Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to watch a movie

When I was a kid, my parents used to have some pretty epic fights.  There was some yelling, some stuff got thrown, and I used to spend a fair amount of time wondering who I would live with if they got a divorce (Mommy, because she needed me more, but Daddy if I really got my choice).  When my mom got really mad, she would leave the house in a huff, often with one of the kids in tow.  I think I got chosen a fair number of times because I was a kid who didn’t like to make waves.  If I was included in such a maternal runaway, it usually meant something to eat and quite possibly a movie.

My mom loved movies, and I think I can understand her more now in reference to many of the movies she liked from the 40s and 50s–the feisty heroines, the handsome heroes. But the way she watched movies was a bit unusual.  She liked to start watching the movie at whatever point it happened to be playing–if she went at 3:45 and the movie had started at 3:00–no problem.  We would just watch anyway, wait until it started again, and leave when it got to the part where we came in. Personally, I think this gave me a great amount of tolerance for ambiguity.  If I don’t understand something, it doesn’t matter; I figure if I wait long enough it will probably make sense. I don’t have any problem with someone “spoiling” a movie by telling me its plot–the plot is secondary to me, anyway.  I like the visuals, the relationships, and the dialog.

Even now I don’t mind starting a movie in the middle. It makes me feel nostalgic.

I watched the Academy Awards last night, and I’d only seen two of the Best Picture nominees–Hell or High Water and Hidden Figures (both of which are excellent, by the way.) I was up way too late by the time they announced that La La Land had won, so I quickly turned off the tv and went to bed.  Waking up to find out the winner was actually Moonlight was a bit surreal. What I want to do now is find a movie theater that will let me go in to Moonlight when it has been going about 25 minutes, watch it until the end, and then stay and watch the beginning.  I would get some popcorn, a coke, and some malted milk balls and think about my complicated wonderful mother.


On my way to Pinyon Breeze

Today I woke up, opened my eyes, and my very first thought was, “Tomorrow I will leave for Pinyon Breeze!”  It made me smile.  It makes me smile right now as I type.  Pinyon Breeze is my cabin in Widtsoe, Utah (a ghost town that once had almost 1,000 people living there). This photo of the old P.O. was taken there by Dorothea Lange: untitled

Our cabin is probably not very far from here.  You can kind of see the same foothills in the background (in a photo of Pinyon Breeze not taken by Dorothea Lange, but by Gerald:


As soon as I arrive at Pinyon Breeze I have the immediate feeling that I am “home.”  It must be a combination of the mountains, the smell of the sagebrush, and the dry clean air.  It reminds me of many family trips of my childhood looking for arrowheads, topaz, trilobites, or just hiking and camping.

I will be there for an entire week–and I can’t wait!

Requiem for a Rodent


Requiem for a Rodent (In honor of Paul Dixon and his brave battle with the rat that invaded via the downstairs toilet)

He shakes his head; he gasps for air;

He looks about the bathroom fair.

“What place is this?” He asks himself

“How did’st I reach this watery shelf?”

Well thou shouldst ask, thou rodent wet:

Thy hours are few; thy death knell set.

For Paul of Dixon seeketh thee

And will not rest until thou be

Deprived of breath, of life, of all.

O hail to thee, O mighty Paul!

First Paul must muster sword and shield

For rodents do not simply yield.

So off to get the tools to start:

Away to local Wal of Mart!

A trap will work—and poison too.

Perhaps a tray with sticky glue?

Nay, nay that seems  like overkill

Let trap and poison do their will.

“Oh crafty rat,” the muses wail

“The trap hath only got thy tail!

O piteous sight! O bloody mess!

Paul’s tragic battle we do bless!”

“Round two,” Paul shouts above the fray,

Next time we’ll fight the Dixon way.”

He girds his loins, he enters proud,

He shouts “Begone” so very loud.

The rodent hides behind the sink.

“What now to do? I have to think!”

Round three begins and Paul doth stand

A noble plunger in his hand.

“Come out! Come out! His mouth doth speak”

Eeek eek, eek eek, the rat doth squeak.

Paul seeks and prods as fight demands

Whilst Barbara weeps and wrings her hands.

“What’s happening beyond that door?

Art we infested ever more?

