Clifford’s Birthday Ride – With a Morgan Legend

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Kerry 7th Gen – Morgan Horse – Pride and Product of America

My friend Stayner Haller is something of a legend in the Morgan horse world. With his eventing gelding, LGM Challenger, he competed in 104 USEA events, including one when Chally was 27 and Stayner 73. “Chally” lived into his mid-thirties, remaining active and fit, and even still jumping before succumbing to colic in 2015.

 

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Stayner with Challenger and Clifford in 2013

 

This loss, besides being one equivalent to the loss of any beloved family member, has left Stayner temporarily without a mount…. Sort of. Not surprisingly, he has a host of friends suddenly pushing horses at him. Heck, who wouldn’t want to place a horse with someone of Stayner’s caliber?

Luckily for me, he had a hankering for a trail ride and thought we should take Clifford and the baby (Kerry 7th Gen) to Waterloo State Game Area. Not only that, he offered to ride the baby. Not only THAT, but he offered to hook up his deluxe, made-for-Morgans trailer and come and pick us up!

Kerry 7th Gen is now six years old and has only been ridden with a bit in his mouth a handful of times. Although he ran loose on Drummond Island for 4 months in 2016, he didn’t carry a rider in all that time. He knows nothing about leg yields, cues from the seat or the reins, or the cursing of an irate rider.

Okay, well maybe he knows about the cursing.

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The date Stayner chose for our ride, Saturday April 22, just happened to fall on Clifford’s 26th birthday. The horses had all been celebrating with a mud bath. I tied Clifford and his doppelganger, the baby Morgan known as Kerry 7th Gen, to the rusty trailer Wheelzebub, now flushed a hot pink with embarrassment as the sleek silver bullet of Stayner’s trailer backed down the driveway.

We spent a good twenty minutes brushing and scraping the mud off the horses as big clumps of soft winter hair floated to the ground.

 

Clifford the Birthday Boy was all too happy to walk right into Stayner’s wide, welcoming vehicle with its padded butt bar. What a switch from the rattle trap where he leans against the wall, bracing himself, probably with his eyes squeezed shut.

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After Kerry Seventh Gen, or JR as we call him for short, was reluctantly loaded with a few coaxing taps from the Leather Negotiator, we drove a good hour down to Waterloo Rec Area. The roadsides were bursting with clumps of bright yellow daffodils and sunny forsythia. Stayner knew the way to a small staging area where we unloaded the horses. JR was pretty excited to be there and thought he’d better show off a few dance steps while Stayner put the saddle on.

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What followed was the clench, when Stayner tried to put the bit in his mouth.

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Stayner finally won the tack battle. But then he spent about half of the trail ride moving in reverse. Clifford was in his element, happy to forge ahead, although he agreed to stop so I could snap a couple of photos.

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There was so much backing up that we finally decided since we had no beeper, we should just call it a day. Upon our return, Jr posed next to the trailer, showing that when all else fails, it’s important to at least look good.

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Clifford, on the other hand, had a magnificent time. I didn’t mind so much that the first trip to Waterloo involved a short ride. But before we loaded up again, in a wistful moment, I saw him look back toward the lake.

Posted in Clifford, empathy, horse, morgan | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Letter From Amanda – After 9 Months

Finally, a real letter from Amanda arrived yesterday. It was a genuine one from her, the first in a year’s time. It was mostly about Mom and Dad and how much she misses them. I understand. I feel connected to Dad all the time, but particularly at this time of year. He died in 2013 the day before Easter. I got some purple tulips at the store the other day. Tulips are Dad’s favorite flower. Purple is Amanda’s favorite color.

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Tulips have now become kind of a big deal for us. Following Dad’s funeral, Amanda and I got our brother’s new wife (she was his girlfriend then) a pot of yellow tulips and put them in the window of our motel room. We were waiting to give them to her, the next time we saw her. During that time, the petals fell off. By the time we delivered the pot of tulips all that was left were stems. But, oh well. The bulbs were still in there.

In her angular, etch-a-sketch handwriting, Amanda mourned for Mom and Dad. Why do people have to die? She still thinks of them, she says, night and day. My heart aches for her. I am wondering if the guardian is doing anything to address this, other than to try to distract her from her grief. Does he even know how to address it? There is no way he can directly relate, since he didn’t know the daily habits of home. I worry about whether he is able to comfort her, since he is preventing me from doing so.

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She goes on to say, “I wish that they were here with me for this month on my birthday.”

