October 19, 2016

The Girl On The Train...a movie/book review

I can't believe I never did a book review of The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins...but a quick perusal of my blog tells me I didn't - which is odd, because I LOVED the book but that is being remedied with this post.

I loved that book so much so that when the movie came out I texted my friend that we should see it, in addition to a local play.  Since the play was coming to a close, we figured we'd go to the play last weekend first and then schedule ourselves another date for the movie.  Unfortunately, we waited too late to buy the tickets for the play and were unable to secure two seats together.  As a backup plan, we decided on the movie.

My friend went into the movie cold - as in she hasn't read the book - I don't know whether or not she'd heard anything about the book or the movie; but basically she went in without really knowing what to expect.

Truth be told, I did too in a way.  I remembered the basic premise of the book - there's a girl on the train and she sees this "perfect" couple in this perfect house every day.  While her life is currently in shambles, in her mind she imagines what their perfect life might be like.  And because of her demons, is drawn into their lives and a missing persons case.

What I had forgotten - this is a story told from three different women's perspectives - which can be confusing if you aren't completely focused on the story.  But the most important part that I'd forgotten?  The ending.  Which is really surprising considering the ending, but honestly?  As much as I read, I'm not surprised.

The ending ties everything together - so even if you've missed a few things here and there (either while reading or watching) it still all becomes clear.

When it was over, my friend looked at me and said, "That was THE most intense movie I've seen in a long time!"  And I had to agree.

Based on my (vague) recollection, the movie faithfully followed the book - which is rare.  So if you haven't read it, read it.  If you don't want to read it but are intrigued by the movie, go see it.  Or even better, do both!

Have you seen it?  Read it?  What were your thoughts?

October 18, 2016

Seriously kids?! Never, EVER leave Mom out of the planning...

I swear, some of the people I live with and/or have familial ties with are so clueless!  Most recent example?  Read on.

In casual conversation the other day, The Husband's upcoming birthday came up - Man-Child responded to his father with "Oh, don't worry about it; "we've" got it covered."  I glanced at him completely puzzled thinking, "Who's this we, sunshine?"

Because here's the thing, I didn't know anything about this - despite Man-Child's protestations that he told me (he hadn't).  The next morning I was able to corner Man-Child alone and discovered that "we" are having a party.  In less than three weeks.  At our house.  Apparently, he and his sister have determined that a 60th birthday party MUST happen but no one bothered to talk to ME about this.

From what I can gather several people have been invited and one other has agreed to "do" the food?  Wait...WHAT?  YOU are hosting a party but yet expecting one of the guests to provide ALL the food?  Ummm, NO.

I only had a few minutes to discuss this issue with him before we both had to go our separate ways for the day.

That evening, I pulled him aside, we set up a group text and I promptly took over.  I told him to tell the "food" guest that she was relieved of her duty and that I would deal with the food.

If The Husband's beautiful daughter lived in the area, I feel certain that she could probably pull this off; but she doesn't - she lives about 3 hours away.  And Man-Child?  Well, he's grown up a lot in the past few years, but since I've witnessed a lot of him and his friend's plans going sideways because of their "planning prowess" (or lack thereof) I knew that the majority of it would fall on him - so basically I HAD to step in.  Not to mention that he's about to take an extended road trip which won't have him back at the house until approximately four days before the party!

Since I don't cook - and, obviously, we can't have The Husband cook for his own party, I will be spending the next couple of days straightening this mess out and getting everything back on track...up to and including invitations - because despite this recent technological wave of sending "evites," a true party requires real invitations, the kind that you can put up on your refrigerator - the kind that every time it catches your eye, reminds you that you have a fun evening lined up soon.

And THIS, kids, is why you always, always, ALWAYS include Mom in your special, birthday surprise for your father because otherwise?  Chaos, people. Complete and utter chaos.


Update - as I typed all that above days ago but neglected to publish...here's where we are now.

  • Invites have been sent - *phew!*  
  • Finding the caterer has been tough because The Husband keeps turning down all the ideas I've had.  I've informed him that I will contact this one other caterer and if he still can't decide I will remove him from the process.  The only reason he's even being included on this part of the party is because he can be such a food snob.  I've reminded him - over and over again - that considering the diverse group that will be in attendance (i.e., children) we need to be flexible with the menu.
So, yeah...not much has changed since I first typed this post and neglected to publish - except for the invites - but considering how picky I can be about those types of things, maybe more has been accomplished than I first thought.

