Monday, December 28, 2009

Can't Fake The Feeling

Never had to fake it before, but here it is. My very first ever not-real Christmas tree! And it wasn't even that hard to do. I actually had more fun decorating this year than I have in a long time. Probably because I just couldn't drag myself to the top shelf of the storage to dig out all the junk I usually go through every year. And by junk, I mean all the quite meaningful beloved sentimental nutcrackers and smokers and pyramids and old-world ornaments and unsual lights I've accumulated over the years.

I just found this stuff, including the tree which I bought for $2.50 at a thrift store, around here and there at home or "on the street" and put it together to Christmas up my little corner of life.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jim Carrey Rocks The Dickensian House

(Huh. A Penny post with no pictures. Maybe she can pull it off.)

Disney's 3D animated "A Christmas Carol."

More magic than the first time I went to Disneyland. After all these years, I can still feel that?

This movie is AHH-mazing. I don't know how to write movie reviews, but let me just say some words and see if you get the picture:

Grotesquely comic (especially the close-ups of people's mouths. Ewww, the teeth in that era! And did that char woman have dirty-behind-the-ears stains?)

Jim Carrey's Victorian dialect as Scrooge

Jim Carrey's Scottish accent as the Ghost of Christmas Present

Jim Carrey's ghosts that I didn't even know were his voice! A lot of them.

Dickens' dialogue--unapologetically.

Serious animation--attention to minute detail and who would ever think of such things to animate?!




And did I mention the animation? Boggled my little brain not just a little bit.

I'm a Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol fan from way back and for Christmas fare, I still like the old ones better, because they have more real spirit and joy and the message isn't lost in all the digital flights of fancy. I know it's animation, but there was something missing. No soul in the eyes. At once I felt like it was almost real because it was so well done, and at the same time I felt cheated because the eyes belong to puppets. In other words, this movie is not a good way to introduce the real Dickens classic.

Reading the story is the best way to get Dickens, I think. The next best was a few years ago when I heard an actor tell the story as Dickens at This is the Place Candlelight Christmas in a pioneer building heated by a fire on a bitterly cold night. Then the movies with real people you can be moved by come next.

Those are all good for experiencing the hope and joy and recovered humanity of this story.

However, for the candy part of Christmas, this movie makes the grade, in a large, dazzlingly fantastic way.

I might have to see this thing another 40 or so times.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Puppet-Pure Heart

This is not me and my sister, but it could be. This is from the late 40s, and I just realized we looked very much like this as kids in the 60s!

When we were about this age, we took a puppetry class at the park. We made papier mache puppets, acted out skits to rehearse the puppet show and then got pulled away before the big event when we would show the world what grand puppeteers we were on the road to becoming. The world's great loss, I assure you, especially considering out wonderously alive my own puppet was turning out to be. At least I earned my puppetry badge in Girl Scouts. (My sisters won't let me tell the story of our skits, though. They say we still have to live and face people in this town.)

OK--it happened like this:
Last Saturday, I taught an art class at the Pioneer Craft House, which is a tucked-away wooded retreat-like campus in Salt Lake City.

I taught this rice-paper-marbling class,

and then wandered into a weaving room.
I'll save this very interesting story about how I spent double what I made teaching the class on Karen Women's Community hand-woven items for another time.

Still wandering, suddenly in a mind-numbing whirl, I was rocketed into my puppet-past. I stepped through the doors of the cottage and actually gasped...even more than I did when I saw my new friend Mark Eaton for the first time. Walls and shelves and benches filled, I tell you, with antique puppets and marionettes. To know me is to know a woman who can be transported to some lost horizon at the mere sight of puppets and dolls.

