Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This powerful, refreshing story is worth seeing for its uniqueness alone, especially considering the current superhero frenzy. This one is not for the action adventurist, but surely even they will appreciate its uniqueness. This is a film for those who want to be taken to another world by watching this distinctive story by F. Scott Fitzgerald unfold. A story written in the turn of the century style that is so charming and delightful, especially being set in New Orleans with its beautiful southern accent. Be assured this is a story that embraces our existence while simultaneously peeking at our last hours. It has a slow, thoughtful pace where words aren’t needed. You discover yourself being pulled in by Brad Pitt’s innocent and engaging Benjamin. You find yourself loving him while your heart breaks for the struggles he faces by being ‘odd.’ Some parts you don’t want to watch, but reality is always knocking at the door. I wouldn’t share the film with those under 18 who may not value all the storyline has to offer. You need a little ‘wisdom’ under your belt to take pleasure in this viewing.
Duchess Notes: This is most definitely an award winner. I’m not sure the Academy will honor it with an Oscar being that it doesn’t fall within the “dark” guidelines they consistently recognize. The film garnered applause in the theater during the rolling credits. Great film for Pitt. Chemistry between Pitt and Blanchett is not the best, but sufficient. Screenplay a little disjointed, but can be ignored by tugged heartstrings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


How could it already be Christmas break? The year goes by faster and faster …not good. With our big move behind us, Duchess and Pops told the boys it would absolutely be a ‘low key’ Christmas. We’ve had enough spending and excitement for the year. From my perspective, it was better than ever. I didn’t get caught up in the manufactured Christmas stress and frenzy—and it was a wonderful break! I’m not sure the boys would agree being that they had fewer gifts under the tree. Fewer gifts with more thought behind them, a little something from Santa, some family time and a great meal. Lots of good old fashioned love in the air instead of ‘what did I get.’ We even celebrated Christmas Eve with family which we hadn’t done in a long time.

Good thing = the ‘being blessed’ reminder---To my lovely surprise, even with our new address, we received Christmas cards. That to me was a gift in the best sense, especially being that I haven’t sent out Christmas cards since my brother passed away 4 years ago. I’m overwhelmed with JOY that my family and friends have still included me on their mailing list. Thank you!

I hope everyone is having a peace-full and blessed holiday. Take time to let everyone know how much you love them. There can never be an abundance of that message.

Reel Reviews of Benjamin Buttons and Valkyrie coming soon…

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Kooza had a big day this week. He has been asking for months, “When am I getting my bottom braces put on?” Well, Tuesday was the day. It was a big day in two ways actually. Now that Scout is driving to school, this was the first time the boys went to the orthodontist by themselves. Big day for them--high anxiety day for Mom. When they weren’t home by the time expected, I gave a quick call. That’s when Scout shared the news about the bottom braces. I was SO upset I wasn’t there for hand holding (which isn’t needed—or wanted). I didn’t get to see the non-smiling face come out of the office. I was disappointed. I had missed another ‘first’ in my sweetie’s life. That’s what I always hated about working full-time. Only this time it wasn’t because I was at work...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I have a few free hours. I have a magazine in front of me, a computer on my lap and a DVD playing on the TV. I can’t seem to focus on which to do first. I want to do them all at once. You already know I went to the RedBox…so you know I’ll be reviewing not so new movies. This is unfortunate because the last month of the year is really the best time to see theater films being that production houses want Oscar worthy performances fresh on the minds of Academy voters. I have been missing out on so many great films due to this house move. I hope to catch some of them before the award shows in January and February. Having said that, here goes on the rentals:

It was really cute—in the way your blind date is ‘really nice.’ I loved the leading man, the cute banter, the sweet dating story, and the happy ending. It was the other stuff that waaasssssnnn’t quite right. I needed more dialog—it was slow. I wanted them to pick up the pace. If I had to compare it to something I would say the story was a bit Sleepless in Seattle-ish, but didn’t quite get there. The slow beginning eventually picks up in the end. DEFINITELY not a film for the guys (I’m sure they’ll fall asleep). It’s worth a rental for the ladies who want to see a little romance MAYBE.

This was predictably an upscale TV episode. It was good—probably better on the big screen—but basically the story line could have been a 2-hour TV special and be done. Worth a rental if you’re stuck in the house this winter. I think the men out there will enjoy it more than the ladies.

After all the tradition and hype, the expectations for this movie were out of proportion. Although it included all the elements that made the other films so successful, this time ‘Indie’ didn’t quite live up to his name. It was obviously a transition film (Ford can’t do this forever). We had the traditional history puzzle to solve, insects running over, dust-filled scenes and gold filled treasure hunting, but I couldn’t help feeling a lot of the story was missing. It felt disjointed--just not as detailed as the previous films. THEN, they hit us with *SPOILER* the alien ship and predictable Darth Vader type ending. Honestly, I feel asleep during the middle of the movie. My advice--Let someone else fill you in on this film and wait for the next one. Let’s hope the Spielberg/Lucas team brings back the Jones magic we all love for their next adventure. (I suppose Mutt will need to get his PhD.) Two things I loved about this film: 1) the wardrobe and 2) hearing the Jones theme music again! Da na na na, da na na…. love it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was channel surfing recently. I stopped when I heard the rapper Snoop Dogg talking to his eldest son, Corde, who was attending a first rate football camp. The caliber of camp Joe Montana and Jerry Rice would grace with their presence. Snoop’s son decided bringing a few items, like football cleats, was not essential (he came out in loafers). This predictably didn’t go over well with the powers that be. Hence, the lecture from Snoop, “I’m not trying to chastise you. I’m just being real. Break the chain…Take full advantage, PLEASE.” He encourages him to desire a college education and to make it his priority. Snoop knows money can’t buy knowledge. Snoop also knows luck, not education, got him where he is today. He doesn’t want his son to take that gamble.

Most would think of Snoop as an aloof father. Reality shows us he wants the same things you and I want for our kids—the best we can give them. We strive to provide the opportunity, but our kids will have to work hard to make things happen. Snoop encourages his son to step up and make a name for himself. A name he would be proud of, not one developed on his Dad’s fame. Through all the ‘rapper’ exterior and jargon creating Snoop desperately wants him to succeed. As a parent, I constantly find myself reminding the boys to ‘take full advantage.’ I suppose we all do.

Again, I’m watching more TV than film! It’s just not right…I rented a few RedBox movies today. Reviews to follow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It was so warm over the Thanksgiving holidays, my nephew from the Pacific Northwest couldn’t believe he was wearing shorts late November. My niece even bought a pair of sunglasses while she was here. We had a week of perfect weather. When their visit was over, we were taking them to the airport and my nephew asked, “How long has it been since it has snowed here?” I said, “I think about 4 years. It doesn’t stay very long. It’s always a light snow.” Was he foreshadowing?

