Friday, July 25, 2014

The Critics and I Disagree

I mentioned earlier that we had seen the movie, "Monuments Men."  I had been hesitant to see the movie since the reviews had not been good, but thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I enjoyed the movie so much that I read the book afterwards, then watched the movie again when it became available "on demand" on TV.  It's a great story, and I'd be happy to read the book and watch the movie again!   So, my first disagreement with the critics.

Then, several weeks ago, we went to see "The Jersey Boys."  That has gotten terrible reviews, and I had not intended to see the movie, but Dennis really wanted to go.  So, give me a big bucket of popcorn and I'm happy to sit through even a bad movie.  But the movie was fine.   So, my second disagreement with the critics.

And on Wednesday this week, our local library had another free movie night, showing "Gravity."  That had gotten such praise and won some Academy Awards, so I was really looking forward to it.  But, it left me cold.  The special effects were interesting, but not much of a plot, and not much suspense. Some scenes were obviously in the movie to show off the 3-D version, but they left me flat.  (Get the joke?)

Anyway, I guess the moral is I should attend movies that get bad reviews and skip the ones that get rave reviews.  We'll see...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Hippie's a Hippie No Matter How Old

My latest finish is a design by Barbara Ann Designs, "Be Hippie."  The saying originally said, "Don't worry, be hippie," but I didn't care for that for a number of reasons, including the fact that, at the time, we hippies were worried about a lot of things. I decided I wanted to change the hippie's hair color to gray and focus on something about aging.  I toyed with a number of different sayings, including "Hippie Power Lasts," or doing a play on the '60s (the 1960s and the 60's in terms of age) but finally decided on "a hippie stays groovy."

My next project is a Shining Needle Society on-line course, "Sudoku Delight."  It's composed of nine different stitches set in a Sudoku pattern.  Instructor is Kathy Rees, who taught the "Inchies" class I took last fall.

Beginning of Sudoku Delight
The American Needlepoint Guild seminar in Chicago is coming up the end of August.  I'm taking two classes, one of which has some "pre-work" required.  That's homework that needs to be done before class starts.  I'm waiting for the canvas and instructions to arrive in the mail, and will have to set "Sudoku Delight" aside for a few days.

"A Study in White" Whitework Sampler, by Pat Donaldson, for which pre-work is required
The other class I'm taking at ANG: "Bejeweled Tree Trio" by Libby Sturdy

More Plays

In early June, we attended an open rehearsal of "Othello" at our local open-air Shakespeare in the Park theater. It was very interesting watching the director's "take" on the staging.

We attended a "Lunch and Learn" session sponsored by the University of Iowa on the Voyager space probes which was unfortunately poorly attended.  It was very interesting and went overtime because the audience had so many questions.

As for plays, we attended "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" at our local community theater.  This was unfinished at the time of Charles Dickens' death, and there is no clue as to how he intended to finish the story.  So, at the point in the play where we reached the end of Charles Dickens' writing, the audience got involved.  First question: is Edwin Drood dead?  The cast was given that question, and they decided he was.  Next question: who killed him?  This was put to an audience vote, and we decided the uncle was the killer.  I'm guessing that the play ends differently depending on the audience, so the cast has to be prepared for any eventuality with regard to audience voting.  It was quite fun.

Most recently, we attended the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, "Patience."  I was not at all familiar with that play; it was quite funny.

We've also experienced flooding in town after many inches of rain fell on already saturated ground along the Iowa River basin.  The Corps of Engineers announced they would need to start letting more water out of the reservoir, and the local communities and the University took quick flood preparation action. Due to multiple flood protection projects in place since the flood of 2008, and due to the use of HESCO barriers and portable flood walls, flood preparations can be put into place quickly.  What's a HESCO barrier you ask? Those are big cells, each holding the equivalent of 200 sandbags, that can be filled with the use of heavy equipment.  So no more do we need thousands of volunteers filling individual sandbags over the course of many days.  The river was over its banks for some weeks, but outflows are now being reduced and the river is gradually returning to its banks.

Life Stages

The Sunday after Easter we headed back to Dubuque, to help Dad empty the apartment, in preparation for moving into assisted living.  Mom moved into assisted living right before Thanksgiving, now it's Dad's turn.  The highlight of the packing and sorting was finding Mom's krum kage iron.   I had been hunting for it for some time, and Dennis was the one who found it, buried in the very back of a bottom cupboard in the kitchen.  I have Mom's recipe, so now it's time for me to try my hand at making krum kage.  Unfortunately, the iron won't work with my "new fangled" ceramic stove top, so I'll need to buy an "old fashioned" hot plate.  And, we're missing the wooden dowel to roll the cookies around, so I'll have to improvise in that regard.

Our local library holds free movie nights periodically, and in mid-May they sponsored "Argo," which I had not seen before.  The movie holds special interest because a long-time family friend was one of the Iran hostages.

Next on the schedule was a visit from my two brothers and sister-in-law on May 31st.  First up was a trip to the big Mennonite Relief Sale at the fairgrounds where we watched the quilt auction for a couple of minutes before heading to the plant sale and the food tents.  I purchased some fresh cheese curds. The purpose of the visit, besides getting together, was for us three "kids" to look through the memorabilia Mom had collected over the years, including her baby book, a scrap book from her trip overseas as a church youth leader, Mom and Dad's wedding album, lots and lots of photos.  Here we are, looking through the material.