Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WWJD? -- (I'm afraid I would be OUT of there)

I have finally finished reading Mugabe and the White African, written by Ben Freeth.  It was not an easy read, or an enjoyable one for that matter.  It reminded me of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom in that respect.  One big difference between those two books, however, is that The Hiding Place tells of events that happened many years before I was even born.  Mugabe and the White African, on the other hand, chronicles horrible, shameless events that are happening as I type.

I wrote some of the background of the story in my last post.  Robert Mugabe is the current President in Zimbabwe, and he has openly and unapologetically changed that country's constitution to make it illegal for any white person to own land there.  In essence, all land is controlled by the government, and the land is taken from the white farmers and 'redistributed' to black peasants--on paper, anyway.  Freeth tells the story of his family's history with being African residents and landowners, and details Mugabe's reign of terror in much detail.  He documents specific dates, encounters, interactions and legal battles that have occurred over the years, which helps explain why Zimbabwe has gone from a land of prosperity to one of the poorest countries on earth in the relatively short time that Mugabe has been in power.

Of particular interest is the background and outcome of the international court case filed by Freeth's father-in-law, Mike Campbell, against Mugabe.  After many delays and postponements, the courts (in Namibia, not Zimbabwe) ruled in favor of Campbell, stating that the white landowners could retain ownership of their land. It was a great civil rights victory, but totally ignored by Mugabe and his government.  Freeth goes on to tell of how his family lived in constant fear, and their farms completely destroyed by Mugabe's henchmen anyway.  Mr. Campbell was so severely beaten, that he died just a few months ago from injuries sustained from ONE of the times he was beaten up.

There are so many details and stories in this book that bear knowing and repeating.  I couldn't help but think of the quote; "All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing".  Mr. Freeth was very clear in this book that he and his family feel called by God to fight this battle.  He wishes there were many others alongside them, but even if all leave, his family will continue to stand as long as possible to confront what he characterizes as pure evil and satanic forces.  I have heard various missionaries to Africa say that although it is something that most Westerners just can't grasp, the powers of evil and destruction are very real and evident is so many places there.  It sounds like just the kind of setting where Christ followers should be fighting, and this book chronicles one family's experiences with that so effectively.

This book has also provided much material for me and my husband to talk about.  Would I be willing to do what this family has done?  At what point do you just give up and give in and leave?  Do you potentially sacrifice your family for a belief?  How effective can being a martyr be?  Is it providential that I received this book to review?  Is it providential for anyone who might read this blog?  What do we do with this information now?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ever Heard of Mugabe?

Have you ever heard of a country in Africa called Zimbabwe?  It used to be called Rhodesia.  I'm not sure why the name changed but it happened when I was in elementary school (I think).  Since 1980, Zimbabwe has been ruled by a man named Mugabe (Moo GAH bee).  I tell myself that I am pretty up to speed on world events and civil rights abuses, but this one has gone completely under the radar for me.

I have been reading a book called Mugabe and the White African, which has just recently been released.  The atrocities this leader has committed are horrible.  He has systematically driven his country into poverty and desperation in an attempt to force every white person in his country to leave and abandon their farmland, so that he can turn around and give it away to political supporters.  If they don't leave of their own volition, then his henchmen beat the residents until they are brutally killed.  He is vocal about his intentions, and has compared himself favorably to Hitler.

Under his regime, Zimbabwe has gone from the number 3 food producer in the world, to the lowest producer with abject poverty.  It has gone from a 90% literacy rate to almost 0%.  The life expectancy has gone from 69 y/o for women and 64 y/o for men, to 37 for men and 34 for women--the worst life expectancy in the world.

Apparently, this is no secret.  There are UN sanctions galore, and many countries, including the US, have imposed their own sanctions.  It is also common knowledge that he has rigged and sabotaged his 're-elections'.  So, why isn't anything being done?  I don't know what the answer is, but there has to be something.  How many lives could have been saved if someone had tried to stop him sooner?

What if the world had taken the same stance with Hitler?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Attitude Check

Last night I was cutting a bell pepper and sliced into my thumb.  It bled, and hurt(s), a lot.  After several minutes of dealing with that--hot running water, ice cube compression, and a tightly placed band-aid thanks to my dad--I went on with the whole process of getting ready to grill out.  Only, everything had to be modified in a way that was less effective.  It is just harder to dice, slice, and chop without use of a thumb.

