Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Phantom Thread

January 21st, 2018

Daniel Day Lewis adds a new extraordinary character to his gallery of extraordinary characters. All men and each one of them totally different and original men. From the gay punk rocker of “My Beautiful Launderette’ to Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln” Now Reynolds Woodcock, a true artist in the world of fashion Lewis portrays a man who lives his work as his only form of expression.

Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, Phantom Thread is the most unique romance film to come out in years. The screenplay is engaging and reminiscent of the classic suspense movies with beautiful cinematography and sound track. I didn’t want to blink, because the timeless beauty and sheer elegance that this film has is unparalleled. What kept me so engaged is the breathtaking cinematography shot on a 35mm camera, the outstanding performances from Daniel Day Lewis, and Vicky Kriceps and the amazing dialogue which keeps you immersed in the film playing on your instincts.

The complexity of Ryan Woodcock becomes totally accessible in Daniel Day Lewis’s eyes, with every move and every silence. Phantom Thread is a monumental, beautiful creation. His Alma – the Alma that he chooses – is played with matching intensity by Vicky Krieps and she’s a perfect framer/embracer/provocateur in a remarkable performance. Lesley Manville is equally chillingly perfect as his sister/gate keeper with an eye on everything.

Many people might think ”Oh, Phantom Thread is going to be another typical romance movie, this time about a dressmaker” so they might not watch it. If you feel that way, it’s your loss to miss this gratifying masterpiece film. It is a suspenseful romance film which has rarely been done before. You won’t want to look away from the screen on chance you’ll miss a single nuance.

I am already looking forward to renting it, so I can pour over it and see more of the delicate atmosphere and psychological details. It’s not for the general public that want a more visceral experience, but this film is one of the best movies to come out in the past 5 years and I highly recommend it for true film aficionados. Phantom Thread is elegant and unpredictable from beginning to deliciously Hitchcockian end. Thank you Daniel Day Lewis, what a way to end a career!


Friday Funnies

January 19th, 2018

Today fell apart from the get go! 1) First change at 7am when I swapped patient F for patient N. with another therapist 2) Second change my 10am patient D was taken to ER so I had an unexpected opening. 3) My 9am patient J didn’t show so I called her and she was still in bed and didn’t want to come at 10am. Another unexpected cancellation. 4) My original patient F was given back to me to fill in my 10am time slot, but at 10am he was headed to Rosary and I had to fit him in later. 5) The afternoon changed too with my 12:30 patient canceling for some reason, so I called my 2:30 patient D to come at 12:30. He could not but could come at 1:30. 6) Sixth change I contacted my 1:30pm patient I and asked if she would come at 12:30. Great. 7) 12:30 arrived and NO patient. I called patient I and she’d forgotten our conversation 2 hours prior! But she came down. 8) Final straw of the day was when my boss asked me on the way out if I could maybe change my airline ticket to leave 3 weeks later because they have too many people on vacation when I was going to Florida (to prepare for my move) and need me for coverage. WOW

All I can do is laugh! In fact this chaotic day inspired a few jokes, here is my list of ones I came up with : DISCLAIMER:  Some of these are far better than others. Don’t judge me.

I had a patient who was a dairy farmer… so I gave him a calf stretch.

I had a patient who was an engineer…. so I gave him bridges.

I had a patient who likes seafood… so I gave him clamshells.

I had a patient who said he likes spiders, so I gave him the powerweb.

I had a patient who said he likes horror films… so I gave him monster walks.

I had a patient who was a K9 officer…. so I gave him the downward dog stretch.

I had a patient who told me he was a pirate… so I gave him planks.

I had a patient who said one of the other therapists took her breath away… so I gave her diaphragmatic breathing exercises.

I had a patient who said he worked at the morgue…. so I gave him deadlifts.

I had a patient who said he was a window washer… so I gave him power cleans.

I had a patient who said he worked at a restaurant… so I gave him waiter’s tips.

I had a patient who was a clock maker… so I gave him pendulums.

I had a patient who said the front desk put him on hold… so I gave him isometrics.

I had a patient who said he was an orthodontist, so I gave him abdominal bracing.

Be kind to your therapist this week and keep laughing.

Devotions from the Black Hills: Moonlight on Snow

January 17th, 2018

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8: 3-4

Have you even seen snow-covered hills on a clear early morning under a full moon? The snow covered Black Hills reflect the moonlight so well that they practically glow. Although it’s normal to see the pine covered hills during daylight, to see them so visibly at night is startling and strange but in a nice way, like running into an old friend when you haven’t seen her in a while and weren’t expecting to see them.

If you can get away from the lights of town, moonlight and snow are a dazzling combination. The shadows are sharp,, and it’s amazing how well you can see! During the recent super moon I could have read a book by the light created from moonlight on the snow.