Amanda’s birthday was in September.

She doesn’t date her letters, so maybe I wasn’t supposed to notice that there was a 7 month delay before this was mailed.

I wonder how many other times she wrote to me, and they were never sent?

She would have written this shortly after being taken back to Arizona. She spent the summer here and we never had our “Girl’s Day Out.”

She addressed that too. She wrote, “Miss Girl’s Day Out.”

She ended with a word of encouragement. “Don’t give up. Be yourself.”

AmandaMeSoo

 

Amanda is my sister, an adult with Down syndrome. She is being held by her guardian who has not allowed contact since I last spoke with her on July 27, 2016. I have filed a petition and the hearing is scheduled for May 2. I am asking for this guardianship to be amended, giving Amanda the freedom to contact her friends and family members.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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Great Stories for Young Readers

My parents were lovers of books. Dad especially was a voracious reader. He would often keep two or three books going on at once. Mom’s appetite for books was more perfunctory. She enjoyed stories and had a collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, which were popular back in the late sixties. She ordered a book for me, “Great Stories for Young Readers”.

My book was thick as a Bible, with a red hardcover, and probably had a jacket at one point. The long list of illustrious authors included Ian Fleming, Nathanial Hawthorne, James Thurber, Laura Ingalls-Wilder, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling. Some of the stories were from old folklore, like Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill. The color illustrations were varied and entrancing.

Like many other treasured items from my childhood, this book is long gone. But it recently occurred to me that maybe I could find it on Amazon.

My hunch paid off, and I was excited to be able to order a copy. When it arrived, the binding was broken, but it was otherwise in good shape. The look and feel of it was so familiar, and in the moment I handled it, I realized I must have read this book many times.

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One story, in particular, had stuck with me all these years. When I opened the book and flipped through the pages, it was the first one that I looked for: “A White Heron”, by Sarah Orne Jewett.

This Maine author, I have since learned, was born around 1850 and lived her whole life in New England. She never married, but developed a friendship with a married couple and when the husband died, the wife moved in with her. There is some speculation about whether Jewett was a lesbian. Who cares? The sad part is that she was paralyzed in a carriage accident, which ended her writing career. She died of stroke a few years later. She lived only into middle age.

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I opened the book to this story and when I started reading, I realized why it had so resounded with me.

A shy little girl, Sylvia, spends the summer on a farm with her aunt. She has a love for the woods and a way with animals, coaxing wild birds and squirrels to eat from her hand. She is from a large, boisterous family and has a fear of people, but she meets a young ornithologist in the woods who wins her over with his friendly nature. His knowledge of the habits of birds is like a magnet to her. He is her first crush. But he wants her to lead him to the nest of the white heron, so he can shoot it and stuff it for his collection.

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Sylvia’s face was like a pale star, if one had seen it from the ground, when the last thorny bough was past, and she stood trembling and tired but wholly triumphant, high in the tree-top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning sun making a golden dazzle over it, and toward that glorious east flew two hawks with slow-moving pinions. How low they looked in the air from that height when one had only seen them before far up, and dark against the blue sky. Their gray feathers were as soft as moths; they seemed only a little way from the tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go flying away among the clouds. Westward, the woodlands and farms reached miles and miles into the distance; here and there were church steeples, and white villages, truly it was a vast and awesome world.

Reading this gorgeous prose makes me wish that parents would make their kids put video games away, and give them a book instead. Maybe the collective lack of empathy is due in part to the collective death of reading. How better to understand the insight of another, than to see the world through the pen of an eloquent writer?

I hope all parents read to their kids.

Great Stories for Young Readers is available on Amazon.com.

Posted in birds, books, empathy, wildlife | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Siblings Day Amanda – Portrait Day 28 – Star Wars!

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Meeting Harrison Ford is on Amanda’s bucket list. Beyond that, she is a tad obsessed with Star Wars. She can watch it ad nauseum. So, my gift to her this Sibling’s Day is a place in Hollywood History!

Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On April 27 it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. I have done portraits daily for the past 28 days waiting for some word from her. I received an Easter card. It is unlike her normal loquacious greetings, just simply signed with her name and says, “Happy Easter.”

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This barely qualifies as communication from Amanda. However, I have to devote my time now to actual paid art (!), as well as preparing for the hearing May 2.

The hearing is going to be held in Sault Ste Marie in an attempt to modify this guardianship, and end this abusive sequestration.

