I’ve loved you so long – a movie surprise

My wife and I watched a French movie starring Kristin Scott Thomas called “I’ve loved you so long.” If you don’t mind movies with subtitles, this an excellent and unexpected movie, with Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein playing the lead roles as two sisters. Here is brief summary from Wikipedia, which holds back some as to not reveal too much plot

“When Juliette Fontaine, formerly a doctor, is released from prison, her younger sister Léa invites her to stay with her family – including her husband, his mute father, and their two adopted Vietnamese daughters – in their home in the university town of Nancy in Lorraine. Why Juliette was in prison is revealed slowly throughout the film,” but it is told upfront that she was in prison for fifteen years, so it was a serious crime (my editing).

“Léa, a college professor of literature, is considerably younger than Juliette. Because of the nature of Juliette’s crime, their parents denied Juliette’s existence and refused to allow Léa to visit her. In addition, Juliette had refused to speak throughout her trial. As a result, Léa knows nothing about the circumstances surrounding the crime and, when pressed for details, Juliette refuses to discuss what happened until the end of the film.”

The movie is primarily about two sisters who are rekindling their strong bond from before the imprisonment, especially with the younger sister not knowing many of the events and surrounding stories of earlier life with her sister. But, it is also about Juliette befriending two men who understand more about what she went through, without knowing all the details. Luc is a colleague of Léa’s (played by Serge Hazanavisius) and Captain Fauré, her parole officer played by Frederic Pierrot. Laurent Grévill plays Michel, Léa’s husband who shares his concerns over the arrangement early on.

We do not mind subtitles, so movies like this are enjoyable. Although Scott Thomas is an English actress, her French is excellent and this is the second movie we have seen where she speaks only French. We both think she plays melancholy roles so well. The movie is compelling and does require some tissue as the revelations are made toward the end. The title is indicative of the two sisters affection for one another that had been missing for so long. It is definitely worth the look. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 88 rating, while other watcher sources rank it highly, as well.

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A man won’t be shot while doing the dishes – a reprise post

Staying married takes effort. The same could be said about any relationship. If you don’t work at it, it won’t last. The title is a funny, but true metaphor that will keep you married – if you do the dishes, even if only periodically, you at least will survive another day and not get shot. There are two messages in this saying – share the load and keep your sense of humor. Since we need a break these days, let me focus on the humor.

Comedian Tom Arnold had the funniest line which seems to apply to our household. When asked by the women on “The View” about how long does a physically romantic interlude last, he replied “thirty minutes.” When the women were surprised at his answer, he clarified, “yes, five  minutes of foreplay, five minutes of sex and twenty minutes to get all the pillows off the bed.” My wife and I roared with this answer as we have so many decorative pillows that take up more than 1/2 the bed.

Speaking of beds, in our house the last one up makes the bed. I sincerely try to make up the bed like my wife does, but apparently I fall short of perfection. My wife sighs and then pulls, smoothes and tugs to remedy my effort. My guess is my female readers who are or have been married are nodding yes as they read this. My wife tends to arise later, so it may be for this very reason. Or, it could be the first one up has to feed the cat and dog, make the coffee and get the paper.

There is one more chore with the cat, who we found out is diabetic last spring. He is doing well, but each morning and evening, we have to give the cat insulin. So, a common question in our house is strange, “Did you shoot the cat?” He will often come to us after eating and we will pet him, then give him his insulin. Yet, he will sometimes vamoose if he senses something is up or if the dog chases him away. Herding a cat is an art form.

The sense of humor thing keeps us honest. We often laugh at ourselves and feel open to teasing. Watching shows and movies are always interesting if they have a sad event. I will tear up with any scene where a parent/ child moment occurs over a tragedy or reunion. My wife will ball over any extended illness scene having lost her brother to Leukemia. So, we tend to tease each other about our sappiness. My wife likes to joke how I try to tactically wipe a tear away without her noticing, which I usually fail to achieve. I will asking “are you crying?” “No,” is often her answer through tears.

A final note about long term relationships. You both are your collective memory. When one of us cannot remember the name of a restaurant, movie or performer, et al, with seemingly confusing hints to the other, he or she can ascertain what you are talking about. Google helps immensely, but we try to come up with a name before we have to search. This helps especially when we see an actor or actress from one show pop up in another. It will start with the comment, “we have seen her before in something else.”

