viewing this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas.                                                   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"How are you?"

"How are you?"




Sound familiar?
This "conversation" is spoken countless times during the course of one day. 
From the drive up window in the morning, to the cashier at the grocery store at the end of a long day, these 6 words pretty much sums up "small talk."

This week I asked someone those words, "How are you?" and got an altogether different response.  One that threw me off guard.  Looking  at  me with such depth, such pain,   I swear I saw inside her soul.  As if  daring me to blink, she held my stare and drew me in with the tear rolling down her cheek. 
She had my attention. 
In the minutes that followed, I learned of a mother's pain with a wayward child.  Honestly, this person is "just" an acquaintance, but she took a chance that I might listen and answered my question in a very real way.   Desperate to have someone understand, she needed to be heard. 

 I can still see those weary eyes as I sit here alone in my thoughts. 
What power in those three little words.  Even more to just simply listen. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

The movie The Holiday

The Holiday is a movie about two women who switch houses around the holidays.  One goes to California and one goes to England. 

The best scenes in the movie, in my opinion of course, are the ones with "Arthur Abbott."  He is the older gentleman who "was" a script writer during the Golden Age in Hollywood.  He helps one of the characters (Iris) get some "gumption." 

Parts of the movie were filmed in Shere, Surrey, England UK.
We went there!  How fun to watch a movie and say, "I've seen that!"
This is the grounds where Rose Cottage--the home of Iris---used to be. 
Towards the beginning of the movie, there are some shots of this church.  It is St James Church right there in the middle of the town. 
Some quick shots are taken in the movie of this pub, The White Horse.
What movies have you seen where you have been able to actually go to where it was filmed?

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Fear of the unknown.
It has a way of taking up residence in my mind and filling my head with ridiculous scenarios.
How ridiculous you ask?  Well, here is one synopsis in taking a trip.  

What if?

We sleep through the alarm and don't make it to the airport in time.
The car doesn't start because it is -12 degrees.
We get into an accident on the way.
Our house goes up in flames while we are gone.
Someone in our family dies while we are gone.
One of us slips on  ice while departing our vehicle at the passenger drop off site.

(I'm not even in the airport yet!  It gets better! )

One of us gets stopped while going through security and we miss our flight because of it.
We forgot to check the expiration date on our passports and can't get back in to the USA.
The kid in the seat behind us throws up...(you get the picture!)
The flight is delayed and we are stuck in the airport for 3 days.

We get picked to have our person and our bags checked in customs.
We drink the water in Mexico and get sick.
We swim in the ocean and with a quick wave, we are swept out to sea
Drug dealers swarm our hotel and take all of us hostage.
The sun burns our skin because we fell asleep in our chairs by the pool.
We don't understand pesos and give our waiter half our cash.

Whew!  Fears.  They start with just a thought, and the seed grows and pretty soon I am illogical.  As I read through the "what ifs," they are absurd.  Wacky!

 I actually visited the idea of  bailing out and just stay home.  Oh the mistake that would have been.

I get to spend time with my husband seeing things for the first time together.  
Look out into the ocean daily from our room.  
God simply said it, and there is this colossal body of water.  Beautiful.
The drinking  water is just fine.  
Spend time with some really awesome friends who laugh at my worries and whose glass is constantly full and overflowing.  
It is just about 92 degrees warmer here than from where I left! 

I met the most wonderful lady who cooked for Yvonne and I yesterday.  We were in her home. We drove ( not us, the driver!)  through Mexican neighborhoods to get there, complete with bars on some windows and I was not one bit afraid!  Imagine that!  I got out of the van and was welcomed by Claudia, who appeared through a red door.  I loved that door!  Hugs ensued as we padded through her walkway to the inside of her home.  Such generous hospitality.  We were given Mexican coffee and what tasted like churros as we gathered in her sitting room.  We laughed and learned so much about her country.  She was so proud of her heritage.  Tamales, beans, rice, salsa were all on the menu.  I think I can even make it when I get back home.  The tree was up, the nativity scene in place, and the table set so ornate.  We were her guests.

 I would have missed out on such bliss had I let fear consume me.  None of us knows what each day will bring.  This one brought me another day closer to my friend Yvonne.  I am overjoyed I took the risk.





