Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin Twins

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

For more Wordless Wednesday offerings,
please visit the website here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Little Lulu Comics

I've been sorting through photos lately, and discovered some shots of my comic book collection. It's mostly in storage right now, but I thought I'd share a few pix, since these books are definitely "vintage thingies."

One of my first literary heroines was Lulu Moppet. Created and initially drawn by Marjorie Henderson Buell (who signed herself "Marge"), Little Lulu first appeared in the 1930s as a single-frame cartoon in the back pages of the Saturday Evening Post Magazine. Well, I'm old – but that was just a bit before my time. I first met Little Lulu in the 1950s, in the comic books produced by the Dell Publishing Company. I've always thought of Lulu as one of the first feminists in children's literature. She was a tough little lady – plucky, resourceful, and imaginative. She was also very funny.

I loved the stories and the artwork. And the covers were always one of the greatest attractions – many of them with wonderful seasonal illustrations such as these (click on photos to enlarge):

But my favorites were always the Dell Giants issued several times a year, especially at Halloween time. They were bigger than the regular monthly comics, and more costly – a whole 25 cents as opposed to the regular 10 cents I usually had to pay. And they also had great covers, as you can see. (Sorry about the quality of the photos – most of these were taken years ago, before I went digital.)

Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by Suzanne at Coloradolady, and as she says, "Thursday is the day to showcase your vintage treasures and to share your special things with everyone." Please visit her blog to find out more about VTT or to participate yourself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend at the Movies and Monday Movie Meme: Gran Torino

A Novel Menagerie hosts Monday's Movie every week, and invites everyone to "write about any movies, television or big screen, that you’ve seen over the past week." This week, the suggested topic is "Your Favorite Movie of All Time." But if I got started on my fave of all time, we could be here for weeks. So I'll just say a few words about one of the movies I saw this weekend. Well, it did feature one of my favorite movie stars of all time.

The weather was pretty awful around here over the weekend. Messy and cold outside – but inside, that made for perfect movie-watching conditions. Also perfect football-watching conditions, but we won't get into that.

Our Netflix film of the weekend was Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood's film from last year.

Gran Torino

USA, 2008

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, and some violence.

Written by Nick Schenk and Dave Johannson
Directed by Clint Eastwood

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, John Carroll Lynch

Synopsis (from

[T]he story of a grizzled Korean War vet's reluctant friendship with a Hmong teenage boy and his immigrant family. . . . Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski, an unabashed bigot who never heard a racial insult he didn't love. Bitter, haunted, and full of pride, Walt refuses to abandon the neighborhood he's lived in for decades despite its changing demographics as he clings desperately to a mindset long since out of step with the times. When his Hmong neighbor Thao tries to steal his prized muscle car as part of a gang initiation, Walt is forced to grapple with the world around him. . . . More than simply a racial morality tale, however, GRAN TORINO is about the unlikely bonds that people form to navigate the subtle complexities [of] every day life. . . . GRAN TORINO explores the challenging yet rich new world that can open up when individuals let down their guard, even if for just a moment. Estranged from his family and his church, and without any sense of personal peace, Walt offers all that he has to Thao and his family, namely wisdom and protection. When tragedy strikes the family, Eastwood allows a little classic Harry Callahan to poke through, but the surprising finale posits a hero that Dirty Harry would never have the guts to be. It's a potent symbolic gesture to Eastwood's own growth as a storyteller.

My Thoughts:

I've liked Clint Eastwood ever since I first saw him as Rowdy Yates in the old Rawhide TV show when I was a tot. A lot of his movies are a little more violent and raw than I really like, but I usually enjoy them just because of Eastwood's presence. Even so, I was a little dubious about Gran Torino because of the racial conflict aspect – and these days I tend to shy away from any film or book described as "gritty," "symbolic," or a "morality tale." At my age, I've had just about all the grit, symbols and moralistic preaching I can stand. So I wasn't certain about the movie, but I figured – hey, it's Clint Eastwood after all.

And I wasn't disappointed. Eastwood manages to find an enormous amount of humor and pathos in Walt's bigotry and insularity, without pulling any punches about its crudeness or offensiveness. And the developing relationship between Walt and his new neighbors is very appealing and fascinating to watch. The supporting cast is terrific, and includes quite a few new faces (well, new to me anyway). Both Bee Vang and Ahney Her as the young brother and sister deliver wonderful performances; and I especially loved John Carroll Lynch as Martin, Walt's barber and sparring partner in racial slurs.

I know I'm probably one of the last people on the planet to see this one, but it's definitely got my recommendation.

