Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Just for Fun: A Bit of Nostalgia!

My latest video has absolutely nothing to do with chronic illness (which is nice, for a change!).

If you grew up in the 60's, 70's, or 80's, you'll love this nostalgia-filled walk down memory lane, including books, movies, music, cartoons, and more! I answer some questions for the Old School Tag, created by another YouTuber, and I had so much fun with it--plus a bit of show & tell!

You can watch the video on YouTube or I'll also include it here:

I had a blast making this video - I hope you enjoy watching it!

Tell me about YOUR favorite things from childhood!

Please leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Movie Monday: Dune and Dune, Part 2

My husband's all-time favorite book is Dune by Frank Herbert (the best-selling science fiction novel ever and winner of the first Nebula award in 1966). He's read it several times, he's read many of its sequels, and he's seen the 1984 movie adaptation. He was so excited when the recent Dune movie adaptation was released in 2021 and really wanted to see it on the big screen, but we missed it (I'm immune compromised, and theaters were still off-limits). He watched it by himself on TV when it hit streaming. When we heard that Dune: Part 2 was coming out this year, I told him I would watch the first movie with him at home, so we could see the sequel in the theater (I wear a mask). That's just what we did recently! We both enjoyed this fast-paced, epic sci fi adventure.

This is a complicated science fiction universe, so bear with me here--my husband will help me with a simple description (and of course, I will avoid all spoilers)! Arrakis is a desert planet, set tens of thousands of years in the future. It is the native home of the Fremen, people who live in harmony with the environment. But the huge sand dunes contain a powerful drug, melange, which is known as spice. Spice has many uses, including allowing people to travel faster than the speed of light, so everyone wants to control Arrakis and the spice mining and trade. The Emperor has given Arrakis to the House of Atreides to run, though the evil House of Harkonnen wants to control it. Duke Leto, played by Oscar Isaac, and Lady Jessica, played by Rebecca Ferguson, are the heads of House of Atreides, and their son, Paul (played by Timothee Chalamet), is set to inherit it. Lady Jessica is a Bene Gesserit, part of a matriarchal organization whose members possess almost superhuman mental, physical, and sensory powers. The Reverend Mother, played by Charlotte Rampling, comes to test Paul and discovers that his powers are quite strong (due to a combination of genetics and training). Paul has visions of a frightening future, but he doesn't understand them. Paul sees a young Fremen woman named Chani, played by Zendaya, in his visions, and he meets her toward the end of the first movie. The sequel picks up right where the first movie ended (no spoilers), and much of it takes place among the Fremen, where Paul and his mother are hiding.

OK, that was tough, but I think I managed to describe it in simple terms (my husband and Wikipedia both gave me way too much information! ha ha) and without any spoilers. So, clearly, my husband is  superfan and knows all about this universe, and I was coming into it 100% cold. I was very glad we watched the sequel just a few weeks after seeing the first movie. And we both enjoyed it! It's a complex world, yes, but the movie leaves out some of the background detail of the books. I was able to follow the plot and characters without a problem. It's basically a story about the battle for the planet Arrakis between warring Houses, so there are similarities to stories like Game of Thrones (though that is fantasy and this is science fiction) or Star Wars. But I wouldn't call it a war movie. Like those other TV/movie worlds, it is complex story-telling, filled with in-depth characters you get to know, with drama, love, and hate between them. It is also thought-provoking, as it deals with environmental issues and native people's lands being invaded by outsiders. And it's all set against this fascinating, unique world. The cinematography is amazing, and it's definitely one to see on a big screen if you can. Oh, and it has huge, monstrous sandworms! The acting and writing are excellent, and the human dramas have as much impact as the battle scenes. As a superfan, my husband loved it, which I think is high praise, as we all know that some adaptations of our favorite books don't turn out so well. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well. From the way Part 2 ended, it is clear there will be another sequel, and we'll be watching it from our recliner seats in the theater!

Dune is available on Hulu, YouTube, and Max, with a subscription, and for $3.99 on many other services, including Amazon Prime.

Dune: Part 2 is still available in some theaters (recliner seats have been game-changers for me!) and for $24.99 on several streaming services, including Amazon Prime.

See where it's playing near you:

Go Fandango!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Spring Camping Vacation Vlog

The blog has been quiet because we were on vacation last week! I not only had no internet; we didn't even have cell service much of the time! We were truly off-the-grid, and it was very relaxing. I put together a travel vlog, loaded with videos and photos of camping, hiking, kayaking, reading, and lots of relaxing! Plus lots of great footage of peaceful nature scenes, to help YOU enjoy the restorative effects of nature, too.

