Attention Jane-ites!

28 05 2007

All you Jane fans, listen up. Movies.com says that Becoming Jane, the biographical movie about Jane Austen, opens in the U.S. on August 3. It opened in March in the U.K. and most of the viewer comments on IMDb are very positive. NPR movie critic Bob Mondello says it is “a picture filled with sense and sensibility, pride and prejudice and lots of invented biographical details.”

I know that not much is really known with certainty about Jane’s life, and as I understand it, this movie fills in the gaps with creative license. Here’s one reviewers words,

“From what I gather the movie was really meant to be an fictional intervention in her life devised from what was known of her. I thought Becoming Jane was funny, beautifully shot and it made me giddy with lust over McEvoy. I loved the sexual energy and meeting of the minds between the love interests. I saw quite a few parallels between this story and Jane’s novels. I really believe that Jane would absolutely adore this version, if not find it amusing how it was crafted.”

I’m eager to check it out. Just to whet your appetite I found the movie trailer on Youtube.com…

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You’re Such a “Not Waiting” Person!

27 05 2007

Out of the mouths of seven-year old babes…I was returning my lovely twin nieces to their parents last Sunday when a little argument erupted between them in the back seat. The DVD they were watching required someone to press a button for the interactive menu. Devon pressed the button, and apparently nothing happened because I heard her say, “I’m going to press it again.”

A moment later, I heard, “I guess I’ll try this one.”

At that point her sister reacted rather strongly, “Devon, you have to wait. You can’t just press buttons. You just have to wait.”

With no reply from the other seat and, apparently, more button pressing, Taylor’s frustration grew quickly, “Devvvon, you’re so un-patient. Ughh!! You’re such a ‘not waiting’ person!” 

 Wow, how insightful was that comment! Taylor both identified the behavior and labeled it precisely. It amazed me because it underscored how these identical twins are alike yet different.  And then I started thinking about whether I was a “waiting” or a “not waiting” person.  I’m not sure. I think I’m both, depending on what I have to wait for.

What are you — a “waiting” or a “not waiting” person and why?





Aunt Denise, There’s an Oreo on Your Head!

20 05 2007

Aunt Denise There’s a Cat on Your Head

Another jam-packed weekend now draws to a close and I’ve still got bread baking in the oven…never mind it’s only 10:40 pm on Sunday. The highlight this weekend was an overnight visit from my precocious, winsome, identical twin nieces.

Yesterday, we saw Aladdin at the Growing Stage in Netcong. This was an event we’ve been planning since last November. Everyone’s schedules are so crazy with practice here and there or special events here or there that it’s nearly impossible to be spontaneous.

My mom and her friend Marge accompanied us. We had a great day from start to end. The production was very entertaining — nothing like the Disney version–thank God! We really enjoyed the adaptation which employed a traveling troupe of Commedia Del’ Arte clowns who told the story of how Aladdin found the lamp that housed the genie and found his true love…sigh…happily ever after, indeed!

On the way home we stopped at the “Bridgewater Diner” aka Time To Eat Diner on Route 22 in Bridgewater. I haven’t been there since it was renovated…what a pleasant surprise!! It still has great inexpensive food of just about every sort your little heart desires…true “New Jersey” style cuisine!

 While we waited for our food to arrive, the girls stayed busy by drawing on the backs of their placemats. Here are two of their renditions. One is a horse that is the color of Spirit, the Stallion of Cimarron done my our very talented Ms. TAD.

Can you guess who is the main subject of the other drawn by Ms. DAD???? Hint: it’s not Oreo the cat (named so because of his chocolate cookie fur surrounding white cream markings.) Except for the teeth, it’s the best likeness of this person drawn by anyone ever…even better than most photographs in my opinion! I’m sure the hair and the earrings will be a dead giveaway. Check out the proportionate sizes of the eyes, nose, and mouth…did artist caricature the subject’s essence correctly?? Vote now, vote early, vote often!

 Thank you Devon and Taylor for a really fun weekend!!

Aunt Denise There’s a Cat on Your Head





Maya, Courage, and Rainbows in the Clouds

18 05 2007

My friends Frances, Jan and I went to NJPAC to hear Maya Angelou last night. Wow! I didn’t know one person could have so much impact. When the curtain lifted I had the sense that I was in the presence of a “somebody.” I’ve seen a number of solo performers on that same stage – Bill Cosby, David Sedaris – and solo performers on other stages, most notably Robin Williams at Lincoln Center. But, none of them gripped the audience the way Maya did and with only the radiance of a warm smile.

 I expected emotion and intensity from this woman. If you’re familiar with any of Maya’s work or know anything at all about her life, you know that passionate she is and shallow she is not. What startled me, though, was the vast depth of her soul and a sure sense of spirituality that emanates from her. I felt almost as though I was sitting in a house of worship rather than a secular although beautiful performing arts theatre.  It was truly moving.