Yesterday we had SNOW! Crazy. Not as much snow south of town where we live, but the boys were able to make a few snowballs to throw at each other. The north side of town had much more. We aren’t prepared for this kind of weather here on the Gulf Coast, so there is a flurry of activity with the newsmen informing drivers of road closures, bridge closings, etc. standing in the below freezing wind chill they hardly ever have to endure. The stores here sell winter clothing, but no one ever buys it! No need. The sun is out this morning. The high today is expected to be 55 degrees.

I took a few pictures so the PNW’s (and family from MN) would believe me when I said we had snow. I’m sure we’ll get teased. “They call that snow?” :) My boys had a great time last night jumping on the trampoline while it was snowing. It didn’t seem real. What a memory that will be.

Hurricane Ike this summer... A record breaking snow early December…

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We recently moved into a new house. I had no idea how long it would take to get the new house in any sort of order to live in and operate normally. After throwing out large garbage bags full (which killed me due to the carbon footprint I was leaving) and donating nearly 3 pickup truck loads, I thought it would be a cinch. Not true. How do we accumulate so much stuff? It has been a month and still there are boxes (2 rooms are still in serious need of organization). Things are slowly finding a new home.

In the move mix is the need to make the house look ‘a lot like Christmas.’ Although there is so much box work to be done, I can’t disappoint the boys. So…forget the boxes for now….We put the Christmas trees up and decorated minimally. I heard the ‘in’ colors this year are silver and white. With that in mind, up went the decorations on the trees. I bought a little silver and already had some gold. Is that close enough?

For those who know me, I hope you get a giggle from one of the gold decorations I included. This one made the 'minimal' cut.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Really, really surprising to me (!) is the realization that I didn’t meet my goal of watching 45 films this past summer (see previous blogs). I don’t know what happened! I didn’t even come close—not even half. I’ll chalk it up to a busy life. In the ‘big picture’ that’s probably better than sitting alone to watch movies.
This movie is dark (literally), eerie, creepy, disturbing, bizarre and stimulating all at the same time. For being the first Batman movie I’ve ever watched, my first thought was this ‘good guy’ is not like any we’ve known before. Yes, it’s a typical super hero story line--that’s a given. Through all the crime fighting and off-center mentality, you in some wicked way want the rest of the story. Plus, despite all the darkness, you truly come to a heartfelt embrace for Batman—and what he stands for. Christian Bale is a first-rate choice for Bruce Wayne. I profile Mr. Bale and Bruce Wayne as one. He’s handsome, charming and intelligent, yet there is something deep in the eyes that holds heartache and anger along with the will to fight for justice. Just my take (and my BILs). Michael Caine as Alfred is casting perfection. The tech and gadget guys will enjoy the toys and special effects. Overall, not a top scoring film but one to see if you haven’t already. Duchess note: I agree with Hollywood, Ledger is positively Oscar worthy.
I’m going to be totally blunt and say I’ve seen episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants more entertaining than this film. It just didn’t capture the quick witted quirkiness of the original show. Hollywood hasn’t learned bad remakes aren’t worth filming. Viewers haven’t learned to boycott Hollywood when bad remakes are released. Put this one in file 69.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world." -Anne Frank

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We don’t often get to see family. Both sides of our family are spread out in various cities and states. Our children’s schedules amplify the lack of time spent together. We simply can’t find unscheduled calendar time. (This year was no exception.) Despite this, my husband’s family made special efforts to get together this holiday on behalf of their ailing mother.

The highlight was meeting the newest member of the family adopted from China this summer—Katie. It has been almost 5 years since we’ve had a new member. Katie was ‘the belle of the ball’ and rightly so. She is gorgeous! We wanted to smother her with hugs and kisses. She was so overwhelmed by all of us, she wouldn’t let us get anywhere near her. Being the baby with 13 others running around would be overwhelming for anyone. Hugs and kisses will have to wait until next time. :)

Then there’s ‘Sweet Z,’ who would go ballistic if he knew I called him that because name and spelling are exponentially important to 5 year olds. You never know what ‘Z’ is going to say next. He’s a fierce Wii player. He doesn’t get upset often, but every now and then you might hear, "oh, barnacles." Something he learned through his cartoon watching. All of us need to spend more time with 5 year olds. You learn all kinds of things. I could share more Z-isms--maybe in another blog entry??

As for the rest of the crew, we’re gorgeous too in our own special way. Realizing this was one of the greatest outcomes this holiday. We are finally getting to an age where the brothers and wives understand each other. We aren’t so quick to judge the differences and practically celebrate the idiosyncrasies. All the while, the cousins are too busy having fun to notice there are any adults around. Celebrate family!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


“I have my real license now.” That’s the comment from Scout (to Kooza) who says a ‘real’ license is one with a picture on it. It was 2 hours of torture at DPS for the little guy. He was really nervous. I have to say the crazy environment at the DPS wasn’t helping the situation. We arrived just before lunch break which was a big mistake. Just because there are 75-100 people in line, don’t think lunch break will be missed. So… for a full hour the desk of 4-6 government workers dwindled down to 2. Are you kidding me??

Forward to today: The good news is Kooza agreed (or was swindled) to let Scout drive him to school. Plus, in so agreeing, he would be required to be in the car 10 minutes earlier than Mom requires on her days to drive. Kooza complied. I was speechless as they drove out of the driveway. I, of course, went through the whole: “how could this be happening, it was just yesterday that he was toddling around, I’m so old…” and on and on. Meanwhile Pops is proud and loving it while quickly thinking he doesn’t have to drive carpool anymore—which brings a huge smile to his face.

Highlight of the day: They let me take my 'Mom' photo to document the whole event. :)

So my ‘angel’ arrives home from school today and immediately turns around to drive to the grocery store with my list in hand. I didn't ask him to. He volunteered. I said I would go with him. He replied, “Why?” Okay then…hmmm…. Now I’m loving it. :) I say, “Call me if you have any questions.” Can this last forever?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


After getting a bit of peer pressure from family over the holidays regarding my lack of writing for the blog…I’ve decided to start writing again. Should I view it as a compliment that they enjoy my writing and reviews?? Do they love my blog as much as they love me? Hee.

We watched our fair share of movies over the holiday break. I can’t say I was awed by any of them. I’m beginning to think my lack of enthusiasm for blogging is actually related to the films I’ve watched lately—which have been lacking in every sense. I’ll write about those next, first I need to add a few details on summer camp and life since.