As I was trying to wash the dishes later without getting my thumb wet, I was mentally taken back to the months after my car wreck over a year ago.  While the bulk of my mental and physical energy was spent on dealing with my broken knees and leg braces and everything else associated with that, I also had to deal with a fracture in my left hand that required a finger to elbow cast.  It was not as 'major' in the medical sense, but caused me all manner of problems with my rehab.  The entire process of moving and going to the bathroom and giving myself sponge baths for a couple of months, and everything else for that matter, would have been exponentially easier if I had been about to use the left side.  But I couldn't, so I learned to adapt, and am still dealing with the structural consequences today.

So, last night, I was faced with the same choice I have had to make every day now:  do I get angry and have a pity party, or do I just go on doing my thing as well as I can?  If there is one thing I have learned from all this, it is that I may not be able to control what happens to me, but I can control my attitude about it all (after I weaned my self off those pesky pain meds, that is).

Because, regardless of how I feel about it, those dishes aren't going to just wash themselves.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I still like the Walkman, and I don't text, either.

Today's blog question:  Do I prefer paper books, or e-readers?

I have pretty much fought the whole e-reader genre from the beginning.  I had no desire to even try it out, even after my husband got an iPad and free book apps.  Then, we were traveling in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, and I gave it a try.  I have to admit, it did not take long for me to see the appeal of it all.  The cost.  The portability.  The lighted night time reading.  I finished a couple of his books that way, and have even reviewed a couple of more since then that were free.

That being said, nothing quite beats the feel of an actual, paper book.  Being able to see how much I've read and how far there is left to go.  I think I'm able to enjoy and process it better that way.  I don't foresee that changing anytime soon.

I guess I'm just stuck in the old '80s technological era.  I'm OK with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Short Answer? The Scarlet Letter

Today's blog question:  What is the last book you read?

Well, like most book lovers, I seldom read just one book at a time.  I tend to be reading out of several books at any given time, unless there is a particular one that I want to read quickly from start to finish.  My next book like that is on its way from Amazon right now, which is book 2 in the MonsterGrrls series.  (This series was written by my old high school friend, John Rose.  Check his stuff out at the Monster Shop).

Since school is starting back up, I have to concentrate more of my reading time on my boys' school work.  Right now, I am reading Red Sails to Capri with the youngest, and The 13th Reality with the middle one.  My oldest is reading on his own, so I just finished reading the first book on his reading list, The Scarlet Letter.  I had never read this book, and found it to be bit of a challenge because of the writing style.  I don't think my son is going to like it very much, but I do want to discuss the main themes with him.  He asked me this morning if he could just watch the movie--"even one of those old gray (meaning black and white) movies if I have to".  My answer?  "You know this isn't public school".  Yes, apparently the bulk of the local high school's history, literature, and social studies classes are taught by Netflix.

I am also reading a review book called Mugabe and the White Africans.  It is a fascinating look at the 'leader' of Zimbabwe (in Africa), and his tyrannical rule. I had never heard of him, or that country's story.  I'll have that review up next week.

So, what are you reading right now?  Really, I'm curious...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Water = Perrier

Today's blog question:  What is your favorite book store?

Ooh, I do like book stores.  All kinds and sizes.  The earliest one I remember was called Bookland at the Village Fair Mall.  My mom liked to read as much as I did, so we would spend quite a lot of time there if we were at the mall.  I don't know what kind books she looked at, but I would always head straight to the back right corner--the kid's section.  I'm pretty sure looking back on it that I wasn't supposed to do this, but I would pick out something that looked good, and just sit down on the floor and read until mom said it was time to go.

Bookland (and that mall) have long since closed down, but my love for book stores has remained strong.  I like Borders and Barnes & Noble as much as the next person, but my current favorite is an independent book store called Lemuria.  It is not a huge store, but it feels like walking into a real book land with the extra high ceilings and every inch of wall space covered floor to ceiling with books of all kinds and sizes.  There are nooks and crannies, with book displays in the aisles.  There is a Mississippi section (Mississippians have written A LOT of good stuff) and an absolutely amazing kid section called Oz.  They sponsor all kinds of book readings and signings, and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.  I like the overwhelming 'bookiness' of it all.

