Monday, February 27, 2023

Reading and Watching Lately


Reading and Watching Lately

February has been a busy month, but not too busy to read and watch some good movies.  We are blessed to live in our community where there are lots of education programs - we have attended lectures on Robber Barons of the Gilded Age, a One Day University on Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird and one on Race, Slavery, and the American Revolution.  Add to that we started a Balance Class at the Fitness Center here.  Hah - I though we would "test out" at the evaluation, but no...we were average in our balance.  So we have been enjoying the balance and strength training exercises.   We finish up this week and will test again to see if our balance has improved. 

And then....there is the Super Bowl.   We had good friends come for the Super Bowl weekend and we were disappointed when the Eagles did not win!  But it was a great time with friends, so we did have a "win"!

Here's what we have been watching - not just movies ! We are fortunate to have a great local theater here in Lancaster, PA - The Fulton Theater.  Great shows in a historic theater with wonderful actors that are both local and from New York and other venues. If you are in the Lancaster area be sure to check it out!

The night before the Super Bowl we got to see this play - and it was great.  Very funny - kind of Agatha Christie meets Monty Python.  We usually go to musicals, so this was a nice change.  Before the show we had a great dinner at The Imperial  - also in downtown Lancaster, PA. 

Great drinks, great food - we had the scallops but our friends had the filet and said it was the best ever!
The next day was the Super Bowl - we decorated our hallway in our apartment building, as did our neighbors.  It was a lot of fun !
We even turned the lights on the fireplace green for our Eagles!

Lots of good food and fun  - and a good game, even if our team did not win !
Godspell was the student version - and presented here at Willow Valley This was a product of a local group called Servant Stage, that bring live theater to the community.  This "youth version" was AMAZING!  The voices were great, the enthusiasm was wonderful, and they even snuck in some Taylor Swift references in the lyrics.  Had to keep myself from singing along!

The Tamburizans were another show here in our community - there is a 500 seat theater in our Cultural Center.  Once again the singers and dancers from this group were wonderful.  You can read more about them here -

And then there was DOUBT!   We loved the movie, saw the show on the large stage at The Fulton years ago - and this presentation was in the smaller venue at the theater called the Ellen Groff Theater.  The show was presented in the round and we were in the front row.  Such a powerful play with wonderful actors....including Monica Horan who played Amy on Everybody Loves Raymond for years.   So interesting to see her in this as a totally different role!
In between I did find time to read...and I love to read.  Working all my life as a librarian I thought when I retired I would have all the time in the world to read....not so. (And so many people think that librarians read all day at work...NO!)  Who knew retirement would be this busy ??? 
Here are some of my recent reads - 
WWII Historical Fiction is my favorite - and this was a nice twist on the genre.
England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz.

Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unhappy relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes - and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with tragic consequences.

A story of love, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, The Very Thought of You is a haunting and memorable debut.

I listened to this ( downloaded free from my library) while on the treadmill - and loved it!
The bestselling, beloved writer of romantic comedies like You've Got Mail tells her own late-in-life love story, complete with a tragic second act and joyous resolution.

Delia Ephron had struggled through several years of heartbreak. She’d lost her sister, Nora, and then her husband, Jerry, both to cancer. Several months after Jerry’s death, she decided to make one small change in her life—she shut down his landline, which crashed her internet. She ended up in Verizon hell.
She channeled her grief the best way she knew: by writing a New York Times op-ed. The piece caught the attention of Peter, a Bay Area psychiatrist, who emailed her to commiserate. Recently widowed himself, he reminded her that they had shared a few dates fifty-four years before, set up by Nora. Delia did not remember him, but after several weeks of exchanging emails and sixties folk songs, he flew east to see her. They were crazy, utterly, in love.
But this was not a rom-com: four months later she was diagnosed with AML, a fierce leukemia.
In Left on Tenth, Delia Ephron enchants as she seesaws us between tears and laughter, navigating the suicidal lows of enduring cutting-edge treatment and the giddy highs of a second chance at love. With Peter and her close girlfriends by her side, with startling clarity, warmth, and honesty about facing death, Ephron invites us to join her team of warriors and become believers ourselves.

I really loved this book - felt it was like 1984 meets the Handmaid's Tale.  So happy to learn it is the first in a series...more to come!
To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature.