In my last blog, I mentioned I told the boys the minimum number of letters/communications I wanted from them while away at camp was 5 notes. Kooza made me giggle because in every note home he would say “this is my third note home” then “this is my fourth note home.” I don’t know if those comments were for me to count or for him to count. Either way, it brought a smile to my face. I had my doubts that Scout would actually make it to 5, but the truth is he came through quite easily. Surely a sign of love from both boys! :) Camp was a big deal for Scout this year. In addition to being his last year as a camper, he was elected ‘Spartan Captain’ which meant he was the leader of the Spartan team and would be put under much pressure to WIN every daily camp competition (the captain always competes last so he knows exactly what it will take to win). He was also the “Carnival King” (which is similar to being Homecoming King), another wonderful experience for him. Kooza wowed the crowd again on talent show night with his diabolo act. He usually closes the show each year and gets the loudest applause. The campers have come to look forward to his act. When we arrive at camp they immediately ask if he is doing his diabolo act for talent show and are disappointed if they feel there is any chance he won’t—as if camp wouldn’t be the same if Kooza didn’t include the diabolo. On pick up day, I meet all the counselors and learn how awesome they are. They in turn share with me how awesome my boys are. We love camp. (Snoopy dance here.)

Memory of the Day: It’s official. Pops and I escorted Scout to the DPS (an experience worthy of its own blog entry) to get his first time driver’s license. I was so proud and teary eyed as he drove off the parking lot all by himself. Exciting day for all! The only glitch now is talking Kooza into letting Scout drive him to school—or anywhere else.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Camp is off and running. I’ve been keeping up with the news from camp and watching for photos online trying to catch a glimpse of my ‘angels’ having fun in the sun. They were more excited this year to go to camp than ever before. That says a lot for the camp. Scout confirmed one thing to Kooza before we arrived, “my cabin will have THE coolest counselors no doubt, or else they would put them in someone else’s cabin.” Makes a Mom feel good about all the money she’s spent to send them to camp. There are 8-10 boys to each cabin along with 3 assigned counselors. That could make for a noisy, long night of ‘your momma’ jokes—which to no surprise the boys tell me the counselors usually win.

It’s Wednesday already and I haven’t started anything I said I was going to do after I dropped off the boys. Oh! Take that back…I have done ONE thing. Writing this blog entry makes TWO things on the list I’ve done today.

The Dark Knight review coming soon.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


The time for summer camp is finally here! The boys are extremely eager to leave. They’ve waited all summer for this day to arrive.

This will be Scout’s 6th year to attend ‘Camp O’ and Kooza’s 4th. This will also be Scout’s last year as a camper. Next year, he would like to attend as CLP (Counselor Leadership Program). He’s going to make his best efforts to impress the staff and talk them into letting him do the CLP training and work sometime next summer. Actually, I believe (as Mom) that both the boys have impressed the staff so I’m not worried. Besides, the staff actually welcomes ‘lifers’ as they call them. CLP gives them a one week trip to Colorado--that's the part Scout remembers.

We have been working for 2 days to get the trunks packed. As you can see from the photo above, the trunks are full and there is a lot more that’s supposed to fit into them. We even left out some things on the suggested packing list in an attempt to create more room. Of course, there are a lot of things NOT on the list going with them that they assure me, “will be fine and I really need that.” Luckily, the camp has put a ban on cell phones and electronics, so there is no fight there. Lots of 'Spartan Red' in the mix. Both the boys are on the Spartan team.

We drop them off tomorrow afternoon. It will be 2 weeks of deafening quiet around here while they are gone. The only communication is by email and snail mail. I’ve let them know I must receive a minimum of 5 letters or short notes over the 2 weeks they are gone. I’ll hope for the best.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The end of my stay in Montreal is near. This is a good time to give my ‘review’ of the city and it’s contents—keep in mind, I've experienced very little. I never feel like leaving Old Montreal. This is my second time in the city. We were here last year for the opening of Cirque’s KOOZA show (I wasn’t blogging then).

The City: Old Montreal is wonderful. The historic stone buildings make it a pleasure to walk through all day. This part of the city is easy to get around by foot. The streets are stone bricked and narrow, making it difficult for vehicles to get through. It doesn’t change much around here. The exact same shops and artisans are in the same exact places. I get the feeling the French don’t like change very much. There is a great plaza nearby with street performers, caricature artists and the like. Once outside of ‘Vieux Montreal,’ it is a typical big city that looks much like any city in northeast USA with architecture that accommodates what I’m assuming is a long snowy winter. The historic architecture in the downtown area is beautiful. Outside of downtown, there are very few high rise buildings. Two to three story row housing is the norm. I haven’t been out to the suburbs but once so I speak only of downtown and the surrounding area. What is so charming about the housing, and is portrayed in postcards, are the stairways and floral colors that front all the row homes.

The People: The best words to describe them are hardworking, efficient, punctual, and task based. For example: Breakfast is served continental style here at the hotel. At 10:25 each day (I’ve been here for 5 days now) the waitress makes her rounds to each table letting them know there are 2-3 minutes before the buffet will be closed. Promptly at 10:30 the staff comes out in unison to collect the buffet and by 10:40 everything is back in its place looking untouched. Everyone has a task and they don’t cross the lines. If there is a spill, the waitress promptly calls housekeeping because picking up spills, even if in the restaurant which could be considered waitress territory, is not her job. She would be insulting the housekeeper if she were to do the task herself. The shopkeepers are wonderful. Everyone is helpful and eager to please their Montreal guests. They aren’t big talkers here. It’s generally very quiet.

Television: Now I know why people are so thin and well read here. No one is on the couch watching TV. The television viewing is horrible and boring. I hate to sound so harsh. There are a few English speaking channels, most are understandably in French. What’s interesting is they mix US stations on one channel. ESPN is the only English speaking channel that stays ESPN all day. Maybe CNN too.

Food: I don’t think Montreal is known for outstanding food. Hence my question, “Where’s the taco stand?” Being from Texas, I’m missing the one constant we have there. I would take a taco stand and a cold Dr. Pepper over any of the food I’ve eaten here in Montreal—upscale restaurants included. (The upscale here reminds me of bad country club food.) Although, I have to say, I had the best pizza ever yesterday. I finally asked a few of the locals where they eat after picking too many losers on my own. ‘Pizzedelic’ was the suggestion for the day. No meal is inexpensive. Each meal I’ve eaten, good or bad, has cost at least 20$CAN (they put the $ sign after the number here). That’s for one entrée and one drink—no dessert. Skip the food here if you can. By the way, are Americans the only ones who eat sliced bread? No sandwiches are served on sliced bread. The baguettes, although delicious, are killing the roof of my mouth. I keep getting strange looks because I keep asking for a glass of ice to go along with my drink. I have to emphasize a FULL glass of ice. Are Southerners the only ones who need lots of ice with their drinks?

Fashion: Not much fashion to speak of here. After observing this week, it makes complete sense (!) why French Couture is straight line. All the size zeros live here!—and in France I guess. The native women are so thin. They must be 10” wide (okay I’m exaggerating a little). I’ve concluded anyone who isn’t that small isn’t truly French Canadian. No rap influence, no goth, maybe 2 guys with tattoos all week-and the lady watering the hotel plants today, few piercings. Final note: NO obsession with Hollywood stars, fame and the like. I haven’t missed seeing or hearing any of that stuff this week. It’s becoming clearer to me why outsiders think Americans are so over the top.

