Series Follow-ons Don’t Always Work…..

As with many fans of “Game of Thrones”, (not one who follows the blogs or whatever though), I’d heard there was to be either a prequel or a sequel featuring the character of Arya Stark, who at the end of the series was sailing away to discover what lay beyond the well-known lands. The last of the dragons had disappeared with thoughts he would never be seen again.

It turned out they decided to go with a prequel instead, “The House of Dragon”, to show House Targaryen, the primary house with dragons, in power and set 200 years before the events that began in Game of Thrones when everyone thought the dragons were no more. Notwithstanding this series definitely has more dragons and we have seen them from egg hatching to training to mighty beasts and some interesting bits about how riders are selected. However, there are two specific issues most of us are commenting on. No one knows how many seasons are planned (Game of Thrones went for eight I think) and okay, 200 years have to be covered. They keep skipping chunks of years between episodes with no lead-in narrative to explain what has happened. There’s usually something in the written description, but as the episode opens you suddenly see things that have apparently occurred and in conversation a character might say, “Well, it’s been three years since you were here”. Ah okay, a lot can happen in three years. One episode had a ten-year gap and that one took a while to work through. The other point for a lot of us is the characters don’t seem to be as developed. Granted, characters in “Game of Thrones” were generally complex, yet several were more good than flawed and so far, there’s only really one that can be said of in “The House of Dragon”. Of course, as in “Thrones”, it’s not wise to get attached to a character as he or she may very well get killed. Anyway, Season 1 has ended with a couple of bloody deaths and the question as to if war for the true succession of the throne is inevitable. We shall see what the future brings.

42 Comes Around…..

Not for me, of course as I’m well past that. Son’s birthday this year falls on a Tuesday, so they did celebrate on Sunday which is the only day they have off. They went to a winery where a friend recently had a wedding and were so impressed, they went back.

Forty-two was actually a momentous year for me as that was the year I retired from the Army. For those not familiar with how that goes, retirement from the military is minimum of 20 years and mandatory at 30 years. (There are exceptions to the 30, but case-by-case). Now in financial reality, the military pension for the most part is not something one can live on, however, it does provide a cushion to allow one to consider follow-on employment without the compensation aspect being the prime factor. (Making as much money as possible is still a consideration for many of course). So speaking of forty-two and follow-on employment, that was when Hubby was assigned to the Pentagon, something that happens eventually to most career officers. I’ve posted before about Hubby being wonderfully supportive of me in that he had urged me to write that novel I’d always intended and take the time I needed to do so. Notwithstanding our high hopes and the initial positive feedback I received from a respected agent, that did not translate into a deal as I have previously explained. Completing the novel (Orchids in the Snow if you are new to the blog) was an accomplishment though even without publication for quite a while. The other encouragement was from the few people I had read it as a small “focus group”. In  light of not being commercially published, I did go on after the new year (I was still 42) to enter the standard retired officer career of working for one of the “Alphabet Companies” – that’s a common reference to the many contractors that work predominantly with the government. As I have also previously posted, my wonderful husband would make dinner each evening and take care of many of the domestic tasks on the weekend so I could continue to write.

NASCAR Playoffs……

Even if you aren’t a race fan, NASCAR has an interesting format now for their playoffs. Like other racing circuits they had a points system for a long time and changed it a few years back. In the old system, as the final race of the season occurred, if there was a wide point gap, then the Championship was already determined because it was mathematically impossible for anyone to make enough points in the last race to overcome the leader. As a reminder, all drivers continue to race and a driver who is not eligible to win the Championship can still win the final race of the season and count that as a career win (which is always a good thing). Anyway, NASCAR went to a combination of points and elimination to narrow the field of what is 40-43 drivers in regular season to sixteen in the playoffs. The reason for points is because even though a win automatically puts a driver into the sixteen, there will rarely be sixteen different winners in a season. So, throughout the season, drivers get points for how well they finish each race or for example, leading laps during the race. Those points accumulate and let’s say at the time to designate the playoff sixteen, only eight drivers have won races. That means the eight drivers with the highest number of point accumulated round out the sixteen.

