Sunday, August 29, 2010

Local eats

Finally had the chance to swing by Mimi's Family and Friends in Fondren last week. I'd been hearing good things about it, so I decided to treat one of our sweet (and talented) contractors to lunch there.

The cafe is in a fun, funky space right near Butterfly Yoga on State Street. Original art hangs on the walls, and seating is provided by an eclectic mix of cafe tables and patio furniture. Both I and my companion chose the lunch special - a delightfully gooey chicken enchilada, served with black beans and a peppy tomatillo salsa.

Service is quick and friendly, prices are very reasonable, and the cafe also offers a selection of sweet treats to finish off the meal - everything from cookies to cupcakes to pastries.

I will definitely be returning there to sample more lunch fare, and I hear they serve a great breakfast, too! Drop by if you get the chance!

Out and about

We've been busy lately!

Last weekend, my husband's boss was being honored the by local Goodwill chapter for her volunteer work. We turned up on Thursday night at the Jackson Country Club to celebrate her giving spirit and enjoy a delicious dinner. The Jackson Country Club really is a gracious space, with rooms that flow into one another and a roomy banquet hall. The food and service has been wonderful for every event I've ever attended there. Plus, you usually see lots of people you know at these types of events, which is always fun! I left the function that night determined to do more volunteering and more informed about some opportunities that would be a good fit for me!

Saturday night found me at the Old Capitol Inn for "Dance with the Stars," a benefit for the Mississippi Opera. I happened to know a few of the stars dancing, which made the evening all the more fun! Firstly, the event planning was flawless. There were plenty of people there, but the space wasn't too crowded. (The event was a total sell-out.) We enjoyed dinner (delicious hot food, as well as sushi - YUM!), drinks and fun entertainment, all the while raising money for a great cause. Plus, live music by the Capital City Band - old, big band standards, with some great vocals.

On Sunday, hubs and I attended the Chocolate Ball at the University Club. The event was a fundraiser for The Ronald McDonald House, which provides lodging and food for families near major children's medical centers. More delicious food, drinks and an incredible chocolate buffet. (And I finally got to try some of Gigi's cupcakes! Divine!) But that was not the highlight of the evening. Not only did I get to meet Ronald McDonald, but WE DANCED. You read that right. I danced with Ronald McDonald. I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that it was one of the highlights of my year! Now, to track down those photos everyone was snapping . . . !

Last Friday night, I turned out at the Mississippi Braves game. Me and a bunch of work buddies took the place over for an employee appreciation night. I got great pics and video footage, and I think a good time was had by all. Once the sun went down, a nice breeze picked up. It was positively lovely out there! Plus, one of our employees sang the national anthem, and another group of my work peeps led the stadium in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the 7th inning stretch. Fun, fun, fun!

Here's to more adventures!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Movie hound

Watched a couple of movies lately that I thought I'd weigh in on (briefly).

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was completely panned when it came out, so I avoided it in the theatres. I caught it on HBO recently, and I must say, I didn't think all the vitriol was well-deserved. It's cast well, and though the basic premise is a bit cringe-worthy, I thought it was executed smoothly.

Here's the skinny: Connor Mead (Matt McConaughey) is an insecure teenager who finds the girl that he loves kissing another boy at a school dance. Humiliated, he vents his frustration to his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas). The consummate ladies' man, Uncle Wayne steps in and teaches Connor all the tricks he needs to get what he wants out of women - without ever getting too close. The vestiges of these lessons keep Connor from ever truly connecting to Jenny (Jennifer Garner), the true love of his life.

Years later, when Connor's little brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer), is getting married, Connor travels to the wedding only to be haunted by ghosts of his past girlfriends, who vow to change him for the better.

I thought performances were solid. Though the storyline is trite, the actors did a good job with it. I also thought there was good chemistry between Garner and McConaughey, and Michael Douglas' oily Uncle Wayne gave me some gleeful moments. Go in expecting the standard rom-com, and you won't be disappointed.

I had higher expectations for The Soloist, considering that Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx served as leads. While I thought the storyline and the performances were great, I considered the script a bit heavy-handed and preachy for my taste.

In this film, L.A. Times writer Steve Lopez (Downey) meets a street musician named Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx). Lopez is surprised by Ayers' talent, and by his claim that he studied at Julliard. Upon checking on the claim, Lopez discovers that Ayers did, indeed, study at Julliard before dropping out due to mental health reasons.

What evolves is an unlikely friendship between the two men, with Ayers demanding more commitment than Lopez feels comfortable giving. Eventually, both men learn a little something about friendship, dependence, and independence.

