MJ Monday-Music: Aria 2

Many years ago, a friend gifted me with a CD called Aria 2The compilation is one of the most relaxing collections of music I’ve ever heard. Very few of the cuts are in English, which makes the songs unobtrusive. It’s difficult to be distracted by lyrics when you don’t understand them.

I love the CD. Even the synthesized percussion somehow make the music approachable. And the vocalists, particularly the females, sound relaxed.

But sometimes I’m a little slow.

Several years later, my husband and I were at the Glimmerglass Opera for La Traviata. Not being a true opera fan, I was shocked when I realized, “Hey! I know that song!” But I had no idea how I was familiar with the melody. Several hours later it came to me: it’s on my Aria 2 CD. With that insight, I also realized the CD was opera arias. Until that moment, I had no clue. Did I mention I can be a little slow?

But the performances on Aria 2 don’t sound operatic. They are … comfortable. I tend to find opera singers sound as if they are in pain while they are singing. That’s not the case on Aria 2. There is almost a folk music type of ambiance to the CD…if a CD can have an ambiance.

iTunes has a download of the CD. I’ve read where you can stream it on Spotify. Not sure about Pandora. But you should check it out.

MJ Monday: Movie-THE REWRITE

The first time I saw THE REWRITE was with my husband who thought I’d like it because it was about a writer. He wanted to see it because it takes place at SUNY Binghamton, where he went to college. Starring Hugh Grant (eh) and Marisa Tomei (I’m a fan), I was surprised I hadn’t heard of the movie. We watched it. I recognized other actors–Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Chris Elliott. I thought, Oh, this is a cute movie.

Fast forward a year or so, and one of my critique partners found the DVD in the library and brought it on our semi-annual writing retreat. I didn’t hate the idea of watching it again; indeed, I enjoyed it more the second time around (but that may be because of a more sympathetic audience).

Hugh Grant plays a washed-up screen writer whose sole success was 15 years earlier. The only gig his agent can find for him is Writer-in-Residence at Binghamton University in upstate New York. The plot is predictable. He’s resentful, sullen, and selfish until the eternal optimism of an older single mother with two children who happens to be taking his class turns him around.

Three stars–Janney and Tomei are worth the watch.

MJ Monday-Meals: Produce

No recipe this month, but rather, an observation about food.

My local supermarket has a program where they’ll shop for you and deliver to your house. My main concern with concept has always been produce. I like to pick out my own.

I like fruits and most vegetables. However, I find vegetables a pain in the butt to cook. And fancying them all up with sauces and cheese and whatever tends to render the healthy aspect of eating them pointless.

But my biggest issue with produce is it’s propensity to go bad.

I food shop once a week. Maybe if I shopped daily, spoilage wouldn’t be an issue. When the children were small, my weekly menu was pretty much set in stone, with only a little room for deviation. Rotting food wasn’t a problem. Now that there are only the two of us living here and our lives are more flexible, me cooking a weeknight meal with the two of us sitting down together is a rare occurrence. So even though I know we should eat more fresh vegetables, I hesitate because I so often have to throw them away before I get an opportunity to cook them.

Yes, I know “they” are doing amazing things with frozen veggies these days, and yes, they are convenient. But some veggies simple don’t freeze well, no matter how amazing they are treated. Winter squashes come to mind. Greens are another.

I’m lucky. My supermarket sells fresh veggies that have been prepped: precut butternut squash, shredded Brussels spouts, chopped Asian “salad” (which is wonderful stir-fried). Doing the prep makes incorporating fresh vegetables into our diet easier.

Now if there was some way they’d stay fresh in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation-2020 Vision

It’s that time of year again, when people make their New Year’s resolutions. My friends and I continue to set goals for the coming year. How could I not play off the year and call my plan for the next twelve months my 2020 Vision?

Pulling together an action plan for the next year requires thought and reevaluation.  I study my successes from the previous year. I envision what I’d like to accomplish. I re-prioritize my weak spots. I have combined or deleted categories until I now have only four:

  • The Writing Life
  • It’s All About Me
  • Maintenance
  • Miscellaneous

Some things never go away: a monthly date with my husband, regular contact with my elderly parents, server maintenance.

Some things I simply stopped doing this year. Time became a precious commodity, and I was spreading myself too thin.

The Writing Life continues to be my largest category, because there are specific steps that need to be taken. I have definite ideas about what I want. I try to recognize my missteps and take action to correct them.

I have two new biggies for 2020:

  1. I want to transform my office/writing room into my own space. Yes, I have a room. But my husband has bookcases in there, eating wall space where there should be white boards and planning calendars.  Nothing has been painted since we first bought the house several decades ago. I’ve been making lists, then breaking the lists into steps I need to take. I plan to blog about my progress in months where there are five Mondays.
  2. I need to focus on professional development. I’ve already taken steps to implement this. I have taken one on-line class and have registered and paid for a second one starting in January.

Taking stock of my life matters to me. I think it helps me be a better person.

 

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript-Besieged by the Moon

Phoebe was silent for another couple of blocks. “I heard all the lycanthropes in the area were gone.”

“Most of them,” Parker said. “There was a purge.”

He would never forget the stench of rotting bodies. Never be able to unsee the corpse of a child who’d tried to hide in the same bush Parker puked on. He was an EMT. Those sights and smells shouldn’t have bothered him. But they had. They would have upset anyone with a soul.

“A few survived. Because Ethan mated with Selena, our alpha sent a contingent here to help with . . . the aftermath.”

“Of a massacre?” Her voice cracked.

“I said purge.” He noted the vampires that had guarded the corner of Oak and Ash Streets hadn’t returned, thank the Ancient Ones.

“Purge. Massacre. Slaughter. It’s semantics.” Phoebe stared out the window.

“But I said purged. Ethnic cleansing.” Parker pulled to the curb in front of Ethan’s funky orange house.

“So it’s still going on.” She spoke softly, almost as if to herself.

“It’s still going on.”