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Normally, we go to our Mount Vernon house on Friday evenings, watch a couple of flicks, do gardening, housework or errands the next morning, and then return to Kirkland in the afternoon. This past weekend was no exception; although, I’d originally intended to spend Friday and Saturday in Yom Kippur services.

Because I felt like I’d been atoning for weeks and spent most of Friday in a funk… and with Rich anxious to get away after a hectic week of catching up, I was happy to toss Lila and Zephyra in the car, and escape to Mount Vernon.

Our first movie-of-the-evening was Ju Dou, a 1990 Chinese film which was the first Mainland Chinese film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I should have known the film was going to be an emotional rollercoaster with magnificent cinematography, turning the mundane into art. It’s a splendid movie with just four characters, oppressed by customs and honor, and galvanized by anger and passion.

After taking a breather, we popped in Budrus, a documentary about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar. Against great odds, he unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destructions by Israel’s Separation Barrier. It makes no sense where the Israelis placed the barrier, which resulted in the loss of 300 acres and 3,000 olive trees, essential to the village’s livelihood. The Palestine/Israel conflict is very complex and there are no easy answers after generations (more accurately centuries) of animosity and violence.

With no rain on Saturday, we spent most of the day doing thankless chores from ripping out junipers and ivy to weeding, winterizing the riding lawn mower, turning off the drip irrigation, and pulling non-producing plants out of the vegetable garden (left bushes of green tomatoes, arugula, purple string beans, gasping squash, Brussels spouts, and happy herbs). The “main event” on the list of chores was scrapping silicon off from around the windows in the motor home, cleaning them with mineral spirits, and then re-caulking with fresh silicon.

Our motor home had a rough four years in Texas heat. The tires exploded (no exaggeration), the Formica peeled off the counters, the trim cracked, mice chewed on our linens (and we didn’t discover the holey linens until we woke the next morning), the windows sealant dried up and started to leak, etc. Nearly everything has been fixed and replaced, thanks in part to last Saturday’s efforts.

Tired after working outside for most of the day, we settled in for another night of flicks, starting with Winter in Wartime, a Dutch film, which begins with ominous overtone and then escalates to an agonizing crescendo that is soothed by a single shot, proving good eventually prevails over evil.

The film was wildly popular in the Netherlands. No doubt, for the reasons why I felt it were extraordinary — beautiful scenario, rich characters, historical significance, and edge-of-your-seat storyline.

Our final film of the weekend was much lighter, Coco before Chanel. Nominated for numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, this French film tells the early life of fashion designer, Coco Chanel. It was enjoyable to watch, focusing on Coco’s affairs with Baron Etienne Balsan and his extravagant and superfluous lifestyle and friends, and later affair with English polo player Arthur “Boy” Capel.

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