“The Librarians”

 

 

Recently I saw an ad for a TNT show – “The Librarians.” The 2nd season just started and for some reason, I missed this show last year during its 1st season. I thought I’d give it a try, but didn’t really expect it to take. I mean, I thought there might be potential, but then again… You know what I’m saying?

 

Anyhoo – I’ve now watched the entire 1st season and I’m a smitten kitten for this one. It has elements of “Doctor Who,” Harry Potter and “Friday the 13th: The Series.” I don’t want to say it’s like any of those, it just reminds me of them all. And one more thing: It has heart. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t cried or anything while watching the show. But I have smiled and I’ve shaken my head in wonder when they’ve gotten key moments so very right. I can’t vouch for any of the math or science referenced in the episodes, but that’s not the point. The point is to be entertained. And I have been.

 

So I’m glad I gave this one a shot. And now I plan to start the 2nd season, which I’ll no doubt catch up on soon. It makes me happy to have a new show to follow, especially one with a sci-fi/fantasy slant. I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Stamps

 

 

Yesterday I was sending some mail and went to my stamp cubby to ready the pieces. I pulled out the various stamps I have on hand and selected what I thought was best. Then I realized I have only so many remaining stamps. And this troubled me.

 

Let me be clear about something: I am not a hoarder. If anything, I get rid of stuff more often than I should. But when it comes to stamps – in all their glory – I find myself wanting to hold on to them. As I tend to buy stamps that are only available for a brief time (limited editions), once they’re gone – they’re gone! And then I feel a short-lived sense of loss. It’s bizarre. And silly, I know. I am not sure, but I think part of my emotion is the knowledge that I’ll have to go to the danged post office to replace my stamp stash. I don’t know if you’ve been to the post office lately, but let me tell you – the patrons there are not the happiest bunch. So it takes a strong spirit to battle the wait and the other shoppers when queuing.

 

For now, I’ve got a few Johnny Cash stamps left, as well as a handful of Chefs and a couple of Harry Potters. I’ll dole those out and then see what the gub-ment has in stock. I hope it’s arty. And fun. And maybe historic. What have I been complaining about? Now I’m excited to see what’s coming next!

The Rearview

 

 

This year has been a doozy. There have certainly been some ugly times and occurrences. I don’t deny that. But as I look in the rearview at the last 12 months, I’m choosing to focus on some positives. I thank you in advance for indulging me…

 

Slippers – Yes, after decades of wearing socks for warmth, I finally broke down and got myself some damned slippers. I’m wearing them as I type and I wear them all the time! I love them truly. I love them madly. I love them deeply. I had no idea slippers could change my little world.

 

Saying Yes – This year saw me taking a different tack when faced with situations/opportunities that frighten me. For example, in the past, I never would have said yes when asked to participate in a public reading. But I did it, so there you go. Other experiences have been added to my life as well, and a few more are already on the calendar. When I was recently asked to do something very cool and very scary, I told the organizer the truth: This idea is amazing and yet the very thought makes me terribly uncomfortable. Because I’m afraid, I think I’d better say Yes. I’ll participate.

 

London – I about blogged that trip to death. And I’m still talking about how great it was! No doubt, Mister had a lot to do with that as he was such a great fellow traveler. But there was also something magical about the vacation. Sure – Kate Bush was a dream. But so was the Harry Potter Tour. And so was Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. And so was our beautiful Navy-colored hotel room. And so was every other fabulous thing. Again, I’m still talking about it.

 

Painting – I finished a painting a couple of weeks ago and I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’m a slow painter, y’all. I own that. So when I decided I wanted to finish this particular piece by year’s end, my painting buddy Nicole laughed and laughed. (Sadly – she didn’t just meet me.) Betting her I would finish spurred me to actually do it. And I did. Good for me.

 

Books – I read some top-notch books this year and reading is one my greatest pleasures, so I’m quite happy with this one. And I’m reading a couple of grand books now. As I’m known to say, no matter how long I live I’ll never get to read all the books I want. So I’ll take what I can.

 

Letting Go – This one is partly due to having read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I certainly don’t claim to be a Master or anything, but I’m learning people. And that counts. It feels good to not have to try and make sure every friggin’ thing is just so. We all know how well that turns out, right? The work on this one continues.

