Do You Remember?

Sometime in January, Netflix is scheduled to begin streaming the sixth season of  Grace and Frankiethe wonderful comedy about two aging women whose husbands leave them for each other. While their husbands’ marriage to one another is certainly a part of the show’s narrative, it isn’t the driving story line. Instead, the program looks at two women facing the problems of aging.  Frankie and Grace stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and they play their respective parts spectacularly. It is fun to watch them struggle with technology and their frustrations about their grown children and real-life problems like not being able to walk fast enough across a street to beat the light before it changes.

It makes me happy to see that television might — just MIGHT — be starting to realize that Baby Boomers are aging, and if we can’t laugh about that fact, we will live our golden years mighty depressed.

Another Netflix program that deals with aging is The Kominsky Methodstarring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.  The Kominsky Method also looks at aging, but from a man’s perspective. Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, a failed actor who now runs a respected acting school. Alan Arkin plays Norman Newlander, a successful agent who not only represented Sandy Kominsky, but is his best friend. The writing is very funny, and the situations the two men face — just like in Grace and Frankie — are realistic. Things like death of friends and loved ones, prostate issues, sex when you’re a senior citizen are all dealt with in a funny and way that hits home.

In the first episode of Season 2, the two men are driving in the car. Out of the blue, Norman asks Sandy, “Do you ever forget words?” Sandy agrees and tells a funny story of a situation in which he forgot a word. Throughout the rest of that episode, the men keep forgetting words.

Perhaps I find this especially funny because I am the Queen of Forgetting Words. I recently texted my son to ask him: What’s the word that means a team that was expected to lose actually wins? A few minutes or so later, my phone dings. Upset? Court asks me.


I’m pretty sure the reason it took so long for him to respond was because he took the time to look up nearby Memory Care facilities.

The other day Bec was visiting. The two of us sat out on our patio, each with a glass of wine (which Court would probably think I don’t really need). We talked about a variety of things from movies we liked to our favorite actors and so on. But much of our conversation consisted of both of us trying to come up with someone or something’s name. She couldn’t remember the name of one of her favorite Christmas movies (Deck the Halls). I couldn’t remember the name of one of my favorite Christmas movies (Love, Actually). Meg Ryan’s name escaped me. At one point, Bec and I were laughing so hard at ourselves, we were crying. “We need to use a sentence that has a direct object,” I said through my tears of laughter.

One of the critics from Rotten Tomatoes gave The Kominsky Method a pretty good review: Full of humor and heart, The Kominsky Method paints a surprisingly poignant — if a little paint-by-numbers — portrait of life and aging, elevated by two top-notch performances by legends Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas.

Can I just explain to this reviewer (who is probably 34 years old) that there is really no “paint-by-numbers” about their situation. That’s called Real Life.

And that’s why our children are already looking for rooms that will work for three…..

Thursday Thoughts

Never Forget
Eighteen years ago yesterday (can that really be?), we all woke up and began our day as though it was like any other day. It wasn’t. I arrived at work around 7 a.m. For reasons I can’t recall, I telephoned Bill shortly after I arrived. We talked about whatever I called for, and then he said, “Have you heard that a plane flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York?” I remember being stunned by that news. But before I could say anything, he said, “Oh my God, another plane just flew into the other tower.” And so our day, and weeks, and months, and frankly, years began. Because nothing has ever been the same since. Not really. Terrorists struck other places, but not the United States. As the day — and the horrors — progressed, Americans — and really the whole world — set out on a new era. Everyone said NEVER FORGET —  that was the buzzword of the days ahead. I don’t think anyone has. There is not a September 11 that goes by that I don’t cry for at least some of the day. And that’s without watching the tributes on mass media. God bless America.

More Beezness
As I have documented in the past, our 13-year-old granddaughter is a beekeeper. A month or so ago, she and her dad (her fellow apiarist) gathered and bottled their honey…..

