Coming Fall 2022!
Coming Fall 2022!
New Testament (audio, repeat)
A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen, 1879, audio, repeat)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1937, audio) 4th in Little House series
Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937, audio) Afr Amer novel
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1939, audio) 5th in Little House series
The Long Winter (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1940, audio) 6th in Little House series
Little Town on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1941, audio) 7th in Little House series
These Happy Golden Years (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1943, audio) 8th in Little House series
The Phantom Tollbooth (1961, Norton Juster, audio) youth fantasy novel
Return to Sender (Julia Alvarez, 1969, audio, repeat) novel, migrant farmworkers
The Man Who Moved a Mountain (Richard C. Davids, 1970, repeat) Bob Childress bio
The First Four Years (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1971, audio) 9th in Little House series
A Song Flung to Heaven (Maya Angelou, 2002) autobiography
The Meaning of Matthew (Judy Shepard, 2009, audio) by Matthew Shepard's mom
If There’s Anything I Can Do (Josephine Hicks, 2011) how to be there for friends in crisis
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (Matthew Dicks, 2012, audio) novel; Asperger
The Chaperone (Laura Moriarty, 2012, audio) novel set in early 20th century
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Ayana Mathis, 2021, audio) novel, Hattie's children
The House Girl (Tara Conklin, 2013, audio) slave woman & modern lawyer; fiction
Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers (Clyde Edgerton, 2013, audio) lighthearted child psychology
We Were Liars (E. Lockhart, 2014, audio) young adult novel
Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015) African American man's letter to his son
Ghost (Jason Reynolds, 2016, audio) youth fiction at its best
Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi, 2016, audio) one family from pre-slavery Africa to present, fiction
My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2016, audio) autobio, court history
Long Way Down (Jason Reynolds, 2017) elevator ride on the way to avenge
The Alice Network (Kate Quinn, 2017, audio) historical fiction, WWi & WWII espionage
A Book that Takes Its Time (Irene Smit, 2017) mindfulness readings & activities
Hallelujah Anyway (Anne Lamont, 2017, audio) nonfiction
We Were the Lucky Ones (Georgia Hunter, 2017, audio) Jewish family WWII
Clock Dance (Anne Tyler, 2018, audio) novel; superficial existence
Ghost Boys (Jewell Parker Rhoades, 2018, audio) juvenile fiction, race & death
The Beagle and His Boy (Cathy Cook, 2018, repeat) autobiography, grief
Black Is the Body (Emily Bernard, 2019, audio) autobiography
This Tender Land (William Kent Krueger, 2019, audio) historical fiction, 1930s
The Color of Compromise (Jemar Tisby, 2019) racism & Amer church, nonfiction
Southern Lady Code (Helen Ellis, 2019, audio) humorous essays on life
Inside Out (Demi Moore, 2019, audio) autobio - relationships, substance abuse
One Life (Megan Rapinoe, 2020, audio) autobiography
The Truths We Hold (Kamala Harris, 2020) autobiography
Dolly Parton, Songteller (D. Parton & RK Oermann, 2020, audio) autobio
Caste (Isabel Wilkerson, 2020, repeat) systemic racism in America
The Book of Lost Friends (Lisa Wingate, 2020, audio) historical fiction, slavery to now
Me and White Supremacy (Layla F. Saad, 2020, audio) good for group discussion
Catoctin SlaveSpeak (Elayne Bond Hyman, 2020) poems giving voice to Catoctin slaves
The Making of Biblical Womanhood (Beth A Barr, 2020, audio) misogyny
Jesus and John Wayne (Kristen Kobes Du Mez, 2020, audio) evangelicalism, patriarchy, politics, nonfic
The Devil You Know (Charles M. Blow, 2021, audio) manifesto for backwards migration
By His Scars (Sharon Worrell Beshears, 2021) human scars and God's healing
The Four Winds (Kristin Hannah, 2021, audio) novel set in Dust Bowl
Under the Southern Sky (Kristy Woodson Harvey, 2021, audio) romance novel
On Juneteenth (Annette Gordon-Reed, 2021, audio) Texas black history we missed in school
White Evangelical Racism (Anthea Butler, 2021, audio) nonfiction
Broken Horses (Brandi Carlile, 2021, audio) Brandi Carlile memoir
