Friday, December 23, 2011

Movie Snob? That Would Be Me

I could go with Entertainment Snob, but we would be here for days and that is not fair when the holidays are have arrived. :) 

To be clear, I am not all high brow and no humor. Hardly. When it comes to movies I love the high end cheese along with the epics. Schindler's List moved me to tears and Old School moved me to laugh out loud. I could barely stay in my seat during South Park: The Movie or Jackass. The first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan had me crying and heaving in horror. Those are the experiences I want when I pay good money to be entertained and that is what bugs me about most movies and television now. Most of it is just pure unadulterated garbage. I loathe, loathe, loathe reality television. Except for Deadliest Catch. For some reason we are addicted in our house. Go figure. I hate all of our Houswives, the Kardashians, stars who dance, fame whores who try to "survive" or eat bugs and idiots who want to be idols. Harsh? Too bad. The world is bitter and mindless enough without that drivel to make those sitting on their couches at home feel somewhat superior. Plus, why get my ire up to want to pelt someone with tomatoes? Housewives of NJ, I am looking at you. We get aggravated in our daily lives, I do not want it in my entertainment.
As far as movies, how many remakes will Hollywood continue to do and lose money on? I am sure Fincher will deliver with his interpretation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I am too cheap to pay $10+ to see something I already have seen and read. I will wait for it on Netflix. This makes me Hollywood's ultimate nightmare. It takes A LOT to get me to a theater. I had to think long and hard about the last flick we saw in the theater and it was The Fighter. Worth every penny as far as I am concerned. The Dark Knight Rises will be next for me, though I cringed at Anne Hathaway's scenes in the trailer. Then there is The Raven with John Cusack and I might, just might, go to the theater for that one.
I have also noticed that Hollywood is banking on fairy tales for next years entertainment. Two Snow White films, one is a comedy the other dark, and Jack the Giant Killer. Well, those won't get me into the cineplex either. I do think Charlize Theron looks and sounds down right brilliant in the Snow White trailer, but I cannot stand an inch of Kristen Stewart. Most of you know that I have never and would never read or see the ick that is Twilight. God Bless if you enjoy it, but I would rather eat a side of medium rare beef, I am vegetarian, then subject myself to that so-called "art". Maybe she will blossom in this film. Maybe she can act or maybe it just does not matter to many. 

The thing is, I do want to be entertained and entertained well. 

Cable networks seem to be doing a stellar job of giving audiences what they want. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy and my current love:  American Horror Story. How I just adore the somewhat campy, original, twisted, implausible story lines and good acting. Jessica Lange deserves that Golden Globe nod, yes she does. I also have to tip my hat off to FX Networks for putting the episodes up online. We have basic cable so the only way I have been able to watch the show has been on the computer. I am a week behind, but who cares? The fact that they have shared the goodness with me is appreciated. I have tried to email them to let them know, but their link was down. Technology can suck at times.

When it comes to fun, silly films like Pineapple Express, The Hangover, The Wedding Planner, I love them. I  really do. These pieces of celluloid have their place in the world because we all need and want to laugh and forget our woes for a wee bit. If I do want some intensity, that is where Dragon Tattoo, Downton Abbey, The Forsyte Saga, MI5, Schindler's List and others of that genre come in the door. What I am not looking for or want is rehashed trash. With all the books out there in the world is Hollywood really at a standstill for material? I know risk is not on their plates right now, but with the last two box office weekends being less then stellar perhaps they need to rethink their strategy.
To amuse myself I just did a quick check on IMDB and saw there is a sequel to the God awful remake of Clash of the Titans called, wait for it, Wrath of the Titans. Get ready for more bastardizing of Greek Mythology. The Three Stooges trailer gave me a small coronary and 21 Jump Street? Really? Can I recommend some novels that could make some good films or are we too cheap to pay an author for their work? I wish I understood  Hollywood better, but they do not seem to want to understand their consumers better. Then they publicly bitch and moan about those of us that rather stream via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes or go to Redbox. People want quality for the money and I do not believe that is too much to ask. 
Now excuse me while I go watch episodes of Arrested Development, again.

Cheers!
MissFifi




Thursday, December 22, 2011

House Envy Part Deux

Bathrooms.

Like kitchens, they can be an oasis, a place to linger or they can be a place you do your business and get the hell out!  If one has a place to soak, relax and spa then it is lovely. Then again, most of us do not have the space to accommodate a massive retreat so what does one do? The least you can do is make it somewhat enjoyable when taking a shower or brushing your teeth. So says the woman whose shower does not work in the upstairs bath and has the evil poorly grouted pink bathroom on the first floor. I know I gripe about this a lot, but it does amaze me when someone will do shoddy work and live with it. Grrrrr! We are aiming to get the second floor done in the spring. Fingers are crossed!

Anyhoo, while a black bathroom will most likely not occur in our house, I do like the look of this one taken back in 2009 at a Brooklyn townhouse.

Now, while I do adore the color purple, I am not sure I could do this, but it is well executed. Here is link to full house tour.



This bathroom gives off a nice masculine vibe. Here is full house tour.

Not one of my favorites, but I believe in sharing all types of bathroom finds. The tiles sort of throw me off, but I am sure it is really nice in person. Full house tour.


Had we been blessed with black and white tile in the downstairs instead of hideous pink, this would have been an awesome color direction to go in for sure. Full House Tour.

And now, for over the top, how do you feel about a big, clear glass tub? Boston Home post.



Many people would say that what you do matters, especially when it comes to resale. I say it is better to do what you really want, especially if you have no intention of selling the house in the next ten years. Why live with bland or lack of character when you can do it up a little differently? 

Cheers!
MissFifi

















Wednesday, December 21, 2011

House Envy

Sometimes I like to peruse real estate for fun, especially the ridiculous over the top 10,000 square foot villa. Manicured lawns, marble baths, the kitchen that pretty much can house two hundred people comfortably. I understand why most folks dig the "staged home", but I prefer a more lived in look. That does not mean I cannot appreciate a stellar photo shoot.

Via the blog Lark & Linen I came across this gorgeous farm house. Isn't it just lovely? Bright and airy kitchens make me swoon and this one is divine. While white is not my first choice in a kitchen, you cannot deny how elegant it looks.

From The Right Bank has a list of beautiful gray kitchens. I do like the dark cabinets, I think it is a such an unexpected touch. Once again, I covet the Aga stove.

This Tobi Fairley kitchen and bath featured on House of Turquoise are just stunning. I like the shots of blue color used through out both rooms.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ahhhh Design

The old standard theme rooms for baby nurseries do not work for me. Disney is a no no and anything too genderized, boy means blue and girl means pink, is totally against my sensibilities. When we found out that we would be put to the ultimate life test and become parents one of my thoughts were, "How to decorate?'

Okay, not really, but it sounded good right?