Monday, December 9, 2013

English breakfast

This is a typical English breakfast, minus the mushrooms!  I must have already eaten the mushrooms before I took the picture!  Yum.  Mushrooms are my favorite.  Usually the tea in my cup each morning was English Breakfast!  I make it daily in my tea maker here each morning!  Cream and sugar make it such a treat. 
It was pure joy to be served each morning with a cup of tea and delightful conversation with our innkeepers. 

What is your favorite tea?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cancel Christmas?

While driving into work yesterday,  I was channel surfing.  (The drive was pretty treacherous. Snow was falling, cars were going in the ditch, should have had both hands on the wheel...what is that called?  Oh yeah...inattentive driving)...Anyway....   

I heard the words "cancel" and "Christmas" and thought, "Hmmm...this could be interesting" so I took my finger off the dial and tuned in.

A woman called in to the station venting about her dilemma.    Her husband had had it with their  9-14 year old kids "being naughty" and basically said, "that's it, I'm cancelling Christmas."  He proceeded to take down the tree and the decorations, much to his household's stunned disbelief.     

My first thought was "what an idiot parent."  Seriously.  Who does that?  Nothing like scarring your child for life.  In a writer's life that would be called your "dark moment from the past."  Cancelling Christmas would definitely qualify!  That dark place in time when something happened that you just can't get past.  This would be it!  No tree, no presents, no Santa.  Being a parent myself,   I was rooting for those kids!
I found myself unleashing my outrage like a raving lunatic only to realize that no one was listening.  (thank goodness!)
The radio announcer encouraged the audience to chime in with their advice to this woman.  "This ought to be good," I howled out loud. 

Many called in and  told of tales in their own lives of how they dealt with "naughty kids" this time of year.
One told of having put  presents under the tree.  Whenever their child displayed disobedience, he was told to go and pick out a present under the tree and unwrap it.  The gift was then taken away from him,and given to a child in need.
Numerous callers told of giving their juvenile coal in their stocking citing the Christmas Carol "he knows when you've been bad or good...."

I giggled as I pulled in to my office parking lot.  Sliding into a space, I parked my car and gathered my things.  Getting out of my car, I trudged through the snow, and up the stairs to start my day.  I couldn't seem to get that drive time conversation out of my head. 
Could it be that father wanted his kids to understand what Christmas really means?  Their fighting just made him realize they weren't getting it?
Peace and "Joy to the World" were being strangled by food fights and hair pulling.
He probably questioned, "this is my child?" whenever he heard, "What child is this?"

If getting his children to comprehend that Christmas is about giving and not getting, about a Savior who is Christ the Lord, then I am all for his proclamation.  

Monday, December 2, 2013


Having just eaten my share of turkey, I thought it appropriate to talk of beefeaters! 
 The real name for this gentleman is Yeoman Warder.  This is not just a costume, but actually is a pretty big deal over there across the pond.  It is an honor to be a Yeoman Warder.

  A few facts about a Yeoman Warder:         One must be passionate about history.  After all, one of their "jobs" is to guard the Tower of London.  It is old.  Really old.  Like 1100s old.  That's old.       
       Next, they must love the public.  It can't be easy to love us.  Especially when we ask questions such as "Are the jewels real?" or "Did people really die here?"  Yep, they did.  Including Queen Anne,  but that is for another post.   
                      In theory,  they are to guard the Tower and also be sure that the jewels are safe.  Practically, they are tour guides who know the story of the Tower of London like the back of their hand.  They are quite funny and really tell great tales.  
Each must have served at least 22 years in the Armed Forces of Common Wealth Realms and also hold the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.   I learned so much during the hour tour.  There are ravens at the Tower of London.  Seven.  (Six and also a spare!)  The story goes that if they go awol, the Kingdom and the Tower will crumble.  Hmmmmmm..... Their wings are clipped just to be sure!  The Yeoman Warder also has a red dress uniform that they wear for special occasions.  It costs around 6000 pounds (that is about $9800 US dollars!) each.  Most days, the above picture of their blue "undress" uniform is what they wear! 
  Why are they called "beefeaters?"  The most likely explanation is that they were paid back in the day,  partly in salary with beef.  I think it is all in who you ask!   Maybe they just like beef?

Good question...Do any of you know the answer to why they are called beefeaters?