Tidbits: No IPods. I’m surprised there aren’t more scooters or motorbikes. Public transportation is clean enough. You pay 3$CAN for a soda. There are plenty of tourist sites to keep you occupied for a weekend. I’m spoiled in that the big city I live in has a lot of what they have here. Still, I get to enjoy it here whereas at home I don’t always make the time. Side note: I ran into a few teens from Jordan while waiting in line to see U2. They had been to 3 museums during their short stay and more were on their list. I suddenly realized how I take for granted that museums are relatively abundant in the US. They went on to talk about books I should read, etc. It seemed backward that they were telling me about the culture I should be including in my life. Americans have it in front of them all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate the gift that it is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


U2 IMax 3D
This is beyond a doubt, definitely, absolutely, hands down the best film Duchess has seen this year!! This is an absolute MUST see especially for U2 fans. IMax 3D they call ‘3ality.’ Is it showing in the States yet? Let me just say…the lights dim, the music starts, you hear “Hello, Hello” and the crowd goes mad!! A big “HOLA!” goes up on the screen behind the band (probably 4 stories high) and they’ve got you! You’re pulled in to the whole scene—lights, Bono, Edge, crowd with hands and cell phones in the air---beautiful!! You figure out a bit later they filmed in Buenos Aires. Bono even sings a few lines in Spanish (another plus for Duchess). They say you hear the concert in 36,000 watts. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m sure Doc does. Film with a message? Absolutely! The beginning line up goes something like this: Hello, Hello…It’s a Beautiful Day….All is Quiet on New Year’s Day….Love and Peace (!)…Lay Down Your Guns….How Long Must I Sing This Song??? These few lines alone tell you the message is “Coexista” (in Spanish) From: U2, To: the World. The word “Coexista” lights up the stage from the screen behind them and the outdoor stadium crowd goes mad, pumping open hands in the air in support of the message while singing at the top of their lungs. I am SO moved, tears are welling up in my eyes by the time “In the Name of Love” is sung. I begin asking myself, “How Long…?” How long before Bono’s peace filled World will exist? I’ve been a U2 fan forever. The Band’s message is as meaningful today as it was 25 years ago, perhaps even more so. In their “Rattle and Hum” film of years past, Adam is being interviewed and states that those around him have said, “you can’t mix music and politics,” to which Adam replies, “I think that’s bullshit.” He was right then and he is right now. This film is FULL of music and politics—the right kind. The hour and a half went by in what felt like 10 minutes. I didn’t want it to end…. Duchess note: I think the American crowds will be much more animated. The French crowd didn’t move. I only saw one other guy bouncing his head with me (must have been American). I wanted to raise my hands and light up the cell phone, but obviously that wasn’t good form.


I missed blogging yesterday. I was indulging in reading a book, which I hardly get a chance to do when I’m home. I went to the mall yesterday too. I was looking for more to read. I only brought one book with me thinking it would be plenty. Let me say--I had no awareness of how expensive fiction books are these days. I don’t typically have (or make) time to read fiction. Luckily, Librairie Renaud-Bray at Complexe Desjardins had one small (!) section of books in English. Needless to say, there wasn’t much to choose from--especially since I was looking for ‘light’ fiction. I walked 10 city blocks to get there. I figured I had no schedule to keep and would take advantage of the perfect weather. 50$CAN later, I had 3 books in hand. I finished one yesterday…. Do I dare buy more at those prices?

This morning while watching those around me at breakfast, I couldn’t help but notice all the business that was going on around me while I leisurely eat and read my book. Every morning, there are several groups of mostly men, selling something. I don’t listen to their conversations but every now and then I hear them talking $ numbers, so I’m thinking it’s some sort of sales triangle pitch that’s going on. The number is always big and delivered with borderline desperation of ‘please buy into this’ program. It reminds me that I’m here for pleasure and God help me if I ever get to the point of having to listen to a sales pitch for work. It doesn’t seem right.

That’s one group of interesting people watching. Next, there are the families with small children. I can’t figure out what they are doing in Montreal. Not much here for kids. And then, of course, there are single couples, typically seniors doing the retired traveling we all talk about. Sometimes the couple is one ‘senior’ man with a beautifully dressed younger woman. It reminds me I don’t want to limit myself to ‘retired’ traveling. My thought is I want to travel now while I can enjoy it with my growing boys. That would work beautifully, of course, if only the boys would enjoy traveling together. Last week I swore we would never travel as a family again because of all the fighting and whining I was putting up with. And so…that brings us full circle to the wonderful quiet time I’m having here in Montreal.

I heard from Kooza today:
«i love u! alot
So ya,,,,,,
Bye «i`m having alot of fun!
That’s it. That’s all. No news is good news? I’m happy to hear the “i love u! a lot” part. I’m glad to hear he’s having a lot of fun. I’ll take this abbreviated message as a blessing!

On the agenda today: U2 in 3D at the science museum.

Monday, July 14, 2008


The good news is the sun is shining bright today. The bad news is the exchange rate, $0.89US=$1.00Canadian. There won’t be much shopping for me this week.

I read this morning in USA Today that vacationing was good for your health. I believe it. Apparently, the average employed American earns 14 vacation days a year compared to the average European who gets 30-35 days a year. Guess who’s healthier? The article goes on to predict even less Americans will vacation this year due to rising gas prices (gas here is $5.40US/gallon) which means the tourist industry, along with non-vacationing Americans, will suffer this year.

All I know is the streets of Montreal are packed. I’m staying downtown in Old Montreal which is the historic part of town near the river. It actually looks like a small European village. The photo above is one I took last year when we were here. (I forgot my camera-computer exchange cord, so I don’t know if I’ll have new photos to load this year.) Plaza Jacque Cartier, which is down the street a bit, is filled with outdoor cafes/restaurants, street performers and local artisans. Last year Kooza donated lots of cash to each hat or guitar box that was out for donations. He can’t wait until he is old enough to perform on the streets himself.

More later….

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I’m still reeling with excitement for Kooza this morning. He was so excited about camp yesterday that his overwhelming enthusiasm is carrying me today. It’s a gloomy day here in Montreal, but I’m sure he hasn’t noticed one bit. The pouring rain is forcing me to stay in and relax.

My hotel room overlooks the terrace of the hotel where the outdoor bar/restaurant sits rain drenched and empty today. Yesterday, the hotel was abuzz with 2 wedding parties and their guests. The terrace was packed all day with socializing. Later in the evening the crowd was full with onlookers waiting for the fireworks show that was going to be held over the St. Lawrence River. The “Spectacular” will be held each Saturday evening through August. Apparently, it is a fireworks world competition (who’d of thought). Portugal was displaying their expertise last night. It must be some show because as I returned to the hotel around 7pm the crowd was already staking spots near the river undeniably to get the best view of the show.