Share the load, laugh a lot and remember well. And, a well placed hug or caress never hurts. Plus, make sure the dishes are dry before you put them away.

When sermons miss the mark so badly on a practical level

Loretta Lynn passed away during 2022. She was a prolific songwriter who someone once said she wrote uniquely with two choruses often in a song. She may also have been one of the first feminists per a documentary on her life. Why do they say that? She had four kids by the time she was 18 years old. And, after its invention and improvement, she wrote a song about taking control of her destiny for all women to heed – “The Pill.” Here is the second stanza:

“All these years I’ve stayed at home
While you had all your fun
And every year thats gone by
Another babys come
There’s a gonna be some changes made
Right here on nursery hill
You’ve set this chicken your last time
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill”

Strident ministers who want married couples to only have conjugal relations to procreate are very out of touch with their congregations, no matter how pious the followers might be. People are going to have these relations regardless of what any minister might say, especially if they follow along with Ms. Lynn’s line of thinking. By the way, those ministers who belong to the Southern Baptist Convention may want to explain why there was a sex scandal and cover-up therein for so many years.

Not to be outdone, the Catholic Church has long been a proponent of this same message, but at least recognized that married couples are going to have sex. Yet, the church strongly condemns artificial means of birth control advocating the very ineffective rhythm method where couples try to time conjugal relations with the wife’s menstrual cycle. There is a reason for large Catholic families. Of course, premarital sex is a preached no-no in the view of the church and in other religions.

Yet, the last poll I saw about American Catholic women noted that 90% of the women disagreed with the church’s position on this issue. They were more inclined to heed the instruction of Loretta Lynn using the pill or some other means. The result does not surprise me, but the 90% magnitude of support does.

Watching old movies and TV shows, it is not uncommon to see a plot line around a teen girl or young women who gets pregnant being an outcast, while the sower of the seed not being condemned at all. Even when said sower forces his will shy of rape, he is not held to the same standard as the woman who gave into the same temptation. In the Catholic Church there are numerous movies (see “Philomena” or “Oranges and Sunshine”) about a girl’s child being taken away without her permission throughout the last century. These movies made me ill that a pious group of leaders could be so mean-spirited.

So, we must ask our leaders to be more in line with what is happening in general society. It is OK to teach abstinence before marriage, but to not recognize that people are going to have sex regardless of what a leader might think is just naive and out of touch. Just think of that 90% figure for American Catholic women. And, taking this one step further what two married people (or consenting adults) do behind closed doors is none of a church leader’s business. It only matters if there is domestic violence and someone is getting hurt.

Having worked with homeless working families I know first-hand a statistically supported truism. There is a causal relationship between increased poverty risk and increased family size. It is not just a correlation, it is causal. Full stop. I have long been a believer of teaching pragmatic sex education, even if done in a church setting. If people want to call this planned parenthood, that is more than fine.

Teach boys and girls that self-esteem is not tied to having sex before you want to. Teach girls how to say “no” and to lessen pressure and teach boys what “no” means. Teach them that some partners are more about bragging on a sexual conquest than quietly expressing love or intimacy. Teach them the facts about how easy it is to get pregnant. Teach them the various means of birth control, their pros and cons and how to use them. Teach them not to take a drink at a party from someone you don’t know or to overdo it. And, it is OK for religious groups to teach abstinence, but they need to be realistic about its veracity and teach the other things.

Loretta speaks the truth from a position of knowledge and experience. Women must be in control of their bodies. When people in power try to deny this, they are doing a disservice to women. I do know if men could get pregnant, they would not favor a leader telling them what to do with their bodies. And, realizing what women go through, these men would be strongly in favor of birth control means.

New Year’s Resolutions I can keep

The following is a repeat and updated post for the time sensitive information.

It is that time of year to say farewell to an old year and welcome a new one. I am not too keen on making resolutions, as they usually don’t last too long into the year. They are not unlike the sandcastle virtues I wrote about in my previous post. So, with that in mind, what are some resolutions that I can keep alive in 2023?

– I resolve to remain imperfect. I will do my best to mitigate the impact of my imperfections, but they will shine through.

– I resolve to try to maintain my weight. I am good at trying to do this and sometimes I am successful. It is the sustainability of that success that usually gets me.

– I resolve to lose more of my hair. Look at it this way, I am just gaining face and visible scalp. Maybe I will invest in Coppertone stock.