This hearing is not going to be like the last one. I no longer have any reason to make nice with either of my brothers, or try to resolve any sort of friendship with them.  Anyone who treats Amanda this way does not deserve my friendship.

If Amanda is again refused a chance to speak her mind, at least meeting privately with the judge to ask for what she wants, then folks are going to be put on the stand. And I have plenty of documentation that will decry any lies. Therefore, siblings who do not wish to be thus confronted would be advised to avoid the courtroom. I do not take kindly to abuse of people with disabilities, those who commandeer their assets, or take advantage of elders. I also dislike it when people drink too much, indulge in violence, and cheat on their spouses.

Be advised that our book, The North Side of Down, begs a sequel!  This story will be told. The rule is simple: If you don’t want to go down in history as an asshole, then don’t be one.

It is time for this shameful abuse of power to end. I have endured death threats, slander, abusive contacts from ignorant relatives, and the list goes on. I am not afraid of any one of you.

Those who thought I would ever place their needs/wants ahead of Amanda’s is harboring way too high an opinion of themselves.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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Amanda Portrait Day 27 – Watercolor – Modeling on the Boat

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Amanda and I like to go shopping. A lot. Well, I like it better than she does. I have spent literally years dressing her, going back to the days when she was in school and had cool new clothes every year.

She’s so cute it was fun outfitting her. To her, it was a big hassle. Plus, she had her favorites. She will wear the same old thing, over and over, for days on end. But once in awhile, she gets excited about something new.

She especially loves animal prints — designs with leopard spots or snakeskin. So when I found this blouse, I hit the jackpot.

The ferry boat makes the perfect wind for modeling!

Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On April 27 it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. I am doing a portrait of her every day until I hear from Amanda… Or until our court date on May 2.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

Posted in empathy, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Crazy World of Shipping Art – Packy Come Home!

Update: April 10

Packy is apparently on his way to his new home TODAY! After spending the month of March in the Bermuda Triangle, he went to Allen Park on April 5, then took a little side trip to South Lyon the next day. Three days later, he returned to Allen Park, where he finally departed for his Linden destination just before 11 pm last night.

April 10, 2017, 10:30 am Sorting Complete LINDEN, MI 48451
April 10, 2017, 8:48 am Arrived at Unit LINDEN, MI 48451
April 9, 2017, 10:51 pm Departed USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
April 9, 2017, 8:58 pm Arrived at USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
April 6, 2017, 9:23 am Arrived at USPS Facility SOUTH LYON, MI 48178
April 5, 2017, 9:29 pm Arrived at USPS Facility ALLEN PARK, MI 48101
March 1, 2017, 7:10 am In Transit to Destination
February 28, 2017, 12:10 am Departed USPS Origin Facility GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49512
February 28, 2017, 12:03 am Arrived at USPS Origin Facility GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49512
February 27, 2017, 4:47 pm Departed Post Office CHARLOTTE, MI 48813
February 27, 2017, 11:18 am Acceptance CHARLOTTE, MI 48813

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A lot of artists get attached to their paintings. This elephant watercolor is one that I thought I might keep. Incidentally, it was created around the same time as the much-loved zoo elephant Packy was euthanized, in what has turned out to be not a very happy story.

In many ways selling art is like placing a fostered dog or cat — we want it to land in just the right spot. As it happens, the perfect new owner came forward. She feels a connection to elephants, and an emotional response to the painting.

I have shipped a lot of art, and have learned through trial and error that the best way to send it, if it will fit, is in a tube. It is less likely to get crushed or mangled that way.  The only problem is that the art comes out in a roll and has to be flattened.

Well, Packy was mailed at the end of February.  I used to be good about sending the recipient the tracking number, but I had kind of fallen off that habit. Plus, Packy was only traveling to Lindon, Michigan. I could have driven there in about an hour and delivered him myself. So I wasn’t worried about it.

I found out yesterday that Packy Watercolor still hadn’t reached his destination!

I went through receipts and checked the tracking, and found this:

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This tells me that Packy is in South Lyon as of Thursday, apparently at the post office. This is after disappearing into the vast unknown for the entire month of March. Why is he now in South Lyon? I have no idea. I will be very interested to find out if I put the wrong zip code on the tube, but the receipt clearly states that the destination is Linden. He was expected to arrive March 1.

So, here’s a good lesson for me — remember to faithfully report the tracking number to the recipient. Had she known when her elephant was scheduled to arrive, we may have found him sooner.