It doesn't feel like a book mill that is just promoting the book du jour.  It seems to be promoting a pure love for and appreciation of books.  Not to mention that right downstairs is a bakery that sells the most amazing bread and hummus and spicy water.  A good book, a croissant, and a decaf cafe au lait.  What could be better than that?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You just can't beat free - (Thank you, Ben Franklin)

Today's blog question:  Do you prefer to own books or borrow them from a friend or the library?

I have always loved books.  One of my earliest memories is of a friend of my mom's knocking on the door and giving her a bag of books that her kids had outgrown.  It was like Christmas that day.  And for most of my life, I have spent any extra money on my own books.  I have them on every flat surface of the house--bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, so that I can have something to read within reach when the urge hits.

One big difference now is that for the past several years, I have almost made a complete switch in my book reading habits.  Now, I try to borrow them from the library if at all possible.  Part of this is simple economics--they don't make you pay for the books at the library.  Another part is the whole clutter aspect.  A lifetime of books makes for a headache of clutter.  Plus, with the multiple moves we have had in the past few years, it has been harder and harder to get the same people to graciously volunteer their moving services when they remember the sheer volume of boxes we have containing nothing but books.  In fact, I have slowly but surely been donating or giving away books for a while now.  At first it went against everything in me to pass those books on, but now I see it as freeing.

Freeing up more space on the shelves for my newest obsession (free review books), that is.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Anywhere and Everywhere

Today's blog question:  Where is my favorite place to read?

The simple answer?  Anywhere.

The slightly longer answer?  Somewhere other than my house.  This is usually where I do read, but there is always SOMETHING that needs to be done, so there is a guilt factor involved with pleasure reading.  Theoretically, my favorite place would be on the beach or in the middle of the Mediterranean.  In reality, it is in waiting rooms for doctor appointments.  All guilt is gone, and I am almost sad when my name if finally called.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Weren't There Thousands More?

I went to a prayer vigil/walk for James Craig Anderson tonight.  My husband and two youngest kids were with me.  And so were hundreds of other people.  As we were walking down a main street in Jackson, singing 'We Shall Overcome', I was struck by the sadness of the situation.  Why in the world are we still dealing with this mess?  I know racism is about as old as mankind itself, so I don't know if there will ever be a lasting solution.  I do know that I don't want to be part of the problem.

What that looks like exactly, I don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be fleshing it out here, though.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"--Edmund Burke

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Free Ain't Always Cheap

Random things we did today:

--Took the boys to Lowes for a free build-a-project kit.  It was a school house/picture holder thing.  The middle child was trying to tell the youngest one what to do, and smashed his finger with a hammer.  I hope he learned a good life lesson from that.

--We bought a compost bin.  Why?  Because it was an incredible sale, of course.  No, we don't actually plant things, but we just might do it now.  Maybe.

--We went to a place to eat breakfast that we have never been to before, called Mimi's in Fondren.  Very, very yummy.

--Took the boys to Michael's for a free paint-a-clay-pot workshop.  The youngest got more green paint in his hair than on the pot.

--Found 2 recipes in a new, organic cookbook I bought at Lowes (yeah, they really know what they are doing with those 'free' kid workshops), went grocery shopping, and then spent 3 hours in the kitchen cooking, eating and cleaning up.  It was good stuff, though.  Shepherd's pie and blueberry cheesecake were the headliners of the meal.

--I listened to 'The Help' soundtrack 3 times during the kitchen stuff.  I like it a lot, and it helped make 3 hours in the kitchen as tolerable as that can be.

--I ironed all the clothes for tomorrow.  I haven't done that in a while, so I'm hoping tomorrow morning goes smoother that Sunday mornings normally do around here.

--Tomorrow after church I plan on getting together meals and menus for the week.  (Hahahahahahahaha)  I know many people do this all the time, but I never have.  We shall see...

Hope y'all are having a great week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr. Hyde (or is it Dr. Jekyll?)

Today's blog question:  Who are fictional literary characters you would never want to meet?

So, in no particular order, here goes:

--Moriarty - (from Sherlock Holmes)
--The White Witch (Narnia)
--Hilly (The Help)
--Ignatius Reilly - (or any of the characters from A Confederacy of Dunces)
--That black blob thing from A Wrinkle in Time
--Big Brother (1984)
--Those people in charge on Logan's Run - I am over 30, after all
--Voldemort or Bellatrix (Harry Potter)
--The pigs (Animal Farm)
--Any of those mean boys from Lord of the Flies

I am sure there are many more obvious ones that I just can't think of right now.