– I resolve to retell stories I have told several times before. And, when I ask my kids if I told them that before, they will say only five or six times.

– I resolve to try to stay married for my 38th anniversary. Thank goodness my wife has a good sense of humor, otherwise we may not have made it to ten.

– I resolve to treat others like I want to be treated. I will fail on occasion, but know that I will feel badly when I do and apologize when I can.

– I resolve to continue to focus on the issues of the day and not who is winning a political game. I will do my best to give a needed voice to the disenfranchised, as they tend to get lost in far too many political calculations.

– I resolve to love my kids and my wife. That is the easiest resolution to make.

So, I think I can keep the above. But, I did note my resolution to remain imperfect. So, we will see. Let me know some of yours. Have a safe New Year’s celebration and a wonderful 2023.

A Christmas wish – do our part to break down barriers (a repeat post)

The following is an edited version of an earlier post that remains relevant today. In the spirit of the Christmas season, it is worth a revisit.

Last night, my wife and I attended one of a series of “talks” around improving racial relations. It is a weekly chat sponsored by a multi-faith group based in our city. In essence, it is facilitated small group and large group discussions on breaking down barriers and listening to others who do not look like you do. It was well done and very meaningful.

To hear stories about small and large examples of racism is very important. To hear about how assumptions can be made and, if not corrected, can be become more concrete in the eyes of the beholder. Children learn lessons whether you want them to or not, even when you try to do the right thing. So, it is imperative to have open conversations about treating people like you want to be treated and listening to comments, so that they can be reinforced or amended.

Yet, it is we adults that need to do better. A few themes we discussed include:

– do not indict a group for the actions of a few;

– recognize that small slights can be hurtful, as well;

– try to walk in another person’s shoes; understand that a white person has more liberty to go anywhere, while a black man, even when dressed-up, faces more restrictions and risk;

– shine a light on hateful speech or behavior; tolerance must be viewed toward a greater good, so it is OK to be less tolerant of those who use words to demean and diminish;

– speak up and speak out to people who share your skin color, ethnicity, religion or politics who are indicting others who are different just because they don’t look, think or worship as you do (this is especially true if those who are condemning others are in leadership roles);

– be the change you want to see and see people for whom they are; and

– recognize that racial injustice is also the result of a larger poverty issue, which affects people of all colors.

There are many more lessons that were conveyed during the session, but one of my takeaways is this is religion at its finest. Welcoming, including and helping. Let me end with one more tidbit on how religion can help provide solutions and create a welcoming dialogue. Walk the talk. Words are easy. The person who gets up out of his or her chair to help people is admirable. The person who tells someone they not do appreciate hateful criticism of others is steadfast.

Jesus said it so well in his Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. If we do this, we are way ahead in the game. And, if anyone thinks they are better than others, the same guy said something about “he who is without sin, can cast the first stone.” So, welcome, include and help.

Thanksgiving leftovers abound

We sent many leftovers home with our guests, but we also have samples of what they brought. So, we will have to delay the calorie reduction for a few days. The weight has creeped up the last week with the combination of casseroles, pasta, bread and the wonderful desserts. I hope I can find a walk in-between the possible rain today.

The weight is also increased by the diplomatic desire to sample everyone’s dishes. When I see my plate, it looks like a series of two dollops of everything. My rule for judicious eating is homemade stuff gets priority over heated purchased stuff. The one exception is a honey balked ham, which gives a great alternative to turkey, which I also like.

The fellowship was wonderful. We had sixteen in total and since it was the day after Thanksgiving, the rule was to sit where ever there is a place. We have a new niece who we saw for the first time. She was quite animated as she looked around the room while being held. I got my chance to hold her and sing softly like I did with my kids. My wife thinks she likes my voice coming through my chest for comfort. She seems to like the Righteous Brothers better than Elvis and Bread. So, “Unchained Melody” may be her new theme song when visiting.

Fun was had by all. We even called another niece and had a live chat with sixteen folks on our end. The final thing we do before everyone leaves is get a photo shot of all present. I think we have about ten of these pictures over the years.

I hope everyone had a great holiday. Have a wonderful weekend. Pick out a good tree if that is in the works.

There is a chill in the air

We have been alternating the last several weeks between turning the heater on, turning the air conditioning on and leaving them both off. It is cool one night, but we know it will get up to warmer temperatures tomorrow. Now, we are back to nice autumn weather. Let’s hope it remains for awhile.

