Holiday Movies: Dark Waters, Little Women, & Judy

Our holidays were filled with fun family gatherings, lots of eating, and lots of movie watching.

Dark Waters, the true story about the lawyer that exposed DuPont’s dumping of toxic chemicals in West Virginia waters, made me paranoid about my cookware. I know I’m not alone in thinking I have to replace a few old non-stick frying pans. Scary and sobering and a reminder how important science  is and how government regulations and oversight must continue to protect consumers.

Renee Zellweger convincingly plays (and sings) Judy Garland in Judy, a biopic about the star’s last concerts in London. While it’s well known about how she was mistreated as a child star with starvation diets and pills to keep her young looking, what’s extremely sad is seeing how this affected her entire life. Despite being beloved in London, Garland is separated from her children, adding to her depression and substance dependency.

See Knives Out, a fun who-done-it caper packed with stars.

Then there’s Little Women. At first I resisted this one, as I’m still unsure about having classics rewritten and reinterpreted. I also loved the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Bale. But the film has received so much publicity; it seemed every time I turned on the radio or television I heard an interview with Greta Gerwig, the director. It was a rainy afternoon and the movie was showing nearby, so we went. My husband was one of three men in the theater.

The film starts nearly at the end of the story and jumps around chronologically. It took a little getting used to. The setting is pure New England and the pond ice-skating made us both miss our own childhoods before climate change made that activity practically obsolete. My only complaint is the casting of Timothee Chalamet as Laurie. He’s young and very skinny and doesn’t seem too into the part. My husband didn’t understand my grumbling and I explained that every girl of any age that sees Little Women wants to fall in love with Laurie and this actor didn’t do it for me.

This adaptation makes the others seem a bit saccharine and sentimental. Life in the 1860’s   wasn’t so terrific, especially for women. Jo perseveres and becomes the writer we all dream about and it remains a lovely family story. I wrote about the longevity of Little Women here: https://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2018/10/11/happy-birthday-frankenstein-little-women/

Also worth seeing: Marriage Story, Maiden, and The Nightingale.

Any suggestions for others? I’m also looking for some good book ideas as nothing has grabbed hold for a while.

Happy New Year!

 

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Finished Projects: Cowls, Crowns & a Cardigan

 

When I travel, I like small knitting projects that squish easily into my carry-on bag and are handy for car transfers. I had some grey alpaca yarn and a pattern for a cabled cowl that I brought on a trip to California last spring. However when I started the pattern, I realized it wasn’t working well for the yarn. I probably needed thicker yarn and needles. What to do? I can’t read in a car, and hate being idle.

So I invented a pattern, that I’m calling the Sonoma Cowl. After finishing my own, I made four more for presents. It’s an easy, knit-in –the –round pattern that uses under 200 yards of worsted weight yarn (perfect for tackling the stash), and has four stitch patterns that make the project go quickly and keep it interesting.

Here are the cowls:

Here’s the pattern:

Cast on 100 stitches. Work one or two rows of garter stitch and then carefully join in the round being careful not to twist the stitches.

Begin rib stitch: Knit 3, Purl 2 for about 3 inches. (You can do 2 knit, 2 purl too if you prefer a tighter rib.)

Knit a row and decrease every 10 stitches (knit two together) to 90 stitches.

Begin zig zag pattern. I don’t know if there’s a proper name for this stitch but this is what I did:

Round one: Knit 8, purl 1
Round two: Knit 7, purl 1
Round three: Knit 6, purl 1

Continue this way- your line of purl stitches will move right for a few more rows or as much as you like, then do the reverse to create the zig zag: Purl one, knit 6, Purl one, knit seven. You can also do this the other way around.

After about three inches of this, knit a row and decrease again every 9 stitches. (to 80 stitches)

Begin Mock Cable:

R1: sl 1 , k2, psso, p 2
R2: k1, yo, k1, p2
R3 & R4: K3, p2

Do this for another three inches. Then do a few rounds of garter stitch—knit every round. This will give the cowl a nice roll neck. Bind off loosely using a larger sized needle.

There’s no real guage. You can vary the stitches, the length. If you have questions, please email me

I made seven (yes, 7!) crowns for the grandkids I’ll be visiting in a couple months in Israel.

And finally, I made my grand-daughter another fair isle cardigan to replace a previous one she outgrew and is now being enjoyed by her younger cousin.

I hope your holidays are filled with wonderful knitting projects!

 

 

 

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I am a doctor and thank God I have Health Insurance!!

via I am a doctor and thank God I have Health Insurance!!

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Thank a Veteran; Vote!

I took two of the grands to their town’s Veteran’s Day parade this morning. Opening ceremonies before a statue of a World War I doughboy included patriotic music by the high school pep band and speeches by the district’s congressman, a state assemblywoman, and the town’s mayor.

While each expressed their thanks to veterans—the standard, “thank you for your service,” and the assemblywoman cited programs offered for vets in the county, the mayor called for everyone to thank vets by hiring them, renting to them, by helping in their communities, and by voting in every election. Veterans, she said, served to protect our rights; we need to vote to preserve what they fought for.

As a member of my local League of Women Voters, I’ve been involved in a few voter registration and education events prior to Election Day last week.

I moderated a debate for Board of Education candidates. Held in a large high school auditorium, there were maybe 20 people in attendance. Given  the magnitude of money and responsibilities associated with Boards of Education, and given that there were five candidates, and assuming some of those present were family members, that’s a disturbing turnout.

