Sort of Quiet Thanksgiving….

It does involve a 14-pound turkey though. This is one of the first Thanksgivings in a while Hubby hasn’t been asked to work most of it and the friend who usually does Thanksgiving dinner for our “group” wasn’t going to be able to. Additionally, our “group” has shrunk with the recent relocation of one who usually also had his daughter and sometimes son-in-law along. We offered to do the holiday meal and Hubby was concerned about getting a turkey. We still weren’t entirely sure of how many were coming to lunch the day I went  to the store and I thought it best to go a bit larger rather than smaller. This is why we have a 14-pound turkey. Hubby has decided on using dry brine (I think it’s easier to deal with although I don’t intervene in such decisions) and to fry. I’ve explained the frying process before and it is a kind of cool part of the holiday plus makes for an excellent turkey. I’m not doing anywhere near the variety of dishes of some and am sticking with the classics of stuffing – well, it’s more like dressing since you can’t stuff a fried turkey – a small ham, mashed potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Neither of us are pumpkin fans so dessert is apple pie and a friend is bringing a lovely cheesecake with lemon curd. Another couple we’re friends with are going to drop by for dessert if she doesn’t get overwhelmed in preparing their evening holiday meal. Even though the group will be small, I will send two meals worth home with the friend who is bringing the cheesecake and cranberry sauce, send two meals worth of leftovers with the other friend and take one meal’s worth to another friend on Sunday. That does equate to eight meals, the only difference being three of them won’t include anyone going for seconds.

And as of this morning, the weather is to be sunny and up to 84 so we will be having lunch on the covered terrace,

A Spin-off New Show?…….

Well, this is TV, not movies. We have been a fan of “Blue Bloods” from the beginning and it seems as if the last three seasons, there has been continued talk of the show ending. It is in the 11th or 12th season which is a fairly long time. The casting is superb, the writing excellent, and it deals with current topics in a conservative manner yet with acknowledgement of complexities of many current issues.

If somehow you aren’t familiar with the show, it is set in NYC where the Reagan family is synonymous with law enforcement. The main character of Frank (Tom Selleck) is Police Commissioner (widowed) and his widowed father who lives with him was Police Commissioner prior to him. The oldest son who was a detective was murdered by “bent cops”, middle son is detective, youngest son is a Sergeant, and only daughter is the Assistant District Attorney. There are often situations where the cop part of the family runs headlong against legal reality when it comes to investigations and prosecutions. The daughter was unfairly passed over to be appointed as the DA when an unexpected vacancy occurred and in the new season she has made the decision to run for election. There is of course the argument that having her as the DA would mean being a “rubber stamp” for her family. We are wondering if the idea is for a spin-off show to be created to have her father retire and someone other than a Reagan be Commissioner as she is elected to DA. That may not be the plan at all, but it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

Winning at the Top……

HBO is running the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, multiple times; a movie I love on multiple levels. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. Aside from a great cast, it’s beautifully written and well-acted. It’s based on the book of the same name which is based on the true story of Josh Waitzkin who came to chess acclaim at age seven. Unlike many child prodigies, he came to the game inadvertently as no one in his family nor anyone he knew at the time played chess. I don’t want to get into details in case someone does decide to watch, but this post deals with different aspects of becoming top in a field and how to view winning.

Josh’s father is a sports writer and his mother a stay-at-home mom (if the movie is accurate). Joseph Montagena plays the father and Joan Allen the mother. Juxtaposed with Josh is the street-wise guy who initially teaches him (played by Lawrence Fishburn) and the highly rated man who takes over as the professional instructor (played by Ben Kingsley). As Josh progresses, does the ability to win become so important that “winning is the only thing”? Does everything else have to take a lesser priority? Does the competition have to “be the enemy”?  The mother grows increasingly worried that Josh will change too much in pursuit of what is clearly within his capability. The movie is interspersed with clips of Bobby Fischer and the impact winning had on him.

In one memorable scene between the mother and father, she questions the intensity of expectations. The father and Josh are huge baseball fans and in trying to get her point across, she asks the question, “How many players are afraid of losing their father’s love when they get up to bat?” “Everyone of them,” he counters before leaving the room.

I worked with a great guy who was cut from the Dallas Cowboys on the last day they could cut potential rookies. It was long enough ago for the Coach to have been Tom Landry and he provided a nice letter praising my friend’s spirit and talent. My friend said it was tough to get to that stage and not make it, but he also recognized how few players who have dreamed of the pros as children make it even that far.

Louisiana Trip, Day 3…..

Although the initial thought that brought us to Louisiana to be with our father was not correct, we are supposed to meet with the hospice nurse today or tomorrow to discuss the situation.  I will continue with related tasks as we try to sort through things. The plummeted temperature is coming around even though at the moment it is 30 degrees out. It’s supposed to get into high sixties, then lows getting better through the week.