My wife of course has the added frustration of does she put her summer clothes away or leave them be? So, we have boxes of clothes on the floor. Please do not even mention the volume of clothes, as I learned that lesson the hard way. We husbands can be taught, but it might require us getting banged in the head by a pillow to make it sink in.

Of course, the retailers have started Christmas and holiday advertising in earnest. I have always done my best to ignore these commercials as it slights my favorite holiday of Thanksgiving. The cooler days will help even more with that holiday, meaning we may be able to light a fire at our outside picnic, a tradition we started when the pandemic was waning. Cooler weather means you can take an extra bite or two of the offerings.

We are fortunate with our gatherings that we are all of a similar mindset politically, so we have been able to avoid louder discussions. It is not that we don’t have more strident folks in the family, they just are not part of our immediate family. Other families are not so lucky. So, be prepared to change topics and divert attention. Some folks just like to bait others, so those folks should be avoided. Vote with your feet and leave the room.

So, enjoy these cooler days. Have a fun holiday season. And, may your college or pro football team be victorious.

Anna’s Time – a movie about mental illness and romance

My wife and I often watch foreign films with subtitles due to interesting storylines and dialogue. And, at our age and state of hearing, we don’t mind subtitles to begin with. We came across another movie that touched our hearts called “Anna’s Time,” about a true love story in Switzerland written by the granddaughter of the couple. The theme of the movie involves mental illness long before it became more appropriate to recognize and discuss.

In French, the movie title is “Le temps d’Anna.” The story was written by Noemie Kocher and was directed by Greg Zglinski. An overview of the films follows:

“Canton of Neuchâtel, 1917 to 1933. A young watchmaker falls head over heels with a mysterious young woman. Jean and Anna get married, love each other madly and go through all life experiences together, supported by their happiness and friends at their side. Jean wants to invent a new waterproof watch, and the future looks promising. But Anna suddenly seems to suffer from a strange sickness which gets worse each day. Will Jean’s love for her be enough to save her?”

Jean is played by Mathieu Simonet with Anna played by Gaelle Bona. Theirs is a love story that begins with two chance meetings about three years apart. Yet, Jean’s friendship with his two watchmaking colleagues, Abraham (played by Jean-Charles Clichet) and Gaspard (played by Baptiste Coustenoble) and Anna’s with her friend Elisabeth (played by Isabelle Caillat) are key parts to the story.

Without giving too much away beyond the challenge you sense Anna has reasonably early in the movie, the movie draws you into the life of a loving husband, but work-alcoholic inventor of watches, who realizes after much urging by his friends he must make more time for his troubled wife. Anna loves him dearly, but something is not right as she hears voices and goes into a depressive state quite easily. At first it is written off to post-partum depression after she has each of her four children, but it does not go away.

I will stop there. The movie is compelling and evocative. The love is present and obvious throughout, even though the husband can be distracted with his watches. Bona plays Anna well and takes you through a range of emotions from love, lust, anguish, confusion and ultimately realization. Check it out, but keep some tissue close by.

My guess is mental illness was just as present then as it is now. It is just recognized now and treated and managed. Per a behavioral psychologist colleague, one in five people will have some bout of mental illness in their lifetime. It may be depression, anxiety or paranoia they must deal with or it could be something more challenging like schizoid affective disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Often, people have multiple diagnoses.

The stigma still exists, but it is not even close to how it once evoked a reaction as evidenced in the movie. Fear of the unknown creates a denial defense mechanism all too often. Today, there is no shame in seeking help from a therapist qualified to offer it. Medication helps but is also best to govern that treatment with therapy. Talk with someone.

Learning to Fly – a repeat tribute to Tom Petty

Our friend Clive inspired me to repeat this old post written before Tom Petty died at only the age of 65. His post of yesterday can be linked to below.

If you ever want to see an entertaining concert, I encourage you to go see Tom Petty. He is an under-appreciated musician, singer and songwriter as the number of songs of his that are part of our musical lexicon are staggering. Better than many, he and his band the Heartbreakers mix words and music in a very memorable way. And, his genuine persona seems to resonate with people, which may be one reason he does not come across larger than life, which is indeed a compliment.