Actually, my husband is a comic book geek. I can appreciate this to a point. Most of his collection sits in a box in the closet and this makes me twitch. Reason being that some of the cover artwork is stunning and deserves to be displayed. So using my genius I persuaded him that we should frame a few to put up in the nursery as artwork. No matter if it was a boy or a girl, the comic books were going up. X-Men, Batman and a few others were chosen and framed. I have to say it looks really awesome and this inspired him to pull out his Star Wars bobble heads and put them out on a shelf in the room as well.
I know that as parents were are not to be too influential using our taste to define our kid. If I was really going to push ourselves on the baby there would be music posters, a skateboard or two and a drum kit all set up already. This would then set up our child to be my version of a skateboarding, Dave Grohl. A mom can dream can't she? But instead we settled for the economical route and used what we had. Sometimes a collection can work to ones advantage, thank the Baby Jesus.
We also hung up the Bekvam spice racks from IKEA and used them to display the books we received at our baby shower. Me being a big reader and writer, I am hoping the little one becomes just as passionate about books. Okay, I need to get back on track here.
Since we are encouraging the DC/Marvel Comics characters, I was giddy with power to come across these unique Superhero prints by Liam Brazier. I love the abstract vibe and vivid colors. And if eventually he does not want them in his room, we will be more than happy to hang them in the hallway or even the living room. I like art that can be moved about the house. No reason to restrict something to only one room or area. When we were at IKEA not too long ago they had a picture of a hand slamming a phone down. It was totally done a la Roy Lichtenstein, another fave of hubby, and will also be going up in the nursery.

I am not a fan of every nursery showcased on Ohdeedoh, but I wanted to share a slew of rooms that have been done with flair. Most people want rooms that can be transitional to toddler to kid to even tween. What I really like is the choice of colors, even the overly girly and boy ones because they are done very well. You could even incorporate a lot of the elements into a kitchen, living room, etc. As the old saying goes, "You've come a long way baby!"


Cheers!
MissFifi








Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's In A Name?

Some names are passed down from generation to generation. Others are chosen out of respect for the dead and to carry on their memory. Then are those chosen simply because of their meaning or because after much searching, the parents found something they really like.
My own name is very unusual and I happen to love it. I also went to grammar Catholic school with many children of various backgrounds, Hispanic, Italian and Black, all who had wonderful ethnic names. No one was made fun of, and this was the seventies and early eighties.
There are names I have loved and would have used on our forthcoming bundle of joy if, and only if, DH's last name was not quite so hard. It is German in origin and not an easy one to match things too. So choosing a name has been quite the task. Once we found it we were happy, but also reluctant to share. Why is this you ask? Because everyone has an opinion on what you name your child. And the most aggressive opinion comes from my in-laws.
Imagine my amazement when they were told the name and then proceeded to tell their lovely son all the things wrong with our choice and why we should not do it. My immediate reaction was true to my nature. "Go F Yourself."
My mother would be so proud.
Where anyone gets off telling you to change a name that you and their son/daughter thought long and hard about is rude, insensitive and disrespectful. If one dislikes the name, why not just say, "Great. We cannot wait to meet him and hope he is happy and healthy." But that is not my in-laws style. They are more concerned about others opinions and how people perceive their lives. Dysfunction is in every family folks. We all have it and experience it, but sometimes we get a glimpse into how others got that way and it is not pretty at all. Their insecurities alone could fill a novel with various plot twists and scenes of martyrdom.
To make the matter more entertaining, my MIL felt the need to voice her concern of the name sounding "too Spanish" or that it will be "mispronounced" and how it "does not go with the last name" and shouldn't we "switch the middle and first names"? She told my hubby that she just"had to tell him and get it off her chest". Really now? Why not just be pleased to have a grandchild on the way? Instead they have insulted me, my spouse and our unborn bouncing bundle of joy.
I was chagrined when I found forum after forum online of mothers to be venting about the exact same situation. In-laws calling kids a name different then the one chosen and even refusing to use the name given. There were stories where relationships became overly strained because the MIL was making the DH bend to her rules still instead of him supporting his spouse. Note to self: This is the type of mother one does NOT want to be. It is simply appalling that people are willing to cause such discord because of a name. These people had their chance to name their children and for some reason think they have the same right with grandchildren. Boggles the mind.
Of course I do not expect an apology and am certain they will continue to try and change our minds. Pity that their instance that they know best and must be right has already tainted their visit when they come. Perhaps that will have to be postponed until they get their crap together then eh?

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, December 12, 2011

Self Publishing Trudges Ahead

A darling friend sent me an article about an author who after numerous rejections, took it upon herself to self publish. A lot of us who toil away at this solitary career also squirm and toil away writing query letters and various forms of a synopsis. Those are not the only things I dread from time to time. With any sort of publishing comes the anonymous reviewers that can tear apart your book. Sure i have thick skin thanks to numerous rejection letters, but one does worry about sending out an imperfect product. Then again, I can just go over it once more, and roll with the punches. The point would be to get it out there, push for it to sell, even at a mere 99 cents, and hope it generates buzz like Darcie Chan's debut novel discussed in the article at Yahoo.

One of my favorite things about the article is Ms. Chan's description of her novel. "It didn't really fit any genre," Ms. Chan says. "It has elements of romance, suspense, mystery, but it falls into the catch-all category of literary fiction, and of course that's the most difficult to sell."

That has been the bane of my existence. My novel, while set in a dystopian world, has various elements which has made me struggle with pin pointing its genre. For my main characters there are key pieces at play such as troubled and sorrowful pasts and law enforcement jobs that require a cool detachment and a romance that brings about pivotal plot points. Literary Fiction or Fantasy Romance? This is my conundrum, but now that I read this article, I suddenly feel encouraged to throw myself to the lions.

And why not?

Take the chance and see what happens. Worse thing that can happen is no one buys the darn thing. As for poor write ups, well, I will have to take them with a grain of salt now won't I? Great write ups will make me giddy. And if this book does not go, well, I do have the other one in the hole don't I?

Off to the grind I go.

Cheers!
MissFifi






Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Cost of E Books

Are eBooks too expensive?

This question is asked by the SmartMoney blog and I must agree. I constantly question paying $12 for an eBook when the paperback is $6.99. Heck, the library is free.
Publishers seem to be just as baffled as the music industry was back in the days of Napster and files sharing. They are not sure what to do with those of us who want physical books in our hands as well as an eBook. We want to pay money and support the authors, but not be overcharged.
Will this ever get worked out? I hope so. Though we do have a current round of publishers being jerky about the Kindle Lending Library and limiting the amount of times and eBook can go out. Read about that here.

Cheers!
MissFifi


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Hear Music

On a perkier note today, here are some songs/videos that have been getting serious play in our casa.

Foo Fighters - Rope (Deadmau5 remix) I like it more then the original version.

Aloe Blacc - Loving You Is Killing Me. Fantastic beat and love the kid getting his groove on.

I was cleaning out old cassettes and came across some forgotten but still beloved treasures.

Christian Death - Incendiary Lover. Gothic at its best.