The Rose Code (Kate Quinn, 2021, audio) historical fiction, 3 women, WWII code breakers
Think Again (Adam Grant, 2021, audio) changing how we think, nonfiction
All In (Billie Jean King, 2021, audio) autobiography: tennis, women’s sports, human rights
The Personal Librarian (VC Murray & M Benedict, 2021, audio) historical, she passed for white
Everything Is Possible with God (Donna Fargo, 2021) inspirational poems
Dusk, Night, Dawn (Anne Lamont 2021, audio) nonfiction, lighthearted look at life's dark moments
The Wizard of Oz (1939, repeat) classic
White Christmas (1954, repeat) WWII feel good musical
The Pajama Game (1957) Doris Day musical
Imitation of Life (1959) drama, romance, race, motherhood
Young Frankenstein (1974) Mel Brooks comedy
Battle for the Minds (1997, PBS, twice) documentary about SBC fundamentalist takeover
Frida (2002, repeat) Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera
Frankie & Alice (2010) multiple personalities, Halle Berry
Battle of the Sexes (2017, repeat) Billie Jean King bio
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) post WWII
Love, Simon (2018, Hulu) high school coming out romantic comedy
Judy (2019) Judy Garland biography
Vita & Virginia (2019, repeat) Virginia Woolf’s writing of Orlando
The Best of Enemies (2019) based on true NC story, civil rights
To the Stars (2019) high school drama set in 1960s Oklahoma
The World To Come (2020, Hulu) drama of 1800s forbidden love
Ammonite (2020, BBC) forbidden romance set in 1840s England
The Christmas Edition (2020) feel-good movie of a newspaper journalist
Happiest Season (2020, Hulu) holiday romantic comedy
Joe Bell (2021, Prime) so powerful but so sad; bullying
Nomadland (2021) community of van dwellers
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) biography
Room 222 Season 1 (1969-70) sit-com featuring teachers in a high school
Family Seasons 1-5 (1976-1980) drama series
Wicked recorded Broadway version (twice)
Amazing Grace (2018) making of Aretha Franklin’s gospel album
The Chosen Seasons 1-2 (2019, 2021) story of Jesus’ life & ministry
The Crown Season 4 (2020) bio Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen’s Gambit (Miniseries, 2020) chess, addiction
Call Me Kat Season 1 (2020-21) Mayim Bailik sitcom
Genius: Aretha (miniseries, 2021) Aretha Franklin
bold = recommended; red = highly recommended
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My Grandpa Vestal was a farmer. He inherited a portion of his father’s land, who inherited a portion of his father’s land. In 1939, about six years after he and Grandma married, they built their one-story white frame farmhouse, and gradually added all kinds of farm buildings. A traditional barn with a hayloft, where the milk cow and Kate the mule were sheltered. A stretched oblong chicken house where Grandma would collect eggs* every morning. A shed that sheltered Grandpa’s tractor and yellow Ford pick-up truck. A small shelter in the pig sty. A pack house where the tobacco was hung, and the hams cured. And at the bottom of the hill, just before the creek, two tobacco barns.
Until I was three and a half years old, I stayed with my grandparents all day while my parents worked; and after that, still often throughout my childhood and beyond; so many of my earliest and fondest memories are on those grounds, sacred to my soul. I jumped into raked piles of leaves with cousins, snapped peas and green beans on the wrap-around front porch with my grandma, ate apples that had fallen from the apple trees and grapes off the small vine in the backyard, found “treasures” with my grandma on the walk to the barns (broken shards of pottery, pop bottle caps, and other items of immense childhood value), screamed hysterically when the rooster flogged my little sister, and held my grandma’s hand in amazement when she would walk me down to the pig sty to see the new baby piglets and warn me not to get close enough to the fence to threaten the sow.
In the vegetable garden, there were corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, beets, onions, cabbage, lettuce, and who knows what that I’ve forgotten. Grandma’s cream corn, fried squash, and blackberry pie are still some of my most delicious memories. Grandma always had a flower garden too, near the house. And the cash crops on the farm were soybeans and tobacco.
