Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Fireworks - Part 3 - By Judi Phillips

Karrie pounded the steering wheel with the palm of her hand. "I must have left the door open. Just enough to leave the dome light on. This day just keeps getting better and better." 

Jack held out his key ring. "We can use my car if you don't mind driving."

"Is it stick? 'Cause I'm not that great using a clutch."

"Nope. It's automatic."

Karrie took a deep breath. Maybe she could salvage this disaster. "When I find that cat, I'll wring its neck."

Jack laughed. "That's drastic. Maybe ask around first for a missing cat."

Reluctantly, Karrie smiled. "What about your foot?"

"I'll be okay." He handed her his keys.

"How about I walk to your place, then drive by to pick you up?"

"Good idea. Save my bum ankle for the shopping ordeal."

"Seriously. It won't be that bad. Dash in for salmon. Pick up cream cheese. Then back home."

About ten minutes later, she drove into the parking lot of the closest supermarket in North Windham. "It's open. I was afraid they might close early."

"And miss all the last-minute emergency shoppers like us?"

"Yeah. What was I thinking?"

Inside, she walked directly to the dairy section, purposely slowing her steps so Jack could keep up. She picked up a packet of cream cheese, then headed for the fish department. Stopping in front of the frozen case, she looked, then looked again. "I don't believe it. There's no smoked salmon."

"Maybe it's somewhere else."

"Unh unh. This is where I always find it."

Jack flagged down a fish counter worker. "Any more smoked salmon?"

He shook his head. "We've had a real run on it today."

Karrie closed her eyes.

With one finger, Jack tilted her face up to look at him. His glance snared hers. She craved the touch of his lips on hers…not the right time, she thought, shaking her head and looking aside.

He cleared his throat and shrugged. "It'll be okay. We'll punt."

Her shoulders slumped and her voice wavered. "Yeah. We're definitely not scoring a touchdown today."

Jack slid an arm around her waist. "What about clam dip? You have the cream cheese. We could buy potato chips, plus taco chips and salsa. There's a great local one, Galaxie Salsa, made a couple of towns over, in Buxton."

When he lifted his arm, she grabbed his hand. "Lean on me. I'll be your crutch. I didn't think we'd take this long." She tried to believe it was all about helping him, but she really liked his arm around her. She'd been on an emotional roller coaster with her parents and Gram’s death all week and she needed help getting off the ride. 

He kept his arm on her shoulder while they finished shopping and checked out.

Exiting the store, Jack looked up. "Snow's really coming down."

"I hope they still have the fireworks."

"They will. I don't think even a Nor'easter would stop them."

Karrie smiled. "Well, maybe you're exaggerating, but I suspect nothing short of a powerful storm would interfere."

"Not that crew. Especially your Gram."

Karrie stopped so abruptly, Jack bumped into her. Tears filled her eyes.

"Hey, what's the problem? Did you forget something?"

"No. It's Gram. You probably didn't hear. Her funeral was a couple of days ago."

He tightened his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. "I'm so sorry. My parents didn't say anything. Typical. If it's not about them, it doesn't happen."

She couldn't think of anything to say. Maybe his family hadn't been as perfect as it looked from the outside.
With the windshield wipers keeping the falling snow at bay and the heater blasting, Karrie decided Jack's car was definitely cozy. Parker now known as Jack. She'd never realized nice could be so attractive. She'd always figured him for a straight edge guy, although not hard-core and all preachy like some. But he was really nice.

Back in high school, Karrie never acknowledged a favor or compliment. That would be dorky. She was too cool to say thank you. It was time to move on. She wasn't that girl any longer. "I'm really glad you came with me. Probably prevented a serious meltdown in the store."

"No problem. And you've definitely helped me, volunteering to be my personal crutch."

She was silent for a moment. "Gram is the only reason I came home. I haven't been back since graduating."
"That's why I haven't seen you."

"I'm surprised you noticed. We weren't exactly friends."

"True. Mother would have had a cow if she knew I spent time with you."

Karrie laughed. "I bet."

She slowed as they approached Running Brook Road. Turning, the car fishtailed. Struggling to control the spin, Karrie over-corrected and the car dove into the ditch. Hung up on the bank left by the snow plow, no amount of rocking would get them free.

She rested her forehead on the steering wheel. "This day totally stinks."

