Category Archives: movies

Reaping and Ripping

carrot and glove



let nature be your teacher


In seventh grade sewing class, there was a framed reminder on the wall above the row of sewing machines: Don’t RIP WHAT YOU SEW ~ Pay Attention to What You’re Doing

For twelve year olds making their first projects—and usually in a hurry to get them done—this was a reminder to work carefully or risk ripping out stitches and starting over. The message was, of course, a play on the words, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.   Which is synonymous with “What goes around, comes around” and “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

My mother often watched and waited as I learned my lessons. I was eight when we got rid of the old sandbox in the backyard and I was given the space for my own 8’x5’ garden. Mom let me choose any five seed packets. I chose a combination of vegetables and flowers—beets, carrots, corn, zinnias and marigolds—but I lost interest in reading the instructions.  I had no patience for planting in neat rows, but merrily mixed the seeds together and flung them throughout the garden. The result was, well, interesting, but we did get a few veggies AND colorful bouquets. Mom smiled and asked, “What will you plant next year, and how will you plant it?”

Two years ago after we removed a dying Aspen tree, I became the 8-year-old gardener again.  After planting our vegetable garden, I had extra carrot seeds, so I combined them with the soil in the hole…and forgot about them.   Several weeks ago, I noticed feathery green tops mixed with the grass where the tree had been.  The result was the 7” long, tough, bug-nibbled carrot in the picture above, surrounded by many smaller bits of carrots. The harvest was colorful and interesting—but after two seasons it was definitely inedible—it was what I had sown but then ignored.


gone with the wind Scarlett O’Hara, in the movie version of GONE WITH THE WIND, knelt in the destroyed field and dug out a withered turnip. She held it up and swore, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” This should make me feel guilty about my forgotten carrots, but Scarlett didn’t survive by planting more turnips; she survived by marrying men with money. Rich reaping.

Both Socrates and Plato have been credited for the lesson that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and though my forgotten carrots will not cause my family to starve, I am paying attention to the lesson.  I need to work carefully or risk ripping out mistakes and starting over, and be ever mindful of what I sow.

On so many levels, it’s a good lesson for sewing, gardening…and life in general.

When the tornado destroyed their trees, yard, part of their house and much of their town, young Gannon did what he could--he planted grass seed.

When the tornado destroyed their trees, yard, part of their house and much of their town in 2008, young Gannon did what he could–he planted grass seed.



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, gardening, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, movies, special quotations

Scouting Joy

(All pictures by Marylin Warner)

(All pictures by Marylin Warner)

Even in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE there's loss and sadness before there's joy.

Even in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE there’s loss and sadness before there’s joy.


Maggie's last Christmas picture, wearing her Rudolph ears.

Maggie’s last Christmas picture, wearing her Rudolph ears.

We didn’t send our usual “Christmas picture” greetings this year. For twelve years, our beloved Maggie has been in our picture. The first Christmas after our granddaughter was born twelve years ago, Maggie posed with us as we held baby Grace, and Maggie had her own picture ever since.

As you know, Maggie died suddenly last summer, and it was a very sad time for our family. This Christmas Jim and I just didn’t have the heart power to send cards without her.

If you do a search for ways to improve the holidays, you might be stunned at the number of articles that include this one: “Watch a Christmas movie.” Immediately I thought of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, which is one of our favorites. But according to actor Tom Hanks, no December is complete without watching ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Remarque’s grim story of German soldiers’ extreme stress during WWI. Not what I would choose for Christmas inspiration or joy, but we each have our own favorites.

This week, Jim and I went to visit our local Humane Society and were touched by the enthusiasm of families adding cats, dogs, rabbits and turtles to their Christmas gift lists, and also contributing to the special gift funds for pets still waiting to be adopted.

At one glassed-in area, a single puppy waited alone in a cubicle. Her four siblings had all been adopted. I knelt and put my hand on the glass wall. When the puppy looked at me, waddled over and put her paw on the other side against my hand, Jim said he could see the writing on the wall, so to speak, and we both opened our hands and our hearts.

You are our first friends to receive this Christmas picture featuring our little 4 1/2-pound, 11-week old, Border Collie Mix. The operative word is Mix—we’re pretty sure she’s also German Shepherd and maybe other breeds, too—but Maggie was a beautiful combination of many breeds, so we’re very hopeful about her. We named her Scout after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD’s young girl narrator, one of my favorite characters in literature.

Scout adds to our joy by wagging, prancing, snuggling, gnawing, marking her territory in our lives…and reminding us how to potty train a puppy while also improving our abilities to spot clean the carpets in every room. Best of all, we feel Maggie is looking down on us and smiling at the newest addition to our family, and we smile back at her. It doesn’t get much more festive and joyful than this.

Dear blogging friends, from my family to yours, I wish you all a joyous, grateful, warm and loving Christmas.

Scout, who put her paw out to meet my hand...and my heart.

Scout, who put her paw against the glass…and touched our hearts.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, movies, Things to be thankful for


Think of all the lessons to be learned from THELMA AND LOUISE.  (all photos by Marylin Warner; this was taken at a diner in El Dorado, KS.)

Think of all the lessons, good and not so good,  to be learned from THELMA AND LOUISE. (All photos by Marylin Warner; this was taken outside a diner in El Dorado, KS.)

My dad wasn’t big on going to movies, but my mom loved them. So when I was growing up, whenever he had business in Kansas City, she and I would ride along and go to a movie. Beyond the lure of buttered popcorn and sodas, we also loved to listen for special lessons in each story and compare notes afterwards.

Dad’s Alzheimer’s and now Mom’s dementia have prevented us from continuing this tradition for several decades, but I still search for favorite “lesson lines” on my own. Here are a few of my favorites.