The first tobacco barn at the bottom of the hill is central in my early summertime memories. Early in the morning the men and boys would go to the field, and the women and girls to the barn. The men primed the tobacco, removing the large gummy tobacco leaves from the stalk and placing them into sleds, long wooden crates pulled behind the tractor, two at a time, from the field to the barn. At the barn, the men would quickly pile the leaves onto the rustic table-like structure, then head back to the field for more. The women would then tie the leaves quickly and methodically to specially crafted wooden sticks by which they would be hung from the barn rafters to cure, to dry out.
All morning the men would work in the hot field, and the women would work at the barn. Then around noon, everyone would go to the house, wash up using homemade lye soap to scrub the stubborn tobacco gum from our hands, and hungrily devour a huge dinner (the meals were called breakfast, dinner, and supper), prepared by Grandma, all from scratch. Far too incredible to be imagined unless you’ve had the experience. Then the workers returned to the sweltering hot work for the afternoon. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon Grandpa would show up in the field and at the barn with nabs, bottled pop, and other break snacks from Joe Reece’s little store across the road.
My earliest memories at the barn are twofold. One, grandma would spread a “pallet” within her sight but out of the way of the workers, for me to sit and play. A “pallet” was usually one of her handmade quilts, given in those days no special honor but used for anything from sitting in the grass, to covering a load of something being hauled in the back of the pick-up, to piling on the bed for warmth in days before indoor heat.
Second, I must have been about three years old when Grandpa gave me my first paying job. Most likely to entertain me and keep me within eyeshot, more than for the actual help. I think I was paid 10c a day for laying a new stick across the wooden stringer every time either of the stringers completed a string of leaves.
The excitement to the hard and hot work was the not so unusual big fat green tobacco worm on the leaves, and the thankfully less usual black snake found hanging in the rafters of the barn as the men hung the tobacco, probably there to prey on birds, owls, or rats.
Maybe a couple of years later, after my sister was born and my mom had quit work to stay home with us, she would go to work at the barn and take us along. I slowly graduated to handing. Handing meant quickly gathering a bundle of tobacco leaves by their stems, and handing them, one handful after another, to the stringer, the person tying the bundles together on the stick. To my memory, I never got fast enough to be a regular hand, but filled in occasionally if we were short handed. I’m not sure my memory is correct, but I’m thinking 50c an hour might have been the pay for handing, or maybe that was my lesser pay?
Neighbors and extended family would come together to get the work done, including what they called “swapping.” My grandpa’s brother-in-law, Aldon Brown, also raised tobacco, and the two families “swapped,” meaning three days a week they all worked Grandpa’s tobacco, and the alternating three days they all worked Aldon’s tobacco, with no pay.
This was the generation before me, when the tobacco land was still owned by my great grandpa. At that time, Grandpa rented about five acres of land from my great grandpa, with my great grandpa getting one third of the profits. Another three or four acres were rented to Will Boles, with my great grandpa getting 50% of the profits because he also provided the farm equipment and the fertilizer.
Over the years, Grandpa “swapped” with several black families - Boles, Scales, Cundiff . . . sometimes more than one at a time, depending on the number of family members being swapped. In the Boles family, there was only Will and his son, so only two family members were needed for that “swap.” My mom has a memory of helping at a black family’s barn and one of the men offering everybody homemade peach brandy. This would’ve been in the 1960s.
In addition to the “swapping,” other hands would be hired for pay. I remember as an elementary age child, many boys my age and several stay-at-home moms would work in tobacco for daily hire.
Tobacco setting time was around the end of April or the first of May, after the threat of frost was past. Setting, which is tobacco language for planting, only required two people to sit in the setter, pulled by the tractor and facing the field behind, and one to drive the tractor. I remember doing this at least once, setting with Grandma as Grandpa drove. I must have been about three, so maybe was again less helpful than I imagined myself then.
Tobacco priming started with the bottom leaves, gradually working upward until at the end of the season all the leaves had been removed. Besides priming, field work included topping, which meant taking the bloom off the top of the stalk, as the bloom would take the nutrients needed for the healthy growth of the leaves. Then suckering, for the same purpose. Sometimes the job was worming. If not removed, the fat green worms would grow long and quickly devour all the leaves.
My daddy tells the childhood story of Grandpa one day offering him a penny for every tobacco worm he could bring him from the field. Daddy set out with a peck basket and returned with hundreds of worms. Grandpa was astonished but gave him his dollars. Worms were then fed to the chickens.