I registered voters at a local community college. I walked around the student center, interrupting their conversations and their studying; taking the few minutes I had their attention to remove their headphones or ear buds to invite them to the League’s table to register to vote. Many said they were registered; some said they would do it later. Many had no idea there was an election this year.

A friend of mine who lives in New York state, shared how because two candidates split the votes in one party, people in the other party assumed their candidate, an incumbent state legislator, would win and didn’t turn out. The opposition won.

Apathy is scourge of democracy. In my own town, four candidates ran for city council seats, all ran unopposed. Without debate, democracy weakens.

Every election counts. Vote to thank the veterans who served so we can vote.

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Scary Books & Scarecrows!

Looking for a few good horror stories to tingle your spine and keep you awake at night? I’ve read these three in quick succession.

The Testament. Margaret Atwood’s long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. While I read the original book and saw the movie, I’ve been somewhat addicted to the Hulu television series. With news reports continuing to deliver stories of limits on abortions, curtailment of health care, and democracy spiraling out of control, reading more about Gilead doesn’t always feel like fiction.

Pursuit. Joyce Carol Oates delivers a tight, tense tale in fewer than 230 pages. Abby leaves the morning after her unconsummated wedding night and walks in front of a bus. Is it an accident or a deliberate move? Her husband stays by her side during her recovery – physically and emotionally as he helps her unravel the trauma of her childhood.

The Institute. Stephen King’s latest moves fast. Twelve-year-old Luke Ellis has special powers- he has the ability to use telekinesis. He’s kidnapped from his family’s home (his parents are murdered), and taken to a remote area in Maine, to the Institute. He meets other children who are either telekinetic or telepathic. They are subjected to many physical and mental tests—not too unlike those employed by Nazis- with the goal of removing the special powers and using them for national security purposes. Chilling.

 

All three deal with children being subjected to evil by adults and separated from their parents. Perhaps not the stuff of happy fiction, but a reminder of the reality too many kids face.

 

On a more cheerful note, I walked through downtown Madison, Ct. recently with my mother and admired the scarecrows created by local businesses, schools and civic groups.

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New York City: Art & Theater

 

Just my luck the day  we had theater tickets in New York City the temperatures climbed to the mid- 90’s—a record for October. I’d planned to stop in to a couple exhibits before dinner and wasn’t going to let the heat deter me.

First, I visited the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Chelsea to see the Amy Sherald: The Heart of the Matter exhibit.  Her portrait of Michelle Obama made her famous; and her star continues to rise. This eight -portrait exhibit is her first New York show. The space is enormous and her portraits are huge—and powerful. I love her titles. This one is “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

  

This one is “Sometimes the king is a woman.”

I walked back uptown on the High Line—a lovely respite from the traffic- clogged streets. There artist Ryan Sullivan’s four abstract paintings adorn and complement the scenery.

 

I took the subway to 49th street to pop into Lucy Sparrow’s Delicatessen on 6th. This was a very low-calorie experience as everything is made from felt. Whimsical, fun and everything’s for sale.

By then I was really hot so I splurged on a taxi to Lincoln Center. I had time before dinner so cooled off in the NY Public Library branch based on the plaza and enjoyed the exhibit celebrating the late director Hal Prince.  Much of the show including letters – that lost art—and revealed so much about how he came to be and the history of musical theater.

We saw Robert Schenkkan’s The Great Society. It’s the sequel to his first play, All the Way. Both chronicle President Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. The first ends with the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the second begins with the creation of the Great Society programs. We’d seen the first one in New York years ago. Cast with 22 actors, some playing multiple roles, the play spans 1965-1968. Johnson had dreams for so many initiatives to help people—and many were foiled as funds were diverted to the Vietnam War. It’s history; it’s worth seeing.

 

 

 

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Bonjour, Provence!

 

When our friends Kevin and Allan invited us to join them in Provence, we couldn’t resist the chance to explore another part of France by bike. I found a trip offered by Discover France that met our needs perfectly. Instead of traveling place-to-place each day, this trip was based in the village of Gordes – where our friends were staying. The company supplied us with maps and a variety of routes for us to select from each day.

Gordes dates to the Roman times, and served as a refuge throughout history, including as a center for the Resistance during World War II. Its narrow, cobblestone streets wind around the mountain to the valley. Fortunately there are well-paved roads that allow for car and bike travel.

September is less crowded and less hot than summer in the south of France and once again the French roads and reverence for cyclists didn’t disappoint. Local foods and wine, lavender fields, olive groves, and historic sights made for the perfect getaway and chance also to visit with friends.

There were a total of 10 of us. While we biked each day, the others visited vineyards, museums and villages, catching the colorful market days. We joined them for drinks and dinner and shared our experiences.

The area is also known for mountains – and we climbed a few- and stone quarries. One quarry in Les Baux-de-Provence, has been an unusual museum since 2012 when it partnered with Carrieres de Lumieres,  to create immersive art exhibits. Each year a different artist is featured, this year was Van Gogh. For about 45 minutes, we ambled through the quarry as the paintings came to life, accompanied by music. Truly spectacular! We had already toured enough of the countryside to see how the area inspired Van Gogh’s painting.

Kevin and Allan are scouring the countryside for property for a vacation home—so we’re sure we’ll be back.

 

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