I’ve had this song running through my head all day. That’s because last night, we started watching Season 2 of the Netflix show, Afterlife. The second season of this bittersweet Ricky Gervais comedy opens with the Carpenters’ Top of the World. I had forgotten how great this song is, and the Carpenters in general are.
You can’t help but look at Karen’s face, though, and feel sad for her tragic life. I have a good friend who has struggled with eating disorders for decades, and I know it’s a terrible thing. But her legacy is a treasure trove of really wonderful music.
If you’re looking for your next quarantine-binge-worthy show, I highly recommend Afterlife on Netflix. Gervais plays a recent widower struggling for a reason to be alive anymore. He’s surrounded by a cast of quirky characters who each, in his or her own way, help him make it through another day. It’s smart and funny and heartbreaking, all at the same time.
I hope you are well this evening. Be safe and hug those you love, even if it’s only virtually.
That Thing You Do! is a 1996 film written and directed by actor Tom Hanks. It’s the story of a fictional 60s pop band that became a one-hit wonder. Oh, but that one hit!
The movie is available to rent on YouTube, and it’s probably a few other places as well. While you’re stuck at home, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. I think of it as comfort food viewing.
The title song is a catchy tune I defy you not to keep singing all day long once you hear it. It’s happy and fun, and it was written by Fountains of Wayne founder Adam Schlesinger, who we lost to Covid-19 at the age of 52 on April 1. Lest we forget we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic.
Stay safe. Stay home. Hug your loved ones virtually. Our family has taken to having weekly get-togethers via Zoom. Maybe you can do the same. Because you never know.
We’re living in weird times. If this post is disjointed, it’s because I am, too. I don’t know about you, but everything just seems upside down. Which doesn’t make sense–my work schedule is unchanged. I work from home every day. Everything should be the same. Only it’s not.
Here at Chez R, we’ve started keeping weird hours, staying up until one or two in the morning, sleeping until one o’clock in the afternoon. I still teach online classes beginning at 5am, so I get up around 4, do my thing, and go back to bed.
While Mr. R walks the land shark on a regular basis, there are days when I don’t venture even as far as the front porch. Other days, we go for a ride just to get out, or to make a Publix run.
As far as the grocery store, we’ve decided that it makes sense for only one of us to go in, minimize the risk of exposure and all that, so I find myself sitting in the car people-watching and listening to the radio while Mr. R gathers what we need. Tonight’s serenade is Victorious by Panic at the Disco and it’s my new favorite ear worm. I heard it in the car the other day.
Mostly, we sit and worry about how we’re going to stay financially afloat. I know, stimulus money is supposed to be on the way. I guess we’ll see, but I’m not holding my breath.
Between book royalties and my tutoring pay, I still bring in a little money but since his work completely dried up a month ago, Mr. R has not earned anything. So our bills are calling, including the rent. For the last few weeks, he has been trying to apply for unemployment pay, and while he’s been assured he’s entitled to such relief, he, like tens of thousands of people, have been unable to complete the application, let alone get approved.
Turns out, that’s no accident. Florida’s former governor and current Republican senator Rick Scott saw to that before he headed to Washington. He figured out that you can keep your state’s unemployment numbers nice and low if you confound people trying to apply. You can read all about that here.
Which is why I’m not counting on any stimulus check. They’re all a bunch of crooks who don’t care anything about real people. But maybe I’m just jaded.
In other news, in our free time, we have lots of entertainment options as we hunker down at home. I’m excited about watching the National Theatre’s performance of Jane Eyre, which is free to stream. Here it is, if you’re interested.
Last week, I watched Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and just loved it. Several of his works are streaming free on YouTube, including Jesus Christ Superstar, all with the original Broadway cast. The only thing is that they’re available for a limited time, so you have to watch before they go away. Will Cats be next? We’ll see…
Last night, I watched the 2019 Academy Award Winning Best Picture, Parasite. It’s in Korean with English subtitles, and it’s available to stream on Hulu, It’s an odd film, but I enjoyed it. Here’s the trailer.