Sunday is usually a busy “visitors day” and two different sets of extended family from the step-sibling side dropped in yesterday. The “little kids” from before now range from high school to college and all seem to be doing well. I went through multiple photo albums and of all the things, found one of my sister, brother, and me when we were what looks like maybe 8, 6, and 4. There was also a short album the kids sent Daddy with granddaughter in various stages from birth to about 16 months. Those are precious of course. I also found a couple of sister and her husband when they were in college. I’ll go through other things today to see what can be tossed for now. There isn’t much use in keeping items like the 2019 Medicare booklet.

My sister had managed to build up some leftovers and there aren’t too many dining options on Sunday around here so we cleared those out last night. We’ll probably do the “funkier” Mexican restaurant tonight if it’s open as she’s never been there.

Resilience Instead of Victimhood…..

Social comments alert. This is another post where the intent is not to stray into politics although it can be construed that way.

An interesting story came in to the paper and was passed to me. The article will run next week. The essence is a woman and her older brother lived in Homestead back in the 1980s under very difficult circumstances. Her mother had made some really poor decisions that caused her to be away from the kids for a while and when she took them back, it seems to have been only marginally better. The point is a man in Homestead “hired” the kids to help them out and they sold subscriptions to the local paper. That added income to their mother working at a low-paying job did enable them to at least have a place to live. The guy continued to do nice things to help out and was an inspiration to her brother who had no father figure. The girl actually was still in touch with her kindergarten teacher in MA who apparently also recognized the problems in the family and served as “a mentor”. The situation in Homestead didn’t last more than a few years as the mother married badly again, moved the family back to MA, and was then murdered by her husband. This time the 12-year-old daughter and her brother were split up to be raised by different family members. Not surprisingly, they each had coping issues and each decided to enter the service as soon as they could as a way out of their circumstances. The brother joined the Navy and the sister the Coast Guard.

The brother served one enlistment (might have been a little longer), got out and started his own small business in MA. The woman stayed in the Coast Guard for a career, and had multiple assignments in Florida as well as other places. She retired to FL with her family, but also spends time in MA helping her brother with certain aspects of his business. In the course of the years, they lost track of the man in Homestead who helped them and the woman hasn’t been able to find him through social media or standard searches. One of the aspects of the article is perhaps he or someone who knows him will reach out to re-unite them so they can assure him his long-ago kindness has not been forgotten.

Farewell to Cicely…..

I’ve written few posts based on watching the entire television series, “Northern Exposure” about the quirky characters and goings-on in the fictional Cicely, Alaska. It’s always interesting to see how they choose to close out a series and after six seasons, there were some definite “loose ends” to resolve. This one was done well with an montage of scenes at the end shown as an intriguing song played. I didn’t catch the title, but it contained the lyrics of “sun setting on our town”.

The problems plaguing four of the couples were happily resolved and two of the characters continued in their lives without partners although that was more in keeping with the way they had been portrayed throughout the series. Two of the four couples were older; one in their respective 70s. A recurring theme in the series had been to candidly address older characters with their perspectives often providing insight to younger characters. It was rarely couched as advise; rather as observations which frequently included consequences of decisions made years prior. One of the aspects of the writing  I enjoyed was those exchanges reflected a mix of good, regrettable, and surprising outcomes as the characters explained why they’d made the decisions they did.

And speaking of outcomes and endings, it did bring to mind my agreement to change the ending of my first novel, Orchids in the Snow. I originally had the “mega-happy” wrap-up and the editor acknowledged that was acceptable, yet suggested I reconsider based on the character of the strong female who was almost a co-protagonist. I debated the issue for a while and then realized poignancy was probably a more reasonable approach. When I discussed this later with different readers, opinions were pretty evenly divided as to which ending was preferred.

The Whole Time Travel Thing…..

Like many children, I think “A Wrinkle in Time” was the first science fiction book I read. I suppose it’s as much fantasy though and I did not read her other books. I’ve mentioned that in my prolific reading, I went through phases; most of my science fiction later with the standards of Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and so forth.

Time travel is such a popular notion and perhaps it’s rooted in the longing to either find out the truth of what happened in the past or wondering if there is a way to get the ultimate “do-over” and correct a mistake. That of course immediately brings to mind the danger of “correcting or preventing a wrong” without realizing the interference will have ultimately far worse consequences. There were a few episodes involving time travel in the original Star Trek series, none more poignant than when Captain Kirk has to accept the death of an innocent woman in order to bring the world back into proper alignment.

Then there are humorous treatments like in the movie Back to the Future where the character of Marty McFly must avoid romantic intentions of the high school student who will actually become his mother. What brought all this to mind was watching another episode of Northern Exposure as the character Shelley worried about the birth of their child; something they never expected to happen because she’s married to the much older Holling. In realizing she’s encountering her future daughter at different ages, she dashes in to see Chris, who assures her he too believes in stepping through the space-time continuum; not that he has done so, yet in the existence of it. In response to her question of why someone would chose to appear at a specific time, he explains if he had the ability, he would go back to an earlier generation of his family to let them know that while things looked bleak during the Great Depression, they would make it through.

In the quirky way of the show, what the final encounter between Shelley and her now almost adult daughter reveals is Shelly won’t make it to the hospital, but instead give birth above the bar where they live making the event a part of the community. And as they rest with the infant after, she knows the future is bright.