Another of my daddy’s tobacco worm stories is that they usually pinched the worms’ heads off to kill them, and that sometimes to prove their toughness, boys would bite the heads off. “I wouldn’t have married someone who did that,” my mom responded, to which my daddy said, “You did.”
Tobacco had to hang in the barn to dry out and cure, because moisture would cause mold. Then five or six times a year, the soft brown cured tobacco would be bundled and taken to sell, most often to Winston-Salem, sometimes to Mt. Airy, or occasionally when cash was needed earlier, to Fairmont or Lumberton. At these warehouses, various buyers, like RJ Reynolds, would be present to bid on the piles. “Piles” could be up to 300 pounds. Transporting to sell was another opportunity for neighbors to make a little money, if they had a truck big enough to transport the tobacco. Grandpa would ride along. Tobacco priming usually ended about September, and the final selling then.
I asked my daddy about the sleds that were pulled by the tractor from the fields to the barns. I knew they didn’t have wheels. Did they have runners? They were tapered like runners, he said, so when they hit something they could keep going. And they were also hand made - remade or at least repaired every year, so there were six to eight ready for the season.
Daddy says today tobacco farming is not done by small-time farmers but as larger industrial operations, and no one uses these old methods anymore. Thus my tobacco barn memories from the 1960s are a gummy leaf of history.
*In the generation before mine, when my daddy was a boy, he got the egg money. He would walk to Fred Key's store where he could sell a cake of butter or a half dozen eggs for 25c. Then he would walk to the movie theatre where he could get a movie and popcorn. Popcorn was 10c, and a movie was 15c except on Wednesday nights when the movie was 9c. This would've been the 1940s-1950s.
photo credit: my own photo close-up of Cotton Ketchie's "Tobacco Row"
2020: Pandemic Life
March 11 just before midnight I was packed to leave the next morning for a mini-vacation in Hillsborough NC. We had been hearing of the Coronavirus, but on this night the news seemed to hit far more seriously and personally. I unpacked my suitcase and began an isolation that I carried throughout the rest of the year, and who knows how far into 2021.
I carefully followed the directives to stay at home, and, when necessary to go out, to wear a mask, sanitize hands often, and stay at least six feet apart from everyone else.
March 13 we had a called Session meeting at church and voted to close the doors to in-person activity until further notice. To date, this was the last time I was personally inside the church building, although later it was reopened with extreme protocol in place for those who wanted to gather, only to be closed again about two months later as the local, state, and national virus numbers again surged higher than ever.
Restaurants, gyms, churches, stores, and even schools closed and reopen with safety measures in place, often later to close again, or to tighten the restrictions. Hospital employees remained on the front line, risking their lives daily to care for the sickest. Residential care facilities closed to all visitors, isolating the residents from their loved ones, except through window visits, phone calls, or Zoom. "Zoom," the now most popular on-line face-to-face meeting portal, became a household word.
On March 12 I made a grocery run before settling into isolation, and that was the last time I went inside any store the entire year. Food Lion To Go became my means of shopping. I ordered online twice a month, drove to Food Lion, and an employee would put the groceries in my trunk without me ever getting out of the car. Other shopping I did by ordering on-line. There were a couple of months I never even bought gas.
I learned to cut my own hair (well, "learned" might be an exaggeration). In this photo I was getting an outdoor haircut.
Four times since that March date I picked up restaurant takeout via curb service or food truck, all pre-ordered. Two of those times were for my parents. Once I picked up gift cards via drive-thru. Twice I attended an outdoor Vespers service at church.
In addition I had occasional outside, masked, and distanced (more like 10-20 feet instead of 6) visits with my parents, two with C, one each with L, R, B, and J&S, and one with family at Christmas. I worked out a regular schedule to "double bubble" with D. We would isolate 2 weeks before getting together, then isolate another 2 weeks before being near anyone else. And I walked almost daily, sometimes stopping to chat at a distance with neighbors. Seeing less of each other than usual, my parents and I established a particular Sunday time to call, and my daddy added FaceTime to his skills.
Most of my people time though has been through Zoom. I have averaged a Zoom meeting a day, sometimes none, sometimes three, mostly church related, also Literacy Council tutoring. On Sunday mornings I "attended" church in my pajamas via live stream. Likewise I "attended" multiple concerts and other entertainment productions, live streamed because live audiences were not possible. Some at ticket price, some for donation, some free. It's amazing how much of life can be experienced in front of a computer screen when necessary. It's not like being there, but how different these 9 1/2 months would've been without social technology.