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13)
Run Time: 161 mins
By Daniel Kilgallon

 Anybody well acquainted with me knows that I am a massive fan of Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings film trilogy which is based off the beloved books by J.R.R.Tolkien. I absolutely love each of those movies and they are all amongst my all-time favorites. Prior to the release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” last December, I had a skeptical mindset heading into what would be first installment of the prequel trilogy to the Lord of the Rings. I just did not think that it could be anywhere close to as good as the original films. I was terribly wrong. An Unexpected Journey surprised me in a huge way and I ended up loving it almost as much as the original movies. “The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug” was no different, it had everything I loved about its’ predecessor and so much more.

The Desolation of Smaug picks up right where An Unexpected Journey left off. A spirited group of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, along with the lovable hobbit Bilbo Baggins and fan-favorite wizard Gandalf the Grey, are all continuing their trek to the Lonely Mountain. The dwarves intend to reclaim their city of Erebor which was built within the mountain. The only thing in their way is a massive, deadly, fire breathing dragon named Smaug who has been living in the mountain ever since he destroyed the dwarves’ homeland and took it for his own in the past. I must note here that Smaug has to be considered one of the most fantastic monsters to ever hit the big screen. He looked absolutely phenomenal and was voiced magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch.

This film is even more exciting than its predecessor as the party must navigate increasingly dangerous environments on their quest to the Lonely Mountain including the spider infested Mirkwood Forest. All this time they are hunted down by minions of evil called Orcs and many other deadly creatures.

Amongst the many new characters in this thrilling sequel is the women elf warrior, Lauriel (Evangeline Lilly) along with the return of another fan favorite character from the original series, Legolas, portrayed again by Orlando Bloom. All in all, The Desolation of Smaug was an outstanding sequel leading up to what should be a sensational conclusion. The final installment of the series, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” will be released on December 17, 2014.

Winter Fireworks: Part 2 - By Judi Phillips

Karrie climbed the steps to the back porch and unlocked the door. It had been over four years since she'd been here. Loaded down with luggage, her laptop and tablet, plus a bag of groceries, she ignored the shadow she glimpsed out of the corner of her eye. Probably just a leaf blowing by in the wind. 
Putting away the groceries, she thought about Parker, uh Jack. She'd have to get used to calling him that. As good looking as ever. Thick, slightly curly dark hair, blue eyes, and a dimple in his chin.

They'd been on opposite ends of the social spectrum in high school. She'd been a bad girl, the one always getting in trouble. The one caught smoking in the girl's room. The one caught out after curfew walking home. The one wearing too much make-up and too short skirts.

He'd been in the good kid crowd, good grades, good in sports, good dresser. He hadn't changed much. She sighed, deciding she really liked his new look. Longer hair and a bit of scruff highlighting the sensual curve of his lips. Even more of a hunk. She shook her head to dispel thoughts of Jack.

The chime from the mantle clock reminded her that it was mid afternoon already. Better open the smoked salmon so it could thaw and take out the cream cheese to warm to room temperature. Satisfied she had the food for her favorite evening snack under control, she put the suitcase in the bedroom and her electronic gear in the living room. She loved that Grammy Lou had kept up with the times and Birch Haven had an Internet connection. At camp, DSL was just fine. She settled into the chair at the desk to check e-mail.

After a short time, her fingers were chilled. She'd forgotten to turn up the thermostat. Plus, snow was beginning to fall in earnest. Might be a good idea to get a fire started in the fireplace. She slipped on her jacket and scuffed through the snow to the pile of split logs. A supply of wood on the back porch would be more convenient. 

After shifting an armload, she decided to get her work gloves. Between splinters and cold wood, her hands were taking a beating. Inside, she thought she saw a shadow between the kitchen and living room.

Had her parents disrespected her wishes? Wouldn't be anything new. "Hello," she called. When no one answered, she grabbed a pair of gloves out of the bag hanging beside the kitchen door. "I must be seeing things," she muttered.

Half an hour later, she had enough split logs stacked under cover on the porch to last her through the weekend.

Time to get inside and prepare food for a quiet night at camp.

* * *

Climbing the back steps and carrying the second load from his car, Jack Thompson slipped on a patch of snow-covered ice. His ankle twisted and his duffel bag went flying. He gasped as sharp pain clamped his ankle in a burning vice. Gingerly, he put his weight on his foot. Not a good idea. Struggling up the last step, he dumped his bag in the kitchen and hobbled into the bathroom. No aspirin. Or any other pain meds. 