During the playoffs – and I don’t remember how many races there are – once again, a win makes you “safe” for the first round of elimination which will narrow the number to twelve. Today’s race was the second elimination to narrow the field to eight. The team we root for is Stewart-Haas and only two of those drivers made it to the sixteen. Only one made it after the first elimination race. He had a slight margin with points and throughout the race Sunday, he lost and gained points. It came down to the last minutes as a late wreck caused typical havoc on the track and in the closing laps our guy managed to cling to the playoffs by two points. That makes him vulnerable going forward, so we’ll see how next week goes. A win would of course be the best answer to allow him to move into the “Final Four”, but strong runs and good finishes will help some.

Another Music Legend Passes……

I am a Country and Western fan and while I appreciate many of the really old pieces and musicians, I generally prefer the changes that came about around the 1980s. I do also appreciate the pioneers of the genre and there is no denying Loretta Lynn was of a special stature. And like so many of the few that actually made it to super stardom, she came from impoverished beginnings and a hard early life. “The Coal Miner’s Daughter” released her first song in 1960 and when I checked on a couple of the sites announcing her death they summed up her major awards. “Lynn was the first woman ever named entertainer of the year at the genre’s two major awards shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.”

“Throughout her career, Loretta won three Grammy Awards of 18 nominations, scored 24 number-one hit single and 11 number-one albums, and was named the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade. Four years before her death, Loretta was presented with the Artist of a Lifetime award at CMT Artists of the Year ceremony in 2018.”

She did have a stroke a few years ago and passed at home in Tennessee peacefully this week at age 90. She influenced stars like Dolly Parton, Reba McIntire, and the newer generation of Carrie Underwood. Aside from her musical talent, she was known for the lovely dresses she always wore, good works she did within different communities, and bringing her life into focus with the autobiography of, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, later made into an Oscar-winning movie. We lifted a toast to her at a luncheon yesterday and I’m sure that has already been repeated millions of times around the world.

Things That Pass….

Musings ahead alert. An incident recently occurred which brought to mind how no matter what one wishes or how one tries, there are times when certain things are no longer sustainable. This is hardly a new thought and has been rendered in story, song, and other arts for probably as long mankind has been able to acknowledge and express the sentiment. After all, most know Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, There is a time for everything”, if not through church lessons then the Byrds song of “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

Back a few years ago, a longstanding non-profit closed out as a combination of aging participants to where membership dwindled and a few other factors. I’ve posted before about family businesses that often don’t make it past the third generation. The house and property that was in my first husband’s family for I think seven generations was another example. We were supposed to eventually move there and carry on the tradition which we would then have passed to our son. In the “life happens”, it simply didn’t work out that way. The small law office my maternal grandfather established might not go into the fourth generation either; only time will tell. History comes in all forms with certain ancient places enduring to at least be remembered if no longer used. In far more modern applications, there are frequent struggles between “progress” or “economic benefit” that override a sense of history. There are multiple cable TV series of individuals and organizations that seek to preserve or restore places, buildings, or items that have been neglected or abandoned. In other cases, there is merely documentation of something that will be allowed to deteriorate to the point of no longer being recognizable.

There can be a sadness in losing what once was, yet sustaining something of historical value/legacy requires resources of usually funding and effort that aren’t always available.



Murder Mystery Events….

We’ve been to several of these over the years and last night was a fundraiser one so they did things a little differently. It was a Kentucky Derby one and they had like 24 or 25 characters. Instead of handing out descriptions of them, they had one set posted on the wall. Some folks did take photos on their phone. There really were too many to mess with and the building where it was held is incredibly noisy. I decided early on not to bother with trying to figure this one out and just socialize. Tickets of course were not inexpensive since it was a fundraiser and the two things they did differently for extra funds was “sell” 2 and 3 of clues. By sell, that ,means each set was $250 so the lady taking the cash walked around and collected whatever people contributed until the total reached at least $250. The other thing was to have a paper bag marked with each character name and you could buy tickets to then place into the bag of the character you thought was the murderer. Oh yes, then they bid off the opportunity for you to be the first person to say who you thought the murderer was with a prize to be had if you were right. As it turns out, one of the guys at our table had the highest bid, but didn’t get the correct character. He “won” the basket anyway for some reason I don’t exactly recall.

The dinner would have been good as the food – choice of prime rib or chicken was tasty. Unfortunately, most of the meals were not hot and some were said to be cold. The salad was excellent and they did have key lime pie. Although large crowds are always tricky, I’m really not sure why this seemed to be a problem across the board.