October 8, 2016

I'm slowly being driven insane by forces beyond my control...

We all know that some things are beyond our control - we can't really do anything about them ourselves but they make us insane anyway.  Yes, I know I can't change the behavior of others - or inanimate objects - or the weather - I can only change my reaction to them.  But, in these specific cases, I don't think I can change my reaction because they just make me totally crazy.

First of all, it's raining (thanks Hurricane Matthew).  And we all know that rain for any extended period (and sometimes even for not so extended periods) brings me down and generally puts me in a foul mood.  It is expected to rain here through tomorrow.  But that's not one of the things driving me insane.

Okay, I lied.  It is.

So yesterday morning, when I drove to work in the rain - well, you couldn't even really call it rain then because it was just spitting - you know, the kind where even if you put your wipers on intermittent there's just not enough water on the windshield so you hear that nails on a chalkboard SKREE sound.  That.  The noise makes me insane - but there's nothing I can about it other than a) listen to it and grit my teeth for the entire commute or b) hold my hand close to windshield wiper control and hit it once enough water has accumulated for the whole commute, which means you have to time it just right otherwise you can't see out the window.  Guess which one I did?

If you guessed, "b" you win the prize.

While driving in this manner, in the pitch black, rain spitting morning, I happened to pass a car that was half in the opposite lane and half in a ditch with the flashers blinking.  I didn't see anyone around, so I kept going.  Now immediately beyond where I saw this car there is a fairly sharp curve which meant that the disabled car wouldn't be seen by someone coming down the road in that lane.  As I was approaching the curve, I noticed headlights FLYING toward me (people constantly fly down this road - it matters not whether it is pitch black, raining, sunshine, whatever - they will fly) so I immediately began to flash my headlights in an effort to get this person to slow down.  They did not.  I can only hope they saw the car and was able to veer into the oncoming lane without encountering traffic.

Now, reverse the scene - minus the car half in and half out of the road - and that was my drive home.  On the plus side, I didn't see any evidence of a wreck or police tape - so maybe it all worked out okay.

Upon driving up to the driveway, I noticed two things.  One: The Husband was not home (not terribly unusual but we generally arrive within minutes of each other) and Two: Man-Child was home and parked in The Husband's spot (this is unusual as he generally goes to gym and doesn't get home until about 30 minutes later than us).  As I opened the door, the first thing I heard was the SKREE of what was either a fire alarm or the radon detector whose batteries have died.  The second thing I noticed was that Man-Child was in his room, fast asleep, right next to both the suspected culprits.  HOW?  How could he sleep through that God-awful noise?!  But sleep he did.

I figured I could stand the noise for the few minutes it would take for The Husband to arrive and fix the problem.  So I sat.  And sat. And sat. And sat! All while that damn noise drilled deep into my brain.  Finally, The Husband called - he was going to be late (no kidding, I'd noticed that already!) but was on his way (Thank God!).

Meanwhile, Man-Child continued to slumber through the racket.  HOW?!

And another thing.  People who refuse to use their blinkers - this, by the way, is an every day, all day long issue.  It's become such an issue in this area that in the past few weeks TWO letters were written to the editor of our local paper.  The last letter had me laughing as the writer lamented those "poor people who can't afford a car with 'working' blinkers..."

Sadly, I don't think the people responsible for not using their blinkers read the paper.  And this lack of blinker-usage is the ONE thing that enrages me almost more than anything else.  It is SO inconsiderate.  The act of flicking that blinker on is SO minute...AND?  Ninety-nine percent of the time, you don't even have to turn it off - it "magically" turns itself off.  And yet, so many people can't be bothered.  It is rude, inconsiderate and downright dangerous.

Now back to the rain - it has been pouring steadily all day long.  I just looked at the hourly forecast and it predicts that this deluge won't end until about 5 am.  This is a LOT more rain than what they were predicting for this area.  I'm sure there will be some flash flooding in the area if their predictions hold true.

This is what the forecast looks like right now

We are located somewhere in that red circle - I think.  I'm fuzzy when it comes to geography.  As you can see we are far enough inland that we don't have to worry about storm surges but we are taking a beating nevertheless.  In fact, I just received an alert that a Flash Flood Warning is in effect until 11:45 pm (speaking of which, I don't know HOW my phone is getting weather alerts but it about gives me a heart attack every time it does - SO loud).  It's time for Hurricane Matthew to make a hasty retreat.  We've had enough.