Wilt my beloved safely win

This battle nobly entered in?

Or will I ne’er more see his face

And have to move from this foul place?”

The squeaking stops. A silence reigns.

The door swings open.  Darkness wanes.

The noble Dixon, arms held high

Announces gravely: “Do not cry.

The rat hath left this mortal coil.

Please hand me that aluminum foil.”

O noble Paul! O glorious day!

Your deed shall thy admission pay

To realms of glory yet unknown.

Thy feat hath immortality sown.

Thy noble plunger found its mark.

The light will now outshine the dark.

Paul looks away–to shed a tear?

And says aloud for all to hear:

“Rats have their place. They do some good

When they do linger where they should.

Rats are fair throughout  the ages—

If they be pets and housed in cages.”

As Easy as Pie/”The Hours”

Now I know where the expression “easy as pie” comes from–it’s in comparison to making a cake.  I know that you will think it is bizarre that I could be 60 years old and that I had never made a cake from scratch until last night.  But it’s true.  Cake mixes were invented long before I was a child, and as a full-fledged Hart kid, I was always taught that in cooking, easier is better.  Why not use a mix if one is available?  What is wrong with Kraft mac and cheese?  If Spam is on the shelf, happy day!

OK, I have made Texas sheet cakes and even some biscuity-type cakes for strawberry shortcake.  I have made hundreds of loaves of home-made bread.  I have made my own graham crackers, bagels, saltines, and scones.  But until last night, I had never made a regular cake.

Chalk it up to hubris.  My book group comes tonight and I wanted to make something good.  We’re reading “Still Alice,” which takes place in Boston, so I got the brilliant idea of making a Boston Cream pie–which, as it turns out, is not really a pie.  I looked at several recipes.  A couple of them used a cake mix and instant pudding.  Couldn’t go there.  I found one that required cake flour, separated eggs, and filling that is thickened with corn starch.  The recipe even needed cream of tartar–the first time I have used that bottle in ages.

It was labor intensive–not to be attempted after a full day of work, working in the garden, watering the lawn, and doing dishes.  I didn’t start until 9 pm.  Another bad idea.

I had such high hopes.  I followed the recipe EXACTLY–measuring, where I usually don’t measure.  The cake required beating the egg whites.  They were beaten to perfection.  The filling required not 2, not 4, but SIX egg yolks–and whole milk.  The ganache required $5 worth of sem-sweet chocolate and another 2 bucks worth of cream. 

The result reminded me a little bit of the first cake that Laura Brown makes in “The Hours.”  The one that she throws into the garbage.  But I don’t have that luxury.  It must be served tonight.  My cake didn’t fall neatly out of the pan.  It fell apart when I tried to cut it in half to add the filling.  I toyed with the thought of just crumbling it up and making those disgusting cake pops.  But instead I will turn the lights down low and depend on my book group to be kind (which I have no doubt they will be). The ingredients are all good in and of themselves–chocolate, cream, eggs, and sugar. 

As Laura Brown says in “The Hours”: 

“The cake is less than she’d hoped it would be.  She tries not to mind.  It is only a cake, she tells herself.  It is only a cake…She’d hoped (she admits to herself) it would look more lush and beautiful, more wonderful.  This cake she’s produced feels small, not just in the physical sense but as an entity.  It looks amateurish; handmade.  She tells herself, it’s fine.  It’s a fine cake, everyone will love it.”

I am Woman, hear me roar

The saga of the home alarm system continues. I’ll skip all the boring stuff about how only half of it is working now and how we’re waiting for a new system to get installed next week.

I’ll skip to how awesome and inventive I am–always a favorite topic of mine!

After paying $200 for a service call last week to turn off the malfunctioning parts of the system– hoping to avoid shrieking sirens that send me right to the roof and keep me from sleeping for the rest of the night–last night I heard an errant smoke detector that beeped for 5 seconds or so–but not at any type of regular interval. When I called about 10:30, Garth told me that I could just take the batteries out. This would be fine, except that the smoke detector in question is located over the stairs about 12 feet up–and I am afraid of heights to the nth degree and Dixon is not allowed on ladders right now, what with his broken femur and all. Garth offered to come over and disable it for a $200 minimum fee, but I couldn’t justify that–as much as I love my sleep.