Metallica - The Wait. Well done cover of this awesome Killing Joke song.

Peter Murphy - Deep Ocean Vast Sea. He always delivers.

Julian Cope
- Spacehopper. Full of pure innuendo.

Enjoy my darlings.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Society and Politics

I normally do not like to discuss politics on my blog for the simple reason I am not looking to get into arguments or slander people for their political affiliations. But headlines over the last few days have made me want to bust open a wall. Let us start with societal ills shall we?

Wal Mart's Black Friday.

I should not even need to say much more about this since the world watched a bunch of dolts fight over $2 toasters, $1 towels and pepper spraying fellow shoppers for an XBox. As someone pointed out, "What would these people do during a real crisis like a food, fuel or water shortage?" Clearly the herd would be seriously thinned during a major crisis. It was sad to witness these folks who were rabid with the need for goods that will pretty much crap out after use. (Sorry China, I went there.) You want to shop, shop, but please, act like a civilized human being. Then again, and this will sound elitist and I will not apologize, it also shows the caliber of customer Wal Mart attracts. Keepin' it Klassy.

My beloved home state of New Jersey now has doubled the amount of recipients who have applied for and are using food stamps. I appreciate that folks will not go hungry because of such a program. Or will they? We give people food stamps, but not once do we teach them how to stretch the amount and cook proper foods. Here is an excerpt from this article that pretty much made me want to fling a book across a room and scream.

"Espy said food stamps on average work out to $1.45 per meal, and for some, the benefit can be as little as $16 a month. She said she just spoke with a senior citizen who uses that $16 to buy three boxes of cereal and eats it for breakfast and dinner."

Seriously?? Seriously?? We all know what milk and name brand cereals go for in the stores. No one thinks to teach this woman to buy beans, rice, pasta, frozen veggies and make bulk meals? Show her the store brand corn flakes and buy the milk in containers that do not need to be refrigerated until used. Way cheaper. Why not encourage her to buy frozen chicken pieces and teach her how to stretch a meal? There are so many frugal food websites, magazines like All You, that show how much a meal can costs and how many servings you can get out of that meal. You can also use coupons when using food stamps. HELLO!!!! Does social services even tell these recipients this? If they are too swamped to do so, please, get somebody who wants work, like myself, and have us create a pamphlet of easy, affordable recipes, websites and magazines. List the library as a great source since it has free Internet and will give you magazines they no longer want and a public transport schedule if need be and hand it to those who get their plastic card. If they chose not to use these resources, fine, but then they cannot cry a river, saying no one offered them any assistance.

And now, our future police state. A secret bill was going to be voted on yesterday or today which would allow the military, yes the military, to sweep up US citizens at home and abroad. How about no? How about you are violating my rights as a citizen? I doubt most folks are aware of this lovely story. I read this piece of news on Business Insider yesterday and was not pleased at all. Neither were most of the other readers and they voiced their displeasure and anger quite well. This is where your party affiliation is irrelevant. Both political parties think this is necessary since we are rife with terrorists. Amazing how the term and idea of "terrorism" is this blanket panacea when the government wants to infringe on their citizens rights. Disgusting really and there is no other word for it. We all need to unite, not divide by party, and stop letting them pit us all against one another. It is a mere distraction. We bicker about who is better, Repubs or Dems all while the government goes about their business, parties hand in hand, laughing at our school yard fights.


Sometimes I think I am paranoid, but I know I am not at all. I believe our country's infrastructure has been neglected too long and we have major issues still to come. Winter had not hit full force yet my friends. Laugh all you want at LDS or survivalists and homesteaders, but at least they are all prepared for any sort of emergency. Here at our house we are sort of prepared. We have extra food and water, bought a generator, grow some of our food and have some necessary emergency preparedness tools like a wind up radio and lanterns. Thankfully I have a friend who is LDS and she has given me her Church's emergency preparedness literature which is extensive and very helpful. I still need to get my car pack ready in case we need to flee. I do have blankets in each car thank goodness.
I do not enjoy doom and gloom, no one does, but I refuse to be caught off guard like so many were during the hurricane and snow storm. Mother Nature is a beast, but so is the lack of action over the years by our governments at local, state and national level. There is no preventative done. One needs a bridge to collapse before they repair it and power outages are becoming more common. We can all take steps to secure our own person and even fight the good fight if we can. We can demand better for our politicians and corporations, but there is no guarantee we will get or receive better. But if you are part of the group who expects the government will take care of you and that gas and food will always just appear and you are willing to fight over a $2 towel from China, then this post does not apply to you at all.

Cheers!
MissFifi







Sunday, November 27, 2011

Education

Hope everyone had a lovely, fun filled Thanksgiving. We spent it with friends who live close by and it was great. The food was delicious, the company was great and we pretty much rolled home.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of seeing a dear friend that now lives outside Atlanta, Georgia. We met at another friends house and had a terrific time catching up and meeting her little 19 month old boy. At one point during the visit she announced that once her son goes back to school she would be going back to school to pursue pediatric nursing. We all commended her and moved on to various other topics.
On the ride home, my husband and I began to discuss career changes and school. As we all know, right now, the economy has pretty much beat a lot of this country's citizens into the ground. So the usual solutions thrown out is get a job, get a new career, move to a new city and all on your own time and own dime and own struggles. Now, I am not asking the government to pay for anything, but for most people to make drastic, viable changes in their lives, education is what they need, but most cannot afford to take on their first or another school loan. It seems there is a vicious cycle here being played out. With the way the cost of school is going, not many people will have the opportunity to make that change or move forward. I am not talking about the 20 year old protesting to get college lowered, they will still have a chance of sorts. I am talking about the 30, 40 even 50 year olds who have seen the writing on the wall and want to help scribble a new page in their life. How does one go from factory line worker to IT specialist? English teacher to nurse? Stay at home mom to social worker? What if you need to stay up to date in your chosen field? I need continuing education classes for massage therapy, but at the moment, cannot swing the costs. Wall after wall comes up, not just for me, but for many people.
I doubt our government has any idea how many road blocks are in place. They are the first to demand new jobs, but without any clue on how to truly help get people into these jobs. No solutions or suggestions on how to transition from the old to the new. Cost prohibitive situations make these decisions difficult and it is something we all have to handle individually. There are some solutions out there, not always good ones, and it is a lot to think about for many people. The never ending story right?

Progress is still being made on my novel and this week I need to send out my query on the other book. I was considering getting back into entering short story contests for various reasons. One of them being it is good practice. The other reasons are because your work gets viewed by fellow writers, publishers and agents and the extra bonus is you can win some cash. Now I just need to narrow down the publications and begin the grind. Happy Sunday!!

Cheers!
MissFifi














Friday, November 18, 2011

Money, Money, Money

I used to love that song by ABBA. Of course, for some of us in today's world, it is truly worrisome thing, money. We think we have enough, but we may not. We work hard, but salaries are stagnant while corporations rake it in and bank it offshore. How I would love to have an offshore account. Ha ha! Money has become an overwhelming abstract and concrete thing in our lives. A dueling force that drives panic, greed, contempt and every other emotion one can conjure.