Genesis describes the creation of the moon on the fourth day. “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the  vault of the sky to give light on the earth”. When God reflected on what He had made that day, He said that it was good. And it is good! It’s AMAZING! How ingenious of God to design and create the solar system! He planned the complex pattern of seasons and weather that come together in moonlight and snow. It’s a phenomenal gift worthy of our praise.

The moon and snow are a brilliant combination, but add the Black Hills and you have a stunning trio.

Sunday in South Dakota: Custer State Game Lodge Hike

January 14th, 2018

This weekend guided hike started at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center at Custer State Park. It was meant to be a snowshoe hike, but there wasn’t enough snow. No worries, I still looked forward to experiencing the solitude of winter in Custer State Park However there were approximately 100 others as we hiked on a trail overlooking Game Lodge Campground. The hike was a two miles long trail that parallels Grace Coolidge Creek and is geared toward the basics of identifying bobcat and mountain lion tracks in the snow.

The trail took us to the eastern limit of the Custer fire where we were given a lesson about the recent fires which were still smoldering and smelled horrible. Sadly 10 Bison had to be put down due to burns to their eyes and mouths. The remaining herd is being fed hay since the grasses they normally forge was burned by the 12 foot high flames. They require 20 large circular bales a day! Did I mention the area still smells? It’s an awful stench that is expected to be around until Spring revival. While the fire was devastating to the landscape, renewal and regeneration is at work under a blanket of healing snow.

Custer State Game Lodge: https://custerresorts.com/lodges-and-cabins/state-game-lodge/

Bobcat Tracks

Fire scorched trees. Trees will be left if only 70% burnt.

Our guide for the day


Friday Funnies

January 12th, 2018

Patience is a virtue, especially when you’re waiting for the punchline of a good joke. Every now and then in life, you’ll come across someone who feels the need to make you wait a few minutes until they get to the punchline. Sometimes it’s me …

So there was this man in Bulgaria who drove trains for a living. He loved his job. Driving a train had been his dream ever since he was a child. He loved to make the train go as fast as possible. Unfortunately, one day he was a little too reckless and caused a crash. He made it out, but a single person died. Well, needless to say, he went to court over this incident. He was found guilty, and was sentenced to death by electrocution. When the day of the execution came, he requested a single banana as his last meal. After eating the banana, he was strapped into the electric chair. The switch was flown, sparks flew, and smoke filled the air – but nothing happened. The man was perfectly fine.

Well, at the time, there was an old Bulgarian law that said a failed execution was a sign of divine intervention, so the man was allowed to go free. Somehow, he managed to get his old job back driving the train. Having not learned his lesson at all, he went right back to driving the train with reckless abandon. Once again, he caused a train to crash, this time killing two people. The trial went much the same as the first, resulting in a sentence of execution. For his final meal, the man requested two bananas. After eating the bananas, he was strapped into the electric chair. The switch was thrown, sparks flew, smoke filled the room – and the man was once again unharmed.

Well, this of course meant that he was free to go. And once again, he somehow managed to get his old job back. To what should have been the surprise of no one, he crashed yet another train and killed three people. And so he once again found himself being sentenced to death. On the day of his execution, he requested his final meal: three bananas.

“You know what? No,” said the executioner. “I’ve had it with you and your stupid bananas and walking out of here unharmed. I’m not giving you a thing to eat; we’re strapping you in and doing this now.” Well, it was against protocol, but the man was strapped in to the electric chair without a last meal. The switch was pulled, sparks flew, smoke filled the room – and the man was still unharmed. The executioner was speechless. The man looked at the executioner and said, “Oh, the bananas had nothing to do with it. I’m just a bad conductor.”


One day Einstein has to speak at an important science conference. On the way there, he tells his driver that looks a bit like him: “I’m sick of all these conferences. I always say the same things over and over!”

The driver agrees: “You’re right. As your driver, I attended all of them, and even though I don’t know anything about science, I could give the conference in your place.” “That’s a great idea!” says Einstein. “Let’s switch places then!”

So they switch clothes and as soon as they arrive, the driver dressed as Einstein goes on stage and starts giving the usual speech, while the real Einstein, dressed as the car driver, attends it. But in the crowd, there is one scientist who wants to impress everyone and thinks of a very difficult question to ask Einstein, hoping he won’t be able to respond. So this guy stands up and interrupts the conference by posing his very difficult question. The whole room goes silent, holding their breath, waiting for the response.

The driver looks at him, dead in the eye, and says :  “Sir, your question is so easy to answer that I’m going to let my driver reply to it for me.”


When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, some of the training of the astronauts took place on a Navajo reservation. One day, a Navajo elder and his son were herding sheep and came across the space crew. The old man, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question that his son translated. “What are these guys in the big suits doing?”

A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon. The old man got all excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts. Recognizing a promotional opportunity, the NASA folks found a tape recorder.

After the old man recorded his message, they asked his son to translate it. He refused. The NASA PR people brought the tape to the reservation, where the rest of the tribe listened and laughed, but refused to translate the elder’s message.