What to do on a rainy day here in Montreal? Update your Blog? Yep. Read a book? Yep. And of course, LOTS of hotel people watching. The hotel has great lounge areas for guests to enjoy each others company. Montreal is an interesting city in that it is a “francophone” which means French is the primary language. The business language is French, yet everyone here is also fluent in English so it’s easy for us sloppy one language Americans to get around in this city. I’m intrigued by how easily they switch from one language to the other. One table is speaking French, the next is speaking English, etc. The staff responds in either language.

Here's news from Kooza:
Bonjour!!!!! I have learned to understand a little French (some-what). I also learned how to say «i dont speak French in French,,,,, «hehe
Well, we are doing powertrack for sure tommorow and a few other things that are in french so..... LOVE YA!
I'm so grateful they are giving campers computer time! The message is short, but definitely makes Mom feel better.

Interesting Fact of the Day: On the front page of the “The Gazette” today - John Lennon. Apparently, years ago Lennon held his “Bed-In for Peace” here in Montreal. Hmmm.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Update for family and friends---
We made it safely to Montreal today. Kooza and I traveled alone, leaving Scout and Pops at home with the puppy dogs. (They played a practice round in Bryan preparing for Scout’s tournament on Monday and Tuesday. I don’t think they miss us yet.)

I dropped Kooza off this afternoon at “L’Ecole Nationale de Cirque” where he will be staying this week. (The photo above shows the front of the building -about 7 stories- with the Cirque du Soleil Headquarters in the background.) This a BIG deal! He was so energized to finally be here. I can only hope it will live up to his expectations. He is one of 15 students who will be staying overnight at the school dormitory during the week. There will be 17 more students commuting each day. The day is going to be ALL about circus arts. They will have nutritious meals (they have a nutritionist on staff), 2 workouts a day, and then wind down to typical summer camp night activities. He will be in circus heaven. The facility is fantastic, the counselors I met were enthusiastic about the boys being there, and I’m positive the training will be outstanding. Plus, I’m thrilled he will be spending time with kids who are like him—in that they like circus arts too. We don’t know anyone else in our hometown that dreams of Cirque the way Kooza does. He will finally have circus buddies!

Thank you to everyone for all your prayers these past few months.

The day of traveling was long for us. We woke up at 5:30am to begin our journey. My brain is out of words at the moment…more tomorrow about Montreal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Gone Baby Gone
I was a bit skeptical about this one. I knew it had received great reviews and awards, hence my hesitance to watch it. Typically, all the award winning movies are dark and depressing. Not true of this film. The subject matter is definitely on the dark side, but this film gives you more to think about—mostly wondering if doing ‘good’ (the ‘right’ thing) will always give you the happy ending. Kuddos to Ben Affleck! He (and his buddy Damon) should consider buying every Bostonian book out there, writing the adaptation screenplay, directing and releasing the movie. Affleck captures his native Boston like no other. Duchess is arriving at this conclusion on 2 films, this one and his Oscar winner, Good Will Hunting. There are so many elements I love in watching these films. Brother Casey does a fantastic job acting as the do-good protagonist. I’m feeling the Affleck brothers are all grown up. I can’t wait to see more from them. Caution: The typical Bostonian F-Bombs are included in this film. A 'must see' if you like films that give you something to think about and debate.

Yet again, Will Smith makes his July 4th blockbuster. I liked it—I didn’t love it. All of the leading actors--Smith, Theron and Bateman--are on my list of favorites, so I had to see it. I like the premise of the film. The reality is I couldn’t help feeling this film was simply the introduction of more Hancock films to come. The hour of film time setting up the story was a clue. Hence, the bad reviews from published critics. Overall, you can’t go wrong with Will Smith. Duchess conclusion: this one will be just as good on DVD.

Imagine a Pixar short film becoming a feature film and you have the inspiration of this film. Creative (!!) and no words needed for you to understand. Kooza and I enjoyed watching this one, but some of our younger neighbors were bored and could only sit through half the film. The subject matter was a little too much for them to understand. Having said that, this story really makes you think about saving the earth, as well as where technology is taking society as a whole. I left the theater wanting to recycle more and eat less. Duchess couldn’t help but fall in love with WALL-E. He is a Pixar treasure! (His character is more developed than hero Hancock.) I would like to see more of WALL-E, and his friendly roach, with more story to tell.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


The ‘Project of the Day’ has been to put together a photo collage for Grandma of our new niece being adopted by Doc (her son) and his wife, Soulmate. At this point, they are in China with Katie getting to know her and finishing up the adoption process. With the power of the internet, they can be on the other side of the world sharing their day with us as we patiently wait for them to return to the USA. Photos and video will be all we see until Thanksgiving. We’ll hang this treasure—put together by Kooza (with a little help from Duchess)---on the wall in Grandma’s room for her to enjoy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Yesterday was one of my lucky days. I was invited by Scout to come out and watch him play in a golf tournament. Duchess doesn’t usually get to go. Pops steals that time away. Even though the morning started at 5:30am (which is no fun), we ended up having a great day at the golf course. It was Texas hot but there was a great breeze. Scout played a great game ending up with a Second Place finish and a score of 78—4 strokes behind the winner. He had a great round!

Not all the golf courses around here are as treeless as shown above. (This photo is actually taken at the driving range.) This particular course is called “The Highlands.” It reminds me of a British links course. Hence, the name perhaps?

I don’t get the opportunity to be at the golf course often, but when I do get to indulge, I’m reminded how breathtaking the mornings are out in the fresh cut grass with the dew still hanging on the blades before the sun steals it all away. Being out in nature (although manicured by man) reminds me of all the awesome sights God has given us to marvel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I can honestly say only a few have this hobby—tie-dying. Kooza and I love to indulge when we get the chance. We hadn’t dyed in quite a while and then this past weekend we crashed the annual tie-dying party of a neighbor. The group of us dyed every sort of white something you can imagine, from doggie wear (see photo below) to sheets for camp, dresses, hats, pillow covers, scarves….You name it, we dye it!

The most significant part of the day was this time we included a few baby items for our new niece and cousin, Katie. Doc and Soulmate are in China meeting her now and will be bringing her to the States soon! She’s an angel from the videos and photos we’ve seen. We can’t wait to meet her. Until then, we added her to our tie-dying gift giving. Now I think everyone in the family has official TD wear.

No one is safe around here......even baby Rico got a little something....a little big, but it's the smallest size they had (xsmall 0-4 lbs).