But let us focus on a pleasant way money can be used. Charity, donations, gift giving, experiences. Not that I am trying to push hardcore consumerism or anything, but to lighten the mood, I wanted to find things one could give even if they have a little money.

The Ticket Kitchen - Sticks of fine hot chocolate. A nice hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Happy Hen Handbag - The Humane Society has hit it out of the park with this fabulous piece of fashionable kitsch.

Arturo Rios' over the top Red Fascinator Cocktail Hat - Kate is superb.

Charity Navigator is a great site to help narrow down where to donate and how your money is used by the charity of your choice.

MyBOOKmark are hilariously whimsical and great for the reader in your life.

Here are some very unusual graphic tote bags from idiopix.

Larson Farms Natural soap gift set would please anyone.

This Scratch Map from Uncommon Goods is a great gift for the current or future traveler.

I like the idea of a Tasting Plate for a party or intimate dinner.

Michellenstamps has beautiful cards and gift tags which are always good to keep on hand.

All museums have gift memberships and there are always tickets to a good show or restaurant if you prefer to give someone a memorable experience instead. :)


Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mish Mash


Spent the weekend doing lots of errands around the house. For the past few weeks we have been gathering stuff to donate to the United War Veterans Council. they will be picking it up today and I cannot wait for it all to go. Old furniture, dishes and clothes we no longer need or use will go help those in need. Better then just chucking it out in the garbage to go to a landfill.

In keeping with my ridiculous obsession with BBC programming, a friend recommended I watch a series on PBS called Case Histories. I have always had a thing for actor Jason Isaacs. Ever since I saw him in the series "Brotherhood". He is fantastic in this new show and so is the actress that plays his 8 year old daughter. The show takes place in the absolutely stunning city of Edinburgh, Scotland. (That is the picture above. Scotland will now be high on my must-travel to list) I watched all three episodes on PBS online yesterday and I do recommend it. I have also begun watching the crime drama "Luther". It is surprising my characters in my stories aren't all speaking with various English dialects at this point. These crime show are perfect to write to in a sense because of their rhythm, the language and plot lines. As far as character development, some times, when one is not sure how sinister a character can get, there are those that have taken it much further you ever thought possible. Very helpful indeed.


Tonight's dinner menu consists of my hubby's awesome bok choy salad and me trying out a new recipe: Sweet potato gratin and caramelized onions.

Cheers!
MissFifi






Thursday, November 10, 2011

Food Daddy Food!



That phrase was uttered by a TRU.com colleague's little girl almost ten years ago. Let me give you the story. The man's wife was not much of a cook. I guess frozen and fast food were more what she laid out for the kids to eat most of the time. Anyway, they were at a relatives house, perhaps for a holiday, and when all the food started to get brought out, the little girl clapped and smiled and shouted out to her father about the food with glee. When our friend relayed this story we all cracked up and even now, I will use that phrase as a goof. Sadly, our colleague passed away a few years back from a brain tumor. Since this is the season where food becomes the highlight of the season from now until January, I want to honor him by posting some delicious recipes.

I have an obsession with beets. I want this...right now.

Pecan pie french toast. Yes that is the picture of it at the top. Sweet God in heaven does it look fabulous!

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread. This looks so pretty and I imagine it would be wonderful with a an array of teas.

Shrimp and Grits casserole. I have never had grits, but I am sure I will like them and it looks darn good.

Grilled Fish Sandwich with Cabbage Slaw. I always like to seek out easy dinners and this would definitely work in a pinch.


Roasted Winter Squash and Onion Turnovers. Goodness these look divine!


My mouth is certainly watering. Time to plan which recipe to make first!

Cheers!
MissFifi





Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Save Not Spend

When reading My50syear blog, I came across this video Your Thrift Habits. I think it is so awesome and in all honesty, should be shown in schools today. I do not care how hokey it looks to modern eyes, it is still a valuable lesson.
When did we lose the idea of putting money aside? When did we decide there is no reason to live within our means? Everyone says it is when credit cards came about, but was it just that? How do we refuse to accept it as also partly our own fault? Sure it is easy to blame the banks, Wall Street, mortgage companies, and let us be honest, they have behaved pretty nasty and then got bailed out. But as consumers, we also have a responsibility. For those who wanted to live larger than life, I hold them culpable for their own situation. For those who lost jobs, had medical bankruptcy, I feel for them. Crappy of me to be choosy I know, but it is true. You bought a $500K house while making $40K a year, you are a jackass for thinking you could handle the payments. "But the bank said I could." Banks lend money with interest, that is their job, and most people should know that. Ahhhh ignorance is bliss.
Okay, I did not want to get into a long post about financial situations since there are more than enough news feeds and blogs about the topic. I just wanted to share the video which filmed in 1948 is timely in 2011.

Cheers!
MissFifi


Thursday, November 3, 2011

October Noreaster = Self Reliance

We were without power for about 2 1/2 days. Our house got down to about 52 degrees which was really fun at night when it was 28 degrees outside. Thank goodness we had flannel sheets, a blanket and 2 duvets on the bed. Our cat slept between us and our dog was burritoed in a fleece blanket between us as well. Body heat was used as a great source between species and appreciated. I was lucky enough to go to the office with my husband on Monday to shower and charge our cell phones and computers. It was really weird sitting in a cubicle after 3-4 years. I do not miss it that is for sure. I was happy to have a warm place to sit and work though :)

This year we have lost power about 3 times in 2 months. Not a good sign. As we spoke to neighbors and acquaintances we found out that 20 years ago, if power was lost, it was only out for a day or day and half. Now it is 4 to 5 days. Proof our infrastructure has gone to crap and we need to update. Of course this would mean higher taxes which no one in NJ would even consider. God forbid anyone had planned long ago to bury lines underground and figure out how to protect transformers from tree damage, but let us not get snippy. This whole incident made me tell my husband that no matter if we stay and add on to this house or if we live somewhere else in the USA we will definitely need a wood stove and a generator. the wood stove can be a heat source as well as something to cook on, just in case and as for the generator. Well, I do not want just any generator mind you, no, no, I want a hardcore stand by generator that has a transfer switch and is connected to the house. I want a Guardian by Generac. I know most of you are thinking, "My goodness that is pricey and a touch overboard."

Maybe.

We have a baby on the way and I have no desire to have to go to a hotel or even a kind friends house. What if the friends suddenly lose power? What if the whole state is out? In these uncertain times one has to begin thinking like a homesteader. Some may chuckle at the idea, but let us be serious, the country's infrastructure, bridges, roads, electric, is in desperate need of repairs. Sure you can wait around for the government to do something about it, but I think that is a little naive. Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands. Nothing dramatic or anarchist, just self preserving.
We discussed the pros and cons of portable generator versus stand by. Portable is great if you are looking to just run a light and the fridge. For us that does not fly as our whole house runs on electric. There are no natural gas lines so when power is out, it is really out at our house. No showers, no cooking, nada. Whoever thought that consideration of energy usage would become so entrenched in our lives? I sure didn't. At least now there are lots of options and information out there. Here are some links to self reliant living magazines/sites that can feed your need to know.