Do you have any characters that jump out for you?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Borrowing from Dr. King--(Mr. Anderson, I am so, so sorry)

Yesterday I wrote about the movie "The Help".  I think both the book and movie have the potential to open some doors to conversation and possibly healing of deep down hurts and prejudices.  At least that is how I hope it all goes down.  The enthusiasm of the crowd that I saw at the movie theater was contagious and encouraging.  I liked it.

Then, today I find out about a story that happened just a few miles down the road from that same theater.  A couple of months ago, a 49-year-old black man named James Craig Anderson was killed in what was assumed to be a hit and run accident.  Well, it turns out that two truck loads of drunk teenagers purposely drove one county over, with the expressed intention of 'messing with a n*****'.  It was all captured on a security camera, and is absolutely gruesome and heart-breaking to watch.  Based on witness accounts, there is absolutely no doubt that it was completely racially related.

 How in the world is this still happening?  And, what can be done to stop it?  I want to tell his family that no, this is not how all white people are.  We do not sit around in the privacy of our homes and call people horrible names.  We don't secretly wish that we could go out and do the same thing.  Our hearts break that this happened.  At least mine did.

No wonder the rest of the world still considers Mississippi an ignorant, third-world hell hole.  It really isn't.  Tragically, however, some people still perpetuate that stereotype with their horrible actions.  I want to do all I can to shatter those stereotypes and make my world a better place, where people truly are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Soundtrack Is Good, Too

Today I went to see the new movie, "The Help".  I normally try to arrive at the theater with some time to spare, but for this one I got there a couple of minutes after the previews had started because I was trying to coordinate it with a later starting time for the movie my boys were going to see.  I didn't think finding a seat would be a problem, though, since it was the noon showing on a Wednesday.

I was wrong.  The theater was packed.

I was able to find a seat on the back row of the floor seats (4 rows from the screen), and settled in with all of the other late-comers.  I then spent the next two hours glued to the movie.  I had read the book a couple of years ago, soon after it was released, and thought it was a very powerful story.  It happens to be set in my hometown, several years before I was born, and is apparently loosely based on actual people.  I thought Kathryn Stockett, the author, did an excellent job of capturing the time and place and spirit of a very tumultuous period in history.  Last year the film makers and casting crew came to town to shoot certain scenes, and local anticipation of the movie has been strong.

The movie was amazing.  I'm not sure who was involved in the actual movie-making process, but it was very well done and perfectly cast, even with the many minor roles.  I didn't pick up on a single annoying, over-the-top Southern accent (that really bugs me about so many movies with Southern characters).  When it was over, I was curious to see who was actually attending.  Most movies cater to a certain demographic, and I wondered who was attracted enough to this tough story to be there for the opening show.

I have to say, I was somewhat shocked.  I think I could easily say that it was the most diverse audience that I can recall every seeing at a movie.  There were all ages and classes and colors there.  What was most interesting to me was the many groups of women that had both black and white women obviously together.  As a matter of culture, that just doesn't happen very often around here.  And when I saw the line of folks waiting to come in for the next showing, it was exactly the same way.

Maybe this movie will turn out to be a 'help' in more ways than one.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sugar and spice and everything nice...

Today my aunt posted a picture of my grandmother on Facebook.  It was over 70 years ago, when she was in elementary school.  I don't remember ever having seen a picture of her being that young.  The photo wasn't labeled, but I could pick her out immediately.  She was in the front row, and looked so cute and happy.  You can tell a lot about a person, especially a small child, from their facial expression.  Hers was great.

It made me happy to see her like that.  She has been in a nursing home for the past few years, and I guess is doing pretty well for her age and condition.  It is becoming increasingly more difficult for her to remember me or to be able to rally enough to stay awake during my visits.  I never fail to leave her room, though, without thinking about what an amazing influence she has been on so many people.  She and my Papaw will forever be THE epitome of spiritual faith and integrity for me, and for that I will always be grateful. They are the reason I have peace of mind when the resources seem limited.  I know I can make it, because they provided the perfect example of that my whole life.  They took a little and always made it enough somehow, and they did it with grace and thanksgiving.

What a sweet little girl then.  What an amazing lady now...