Did you see any interesting movies last week or over the weekend? If you've got anything to recommend, just leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Random Photo Monday: Mom-In-Law's Birthday

Today is my mother-in-law's 85th birthday. We weren't able to make the trek to Texas this year, to celebrate with her, but we did manage to get down there last year for her 84th. The second photo here was taken then. In the first shot she was about five years old, so it dates from around 1929-30. Quite a cutie, wasn't she?

I'm very fortunate in that she and I have always gotten along really well - I know that's not always the case with mothers and their daughters-in-law. She made me feel like a member of the family right from the start, and over the years she's always treated me more like a daughter than an "in-law." Of course, both of us have always thought the guy I married is pretty great - so we had that in common from the beginning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Children's Patterns

Although I haven't done any sewing in quite a while, I love to collect old patterns. For a while, back in the '80s and '90s you could find really interesting, really old printed patterns in thrift shops and yard sales for just pennies each. That's all changed now – some of the same patterns I scooped up for ten cents a piece are going for ten bucks or more on eBay right now. Every now and then the hubby starts making noises about the money we could be making by unloading my "collection," but (fortunately) the patterns are all hidden away in a storage bin at the moment – too much trouble to dig them out.

Some of my favorites are the patterns for children's clothes. These are a few examples from several different periods. It's interesting to see how kids' fashion has changed in the last century or so, and how the look of the patterns themselves has changed, too. Sorry about the quality of the photos – they were all taken several years ago, before I packed everything up for storage. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

Most of these early patterns aren't dated, but these are two of the oldest; probably from the post-WWI, early 1920s period.

More from the 1920s, for little flappers.

I love these little hat patterns, also probably from the 1920s.

These look like they're probably from the 1930s.
Very Shirley Temple, don't you think?

A couple from the late 1940s or the 1950s, with aprons or pinafores. I would have worn something like this to school everyday.

Another one from the 1950s, very fancy. I remember my mother making me something very similar for a school play when I was about six or seven. But I came down with tonsillitis and never got to wear it. Bummer.

And finally, a couple from the 1960s or early '70s. Even the kiddies were mod.

Vintage Thingies Thursday is hosted by Suzanne at Coloradolady, and as she says, "Thursday is the day to showcase your vintage treasures and to share your special things with everyone." Please visit her blog to find out more about VTT or to participate yourself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: A Taste of Texas

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

Although autumn is definitely here now, we don't have much color yet. The leaves are starting to fall, but I'm afraid we just didn't get the right amount of rain at the right time to make for a really great display this year. But it's still a little early to write it off, I guess.

Around this same time last year we were in Texas, visiting family and friends in the Marble Falls and Austin areas. The town of Marble Falls has preserved and restored quite a bit of its old central downtown area, and we enjoyed strolling around one afternoon. And since I don't have any really interesting photos from this year, here are a few shots from that visit. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Please ignore all the power lines.
But notice that clear blue sky and the head-in parking!

We were particularly impressed with all the interesting outdoor sculpture all over the place. These Mariachi guys were just outside the old movie theater.

This big bird has just caught its dinner. (Yuck!)

And this creature looks like the Spider That Ate Marble Falls.
Appears to be created out of old plumbing equipment.

Gorgeous and gigantic live oaks have leaves all year 'round.

A few shops in the central area.

I think this was taken from the deck of the Chili's in Marble Falls, with a view of the River City Grille next door, and Lake Marble Falls on the Colorado River.

Sunset on Lake Travis, just outside Austin.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Over the Top!

Wow, I've really been a lazy blogger lately. Got this lovely and challenging award from Smiling Sally, and it's taken me a week to get it posted. Sal has passed along the Over the Top award to Joysweb, and it's challenging because it comes along with a survey to fill out, and the rule that you can only use one-word answers. Well, if you know anything about Joysweb, you'll know how extremely difficult that's going to be for me. But I'll try (almost) anything once – so here goes:
The Rules: 1. Use only one word! 2. Pass this along to six other bloggers. 3. Alert them that you have given them this award. 4. Have Fun!
1. Where is your cell phone? hidden
2. Your hair? messy
3. Your mother? short
4. Your father? tall
5. Your favorite food? fattening
6. Your dream last night? chaotic
7. Your favorite drink? coffee
8. Your dream/goal? longevity
9. What room are you in? bedroom
10. Your hobby? weird
11. Your fear? cancer
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? alive
13. Where were you last night? home
14. Something that you aren’t? male
15. Muffins? blueberry
16. Wish list item? liposuction
17. Where did you grow up? Texas
18. Last thing you did? breakfast
19. What are you wearing? nightie
20. Your TV? off
21. Your pets? gone
22. Friends?! nice
23. Your life? smooth
24. Your mood? sleepy
25. Missing someone? sometimes
26. Vehicle? Ford
27. Something you’re not wearing? earrings
28. Your favorite store? many
29. Your favorite color? green
30. When was the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? hmmmm?
32. Your best friend? hubby
33. One place that you go to over and over? bookstore
34. One person who emails me regularly? Vicki
35. Favorite place to eat? out