Backwoods Home A friend who has a farm in PA turned me onto this and I passed an issue onto friends who own a cabin in upstate NY and have like 22 acres. They are fans now too.

Mother Earth News One of my favorites

Hobby Farms Helpful information on livestock and gardening

Countryside Always has interesting reader letters and stories

Check any archives and links out as well for even more information on a dizzying array of topics.

Cheers!
MissFifi




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just A Few Things

Still on my documentary kick, on a friends recommendation, I have been watching Sister Wives. I have to say, out of all the reality shows I have ever been exposed to, this one is the mildest. I watch it and feel like I am just being allowed a glimpse into how one family lives without stupid drama, over scripted screaming and tacky broads. (Thank you Housewives of ______) I get that polygamy grosses out some folks, but here are consenting adults, doing their thing, raising well adjusted, God fearing kids that they encourage to pursue their dreams. That is more then I can say about the Duggars where the girls are expected to just be baby machines.
I get that it is considered illegal, but in all honesty, they are not hurting anyone and I think most folks would agree that there are much worse crimes going on than polygamy. As one reviewer pointed out you see it more of a matriarchal set up instead of patriarchal. I agree to an extent because in some ways, the women definitely rule the home. In other ways, the husband Kody's word is it at times.

My current read is The Poisoners Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Pretty good so far, but since I have only just started, I will hold off on a detailed description of the book.

Writing has been put on hold since I have been getting baby ready. We had our shower and I have more baby wipes then Babies R Us keeps in their distribution centers. This of course is awesome! Actually, I reworked my query letter for the bounty hunter story because I would like to shop it around again while working on the angels story. While I have been very good about organizing my day, I have gotten a little bubble headed. Can I say pregnancy brain? I have to make vocal decisions to take care of things so I do not end up floating around starting five tasks at once.

Intrigued by a cover on Entertainment Weekly, I decided to go to the F/X website and watch the first two episodes of "American Horror Story". Holy freaky deaky series! I am hoping they upload the other episodes so I can keep watching it. It is like a mix of "The Shining", "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (Original not stupid remake) and every other well done creepy, eerie horror movie/story done. So perfect for the Halloween season too.

Cheers!
MissFifi















Thursday, October 20, 2011

Small Closets and Small Bank Accounts

Earlier this week, while putting laundry away, I got to thinking how way back when, instead of 20+ pairs of underwear, they may have had a max of ten. Then I mused about how many coats people may have owned or pairs of shoes they had. I glanced around out closet which we had made larger in our bedroom because in a 1920's house, the closets were made for small wardrobes. I am sure there is research and data online somewhere, but I highly doubt everyone had a clothing collection like those depicted in Hollywood films "The Women" or "Auntie Mame". Imagine wearing the same dress twice a week. To some women that would be akin to committing a crime. I may have thought that way when I was much younger, but now I could give a hoot. Since I write from home I sit in my jammies, I am not ashamed, then when I get ready for the gym I throw on the workout clothes. Do not misunderstand me, I love a fabulous pair of shoes and a good outfit, but if I do not need it or cannot afford it, no reason to get crazy about such a thing.

But let me try to reel in my thoughts here and see if I can get a better handle on where I need to head.

Over the last few years the world has been the parallel universe to the Roaring Twenties slamming into the Great Depression. We had some fun times, but now we will pay and pay dearly. As everyone struggles as a collective, there are moments when you read or hear a story about people tired of "sacrificing" so they run to the closest department store to buy a handbag or outfit. I could care less that these folks get gratification this way. I am merely interested in why a purchase like that makes any single one of us giddy with power for a short time. Soon enough the power of the purse wears off and you are looking for the next thrill.
Right now there are people we know and do not know who have to choose between an electric bill or groceries, medical care or gasoline for the car. Some seriously scary stuff. And then there is what someone coined "American Poverty." That would be a person who complains that they really wanted to get the 56" tv but had to settle for the 42" or have to buy a used BMW instead of new one. Some Americans gets skewed about material items because let us face it, we are spoiled rotten and used to having our cake and eat it too. The question is, if our overindulgence can never come back, how many folks will adjust with ease or keep having a tantrum? Who can say? These times have brought on the survival of the fittest along with those trying to be fit. Sucks really. People are beholden to the companies they work for now since mobility has gone out the window. Raises and bonuses are pretty much null and void, unless you are Wall Street, which is a whole other can of worms. Layoffs are doled out on whims, health insurance policies are getting more expensive and all of this combined makes the cost of living burdensome and more terrifying.

And to think this all got conjured up by folding laundry. Small closets and having less clothes to what we have become during this economy and having less money. Multiple headlines causes my post to be all over the place. Maybe I can cue this up as a stream of consciousness piece? William Faulkner would be so proud.

Cheers!
MissFifi







Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Films That Were Too Bad

Ever watch a movie and by the end of it you are left undecided about how you feel or if it was worth your time? I have had that happen with the last two films I watched.

Sometimes it is fun to go through Netflix by actor and see what may catch my eye. I was going though Ethan Hawke and came across "Staten Island". I read the description and a few re3views and figured, why not? Along with Mr. Hawke we have Vincent D'Onofrio and Seymour Cassel. While their performances were good, though D'Onofrio portrayed his mobster a little quirkier then what one usually sees, the story seemed a little off. A few times I sort of sat there with a furrowed brow just wondering where the hell this was all going. It seemed disjointed at times and other times it tried to have a heart while missing a beat or two. The ending was a little hard to believe, but hey, it is a movie. I believe I rated it 2 stars, or maybe it was 3. Forgive me, I have mommy brain. LOL

This morning, while I worked on my novel, I finally gave into the Netflix suggestion for me to watch the supposed comedy-drama "Your Friends and Neighbors". Let me start out by saying it is an ensemble piece and Ben Stiller was part of the ensemble. I mention this because I do not enjoy his work at all so deciding to watch it was huge. Wait, I lie, I did like him in The Royal Tenenbaums and Permanent Midnight. The latter being one of his best and most overlooked performances ever. Anyway, back to the flick I watched today. I am okay with a script being misanthropic, miserable, misogynist and every dark, ugly thing in between. This film had it and then some. All I kept thinking as I watched it was "Who the hell would want to even know these people on a social basis let alone sleep with any of them?" Every character was flawed, like us real life folk, but the flaws were so annoying and at times, repulsive, that I could not connect with a one of them. Nope, not one. The women were one dimensional, with a sneak peek at two dimensions, but it was gone before you could blink. Ditto for the men. The Jason Patric character was so revolting that I was hoping someone would come along with a sledge hammer and pummel him until he was dead. (Perhaps that shows Mr. Patric did his job and made me loathe him so, but still.) When it was all over I was dumbfounded. I rated it 2 stars.

