5 February 2011
Sometimes I wonder if you read this monthly news, but I got enough emails wanting to know if everything was okay that I guess I should start off with an apology for being 5 days late. I wasn't in Egypt, as some of you suspected (much as I would love to be.)
Thanks to your generosity, I've been able to complete the most urgent home repairs, and my house - which I always consdered the dumpiest stop on my hectic tour schedule for the last four years - is now genuinely cozy and warm.
This is nonetheless the winter of my discontent. I try to feel constant gratitude that my recovery is progressing as well as it is. The truth is that I can't help feeling trapped here in this Pittsburgh winter. I don't adjust well to fatigue and weakness. And I can't stand being unable to work. I'm glad to be mostly able to take care of the house, prepare my meals, do the food shopping. And slowly but surely I am organizing my office a little in preparation for research and writing about my grandfather. And slowly but surely, my hair is returning! It looks to be the same color and it's starting to curl.... woo hoo!
I'm very excited to be planning a trip to Florida in March. I'm going to drive down, so if you're in between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville and you'd welcome an overnight guest, send me an email. And, my dear Florida friends - if you're going to be out of town or have a house full of snowbirds in March, let me know when, so I can plan my route to see as many of you as possible. I won't be able to work on this Florida visit, but I hope to see as many of you as possible.
I really love to hear from you. Reply to this, or send me a Facebook message, or send me a card or letter:
2240 Milligan Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
Events in Tunisia and Egypt may make this a pivotal era in the earth's history. A great opportunity. I hope the forces for a secular democracy prevail.
And the bullies on the right have put Planned Parenthood in their sights. Please visit http://site.pfaw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PlannedParenthood&autologin=true&s_src=fb_share_plannedparenthood and sign the petition and notify your member of Congress that you do NOT want to see Planned Parenthood "ACORNed."
With deepest gratitude to all of you,
I'm going to go ahead and try cardioversion for my irregular heartbeat. Cardioversion is when they break out the paddles and yell "Clear!" and administer an electrical shock to the heart. Sometimes it puts the heart back into a regular sinus rhythm on the first try. Sometimes it takes two or three tries. Sometimes it doesn't work at all. I'm hoping it works for me, and that I have more energy when it's over. That will probably happen in the first week in April, which is also when I get the next PET scan.
My radiation oncologist says that he would put the chances of the cancer returning at 60% now that I've had one clean PET scan. Sometimes I think they make these numbers up. But it's always nice to get good news. He's going to do regular brain MRIs for the next two years. I declined prophylactic global cranial radiation. It's known to cause confusion and memory loss - two things I'm more afraid of than cancer.
I'll be really glad when "medical news" is no longer a regular feature of my monthly news.
THANKS TO THE WESTERN WORKERS' LABOR HERITAGE FESTIVAL
My beloved Western Workers' Labor Heritage Festival, where I've spent so many happy Martin Luther King weekends in the Bay Area, designated me as the "Worker in Need," this year. It's the first time they've ever picked an individual to be the beneficiary of their generosity. Chris Chandler wrote and performed a moving new piece at the Sunday night concert that was all about me, him, our friendship and our work. Janet Stecher, Jon Fromer and Steve Jones performed a medley of my songs. My friend Karen Newman did the fundraising pitch... and the generous festival-goers ponied up $2000 to help me with expenses while I'm laid up.
This was a pretty bleak movie year, despite offering three terrific movies - "The King's Speech," "True Grit" and "The Fighter." I can only hope the Academy was blushing at trying to pick ten nominees for best picture.
And it was a dreadful year for food in the movies - between that and my health problems I was ready to cancel my annual Oscars dinner. But my creative friends are coming up with great ideas, and we're going to go ahead with dinner... And I'm presenting our 2011 menu to perhaps inspire some of you to have an Oscars dinner of your own.
Here's the menu (and some of my mini reviews of the films...)
The Social Network - (I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. It certainly doesn't deserve a "Best Picture" nomination any more than Zuckerberg deserved to be Time's "Person of the Year" in a field that included Julian Assange.. but the overall cinematic field was pretty weak this year.)
Laura and Irene will be serving a very social cheese fondue in honor of "The Social Network."
Now that we have 10 films, we can have more hors d'ouvres, so...
The Fighter - (This was a fabulous fabulous film. Fantastic performances from everyone. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo turn in superb performances. I have NO idea how they could have passed over Barbara Hershey for supporting actress in "The Black Swan." She was the sole saving grace of this hackneyed self-important film. But back to "The Fighter," my only complaint is that every time Hollywood tries to portray the working class, everyone smokes and eats pizza. Surely we're more complex than that!)
But it did make the hors d'ouvres selection easier. Little mini-pizzas.
Inception - (I don't mind working hard to follow a film, but Inception wore me out and it didn't give me much in return. Oh, the spawn of Memento! Nothing has come close to catching its cleverness, despite the many progeny.)