It’s Easter weekend. We will watch our church’s Easter service live on YouTube tonight. There are services all weekend, and you’re invited if you have a mind to attend. On Sunday, I’ve scheduled a Zoom meeting with the family, all of us spread out in Florida and Pennsylvania and Missouri. That will be our Easter get-together. Life in a global pandemic.
I hope you’re staying safe and healthy. Be sure to at least virtually hug those you love. Have a blessed Easter.
Wow. 2020 has turned into something I don’t think any of us saw coming. Sure, we expected that an election year would be bumpy, right? They always are, and this cycle has been beyond contentious.
But a global pandemic? I never imagined in my wildest dreams that the Vegas strip would be shut down, that entire states, nay countries, would be locked down, that average families would be quarantined for weeks on end. That beloved public figures would be diagnosed with the scariest disease since ebola.
It’s crazy. Every couple of hours, there’s a new regulation, a new restriction, a new closure. From professional sports to entertainment events to ‘non-essential’ businesses… The govenor of Florida closed the beaches yesterday. The BEACHES. The best place I can think of for fresh air and sunshine. It’s hard to wrap my head around it.
Not helping things at all, and I’m going to say it here, like it or not, is the contradictory, and often inaccurate, information coming to us from the White House. First it was a hoax, and the next thing you know, he saw it coming long before anyone else.
I have a certain perspective on the epidemic–I teach Chinese kids online every morning. I’ve watched as families have been quarantines formonths. Months, y’all. Which is necessary to prevent mass casualties. It’s not a hoax, it never was. It’s very, very serious.
And the other day, when the President was given an opportunity to say a few reassuring words to the nation, instead he chose to attack the journalist who asked the question. That’s the world we live in right now. (And before you go off on me about ‘fake news’, I watched the exchange live, with my own eyes and ears.)
On the other hand… There are many people who are going above and beyond to help make this time a little more pleasant. Some entertainers are taking their roles to heart by reaching out from their ‘shelter in place’ places to try to lift up the rest of us.
Tonight’s song is Norah Jones’s brand new cover of Guns N Roses’s Patience. It’s just a subtle little gift from her home to ours. And it’s amazing!
Also from home, Jimmy Fallon has been putting out an abbreviated version of his late night talk show, with the assistance of his wife doing camera work and his daughters as comic relief. I look forward to his new show every day. Here’s the first episode.
And on St. Patrick’s Day, Dropkick Murphys streamed an entire concert live because they could. It’s the best no-audience show you ever saw, and I’m dropping the entire thing right here. It was so much fun, and just an example of people doing what they can, when they can, to make things better for everybody else. And it’s appreciated.
I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. I know things are very weird right now. But if we take the proper steps, we can keep ourselves and everybody else safe. Stay on the lookout for great things other people are doing to help. And maybe do what you can, too.
But stay safe. Hug those you love, even if it’s over video.
Where has the time gone? Seems like it was just summer, and here we are just days away from Thanksgiving. 2019 has been a wild year for us. We’ve battled a serious financial downturn, spent sleepless nights worrying, struggled to hang on to our house, realized we had to let it go before it pulled us under, faced the uncertainty of ‘now what‘…
Even so, I can honestly say that I’m thankful. I believe that everything happens for a reason–nothing is random or willy-nilly. There’s always something to learn, an opportunity to grow.
I’m thankful we were able to sell the house and walk away with a little money in our pockets. I’m thankful for the cute little apartment we found in a really cool neighborhood. I’m thankful for the possibilities ahead of us.
I suppose most of all, I’m thankful for us. Throughout this entire ordeal, the best thing we had going for us was each other. Turns out, we make a great team, even through thin.
So Thursday, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner (with my son who’s coming in from Omaha! 🙂 ), we have a ton of reasons to give thanks.
For tonight’s serenade, I had to go with Kelly Clarkson’s Thankful. I hope you enjoy it, and that your Thanksgiving is special. Be sure to hug those you love.
Confession… I’m a Girl Scout from waaayyyy back, y’all. I went to troop meetings, sold cookies, the whole nine yards. I even went to camp a couple of times as a young camper, then later in high school as a CIT (Counselor In Training) which meant that I attended for free and did normal Counselor duties without being paid.