Cheers!
MissFifi



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Visual Inspiration

Homes in movies, redesigns of kitchens, gardens big and small, these are a few things that can bring me a calm breath. Especially when my days are spent writing and researching various religious topics for my novel getting one overloaded on bible literalism. This is where a blog like Hooked On Houses gives me much pleasure. I really enjoy Before and Afters like this small bathroom makeover. It gets me excited for when we finally get to do our own bathroom makeover. Of course it will be nothing like taking out a few extra rooms to expand it, but using the footprint we have with no issue.
This house in Encino is lovely, but my goodness, I could not imagine cleaning that much white upholstery, rugs, walls, cabinets, etc. My white stove and cabinets always look dingy. Such a shame.
My admiration for Candice Olson has existed for a very long time and I would sell my car to have her revamp my home. Okay, I need my car, but if had the cashola, I would hire her in a NY minute.
House of Turquoise has a serious bathroom redo that makes me drool! Featured in Period Living, a UK magazine that my hubby has brought me from time to time and is one of my faves, this exquisite tub and Victorian canopy shower just begs to be admired.
I will always respect people who can DIY major renovations like gutting bathrooms and kitchens. The owners of this Brooklyn Limestone should be proud and pleased with their results. I also like that they offer tips on their site for some projects they have done.

That is it folks, I need to get back to work or else I will continue to get lost in the land of design blogs which can be too easy.


Cheers!
MissFifi


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

State of Wonder

Upon reading a review of Ann Patchett's book, State of Wonder, I downloaded a sample to my Kindle and read it. I liked what I read and got on my local library's wait list to get my hands on the novel. I just finished reading it and I find myself trying to figure out how I feel. I liked it. I did not love it, but I enjoyed the journey. The reasons I did not love it is because the main character, Marina, pissed me off by not standing up for herself at any point with her indomitable, former teacher/mentor, Dr. Swenson. I get Marina was emotionally stunted and that a prior awful experience in her medical residency threw her into the pharmaceutical field. But there were times, especially when she was in the Amazon, interacting once again with Dr, Swenson, where I felt she should have gotten a back bone. Then there was the whole drug company/fertility/malaria drug story that at times was a touch confusing. The novel had a few other moments throughout it where I could not suspend my disbelief. even the ending is still leaving me a little loose. I do not want to reveal spoilers because every one is entitled to find their own way through a book. There was even a moment I felt like I was in a magical realism book. Not meaning it is bad, just that if the whole books is magical realism that is great. I do not like to get blindsided with various genres in one sitting.

Star rating: 3 1/2


Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, October 3, 2011

For The Love Of Series - Please, Do Sit Down.

When I write, I like to have music or movies on to help inspire me. As of late, I have been watching the BBC One series Lark Rise to Candleford. This is based on the book by Flora Thompson which I am hoping to get my hands on at some point.
My Anglophile obsession started very young. I am not quite sure when or where it fueled into such a huge interest. The Beatles played in my house growing up and I was well aware of Buckingham Palace, but I cannot recall the exact moment my fascination kicked in and stuck. Maybe it was the stories of Peter Pan and Robin Hood, including the Errol Flynn and Disney versions, when I was a child? Regardless, it has never waned. So much so that when I Netflix a series, most of the time it ends up being part of the BBC brigade.
Now before anyone thinks I am daft, I do not have some romantic notion of British life. I am well aware of the undercurrent of incivility and injustice that lies in all societies and the UK is no different. Do we need to rehash British Empire history and class warfare to make that point? I think not. What I enjoy most when I watch a period piece is a glimpse into how life was once lived. The rituals and sometimes odd and confining traditions. You cannot imagine that I would want to be so constrained as a female was back in Jane Austen's days. One thing I have always envied in the English? Tea time. That's right. A tradition that can be replicated anywhere and every day. If only I could do it everyday. Laugh all you want, it is a wonderful way to wile away the afternoon. Victorian Trading Company has all the esssentials needed to host such a soiree as well.

Getting back in step with the theme of series watching: We are still in the throes of watching the BBC show MI-5 which is fantastic. I wonder what will come next after I complete Lark Rise to Candleford. Maybe I will pick something more current instead of a period piece. Though I love them so.
We also just finished Arrested Development. Everyone's delivery of dialogue, the dark, twisted humor. That show was so off the cuff and so brilliant. Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) was HILARIOUS. I now have a huge crush on Jason Bateman too. Then again, who wouldn't? haha *Happy feet dance here: I just read on Gizmodo that Netflix is looking to revive the show by having it become part of original programming. That means we will get season 4 and the movie. Whoo hoo!!!

My writing has been moving along, praise the teenage Jesus, and I have this funny notion that I will have the book completed and edited before I give birth. I am not sure if the expectation is rational, but I would like to have it done and sent out to an agent before December. Fingers crossed my friends, fingers crossed.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sandman

Neil Gaiman is one of the few authors that if I ever met him, I may gush and scream in his face. How 14 of me and how scary that would be for Mr. Gaiman.
All that silliness aside, my first exposure to him was when I picked up the first issue of the iconic graphic novel, Sandman, many moons ago. For whatever reason, I never stayed with the series, but it had made quite an impression.
Now, a few decades later, I have begun to read the series in its entity and may I say I am blown away. Thanks to my lovely local library, I am able to get the The Sandman Library which has all ten collections of the run. Yes I would love to purchase it, but it is a little out of our price range at the moment. Regardless, last night I finished reading The Dolls' House and may I say it was the creepiest, most offensive and repulsive thing I ever read. yes, it was sheer awesomeness. A whole section about serial killers at a convention of their own kind was too unbelievable. His imagination spans realms that I never thought possible. I am not a big fantasy reader because I am particular about ho much disbelief I can suspend, but with his works, I am easily lead into the world of the Endless, the Graveyard and London Below.
One of the other interesting things about The Sandman is seeing the basis for American Gods peeking through. Like I have said before, I will not read that book yet for fear of having it influence me too much. All I would need is to read it, then discover we have similar characters. That would suck something awful. And, of course, the more of his work I read, they more it influences my own writing. What I try to take away is not his style or voice, but the structuring. The way his plots can lack restraints and how he weaves in a myriad of characters throughout a story. I use him as a teacher of sorts even though there is no classroom or Q&A. Can you imagine? The man would run from me because I would pick his brain to no end. Actually, I am sure there are worse fans then me out there. Ha ha!
My writing has had its up and downs, but The Sandman has begun helping me alter my perception of what a story should be or how it can be told. This greatly assists me as I write my Angels story. I can break away even further from conventional theories that we, and most religions have, of angels and heaven and hell. Not that I have not been rebelling on my own as I write their stories, but it gives me an extra push and washes away any lack of fear to let my characters go where they want. Sometimes it is off course, but I think one needs to allow these mistakes and detours to improve one's writing.
Maybe one day I can thank Mr. Gaiman for his influence and for writing such fantastical stories. And I promise not to squeal like a school girl...maybe. ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi







Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crumblin' Down

John Mellencamp sang it best, "When the walls come tumblin' down"

10 Things You Should Know This Morning on Business Insider is what preempted me to think of the song. We can only hope things will get better, but it is touch. I was listening to NPR yesterday and the ex-Governor of Michigan made a great point. She said, not verbatim, "We cannot solve 21st century problems with 20th century solutions. We need structural change to function in this global economy." I agree. This problem needs to be approached in an entirely different way then it has been. But we o have brats on both sides in Washington DC so this will be a long haul indeed.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fabulous Documentaries

I have been on a serious documentary kick of late. One that got me going was called The Art of the Steal and let it be said that when it is all over, you will have a very different view of Philadelphia, The Annenberg Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust and those that broke the Last Will and Testament of Dr. Barnes. The art collection Dr. Branes had amassed shows what vision he had regarding who and when he purchased it all.

Now I am sitting through a very disturbing documentary about true white trash: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. I am just speechless to be honest. Family member Jesco White is a famous American mountain dancer who has battled drugs and depression for a long time without much success. The rest of his clan also represent everything that goes wrong when you are uneducated, drug addled and believe might makes right. I cannot fathom where their moral compasses are set since none have an issue snorting coke in front of Grandma or stabbing spouses/boyfriends. The fact that they get government assistance even though they deal drugs and do nothing to better themselves baffles they hell out of me. Apparently most of West Virginia is none too proud that this family is so well known. Not just by law enforcement, but by the general populace. Truly an eye opening and repulsive documentary at the same time. Enjoy the trailer.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forensic Pathology

This is a field I love and if I could turn back time, cue Cher, I would work towards becoming a Chief Medical Examiner.

Marcella Fiero was interviewed in the Frontline documentary Post Mortem. I think she is brilliant and I love how her and some of her colleagues want to implement serious and necessary changes within the medical examiner system.
What pissed me off was the amount of incompetence shown throughout parts of the United States. New Orleans was particularly aggravating. The coroner is a former ob/gyn with a team of forensic pathologists working under him. Coroners are the ones who get the final say in how someone passed away. Some of his cases seemed to err in favor of the police. Unfortunately, New Orleans law enforcement has always had a sketchy existence and the story did not make it much better.
What also floored me was how if a pathologist screwed up in one state, he would just move to another and get a new job. There are no federal mandates or funding. Of course there are a few private forensic groups, but one of them in Northern California had an inept pathologist working for them who had screwed up in several other states.
By not having much funding, there is poorly functioning equipment, some offices even lack x ray machines. There is also no way to set up a proper database to see if a pathologist/medical examiner has have ever been arrested or lost their medical license. This might help to prevent future misdiagnosis of deaths. They also have no set accreditation for medical examiner offices and their staff which is also ludicrous. Yes there are lots of problems going on in the US right now, but let's be dramatic. If your loved one was murdered, wouldn't you want the person doing the autopsy to be fully educated in a properly equipped facility?

Cheers!
MissFifi





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Economist Article: Mass-market retailing changed publishing before the e-book

Last night I came across an interesting article in The Economist which was how publishing has changed. I found this timely considering what I posted about yesterday. A lot of the article is right in line with what Editor X had discussed during the Q&A about big names get churned out to keep the publishing house in cash to then fund unknowns to an extent.
It does make me ponder if self publishing will be the way I have to go since the death knell of many booksellers are ringing throughout the land. The more that happens, the harder it will be for the Big 6 publishers to push the little guy. Makes one think of how the music industry almost imploded when people took to making and distributing music on their own terms. Perhaps the publishers need to think about that or else they too will feel the heat. Considering the amount of self published works selling on Amazon already though, they may be a little late to the game.

"Few people will mourn publishers’ losses from increased price competition and new technology like e-readers. The question is whether these trends undermine the quality of books which are being published, by breaking a business model that has let firms focus on variety and range. Publishers have good reason to shiver at the decline of traditional bookshops. To fund the discovery and promotion of new authors, they have relied on books that sell steadily over a number of years. Yet mass retailers stock a few hundred new blockbusters."

Cheers!
MissFifi

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Who Needs Editors?

The Smart Bitches blog did a two part series called "Ask The Editor". May I say my ire rose quite a few times in response to the editor's answers on certain questions. Let me share just a few things that made me want to scream. You learn why authors such as James Patterson and Nora Roberts can publish a few bad books and keep going. Hell, they are the money makers and as such get massive passes. They feed the machine and let the publishing house pick up an unknown here and there thanks to the big bucks crankers. I have no problem with that. I have a problem when the big money makers can get away with filling in the blanks and it is considered good to publish because it is by "So and so".
You also find out if you are trying to break into the business, your manuscript better be as close to perfect as possible. I am doing my best to create and send in something that could pretty much just be put out to the public, but I do not like that big names can phone it in and are given a pass. Yes, I sound embittered and I am. I find this to be unfair and even though it is how the world works it puts a huge ass bee in my bonnet.
There was also the point of there are no fact checkers really so it is left entirely up to the author to do their homework. I have no problem doing the leg work, last night I had the pleasure of researching surfing and deaths caused during surfing, good times, but it would be helpful to have someone with a more educated eye make sure I got the scene right or notice a glaring error.
Needless to say, I ended up pissed off and commented on both posts. I am sure I am seen as a bratty, unpublished shrew, so be it. Some of the answers from Editor X made me realize why so many up and comers are going the self publishing route. Based on sheer frustration some authors are willing to undertake all the insane busy work like editing, jacket design, promotion, etc. Then again, if you can handle all of that, what purpose do the editors and publishers serve anymore? Makes one really think that is for sure.

Read part one and part two yourselves and take away from it what you will.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Sunny Friday

Today is sunny and it makes one want to skip around in the grass with joy. Not that it means places are not still flooded or filled with stagnant water. All it really means is that there is finally a reprieve from all the downpours we have endured day after day. Hurricane season, in a word, sucks. And not just for coastal cities anymore it seems. Myself, I would have liked to have been able to store this water and send it to Texas to give them a hand with their drought. Alas, it was not to be.

