We are having our annual week of serious winter right now. The tree branches reached out to catch the fluff, and down it came, and came, and came. It was too much snow for them to bear, and many branches broke and fell. The clinic has held shorter hours, and much of my little town has shut down to await the melt. This year I had the studded tires put on the day before it snowed, instead of the day after. It’s a better strategy.
Thanks to meteorological technology, we knew it was coming and had time to buy extra groceries. We’ve been eating in and with our neighbors, and watching movies. As a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild (WGA), Mary gets screener copies of films that are hoping to earn writing nominations. These are the copies that end up pirated on the Internet. Each one comes with an agonizing array of dire warnings onscreen about this, and you can’t scroll past them, but I’m willing to endure these boring threats of huge fines and imprisonment in order to see current films legitimately for free.
Though it’s probably going to win awards in other categories besides writing, the one I’ve liked best so far is (The Descendants), directed and co-written (adapted from a novel) by Alexander Payne. It’s the story of a hereditary land baron (George Clooney) and formerly emotionally remote parent forced to take on the needs of his growing daughters when his wife is rendered comatose by an accident. He also must simultaneously contend with a gaggle of discordant cousins fighting over how to most profitably dispose of a huge parcel of prime real estate.
Besides the allure of beautiful Hawaii as a setting for the story, the film sports a greater number of expert and memorable performances than any other I’ve seen in the past year. Payne’s signature style is dark comedy. He previously directed Election and Sideways. This time his direction has produced a subtler balance, a buoyant spirit that lightens the tone, protecting the characters from drowning in the depressing situations they face. Not everyone in the film ends up happy, but most viewers will.
Our new guide dog trainee, Spice, is well built for snow or any other kind of water. She has webbed feet, and a coat that insulates her and repels moisture. Labs were originally bred to retrieve fishing nets. She burrows into the snow, bounces about, and does her business easily. Then she comes back in and cuddles with us as we dry her off with a towel.
Because she is more submissive and cooperative than the last dog, she will sit at our feet as her meals are being prepared, and not lunge at the dish until she has been given permission. If a guide dog were to jump up, a blind handler might spill the food. She is generally affectionate and attentive, though she will try to mouth us when she is tired. That’s not allowed. Young puppies can be prone to minor infections, and Spice came to us with them in both ears, but she allows us to cleanse and medicate them without squirming. I still have hope for this one to progress farther in the training. For now I will put on the kettle, start the fireplace, and settle in. I hope you are all safe and warm, too.