 

My Kate Bush Mug – This may seem like an odd thing to love, love, love, but I do, do, do. Love, love, love it I mean. I keep it on the back of the shelf, so when the dishwasher is holding a few to-be-cleaned cups I reach in and find the Kate mug. I can’t tell you how big I smile when that happens. The cup reads “It’s coming! It’s in the trees!” It makes me very happy, y’all.

 

D2T2 – This little creative idea was born at the end of last year during a beautiful, drunken afternoon. And though it’s been challenging to undertake an artistic endeavor each week of the year (yes – I know we dropped the ball a few times), it’s been inspiring. And I have to say – the creative wheels seem to be turning more than before we undertook the task. What’s more – these projects netted art! How cool is that?

 

Mister – Nothing I write here could ever come close to conveying my truth where this guy is concerned. I can’t properly describe my feelings, my respect, my love. To say I’d open a vein for the man is just scratching the surface. I love him more than butter. It’s crazy. It’s surreal. It must be love.

 

I could keep going, but this is a pretty nice list. And to end it on the love of my life seems appropriate.

 

So here’s to the New Year. To New Adventures. To New Opportunities. To New Life. Cheers!

London – Heaven and Earth – A Wrap-Up

 

 

“Some moments that I’ve had,

Some moments of pleasure…”

Kate Bush

Moments of Pleasure“ from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

I’ve been writing about London all week now. And today’s post shall serve as a wrap-up. But first, our final day in London…

 

 

Just because we’d managed to eat breakfast the day before, we saw no reason to break from the path of deprivation on our final day. So we got up and readied for a trip to Highgate Cemetery. This was another of those places we’d likely never have gone on our own. But thanks to the dude who blogs at The Endless British Pub Crawl, we had traveled to London with this recommendation on our to-tourist list. And boy were we glad we had.

 

 

As one needs a reservation to tour Highgate Cemetery West, and as all reservations (at that time) were booked until October, Mister and I only toured Highgate Cemetery East.

 

 

It is truly beautiful, and I felt so at ease. (Honestly – if they offered a camping / sleepover sort of deal for the living, I’d sign up.) If all we’d done was simply walk through with no knowledge of anyone buried there, we would have enjoyed the morning. But we were given a handy-dandy guide upon entrance, so we were well aware of some of Highgate East’s residents. For instance, I fairly dorked out over Douglas Adams’ gravesite.

 

 

George Eliot is buried here also. For those who don’t know, George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans. She wrote Middlemarch and Silas Marner, among other works. Some think she’s buried in Westminster Abbey, but the plaque there is merely a memorial stone in “Poets’ Corner.”

 

 

I was also moved by Malcolm McLaren’s grave. His hands stirred the punk movement soup to a great degree (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols), and he also played a big role in ’80′s music (Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow).

 

 

There were beautiful graves of folks I’ve never heard of, too…

 

 

And then there’s Karl Marx. I don’t know why this one surprised me, but it did. Hey – socialists gotta be buried, too.

 

 

After a few hours in the peaceful cemetery, we decided to head back into London proper. We definitely needed lunch and we had a destination in mind: Newman Arms.

 

 

We’d had this one on our to-eat-at list and were so grateful we fit it in. We each had pie and it was sublime. I would definitely go back to this joint.

 

 

After lunch, we figured we could get one more item ticked off our list: Westminster Abbey.

 

 

We have no photos of the interior, as photography is prohibited. But trust me when I tell you it is an amazing experience, simply to enter this structure. The history! Construction of the present church began in 1245, for cry-eye. And some mighty historical folks are interred here, friends: Elizabeth I, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Henry VII, Charles Dickens, George Frederic Handel, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Alfred-Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Queen of Scots – big breath – and about a jillion others.  Coronations have taken place here since the 11th century and include Henry I (my distant relative), Henry VIII and the reigning Queen Elizabeth II. And if you caught any of that there Royal wedding in 2011, you got an eyeful of The Abbey.

 

 

Anyhoo, we walked around and saw as much as we could, then headed back to the hotel to pack up before the next morning’s flight. Once that task was handled, we went out for dinner (yep – 2 meals that day).