Anyway, we have a completely different event tonight and dinner after at a nearby restaurant. That should work better.


Another Week Slipped By Again….

It’s been extra hectic, although that shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

Anyway, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II does bring an era to a close.May she rest in peace.  Aside from the fact my middle name is Elizabeth, her coronation took place in Jun 1953, only a couple of months before my birthday. I am not what one can call an Anglophile, however, the constitutional monarchy has served the UK well and she has reigned through many changes. It is a different time now and I have no idea how King Charles III will be. At the risk of incurring shocked comments, I was never a big fan of Princess Diana’s handling of their divorce and haven’t paid much attention to Camilla although I think she has probably been long preparing for this day. There will no doubt be a great deal of pageantry over the coming days and while I won’t watch any of that either, I do appreciate the traditions that will be followed. And unlike some of what has happened recently in this country,I doubt they will permit politics to enter into the multiple events.

My husband of course thinks the entire monarchy is long past when it should go away. I don’t have any firm feelings other than I see the functionality of it until such time as the culture might change and there be a referendum. For those who have read or might read, “To Play on Grass Fields”, I chose the intent for the King of Malathos to transition to a constitutional monarchy because it does have a workable structure as seen in a number of countries.



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.

Georgia Trip, Day 2…….

The Hampton Inn had biscuits and sausage gravy as part of the breakfast so Hubby was happy. Lunch later at his sister’s was perfect with a taco salad that included wonderfully fresh tomatoes from a local market. They did a great job remodeling the house and it fits nicely into the old, established neighborhood. The incorporated some of the original features like leaving one of the corner cabinets in the dining room, The other one went as that wall came down allow for a much-needed expansion of the kitchen. The old den is now a designated playroom for the stair-stepped three grandchildren as the oldest is now a young man. While there are a few things she said they would have done differently, it is a warm, welcoming place complete with a front porch and adult and two child-size rocking chairs.

We got caught up on everyone and they are going to the reunion tonight so will pick us up which makes it nice. I spent part of the afternoon working on an article for the paper as Hubby listened to a photography podcast (or something like that). We went into the town square for dinner which has indeed become incredibly crowded. There are multiple tours as “The Vampire Diaries” continues to be popular and there are also ghost tours. We were glad to see the former Irish pub was replaced by a Gastropub, The Social Goat. Apparently it recently changed hands and our waitress didn’t know where the name came from. I thought there might be an explanation on the menu, but no. It was a fairly short menu with a focus on gourmet burgers, a long list of taco options, a few entrees and nine rotating beers on tap in addition to the bottled beers, plus some intriguing sounding cocktails. We did the burgers; Hubby with The Social Goat version which included pimento cheese and bacon jam. I went traditional.

Goats Added To The Mix…..

Another couple of days slipped by as multiple extra tasks were added in. As I mentioned when writing about the May trip, we went through Abita Springs on the way back to have a short visit with my brother and sister-in-law. We did not have time to go to their new place and will schedule that for perhaps next year. They are almost completely transitioned from the house in Mandeville to what is sort of a “family complex”. My sister-in-law’s mother made it to her 100th birthday and passed away several months ago. There had been the agreement she would stay in her home and while both sons were able to help and there were visiting nurses involved, a large part of the assistance came from my sister-in-law and brother. She left the house to them and there are some number of acres where the two brothers live nearby. (I;m not entirely clear on the proximity). Anyway, my brother and sister-in-law have always taken in strays of everything – and I mean lots over the years. If I recall correctly, at their peak there were like 6 or 7 cats, two dogs, and a neighbor’s pot-bellied pig that seemed to constantly come over. At some point I think there were guinea pigs, too. In all fairness, my sister-in-law did have a business for a while before they married doing children’s parties with a pony and maybe a few other animals. That was in addition to her extraordinary creativity as a fabric artist and a horticulturist.

Anyway, they have space at the new place to where a friend was going to give them a goat as a housewarming present and according to my sister-in-law, goats are social animals. They now have two goats and while they can be great fro helping keep brambles, weeds, etc, under control apparently there are other issues to be worked out with eating the wrong shrubbery and flowers. Ah well, I’m sure they will all come to agreement.