HOW’S OUR HAIKUS?

Poetry has never been our forte but there’s something very soothing about the Japanese poetic form of Haiku. During this pandemic anything that can calm the mind and relieve some stress is welcome. So, we thought we’d try our hand at it.

First, we had to learn a little something about the haiku. Haiku is an unrhyming poem with a particular structure: 3 lines with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 syllables in the second line: 5, 7, 5. When haiku was first introduced, the subject was restricted to a description of one of the seasons and was designed to elicit an emotional response. We’re glad it widened its realm of subjects as our minds are not necessarily on nature right now.

So here goes:

Laura –

Like scattered raindrops

Thoughts bounce off intended marks

Stress and calm battle.

 

Barbara –

Strewn on wooden table

A thousand pieces

A brain overwhelmed.

 

Can you tell what’s on our minds? Try your hands at haiku and share with us via comment!

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SHAKING THINGS UP WITH “C”

Things can become monotonous during this pandemic, so we decided to shake things up and investigate a new way to relax. Being mainly wine drinkers, we thought it would be fun to delve into the world of Cocktails – of which we knew very little. So we decided to break out the liquor and the cocktail shakers and see what we could come up with.

Barbara likes gin, and because we lived in Brooklyn for many years, she decided on something called “Red Hook Criterium.“ Every March since the late 2000s, a bike race called the Red Hook Criterium tears through the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood it’s named after. A bar owner named St. John Frizell would watch it from his bar, and as the race got bigger over the years, he decided to commemorate it with a special cocktail. He was trying to create a drink that you could conceivably still ride a bike after having one or two. Barbara thinks he should have tried harder! The rhubarb liquor used in the drink made it much too bitter.

Laura tried her luck with Irish Whiskey as a tribute to her favorite TV criminal, Thomas Shelby from the series Peaky Blinders. He drank it straight up, so Laura chose to soften it a bit. She found a recipe featuring Jameson Irish Whiskey, sugar diluted with lemon and a dash of sparkling water and topped with a cherry and called it a “Laura Shelby.” Rather cheeky of her, but the cocktail was fabulous!



So with one hit and one miss, the sisters can now check off their “C” and continue on their ABC COVID-19 life journey.

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GETTING OUR “J” ON

A couple of months ago we bought jigsaw puzzles to work on during the pandemic, but being procrastinators we hadn’t opened them yet. So the ABC COVID-19 Life gave us the impetus to finally do that. Laura selected a puzzle featuring a toy shop that reminded her of her granddaughters, and Barbara chose a scene from a Shakespearean village since she had just been to Stratford Upon Avon last year. They seemed good choices, as there was a lot of detail.

Barbara used to do intricate puzzles when she was MUCH, MUCH younger so she suggested we get 1000 piece puzzles. WHAT WAS SHE THINKING!!! Can we add a MUCH to that younger? The pieces are tiny and although there are a lot of items in the scenes that one would think would help in placing the pieces, the houses in the village all have the same roof, there’s water everywhere, the book shop windows are very similar, etc. We are bravely plodding forward and maybe we will have them finished by the time the pandemic is over! But…keeping busy is one of the reasons we chose to initiate the ABC COVID-19 Life, so we really shouldn’t complain.

Plus, we are not alone in turning to jigsaw puzzles to whittle away the time and stimulate the brain. Bill and Melinda Gates are huge fans – in fact, they rarely travel without a Stave Puzzle. In case you think you’ll do the same, a typical Stave Puzzle’s starting price is $907.00. Yes, you read that right! And if that’s not crazy enough, Gwyneth Paltrow bought her 14-year old son a Jiggy puzzle featuring a watercolor drawing of various female breasts. You have to admit, that’s a rather puzzling choice.

Are you working on a puzzle during these strange times? Let us know!

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FLORAL FILMING

F

Growing up in the Big Apple, neither of us had the opportunity to develop a green thumb. We’ve always admired people who actually enjoy working out in the sun and soil to make their gardens look inviting. Admired from afar, that is, since it didn’t motivate us to get off our duffs and do the same! So For “F”, we thought it would be fun to take pictures of some of the flowers we spot in our walks around our neighborhoods. And off we headed.

Laura noticed that often when she’s walking she becomes too fixated on inner thoughts and doesn’t really pay attention to what’s around her. This time, with flowers on her mind, she noticed lots of things. There weren’t any flowers that truly stood out, but the frogs did! Since they begin with “F”, Laura threw them in her collage for Fun.

Barbara went in search of colorful flowers on her daily dog walk. She found some but was surprised that not only did hardly anyone have flowers in the front yard but they were all pink. So she threw in one of her flower boxes to get a bit of white and purple. Next year she’ll be giving those plus yellow some equal billing in the boxes.

Let us know about the flower power in your neighborhood!