This movie is based on a fascinating true story, but I did feel at times that the filmmakers were looking more to produce a social comment than a compelling narrative. The film dwells on the idea of rehabilitating those living on the streets and questions the validity (and wisdom) of such a thing. I would have rather had more story and less pontificating.

On the trail . . .

I recently finished reading Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. I'd read his Blue Like Jazz a while back and loved it, so I'd been meaning to get back around to him.

I really like this book. I really like Miller, actually. I like it that he seems to think about his faith himself, rather than letting others tell him what God wants for him. In this book, Miller dwells on the human relationship with God, and he draws some parallels and some conclusions that I'd never thought of before. He quite accurately paints ways in which our organized faith might have gone a bit wayward, but he appears to do it without malice. There are lots of historical references, tidbits of quotes and songs, and parables in here, and the book reads easily, as if one were talking these things over with a good friend.

I recommend both this book and Blue Like Jazz if you are interested in thinking more about the nature of faith and love.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Master of His Domain

I am unbelievably thrilled to report that my child is potty trained. Though he does still wear a diaper at night, that's it. No more pull-ups and precious few accidents. Little man has taken ownership of the big boy underwear.

It only took me three years.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Was Told There'd Be Cake . . .

I picked up this book of short essays because I fell in love with the title - I Was Told There'd Be Cake. Though I don't think the book quite lived up to my delight at the label, I did enjoy this quick book of essays by Sloane Crosley. I imagine that the book would be more relative to me had I been Jewish or if I lived in New York, but there's enough universality to make a satisfying read for nearly anyone.

Crosley's essays cover all kinds of topics, from the dating scene in New York to her experiences at some of her early jobs to the summer camp she attended as a child. She definitely has a knack for words and an uncanny ability to draw comparisons/contrasts from the past to the present.

A quick, fun read. This book would be great beach/vacation reading. Though I didn't laugh out loud (a la David Sedaris), I did find myself smiling throughout.

Memoirs

When I read The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr, I remember thinking to myself, "This woman is a genius." That said, I can't believe it's taken me this long to get back around to reading more of her books. I've just finished two more of her memoirs - cherry and lit.

cherry, as you might suspect, details her first awakenings to love and sexuality, picking up somewhere around when The Liar's Club left off. Karr discusses her first love, some misadventures in dating and her decision to leave Texas as a young adult. What I really liked about this book was that Karr doesn't trivialize her first crushes, even with the perspective of time. She realizes that those early flutterings of romantic love aren't unreal just because they are new, or just because she was a teenager.

lit covers Karr's later life, particularly her experiences of motherhood. Indeed, this book is framed as a letter of sorts to her son, to whom she explains the journey of her alcoholism and recovery. Also playing a major role in this book (as in every Karr memoir I've read so far) is Karr's mother, whose presence is, by turns, cathartic and malignant.

Of the two, I preferred lit, perhaps because I myself am a mother now, and I understood Karr's desire to explain things to her son. To help him understand major events she was going through during her growing-up years and put his childhood memories into context.

But the real treasures in both books are Karr's voice and writing style. She clearly understands that all events she's recounting are filtered through herself and her own recollection, and she admits that this filter may be faulty and/or flawed. She is unflinchingly honest about her own failings, and there are times that her laser-like perception of human nature is almost uncomfortable.

I highly recommend both books. I have a feeling I'll be reading more of Karr's work in the future.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oy vey.

How I have neglected this blog lately. But I have an excuse. Really I do.

My mother has been in the hospital for nearly three weeks now. First of all, do ALL of you remember the 2010 Eye Incident? Mmmm hmmmm. Before all of that was said and done, we put eye drops into mom's eyes on a vigorous schedule for WEEKS.

Well, you would think that would have taught mom a little lesson about going straight to the doctor at the first sign of illness. You would be wrong. Mom had a cough for a week or so, but did not make a doctor's appointment. She told all of us she already HAD an appointment scheduled for the following week, and that she'd have the issue taken care of then.

Well, her doctor's appointment was with her rheumatologist, who of course said he had no expertise in coughing and wheezing. He sent her straight to the hospital emergency room, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and immediately admitted.

After a few days of antibiotics and rest, mom was feeling better. However, an unusually high white blood cell count prompted the doctors to run some tests, including a CT scan. They found a softball-sized abscess in her lung. Yuck.

That, of course, led to a chest tube to drain the abscess, as well as talk of surgery to remove any growths in the area and clean out the tissue. Thankfully, we ended up sidestepping any major surgery. The abscess is now gone, and mom's condition has greatly improved.

They are planning on switching her from IV antibiotics to oral antibiotics soon (YAY!), and now she just has to do some PT rehab so she can build her strength back up. Then, she can come home.

So, how has your late July/early August been?