For others the pandemic year has been tragic. Many have lost loved ones. Others have been isolated from loved ones. Many have continued to work daily, putting their own wellbeing, and their family's, in danger. Some have lost businesses and jobs and suffered great financial loss. For me, the most difficult part of the pandemic has been the sadness and guilt of disappointing my parents with outdoor-only visits and no family meals. I've heard others describe similar situations as "cruel." It has been an emotionally difficult time for families, in so many ways.
In April the federal government mailed $1200 "stimulus" checks indiscriminately to most Americans, in compensation for COVID-related financial losses. Because my personal income was not affected by COVID, I donated my $1200, and encouraged others in similar circumstances to consider doing the same. Mine went to Rowan Helping Ministries, The Rowan County United Way COVID relief fund, my church to open a phone line for distance worship access by those with internet, and a few smaller helping funds. I am grateful there are agencies physically helping those most severely affected by the pandemic.
Politically and philosophically, this has a year of widespread awakening to the white supremacist foundations of our nation, and backlash to the awakening. It has been a season of bombarded misinformation and political corruption like never before, including the kidnapping, encaging, selling, and trafficking of immigrant children at the Mexican border. We have all lived as characters in Orwellian and Huxley novels.
In November the country elected a new president, Joe Biden, and the first ever female and first ever African-American vice president, Kamala Harris, to be inaugurated in January of 2021, and COVID vaccinations have begun to arrive for the front line workers, expected to be available to everyone maybe about April 2021. The New Year brings hope.
Despite that FPC church activities were severely altered for COVID-19 safety from March through the year's end, a great deal of my time was spent in church-related activities. I mostly attended services via live stream and meetings via Zoom, but thanks to technology church life continued throughout the year. In addition to the list below, I guest taught the Women's Sunday School class once in February, read the Scripture in Spanish (via video) for the Pentecost Sunday service, and regularly called five 80+yr-old members to check on them throughout the pandemic.
Ruling Elder (began third year of three)
Worship & Music Committee Chair
Coronavirus Response Team (May to present)
Stephen Ministry Leader
Ordained as a Stephen Minister (caregiving role, as opposed to the training role of the SML)
Race Task Force
Member of Sojourners Class and Presbyterian Women's Bible Study
Other Volunteer Work
Lee St. Theatre: served as greeter only twice before the pandemic hit
Rowan County Literacy Council: weekly literacy tutoring on Zoom, July to present; also initiated a fundraiser on RCLC's behalf, on Facebook for my birthday, raising $400+ to help compensate for pandemic losses.
52 Books I Read (or listened to; listed in order of publication year)
Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren, 1945, audio) classic children’s fiction
Sappho (Trans. Mary Barnard, 1958) poems translated from Greek, 7th-6th cen. BCE
Jubilee (Margaret Walker, 1966) historical novel; life of Vyry; pre Civil War to Reconstruction
The Grange: 1867-1967 First Century of Service and Evolution (W.L. Robinson, 1966) history of org.
