Friday, August 31, 2012

And while we are talking Darcy . . .

Awe shucks, I love you, too, Darcy!  

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Romantic August, 2012, Paris Texas style

I'm positive that there has not been another more beautiful August in Paris, Texas. The grass is green. The temperature is way under 100. There is no humidity at nighttime, and you can take a drive in your convertible with the top down. It has been oh-so romantic!

It reminds me of Jane Austin. Pride and Prejudice, Liz and Darcy, Bingley and Jane, and all those quotes that we love to love.  (All of these pictures are from the 2005 movie).

 I would say that we women love to love Austin, but I know there are plenty of men out there who recognize the power of her works, including Harold Bloom, who somehow gets it right in his reviews of Jane Austin (but don't talk to me about his reviews of Tolstoy!).

I recently posted a fun quote on Facebook from Pride and Prejudice that I always think of when I get to enjoy a good walk. I was surprised at the number of people who noticed and liked the quote -- isn't it wonderful how Austin still speaks to us today? She speaks to us because she is romantic, but not in a sappy way.  She is witty and pokes fun at her society, with perfect command of the language for each character, but she is not mean about it.  I can't quite figure out how she does it, but I am glad that she does.

Here is the walking quote:

"She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild."
. . .

 "To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! What could she mean by it? It seems to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum."

(As spoken by the lovely Caroline Bingley).

May we all have the joy of such a country-town indifference!

So, as this August draws to a close, I will continue to think of Jane Austin and romance, right here in Paris, Texas. And I will be thankful for the ability to walk and enjoy the great outdoors in our little country-town area.

Now, just to keep it real, I provide you with a lovely view of what our local guys are really doing, and thinking, and talking about.

Well, that is, if they aren't talking football.  (Thank you Casey Ressler for this awesome shot!)  And since I gave a girl reading quote, here is one for our boys:  

“Any time a boy is ready to learn about guns is the time he’s ready, no matter how young he is, and you can’t start too young to learn how to be careful.”

 Robert Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

Friday, August 24, 2012

Goodreads Live with Anna Quindlen on goodreads - live streaming video powered by Livestream

Goodreads Live with Anna Quindlenon goodreads - live streaming video powered by Livestream

Girl Talk, Deep and Easy

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up at the library, and I loved it, (good thing because I am not so great at staying on top of due dates, so I will be paying a fine for this one). It is good girl talk and deep thinking, but in a lighthearted way.

[Anna Quindlen, you are welcome on my back porch, anytime.]

If you are looking for a book to give to anyone that qualifies as a "woman" this book would probably earn you brownie points. Or, if you are waiting to check it out from the Paris Public Library, I promise to turn it in today! Here are some excerpts:

* * *


And that's not even counting the stuff in my closet. One day I peered inside and realized it looked like it belonged to someone with multiple personality disorder. The bohemian look, the sharp suits, the frilly dresses. Those days are behind me, and I finally know who and how I'm dressing. I'm dressing a person who has eighteen pairs of black pants and eleven pairs of black pumps. Of course, that number is illusory, since it includes the black pants I never felt looked great but purchased on sale, the pair that never seem to be the right length, and the two pairs that fit funny. Not too big or too small, just funny. Naturally there are two pairs of the shoes that I wear all the time, because they're comfortable, and one pair that I wear on occasion because they are great-looking and my toes don't entirely go numb for at least three hours.

* * *


It's Thoreau who wrote about this most indelibly and directly: "Simplify, simplify." . . . Tocqueville was more expansive: "Americans cleave to the things of the world as if assured they will never die. They clutch everything but hold nothing fast, and lose grip as they hurry after some new delight."

[Side note -- My God, Tocqueville! That was almost two hundred years ago, and here we still are. Yes, I love this book.]

* * *


"I hate January. At the beginning of every new year, I get a sinking sensation. All these year's later, sometimes I think it's the lack of sunlight, or the unwavering cold. And then I remember. There are some things that are deep inside me now, chemical, biological: The way my head swivels when a little voice cries: "Mommy!" in a crowded supermarket. The adrenaline rush late on an election night. The anvil weight of January.

[Our mothers both died in January.]

In 'Angels in America,' the brilliant play by Tony Kushner, a play about illness and love and loss and death, there is this valediction: 'But still. Still bless me anyway. I want more life. I can't help myself. I do.' I do."

[I do, too!]


"And there are all those little everyday miracles, too, the fact that a daffodil bulb sprouts a flower year after year, that kittens know how to use a littler box without being taught, that the music of Samuel Barber and Stephen Sondheim and the last sentences of 'A Christmas Carol' make your soul rise and shine. 'God bless us every one,' the book ends. I trust He does."

* * *

Anna Quindlen says this book is about the fact that she is an aging boomer, and she wanted to get the word out that she is loving life, even though she is the age that many people didn't live past when she was born (see posted video chat in next blog). A memorable conversation I had on my back porch this summer was: "If you didn't know how old you were, how old would you be?" I thought it was interesting that everyone gave an age that was younger. Except me -- I didn't answer the question, because I find it too difficult to answer. I do know how old I am. And I am happy with me. And although life isn't perfect, I certainly don't want to have to go back and do it again. I don't want to be younger. I just want to continue to embrace living life to the fullest, I want to continue being thankful for each day that I have. I am going to keep making mistakes and not be perfect, and sometimes have bad days, but I am living! I am living life to the fullest. And that is what "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" is all about.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reading -- And There are Giants in the Sky, Paris Texas!