LONDON, 1953. Thirteen years have passed since England surrendered to the Nazis and formed a Grand Alliance with Germany. It was forced to adopt many of its oppressive ideologies, one of which was the strict classification of women into hierarchical groups based on the perceived value they brought to society.

Rose Ransom, a member of the privileged Geli class, remembers life from before the war but knows better than to let it show. She works for the Ministry of Culture, rewriting the classics of English literature to ensure there are no subversive thoughts that will give women any ideas.

Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country with graffiti made up of seditious lines from forbidden works by women painted on public buildings. Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. Rose is given the dangerous task of infiltrating Widowland to find the source of the rebellion before the Leader arrives in England for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis. Will Rose follow her instructions and uncover the criminals? Or will she fight for what she knows in her heart is right?

After reading something deep and heavy I like to read something that I call a "tub book"...something fun that I can read while in a bubble bath!  Danielle Steel fits the bill - 
In this heartwarming novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel, adult siblings find their way back home—and back to each other—after loss.

Preston and Constance Whittier have built a happy life together with a brood of six children raised in a beautiful historic Manhattan mansion. Now, with a nearly empty nest, it’s easier than ever for the Whittiers to maintain their tradition of a solo romantic “wintermoon” ski trip.

But with this year’s trip comes tragedy. Suddenly, their adult children find themselves reuniting in the family home without their parents for the first time ever. The oldest, Lyle, is reaching a breaking point in his marriage and must decide whether a divorce would be best for him and his two children. Gloria’s big job on Wall Street has kept her single at forty, and growing ever more cynical. The twins, Caroline and Charlie, moved out long ago to start a fashion business that may now be faltering. Benjie, with special needs, is hit hard by the loss of his parents and needs his siblings’ help. And Annabelle, the youngest, drops out of college and starts to spin out of control.

The eldest four are forced to put aside their personal issues and their grief to keep the family together and support each other and their two youngest siblings. Selling the house, along with all the memories that live in its walls, feels like yet another devastating loss. Could there be another way, as unconventional as it seems?

In The Whittiers, Danielle Steel delivers an inspiring story about the everlasting bonds of one unforgettable family.

I really enjoyed this, just as I enjoyed her first book.  This book gives hope to me that the light inside us all will prevail, and that everyone feels the darkness at sometime in life.
There may be no tidy solutions or pithy answers to life's big challenges, but Michelle Obama believes that we can all locate and lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain steady within flux. In The Light We Carry, she opens a frank and honest dialogue with readers, considering the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What tools do we use to address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness? What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?

Michelle Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress. Drawing from her experiences as a mother, daughter, spouse, friend, and First Lady, she shares the habits and principles she has developed to successfully adapt to change and overcome various obstacles--the earned wisdom that helps her continue to "become." She details her most valuable practices, like "starting kind," "going high," and assembling a "kitchen table" of trusted friends and mentors. With trademark humor, candor, and compassion, she also explores issues connected to race, gender, and visibility, encouraging readers to work through fear, find strength in community, and live with boldness.

"When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it," writes Michelle Obama. A rewarding blend of powerful stories and profound advice that will ignite conversation, The Light We Carry inspires readers to examine their own lives, identify their sources of gladness, and connect meaningfully in a turbulent world.

All of these great titles were borrowed from the public library - what a bargain the library is for voracious readers.  And our library has added a new service called Kanopy.   Lots of great videos and movies that you can stream for free with your library card. 

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.   
If you read the book from 2014 by Gabrielle Zevin you know the story....if not, read the book, it is wonderful.  And the movie is just as good.  Check to see if your public library has Kanopy - this film is also available on Prime, but for a fee.  The quote from this book says it all - 
"We read to know we're not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone."

Finished out the month with a shopping and lunch trip with my college friends.  We all met almost 50 years ago when we moved into the same dorm, on the same small wing, at Kutztown State College.  Through the years, and tears as we lost one of us, we have connected and stayed close.  We met in Hershey, PA for some great shopping and then a fabulous lunch to celebrate some birthdays.

So blessed to have these ladies in my life.  

Goodbye February - here comes March !

Hope your month was wonderful - love to read your comments.  Let me know what you have been reading, watching, eating...and enjoying. 
Have a great month of March!

Trip !

  TRIP !!! And not the trip we were looking forward to...out for a walk and waiting for the crosswalk to say WALK.  A tractor trailer turned...