April 2022

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Among Friends

A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, “Isn’t that beautiful,” or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.

Henri Nouwen


Hi there –

My most handsome (that smile!!) favorite person is learning to play guitar. He’s gone from literally not knowing which way to hold it (insert goofy Brady Bunch laugh track) to strumming the beginnings of familiar songs. There is still ever-so-much to learn, but I am so proud of him. Each week, he spends hours and hours practicing (“I gotta stop. I can’t feel my fingertips!”), watching videos, and reading all he can to make sense of different techniques and bits of advice. I’m really enjoying observing the process. Very cool.

After going nearly a month without any moisture, we got some snow earlier this week. So pretty! I am also keeping my fingers crossed for more, though, at this point, we’d prefer it in the form of rain.

Finally, I have another couple of movie recommendations for you before nearly a year passes again. Also, in classic brain fart fashion, one of the movies I mentioned this time was included in last year’s list. Good grief!

Straight Up – A gay man, encouraged by his therapist to not be so afraid of taking chances, interprets the advice as a sign to date women. While rearranging books in the self-help section of the library (he’s a little OCD), he meets a woman who ticks all of his personal boxes. They fall into a deeply intimate relationship without sex that works until it doesn’t, and they are forced to make big life decisions. I loved this on so many levels! The cinematography is splendid, the dialog sharp, and WOW, a fresh look at relationship possibilities. Plus Randall Park as the Dad, which was ACES. Thank you, James Sweeney, I clearly needed that.

The Kid Detective – Jeepers. This was not what we expected! From the previews, we envisioned a light-hearted comedy about a young detective. What we got was a humorous and deeply moving story about a man who peaked at the ripe age of TWELVE and now half asses his way through life, over-drinking, over-sleeping, and mostly disappointing those around him. UNTIL, he has the opportunity for redemption in the form of solving the murder of a teenage boy. So VERY good!!


After the resounding success of our 50th birthday espresso machine, we decided to do it again. We love my homemade pizza, but the stifling heat of a 550 degree oven, especially when a craving hits in the thick of summer, is not so fun. So when I saw this wood-fired oven, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve used it once thus far and made four pizzas. The first saw the crust catch fire, the second was a little under-done, and the third and fourth were pretty spectacular. There’s definitely more finesse involved, but we’ll get it perfect in no time!


We took my nephew Tyler to visit the graves and homesteads of our Maes-Williams-Casias(Casillas) ancestors this past weekend, keeping just ahead of the storm. I never fail to marvel at how lucky they were to live in such an astoundingly beautiful location.


I’m old-fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.

Wisława Szymborska

I am still very much a paper and pen or pencil type. I have never reached for my phone to make a list or take down an idea. Though I have some pretty luddite tendencies, this is not that. Frankly, I don’t think of my phone in that way (it’s me, not you…) I cannot pinpoint exactly why. I use it for phone calls and the calculator and the occasional internet search. I know it has a greater purpose. Half of the time, when I leave the house, I don’t remember to bring it, more if you count walking the dog. I never bring it then. I can’t tell you how many times Greg has called me when I’m at the grocery to hear the phone ring in the next room. To be fair, when I do remember to bring it and call him, his ringer is usually turned off. Aren’t we a pair?!

I am writing all this because I keep a list of movies written on a piece of paper. It goes from the living room, where I bring it after watching something good, then back to my office. I have shown you my messy desk, so, in an effort to keep it from getting lost, I put it off to one side on this very old wire coil of a file organizer that I’ve had forever. It is probably older than desk top computing and very handy. Unfortunately, I am not always consistent in my organization, and the list got lost in a pile of other business, which got shoved into a basket to be organized later. I finally unearthed it this morning, and for about five minutes thought maybe, just maybe, I should try the whole list on the phone thing. Probably a snowball’s chance and all, but you never know. After all this rigmarole, and hopefully a good chuckle on your part, I have some recent favorites.

Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off – Good gracious. For me, this was all the right things at exactly the right moment. I streamed it twice in two days – no guilt, no shame, all LOVE. The music, the best hair of the eighties, the story of Tony growing up and finding skateboarding (so many amazing photos and videos!!) and much, much later, really finding himself. It was honest and earnest and a pure joy to watch.

The Map of Tiny Imperfect Things – A high schooler gets caught in a Groundhog Day type loop, seemingly all alone, until a girl wreaks a little havoc where she hasn’t been before. Their friendship is fast, and he falls hard for her, but she, always aware of the time, holds back. Why? Fun, inventive, and sweet!

Brittany Runs a Marathon – This is a great transformational story, but not in the fairy tale sense. We meet Brittany and follow her as she begins running. She gets stronger, loses weight, makes good decisions and poor decisions, suffers the cruelty of others. It’s a big ol’ life sandwich – messy and funny and worth the time.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post: A lesbian teen is forced to attend a conversion camp after she is outed on prom night. What follows is both horrifying and touching, as the kids do their best to become “straight” at the direction of camp leaders while trying to understand and honor their true selves.

Our Friend – A young mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and a very dear friend comes to pick up the pieces for the family. He stays well past the point where nearly everyone else has abandoned the family out of discomfort and their own grief, until the bitter end. A tearjerker based on a true story.

Heavy Trip – Turo is a shy, death metal lover in need of a break. He finds it when his band, Impaled Rektum (right?!), is invited to a festival in Norway. It is the ultimate weird and wild underdog road trip story, also utterly implausible, but such good fun!

Pig – What we do for those we love. That’s it. Oh, and bits of Oregon. A treasure.

The Planters – The ultimate eccentric-style story that I L-O-V-E. Really and truly. How to describe? An orphaned woman telemarketer who also plants unusual thrift store items in the desert for money makes friends and enemies while selling air conditioners. Totally inadequate, I know. Watch it anyway. If it makes you even a tenth as happy as it did me, it will be a very good day.

Arab Blues – A Parisian returns to her native Tunisia to set up as a therapist. She struggles initially to find patients, then with government bureaucracy, ideas around femininity, sexuality, and grief. All the things!

The Sunlit Night – A struggling artist gets a job assisting a famous painter in Norway, where she meets a host of colorful characters, dreamers, and oddballs.

Maborosi – After her husband takes his own life, a young mother and their infant son attempt to move forward. She eventually remarries a widow, living a quiet existence by the sea, while still haunted by her first husband’s death. A meditation on grief and life’s unanswered questions.

Woman in Motion – All about the wonderful Nichelle Nicols, her history, and how she championed the integration of NASA. One of those glorious instances when I learn a person I hold in high esteem is even more marvelous (and funny!) than previously believed.


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