Finally, the NASA crew called in an official government translator. His translation of the old man’s message was: “Watch out for these guys; they have come to steal your land.”


Devotions from the Black Hills: Surviving Winter

January 10th, 2018

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it’s the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

This has been a record breaking winter along the eastern seaboard, and devastating in California. Meanwhile, in the Black Hills, snow-capped hills rise majestically over the wintry landscape, but the foxes, deer, and many other creatures face a challenge in surviving until Spring. Wolves and mountain lions scavenge all winter. The Bison and elk must forage for food. In the caves, bats have stored up reserves and are roosting together. The squirrels stay awake throughout the winter, eating food they stockpiled in a nest. Each creature’s coping mechanisms for the harsh weather are suited to its strengths and weaknesses.

God is so creative, isn’t He?! What care He put into making each animal a unique creation. That creativity is extended to us as well. The apostle Paul wrote about this at length in 1 Corinthians 12, comparing the church to a physical body. A whole and healthy body, functioning as God envisions requires variety. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?…”

Our differences are not always a cause for concern or conflict. It takes all of us, using our gifts in various ways, to make His church whole and healthy. We need to embrace and celebrate that to survive this season.

I’m so grateful for all my friends and their unique gifts. I pray we’re guided to use our individual gifts in conjunction with others. Have a good winter!


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

January 7th, 2018

Decisions can be unusual in Rapid City. For example, I had to choose between going with a girlfriend to see Jumanji -OR- invite her to the local Outdoor Campus to attend a Women’s Goose Hunting course. The write up stated: “Bring a friend or meet new friends and learn how to hunt geese. Tips on hunting from pits, setting up decoys, firearm safety, proper clothing and gear, rules and regulations and licenses needed.”

Thankfully we decided to attend a lively, wholesome movie. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has broad performances, bloodless scares and self-empowering life lessons that don’t involve teaching me what I needed to kill an unsuspecting goose.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel, not a remake of the 1995 Jumanji movie with Robin Williams based on the book where players find their home invaded by predators. In this sequel four very different teens get whisked away into a cyberworld where they find themselves inhabiting their avatar bodies.

What’s amusing about this is seeing adult actors such as Dwayne Johnson gazing upon his huge biceps with the eyes of a meek teen, much like most of us do. And Jack Black crying out in horror at his squat reflection – the avatar of a blonde high school girl. While the diminutive Kevin Hart – the avatar of a kid built like a line backer – screams “Where’s the rest of me?” These characters have to learn and develop how to use their avatars while also learning to work together as a team to survive, which isn’t something they did as high schoolers.

I didn’t care when the CGI looked artificial because Jumanji is an artificial world. It’s fun to watch Johnson use the sight of his avatar body to teach himself not to run away from peril and give him courage. And Gillan who comes to terms with her inner fighter. Each hero has to mature and learn the lesson that they only get one life to live. How are they going to live it?  (even though the avatars get three)

Like everyone else, I was very skeptical of this film thinking the directors would attempt to recreate the original. However, I was either smiling or laughing the entire movie, as was the rest of the theater. Is it Citizen Kane? No. Was I going to the theater wanting to watch a drama that delved deep into the characters’ lives or leave the theater questioning? No. We left the theater entertained by both a good stand alone and a fitting fantastical sequel to what had come before.

I recommend for ages 13+.

Devotions from the Black Hills: Wildfires

January 3rd, 2018

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him … For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. Lamentations 3:25, 31-32

I’ve been lamenting over the loss of 52,000 acres of Custer State Park to a recent wildfire. After wildfires the land looks charred and barren – not what tourists (or I) want to look at. Local firefighters have termed the area where all the vegetation was consumed a “Nuke Zone.” A few of the larger trees are still standing, blackened by the fire. But the grasses, brush, smaller trees and downed logs on the forest floor are totally burned up. In some areas the ash is said to be several inches deep. Even the soil in Custer is scorched.

However, locals assure me all is NOT dead. Sometimes while the area is still smoking, deer wander through licking the burnt edges for minerals. The lodgepole pine cones that were tightly sealed have been opened by the high temperatures of the fire, their seeds scattered by the wind. I’m told by next Spring the area may be carpeted with wildflowers. And a couple of years from now, new brush will provide plenty of food for the Bison and Elk. The population of mice often spikes first, followed by increase in coyotes and hawks the following year, etc. Insects will move into the snags brining woodpeckers drilling holes into the wood, providing homes for other birds and squirrels. Healing and life continue even now.

Sometimes our lives can feel like a “Nuke Zone” too. Perhaps you’ve suffered the death of a loved one or gone through a divorce. Maybe you lost a job or been diagnosed with a life-changing illness. Our days can feel lifeless. Maybe you feel abandoned by God while suffering. However, as time goes by, new life peeks through the devastation. You begin to sense God’s compassion and love anew with new meaning, new joy and new understanding born out of the fire and abundance returns.

Don’t give up. Have hope in the new year. Life continues.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.