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STARTING WITH THE LETTER “S”

Short Films

While we have been seeing quite a few feature length films lately for various Zoom discussions, sometimes we are just in the mood for a quick film input. Say hello to “short films” or “shorts!” Barbara has long been a fan of short stories and over the last three years she’s come to love short films and goes to the showing of Oscar-nominated shorts every year. Laura has been curious about this medium for some time, and so we decided Short Films would be a great item for the letter S.

We viewed three films this week, but there is no shortage of films to choose from on the various streaming services. Our views merged on one and differed on two, which made for good discussion.

“My Mom and the Girl” was the film we agreed on. It did its job in showing how difficult it is for the caregiver and family of someone with Alzheimer’s. The characters were all likeable and we spent some time talking about the pros and cons of staying at home vs. living at a facility on both parties.

Next up was “The Critic.” This film shows you a glimpse of what it is like to be interviewed by someone who is extremely intrusive and who constantly turns your words around. Plus, it portrays a woman who pulled herself out of drugs to become an award-winning actress but yet is still very fragile. Or…did that really happen? Barbara loved this film because it ended with so many questions, which is one of the things she believes makes a good short. Laura felt anger at the interviewer and let her disgust with people who bully others with their words and attitudes interfere with her appreciation of this short film.

Last was “The Fish Out of Water,” which was the short about which we disagreed the most. It focuses on a young man who spends his day at a dull job, imagining all the things he wants to do if he had the courage. Barbara really disliked the film. She felt it was too linear and she didn’t feel anything for the main character. On the other hand, while Laura admitted that the film’s message was quite obvious, she enjoyed how they visually brought to life the main character’s daydreaming fantasies and she empathized with the universal dilemma of not allowing yourself to take chances in life.

We are going to continue watching shorts. Maybe we’ll select the ones that have been nominated each year and maybe we’ll spread out into short documentaries – will that be our D? A word of advice: If you only like films/books that have everything wrapped up neatly at the end, then shorts may not be for you – but it’s definitely worth giving them a try.

Watch some and channel your inner film critic. Let us know your review!

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THE ABC COVID-19 LIFE

Enough is enough! We’ve decided not to let this pandemic limit our lives. So we’re starting the ABC COVID-19 Life, safely and from the comfort of our homes.

Of course, there will have to be some adjustments made.

Instead of going alphabetically, one letter at a time per month, we have drawn up a 26 letter ABC COVID-19 Life Grid. We’re going to fill in the squares with our activities as we do them. If we find that we have more than one thing each for a particular letter and can rename it to fit into a different square, that’s OK too.

Our self-imposed rule is to go through the alphabet in the three-month period of July through September. As with the ABC Life, we are flexible in how we accomplish this but once again the ABC (or in this case ABC COVID-19) Life will rescue us from boredom, repetition and feeling sorry for ourselves – plus we fully expect it to keep our spirits up!

We hope you’ll share with us any ABCs you get started on!

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K WILL HAVE TO KEEP FOR A WHILE

Since the ABC Life is all about going, doing, trying new things our current health crisis has put a halt to most all of that. So unfortunately we are putting the ABC Life on hold beginning with the letter K.

Hopefully we’ll be back to exploring new K cities, Kitchens and Kitsch shortly. Maybe the first thing we do when everyone is healthy again will be to go to Karaoke and choose songs celebrating life! But in the meantime we hope that everyone out there is safe and healthy.

See you soon!

The ABC Sisters

 

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J JOURNEY ENDS

J month has been a bit slow. But although we may not have swam with jellyfish, jumped through jungles or jaywalked while juggling, we managed to bring J to a joyful end.

2 points – New Place – JURASSIC Park in Collin County

Laura: I’ve always loved the Jurassic Park movies, so when I heard about a tour at The Dinosaur Company, I was all in. They are the only manufacturer of animatronic dinosaurs and extinct creatures in the United States, boasting more than 400 prehistoric creatures and close to 60 different species – and it’s right here in my neck of the woods! The tour takes you through the warehouse, where I saw hundreds of beasts in various stages: some fully formed, others in need of repair and some awaiting skin or moving parts. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing our guide talk about the company’s passion to educate the public about wildlife conservation. As she explained, if we don’t take care of the animals we have now, then she might have to make an animatronic of them in the future. Definitely food for thought. The Company rents out the dinosaurs for displays and events around the world – and I feel very fortunate in having seen (and heard) these creatures in my own backyard.

2 points – JUSTICE in Plano

Barbara: For nearly a year I have been trying to get accepted into the Plano Police Dept.’s Citizens Academy but always got shut out until now. I am in class 65 and it has already been a fantastic experience. So far I have learned all about traffic control and got to clock some cars with radar and laser devices plus learned more than I ever thought I would about the various narcotics out on the streets. I’m especially looking forward to driving through cones (hopefully without being made fun of) and riding along to get first hand knowledge of what goes on in the day of a police officer. This is a wonderful program they are offering; I come home energized after each class. There are also many volunteer opportunities that I will look into once I’ve graduated from the Academy.