Now the other rule is to pass the award along to six other bloggers, and I'll have to work on that one. But if it looks like fun, feel free to go right ahead and try this one yourself.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gratuitous Sunday Photo

Sea Monster at Loch Ness?
Or tennis-ball retrieving Labrador at Marble Falls TX?
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday: Street Scenes in Williamsburg

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. To see many, many more outdoor photos or to post some of your own, please visit her blog.

I've been doing a little photo organizing, and happened to find some shots we took in October two years ago on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. It's really a fascinating place and I'm almost ready to do it again. Almost. The year we were there, it was unseasonably hot - seemed more like August than October. Still, it was a lot of fun and not exactly what I expected. But if you go, be prepared for the crowds. And wear comfortable shoes! (Click on photos to enlarge.)

A friendly greeting at the post office. The printer's and
book binder's workshops are behind the P.O.

Carriage ride. Nice horsies and a lot of the stuff nice horsies
leave behind.

Out for a stroll.

A colonial conversation. Wonder if they're discussing
the tax on tea?

Outside the shoemaker's shop.

And the shoemaker's shop window.

And the Williamsburg windmill.

Related post: Back in Time

Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend at the Movies and Monday Movie Meme

This is the first time I've participated in the Monday Movie Meme hosted by The Bumbles. The topic this week is "all about Dads" and one of the movies I saw over the weekend had a very moving portrait of the relationship between a dad and his son, and the lengths to which a parent will go to ensure his child's safety.

Thanks to Netflix, I'm slowly catching up on the films of Nicolas Cage – for some inexplicable reason, he's one of my favorites. I've been a fan since seeing him in Raising Arizona back in the '80s. Knowing is one of his recent films – released in late 2008, I believe. I missed it when it was in theaters (these days, I miss just about all films when they're in theaters), but after viewing the DVD, I think seeing it on the really big screen, with that too-enveloping surround-sound, might have been just a bit too intense for my fragile nerves.


USA, 2008

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images and brief strong language.

Written by Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, and Stiles White

Directed by Alex Proyas

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson

Synopsis (from
In 1958 [actually, I think it was 1959], as part of the dedication ceremony for a new elementary school, a group of students is asked to draw pictures to be stored in a time capsule. But one of the students, a mysterious girl who seems to hear whispered voices, fills her sheet of paper with rows of apparently random numbers instead. Fast forward 50 years to the present: A new generation of students examines the contents of the time capsule and the girl's cryptic message ends up in the hands of young Caleb [played by Chandler Canterbury]. But it is Caleb's father, professor Ted Myles [played by Nicolas Cage], who makes the startling discovery that the encoded message predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years. As Ted further unravels the document's secrets, he realizes it foretells three additional events – the last of which hints at destruction on a global scale and seems to somehow involve Ted and his son.
My Thoughts:

Very confused and confusing film. I thought the first half or so was excellent – nice texture, interesting story line, well-built suspense with a slightly creepy feel. Reminded me a little (the general feel – not the plot) of The Mothman Prophecies (a much better movie). However, the second half of the show deteriorated into pretty standard apocalyptic sci-fi – not one of my favorite genres. It relied much too heavily on special effects, enigmatic "presences," and unexplained goings-on (I'm still not sure what was up with all those smooth black rocks that kept showing up everywhere). Another one of those movies where you end up hoping Fox Mulder will finally show up out of the shadows and explain everything for you ("Yes, Scully – I've seen this before. It's probably just a manifestation of yada yada yada.")

I think I'd only recommend this one to other Nicolas Cage fans. Probably not for everyone. The movie is rated PG-13, but I have to say if I were the parent of a very young child, I'd be very wary of letting them see this one. A lot of the special effects are disturbingly realistic. And the whole end of the world scenario is scary and depressing, and might very easily inspire nightmares for some more sensitive youngsters – not to mention some more sensitive oldsters such as moi.

Did you see any interesting movies last week or over the weekend? If you've got anything to recommend, just leave me a comment or a link to your post. And if it was about Dads, you might want to head on over to The Bumbles, and leave a comment there.