Due to the impending arrival of a bundle of joy in the next few months, we have had to move rooms and possessions around to accommodate. What I have discovered is that not only is my husband a whirlwind when he gets going on a serious project, but that moving the office to the room off the kitchen was actually a fantastic idea. I am happy to sit here at the desk and write/knit/sew with complete abandon. My husband likes it because he is just in the living room and we are on the same floor so he can pop in just to chat. Not that walking upstairs was a pain, but it is just easier.
What is most surprising is that I really, really like the set up in this bright green room. There's a good vibe which is making me work much better. Changes have had to happen, yet again, but they are flowing better. I feel more in tune with the story and with y inner muse. Too bad it could not be an outer muse that looked like Richard Armitage or Hugh Jackman, but that is just me.
Someone suggested I watch the what sounded heinous reality show Dance Moms. As someone who hates reality tv, I gave this a go and within one minute I knew it was not for me. I am all for teaching children what healthy competition is and that not everyone is a winner, but when you speak to them and say, "I can make you or break you." Hell no. Plus it takes place in Pittsburgh. Let me be a regional NYC snob for a moment and ask you to name a famous dancer out of Pittsburgh. Now I will blow your mind. Ready? The fabulous Martha Graham is one. Gene Kelly is another. Who knew?? Here is a list of famous people who were born or have lived in Pittsburgh at one time or another. See? You learn something new everyday :)

Cheers!
MissFifi


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Post-It Wars

These are just way too cool. As someone who was a thrilled kid to play "Pong" and the first Atari, I love the Space Invaders window.


Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, September 1, 2011

American Hollow

Way back when, 1999 to be exact, I had seen a documentary by Rory Kennedy called American Hollow. I was blown away by the standard of living the family has pretty much stayed in for about 100 years. If I recall correctly, one of the family members had "escaped" and came back to try and get one of the young men to go with him, back to Ohio I think, but the kid could not hack it.
Having just come back from North Carolina and Appalachian country, it made me think of this documentary again and I found it on You Tube. Unless someone from the area was to tell me different, I would say it is pretty accurate in showing how welfare can be detrimental to a rural family. Instead of offering them job training or help to get out. Then again, this LA Times article puts a different spin to it:

Why, despite more education, more opportunities, and more exposure to the outside world, do so many younger men and women--including all of Iree's children--venture out to more prosperous regions, live and work there a while, and then return to the hollow, to lives of welfare dependency and disappointment?

The question is sensitive because it suggests the plight of Appalachia's poor, and perhaps the poor in other places, is not entirely a matter of innocent individuals crushed by social injustice and uncaring outside forces. It suggests an element of personal choice.


So seven generations have stayed where they are, content to just be. In a way they are survivalists and impressive ones. Living off the land, canning, hunting, practicing skills from days gone by, but they could not survive without the welfare checks. Makes me wonder how they are all doing now considering the economy is pretty much in the tank.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation and Irene

Last week I had the pleasure of renting a cabin with the hubby and dog in Asheville, NC. We had been there about 4 years ago and loved it so this time we decided to spend a nice amount of time there.
We stayed at this delightful cabin in East Asheville called Azalea Mountain Cabin. It was conveniently located to everything and had a nice size yard for Isadora to hang out and play in with a cool porch in front and nice deck in back. The other plus was that it was secluded which made it really nice. Very quiet at night. The interesting thing was we had no cell phone or internet service at the cabin. Thankfully the cabin had a landline if one needed to make a call for whatever reason.
We got to visit the NC Arboretum which made us both rethink how one landscapes their yard. When my inlaws came for an overnight visit with my brother in law and nephew we took them to the WNC Nature Center.
One of my favorite places is Malaprops Bookstore and we took the family there before we went and had lunch at Carmel's. I had an excellent fried green tomato sandwich and my hubby had a catfish reuben which he said was delicious. The next day we had lunch at Chorizo's which was a wonderful combo of Latin/Southern food.
Once everyone had gone we took a day and drove 30 miles south on the Blue Ridge Parkway which was lovely and I got to see Cold Mountain which is located in the Pisgah National Forest. The scenery is just breathtaking and you really feel a part of something bigger when the mountains surround you and you look down into the valleys or have a vista that goes on for miles.
We had dinner at The Laughing Seed Cafe one night and walked around the downtown area and he had a beer at Lexington Avenue Brewery. Asheville has become Beer City it seems so my husband was in heaven. I can't drink since I am expecting a baby in January so I got to enjoy the atmosphere which was just fine.
We were supposed to stay from Sunday to Saturday, but with Irene threatening to make our commute home very windy and rainy, we left on Friday. Which worked out best because on Saturday we were able to get some non-perishable foods and other errands. we lost power on Saturday around 1am and did not get it back until Monday at 9:45pm.. Not bad, sort of like Luddite living :) We did get water in our basement and that sucked. A kind neighbor who had power lent us his generator to get our sump pump and wet vac going again so that was great.
Now I am trying to get back into the groove of things with writing and doing house stuff.
Currently I am reading My Mexico by Diana Kennedy and it is quite the insight into various Mexican cultures with lots of amazing recipes.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Highest paid authors

I love the first comment to this article which is "Note to English majors...crap sells."


I would give JK Rowling a pass as an awesome author and I have always enjoyed Stephen King, but most of these, I am sure Diary of a Wimpy Kid is fun, are just pure fluff. God Bless.


Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Words As Art

I have officially decided to divorce my sinuses. This is the second infection in about a month and a half, two months. Someone suggested I get an air purifier which I am going to look into. I have been using a neti pot which is sort of funky feeling, but it helps.

Writing has been cumbersome. This is because I gave myself writer's block by changing something so I deserve to be frustrated. I just keep thinking, "this too shall pass" and every other cliched saying you can come up with. Like I said, it is my own fault, but I gotta suck it up and get it done. I have given myself a deadline of end of the month> I am not sure if this is wise and who knows? I may end up setting my Kindle on fire, I doubt it, but it is in front of me and so it is the lucky choice. Once I get a move on I will be fine, but this stop and start and crazy story line hijacking on my part has got to stop.

A friend decided she wants to get a tattoo of Alice in Wonderland slaying the Jabberwocky. A search commenced and she did find something that she will most likely modify. During this process I uncovered a superb website called Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos. People have taken passages from favorite novels, poems, songs and illustrations and have made them a permanent part of their everyday life. I have never though of having words placed on my body. Sounds silly, but there are many great quotes and great lines in songs, but to want it there permanently? Never gave it much thought.

Until now of course.

I love the film "The Wings of the Dove" and one of my fave scenes is when after Millie dies, Susie and Merton are waiting for her coffin to cross the water to the Church. Merton's melancholy voice over has this last line "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" Psalm 55:6 is where it originates from and when I heard it, I was moved. That is the one phrase I could imagine somewhere on my body. Where I do not know, but that is neither here nor there. In this busy world we sometimes forget the beauty of words. Hearing instead of listening, meaning gets lost in translation and we can't recall things said only five minutes ago. This attention deficit world has affected us and the written word. Isn't it wonderful when you hear or see a certain phrase or saying and it transports you back to a special time or place? No matter if it is spoken, handwritten, typed or on a Kindle, words will always move people. And it seems that some will even move people enough to have them become a part of them forever.


Cheers!
MissFifi


Monday, August 8, 2011

Buy Well, Buy Once on Re-Nest

Great post on Re-nest about not buying junk for your house and investing in quality pieces.


What I really like is this comment from one of the readers: "This reminds me of my favorite Russian saying which (loosely translated) is: I am too poor to buy cheap things."

Cheers!
MissFifi