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The Girl in the Café
(A Netflix film recommendation)
My first thought about this movie: Charming dry British mannerisms. This is definitely ‘chick flick’ material, although not so much a comedy. Basic premise--you randomly meet someone over a cup of coffee, find out more about them in awkward exchanges and then you try to make a go of it. There are moments in watching when giggling over the events is refreshing. This extremely shy government employee struggles with the personal aspects of a possible relationship. His political connection is important to the story line and to why the girl in the cafe is so important. This film made me smile---only because there is something so sweet and simple in the exchanges. Warning: this story has been told many times before so don’t expect any surprises. Satisfying element for Duchess: much of the story is told with pictures and not words. I would recommend watching only to those who like foreign films. (I struggled for days trying to write a review of this movie. I can’t find the right words for a review. I finally gave in and just wrote something.)

The Bucket List
The trailers for this film tricked us (me) into thinking there would be comedy and adventure. Regrettably, this film is more about the process of death planning more than making the most of what time you have left. Jack and Morgan were great picks for the leads. It does make you wonder…if you knew you only had a short time to live and money was no object, what would you do?? The beginning is slow while the director fills us in on all the medical/doctor coldness. Though short, the “list” itself is full of fantastic items. Each list item is fulfilled in a unique way which adds to the charm. There are majestic sights to be seen from their travels. The film does redeem itself in the end not through comedy, but through heart-felt and touching interactions. The final scene leaves you with that warm-fuzzy feeling-- reassuring us that friendship and human relationships will always be the most important thing on earth. Overall, I'm glad I saw the film. I most likely wouldn't watch it again.

I think that makes 41 more to go.... I'll never catch up.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I recently read the ‘top ten’ list of a fellow blogger. I wondered what I would write about myself given the opportunity. Why not. Here’s the Duchess ten:

  1. I love drinking Dr. Pepper.
  2. My children have a better social life than I do.
  3. My brain still thinks faster than my typing fingers.
  4. My favorite magazine to read is ESPN.
  5. My best thinking is done in the shower.
  6. I love to travel.
  7. I love powdered donuts, but I don’t buy them often (for obvious reasons).
  8. My only sibling passed away 4 years ago at age 36.
  9. I love creating art and rarely get the chance to create any work.
  10. The California beach is the most calming spiritual place for me.

And there you have it for today…. I need more numbers. 10 things isn’t enough to cover all I want to share.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I completely forgot one of my all-time old school favorite films—Roman Holiday. How could I forget this delightful film starring Gregory Peck and the beautiful, sparkling, Audrey Hepburn? Common man meets royalty and falls in love. Great, great film! I can think of loads of films since that have tried to duplicate this same story line—there will never be an equivalent.

Today is Father’s Day. Pops has already done his favorite thing all before 8am—golf. He played a quick 9 holes before any of us were awake. No breakfast in bed for him. Never gonna happen. The day will follow with his next favorite item which is watching the U.S. Open—“in peace”--meaning with no disturbance from us. Mix this in with a nice meal, a great dessert, a few gifts and we’ve completed our celebration for the day.

According to Wikipedia, Father’s Day was created in 1908 to complement Mother’s Day. Strangely, no one has mentioned anything about this being the centennial celebration. And all this time I thought Hallmark had invented the merriment…..

Personal note: My brother-in-law, Doc, is celebrating his first Father’s Day today. He’s waited a long time for this! They’ll be bringing Katie home in a few weeks. He’ll soon find out why we celebrate and tell Dad thank you for all he does--at least for one day a year.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We couldn’t resist. A week with all the new puppies around and we knew (I knew) we had to have one. So…off we went to the breeder this past weekend despite resistance from Pops. Scout was in College Station playing in his first golf tournament of the summer season so he didn’t come with us, but we kept in touch by phone. This meant Kooza had to pick the new family member all by himself. He picked a winner. We LOVE him! It was a tough choice with all those cute little eyes looking at you. He’s a toy Chihuahua like the next door neighbors puppy (not a tea cup like we thought). He’s nine weeks old (DOB: 3 April 08). He weighed in at 1.8 pounds yesterday at the vets office. His name is ‘Rico Suave.’ So far, nicknames are Ricky (because puppy #1 on the block is ‘Lucy’) and CocoLoco. He has almost slept through the night. He has only had 2 accidents in the house over the past 3 days. He’s still a little wobbly on his paws but is getting up the stairs just fine (it’s another story getting down). What joy a new puppy brings to a house!

News of the Day: Kooza had 5 teeth pulled today to jump start his orthodontic work. All went well. He’s so happy it’s over—and so is Mom. What a trooper!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


A typical morning in the household—I catch my dachshund napping in the morning sun sneaking through the window. He loves it. I can’t help but think this is what makes us so envious of ‘a dog’s life.’

While my dog is having an awesome day, my anxiety is out of scale thinking about Kooza’s new life in the gym. Today was his ‘official’ last day as a member of his men’s gymnastics team. He’ll still be in the gym—on a different team—but not headed the same direction. He’s SO happy. I’m a mess. I can’t explain why. Shouldn’t a new beginning be a good thing? We’ve had great, life lesson conversations about the whole change in direction. Maybe the angst is caused by fear of the unknown. In the end, I’ll work through it. As far as Kooza goes, I’m bliss-full (!) he has found happiness in the gym again.

I’ll share more stories later about his quest to be a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.


Scout asked me why I like to watch all these ‘off’ films that no one knows about. I told him I don’t know. I guess I’ve already seen most of the current films I want to see.

The Air I Breathe
20 minutes of this film was enough. Regardless of the well-known ensemble cast (which was why I wanted to see it) this film lacks everything worth watching. The intertwining stories of the sinister side of life included WAY too much insight of the pretentious underworld for me. Similar to the movie Crash, this film leaves you weary thinking about all the bad happening in the world. F-bombs, violence and darkness (as in lack of sunlight) distract this already train-wrecked story line. Definitely NOT a ladies film! I don’t think men would enjoy it either.

The White Countess
A love story of sorts set in WWII Shanghai. Wonderful costumes, lovely sets. Sadly, you don’t get to see much of Shanghai because there isn’t much of 1930s Shanghai left to see. Great story, but the film was a little too long for me. (I find my patience whittling away for bits that aren’t important to the story line.) I understand the pace of the film was in direct relation to the time it was recording. I would have liked to see more character development. Similar to Cinderella, the story follows a short time frame of a Russian royal, what she needs to do to keep her step family afloat and a friendship with a man she meets while doing just that. Not quite rental quality—wait for the Lifetime TV special.

Two down, 43 more to go…

After some reflection on my recent reviews, I’m coming to the conclusion that the fast paced TV we watch these days (even slow reality shows) is hurting the film industry. My question---How/Why can writers jam-pack a one hour TV show and drag out a film for 2 hours? It doesn’t make sense. Until filmmakers and production companies are aware of the shift, America will be skipping the $10 movie to stay home and watch TV.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Let’s face it--reality shows are here to stay (for a while at least). Wasn’t it MTV who started this crazy phenomenon? If I had to put numbers to my TV viewing, I’d say half of what I watch is reality (I don’t watch much). I catch various episodes of various shows, but since each reality show stands on its own, I don’t feel like I have to catch up on the story line. Sort of like reading a magazine article where your story is complete versus reading a book where you are most likely to put it down and pick it up later. Besides, it's kind of fun peeking in on someone else's craziness.