It’s as delicious this year as it was last year. This past weekend, Dagny (who is an entrepreneur as well as an apiarist) set up a lemonade honey stand, and she and her sister Maggie Faith began the big sell. This sweet team made a total of $370 in two hours!…..




September is an R Month
I have been so hungry for oysters on the half-shell. So the other night, I convinced Bill that we should go to a neighborhood restaurant that offers a fabulous happy hour featuring lots of different fish and shellfish, including oysters at a buck a piece. It wasn’t a hard sell, because Bill likes them as much as I. Oysters are supposed to be more delicious in months that include an R. These certainly were…..


It’s Murder
I recently wrote a blog post about my television binge watching habit, and mentioned Midsommer Murders in particular. I want to alert my readers that to my chagrin, this program is being eliminated from Netflix’s offerings as of October 1, 2019! Yikes. I better get going. I’m only on Series 13, and there are 19 series. Gotta go!


It’s Incredible

Friday afternoon I got a text message from my 10-year-old granddaughter Kaiya: Nana. (Kaiya always starts her text messages to me with an emphatic Nana and a period. She just wants to make sure I’m paying attention.) Incredible 2 is on Netflix.

She was alerting me to this fact because she knew that I desperately wanted to see this movie. Yes, it’s true. I — like thousands upon thousands of Incredible fans (99.87 percent of whom are 10 or younger) — was simply DYING to know if the baby had superpowers. The Incredibles (the original one, that is) left us dangling. It was the biggest unfinished plot line since Who Shot J.R.?

Kaiya and her siblings had already seen The Incredibles 2, but they kept the secret of whether or not the baby had powers and, if so, what those powers were. I kept trying to make our schedules work so that I could take them to see the movie with me (they had already seen it with their parents), but I couldn’t make it happen before we left Denver. I even considered renting it from Red Box, but I was pretty sure Bill wouldn’t want to see it, and also pretty sure he might call a mental hospital to pick me up should I watch it by myself.

Still, now that it was on Netflix, I was going to watch it one way or another. And then I remembered my AZ-resources: my great nephew and great niece Austin and Lilly.

Taking my cue from Kaiya, I sent my niece a text message: Maggie. The Incredibles 2 is on Netflix. Would Austin and Lilly like to see it?

Actually, that’s not completely true. I asked her while we were at Lilly’s soccer game. But if I had sent a text message, I would definitely have started with her name followed by a period. It’s my new signature text message style.

Anyway, she told me that though they had just watched it the week before when they had been home sick, they would love to watch it again with me. And so we did.

As soon as I sat down, I instructed both of them to NOT do what my 8-year-old granddaughter Mylee always does when we watch a movie together that she’s seen before: tell me what’s about to happen before it does. Mylee is not being mean. She just is so excited that she wants to make sure I’m not dozing off. They both sincerely promised that they wouldn’t spill any beans.

And then they both promptly began spilling beans.

The baby has 17 superpowers Austin told me even before the movie started. And it was downhill from there, plot surprise-wise. It really didn’t matter, because I’m the one who always reads the plots from Wikipedia before I watch any movie, and frequently look at the end of books first. Still…..17 SUPERPOWERS!…..

And now I’ve told you.

I love the animated movies they make for kids these days. Long gone are the days of those dreadful movies I had to sit through with Court when he was young. Nowadays, the animation is mesmerizing and the stories are clever, often with quips meant for the grown ups in the audience. The animation is amazing, especially the Pixar movies. I love how the characters resemble the actors who are providing their voices.

It’s not surprising that good triumphed over evil in The Incredibles 2. And it really is a movie worth watching, especially if you can borrow a kid.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Haunted House

Typically by this time we have already made our way to AZ for our fall trip at which time we open up the house and prepare it for our winter arrival on Christmas Day. This year, because of a doctor’s appointment related to Bill’s participation in the clinical research study, we have postponed our trip until November 6, the day after his appointment, at which time we will fly to AZ rather than drive, and return to Denver about a week-and-a-half later. I’m happy to say that our AZ house has already been opened up by my niece Maggie and her family, who are using it as a stop-off between selling their house and moving into their new home. It makes me happy to think about our little house in Mesa being lived in by Austin and Lilly (and their parents, of course). The patter of little feet and all that jazz.