What a sweet little girl then.  What an amazing lady now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Magic of Legos and Dollar Store Toys

In my area, most public and private schools started today.  At our house, no.  I don't even have a definite 'start' day yet, but as my kids have gotten older I have found it to be easier to try and stay as close to the public school year as possible.  I learned that the hard way when they got up old enough to hear their Sunday School teachers say, "Aren't y'all excited about getting out of school next week?", and we still had a good couple of month's material left.  Not the makings of a good summer.

It is hard to believe that I have a decade of homeschooling behind me--and possibly a decade more to go.  There have been numerous changes in curriculum and location and philosophy and excitement levels through the years, but one thing has remained constant:  the first day of school.  It is my one chance every year to create the illusion that school is carefree and easy and fun at our house.  (For those of you who truly have a fun homeschool experience--good for you.  Seriously.  Don't take that for granted).  For my kids, it is like Christmas in August.  Or September.  Or October... I know the time is nearing, though, because all of my boys are asking, "When can WE start school so we can get our cool stuff?".  In our house, that first day is a BIG DEAL.

It goes something like this--on the morning school starts, the boys wake up to a stash of materials, supplies, and toys that is marked with a poster board that has their name, grade and year on it.  They aren't allowed in the living room until everyone is awake and I give them permission to go for it. When they were little, I could get away with giving them their workbooks and manipulatives and new crayons, with a small Lego kit added in for good measure.  As they have gotten older, I have had to become a little more creative, as the actual curriculum materials in no way symbolize 'fun' for my boys.  Now we focus on craft kits, and science kits involving lizards and butterflies, and play-doh.  I have given DS games that have a learning component, and this year they are getting the newest Just Dance Wii game for PE, and a Phineas and Ferb Wii game as an added incentive of being able to play at night if they complete their work before a certain time each day.  Sometimes I will throw in a poster or frivolous ruler (you know, the ones that shine or bend or sing--and cost 68 cents instead of being on sale for 25 cents).

My high schooler still loves this part of the new school year, but it has gotten tougher to please him.  Play-doh just doesn't do it for him anymore.  I tend to buy a new CD or two, or an iTunes card, or a T-shirt.  This year some music lessons will be included, which we planned on getting for him anyway, but he might as well just think of it as a back-to-school goody.

We also have a tradition of buying a kit from Hobby Lobby that has pre-cut round paper, which they decorate with markers and then mail in (eventually), to be sent back a few weeks later as a plate.  They write their names and grade and year somewhere on the paper, and then decorate with their current favorite things - Mario, bugs, Perry the Platypus-stuff like that.  Each year they look at their plate stash and laugh at how they used to draw and what they used to like.  Me?  I just marvel at how quickly they are growing up.  Or that it is a whole year later and they still can't spell 'grade' or 'America'. 

They usually spend the whole morning playing or creating, and then we go out to eat for lunch, or go get frozen yogurt, or go bowling.  Something we don't ordinarily do.  In essence, our first day back to school isn't an actual school day at all.  The 'real' schooling starts the next day.  But for that one glorious day, we operate under the illusion that this year will go smoothly, and quickly, and will remain stress free.


It is nice to pretend, though.  And hey, isn't using your imagination part of the learning process?  Maybe I should write it down in their schedules as cognitive reasoning/instruction and count it as an actual school day after all. Now, if I can just locate where I put that schedule book at the end of last year...

2014 Update--Last year, instead of trying to guess what they would like or appreciate, I gave each of them a $50 gift card to Hobby Lobby.  They had to each pick out a science, art, creative, building kit and a couple of other categories that I can't remember right now, and the rest they could spend as they wanted.  This worked well, and is probably what we will do again this year.

They do still love their Legos, though.   Boys....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back to (Home)School Again

My oldest son just asked me if I was ready to start back with homeschooling again.  For a split second I considered answering truthfully and saying, "Are you kidding me?  No way!".  Instead, I just smiled and nodded and said, "I sure am".  It is just easier that way.

The truth is, I am not ready at all.  This will be my 11th year of doing this, and all of the fun we used to have walked out of the door when kid #2 started school.  The two of us have not had one single easy, laid back, successful day of school in six years.  Sigh.  Now #3 is coming home after two very successful academic years in public school.  I am crossing my fingers that I can provide the structure and stimulation that he seems to thrive on while trying to maintain my sanity.

