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Saturday, November 18, 2000

When I left the house late this morning, I had every intention of going to see You Can Count on Me at the Rialto at noon. And after I ran my errands, I still had enough time, except for one thing. I'd forgotten to eat anything before I left the house. I thought about it for just long enough that I didn't have time to stop anywhere and still make the movie, so I came on home and poured myself a big bowl of crunchy raisin bran.

It was too fine a day to spend inside a dark theater anyway, so I went outside to pull weeds. It only took an hour to fill up the gigantic yard waste container ("property of disposal company"). I still had time to make the 2:20 showing of the movie, but I was out of the mood and into the sunshine.

My weeding method is haphazard. I start out with a plan, to clear as much of a particular area as I can get to. But then I see something gross over on the other side of the yard, or I skip over smaller plants to get to the big, ugly stuff. The result is that the yard is still a mess, and you can't tell that I've put any effort into it, unless you either watched me work or had a "before" picture to refer to.

I can now look out my kitchen window and see the results of my efforts, and the results of the haphazardness. Less brush, fewer dandelions and such, up to a point about halfway in from the driveway. After that, it's a jungle, and not a pretty one at that. But progress is being made, however slowly. A little each week is all I can get to these days, with the short hours of sunlight and the occasional stormy days.

After an hour of weeding, I wasn't ready to retreat to the confines of the house, so I sat in the garden for the next half hour with the binoculars around my neck and the digital camera around my wrist, waiting and watching, and wondering how close the birds would come. One blue jay rested in a tree a few feet away, and a whole company of tiny sparrows flitted from branch to branch in the birch right in front of me for awhile. None of them landed on my shoulder or anything like that, though.

i sit on this benchbird in tree

Since my one piece of patio furniture, the lounge chair I keep in the loft, has never been outside, I took a dining room chair out into the soft ground just beyond the garden, so that I could read in the fresh air for the next hour. I've been reading in the loft most afternoons, but on weekends I can take time for myself earlier in the day, before it gets too cold and dark outside.

Reading was just an excuse to be out there, like fishing or bird watching. I still had my eye on the sweep of nature around me. I defy anyone to concentrate on anything else when there's a hawk circling overhead. I'm transfixed by these creatures, soaring so easily and aimlessly (or so it seems from the ground).

I like these low-key days; I guess I'm just a low-key guy.

The breeze came up, and I came in. Mom called, and she wants to go see that movie tomorrow, so that's what we're planning. I hadn't had the TV on all day, but I sat and watched The Story of Us. What a depressing movie (and not in a good way). Never has an hour and a half seemed more like a lifetime. I needed to watch Die Hard and Dangerous Minds afterward, just to get those images of Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer out of my head.

I waited for the big emotional finish, and when it came I was unmoved. If it weren't for TV I would never have seen this film. Movies on television in the solitude of my own home allow me to indulge my sensitive side, without being seen weeping in public. I watch The West Wing in part because at least once per episode I get a big lump in my throat. Little House on the Prairie will often make me sob uncontrollably. But I shed no tears for The Story of Us.

In spite of everything, though, here's something that'll make you want to see it (if you're over 35 and went to a public school): Jayne Meadows and Tom Poston as her parents, Betty White and Red Buttons as his. (Just one scene, though.)

Later tonight, after puttering around the house for awhile, I watched Eye of the Beholder, an even more depressing, less engaging movie. What I remember (and I just finished watching it) is that about two-thirds of it is close-ups of Ewan McGregor's expressionless face. The rest is Ashley Judd seen through a filtered lens, darting in and out of doorways. There, now you don't need to see it.

I used to like everything I saw, but I guess with 200 channels I'm a little more discerning. Or a little more jaded. I don't necessarily like that; I never wanted to be a critic (obviously). I still like the sappy stuff, but I have to connect with the characters. There's a difference between a sad movie and a "sad" movie, don't you know.

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Latest recommendations:

Alice, Assume Nothing, November 18, The Jacket

Jessie, Blueberry Hill, November 17, Pixxa

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