 

 

 

We were mostly quiet during dinner. I think we were processing the adventure of London. As vacations go, we’d done quite a lot. It was the first trip in ages where Mister wasn’t working or stressed about work. That made a huge difference in the experience – for both of us. Yes – I fell ill, but it could have been worse. The London Croup wasn’t a cakewalk but it wasn’t debilitating, either. Could we have done more while in London? Sure. (We certainly could have eaten more than one meal per most days, but I’m trying to forget that.) The truth is we had checked off a lot on our to-tourist list, and if we’d managed to slot in a few more activities, I’m afraid certain experiences would have suffered. Besides, now we have the beginnings of a new To-Tourist List – for the next time.

 

 

The next morning, we woke early, dressed and checked out of the hotel. We took the Tube one last time, then boarded Heathrow Express. Within minutes we were at the airport, bags checked and ready. We found ourselves one final Bacon Butty and we proceeded to the designated gate.

 

When I think about it, it would have been far easier if this trip never happened. Let’s face it – it was a big commitment. Time, money, energy – all those things were required in spades. Preserving those precious commodities would have been so much simpler. But that’s not what we chose. No, we opted to check an item off a Bucket List. To be perfectly honest here, I didn’t know I had a Bucket List until I made that middle-of-the-night Kate Bush-concert-ticket purchase. And once I realized the magnitude of what that meant, I was a bit thrown. Bucket Lists are for old folks, right? I mean, am I of the age where I need to start ticking things off lists, as I may not get another chance?

 

The short answer is yes. I am of an age. And thinking about this could attract a rain cloud above my head so fast as to make me dizzy. But as I’ve contemplated my Bucket List and what it means to own that, I’ve realized I’ve always had a Bucket List. I just never called it that. When I was 16 and wanted to skydive – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). When I was 20-something and wanted to experience Italy in all its wonder – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). I could go on and on with items both large and small. Some are checked off, others not. The younger me would simply think ticking off Bucket List entries is cool. Present me – the of an age me – is a bit more grateful. A bit more emotional about the gravity of life’s passing. I suppose that’s why Mister and I chose to take this big trip to London. We knew we may not get another opportunity for such an adventure.

 

 

This trip was amazing and there were multiple moments of pleasure. We got to see Kate Bush. Kate friggin’ Bush! We got to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world. We got to spend 4 1/2 hours touring all things Harry Potter. We walked in and out of history. We had exactly 1 argument (and only 1). For the first time, we felt like we understood The Underground. (We must have appeared confident, as we were constantly being stopped by other tourists with their direction requests.) In short, we loved London. And we loved each other. And while I will take many, many memories from this trip along life’s journey, I hope the memory topping that list is standing side-by-side with Mister, singing the final notes of “Cloudbusting” while Kate Bush directed us from the stage, just before she herself sang “The sun’s coming out. Your son’s coming out.”

 

 

London – Harry Potter

 

 

“Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow -

Unbelievable.”

Kate Bush

Wow” from Lionheart

1978

 

 

When I woke, I felt something I did not wish to feel: a tickle in my throat. I had been all over London the past few days, and people were hacking and sneezing in every direction. But I’m a compulsive hand-washer. I’m downright wacky about not touching any part of my face while out in the world. How could I have picked up a germ? I couldn’t give myself an answer, but that didn’t change the fact that I had indeed contracted something. And the tickle was wasting no time in turning into pain. But what could I do? I had places to go and things to see, for cry-eye!

 

It started a few weeks before the trip. Mister and I had talked about taking the short trip outside London to Watford. What is in Watford, you may ask? Leavesden Studios are located in Watford, friends. And that is the home of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. (It is a studio tour, not to be confused with the theme park in Orlando, Florida.) It’s easy enough to procure tickets online, but I wanted to immerse myself so deeply in that tour that my Golden Snitch would pop. So I contacted someone Mister and I know and asked for a favor. I had no expectations, as people are busy and if I didn’t hear back from the guy, well, no worries. I just thought I’d ask. And the most amazing thing happened. Our friend responded. Not only did he respond, he came through. Big time. We were to have our very own personal guide for the tour!

