I love Halloween. It has been my favorite holiday since I can remember. I love to costume it up. This year, sister was hosting another of her fabulous, famous murder mystery parties. The theme was Once Upon a Murder, a fairytale setting. Cinderella has disappeared and there is a gathering at Prince Charming’s place to find out why.


Because of Mom’s situation, I could not commit to a major role in the party for fear that I might not have been able to leave town. So I was given an extra character, and I got to dress up as the Snow Queen! I made an outfit from a recycled evening gown I bought at the thrift store about a decade ago. I’ve worn it for several events. I ended up stepping in as a sub for Snow White because she was called away at the beginning of the party due to her children becoming ill.



My sister and her family made fabulous props.


Her friends went all out in their costuming. Seriously. In the interest of privacy, I’m not posting the pictures here, but I had to share the guy who was a prince dressed as “Prince.” Genius. (Not to mention, how special is my snowflake wine glass?)


We had fun. (And yes, I had a strand of lights woven into my hair. My hair is big enough to hide the battery box.)



First, allow me to preface this with the statement that I loved the novel by Andy Weir.  I found it to be one of the most engaging and fast paced books I’ve ever enjoyed.  Frankly, it is in my top 10 ever favorite reads.  If you have not picked it up, I highly recommend reading it over the movie.  It seems to be a novel that cannot be pigeonholed into the sci/fi category alone, because I have found that it appeals to a wide range of readers.

To say I was eagerly awaiting the movie adaptation is an understatement.

Alas, the movie could not live up to my lofty expectations.  There was not much wrong with it; visually the cinematography is mesmerizing, and Ridley Scott did a good job with following the plot from the book.  However, it does a poor job of building the suspense.  The novel form was chock full of harrowing and time-pressed problems that had to be solved in order for the astronaut to survive.  These problems were riddled with tricks, turns and twists that kept you on the edge of your seat, tempered with a dry wit that made you come to love and root for The Martian to survive. 

Most of those stress-building scenarios did not make it to the screen adaptation. So, to me, the movie had a plodding feel to it.  I think if you hadn’t read the book, you might like the movie better.  But, then you would be foregoing the extremely wonderful pleasure of reading it.

My rating is a 6 out of 10.  The movie is passable entertainment, but my advice is to read the novel, instead.


With everything going on in my dealings with mom’s cancer, I am having great difficulty finding the time to sit down and write something of substance. Even when I manage to carve out a few moments just to do this, I am unable to string together more than three sentences. It fascinates me how much the day to day dealings have zapped my brainpower. I decided to just tell you the top 10 things floating around in my mind and see what sticks.

1. I took a leave of absence from work. My mother is quite feeble these days. She has allowed herself to deteriorate to nearly being unable to stand. She is taking radiation, and I am her only family in town. Therefore, I am ferrying her. It ends up being close to a 3 to 4 hour outing every weekday. Combine that with the aforementioned inability to think, and there you have the reasons I am not even trying to work productively.

2. The one fringe benefit of my mother’s health crisis is that my sister is coming to town a LOT, so I get extra playtime with her.

3. Before we really knew mom’s diagnosis, we had arranged for a remodel of our master bath. The original estimate was to take about 2 weeks (I figured it woukd be 3), but due to unforeseen crap going on once we opened the walls, this job is taking forever. I do have running water now. Its been 10 weeks. Nearly there. Nearly.

4. I have heartburn right now. I had been plagued with it for the past few months, but it went away when I stopped working. I believe it’s because I quit eating out. But last night I had biergarten food, and I’m paying for it today. It was good going down, however.

5. Almost got stuck in a space capsule in the children’s play area. See #2 above. She instigated it.

6. I was bitten by a Llama today.

7. Ostriches, up close, scare the hell out of me. They have swagger and an attitude of owning the place. They seem like they want to pop a cap in your ass. And, they are huge; they have those beady eyes. And, when you close the car window, giant birds don’t like it, because they know you have the food, and they start tapping on the window (above my eye level, mind you) with their big, horrifying beaks. This is a close second to the terror that is named “Clown.”

8. At the fabric store, I bought some midnight blue velour, faux fur, and organza with glittery snowflakes on it. The clerk said, “awwww, how pretty. Are you making a frozen – themed costume for your little girl?” Um. Nope. (I shall be the Snow Queen, this year. I get to wear a crown. I like that.)

9. We’ve had to move mom about 3 times in the last few months. She wants to move back into another place (nope), and she keeps talking like moving is no big deal. Of course it isn’t, when you aren’t DOING any of it. It IS easy when the furniture keeps showing up where you need it. Do you think there are “Moving Fairies?” That would be an excellent costume for my husband. I could get some white painters coveralls, put a logo on “Two Fairies and a Truck,” add glitter and wings. Voila! He’s not as excited about this as I hoped.

10. I made the best batch of red beans and rice this week. It was stellar! Another perk of not working right now is that I’ve actually freed up a little extra time in the morning to meal plan and prep. Tomorrow’s planned fare is shrimp & corn bisque.



My sister has been in town several times over the past few months. Coincidentally, there has been a temporary Biergarten at the Space and Rocket Center on Thursday evenings, and we have been frequent visitors.  If you are a local to the North Alabama area, you should check it out. It’s free entry to the Davidson Center, and how often does one get to dine on schnitzel under a true life Saturn V rocket? The last week is October 22.

Much to the chagrin of my teenager, we also discovered how much fun the kids’ play areas are.

We also loved the book, The Martian, thus the inspiration for this hot mess. I think the pimp cup is a supernatural touch.