Three Weeks Down – Summer Solstice Edition

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Today found us on our newly named Sky Deck watching the sun come up over the Cascades and Lake Washington. Buster loves it up there as now he can make sure there are no kitties lurking around the neighborhood, and he has a view of all the neighbor dogs. Coffee on the deck on a gorgeous day is sublime.

It’s week three and we’re trying to mitigate the dust and debris. We finally gave up on our contractor managing our site and spent 4 hours yesterday cleaning up the yard and vacuuming areas in the house to remove the debris left behind by Ivan who is working on repairing the dry rot. His brother, Eddie, has come in from Chihuaha, Mexico to help, and is doing what he can, but he’s not really into construction as much as Ivan, who has been doing a great job with very little support. But Eddie and I worked together to remove the kitchen tile and fireplace landing. We also worked to remove debris from the house. Both brothers are great guys and hard workers.

John is at the end of his rope with the debris falling into the basement through the vent holes created when we removed all of the ductwork. While we asked that the holes be plugged, they were not, and both of us have spent a lot of time cleaning that up. John is going to Florida and will have a break from the mess for a week, which I’m sure he’ll enjoy. Buster and myself will hold down the fort. 

We’ve made lots of decisions this week on bathroom fixtures and some lighting, doors and tile, but we still have many more to go. The Airstream is performing like a trooper, but there is one major design flaw to them and this is the horizontal blinds, particularly the one over the bed, which keeps popping out of the pins that hold them to the wall. The pull down blinds on other models are far superior as they lock in place, and I think we are close to replacing some of the key blinds with those so we don’t have to keep putting them back in their pins. John made delicious breakfast biscuits today from the biscuits we bought at Biscuit Bitch in Belltown (they are wonderful biscuits) on our way back from Le Pichet where we always go after the Symphony for Chocolate Chaud. Last night, the Seattle Symphony performed an extraordinary version of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite for the Untuxed crowd. It was quite moving.

Buster is doing great, though he’s a bit tired from making sure everyone is doing their thing. He’s constantly on alert for changes. We’ve been giving a bunch of tours to the neighbors, but those will end this week when the roof structure is removed and we can no longer get up on the sky deck until all is re-framed.

Today is a beautiful day for Solstice, and as we head into the next week, we’ll be curious to see if our contractors reappear, and if the roof removal and reframing goes smoothly without the threat of rain.

We are beginning to believe that the demo process is nothing like you see on HGTV. You have to live it to believe it. Their remodels are done in an hour.  : )

12 Years a Slave

12-years-a-slave-posterTonight, we saw Steve McQeen’s film 12 Years a Slave. It was extraordinary. Everyone involved must have gone on an extremely difficult emotional journey in making this film. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to play these characters, these real life human beings who brought evil, and suffered evil for so many years.

I imagine it will be hard to receive honors for this film that are sure to come. How can you celebrate a time in our history such as this film portrays.

One must believe that Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o’s portrayals of Solomon Northrup and Patsey will forever be a benchmark for all actors.

12 Years a Slave drives home that there is no place in our nation for racism, and yet there is evidence in the news for it every single day.

This film should be required viewing, and those queued through the lobby to see Ender’s Game in the same cineplex, written by a celebrated homophobe, should be made to see a double feature.

Volcano Choir – Repave

f30d71739522f955027111f738cef64dSomeone once said of New Yorker stories, that the chief editor said they must leave the reader with a handle to carry the story with them when they are finished. I’ve always thought this was a terrific analogy to leaving the reader with something to feel, see, reflect, love, hate, weep, laugh.

I’ve just finished my first listen to Volcano Choir’s new effort – Repave. It was like my first experience with Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago. I am speechless and moved. It is filled with such grace and passion that it’s impossible to not start it immediately all over again to delve deeper into the cadences and beauty.

Music this extraordinary rarely happens. My expectations for Repave were extremely high based on Justin Vernon’s previous efforts and it delivers more than I had hoped. It simply is astonishing.

And like all great short stories, it leaves you wanting more, but gives you a handle to hold on to – and this handle contains a world of emotion.

Stream the entire album here: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/18/210220081/first-listen-volcano-choir-repave

Before Midnight

before-midnightThe “Before” trilogy of films has been far more satisfying to me than any other trilogy over the past 20 years. Before Midnight is an extraordinarily deft and intelligent study of a marriage that is going through changes both good and bad, and how the couple will navigate through it. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are so natural and elegantly suited to each other that you forget that they really aren’t together in real life.

Built really upon four distinct scenes that create back-story, the history of where and what they’ve been doing since we last saw them in Before Sunrise and how each of them are dealing with the stresses of parenthood and their romance. There is the “car scene” where we learn of what’s happened. The “dinner party” is when we begin to understand where they are in their relationship. The “stroll” which cements their love for each other in the viewers eyes and in their own. And then the “hotel room” scene where their marriage fractures and fissures, which, by now are deeply felt by everyone involved. These are two amazing performances for their naturalness and candor. It sometimes feels like we’re eavesdropping, which is a stunning achievement.

Before Midnight, like its predecessors, is deeply romantic, but in a real sense – not some Nicholas Sparks simplistic trope, but in a way of how real people challenge and explore each other: cajoling, needling, hurting, loving, laughing, learning, defending and believing in the eternal love you feel when you meet the right person no matter the differences that do come up.

It’s the best film of 2013 so far. And, sadly, in a class by itself in this summer of Superhero blockbusters. Go see it and be moved.

Pippin on Broadway

PIP-0003M-640x300Recently, while in New York, I was able to see PIPPIN (watch the video linked here), a musical I’ve been wanting to see since my youth since it opened on Broadway when I was in high school. I remember watching The Ben Vereen Show on TV because of his extraordinary performance as the Leading Player, which won him a Tony Award in 1972.

PIPPIN has been a beloved Broadway score by Stephen Schwartz by millions of people, and has been a key music produced in colleges and high schools across the country. Bob Fosse’s signature style of dance elevated the 1972 production to that of a classic.

The new revival of the play by Diane Paulus, who also revived HAIR and PORGY AND BESS has a knack for breathing life into musicals who’s historical runs ended years ago, and have taken on a sort of mystical air. It takes a brave and brilliant soul to mess with these musical war horses and I’m delighted to have experienced all three of her revivals.

But PIPPIN remains, for me, a touchstone musical, mainly for the score – and more precisely – for the songs, “Corner of the Sky” and “Morning Glow.” Two beautiful and moving songs that spoke to me at my young age. Watching them a few weeks ago brought back all those feelings and memories of growing up.

Aside from the music, this revival includes circus acts, a fine cast and a set that reveals itself to be beautiful, but illusive itself. It’s a stroke of genius because, when everything is finally stripped away, there is only ourselves.