Or, How to deal with a Giant?  (Production photo of Stephen Sondheim' / James Lapine's Into the Woods, currently playing at Paris Community Theater).
Failing schools reflect poorly on the community - Columns: "Almost half the public schools in Texas failed. That should get some notice. Here’s another statistic — that’s significantly worse than a year ago." This is an editorial by J.D. Davidson in THE PARIS NEWS, August 12, 2012 edition.  I hope you read it, and if you didn't, you will go check it out, with the link provided.

The editorial touches on the reason that I have taken up my reading activism stance in our community, and I am thankful to the Friday Paris Rotary Club for being the first group to allow me to come speak to them about why reading matters -- for Adults as well as for Children, especially in our community.

I will be happy to speak to any group; I had great feedback from that engagement and have heard that many were inspired to pick up a book and read. It is a small thing with the potential for long term benefits in your life and in our children's lives, and in our community. It's the reason for my byline in my reading reviews in THE PARIS NEWS: "But that's just my opinion. So turn off your screen and pick up a book. You be the judge -- you might just change your life."  

If you give me the chance, I think I can convince you to pick up a book, too. 

* * *

Into the Woods

Many of you know that it has been a life changing Sondheim Summer for me because of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical / book Into the Woods.

[All of this after a hard day's work, because we have been busy at the title company, isn't that good to know!]

Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1981-2011, With Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes, and Miscellany

So naturally, I had to know more about Sondheim. I recently loved thumbing through this detailed book on some of his musicals, including Into the Woods.  I like this book because it is not a "tell-- all."  Rather, it is just an information session. For example, Sondheim explained that because our attention spans are getting shorter, composers, playwrights and producers must make shows shorter -- ("Ahem") not that he paid any attention to that in Into the Woods.

 If you are coming this weekend, just be prepared. The Acts are long, but well worth it in the end.

Thank you Paris for coming out and supporting Paris Community Theater in our opening weekend of Into the Woods -- including many friends and family, and our sponsor Dr. Grossnickle and family, and sponsor Kimberly Clark.  Dr. Grossnickle also brought the esteemed Mayor, Dr. Hashmi, who said he truly enjoyed the show.  We were excited to see the Mayor continue to experience more of what Paris, Texas has to offer.

 It is the kind of story that sticks with you.  More than a fairy tale/ more than a fable.   So, I think I can speak for the whole cast when I say we are excited for this coming weekend, as we continue to live the dream of Into the Woods.  If you haven't seen it yet, we hope you make time this weekend.

(Picture by Robbie Gunn, story and more pictures at

What is it about?  I've given more details in my prior blog, but pictured here are Cinderella, Little Red, Jack (and his Mom),  the Baker and his Wife, and you can't see the crowd favorite, Milky White (MOO!!!)  all heading into the Woods to get their wish.  When you go into the woods, what do you get? You might get your wish, and you might get a Giant (read here by the talented Lisa Martin, sure wish you could see her emoting her death throes!!).  As our Jack (Josh Maxwell) so beautifully sings to us, There Are Giants in the Sky.

And there are.  There are Giants in Paris, Texas, too.  We can hide from them, or we can try to figure out how to deal with them.  I'm glad there are so many of you here that aren't into the hiding thing. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Theatrical Arts, an Incredible Sondheim Summer, Paris Texas style

August in Texas is not for the faint of heart. Usually by August, I have had enough of being outside and enjoy sitting around reading, eating garden tomatoes, and then more reading, after a busy day at the office. But this August, in fact, this summer, has been quite a different experience for me.

I have had the joy of experiencing a Sondheim summer with my friends at Paris Community Theater, working on the upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

One word for me. Incredible.

Stephen Sondheim has a musical theater groupie following that he richly deserves, but right now that is another story. Because this post is dedicated to the incredible group of people who have worked so hard to bring Paris a stellar production which kicks off the PCT season.

"Into The Woods" opens August 9, 2012. Buy tickets now, opening weekend is going to be exciting. Come wait for no show tickets if you have to. Better yet, buy season tickets and secure yourself a good seat for each show. Live theater is incredible brain fodder, helps you see that you are not alone in your experience, and is just plain fun. Take advantage of what Paris has to offer.

But what is this show about? Such a complicated question, but basically it is a fable involving four well known fairy tales, and one created quest fairy tale. What really happens when you get what you wish for?

We have Little Red Riding Hood. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

Jack and the Beanstock. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

Cinderella. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

Rapunzel. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

Ah! A Prince or two. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

And the poor childless Baker and his wife, sent on a witch quest. (Photograph courtesy of Lindsey Espinoza).

Told by an innocent Narrator, and - heavens - let's not forget the birds. The birds!
Incredible costumes, designed and made by our very own Alan Jones. Incredibly talented, hard working, and a blessedly nice cast and crew.

Incredible Director and friend, Tim Wood, who is always larger than life to me.
All for one incredible, deep fable. Fairy tales are nice, but I prefer fables in the end. I want to know what happens next. What can I learn from this story, from this experience? How am I tempting fate?

If you asked for the moral from anyone who knows this story, you'd get a different answer every time.

No One is Alone.

Children Listen.

There are Giants in the Sky, and They Should Be Honored.

Witches Can Be Right.

Be Careful of Tempting the Wolf.

Be Careful What You Wish for, Especially if You Aren't Sure that You are Sure.

I'd love to hear your thoughts (and thanks, Paris and beyond for over one thousand views to my new blog!).

But in the end, for me, one definite answer is that we all repeatedly go into the woods, over and over in our lives. We grope, we cope, and yet, we find hope. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Have I over used the word "incredible?"

Come see the show and decide for yourself.

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