 

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Amanda Portrait Day 26 – Angel Bears

Amanda Day 27

After Dad died, my friend Cindy gave Amanda and me a set of angel Beanie Baby bears. We named the bears Blaine and Elaine after our parents, and took them to Girl’s Day Out with us.

I think Amanda looks a tetch angelic herself in this picture!

I hope you are doing okay, Amanda. See you in court, on May 2.

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Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On April 27 it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. I am doing a portrait of her every day until I hear from Amanda.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

 

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Amanda Portrait Day 25 – Don’t You Forget About Me

Amanda Day 26

This is Day 25 of posting Amanda’s portrait. I keep posting these images of her because I am so afraid she will be forgotten like others who cannot speak for themselves.

I don’t want her to disappear.

Today I received a letter from Ted’s (her guardian) lawyer, announcing that he is going to transfer her case again to Arizona. The hearing is going to be on May 2, the same day my petition will be heard.

I am concerned that the judge will just shrug and transfer the case without giving any consideration to what Amanda’s wishes are.

On April 27, it will be 9 months since I have spoken with my sister. NINE MONTHS. This has never, ever happened before.

Whether Ted comes to his senses or not, and allows us to start communicating again, he can never erase the fact that he did this to us.

Anyone who would do this to a person with Down syndrome is a loser.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

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A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

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Amanda Portrait, Day 24 – Like a Prayer, 2

Amanda Day 24

Mixed media.

Amanda has Down syndrome and is currently being held by her guardian, a sibling who is not allowing us to have contact. On March 27 it has been 8 months since I have spoken with my sister. I am doing a portrait of her every day until I hear from Amanda.

“I’m the guardian and you’re not.” That’s the reason her guardian gave when he refused Amanda’s request to visit me in summer 2016.

A few warning signals of guardianship abuse:

1. The guardian and/or conservator treats you as an outsider instead of a relative, friend, or loved one.

2. The guardian/conservator sees to it that your loved one doesn’t have a phone.

3. When you visit, the guardian “hovers” or even employs someone to hover so you’re not alone with your loved one.

4. You are denied input about your loved one’s care – the doctor won’t talk to you – you are shut out.

5. The guardian/conservator refuses to take your call or answer your questions.

6. Your loved one doesn’t get his/her mail.

7. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you’re only allowed to visit in the dining room or recreation room.

8. You start seeing questionable documents and realize financial accounts are closed or changed and the statements have been diverted to the guardian/conservator.

9. You discover the taxes haven’t been paid — or even filed.

10. The nursing facility tells you when you visit, you “upset” your family member or upset the staff.

11. Items are missing from your loved one’s home.

12. Your loved one appears to be more sluggish, perhaps even dazed.

The days of guardians running the show are coming to an end. There is help available.  Click the link below:

http://www.stopguardianabuse.org

Posted in down syndrome, empathy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“The Holiday”

 

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columbia pictures

 

I own this movie. But it’s on Lifetime and I can’t look away. Why IS that?!

I have evaluated and reevaluated why these certain bits of slush are welcome to replay in my head, over and over. They are all romantic comedies — the kind Hollywood doesn’t make anymore. Larry Crowne. Sleepless In Seattle. Runaway Bride.

The characters are impossibly good looking. The humor is light-hearted. There are villains, but nothing really bad happens. And in the end, people wind up where they are supposed to be. Life isn’t easy, but it always works out. Good is good, and evil is evil.

In “The Holiday”, I am in love with Cameron Diaz’s coats. They have big sherpa collars. I wonder how she ever fit so many of them into her luggage. P.S. You can’t find these coats on sale anywhere. I have looked.

 

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columbia pictures

 

I don’t worry about why Kate Winslet left her dog with a complete stranger. The home is one thing. But the DOG?

There’s nothing better than a rom-com, unless it’s a British rom-com, complete with Kate Winslet shouting things like, “Bullox!”

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One doesn’t think of Jack  Black as a leading man. But he’s really irresistible, especially in the video store. Totally brill.

And the “boob graze”, which in retrospect I’m pretty sure was an accidental ad-lib.

Jude Law is… Well, Jude Law. And even better, sometimes he is Jude Law with glasses.

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I don’t know why these movies always manage to spirit me back to the same place. Maybe there’s some comfort in repetition — the same reason I like to go back to the same beaches and shores, the same trails in the woods, time and again. The comfort is in the familiar, but there is always something I didn’t notice before.

Even my explanation seems overly simplistic.

That must be it.

“…..in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”

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