So I went to bed hoping that it wouldn’t beep so often that it kept me awake. What’s that bit about hope springing eternal?

When I was awakened again at 4:45 this morning, I lay in bed thinking. Thinking about how it was 4 more nights until they came to install the new system and could take down the old one. Thinking about how much I think Garth should have taken the old one down when he was there last week. Thinking about how if I were on a space station and my life depended on disabling that smoke detector, I would figure out a way to do it.

I lay there thinking for another half hour, thinking about all the materials in our house. I thought about using a fishing pole and trying to lassoo the smoke detector. I thought about throwing shoes at it and trying to knock it down. I momentarily wished I owned a gun so that I could shoot it down from the ceiling. I wondered if I had the guts and the strength to get a ladder upstairs and climb up and take it down. I didn’t think I did. I thought about how it had to be unscrewed slightly to get it down. And then I had my brilliant idea.

I climbed out of bed leaving Dixon sleeping. I found an 8 foot piece of sturdy trim that was in the closet. I also found the toilet pluger. I got the duct tape and taped the plunger firmly to the trim. I stood underneath the evil smoke detector and raised my Ebeneezer! I turned it lefty Lucy; it worked. I was more happy than any person has a right to be.

In case you’re worrying, I bought two smoke detectors to get us through until the new ones are installed. I used my plunger skills to affix them to the ceiling with two-sided tape. They won’t stay up there forever–but on the other hand, they don’t need to.

Life is good.

On the Dangers of Home Alarm Systems

I would never have bought an alarm system, but since there was one already installed in our house when we bought it, we kept it, and I have grown to find it comforting. When we were moving in, one of my friends, who considers herself psychic, asked me if I was going to be afraid of staying in the house by myself.

“Not at all,” I said. I have been alone a lot. “And besides, there is an alarm system.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean the live people.” she responded.

Wow. Thanks a lot.

We went to Illinois over the weekend to see some of my long-lost relatives. My Aunt Midge was celebrating her 80th birthday. When we got home–tired and sore from sitting in the car for 4 hours–the only thing I wanted to do was turn the hot water on and get into the tub with my hot-off-the-press Elizabeth Smart wedding issue of People. In my hurry, I forgot to put in the code to the alarm system (here I need to insert that there should be two places where it beeps, but one isn’t working). Soon the alarm was sounding, and I got by the phone to wait for the call from the company who monitors it.

When no call came, I started to disrobe and get into the tub, thinking that I had put in the pass code so quickly that the alarm didn’t go through. Bad thinking. I glanced outside and saw a police officer WITH HIS GUN DRAWN! headed for our front door. I was terrified to go to the door–what if I appeared to be an intruder and he shot me? I looked as innocent and non-violent as I could and opened the door asking, “Is everything ok?”

In the meantime, my friend Judy was also on her way to check on the house–the company had called her, too. It turned out that one of the phones was off the hook and my cell was turned off–so they called the police. It is occuring to me that it might be more dangerous to have an alarm system than not to have one–at least if you are as absent-minded as I am.

On another note totally unrelated to this story, this is the first time I have looked at this blog or posted on it in 6 months, and the same number of people seem to be looking at it per day. Wow–that is weird! I’m feeling like I have recovered from the trauma of Paul’s broken femur enought to write again, I guess.

A Great Poem, and a Movie Suggestion

Greg and Rachel sent Paul this poem, and I thought the world should enjoy (the world being the 5 people who read this blog!)

We were sorry to hear of your fall,
And that you cannot walk at all.
Not upstairs nor down,
you just can’t get around–
You’re a mono-plegic now, Paul.

You toppled and fractured your femur.
One would have to be truly a dreamer
to look at that mess
And say you possess
The balancing skills of a lemur

Now Barbara’s your nurse and protector
And the stress doesn’t seem to affect her:
‘Cause she’s secretly glad
She can always find Dad
With her trusty new metal detector.

Well, when your good mood starts to flicker,
Just be glad for the health of your ticker.
And when you get annoyed
Just think how you’ve enjoyed
Your handicapped license plate sticker!

Brilliant! What talent!

I’ve been trying to do my best to help Paul through this ordeal–I think I’ll show him “Misery” tonight so that he can be even more thankful for me!