We are, in fact, having to remain pretty flexible this year as a result of the research study. Part of the requirement is that Bill meets monthly with the doctor in Denver, which means that he, at least, will have to fly back once a month. I reckon as his care partner, I will be accompanying him. It will be a chance to give the grands a hug and kiss.

Anyhoo, it has been years since we have been in Denver for Halloween. We always get photos, but it will be fun this year to see the grands dressed up for trick-or-treating in person. We will have to make do with photos for the Vermonters.

As much as I like to read a good thriller, I’m frankly not much for watching scary movies. I really never have liked them, though I was more amenable to them when I was younger. I’m pretty sure the last horror movie I saw was The Sixth Sense, a film that scared the devil out of me. There is a scene in that movie where the little boy who “sees dead people” glimpses a dead woman with half of her head shot off walk from one room in his house across the hall to another room. For the next six months, every time I stayed up later than Bill, I would come upstairs, stop at the top of the stairs, and then run like hell down the hall to our bedroom. Hand to God. If Court had come out of his room about that time, I am certain I would have had a heart attack.

So I ask myself why-oh-why did I think watching a scary movie Saturday night when Bill was not home was a good idea. Some time ago, I read (and reviewed) the book The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I found the book sufficiently spooky, but readable. Netflix recently began streaming an original version of the story, not in one film but in a series of eight or so episodes. As a tribute to Halloween, I decided to watch the first episode. At home by myself. I seriously wasn’t more than six or seven minutes into the first episode when I heard a gigantic crash somewhere in the house. You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I nearly jumped out of my chair. I paused the program and carefully began searching the house for a ghost, or perhaps a serial murderer. I went to the top of the stairs, but the woman with half a head was no where to be seen. I even managed to gather up all of my nerve and creep carefully down to our basement, but there was no ghost there either.

I managed to convince myself that the noise came from outside, perhaps someone throwing a pumpkin into the street. But I wasn’t able to bring myself back to the movie. I removed The Haunting of Hill House from my Netflix list, and I watched The Princess Diaries instead. How scary can Julie Andrews be?

Yesterday morning, I went into our guest room to look for something in the closet. I noticed that the piece of art that I had hung up after our painter was finished with his work was on the floor, the frame broken into pieces. I’m unwilling to admit that I just did a bad job of hanging the picture. I’m pretty sure the woman with no head was in our house Saturday night.

Thursday Thoughts

This Pear is No Bluff
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we have a pear tree in our back yard that has been fruitful this season……

So I am trying to come up with all sorts of ways to use pears. The other day I made a pear-caramel upside down cake that turned out perfectly. I sent Jll a text saying that if anyone would like to come over after dinner for dessert, they were welcome. No response, but around 5:30 the kids began trailing in. First came Maggie Faith on her bicycle. A short time later, I heard the front door open and Alastair walked in with a big smile on his face. I hear there’s pear cake, he said. Next came Addie and Dagny. I asked Addie to serve it up, and before I could say a partridge in a pear tree, the cake was served and eaten, and the kids were gone. Can you blame them?….

Well, actually, Maggie and Dagny stayed to watch an episode of Death in Paradise on Netflix, a mystery show on which I have gotten them hooked.

One More Pear
There were a couple of pieces left from the pear cake, and I removed them from the cake plate and put them on a small paper plate so that Bill and I could enjoy them for dessert the next day. I had a meeting that night, and when I got home, I noticed that Bill had eaten both pieces. “You ate my piece too?” I asked him crabbily. “Well, since they were on one plate, I thought you wanted me to have them both.” I’m not certain of the logic there, which seems somewhat flawed, though genuine. So the next day I made baked pears with brown sugar and cinnamon…..

