Saturday, December 6, 2014

Birdman and Opening Night

John Cassavetes' film Opening Night (1977) has the actress Gina Rowland stumbling drunk behind the stage in the days leading up to opening night for a play on aging. Haunted by a tragically killed fan, a younger woman, she fights by day with both the ghost and the play write, an older woman. Blind drunk, she pulls off the performance of her life just in time to open the play.

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance (2014) echoes a similar structure with a mysterious superhero alter ego levitating about in his head is funnier and seems a fitting alter ego for Michael Keaton's Batman fame.  Edward Norton is brought in to save the play when another actor departs, but he proves to be difficult on set and full of himself while also making him kind of fun and funny. Emma Stone, the daughter that gets no daddy time, is recently out of rehab and crackles with a wisdom that eventually even her dad notices. Sparks surprisingly fly between Norton and Stone as he seeks her attention.

I'm not sure if Birdman is channeling Opening Night, but for me the similar territory of opening on Broadway pulls them together, with Birdman being a bit more quirky and fun.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Football & Food in Athens Schools

I love that this little town in the hills of Ohio, though often ignored politically, undeveloped economically, and mired in pockets of profound poverty, in the same day served the Athens City School kids Abby's winning dish for the state of Ohio school lunch contest and sent the high school football team to the State Championship game at the OSU stadium in Columbus.

We've got the food thing going on in Athens so it's no surprise that we've got budding chefs even in fourth grade. Whereas it's pretty incredible to see Athens compete with big city football programs that pull from a much larger pool of talent. Let's face it, football is a game where Goliath has the advantage.

Athens High School did not win, but it was the kind of football game that kept the fans on both sides on their feet (56 to 52) to the last seconds. For the record, and many were broken, there were more Bulldog fans. The Irish had twenty pounds and several inches on nearly every Athens player, but they did not have a quarterback with a phenomenal passing game, thus the slug fest high scoring game.

The real controversy was prompted when the school board notified parents that all Athens City Schools would have an early release followed by a delayed start. Turned out that parents, staff, and the buses were needed to get the football team and marching band up to Columbus in time for the game, but not everyone knew this information.

Being Athens, here I refer to the spirit of rebel rousing, the school board got an earful from parents august that four hours of education were being taken away before even a snow day hit for football. Nonetheless also being Athens, people listened. So a few digressed with hot air, but still people actually listened. Parent concerns were taken to heart. 

The school board explained their position in a letter and in the end took only two hours out of the school day. 

The special lunch was pulled off thanks to cooperation with the Athens City schools, Abby's family, and parent volunteers. 

The kids embraced it all.

At the game, it was cold in the stands. We were prepared-- I pulled out our ski gear. I noticed my neighbors in the stands sported hunting gear, making me feel a tad more city-mouse than I think of myself. As I watched the opposing fans cheer their Irish team from Toledo, the Athens fans rang cowbells. More cowbell

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mug Shots

In Appalachia you rub elbows with people from all walks of life. A glimpse into ways that contrast my own such as the summer day I asked the electrician to wait while I finished off a pot of jam led to the disclosure that he had earned a blue ribbon at the county fair the summer before for his jam. The surprise jam aficionado caught me off guard.

Recently, a farmer lectured me about adding trace minerals to the soil. Amusing because I have a garden that barely qualifies as a trace of land.

However, today's tip takes the cake due to both the sincerity of the tip and the source which comes from a  jail bird.

Drum roll.

Get your mug shots right away. The Police put you in the cell and leave you there overnight and then take your mug shots when you look all scruffy and worse for the wear the next morning

Get'em early folks!

Much cuter than a Mug Shot

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Alternative Rodent Pet, Rats

Rodents were not my first thought for pets. However, birthday wishes brought two rats to chez-Jordan.

Here's Moka-chan eating pizza crust.

I tried holding the gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs at the pet store. The rats, hands down, were the calmest and smartest-- they didn't walk off the edge of the table. Now that they live with us, I've also learned a few other pluses. Rats swim,  in the bathtub. They like to be held and tend to snuggle.  Most importantly, their poop is small, and once accustomed to handling, they rarely poop on us.

A typical reaction to meeting the rats goes like this. The Mule bring the rats out of their hotel and people cringe or say something like our New York City friend who stood at one end of the hallway and called out, "That's close enough!"

The Mule is turning into a pro rat handler, and the rats are very charming. It surprised me to realize that Moka-chan prefers being held to going into her hotel. The ratties are growing on me and they are definitely worth considering as an alternative rodent pet.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


My husband told me of a new business term he heard used for getting into the details today, granular.

I know the term granular as it relates to wound care. Granular means that the wound has new tissue filling in at the base. In nursing, you're trained to look for this sign of growth.

Business terms like granular are co-opted into business speak because they have meaning somewhere else. As I thought about the word granular, it came to me that it has life usage too.

When your spirit or life takes a new direction, the earth shattering stuff comes from deep down and is rebuilt, not in one fell swoop and not on the surface, but at the base-- bit by crumb by bit.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Hero

Dear Uncle N,
Only time will tell if she will ever know the story, but something tells me that she will shrug it off as if she knew all along it would be you.

She's never doubted one of you, ever. She may have admonished any one of you from time to time, but she never doubted the great stuff of which any one of you were made. Not because she made you, but because she watched time and experience mold you into noble and great human beings.

There may be fewer pictures in your baby book, there may be some mixed up memories of your first words, but you got more real estate in her heart, as the baby-- of this there is no doubt. No one even begrudges this, which is why it is so fitting that it was you that saved the day.

Thank you for helping us to see how important it is to do your homework, to look at old images and to compare them with new ones, to ask bold questions, and to pursue experts. Thank you for being wicked smart and leaving no stone unturned. Another day will come, and you may not be able to maneuver the fates, and for that I fear a wearisome struggle for you and for us.

I have no stripe to add to your sleeve, I've no sword to knight you with, but I do really, really get that you were the one who made a difference on this one important day. You are the hero. In the movies, the hero strides in with clanking boot spurs or on a white horse, but in real life, he's wearing khakis and fleece, and he has trained, researched, and consulted to do this one thing that counts in this moment as if his whole life prepared him for the day.

Thank you for being you.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Old Wood and a Long Wait

As I feed the old wood into the fire. My thoughts swirl around a dead tree's new life as dancing flames. Bright orange and yellow lights glow before me as I sit mesmerized by the heat and energy.

My mother-in-law's body struggles onward, its functions met by the administrations of hospital nurses, tubes, and drips, but the brain rallies no longer. I dare to ask, how much longer. "Everyday something different happens, who can know?"

How like life-- we make our plans and then poof, they are gone as if spit in the wind.

According to the doctors, the brain is gone and will not come back. Another pounces for certainty, "Are you sure?" Just a minute ago, uncertainty was waved in my face, now it is thrown again from a different angle. 

Certainty shimmies away.

I press cold fingers into warm skin. A body lies before me, unable to move or speak. Bandaids, tubes, dressings, and machines, cover and whirr. It is a scene out of reality, yet surreal. I'm asked if I want to leave. I'm confused. I want to know, I want to see evidence.

Consultations ensue. Some experts consulted say no recovery is possible. Other experts are found that say the brain must first reabsorb the blown up tumor tissue, but it is possible. 

Possible? How long do we wait? How many before her have recovered? How likely is it that the brain will be uninjured? Will she come back?

The waiting continues. There are no quick or easy answers.