As I was scrolling through his vast inventory of songs, I came to the realize what makes his songs so memorable. They start with great music, but endure through some of the best written chorus stanzas based on people or situations we all find ourselves in. A good example is the title of this post, “Learning to Fly.” Here is a sample:

I’m learning to fly but I ain’t got wings
Comin’ down is the hardest thing
I’m learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up must come down

These words could take on so many meanings, but the song is about a young man who is beginning his life away from home. He knows life will be rough, but he wants to go make it on his own.

Carrying this theme further is “Into the Great Wide Open,” whose chorus is below:

Into the great wide open,
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open,
A rebel without a clue

This song notes he may be aware of troubles ahead, but for the most part he is “a rebel without a clue.”

Probably one of his most memorable songs is “Refugee.” This song resonates with so many, as it tells a story of helping each other out, especially when life has stepped on you:

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have
Kicked you around some
Tell me why you wanna lay there,
Revel in your abandon

Honey, it don’t make no difference to me
Baby, everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee
No baby, you don’t have to live like a refugee

Yet, he also shows how he could mistreat someone who did not deserve it leaving the offender in a free fall, when he realizes what he did. “Free Fallin” tells a story of this good girl he left behind:

She’s a good girl, loves her mama
Loves Jesus and America too
She’s a good girl, crazy ’bout Elvis
Loves horses and her boyfriend too

It’s a long day living in Reseda
There’s a freeway runnin’ through the yard
And I’m a bad boy cause I don’t even miss her
I’m a bad boy for breakin’ her heart

And I’m free, free fallin’
Yeah I’m free, free fallin

Yet, true love can be found, but it does take time. In “The Waiting,” Petty tells us how love can be dreamlike, but waiting for it to come, is the hardest part:

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now
Don’t it feel like somethin’ from a dream
Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this
Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again
We know better than to try and pretend
Baby no one could have ever told me ’bout this

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

There are so many songs to choose from, which I have left off: “An American Girl,” “Breakdown,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Runnin Down a Dream,” and “Don’t Do Me Like That,” just to name a few more. Let me close with one where he stands his ground and fights back when life knocks him down. Here is the chorus from “I Won’t Back Down:”

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

Tom Petty ranks up there with some of his idols that so influenced him. He joined several on the facetiously named, but excellent group The Traveling Wilbury’s, which included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. His words and music will remain with us, just like those of his fellow Wilbury’s. He may not have written as eloquently as Dylan, but Petty wrote about life and people. Thanks for helping us realize we are all learning to fly. And, we don’t have wings.

You have a right to be bigoted, but your right has no standing

Standing.  “Standing is the legal right to initiate a lawsuit. To do so, a person must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand, and there must be a case or controversy that can be resolved by legal action.”

It has a legal meaning as to whether your opinion against what I do matters in my ability to do it. The Supreme Court ruled that someone marrying a same gender partner or a different race partner has no bearing on what another may like or dislike or believes religiously. And, vice versa.

In other words, you have a right to your opinions, whether they are bigoted or not bigoted, but they have no bearing on me. You have no standing in what I do. Only when my words or actions are harmful to you, do you have standing to bring litigation, provided litigation can solve the rift. So, a gay, lesbian or transgender couple can legally marry, as it has no impact on another person, but if they drove over your mailbox on the way to their honeymoon, then you have an issue.

Within the conservative movement is an unhealthy embrace of diminishing other people’s rights who do not look, vote, worship, love, or present gender-wise within that person’s expectations and preferences. For the most part, they have no standing on the issue, whether their opinions are bigoted or not bigoted. And, from what I have witnessed, standing is some cases is created when it really does not exist.

So, a gay, lesbian or transgender person has the right to be a teacher, minister, work in a day care, etc. The only time standing would exist is if the person was being harmful to kids and others. In its basest terms, a gay minister is fine, but a pedophile minister is not. Standing exists by those harmed on the latter issue, but not the former.

Using examples from the news feeds, the kids sexually assaulted at a football camp sponsored by a Penn State football coach, the female gymnasts sexually assaulted by a Michigan State and Olympics trainer, the wrestlers and football players sexually assaulted by two different team physicians at Ohio State and Michigan, the boy scouts who were sexually assaulted by scout leaders and the women sexually assaulted by Southern Baptist Convention ministers all had standing.

These are the things we must watch out for, someone who is being harmful to another person, not what someone may do in their privacy of their own home or how they look, vote, worship or present. You have no standing there.