BRAVO is by far my preferred station for reality. The reason for this random thought is because I’m so happy one of my favorite realities is coming back—“Flipping Out.” Strangely enough, the show illustrates my design profession just about spot on. Yes, it’s that crazy! We may not have all the crazy characters under one roof, but they’re out there.

Good news: I’ve watched 2 of my ‘queue’ films. One really bad, one pretty good. Reviews tomorrow.

News of the Day: Our summer plans have fallen through. We were supposed to have a visit from our far away cousins, but between 6 schedules for the kids, a new arrival coming from China, and a new job for Uncle, we couldn’t make it happen. We were SO looking forward to visiting with family. Now we’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving…

Thursday, June 5, 2008


The upgrade was crucial—in my opinion. This frugal Duchess decided to upgrade her Netflix subscription. The thought of waiting 2 weeks for the next red envelope film to appear in the mailbox was overwhelming. During the school year I don’t even notice time flying by. School, work, sports, homework and fundamental lack of time make it impossible to even notice. BUT---Summer is here! Here’s the big question--Is it possible to get through my 45 ‘queue’ movies this summer? That’s 15 movies a month to view and review. Frankly, I don’t know if this movie enthusiast can do it. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


They say we are constantly learning while we’re on earth. I agree. It seems no matter how old I get, I’m still learning. It seems the older I get, the more I WANT to learn. Interestingly, I caught a short segment on a news show the other day, and here is what I learned:

There is such thing as a Society for Barefoot Living. Yes. A society that doesn’t believe in wearing shoes—anywhere---even to work! I’ve never run into any of these guys, probably because their feet would burn off with the heat we have here in Texas, but they exist. Two additional ‘myth buster’ points: According to their Society, there is no such law or ordinance as “No Shoes, No Service” that comes from the Health Department. Moreover, they confirm there is no law against driving barefoot. I fear telling Kooza about this Society. He is my barefoot baby. I suppose he secretly already belongs….

News of the Day: Our next door neighbors brought home a new puppy. Another tea cup Chihuahua. Her name is “Sissy.” She’s tiny (!), blonde and SO adorable. I hope they’ll let me puppysit!---until I get a new puppy of my own. Hee. We also have 2 other new puppies on the block: Lucy, a Lab mix the boys are teaching to swim in case she falls into the pool, and Annie, a Bichon Frise covered in crazy curls.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I’m not sure “Chick Flicks” is the term I’m looking for when I talk about films that lean toward the ‘girlie’ side. I guess ‘Romantic Comedy’ is the latest term for the films I’m talking about---films women love to watch—especially on those desperate, feeling down, indulging, slumber party, chocolate and ice cream days. This is by far my MOST favorite genre of film.

There’s something soothing to Duchess about the same old story of boy meets girl, girl doesn’t really like boy, they banter, boy does something wonderful to win girl’s heart, then boy and girl live happily ever after. You know…“Love is a Battlefield” type deal. Predictable? Of course. That’s their highly criticized fault from most film critics. The reality is---they simply make the world a happier place. The concluding harmony is all I need to walk out of the theater with a smile on my face able to make it through the rest of the day with a ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling in my heart. That’s the fabulous part of a successful romantic comedy!

I watched 2 of my favorites back-to-back with DVDs on TV the other night. They aired Maid in Manhattan followed by 13 Going on 30. Another, The Wedding Planner, is showing right now. I really have toooo many favorite RCs to list them all. That’s not unusual for most women. I would even argue this is the largest category listing of films in the Netflix vault (I don’t know for sure and don’t want to do the research). In reflection, this might be the category I tackle this summer (since summer is the time of year I watch an enormous amount of movies)….with joy.

Confession: I have watched a few new films this week, but don’t want to spend the time to critique them. I saw Untraceable and In America. All Duchess will say is this: Untraceable is good and most likely one that men would enjoy watching for its techie side, In America (biopic) is too sad to watch (plus a few other issues).

Sunday, June 1, 2008


This week I have done what I hate for other bloggers to do---I’ve been off-site for almost a week. You know, once you start reading a blog, you want to hear from them every day. There was a TV show long ago with a radio DJ character who was the narrator of the story, but more importantly, his voice was the one constant in the small town. You could always depend on his voice in the morning and throughout the day. He was clever. He shared his view of life’s lessons with the town. He shared conclusions to lessons the town’s people had learned. This is the influence of today’s bloggers whether we realize it or not. I suppose even two sentences are better than nothing at all. But I’m not making any promises.

Scout is back from Florida. His suntan is proof he spent plenty of time ‘chillin’ at the beach. It seemed like a quick trip. The week flew by and with all my free time I didn’t watch one new movie (!), nor could I overcome my severe writers block. Issues: I’ve viewed my allotment of Netflix this month, the RedBox was bare of films I wanted to watch, and I refuse to go to Blockbuster (because they have taken more than their fair share of my money). So…I watched too many DVDs for TV. It wasn’t too bad though because by some lucky coincidence it was ‘chick flick’ week. I saw 3 of my favorites. This reminds me I need to add a list of my favorite CFs to the Duchess blog.

Two summer blockbusters were released within the past week. I live in a big city where mammoth films like these sell out for days. I always wait for the calm after the storm. Plus, I have to confess, Duchess is very picky about the films she’s willing to pay $10 to view. For me, one of these blockbusters is definitely a rental. (Now you know how old I am if I’m complaining about the price of something that involves my favorite hobby.)

Memory of the week: Our next door neighbor’s dog, Lola, was hit by a car yesterday and passed away. She was a cute, tan, yappy, tea cup Chihuahua. We’ll miss her.

Tomorrow: Chick Flicks

Monday, May 26, 2008


I haven't been lured to the movie theater lately, so I've been catching up on new release DVDs, Indies, and Foreign Films. Here's a few I've seen this month:

I’m having trouble finding words for this film review. It was a crowd favorite during the annual award shows. I’m way behind in watching it. I saw an interview with the author on Oprah during the pre-Oscar buzz, so although I thought the film topic was one I could skip, I was intrigued by what the writer had to say and decided to take a peek. I loved Ellen Page, the leading actress, who was absolutely spot on playing the lead character (who reminds me very much of the writer herself), but couldn’t help feeling despite the clever dialog and great hits of teen jargon, the story lacked content. The show was a lot slow—about the pace of Napoleon Dynamite. Having said all this, I would have to agree with the 2008 Oscar voters and say this was probably the best pick for original screenplay of the year and worthy of that award. Unfortunately, I can’t say this is one to watch.