And then... oh-my-goodness-gracious-sakes-alive---KOREAN PUPPETS

The woman who showed me into this room told me that they are having a photographer come in to take pictures for some story someone is writing about them, and she was disappointed that I lived clear up here in Ogden because she wanted me to be one of the people to help hold and arrange the puppets for the pictures. She didn't want just anybody to manhandle the dolls and she could tell, just by my reaction to them, that I have a pure heart.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Spam Lady Dazzles A Really Tall Man

I met this guy in the break room at the studio the other day. He's a bit older and he was wearing a suit and I saw him from the chin down standing out in the hall talking to someone much smaller about golf.
When he came into the break room and fixed a cuppa, I said, "So, are you a golfer?" (Actually, when I saw him out in the hall, I had said under my breath, but still outloud without really realizing what I was doing, "Dang, that man's a giant!" ) He smiled and said, no, he was just covering the game yesterday when a man won a million dollars for sinking a hole in one, or something really outlandish that never happens.
So, then I chatted him up about various and sundry topics and decided he should know my name since we were such good friends now. I was still thinking he was just some Joe with a growth hormone issue. I said, "I'm Penny the Spam Lady, by the way. I'm here to strut my SPAM. I won 3rd place at the state fair, but really mine was the best--shouldda taken first. ." He grinned and said "Of course!" and reached out his humungous hand saying, "Hi, I'm Mark Eaton."
I thought, "I know that name. Is he an anchor on this show or something? Probably I've seen him and he just didn't look so huge sitting behind a news desk." But I didn't really want to show my ignorance, so I said knowingly and funnily--you know--litote, "Oh yeah, I've heard that name, before."
But still not a word about basketball. I hope he thinks I knew and he didn't have to explain, so instead we talked about his two high-end restaurants in SLC, and other food-related topics (this is where I shine, remember!) and then I asked him, "So, do you have a life, or is this your life?" And he laughed--at me, not necessarily with me, I know so you don't have to say it--and told me he had some good managers working with him. Then they called him in to do his golf segment on air and I watched it in the mean-messy break room, which looked like a break room in an industrial factory rather than a television studio, and saw the caption on the screen explaining he was a former Jazz player.
This is what he looks like now:

So tell me. Would you have recognized him? (The tall one.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lovely Lady In My Car

Meet Eleanor, my 92 year-old Montana tour guide. She showed me around Helena without even being able to see where we were going.

Eleanor moved to Montana sometime in the '20s. Told me stories of gem-gleaning in the streets as a child after a heavy rain, JFK's visit in 1960, Helena wildfires, and even a crazy story about a pilot flying his plane through the double spires of the cathedral. She showed me where Helena's Chinatown used to be and explained that it's not like what you would expect from a was just where the Chinese mine workers lived. She said that not being citizens, they couldn't stake claims but worked very hard on other people's claims. When the area was razed in the '70s, they found underground tunnels that led to the mines from the homes. The citizen-owners of the mines would take their day's findings and go spend it on large living and never really get rich. While they were out carousing at night, some of the Chinese workers would sneak through the tunnels, do their own mining and sock away their "earnings."

Eleanor rode with me down gulch roads, marveling at progress and change and I mentioned more than once to her that "I could live here!" (She's written to me since I've been back, giving me the name of a good realtor and some information on some properties for sale in one of the area's many gulch developments. It would be like having a nice house in a campground!)

She showed me around all the old buildings...Gary Cooper's childhood home, Montana's Children's Home and Hospital, Crippled Children's Hospital built in '37, old lime kilns, and well so many places and things that fascinated me to the point of having to throw my car into park, jump out and snap a picture or two. The places we visited are not the topic of this post, however interesting it all is. And it is very interesting and of course, I have pictures which I might post later. I took this picture of Eleanor waiting blindly and patiently for me on one of those times I had jumped out to take a picture of something else.

I'm just missing a cherished friend.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Tell Me The Lights Are Shining Any Place But There

Black currants in my aunt's garden in North Ogden.

It took the two of us two hours to get most of the currants off four bushes. We ended up with about a gallon currants which steamed down to 2 quarts of juice. Very unsual flavor, by the way. I can't describe it, but think tangy and intense. Maybe a bit woody and grapey. Ish.

I made black currant jelly and entered it in the Weber County Fair with my crab apple jelly and white seedless grape syrup.

I also entered a couple of loaves of bread,

and some photography.

Jasper, my pretty pink pig pal didn't win any ribbons, but I don't mind. I know she has a winning smile and that's what really counts, right?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Short Days Ago We Lived..."

Travelling Viet Nam Memorial Wall Replica in Ogden, Ut weekend July 31- Aug 2, 2009 with 2600 American flags in the Healing Field to pay tribute to fallen soldiers.