…..and told him to make sure he left me one!

Bob’s Your Uncle
I’ve mentioned that Pinterest gets an idea on her own in what she thinks I might be interested. For a while it was chicken coops. Lately, however, she has been sending me suggestions for haircuts — specifically, angled bobs…..

Now don’t get me wrong. I happen to think think angled bobs are absolutely adorable. Still, how Pinterest thinks I can go from this…..

… an angled bob is a mystery. By the way, the other thing she has been sending me is information on something called “puffy paint.” I have no idea what that is, or why Pinterest thinks I am interested in knowing how to create it. Bill and I have been talking about hiring a painter to paint our upstairs once the windows are finished. Since we all know that Google, Facetime, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all eavesdrop, that might explain the puffy paint posts. But I am NOT putting puffy paint on my bedroom walls.

You’re Beautiful
Bill and I were grown ups again last night. We went to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I loved — LOVED — Carole King when I was in high school and college. It was all I could do last night to refrain from singing. The woman behind me wasn’t as successful as I. Just sayin’…..


Love in the Twilight

You’re born, and then the first 25 years or so of your life seem to take forever. Particularly in elementary school and high school, you can’t wait to get old so that you can do All Those Things. You can’t wait to have a car. You can’t wait to get a great job and earn lots of money. You can’t wait to get married to the perfect person and have those perfect kids.

But from about 25 years old and beyond, life seems to move quickly. You’re busy with raising your family. You’re trying to balance your family life and your professional life. You’re running to and fro to soccer games and school plays and making sure homework gets done while trying to get a few bites of healthy food into your kids’ mouths. And before you know it, your kids are grown and don’t live with you any longer and work no longer seems as interesting as it once did. And then you retire, and though you might not have as much to do, it seems like the weeks just fly by. Tick tock, tick tock.

Wow, the above two paragraphs sound very maudlin, don’t they? I don’t mean that to be the case, because I’m happily retired and love my life very much. But it really does seem like time moves quickly.

I’m not just being a flibbertygibbit; I’m just about to get to my point: the other day, Netflix sent me an email in which they told me about a newly-posted movie that they think I might like. They do this quite often, and most of the time I wonder why in heaven’s name they would think that I might like a movie featuring Bruce Willis as an alien space commander in the year 2080.

But the movie they suggested this time was Our Souls at Night, a brand new Netflix original film. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Why does that name sound familiar? And as I read the synopsis, it occurred to me. Our Souls at Night was the last book written by the late author Kent Haruf, published posthumously in 2015 and reviewed by this writer in July 2015.

Kent Haruf is one of my very favorite writers, and his novel Plainsong is one of my two favorite novels of all time (the other being My Antonia, by Willa Cather).

The movie stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, who play Louis Waters and Addie Moore. The two septuagenarians live in the fictitious town of Holt, Colorado (allegedly modeled after real-life Yuma, on Colorado’s eastern plains). Louis and Addie are widowed, and lonely. They have both experienced tragedy, and now are just living day-to-day. Time is rushing by, just as I mentioned above. One day Addie gets up the nerve to ask Louis if he would spend the night with her, just talking and platonically sleeping together. He agrees, and a beautiful story emerges. The movie hit home for me so much that I wondered if the movie-maker was peering into my windows.

Life after 60 is entirely different than life as a young adult. The issues you face aren’t getting kids to soccer practice. Instead, many people fight loneliness and chronic pain and kids who are so focused on their life that they quit being curious about yours. Some might struggle with memory issues. Maybe macular degeneration or cataracts are giving you fits.

The movie does a wonderful job of presenting the realities of relationships in your twilight years, so very different from those in your more youthful life. It hits on friendship instead of sex, and the important role of grandparents in the lives of their grandkids. It reminds us of what life was like before we all were staring at our electronic devices. It winks at small-town gossipers.