One of the things I loved most about camp was singing all the old campfire songs. After every meal, we’d gather in the center of the dining hall and sing old songs like A Ram Sam Sam, Barges, and the Billboard Song among others.
One of my favorites was The Gypsy Rover. It tells the story of a wealthy young lady who leaves the comfort of her lord and castle to run away with her Gypsy love. Go figure, I was drawn to a song about love and romance.
Currently, I’m writing the third and final book in my Redheads & Ranchers series. It’s called ANNA’S HEART, and the hero of the story is a world-famous Scottish actor. As I envisioned the story, I saw a scene where Angus would play a guitar and sing a Scottish folk song by the campfire, and the song I kept hearing was The Gypsy Rover.
So I began to do a little research. Copyright law is very particular when it comes to music. And unfortunately for me, that song, which is actually called The Whistling Gypsy, was composed and copyrighted by songwriter Leo Maguire.
But as it turns out, that song, and a handful of others like it, are based on a traditional Scottish border ballad that dates back to around 1720 called The Raggle Taggle Gypsy. Which makes this song public domain, meaning I’m free to use it in my book.
And to be honest, I actually like this song better. I found there are various versions. I chose this one because it includes all the lyrics. But I’ll add the Celtic Thunder version below, because it’s very good.
I hope you had a happy Halloween. Hello, November! I guess we’re heading full-tilt into the holiday season.
Be sure to hug those you love. Happy Saturday night!
We started this blog a few years ago, back in the salad days when we had corporate jobs and tons of disposable income, and we couldn’t spend it fast enough. We went out every weekend and people always wanted to hear about what we did and where we went.
The last couple of years have been different, though. Mr. R transitioned from full-time television work to full-time real estate, which could have been a boon to our lifestyle. But it wasn’t.
Although for a while,with rumors of transactions just on the horizon, we were certain that success was just around the corner, but one lost deal after another drained our savings and eventually put us in foreclosure.
We were fortunate enough to be able to sell our house before a date was set for the final auction, and we walked away with a little money to start over. Unsure of what we were going to do, we secured an Airbnb for a couple of weeks in the historic area of Lake Worth Beach.
The Secret Garden House has been exactly what we needed to catch our breath and figure out what’s next for us. It’s a lovely 1925 house situated in a lush tropical garden in the middle of Historic Lake Worth. We’re within walking distance of the ‘downtown’ restaurants, bars, and the historic Lake Worth Playhouse.
The neighborhood of Historic Lake Worth is a little slice of Key West without the really long drive. There are tons of cute vintage houses on every block, and the vibe is laid-back and easy-going, very ‘live and let live’. It’s dog-friendly, too. Last Saturday, we walked up to Lake Avenue with our rescue German shepherd Jack and had cocktails outside an Irish joint called Brogues. The server even brought out a bowl of water for Jack.
Mr. R and I decided that Lake Worth was just the kind of neighborhood we’d like to try, so we searched and found a (tiny) one bedroom apartment, the monthly rent exactly half of what our mortgage would have been, had we moved forward with the restructuring. The apartment is one of only four in the complex, and it’s east of the Airbnb.
It’s exactly ONE BLOCK from the Intracoastal Waterway, and it’s even four blocks closer to the downtown action. We couldn’t be happier. They say everything happens for a reason, right? It looks like this is our chance for a do-over, an opportunity to experience a completely different lifestyle. Just another new adventure.
I hope this weekend finds you happy and healthy. I’m choosing my favorite version of one of my favorite songs tonight, Walking in Memphis as performed by Lonestar. I may have heard this floating out of one of the bars as we walked last weekend.
Be sure to hug those you love. Happy Saturday night!
Happy Labor Day! There’s nothing like a three-day weekend. Unless you’re under threat of a catastrophic natural disaster.
For a while there, things were looking exceedingly dicey here in south Florida what with Hurricane Dorian lurking out there in the Atlantic. Friday morning, Al Roker showed a projected path that had the storm hitting West Palm Beach as a Cat 4 sometime on Monday.