I used to envy those homeschooling moms who seem to derive so much joy and excitement from teaching their kids at home.  Now I don't even have the mental energy to expend on thinking about them very much.  I'm just happy for them (I truly mean that), and I go on from there.  All of the homeschooling magazines paint this unrealistic (for us, anyway) picture of peaceful, happy, thriving children.  The conferences offer great workshops on lapbooking and organization systems and college portfolios, but I have yet to see one on "How to fake it 'till you make it:  homeschooling through the sludge", or something like that.

Today our church had a small recognition time of prayer for school administrators and teachers (but not bus drivers and cafeteria workers and secretaries, etc., but I digress...).  I thought this was great, and wish churches in general did this more often.  However, I was struck by the fact that homeschooling families were not included in this recognition/prayer time.  I realize I am in the minority as far as educational choice goes, but it sure would have been nice to feel validated as a teacher in my own right.

I'm really not having a pity party.  Seriously.  I'm just tired.  After 5 years of apartment living, I finally have a 'school space' in my house, and even after all these months, I have not been able to tackle getting it organized.  'Getting to it tomorrow' has now carried on all summer.  That being said, I am truly thankful that I have the freedom and ability and understanding that this is THE best choice for my kids, regardless of my feelings and limitations.  I have no doubt that they will come out better for it in the end.

Which is good, because I am counting on them getting jobs that will pay for my skilled nursing needs at the state mental facility.  I'm pretty sure that is where I'm heading one day. I guess I can catch up on my rest then.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Maybe she is more representative of America than we thought

Right now one of the trends in the Facebook world is pages dedicated to 'Remember when...." you name it; you were in high school, college, or your particular hometown.  Someone in my hometown jumped on the bandwagon and made one for the town I grew up in.  I have to admit, I have enjoyed reading the posts about people and places that I grew up with, but are no longer there.  I even posted a few things myself, even though I am ordinarily more of a troll on sites like that.  My town page currently has over 4000 people who 'like' it, and posts are updated and commented on by the minute.  I'm sure it will flame out soon enough.  I have been impressed, though, that the overall tone has been fun and upbeat, particularly considering that so many of the posters know each other and still live there.

Tonight I spent a few minutes looking through the page and seeing if there was anything particularly interesting that had been posted since yesterday.  I was somewhat surprised when I read a post by possibly one of the most 'famous' people from there--our very own Miss America from back in the day.  I was in high school when she was crowned, and we were all so proud (or so I assumed).  She was absolutely gorgeous, and it was a no-brainer that she won.  I remember watching her on TV that night, feeling proud for my hometown.

I'm not the only one who remembers that night.  Lots of folks still see that as our claim to fame.  And I am pretty sure that it is 'the' defining moment in Miss A's life.  Obviously.  So, I was somewhat surprised when I read her post, that said something like this:  Remember when I won Miss America and some 'girl' had a 'I hope she doesn't win' viewing party?  Guess what?  I won, and you had better watch out, because I might just post your name here.  Ha!  Ha!

Umm, OK.  My first thought was that she must have been hacked, or that she was making a joke about it.  I read through the over 100 comments, and they started out very encouraging.  But Miss A kept posting comments about calling this girl out and how she really showed her up.  It became more and more awkward each time she posted, and then just seemed sad to me.

I don't know Miss A personally.  I used to know bits and pieces of her story, but they have melted away with all other kinds of brain matter that occurred with each successive kid I have given birth to.  But now I have new info to file away under her name.  It seems like even though she was/is  in the ranks of our culture's elite, she has a petty and grudge-holding streak.  Of course, being Miss A doesn't make a person immune to pain and hurt. It would just seem that something that happened over a quarter of a century ago would not be as significant and important any more.

It was a reminder for me that all that glitters is not gold, no matter how big and shiny the prize.

Friday, August 5, 2011

...And it was good.

Blog question of the day:  "What is the best first line of a book"?

I could only think of the beginning lines of two fiction books.  "Call me Ishmael", from Moby Dick, and "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", from something from Dickens.  I haven't ever read either of those books, so I don't guess they really mean anything to me.

So, I googled 'first lines from novels', and read through some of them, remembering some and thinking,  "Ooh, that's pretty good.  I can just use that".  But that didn't seem authentic, so I was just about the blog about something else today.  Then it hit me...the perfect first line of a book:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth".

Taken from the first of sixty six books that make up the Bible - Genesis.  No other volume in history can match that in terms of scope and magnitude.

I like how that book ends, too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little pig, little pig, let me come in...

Blog question:  Which fictional book character would you most like to meet?