And wow, what a job by these two amazing actors. Redford is 81 years old and Fonda will turn 80 on her next birthday, but they haven’t lost any of their acting chops……

The movie doesn’t glamorize growing old by making Fonda look va va va voom. She looks like a senior citizen, albeit quite an attractive one. Redford’s portrayal of Louis reminded me of my father.

All I can say is thank you Netflix, both for making this movie and for suggesting it to me. Now stop with the Bruce Willis stuff.

Thursday Thoughts

Can You Hear Me Now?
Sometimes I embrace technology; sometimes I want to throw my cell phone/iPad/laptop computer right out the window. Nevertheless, overall, I know technology has improved our lives. Still, my heart sinks when my cell phone rings, and, upon answering it, I get that dreaded quiet lull indicating a computer-generated voice will pipe up. The other day when my telephone rang, my phone showed it was a call from my primary care doctor’s office. That’s never good. But that dreaded lull came on just before a cheerful computer-generated voice said, “Hello. We are trying to reach Kristine McLain. Have we reached the right number?” “Yes,” I said firmly and clearly. “Is this Kristine McLain?” said the nonhuman voice. “Yes,” I yelled again. After several more attempts, I finally convinced the computer I was who they wanted. “Our records indicate you have not had your annual mammogram,” said the voice. “Is this true?” “No,” I yelled into the phone. “If this is not true,” said the voice, “please indicate verbally when you last had your mammogram by telling us the month and year.” So I said, “December 2016.” “You said December 2015. Is this correct?” “No,” I yelled into the phone. “If this is not correct, please tell us the month and year of your last mammogram,” said the voice. “December 2016,” I repeated, loudly enough that Bill looked in from outside where he was doing yard work to see with whom I was arguing. “You said December 2015. Is this correct?” And so on, until after three identical attempts, at which time the voice said, “It appears we are having trouble communicating. We will call you at a later time,” and disconnected. I considered calling my doctor back to talk to a human, but know full well that the place at which I had my recent mammogram had sent her my results. Unfortunately, no one told the computer. This odd encounter once again reminded me that I will not drive or ride in a driverless car until technology has succeeded in inventing a workable automated phone system.

All Hat and No Cows
Yesterday afternoon, Bill and I went to Jimmy John’s for lunch (his favorite). We decided we weren’t in the mood to go back to our house, so we decided to visit a place we’ve driven by many, many times, and each time we have said we should stop just for the fun of it, but never have. You will be surprised when I tell you it was a business called Tractor Supply Co. “I went to one of these kinds of stores once a long time ago, and got a bucket,” Bill said. And apparently he was in the market for a bucket once again. It was about what you would expect. Lots of tools, lots of animal feed, the makings for chicken coops, a small display of ranch clothes, and a large selection of buckets. Bill happily chose one, after taking a bit of time to decide between the black bucket and the red bucket. Hey, I’m not going to complain. I do the same thing at a kitchen supply store. For the record, he picked black. And he told me that his rancher friends would say that we were all hat and no cows. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though admittedly he made me laugh.

Speaking Sharply
Last year very shortly after we arrived, Maggie’s husband Mark came to our house packing his knife sharpener. He commenced that day to sharpen all of our knives, much to my delight. So I began nagging him almost upon our arrival this year to once again sharpen our knives. His heart was willing from the get-go, but circumstances never allowed it to happen. Happily, day before yesterday, he and Austin appeared at our door with the knife sharpener. Maybe 10 minutes and a lot of whirring noises later, my knives were sharp and ready to go. He’s very kind to do this for his mother-in-law and his wife’s old auntie. Of course, it might have helped some that I threatened to stab him in the heart with my dull knife if he didn’t help me out soon.

Speaking of Love
While looking for something else altogether, I stumbled upon this old photo of the McLains when they were considerably younger. My heart just melted when I looked at it, and it melts every time I look at it again. I think I mostly love how Alastair has his head on Addie’s shoulder. Today? Wouldn’t happen….