Despite my complaints, I know we are the fortunate ones.  As you know, Haiti and other areas were hit hard and practically destroyed.  This article gives links to several charities that are helping both the national and international victims of Hurricane Matthew, in the event that you want to help.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that have been affected.

October 5, 2016

The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Halocaust...a book review

This past weekend, on one of Barnes & Noble's many tables, I happened across a paperback copy of The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Halocaust by Edith Hahn Beer with Susan Dworkin.

You may know, I read. A LOT.  But considering how expensive my habit can be, I generally stick to the clearance section.  This book was not in the clearance section - but I bought it anyway - after reading the back cover how could I not?

"Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp.  When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground.  With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner.  There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her.  Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear.  She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival.  She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camp.  Now part of a permanent collection at the Halocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in the volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Halocaust - complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant."

I also generally don't read memoirs as I'm more a fan of novels - but this book was haunting and compelling.  It is my understanding that this book was made into a movie in 2003.  I have to wonder how I missed that?  Unfortunately, I wasn't blogging back then so I have no real reference as to what was going on in my life at that time.  All I can say is that I had a nine year old - so I was knee-deep in mommyhood at the time and this film wasn't on my radar otherwise, I surely would have seen the movie and read the book.

At any rate, I picked this book up on Friday and was drawn back to it every free moment I had over the weekend.  I finished it on Sunday afternoon.

I explained the plot to my (non-reading) husband and even he was intrigued enough to say, "I might have to read that."  (Not that I'm holding my breath - but if we could find that movie on Netflix, I'm sure he'd agree to watching it).

So, if you are as behind the times as I am and you haven't already read the book/saw the movie, I would recommend that you do so.  This story is well told and so unbelievably gutsy.  I certainly don't think I could have hidden in plain sight in the heart of the Nazi Germany - the fact that she did and lived to tell the tale leaves me in awe.

September 25, 2016

Well, I wasn't expecting to do THAT today - but I'm sure glad I did...

Remember my Backyard Dreaming post from a few months ago?  Well today was the first day in forever that the temperature was a reasonable 73 degrees and overcast.  So this morning, I got it in my head that I would spend about 20 minutes or so, and relocate those irises.

When I got out there though I noticed that some morning glories had taken over the patch where I had planned to put the irises.  So I started to remove them.  Then I discovered that these morning glories were strangling the rose bushes, so I kept going.  And then I was attacked several times by that damn blackberry bush.  Did you know that as pretty as morning glories are they can be considered invasive?

Image result for morning glories

I didn't.  But I do now.  After I had pulled up all of them (I also now know I will be fighting these things forever now according to this link.) and the blackberry bush had attacked my hair and my arms for the millionth time, I knew it had to come out TODAY.  So I went and got my loppers.  As I was hacking away at the bush, Man-Child unwittingly wandered out and officially became my helper - whether he liked it or not.  We hacked away at that thing and then began to dig all the stumps and roots that we could...until we saw a baby black snake.

After that I was DONE.  I don't mind yard work, but I DO mind critters.  If we hadn't seen that snake, I feel sure I'd still be out there even now; hours later.

So even though the ONE thing I went out there to do didn't get done, I still feel a huge sense of accomplishment because the hardest part of this ongoing project is done, even though I know, like the morning glories, I will be fighting the remnants of this bush for a long, long time.  Every time I looked out there and saw that damn blackberry bush, I would become overwhelmed at the thought of tackling that part of the project.  Which is why my initial plan had been to start small.  But now that this piece of the puzzle is pretty much dealt with, the moving of the plants themselves will be a breeze.

And not only that?  The island looks SO.MUCH.BETTER now!  The transformation is absolutely amazing.

Man-Child also learned a thing or two about gardening.  As we removed another plant - no idea what it was but it was UGLY and the root ball was huge, he asked me, "Is that sea shells under there?"  No, they were bulbs.  I told him to pull all of them out because we don't want that ugly thing to come back.

Here is where I was going to do a Before and After shot, but it turns out that is one piece of the yard that I didn't take a photo of for the Backyard Dreaming post.  So instead you just get the After shot.