We drove with our pop-up camper down to Virginia (about a day's drive south, so perfect for April) and visited two beautiful state parks there: Holliday lake State Park and Fairy Stone State Park. On our way back, we spent the weekend on Smith Mountain Lake with my college suitemate and her husband (also a college friend) and really enjoyed both the gorgeous setting and the company. Nothing like old friends!

You can watch the vlog on YouTube or I''l insert it below - be sure to turn up your volume to enjoy the sounds of birdsong, bubbling streams, and trees swaying in the wind:

As you can see, I am still feeling really great! As long as I get my 9 hours of sleep a night and my afternoon nap, I can be quite active during the day (9000 steps one day on this trip - a new personal record!). And I have still not crashed even once since the beginning of the year. For details on why,  check out my 2023 Year in Review post (scroll down to "What Helped").

Vacationing this way--in our little camper, our home away from home, on our own schedule--allows me to relax and enjoy a getaway.

Are you able to travel at all or enjoy a vacation?

What helps you?

Please leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

Chronic Illness Vlog 4-1-24: Out in the World, Home Improvements & Easter

I recorded a chronic illness vlog last week, full of videos (and some photos) that show an honest view of my life with ME/CFS and Lyme. And these days, it's a pretty good life!

I am still doing really well and have been quite active, as you can see in the video. I've been able to see friends, go shopping (!), run errands, and even begin to work on our house a little (baby steps!). Small steps toward decluttering feel so good after feeling so helpless the past few years; it feels great to be productive again. Last week, I also went to the movies with my husband and enjoyed a weekend trip to visit family for Easter. This visit was a far cry from our last trip, for Thanksgiving in November, when I was so horribly sick that I needed a second nap between dinner and dessert.

As I've mentioned here before, my recent big improvements came from treating chronic yeast overgrowth (which makes me feel awful). I thought it was already well-controlled ... but I was wrong! It took all of the treatments in my Treating Yeast Overgrowth post, plus a major change to my diet at the beginning of the year. The other factor was effectively treating thyroid dysfunction (hypothyroidism, in my case). My doctor and I worked on that for over a year, but I couldn't see the full improvement with the yeast overgrowth making everything worse. 

That's the way it is with these complex immune disorders; sometimes you can't see the benefits of one treatment until you tackle another aspect of the disease. I have not experienced a single crash from over-exertion (or for any reason) yet in 2024, which feels like a miracle. I'm feeling the best I have in several years. Keep in mind that prior to this, I also treated many other aspects of the disease (see Effective Treatments, newly updated). It's like playing whack-a-mole!

You can watch last week's vlog on Youtube or right here, below:

How was YOUR week?
How are you doing?

Please leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

TV Tuesday: Tracker

Several of our favorite shows have returned for new seasons (including Will Trent, The Rookie, and So Help Me, Todd! - my reviews & trailers at the links). But there is one new show that began in February that we're really enjoying: Tracker.

Colter Shaw, played by Justin Hartley (who played Kevin on This Is Us), is a loner who travels all over the U.S. in his pick-up truck and classic Airstream trailer (a set-up my husband drools over in every episode!). Colter calls himself a "rewardist"--he earns a living by finding missing people when a reward is offered. Teddi, played by Robin Weigart, and Velma, played by Abby McEnany, coordinate his schedule and business and help him from afar. His buddy, Bobby (played by Eric Graise), is a disabled vet in Chicago who helps out with some mad hacking skills. And he gets an occasional assist from Reenie, played by Fiona Rene, a talented lawyer with whom he definitely has a history. Mostly, though, it's just Colter out on his own, tracking missing persons in locations all over the country, and avoiding getting too close to even his closest friends, like Bobby and Reenie. In the first episode, we learn that he had a difficult upbringing, with a survivalist father who had the family living in a remote area in the woods. That's where he learned his excellent tracking skills, though his childhood also left him with some emotional scars.

Each episode takes place in (and is named for) a different place and focuses on a new case, and in each one, as Colter is searching for the missing person, we learn a little bit more about him. For those who enjoy travel and the outdoors (that's us!), there is plenty of beautiful nature footage in widely varied places. Hartley is excellent in the lead role, and we're enjoying all of his co-stars, too. And talk about writing credentials! The show is based on a novel, The Never Game, by thriller all-star Jeffrey Deaver and was created and adapted for television by Ben H. Winters, another of our favorite authors (see my review of his The Last Policeman mystery-apocalyptic trilogy). The mysteries and suspense here are great, and it also has character depth and emotional complexity. We're loving it so far and can't wait to see where Colter goes next!

Tracker is currently airing on CBS on Sunday evenings, with seven episodes so far, so it is available On Demand and on Paramount+ (CBS' streaming service). It's also available on Pluto TV, Hulu, and for a fee on major Pay-On-Demand sites including Amazon Prime (starting at $1.99 per episode or $19.99 for the first season).