I have this nagging feeling in the back of my head that there should be some characters that immediately come to mind.  There aren't, though. I guess I would like to meet Atticus and Scout and Calpurnia from To Kill a Mockingbird.  Especially Atticus.  I have been reading quite a few comments lately about how some people think he is one of the worst characters in fiction--some type of goody-goody caricature.  I think that is short-sighted, though.  I think he serves as a good standard to want to emulate, and there aren't enough people like him in public service nowadays.

Maybe Dumbledore and the Weasleys from Harry Potter.  Or Susan and Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia.    Possibly Melanie and Rhett from Gone With the Wind.

I asked my teenage son, and he said Spiderman, or Batman, or Superman.  Maybe Fred and George Weasley.  My youngest said the three little pigs (he has a pig thing going on right now).  The middle schooler said he didn't care, but guesses it could be any random dragon or dinosaur.

I love being the mom to boys.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It definitely would not be 'Robinson Crusoe' or 'Moby Dick'

Today's blog question:  Have you ever wished you could enter a book?

I've been thinking about this off and on all day.  I don't really think I have.  I've mentally gone back through books I have read, but none have really jumped out at me.  There are a couple, though, that painted such a mental picture of some of the scenery that they would be amazing places to see in real life.

Both of the books feature cool sounding gardens, and I would love to become part of the books to experience the setting first hand.  The first is The Secret Garden.  I read it in elementary school, and don't remember many of the details, but that garden sounded great.  The other place is Mr. Darcy's garden/grounds at Pemberly, from Pride and Prejudice

I guess I always have been a nature girl.  Now, if I could only get something of my own to grow.  My green thumb is as fictitious as Jane Eyre and Huck Finn. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My patronus would be a kangaroo

Update--7 years later--Grisham is no longer an automatic read for me, and Sparks is unreadable.  I don't remember a thing about Lisa Samson, other than I really liked her books during this time.  The others still stand the test of time, though.


Today's blog post challenge question -- Who is my favorite author?

Hmm--this is a tough one.  I have several authors that I have come to really appreciate, and want to read regardless of their subject matter.  The ones that come to mind, in no particular order, are:

--John Grisham - He had me at A Time To Kill.  I know quite a few people that have just stopped reading his material, because they all seem to run together.  However, I still find fresh stuff with each book.  Two of his recent books, The Confession and Theodore Boone show me that Grisham has still got it.

--Nicholas Sparks - All of his books are set in the same basic place - the North Carolina coast (which I have never seen, but sounds beautiful), and are mainly told from a man's point of view.  Plus, they don't always end in a 'happily ever after' manner, which
makes them less predictable (and thus more enjoyable for me).

--Lisa Samson - I had never even heard of her until a few months ago, but I love her stories and writing style. They prove that "Christian" fiction doesn't have to be watered down.

--Jane Austen - She makes me laugh.

--Philip Yancey - His books always make me think about big issues.  He writes things that too many people in the Church are too afraid to say, or just too ignorant to know about in the first place.

--John Rose - I graduated high school with him, and he has published two (almost three) books.  They are very, very good, and I am so stinking impressed that someone I know personally has done something big with his dreams.  Plus, he is funny, too.  You can see some of his stuff at www.monstergrrls.com.

However, if I had to name one FAVORITE author, then I guess it would be J. K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame.  She did a brilliant job of taking a story about a little orphan boy and those around him, and made me care about his world and his challenges.  She has provided a medium for me to share life lessons with my own boys, and I am grateful for having discovered her.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Atticus Finch was the BOMB!

I am just rolling in from vacation, and it is late, and my house is a disaster area.  But, I wanted to make a quick post before midnight.  Why?  Well, I have signed up for a blog challenge for the month of August to blog on a specific question every day of the the month.  With homeschooling ramping back up, I guess I'll see if I am up to it.  Today's question:  What is my favorite fictional book?

This is a hard question, but my gut reaction is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I did not read it until college, but I find myself re-reading it every so often.  It is a beautiful, haunting story set in my area of the country that still resonates over half a century after it was written.  I have found that it was instrumental in changing people's perceptions of civil rights, particularly among Southern white women, and helped bring about some of the cultural changes that came soon after its publication.  I did not know any of that, though, when I first read it.  I just knew that it was a powerful story that I somehow identified with.

So, what about you?  What is YOUR favorite fictional book?