Ignore that ridiculous contraption holding the birdhouse.  That empty spot between
the butterfly bush and the birdhouse is where most of the blackberry bush was.
(The Husband has promised that the rest of the fence will be coming down soon.  He doesn't yet know that the ridiculous birdhouse is also coming down....)

Now I can see what we have; what we might need to fill a few gaps and my vision for what I want this backyard to look like is becoming clearer.  

So although, I'm exhausted after spending 2 and a half hours out there and am covered in scratches, I am one happy person.  

Am I surprised that it turned out this way?  No.  As much as I was dreading dealing with it, I knew I'd never purposely make the time to do it.  Like any onerous chore, I have to just take a tiny step in the direction I need to go and then tenacity takes over and it gets done.

Now I just have to get my friend over here to take the daylilies away on the left side of the yard.  Once those are gone, the other plants relocated, the rosebushes are trimmed then we can seed that area and then we will have a normal looking backyard and be able to turn our attention to other projects.

September 22, 2016

Performance Reviews...

It has been brought to my attention that the deadline for our performance reviews is the 30th - so just about a week away.

This is the first performance review that I will have to endure in the last two years.  Due to the transition well over a year ago - reviews weren't done company-wide as we all had other, more pressing matters to attend to and now they are back AND re-vamped!

Oh fun.

Personally, I think performance reviews for someone in my position is a waste of time - particularly if I am doing my job capably.  Why do I think it's a waste of time?  Easy...in my entire career I have only had one - maybe two - managers that actually knew what I did on a day to day basis.  Oh sure, they have my job description to go by - but that doesn't actually speak to the nuts and bolts of my daily duties.  So if the managers don't really know what I'm doing or how I'm accomplishing it how then are they capable of reviewing my performance?  They aren't.

My new, big boss - who is a very nice person - particularly doesn't have a clue.  Mainly because it seems he has little interest in what is going on outside of his office.  Case in point - we have less than a week to get this exercise in torture behind us all and he has yet to say a word about it to anyone in the department.

My next complaint regarding this new and improved performance review process - apparently we, the employees, are supposed to be prepared for this meeting (the one that hasn't even been addressed in passing yet) by having worked out what our developmental goals and aspirations are for the coming year.


What does that even mean for someone in my position?

Considering my qualifications, I've pretty much peaked in my career.  I can aspire to be an attorney or an executive - but the odds of my getting there ever, much less in the coming year, are slim to none.  As for developmental goals?  What?

I just had a thought - maybe my aspiration could be to streamline the whole review process.  Knock it down to a basic formula...

Is the employee doing a good job?  Yes or no.
Is the employee generally pleasant and easy to get along with?  Yes or no.
Is the boss happy?  Yes or no.
Is the employee happy?  Yes or no.
If no is the answer for any of the above, please explain and then, only then, does the conversation go deeper.
Review over.

I freely admit I was cranky before I even found out about all this but honestly, this has just raised the level from mildly cranky to full on cranky-pants mode.

September 10, 2016

Finding memories and making room...Finally

We moved from our last house to the rental in December of 2013.  Man-Child did not unpack.  Though this irritated me to no end seeing all those boxes sitting in his room, I understood the why behind his not unpacking.  He was at school for the majority of the year and he knew we would be moving again eventually.

We moved into this house in February and those boxes have sat in his room since then, making me increasingly twitchy every time I walked in or by that room.  But here we are, approximately 2 1/2 years later, and he has FINALLY unpacked.  He and I spent the majority of the afternoon going through each and every box.

The memories he found were priceless, pictures of friends, mementos from various significant life events.  He even came across the Words of Wisdom that we had people fill out at his high school graduation party, he re-read each one with a smile on his face - and placed them in the "keep" pile.  He also found a bunch of stuff he now realized he'd outgrown.  To my surprise, he kept the things I would have suggested that he keep and tossed the same things I would have tossed - he is my child after all.

Before we started, he kept saying that he had nowhere to put all the stuff - by the end he realized that he didn't need all the storage that he thought he needed.  We hauled out five bags of trash (not trash, trash but stuff that really couldn't go to charity) and four bags headed to Goodwill.  He even admitted that it felt good to have a real room and not a room that felt like a storage room.

And me?  I'm feeling MUCH less twitchy.  It's a win-win.

Until I walked into my closet - where MC deposited a few boxes which contain household stuff.  Now I have to find a home for this stuff...and let's not even think about the garage and all the stuff in there.  THAT can wait until the weather turns.