This seemed like a good opportunity to break out an appetizer I had quit serving because it doesn't look like what it is. People always thought this appetizer was some kind of cookie. They'd pop it into their mouths only to mush-mouth mumble "What is this??" When I told them it was half a baby redskin potato boiled, topped with sour cream and caviar most of them went ahead to swallow what I consider a delightful appetizer.
127 Hours - (I'll confess I haven't seen this one and probably won't. What are the odds of having three of the ten Best Picture nominees feature protagonists who lose a hand/arm? I know James Franco is nominated for Best Actor as well, but if Colin Firth doesn't win Best Actor this year there is no justice. He was so robbed last year for his amazing performance in "A Single Man." He's even better this year in "The King's Speech.")
My friend Jeanne has a mold of a human hand, which Barbara will use for a liver pate and a vegetarian pate.
The Kids Are All Right - (This very intelligent film's fatal flaw is having one of the lesbian protagonists "jump the fence" to have an affair with the father of her children. Annette Bening is terrific in this film - actually the very talented cast makes the whole preposterous story line pretty credible. And thank goodness - one movie that loves food!)
Organic salad for everyone from Joni and Llouise!
True Grit - (The Coen brothers deliver another terrific film. A wonderful cast breathes new life into what will be seen as the definitive portrait of Rooster Cogburn. I still don't get the gratuitous sadistic spanking at the beginning of the film, but this was a very satisfying film.)
Hominy and baked beans from Briget and Joni ... mmmmmm
Winter's Bone - (Here's an interesting film that will get well-deserved attention by virture of its nomination. As my pals Jan and Hilary and I speculated after the film... What is 'Winter's Bone'? If spring's bone is leg of lamb, and summer's bone is spare ribs... "Winter's Bone" must be standing rib...)
Entree: Standing rib roast by Anne and Hilary
The Black Swan - (How many hackneyed dancers' cliches can be squeezed into one film? If it weren't for Barbara Hershey's performance, this move would be a complete waste of time.)
Still, it's inspired my friend Irene to bake a ballerina cake.
The King's Speech - (a brilliant, perfect film that will move into my all-time top 20 movies. Flawless performances all around. Any film that leaves me feeling compassion and sympathy for the plight of royals is pretty remarkable! It was a good 15 minutes after the film ended before I could say "off with their heads!" with conviction).
My friend Mary is making her very first trifle for "The King's Speech."
Okay, that's only 9 courses. We're going to have Buzz Lightyear action figures as party favors. Toy Story 3
makes me very happy to be a grandmother. I look forward to seeing more films like it in the coming years.
Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to go see "Biutiful." Pittsburgh is a tough town to catch the foreign films and documentaries. But if there's anyway at all for you to see "Gasland," you'll know what we in the Marcellus Shale region are up against. If there's no hydraulic fracturing - aka "fracking" - going on near you, there very likely will be soon. We couldn't be more thrilled at the Oscar nomination for this important documentary.
So, let me know what you think of my movie reviews and menus.
FEBRUARY BIRTHDAYS/FAMILY NEWS
Belated Happy Birthdays to Lianna Kennedy - Feb 2, and Kevin Weldon - Feb 3.
Happy Birthday to Ryan Grefenstette - Feb 7, Joe McCahill - Feb 15, Benjamin McCahill - Feb 21,
Anabel Blanco - Feb 22, Ross Chapman - Feb 24, Barney McElhone - Feb 26, and,
in case I'm this late next month - Mary McCahill Madera and Shirley Shultz Myers
Dan and Monique are vacationing in Colombia. They've invited me to come to the Galapagos Islands with them in April. I sure hope I can do that. I get so lonesome for little Sebastian I can hardly stand it. He's rolling over now, and he had his first bowl of cereal last weekend. By May, they'll have left Ecuador for a new destination. They could end up in Morocco, or Zimbabwe or Kazakhstan
Amy's pipes are frozen in San Marcos, TX. I guess we exported our Pittsburgh weather to Texas for the Super Bowl. I'll be glad when it's over. I've gotten used to being the only person in the room - the store, the theater, the restaurant, the mall - who isn't wearing black and gold.
Julie is back in Sweden. His back went out just before he left. When I asked him what the doctor said, he told me "She has prescribed sick gymnastics. Do you say so?" I said, "I think we say 'physical therapy,' but I like 'sick gymnastics' a lot." He's feeling better now, and I hope he continues to improve.
My cousin Karen McCahill is coming to Pittsburgh at the end of the month to help me with the Oscars dinner
You can buy or download my CDs or single songs at http://cdbaby.com/all/unionmaid
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You can write me at: Anne Feeney, 2240 Milligan Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15218
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You've made it through another episode of the Fellow Travelers' Advisory. Thanks!