 

 

Anyhoo, back to that fateful Friday morning – the one with the sore throat. Mister and I headed out early, as I’m mortified of being late. First we went to Kings Cross Station, as we’d heard Platform 9 3/4 was there and we wanted to see it. Even though there was a queue of folks waiting for photos, I just couldn’t get into it. Not sure why, but it was kind of a letdown. And that made me sad. So we took the Tube to Euston Station and purchased tickets on the Overground Train to Watford Junction. I kept telling Mister that getting there early would give us an opportunity to have a little something for lunch before our tour. (As we’d missed breakfast – again – this sounded like a grand plan to me.) Taking the train was easy, then we caught the WB shuttle to the Studios. Easy. We were indeed early, and there was a cafe there, and we should have eaten. But we didn’t. Again, this one meal per day business… I don’t know what we were thinking. But I digress…

 

 

We went through the gift shop (which is fabulous, by the way) and took photos of ourselves a la the “Wanted” posters seen in the movies. (Yes, we are supreme dorks.) And it was awesome! Then we walked around the lobby and admired the portraits of the actors taken over the 10-year period of filming the movies. That alone brought giddy smiles and I was so happy! We weren’t even on the tour yet, y’all, and I was about to bust my buttons! So I got a coffee and we sat for a few minutes. When our designated tour time arrived, our designated tour guide appeared. Her name was Michelle and she was immensely likable. She led us to a room where the tour introduction is made and we were off. Note: I’m going to give you an abbreviated telling of our tour experience, because between the two of us, Mister and I took about 3 million-billion-godzillion photos. And y’all – that’s a few too many pics for a blog post.

 

 

After a brief introductory video, we and all the other folks with the same timed entry were led into a small auditorium. Once seated, our collective gaze fell on the doors before us: the entrance to The Great Hall of Hogwarts.

 

 

A brief speech was made by one of the guides and then, unexpectedly, he asked if Mikki and Mister were present. We looked at each other, then timidly raised our hands. We were asked to come forward, so Mister and I did. We were then directed to open the grand doors for all to enter…

 

 

Kids – I know we were standing on a film set. This place isn’t ancient or anything, but its beauty and place in my heart brought tears to my eyes. It is spectacular! And immense. There are so many things to admire and study in this room, one could spend all day there. But the tour was just beginning, so we were all led onward.

 

 

Our tour guide, Michelle, was keen to answer any and all questions and to say she is a font of information is an extreme understatement of the most ridiculous magnitude. Michelle was providing us with so many facts and stories, we could hardly keep up. Here are a few of the sights we encountered, starting with the Gryffindor Common Room…

 

 

The Fat Lady Portrait, showing actress Elizabeth Spriggs. Ms. Spriggs died during the production of the films. Our guide told us that after her passing, the producers were in need of another actress to fill her mighty frame. Apparently, actress/writer/comic Dawn French called up the producers and said something along the lines of, “So I heard you need a fat lady. I’m a fat lady.” The rest, as they say, is history…

 

 

The Weasley Clock…

 

 

Quidditch!…

 

 

Wands of the various characters – each handcrafted and unique…

 

 

At this point, we thought we must surely be near the end of the tour. That’s when Michelle told us we were about halfway through (wha?) and that we could take a short break – outside – and grab ourselves a snack if we so chose. We did chose, but as we had an impressive track-record of skipping meals to the point of weakness, we opted to only indulge in Butterbeer. No food…

 

 

Whereas the first part of the tour involved sets and props, the second part featured mostly technical aspects of the productions, such as various masks from Gringotts Goblins…

 

 

Buckbeak the Hippogriff – When Buckbeak came alive and started moving, it was beautiful…

 

 

If I tell you I love Dobby, I am underselling my emotions…

 

 

 

Then we entered Diagon Alley, which is spectacular…

 

 

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes made me smile…

 

 

When we reached the small architectural model of Hogwarts, we thought that was it.

 

 

The tour must surely be over, right? Wrong. Michelle had given no indication that once we rounded the final corner, we’d encounter the filmed model of Hogwarts…

 

 

I happen to believe in magic. But if I’d been a non-believer, walking into that room would have converted me. The majestic beauty of Hogwarts gripped my very soul. Joyful tears filled my eyes and I was in awe. Walking all around the model, Mister and I were completely overwhelmed. Hogwarts! It is truly a sight to behold.