The Kite Runner
A touching must see. This is the most full-bodied film I’ve seen in a while. The film embraces a wonderful story of childhood friendship, family, honor, betrayal, and redemption. Although set in Taliban ravaged Afghanistan, location and war-torn conditions take a back seat to the enlightening message. Based on the novel, the author clearly worked along side director Marc Forster (who also directed Finding Neverland--one of my all time favorites) helping him capture this worthy story of human values to share with today’s world. This film unquestionably crosses cultural barriers and opens our hearts placing each of us among others in the common trials of mankind. This is the type of film I’m searching for in my continual hunt for the laudable films of today. As this is not a fast paced film, be sure to watch it on a movie night when you are ready to receive the message. I would place this film a bit on the ‘dark side’ which means it’s not meant for everyone, but all the same, still one to watch.

The Flying Scotsman
This short story is based on the true life of Graeme Obree, an amateur cyclist, who sets out to break the cycling world’s speed record, and in so doing becomes a local hero. This feature gives a great depiction of an athlete’s sheer determination and love for his sport. It’s an amiable account but I couldn’t help feeling significant parts of the story were missing, leaving it unfinished. A bit of the Scottish accent was tough for this American to catch. If you enjoy Indies, cycling or overcoming the odds films you would most likely enjoy watching. Overall, it’s a short film I would call a ‘one-timer’ (which means I would watch it once but probably wouldn’t rent it again—and would hesitate to recommend it to those I don’t know).

Mad Money
Although Duchess loves the leading actresses, at the risk of sounding like a harsh critic, this movie is definitely one to completely skip. Luckily, I rented this DVD from the RedBox.

The Namesake
The trailers peaked my interest in watching this movie. You know, the typical first generation immigrant boy struggling to make adjustments to the American way of life, caught between his parents and American youth. Meanwhile, the father is earning a good life for his wife and ungrateful children. It was a cute, sweet, slow film--touching at points, charming at others, giving us a brief look inside the Southeast Asian community filled with colorful beauty (by this I mean more than outside beauty). Overall, I couldn’t help feeling they were leaving out a lot of the story. It left me feeling a little empty. Rating: One to watch on a day when you’re looking for a short story and not entertainment. This movie actually makes me want to read the book. *Personal note: Just after I watched this film, we heard my In-laws (Doc and Soulmate) had finally received their referral to adopt their Chinese daughter, Katie. The name of the mother in the film is much like that of little Katie’s Chinese name—when translated means to me (not others) her life will be one “without boundaries, limitless.” I believe there will be no constraints to what little Katie will do!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Nothing compares to a holiday weekend when it comes to making me want to live by the beach, or to be more specific, to own a house on the beach. I would even be happy with a lake house. There are lots of great lakes in the Hill Country of Texas. Plus, there’s just something about the summer kick-off season that makes me want to travel to the coasts of California, or to Florida. This brings me to the point of my blog today:

My oldest son was invited by a friend to a Florida beach town for his first official week of summer. I can’t think of a better way to create great memories with your buddies during your high school years than a road trip to a beach town. They’ll be driving most of the day-- “chillin” is what he called it when he texted me a few hours ago. I hate to spend time away from him, but the opportunity was too great for him to miss. The house is really quiet without an older brother around---and it has only been 6 hours since he left. Overall, the family left behind is looking forward to the quiet time to kick our feet up—especially his younger brother who says being home alone is like “eating a giant piece of Chili’s Paradise Pie with lots of whipped cream on top.” To which I share the following story:

Memory of the Week: Older brother, Scout (I call him ‘Scout’ because he loves scouting athletic talent, no matter what sport it is), wakes up and immediately places last nights piece of Paradise Pie in the microwave to heat up for breakfast. While the pie is in the microwave, he slips upstairs to finish a few things. Meanwhile, Pops and Kooza (nickname for my youngest son because he swears he’ll run away with Cirque du Soleil soon), stroll into the kitchen on their way out to pick up tacos, at what the boys call the local ‘taco shack,’ and are suddenly hit with a whiff of what’s cooking. They proceed to: get out a bowl plus a couple of spoons and the ice cream, slip the pie out of the microwave after the ready beep goes off, add the ice cream and slither out the side door into the hybrid for their taco journey. Down comes Scout, and yep, you guessed it, ‘WHAT?’ ‘MOM!’ ‘WHAT?’ ‘Punks!’ ‘That’s not right….’ Fifteen minutes later Pops and Kooza make it back with the tacos promptly mentioning to Scout, “You are the Master at heating up Paradise Pie to the perfect temperature.” And the chase is on….

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I don’t know exactly how many films I’ve seen. According to Netflix, I’ve reviewed a little over 400. Those are the few I’ve actually run across while being on their website. I doubt I’ve seen AFI’s 100 list, but I have certainly seen 85% of the top ten: CITIZEN KANE (#1), CASABLANCA (#2), THE GODFATHER (#3), GONE WITH THE WIND (#4), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (#5), THE WIZARD OF OZ (#6), THE GRADUATE (#7), ON THE WATERFRONT (#8), SCHINDLER'S LIST (#9) and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (#10). I suppose that’s one point of their list, to put together the all time favorites (which some would consider old school). I know for sure I've seen 90% of the current Netflix 'Top 100' list. (I'd hate to put a dollar amount on this summary.) The true number of films I’ve watched is probably closer to thousands over my lifetime---and hopefully there will be thousands more.

Film I will watch: Drama, comedy, love story, true story, classic, action/adventure, documentary, Indie, festival favorite, foreign with some sci-fi in the mix. Film I will not watch: horror and x-rated (or even close).

Memory of the day: It’s the last day of school for us. Summer is here. After talking about our summer plans, my youngest said this morning he expects this summer to be “complete paradise.”

Monday, May 19, 2008


“Duchess of Reel”
Embarking on a New Journey

I surveyed fellow bloggers by asking all sorts of questions to set the groundwork for my blogging adventure. Each gave me pros and cons on being the author of something many would browse. After much thought, I ultimately determined I wanted my own space to keep a journal of daily life and thoughts. In addition to daily life, my ‘hook’ would be to include the occasional review covering my hobby of movie/film watching. Hence, the ‘reel’ portion of the blog title. The ‘Duchess’ title is just for fun (there’s already a Princess in my neighborhood). I know folks who watch a whole lot more movies than I do, but I do watch my fair share (my husband thinks I watch too many). It’s the constant hunt of finding the movie that will take you away for a few hours-—like a great novel. Hopefully along the way I’ll hear about other films I should see from fellow film enthusiasts.

A fair amount of research and preparation has gone into starting my own blog. I couldn’t seem to get past the initial fear of making this thing go live but I’m working through it…

Thank you to my friend Karen for giving me the encouragement to jump in and write (she encouraged even random thoughts). Thank you to my brothers in law for giving the go ahead, why not. :)