Friday, February 20, 2015

Ice Storm 2015 - The Aftermath

I know there are some smug Northerners out there who think the 2015 ice storm across the Midsouth has been a sort of joke, but I'm a Michigander by birth (a Southerner by choice).  This has been as bad an ice storm as I've ever witnessed, or have experienced, anywhere.

In Tennessee it's been made doubly tragic by the fact that the Department of Transportation isn't generally equipped with the plows and salt trucks made standard in colder climes. Drivers aren't as experienced in slippery weather.

There has been loss of life and property as highway arteries have clogged with traffic collisions, multi-car pile ups, and ditch diving.

Huge areas lost power while temperatures on February 15 plunged to 3 degrees and lower.

Air flights were cancelled, airports shuttered.

And for me and my family, the timing was particularly heart-wrenching, as we received the news that my husband's father died.  We were ice-locked and travel-blocked at every turn, and unable to go to the funeral.

Old Man Winter has felt particularly cruel this year.

Of course, as it always is with nature, there is beauty among ruins. Loveliness amidst savagery.

I ventured out of the house today; the first time in nearly a week. I went only as far as the backyard, searching through the aftermath with my camera, for a glimpse of hope. I wasn't disappointed.

I'm affectionately calling these photos my "ice collection". Tidier in the house, anyway, than the mouthful of icicle Edith brought in for a new chew toy yesterday.

Wrought Ice

Metal and ice together formed a theme today, unintentionally.

Ice Fortress

I have a small outdoor table with a crosshatch metal surface, and as the slab of ice on top melted enough to slide off, I got this amazing honeycomb sort of thing:

Or is it a chess board for ice fairies?

I also have on my patio a wrought iron chair with a high back that looks to be a throne to me. It's one of my favorite things, and I had no idea how it could interact with nature in all her seasons to give me some wonderful inspiration. It appears in many photos.

Ice Cliffs of Insanity


Curlicue on Ice

Then, to my surprise, as I ventured deeper into the yard, my hair got buzzed by a low-flying object. I looked up to find a robin, cheerfully calling, just in front of me.

I quickly snapped. 

I realized in that moment, that in the same yard of cold ice and twisted metal, looking all the glory of an apocalyptic wasteland, sat a sunny patch of wildwood. In the wildwood, in a pinprick of light, sat a robin.

I thought of my father-in-law, then. He loved nature, and taught me about birds, and what they eat, what they look like, and was always devising some sort of contraption to keep squirrels away from their seed. He always enjoyed watching birds as much as I ever have.

I didn't get to go to his funeral to say goodbye. My heart has been frozen cold, and sad. But as he went from this life to the next, maybe I didn't need to say goodbye. 

He's the song in the robin in my backyard.

I miss you, Len.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five Romantic Movies to Watch This Weekend, or Any Weekend

Social media is abuzz with a certain recent movie. So much so, I have seriously considered closing up my social interfacing until the storm passes.

But in the meantime, I thought I would share my top 10 most watchable romantic movies of all time. According to me.

The following list of movies are in no particular order. Many are simply great entertainment, and maybe some laughs (I love comedies).  But mostly, for me, they pass the real romance test:

A) Characters worth caring about.

B) Male romantic leads that aren't irredeemably psychotic.

Let me start with the most obvious title of all time. We'll just get this out of the way first, for those few of you that haven't heard of it, or maybe haven't seen it in a while.

1) The Princess Bride, 1987

This is the story of Buttercup and her farmboy, as their relationship grows into something more. It's adventure and fantasy, adapted from William Goldberg's novel (have you read it?)

2) Ever After: A Cinderella Story, 1998

Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott star as Danielle and The Prince. It's a refreshingly charming take on the old fairytale, with the character, Danielle, as a rough-and-tumble tomboy who unwittingly sheds new light on the prince's tired old world. 

3) Love Actually, 2003

I'm not just recommending this film because it has just about EVERY SINGLE ONE of my favorite British actors in it. Although, that's partly why. I'm including it as a totally watchable love story because of the so very many expressions of love displayed in a jumble of overlapping relationships. It's funny, and touching, and heartbreaking, but utterly real.

4) Big Business, 1988

Okay, this is more a comedy than a rom-com, but it has Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler, and Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler! Find me a combo better than that! The comedy duo plays two sets of twins, switched at birth. In each duo, a sister finds herself lost in a world she doesn't belong in, and entangled in a romantic relationship that just doesn't feel right. But the men that love them discover the woman of their dreams is just a twin away. Seriously, see this movie. I mean it.

5) A Walk in the Clouds, 1995

Yes, that is Keanu Reeves. Please don't go screaming into the night. Give him a chance. I believe this is one of the best films he ever made, and he's surrounded by the amazing talents of Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini. He learns from them, he really does. Also, the movie is about a soldier, Paul, returning from war to find his wife a total stranger (she never even read his letters!). He happens into a woman, Victoria, who is pregnant, and about to go home to her family's vineyard in shame. They work out a plan, and he throws his whole heart into it. Really. What I like most is that this beautiful film has you fall in love with Victoria and her family, right along with Paul. Gorgeous photography, amazing story. 

So there you have it! My top five most watchable romantic movies of all time. Take the time this weekend to admire what love could/should really be.