Monday, December 29, 2008


I awoke with significant nerve pain still creating a challenge for me and decided to spend another indolent day recuperating and hopefully eliminating this type of pain in my neck and shoulders. Otherwise I shall make an appointment for a cortisone epidural on Monday.

Since I did not go to church, Mick and I made our Morning Offering. Then I subsided into puzzles and reading for the morning while Mick cleaned the house. We enjoyed lunch while we watched The Duchess, an opulently produced film set in the late 18th century. The modest-looking Ralph Fiennes walked away with by far the most masterful performance in the piece as a British aristocrat, the most powerful peer in England and a cold, autocratic and insensitive man. In his middle age he marries 17-year-old Keira Knightley, a beautiful young girl who then must cope with an increasing number of injustices.

Knightley does well at expressing the mixture of outrage and the reluctant acceptance that is her only option if she wishes to avoid hurting others. She is costumed and styled magnificently and the settings are memorably rich. The couple is surrounded by an excellent ensemble of players. Charlotte Rampling is especially good as Knightley’s lady mother. Dominic Cooper and Hayley Artwell are also notable as Knightley’s lover and Fiennes’ live-in mistress. What a tangled set of relationships and emotions! The gossip-mongers of the day must have enjoyed this true story!

Michael O’Conner’s costumes have already garnered awards in Britain and should sweep American awards as well. His work is truly outstanding.

Later in the afternoon, after Mick accomplished some needed office work relating to Jim’s Lawn Service, we took up Hancock, a whacky comedy with no particular point except to make us laugh, starring Will Smith in an enjoyable performance as a disenchanted superhero. He’s still saving innocent victims and preserving the peace, but he’s become a bit grumpy and acts out his malaise, damaging the pavements upon which he lands and allowing a good deal of collateral damage during his derring-do.

Jason Bateman, under Peter Berg’s excellent direction, coaxes the recalcitrant superhero into mending his ways, while Charlize Theron is particularly tasty as another superhero(ine) who helps pull Hancock into shape. The silliness is delightfully played and I enjoyed the film tremendously.

We heard from my brother Tommy in late afternoon. It seems that the family got away at 1:30 p.m., so there was no chance of their arriving in Louisville until 2:00 a.m. So he, Mary and their children, Rosie, Ted and E.J., will stay with Mary’s aunt in Beckley, Virginia tonight and arrive at Camelot sometime tomorrow afternoon.

This was dandy news! Much as we will enjoy their visit, it was delicious to have another full day of alone-time. We have had more company than usual, with Tobey and family visiting just before Christmas and Mel, Eric and Phell sharing our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It has been delightful! But we enjoy solitude as well. Now we have another day of it!

Tommy and the family plan to stay through New Year’s Day so that Tommy can watch a day of football with Mick. Tommy tells me his family has not been so excited about a Christmas visit in years! I think the work that Mary and I did beforehand has made all the difference for us all.

We’ve smoothed out the glitch of Mary’s having to spend too much time with Tommy’s old school friends and have made some fun plans for urban and rural recreation. I am certainly looking forward to it far more than in previous years. And we have moved Mary and Tommy to the basement room where no cats have ever been, which will hopefully alleviate Mary’s allergies.

Mick and I concluded our Sunday by enjoying some episodes of House. Mick offered the closing prayer at the Gaia Meditation tonight.