"Mother probably used it up for her last hangover," he muttered. "Never thinks of anyone but herself."
The pain in his ankle settled into a deep ache. He needed something to stop the hurting. Maybe Karrie could help. Remembering her smile and the way her blue eyes glinted in appreciation, he forgot the pain for a minute. She'd changed from a rebel with red streaks in her blond hair to a stunning version of the girl next door. 

He filled a Ziploc bag with ice and tied it around his ankle. Retrieving a walking stick from the antique milk can beside the front door, he limped down the road to her camp. Even if she didn't have aspirin, seeing her again would be worth any embarrassment about being a gimp.

"Nooooooo." Had to be Karrie yelling.

Jack hopped up the steps and pushed open the kitchen door. "What's wrong?"

Standing in the middle of the small kitchen, she turned, one fist planted on her hip and the other pointing at the counter.

He stepped inside and closed the door, not sure what he was supposed to see.

She stamped a foot. "My salmon. It's gone."

That explained the empty space. If she was two years old, she'd probably be on the floor screaming.
"Yeewwww. Something's been lapping the cream cheese."

He leaned against the door frame and shifted his weight to his uninjured foot. "Sounds like a cat to me."

"I don't have a cat."

"Maybe you do now. Could be that a stray has adopted you."

"She picked a rotten time to move in. Now I have to buy more salmon."

Another twinge of pain reminded him of his injured ankle.

When he didn't say anything, she looked closely at him. "You okay?"

"Not really. I twisted my ankle and I came to beg some Tylenol from you."

"All we have is aspirin. That okay? Tylenol never worked for Gram."


"Have a seat." She gestured to a dining area chair. "I'll get some."

He swallowed the pills with the water she handed him. "Getting ready for the party, I see."

"Not really. I'm staying in. This is--was--for me."

"Aw, come on. You can't miss seeing the new year in with the extraordinary display of fireworks we do around here."

She laughed. "You might want to dial that down to a few sparklers."

"Not any more. 'Member. We can have real fireworks in Maine now." He waggled his eyebrows. 

"I don't have any food to bring." She pouted and pointed to her empty plate.

"Now, you're just grabbing at excuses. Just to make sure you come, I'll ride shotgun with you to the store." 

"You sure with your ankle?"

"Yep. Keep my mind off the pain."

"That'll be great. For both of us." Karrie slipped on her jacket, grabbed her purse and led the way to her car.

Settling behind the wheel, she turned the key. Nothing happened except an ominous click.

Movie review: Frozen

What’s not to like when you have a prince, princesses, castles, magic, snow monsters, and adorable snowmen all packed into one movie. Disney’s FROZEN is a family movie that is sure to please.
The plot of the story is centered on two sisters Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice of Idena Menzel) who happen to be princesses. They are the best of friends until an accident one day breaks them apart. They spend the rest of their childhood years apart from each other until coronation day when they are reunited for a grand ball. As the day comes to a close their past comes back to haunt them and they are torn apart again. Elsa runs away for the safety of the entire kingdom and the eternal optimist Anna follows her desperate to reunite her family. Anna follows her sister and meets a snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) who was created by her sister when they were just children. Olaf accompanies Anna for the rest of her journey and fills the theater with laughter and smiles. Anna also runs into a wander named Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his faithful reindeer Sven. Kristoff and Sven guide Anna to her sister. As you can imagine, along the way, Kristoff and Anna develop a love for each other.

The movie is filled with hidden secrets from the creators at Disney. You will find yourself going back to the theater to watch for the hidden images time and time again. Here are some hints… Mickey Mouse makes an appearance when Anna is at the “Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post”, Rapunzel makes a guest appearance at Elsa’s coronation ball along with her beau Flynn, and Anna mimics the pose on the tree swing of Rapunzel in the movie “Tangled”.

I, like many, have been watching the trailers for FROZEN on TV and entered the theater expecting a funny winter wonderland story about a princess and her talking snowman. I was surprised and excited to find a love story, much like the love story in “Aladdin” between a princess and a humble drifter. This movie has something to relate to all members of your family whether they are four years old or 40 years old. Disney’s FROZEN is a must watch.