Diving into the Wreck (Adrienne Rich, 1973) poems written 1971-1972
The One Minute Manager (Ken Blanchard, 1981) basic managerial philosophy
An American Life (Ronald Reagan, 1990, audio) autobiography
Jazz (Toni Morrison, 1992, audio) a marriage, an affair, a murder; fiction
The Message: New Testament (Eugene Peterson,1993, audio) in contemporary language
Redneck Heaven (Bethany Bultman, 1996) history and stories of the American “redneck” culture
The World According to Mister Rogers (Fred Rogers, 2003) collection of Mr Rogers’ wisdom
Wishful Drinking (Carrie Fisher, 2008, audio) autobiography
Half Broke Horses (Jeannette Walls, 2009, audio) biog novel, similar to “Little House on the Prairie”
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet (Jamie Ford, 2009, audio) WWII-era Asian-Amer; fic
The Other Half of My Heart (Sundee T. Frazier, 2010, audio) biracial twins, one light, one dark; fic
The Best of Me (Nicholas Sparks, 2010, audio) romance novel
An Invisible Thread (Laura Schroff, 2011, audio) an unlikely friendship, based on true story
The Bluest Eyes (Toni Morrison, 2011, audio) African-American fiction
Burnt Mountain (Anne Rivers Siddons, 2011, audio) fiction, romance
America Again (Stephen Colbert, 2012, audio) political satire
Time Keeper (Mitch Albom, 2012, audio) fantasy fiction, Father Time
The Librarian of Auschwitz (Antonio Iturbe, 2012, audio) 14yo Holocaust prisoner Dita Kraus
Sum It Up (Pat Summitt, 2013, audio) autobiography, TN Lady Vols Basketball & alzheimer’s
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets . . . (Fredrik Backman, 2016, audio) novella, dementia
Wolf Hollow (Lauren Wolk, 2016, audio) young adult fiction
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the (Beverly D Tatum, 2017, audio) nonfic
The Orphan’s Tale (Pam Jenoff, 2017, audio) Circus, Holocaust, Friendship; novel
This Is How It Always Is (Laurie Frankel, 2017, audio) family’s story of trans child; novel
Tony Brown: Elvis, Strait, To Jesus (Tony Brown, 2018) country music record producer autobio
Girl, Wash Your Face (Rachel Hollis, 2018, audio) nonfiction, lies women tell themselves
In Pieces (Sally Fields, 2018, audio) autobiography; family background and acting career
The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, 2018, audio) a Holocaust bio and romance
White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo, 2018, audio) examine own racial tensions; nonfiction
Educated (Tara Westover, 2018, audio) an unforgettable & mind-altering memoir
Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens, 2018, audio) storytelling at its best; fiction
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai, 2018, audio) novel set in the 1980s gay AIDS culture
The Seminarian (Patrick Parr, 2018) MLK Jr’s seminary years, biography
Anxious People (Fredrik Backman, 2019, audio) novel about a crime, an apt. showing, a bridge
Love Carved in Stone (Eugenia Gamble, 2019) Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study
The Dutch House (Ann Patchett, 2019, audio) a house and its people; great story-telling; fiction
The Nickel Boys (Colson Whitehead, 2019) novel based on story of real reform school; 1960s
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (David Brooks, 2019, audio) nonfiction
The Path Made Clear (Oprah Winfrey, 2019, audio) inspiration from many well-known voices
Calling All Witches (Laurie Calkhoven, 2019) bios of the females of the H Potter series
The Craft (John Dickie, 2020) world history stories of freemasonry
The Book of Longings (Sue Monk Kidd, 2020, audio) “Red Tent”-like novel
White Too Long (Robert P. Jones, 2020) nonfiction; white supremacy & Christianity
American Dirt (Jeanine Cummins, 2020, audio) a Mex woman & young son flee to the US; fic
Too Much and Never Enough (Mary Trump, 2020, audio) family background of Donald Trump
Hill Women (Cassie Chambers, 2020, audio) family memoir of a woman of Appalachia
Caste (Isabel Wilkerson, 2020, audio) nonfiction; American social structure
A Promised Land (Barack Obama, 2020, audio) bio, presidential memoir part 1
Color code: *must read *also highly recommended
25 Movies I Watched (listed in order of release year)
Miracle on 34th St (1947, repeat) a heart-warming Santa story
White Christmas (1954, repeat) classic musical set post-WWII; romance and military
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) classic sci-fi
Tootsie (1982, repeat) romantic comedy; Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange
Groundhog Day (1993) stuck reliving same day over and over
Sordid Lives (2000) a feel-good morbid comedy
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) based on the classic novel of betrayal and revenge
The Maldonado Miracle (2003) a miracle in a border town church
The Bucket List (2007) starring Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman
Those People (2015) drama, romance
The Syndrome (2016) documentary challenging the validity of “shaken baby syndrome”
13th (2016) documentary of systemic racism intricately woven into the criminal justice system
The Christmas Chronicles (2018) 2 kids fly with Santa on Christmas Eve
The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017, repeat) Charles Dickens, biography
The NIghtingale (2018) drama set in 1825; violence, war, a young woman’s revenge
Vita & Virginia (2018) Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, biography
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) based on novel by James Baldwin
Little Women (2019) based on Louisa May Alcott novel
Just Mercy (2019) true story of lawyer working for justice of wrongly accused
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2020) forbidden love set in 18th century; French w/ Eng subtitles
Da 5 Bloods (2020, Netflix) Black war vets return to Vietnam; Spike Lee director
Hamilton (2020, Disney+) movie version of hit Broadway musical
Hillbilly Elegy (2020) based on 2016 novel by JD Vance; family memoir
The Social Dilemma (2020) alarming documentary of social media's manipulation of us all
The Prom (2020) Glee-style musical of inclusive prom
Color code: *must see *also highly recommended
The next two categories, TV and On Stage, are a bit blurred because of the pandemic, as most stage events after mid-March were available only in TV-like fashion.