The Dilemma of Doing The Right Thing…..

Sort of musing here. In continuing with watching old episodes of the TV series, “Northern Exposure”, yesterday’s main plot depicted in two different scenarios was about doing the right thing. In one case it was acknowledging being bested in what would have been a lucrative business deal and the other was temptation to cheat on income tax. There were of course the usual rationalizations about why it wasn’t really cheating even though the “savvy” businessman was certain he had included a provision in the deal that would benefit him in the future at the expense of the other individual. After all, that was just smart business. The fact the other individual slipped in a different provision far more in his favor was – well, that was “unfair”. On the tax side, hey, the government gets plenty of our money and it was a small amount in question they would never know about. In both situations, the right choice was ultimately made at a financial cost to the individuals, plus a severe blow to the pride of the wealthier businessman.

The expression exists that, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking”, and sounds good in principle. Let’s take traffic violations as a simple example though. An individual is behind someone driving 5 miles per hour under the posted speed limit and no way to pass. The slow driver is in fact obeying the law. And yet, the odds are the individual behind will be irritated going into anger depending on how long the situation lasts. Well, “everyone” knows the posted limit isn’t really the limit. And yes, drivers stopped are often let off with a warning depending on the circumstances and the officer involved. In many cases, unless it’s something like a school zone and it is less than 5 miles an hour over, a stop won’t even occur. One logical reason is speedometers can vary, and in reality, if there is no sign of other careless driving, an officer does “look the other way”. On the other hand, that doesn’t always work out and once the ticket is issued and the fine (often hefty)  paid, there is usually great indignation on the part of the ticketed driver.

Dueling Perspectives….

I posted previously about the movie, “Ford Vs Ferrari”, and how enjoyable it was. I actually have four favorites scenes; all of which emphasize the juxtaposition of independent sports car builder Carroll Shelby and the corporate aspect of collaborating with Ford. In the movie, Lee Iacocca, who is responsible for Ford bringing the Mustang to the American people, is prominently featured in several places. The feud that grew up between Ford and Ferrari lasted longer than indicated in the movie, but Hollywood versions often compress timelines for the sake of “flow”.

So, skipping forward. I have also explained how I have insomnia and many mornings as I can’t get back to sleep, I fix a cup of chamomile tea and read non-fiction (book or magazine) as I drink my tea. I took out “Iacocca: An Autobiography” written by him and William Novak. It was published in 1984 which is of course after he was at Chrysler. (This is one of the books Hubby had when we merged households.) I started the chapter about the Mustang a couple of nights ago and was genuinely surprised. There was a great deal about how the car was developed, questions surrounding the decisions, and the wild success for several years. There was not, however, any mention of the drawn-out acrimony with Ferrari or of the momentous Le Mans races. A complete slice of American automobile history he was very much a part of, was completely excluded. Now, I am only part way through the book and perhaps he comes around to it later. Or, perhaps in view of him ultimately being fired from the top ranks of Ford, he chose not to include this highlight of Henry Ford II. Perhaps for some odd reason, he didn’t view this with the same reverence as many automobile enthusiasts.  Maybe there is an autobiography of Carroll Shelby I can read one of these days and see what he has to say.

Those Quirky Episodes….

In re-watching the entire “Northern Exposure” series, there were of course many episodes we did not see originally and others I only vaguely recalled. One of the main characters, Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett, is the town DJ, philosopher,  and minister mostly for events as he obtained his “license” after  answering an ad in the magazine Rolling Stones. Growing up in what was in essence a lawless family in West Virginia, he spent part of a sentence for grand theft auto (really more a joy ride) and discovered literature leading him to determine to never break the law again. Leaving was the logical thing to do and with little money and a used Harley, he eventually made his way to Cicely, Alaska where he was by no means the only individual seeking a new life. Unlike some, he did shed his considerable baggage and often is able to bring a perspective when someone is faced with angst. At other times, he delves too deeply into certain sensations or metaphysical wondering and is pulled out by those around him. The other day an episode was about a close friend of his who died and shipped his body to Chris for final burial. Go along with the improbability because that’s part of the charm of the show.

Chris and his friend Tulley had promised to do this for each other, but hadn’t been specific about final choice. Although no one in town knew Tulley, they all gathered at the church in support of Chris and as he attempted to do a more-or-less traditional service, he halted in the middle, realizing this wasn’t right for the kind of man his friend had been. There were multiple discussions after as to cremation, etc., with Chris unable to decide. Naturally, there were “conversations” with the dead friend as well. Dr. Fleischman did finally point out having a dead body in a casket, even embalmed, hanging around for multiple days was problematic. In the end, another town character sat alone with Chris as he was lying in the grave he’d dug, trying to “evoke a sense” of what was the right thing. The other friend was able to get Chris to see that letting go was his real reluctance. In the end, the town gathered again, this time at the edge of the river. Chris had the coffin rigged to a trebuchet  (type of catapult) he built for another quirky episode and he launched it high aloft to land in the river where his friend would have one final adventure courtesy of Chris.

Again, not that dumping dead bodies in a river is advised, but it was a fitting way to say good-bye.