Which, if you know our current situation, was just Donkey Kong chucking another barrel at us. We’re supposed to be closing on our house on Friday. If the storm hit late Monday into Tuesday and we continued to have tropical storm weather through Wednesday, there’s not a chance in the world we’d be able to close on time.
And we can’t secure a place to move until we have the proceeds from the closing. But now that things seem to be settling down a bit, and my apologies to the Carolinas, we may just have a path to the next adventure for us.
We have a line on a short-term rental that will allow us to bring Jack, our 85-lb. rescue German shepherd, and that will work until the end of October, when seasonal rates kick in and we’ll have to find something else.
Fingers crossed, by that time, Mr. R will have secured a full-time position back in television news and we’ll be on our way. So if you know of any stations that need a kick-ass news photog or video editor, just saying…
Thanks for taking this journey with us–your positive thoughts mean the world to us.
I hope you enjoy my cheeky virtual middle finger to effing Cat 4 Dorian. If you’re in the storm’s path, be safe. And be sure to hug those you love.
Thanks to a Fandango gift card left from Christmas, Mr. R and I ventured to the movies last weekend to see Yesterday, the romantic comedy that features songs from the Beatles. Despite some less than glowing reviews, we enjoyed the movie. The story is sweet, and obviously the music is great.
In the film, a young aspiring musician wakes up to find that he’s the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. When he begins playing their songs, he becomes a huge sensation, even being tapped to open for Ed Sheeran in a world tour.
Have I mentioned that I love Ed Sheeran? And I love this song. There’s a hint of a throw-back, if you listen closely. Besides, it’s just a beautiful sentiment.
I’m craving a beautiful, peaceful song right now. Our lives are still in turmoil here at Chez R. The house is on the market and we’ve have several folks come by to look at it. No offers as yet, though. Fingers crossed, we’re under contract soon. Then we’ll have to figure out what’s next.
But for now, I’m going to take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment. We’ll keep you posted.
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. R was hit by a car in the Publix parking lot. He’s fine, he wasn’t hurt, really, but the most remarkable thing about it is that combined with all the other setbacks we’ve had recently, getting hit by a car wasn’t all that remarkable.
Over the past couple of years, the real estate business has kicked us in the teeth repeatedly. From the couple who was ready to sell their house then ‘2-more-weeks’ed us for TEN MONTHS, to they guy who has had signed contracts on 5 different houses and BACKED OUT OF EVERY ONE, and every wishy-washy client in between, we’ve grown increasingly behind in our financial obligations.
Then there’s the delightful person who tried to use our debit card in Miami. Lucky for us, they could’t guess the correct zip code. And both our cats died within two days.
To try to help make ends meet, in addition to writing, I’ve been teaching online for nearly a year. Mr. R has been using our only car, a lease, to drive Uber.
In a desperate attempt to save our home from foreclosure, we hired an attorney to help us file bankruptcy. Again, the day we signed the paperwork, that was the absolute least stressful part of that day. The leased car is due to be returned in August. The lawyer said not to worry about the final two payments, she’s rolling it into the bankruptcy. So we’ve blown way past the mileage limit driving it for Uber. It was a relief to think of no car payments.
Then the battery died. Long story short, we borrowed a battery charger from a friend and Mr. R stayed out all night driving Uber to earn enough money to replace a $120 battery on a car we’re giving back.
What we’ve realized, though, is that if we follow through with the bankruptcy, we’ll be chaining ourselves to an outrageously high mortgage payment for the next five years. Sure we can come up with the payment this month. But what about next month? And the month after that?
It just doesn’t make sense. What we’re realizing is that we have to get out from under the house. And Mr. R is planning to go back to television news while doing real estate part-time. Somewhere, there’s a new adventure waiting. And it doesn’t involve the level of stress we’ve lived with for the last two years.
So our house is on the market. Priced to sell quickly. We even have an Open House today.
Where are we going? I have no idea. But tonight’s song touches my soul. This ain’t no stumbling block. It’s just a stepping stone.
I hope you’re enjoying this fine summer weekend. Try to stay cool. And be sure to hug those you love.