That 70’s Show Season 1 (1998) sitcom set in the 1970’s
Race: The Power of an Illusion (2003, PBS) 3-part documentary of America’s culture of “race”
Community Seasons 1&2 (2009, 2010) sitcom centered on a Community College campus
The Crown Seasons 1, 2, &3 (2016, 2017, 2018 Netflix)) bio, drama; Queen Elizabeth II
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1 (2017, Hulu) based on Margaret Atwood’s novel
Reconstruction (2019 PBS miniseries) documentary of period following Civil War
Hillary (2020 Hulu miniseries) autobiographical documentary of Hillary Rodham Chinton
Mrs. America (2020 Hulu miniseries) 1970s ERA fight - P Schlafly, G Steinam, Chisholm
A Secret Love (2020, Netflix documentary) 72-yr secret relationship 1947-2019; biography
Becoming (2020, Netflix documentary) Michelle Obama, biography
Race Matters: America In Crisis (2020, PBS NewsHour) conversations on American racism
Love, Victor Season 1 (2020 Hulu) a coming out drama
The Vote (2020 PBS documentary miniseries) the fight for women’s suffrage
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020 Netflix) a 1950s-1970s camp for disabled
Beyonce: Black Is King (2020, Disney+) penetrating black empowering musical
What You Don’t Know (But Should) About Appalachian Slavery (2020, Internat'l Storytelling Center)
Deathtrap (Lee St. Theatre, Jan) farcical play within a play
Trip To Bountiful (LST, Feb) elderly woman runs away to the home of her memories
Grapes of Wrath (Amer Shakespeare Center, April, streaming) based on Steinbeck novel, dust bowl
Motherhood Out Loud (LST, May, streaming) Multiple Stories of Mothering
Jesus Christ Superstar (Broadway Live stream)
Multiple streamed concerts (some weekly or monthly): Susan Werner, Cris Williamson, Maroon Corey, Kruger Brothers
Color code: *must see *also highly recommended
Speaking and Writing
I spoke once this year, in November, at James Madison University, my first time via Zoom.
I have posted a few blogs, listed and linked here:
And finally: I have seen more death this year than in any other; including in January, my Great Aunt Nell, the last of my grandparents' generation. This final blog, my most popular post of the year, is about another special person:
Not much new this year, except that I have a paid Zoom account so I can host meetings beyond the free 40 minutes.
I continue to use my HP laptop and my iPhone every waking moment - for meetings, socialization, business, entertainment, music, audiobooks, and gaming. A continue to use "Alexa," mostly for weather, timers, quick look-up answers or math calculations, and music.
I was a Hulu member all year, and Netlix a couple of months when there was something I especially wanted to see. TV is not my usual leisure go-to.
My laptop hard drive crashed Dec 30, which explains the late post date of this inventory. I'm finally up and running again!
I have always loved puzzles of various kinds. This year I worked 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles of NC, Frida Kahlo, and board games. I entertained myself with the Puzzle Page and Words With Friends apps.
I was introduced to WWF in 2019 to participate in the Rowan County Literacy Council's WWF fundraiser tournament. I was ousted in an early round by the competitor who went on to win. This past June, I returned to become the 2020 tournament champion, winning an RCLC T-shirt, and $100 that I donated back to the organization.
15 hours of exercise per month - mostly resistance machines and stationary bike at the gym until the pandemic hit. Then mostly walking - parks, tracks, neighborhood. I continue to wear my leg brace on most of my walks. In June I participated in the COVID-style (individual) 19 miles in 19 days walk/run for Rowan Helping Ministries.
Torticollis continues. Botox shots every 4 months; and in July I started seeing an OMT whose holistic technique gives me hope.
I continue using MyFitnessPal for months at a time as needed to monitor my calories/weight. It's a great tool, and free!