Elementary, Dear Watson
I got hooked a few years ago on the PBS mystery series Sherlock (not to be confused with CBS’s Elementary). I’m pretty sure that a lot of the reason I was so taken was because I’m quite frankly very smitten with Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the famous detective. Smitten. Who uses that word anymore? Anyway, I don’t particularly think the actor is terribly good looking in any other role in which I’ve seen him; however, as the sherlock-1600x720great detective, he is simply dreamy. Dreamy. Who uses that word anymore? With the exception of one show that aired last January, PBS’s Sherlock has taken quite a break. So while I’m recording the program, I haven’t watched any of the new episodes yet. Instead, I am watching the old ones on Netflix to get caught up and back into the swing of things. And I had forgotten just how BIZARRE the show is. Bill watches bits and pieces and looks at me like what the….?  I might be getting too old for the program, but then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Dreamy.


Thursday Thoughts

Down By the Schoolyard
Tuesday afternoon I had some time to kill and a back that was hurting for reasons I can’t explain. (Lord knows it wasn’t from hard work!) Anyway, I had put the movie Maid in Manhattan on “My List” on Netflix, and I decided to spend a couple of mindless hours watching it. I had seen it before, but for some reason, I like that movie. Perhaps it’s because it stars Jennifer Lopez, a performer I really like, though admittedly her acting – at least  in this movie – leaves a lot to be desired. My liking this movie is certainly DESPITE her co-star Ralph Fiennes, an actor I abhor for no good reason whatsoever. While I half-expected to look back afterwards and think well, there’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back, that isn’t what happened. I’m a sucker for a love story, predictable or not. And it started off well because the song that opens the movie is Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, by Paul Simon. I double-dog-dare you to listen to that song without tapping your feet and singing along. One of my favorite songs EVER. In fact, that movie has lots of good music. No chemistry between J-Lo and Fiennes, however.

The New Kale
I recently got something on my Facebook timeline feed that indicated that the vegetable kohlrabi was making a comeback. In fact, according to whatever it was I read, kohlrabi is the new kale. Because kale is apparently losing its luster, I feel safe to admit that I simply loathe that particular green leafy vegetable. And I am a lover of green leafy vegetables. The only exception is the Tuscan soup (aka Zuppa Toscana) that, in addition to kale, also includes Italian sausage and potatoes. Perhaps it’s the Italian sausage and potatoes that makes the kale palatable. Anyway, I had great plans to write an entire blog post about kohlrabi in which I would tell you all about my grandmother and how she served kohlrabi and how delicious I thought it was. As part of this proposed blog post, I was going to include a recipe for kohlrabi, including photos of the kohlrabi which I would have prepared. Unfortunately, word about kohlrabi being the next kale hasn’t reached Denver, because not only can I not find it at any grocery store, but when I ask, the produce people look at me blankly as though I’m speaking Bengali. I am not giving up.

Our son Court and his family recently returned from Maine, where they attended the wedding of Alyx’s sister. For the rehearsal dinner, the bridal couple offered fresh Maine lobsters. Yum. They shipped in 40 pounds of them, and, not surprisingly, they were apparently delicious.

40 lbs lobsters 2016

At some point Court and Alyx’s brother Kemo challenged one another to a lobster-eating contest. Court was the victor with a total of six whole lobsters. He won  by a mere claw. Kaiya was brave enough to handle a live lobster…..

Kaiya lobsters

When the Cows Come Home
Tuesday was Dress Like a Cow Day at Chick-Fil-A. I’m not sure if that’s what they called it, but apparently anyone who wore cowlike clothing into the restaurant received a free entrée. I connected up with my niece Maggie and her family that morning at Chick-Fil-A to say goodbye as they were leaving for Arizona later that afternoon. Not ones to miss out on a good deal, here is who I found……

Mark Lilly cows 7.16 (2)

Yikes. When Mark Jensen hears Dress Like a Cow, he dresses like a cow. You can barely see Lilly’s cow vest, but it’s there.