Monday, August 31, 2009

Enjoying the Last Days of Summer

After a crazy busy June, July, and much of August, I've had a little more time in my life for the last two weeks. With that space, I noticed that the summer was practically over, and I hadn't done much of my favorite summer activities.

Much of my enjoyment of summer comes from being on or near the water. Water relaxes me. It also gives me creative energy. So I've been taking the time to swim, even if it's only a few minutes a day.

Saturday, I had my two youngest nieces over, and we stayed in the water for hours. Ten-year-old Kelsey taught me how relaxing it could be to just float on an innertube, while seven-year-old Kimmie wanted to play water games. In between swimming in the pool, we took the time to make peach ice cream--although I hadn't frozen the peaches long enough and we ended up with peach smoothies. Yum.

The week before, Don and I took his boat out and cruised around Newport harbor, looking at all the beautiful homes. Then we docked and relaxed on the boat and ate dinner, watching the other boaters go by.

Today, I've noticed that I'm relaxed and energized. I've edited 100 pages of my book, and caught up with a lot of my email. I've tackled some chores around the house, and taken the dog for a walk. I no longer feel like summer is escaping me.

In Southern California, we'll have summer weather for a while longer, so it won't be too late to enjoy the outdoors. But even if you don't live in Southern California, you probably have a few weeks left of warm weather.

Take the time to stop and ask yourself what you'd like to do for yourself before the summer's over. Don't allow the season to pass you by without doing something you love.

Any suggestions?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Julie and Julia

My boyfriend, Don, and I went to see Julie & Julia yesterday. I thought the concept of the movie, sounded fun, and since Don loves to cook (I don't) I figured we'd both enjoy the movie. And I was right. Charming and funny--I laughed out loud in several places--I especially enjoyed the scenes with Julia Child in Paris.

In this movie, Nora Ephran combines the memoirs of both Julia Child (author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and star of the television series, The French Chef), and Julie Powel, author of Julie & Julia. The parallel unfolding of both women's lives is a fascinating, well-woven movie.

At the same time, the movie had an important theme--persistence pays off. Both Julie and Julia encountered obstacles in their path to their goals. Both came close to giving up. But they didn't. The movie shows the importance of finding your passion in life and following where it takes you.

The movie also shows how wonderful a strong marriage can be and how having a partner who supports your dreams and encourages you to overcome your obstacles, can make all the difference in having a successful outcome.

As often happens to me, seeing a certain movie only made me more curious about the book and the lives of the two women I saw on the screen. Later that day, I bought the book, Julie & Julia, expecting have a delightful read and fill in the blanks of the movie.

But that didn't happen. Not a delightful read. Instead, I read a type of memoir that included some segments of Julia and her husband's Paul's life, but was mostly about Julie Powell. The parts about Julia and Paul were disappointingly brief, and written in a more passive voice than the rest of the book.

The author is honest in showing us her flaws, but I found them offputting, rather than endearing. The book is much darker and snarkier than the movie . Julie uses a lot of profanity in life, and thus in her writing. She often mentions her blog readers taking her to task for it, but doesn't try to change. I, too, could have done without the profanity, and even better wish I could have seen her grow in this area.

However, once I got over my disappointment with the narrative and narrator, I became interested in the story. I can't imagine cooking even one of the recipes in Julia's book (or in any other cookbook for that matter) and reading her descriptions of her experiences, good and bad, was fascinating.

But, my craving to know more about Julia Child and her early life wasn't satisfied. Next on the reading list is her autobiography, My Life in France, and the biography, Appetite For Life, by Noel Riley Fitch.