 

 

 

After leaving the Hogwarts room, everyone passes through a lovely space dedicated to all the people who worked on the Harry Potter films. Wand Boxes line the walls, top to bottom. Each box is labeled with the name of a person who contributed to production in some way. The big names are there, of course, but so are the names of people most of us will never know. It’s a lovely homage to the efforts of the many. And it was a fitting way to wrap up the tour.

 

 

We took a few parting photos, then it was time to say goodbye to our tour guide. Michelle made that day for us. Yes, we would have loved the tour had we taken it on our own. But we didn’t take it on our own. We had been guided and informed by a spectacular, dedicated, knowledgeable employee. And we loved it. We also adored her! We all hugged each other and said our goodbyes, then Mister and I picked up a few souvenirs at the gift shop. Our tour had lasted four and a half hours! We were happily spent and couldn’t believe everything we’d seen.

 

 

After the train ride back to London, we dropped our souvenirs at the hotel and headed out for a pub crawl. And food. All day without eating had left us weak. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure not eating wasn’t helping to fuel my body’s fight against whatever evil germ was attacking my throat. So we found a pub and had a fab dinner, then moseyed to another pub.

 

 

Y’all, I was trying. I really was. If Mister had said he’d wanted to hit up 10 more pubs, I would have given it my all. But the truth is, I was wavering. The London Croup (Mister’s name for it) was wiping me out and I felt awful. I guess I must’ve looked awful, too, because at some point Mister glanced at me and said he thought I needed to get some rest. We started walking back to the hotel and a sneezing fit grabbed hold of me and shook me silly. That’s when I knew I was defeated. We got to the hotel, I readied for bed and I very nearly passed out. As I was drifting off, I realized I was smiling. Wow – what a day! What a privileged experience! And then I fell asleep, with magical visions of Harry Potter drifting through my mind…

 

 

To be continued…

Ministry of Magic

 

 

I snapped the above photo at a friend’s home. If you’re not a “Harry Potter” fan, it won’t mean much to you. If you are a “Harry Potter” fan, you’ll be smiling about right now.

 

This decoration is a holdover from a kids’ theme party. And I’m so glad they’ve not removed it. It made me happy to see it. It made me remember to believe in magic, and in good people.

 

And for a moment – just a moment, mind you – it made me consider jumping in the toilet, in hopes of being transported to the Ministry of Magic.

 

But as I’m one mere itty-bitty step away from going all Howard Hughes about germs, I ditched that idea. I do not regret my choice.

Boo!

 

 

This is a pumpkin I carved a year or so ago.

 

I’m a “Harry Potter” nut, I cannot deny. Love the books. Love the movies. What’s not to love? And yes, I could have carved any of the beloved characters from “Harry Potter,” but I chose the scariest: Voldemort. He turned out pretty good!

 

This pumpkin reminds me of when Mister and I had just moved into the old house – eons ago – and we were invited to a backyard party by neighbors. While there, we met two other neighbors and during the course of polite conversation, they asked what we’d been doing for fun since the work of moving had ceased. We told them how – that very afternoon – we’d just seen the very first “Harry Potter” movie. We then asked if their kids had read the first book. They looked at us with more judgment than I can convey, and told us that they were Christians and that their kids would not be allowed to read the books or see the film versions.

 

I should have gotten it and I should have just excused myself and found someone else to talk to. But I couldn’t let it go. I asked if they themselves had read the book or if they were just making assumptions. They had not read the book. That just opened the door for me to go too far, friends. I told them that was too bad, because they were judging a book about a little boy who just wanted to be loved. I implored them to read the book before judging it. It was like I was on the Rowling payroll, the way I kept pushing that book at them! Anyhoo, I guess I pushed too far because they quickly decided to excuse themselves and they found someone else to talk to.

 

That exchange set the tone for our non-relationship. I stayed away from my judgmental neighbors and they stayed away from me. But why am I telling you this? What does this have to do with Halloween? Not a darned thing.

 

Still, Happy Halloween. I send that sentiment to all. Ghosts. Goblins.  Even judgmental neighbors.