As it turns out, Maya’s themes last night, “rainbows in the clouds,” courage, humor,  racism, sexism, were not new. When I got home, I googled Maya and “rainbows in the clouds” and found that many of her talks over the last 5+ years centered on these topics. Her message has been a steady drum beat – don’t despair, don’t be defeated, don’t give up, rise up, stand up, do what’s right, but do it with compassion and respect and, above all, humor.

She recited many poems to illustrate her points. I’ve included links to a few. She read 2 poems written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, A Negro Love Song and Sympathy, which is the original inspiration for Maya’s autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings that catapulted her into the national spotlight. In a light moment, she read Health Food Diner, a sarcastic look at her own struggle with smoking. She also read A Brave and Startling Truth, which she wrote for and read at the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Maya, being the consummate storyteller that she is, entertained us with numerous humorous recounts of her life experiences including a very moving story about her Uncle Willie and his far-reaching effect on her and others as he strove to teach her times tables and one about how she came to travel in her own bus.

It was an evening no less grand than the lady herself, truly inspirational and very uplifting. If you ever have a chance to hear her live, jump at it.





Happy Mother’s Day

13 05 2007

My apologies to Maya Angelou for including this tribute in its entirety. But, I searched and searched and could not find it in print electronically anywhere. I found one interview with Diane Sawyer where Maya talks about her poem and her thoughts on love and mothering. You can read about that here.

It’s a lovely tribute. Happy Mother’s Day to all who “mother” someone in their lives. 

Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me

It is true
I was created in you.
It is also true
That you were created for me.
I owned your voice.
It was shaped and tuned to soothe me.
Your arms were molded
Into a cradle to hold me, to rock me.
The scent of your body was the air
Perfumed for me to breathe.

Mother,
During those early, dearest days
I did not dream that you had
A larger life which included me,
Among your other concerns,
For I had a life
Which was only you.

Time passed steadily and drew us apart.
I was unwilling.
I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever
That one day you would have to stand

And where would I be?
You smiled again.
I did not.
Without warning you left me,
But you returned immediately.
You left again and returned,
I admit, quickly.
But relief did not rest with me easily.
You left again, but again returned.
You left again, but again returned.
Each time you reentered my world
You brought assurance.
Slowly I gained confidence.

You thought you knew me,
But I did know you,
You thought you were watching me,
But I did hold you securely in my sight,
Recording every movement,
Memorizing you smiles, tracing your frowns.
In your absence
I rehearsed you,
The way you had of singing
On a breeze,
While a sob lay
At the root of your song.

The way you posed your head
So that the light could caress your face
When you put your fingers on my hand
And your hand on my arm,
I was blessed with a sense of health,
Of strength and very good fortune.

You were always
The heart of happiness to me,
Bringing nougats of glee,
Sweets of open laughter.

I loved you even during the years
When you knew nothing
And I knew everything, I loved you still.
Condescendingly of course,
From my high perch
Of teenage wisdom.
I spoke sharply to you, often
Because you were slow to understand.
I grew older and
Was stunned to find
How much knowledge you had gleaned.
And so quickly.

Mother, I have learned enough now
To know I have learned nearly nothing.
On this day
When mothers are being honored,
Let me thank you
That my selfishness, ignorance, and mockery
Did not bring you to
Discard me like a broken doll
Which had lost its favor.

I thank you that
You still find something in me
To cherish, to admire, and to love.

I thank you, Mother.
I love you.





The Wild Trees: A Vertical Eden

10 05 2007

I just finished reading Richard Preston‘s new book The Wild Trees. I was so enthralled that I just have to pass it along. The Wild Trees is a true story of how scientists discovered the isolated biosphere suspended above the ground in the canopy of the giant redwoods on the US west coast. This self-contained ecosystem is home to trees, huckleberry bushes, mosses, and lichens that grow on the trunks and branches of the redwoods as if they were rooted in the earth. It’s a fascinating story, told by the author, who climbed over 350 feet into the trees to witness this lost world for himself.

 I listened to the audiobook read by the author. I had to look for reasons to be in the car just to finish the book. Check it out.





Iron Chef

9 05 2007

The Endless Feast took on a new twist as my friends Jason and Val hosted an Iron Chef party this Saturday. As Jason writes, we battled over the secret ingredient lemon/lime. The competition was stiff…so many tasty dishes – seafood ceviche, tuna and chipotle, lemon custard ice cream, chicken with deep fried okra among others. But at the end of the day, the dried limes ruled!!

 Yes, thanks to Maziyar and his dried limes and helpful tips, I made a Persian dish known as Khoresht-e Ghormeh Sabzi aka lamb and herb stew. Accompanied with my sourdough country white bread and a specialty fig bread, it was a winner!

Thank you to Jason for graciously allowing me to “dethrone” him as the Iron Chef on his birthday! I look forward to the next “competition.” Here is my new trophy — a genuine Iron Chef cup coaster. We discussed creating some kind of traveling trophy that gets passed from iron chef to iron chef each time. Let me know if you have any ideas on how to do that!

iron chef trophy