“Do, or do not. There is no try.” ~ Yoda (STAR WARS)

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are…it is our choices.” Dumbledore (HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS)

“After a while, you learn to ignore the names people call you and just trust who you are.”   ~ SHREK

“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” ~ THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

“To find something, anything—a great truth or a lost pair of glasses—you must first believe there will be some advantage in finding it.” ~ ALL THE KING’S MEN

“All that is gold does not glitter. Not all who wander are lost.” ~ Bilbo Baggins, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

And this one is for my mom; if it weren’t for the dementia, she’d be shaking her head Yes! and applauding: “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.” ~ from DOWNTOWN ABBEY


Think of all the lessons from the characters of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Think of all the lessons from the characters of THE WIZARD OF OZ.

"Run, Forrest, Run!"   Substitute your name for Forrest, and what does this lesson teach you?

“Run, Forrest, Run!” Substitute your name for Forrest, and what does this lesson teach you?


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, life questions, movies, special quotations











Dear Mom,

I was in third grade when I first saw THE WIZARD OF OZ  movie on television.  I remember being amazed and somewhat frightened by the  Kansas tornado, Dorothy and Toto waking up in a strange world of good witches, bad witches, munchkins, and flying monkeys; a yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City, and three strangers who travel with the girl and become her friends: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.

It was years before I actually read L. Frank Baum’s novel and realized the many differences between his book and the movie version. Supposedly, there were over forty, but the surprising one for me as a reader was the difference in Dorothy’s character in Baum’s book. Dorothy was not the movie’s damsel in distress who needed to be rescued. She was a strong, capable young girl who took charge and rescued the situation, herself, and her friends.  “If we walk far enough,” Dorothy assures the others in the book, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”

The someplace they reach is Oz, but the guard blocks their way, saying, “Nobody gets in to see the wizard. Not nobody.”  That doesn’t stop Dorothy. Even though the Wizard turns out to be “a very good man…just a very bad wizard,” Dorothy doesn’t give up.

There have been countless essays written and theories debated about the characters and symbols in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  For instance, what’s more important to pursue, a brain, a heart, or courage? Or, which is the better lesson to learn, how to follow good or how to fight evil?

And finally, once you leave, can you ever really go home again? That’s the question you answered, Mom, by how you’ve lived your life in a spirit of love and acceptance. You saw leaving home as a natural, necessary journey for your children. Things would change and so would we, but of course we could always come home again; a part of our hearts would always be there, and our family would always welcome us back with open arms.

In the book, Dorothy’s slippers are silver; in the movie they are ruby red, but the message matters more than the color. She clicks them and says the magic phrase again and again.  She had the magic answer within her all along: “There’s no place like home.”


Filed under art, autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, movies, Things to be thankful for

Horror Movies

Dear Mom,

I doubt that you remember 1958, when the original movie of THE BLOB was shown at the theater. I was nine, and even though some of my friends were allowed to go and see it, you said no. I was too young, and prone to a vivid imagination and nightmares, you said, and I didn’t need to see a movie that was  so scary. I was allowed to go to the other movie–I don’t even remember what it was–but not to THE BLOB.

After I got my popcorn, I slipped into a seat in the back row of THE BLOB. It was Steve McQueen’s debut leading role, but I don’t remember him. I do remember the old man on the screen who watched a blazing mass crash to the earth, and how I cringed as he went over to the crater of bubbling red and jabbed it with a stick. When he held it up to study the slimy oozing mess, it crawled down the stick…and on to his hand.

I dropped my popcorn and screamed, and then I jumped when I felt the hand on my shoulder. Your hand. You didn’t smack my shoulder or jerk me out of the seat. You nodded toward the exit. The look of disappointment on your face said it all, and I solemnly followed you out of the theater.

Even though it was for only a few minutes, I still remember the sights and sounds, the eerie music and the escalating fear of the movie. That’s what scary movies do best, and the bursts of surprise and fear are the trademarks of horror. Once I was old enough to appreciate good horror and suspense, especially psychological horror, I went to lots of horror movies. On very rare occasions you’d go to see one, too, like the time I took you to see ROSEMARY’S BABY. (I still remember you telling me after the movie that Rosemary’s hair was too short, though it was probably easier for a pregnant woman to take care of, but you’d never heard of a pregnant woman craving a raw chicken to gnaw into. You also said  that, in your opinion, ROSEMARY’S BABY wasn’t near as good as THE SOUND OF MUSIC.)

I won’t be reminding you of THE BLOB or ROSEMARY’S BABY, Mom, and when we talk on the phone I won’t tell you  about the sad and terrible thing that  happened here in Colorado two days ago. It still has me upset, how a theater full of movie goers in Aurora went to see the opening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, but it turned out to be a very real, horrible, dark night for them. A young man who called himself The Joker randomly killed a dozen of the people in the audience and wounded more than fifty more. All of us watching the news account–and especially the police who responded to the crises and the medical personnel who rushed to the hospitals to help those who survived the attack–will probably never understand why a person would do such a horrible thing. Those who survived the attack, and the friends and families of those who did not, will struggle with nightmares that plague them for the rest of their lives.

When I was a child, Mom, you were right to take me out of a movie I wasn’t old enough to see or understand.  But no one was old enough to experience, witness or understand what happened in Aurora. It was real life horror at its worst,  without mothers’ hands on viewers’ shoulders, guiding them away from the danger.  Through the years I’ve seen you respond to heartbreaking, tragic events. When there was something you could do to help, you helped. When there was nothing you could do, you  would fold your hands, bow you head and silently pray for everyone involved.  The list of those needing prayers in this case would be very long, and I think it would include The Joker’s family, too, because you would also understand their sorrow and grief at the damage he’d done.


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, movies, readiness for certain movies