 

 

2 points – Activity – JUNK Toss Olympics

We decided that “J” month was the perfect time to pitch (or donate) some things from our houses. But we didn’t want it to be a random “chore,” so we beefed up the stakes and challenged ourselves to win a medal (imaginary medal, but a medal nevertheless) for how much junk we tossed per room. The rules:

Gold: 50 items

Silver: 30 items

Bronze: 20 items

Laura won the Gold medal for pitching 55 items from her bathrooms (too many old samples from her time at a beauty/personal products company made this an achievable act) and Barbara won the Silver for tossing 39 items from her office. We will continue with every room but realize this is not going to be finished for some time.

2 points – new food

We put ourselves in another “spicy” situation when we decided to taste JAMBALAYA.

A Cajun restaurant opened up in Celina in September but we just found out about it now, and how convenient that it was in time for a J tasting. First we had Big Breaux Crawfish Bread. This was delicious, just the right amount of heat for us and we couldn’t eat it fast enough. After that came the Jambalaya which the waiter claimed was not spicy. But he didn’t know who he was dealing with. Our mouths nearly breathed fire! But we definitely want to return, especially when they start having live jazz playing.

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JUST GETTING STARTED WITH J

1 point– New Author – Suzanne Jenkins

Barbara:  Someone Like You by Suzanne Jenkins. While this book wasn’t a dramatic masterpiece, it did confront the topic of forgiveness. Can a terribly abused child ever forgive her parents, both the perpetrator and the one who stood by silently? Who would you have a harder time forgiving? When I took a Masters class in educational psychology we went around the circle and told about our childhood. Everyone had an unfortunate experience to relate. When it came to my turn, I was attacked verbally by all the others who accused me of lying, but really we had an Ozzie and Harriet childhood and I was blessed enough not to have to deal with what the protagonists in the book did.

1 point: New Author – DAVID JOY

Laura – I was deeply moved by the messages that David Joy shared in his debut novel, Where All Light Tends to Go. This is a story set in Appalachia, a place I’ve never visited nor read much about. I became immediately involved in the book – drawn in by the writing, the characters, the setting and the tragic elements hovering over the story from the outset. With a mother who is an addict and a father who is kingpin meth dealer, young Jacob yearns to escape this life but it’s a long way from where he is to where he’d like to be – and it is that situation that is at the heart of this book. It’s a gritty, dark and sometimes violent book that took me out of familiar territory, but it was often mesmerizing and I know I will be reading more from David Joy in the future.

1 point – Movie Theme: JEALOUSY

Although we wouldn’t consider ourselves as particularly jealous by nature, we are aware that “jealousy” can take various forms – none of which typically lead to great outcomes. Picking that emotion as our “J” movie theme, we watched the 1984 made-for-TV movie Jealousy, which showed three vignettes on how this emotion affects three different women, each played by Angie Dickinson. We were pleasantly surprised because each story ended with an unexpected twist and surprisingly did not go down the clichéd path we had anticipated.

2 points – New food – JALAPENOS

We’ve both been a tiny bit scared of jalapeños. While Laura has become a little bit more accustomed to spicy foods, Barbara’s taste buds are still New York wimpy. So what better month than this to do some jalapeño testing? The first place we went to was Central Market for jalapeño cheddar cheese sourdough. We bought that and a jalapeño bagel. Just as we thought, the spice level was a bit too much for us (although we discovered Central Market’s bagels are delicious). Then off to Laura’s to try a recipe of hers for a tomatillo sauce that had jalapeño in it and that was very good. Maybe we can handle spicy better when cooked rather than the raw pieces in breads. Anyhow we were proud of ourselves for trying.

2 points – New restaurant – JIMMY’S

We also tried out a J restaurant, Jimmy’s Burgers. Thanks to a “Seinfeld”episode Barbara can’t meet a Jimmy without breaking out into paroxysms of laughter so fortunately Jimmy wasn’t at the restaurant. Food was just ordinary so we probably won’t be back.

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INJUSTICE AND ILLUSION

2 points – Activity

In today’s day and age there really shouldn’t be anybody who is unaware of racial injustice. The film Just Mercy deals with the injustice of false imprisonment on death row and the systemic racism of the American penal system. It is a tightly scripted and well performed film and it’s a good reminder that we should take notice of the people who stand up and not just stand by when a wrong is committed and that, like the slogan says, if you see something, say something.

A group of our friends saw the picture together and later discussed it. What was interesting is that each of us had a different interpretation of what the title meant. If you see the movie think about the title and what it means to you.

2 points – Activity

Since childhood we have always had a fascination with magic and its first cousin Illusion. So we were very happy to learn of the existence of the Museum of Illusions in Dallas. Although small it has more than 60 exhibits, for some of which we had no explanation. For example, from the picture below it appears that the dangling piece would not be an exact fit for both figures yet it was.

You can go through the whole museum in a half hour- a little bit of fun for the young at heart.

  

 

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