Monday, December 31, 2018

Book o' the Month: The Old Magic of Christmas


The Old Magic of Christmas, by Linda Raedisch, is quite the eye-opener.  It turns out, the days between mid-October and February 2nd are chock-full of nasty characters, spirits, monsters, etc.  You have likely heard of the Krampus, but he is just one of many menacing entities you have to watch out for during this season.  However, there are also several actions you might take to help keep the baddies at bay and usher in some good luck (and presents)!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It explores the folklore and traditions of Europe and beyond.  And in case you were wondering what you need to beware of on this New Year's Eve...it is moving night for Icelandic elves and if you are in Iceland, you might notice magical white frost "pantry drift" in your pantry.  Also, it is the night Finnish maidens might see the image of their future husbands reflected in a mirror. 

And, if you can swing it and you stroke a piglet this evening, you may have good luck all next year.  So with that I wish you--

A HAPPY NEW YEAR  pig balancing cones on its nose, line up of pigs along bottom of card

(image found here)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book o' Last Month: The First Four Years

This post is bittersweet.  The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a bittersweet story of Laura and Almanzo Wilder's first four years of marriage.  It was tough going trying to make a living farming in the Dakota Territory, but Laura was resilient, pragmatic, and ultimately optimistic.

Andrew and I have spent many sweet mornings curled up before school reading through this series.  We have both been absorbed in the details of Laura's pioneer life.  But this is the last book in the series and when we finished the final page I thought, Now what?  That's the bitter.

Andrew is an excellent reader (thoroughly enjoying Gary Paulsen's Hatchet series) and interested in many other things: guitar, drawing airplanes and ships, Snap Circuits.  But, lucky for me, he is also still interested in hanging out with his mom.  Now I just need to find a new book to read to him.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book o' Two Months Ago: Moby Dick


I read it--the dreaded Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  Why is it so dreaded?  I was immediately drawn in to the witty narration of Ismael.  Who knew Moby Dick was funny (the book, not the whale)?  True, it is a loooong book (at over 600 pages in the edition that I read), but the chapters are short--perfect for our current condition of smartphone related short attention spans (or parenthood).  I will admit I learned more about ALL the aspects of whaling, which I never had any intention of knowing, including one particular visceral image I may never be able to purge from my brain, but it was worth it.  I may be partial because of my love of 19th century subject matter and literature, but I would still dare you: Read Moby Dick!


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer Plans

What are my summer plans? I get asked this question everytime I bump into a friend or acquaintance. 

Besides a four day trip to see family later this month, we've got nothing going on. And by nothing, I mean spendng 1-3 hours a day driving kids to activities. And by activities, I mean mostly Valerie's swim practice. (Swim team has been awesome for her, don't get me wrong, but still. A lot of driving for me.)

Yesterday I see that dooce.com is back in Paris this summer and I start thinking about the four weeks I spent in Spain back in the summer of 2002. I was there for a professional development class for teaching, but that was just an excuse, si?

So...here are my new summer plans:


No, I'm not going to Spain. Just looking up flights. And browsing accommodations. A mama can dream!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Book o' the Month: Doctor Zhivago


I remember renting a video cassette of Doctor Zhivago as a teen (the 1965 version, obviously).  It was long and I lost interest.  (It actually had an intermission in the middle.)  I didn't know anything about the history.  I watched it again on DVD (things change!) last May and thirty years older, I was captivated.  I also watched the 2002 miniseries, but I found the actors not as convincing as the dashing Omar Sharif (!) and mesmerizing Julie Christie.  

Then, naturally, I had to read the book by Boris Pasternak.  Wowza, I think I have mentioned somewhere on this blog that it is always a good idea to read the book before watching the film(s).  The 1965 film is quite different from the book, besides some key details.  The 2002 version is like a riff on the previous effort.  I still like the first movie, and frankly, why didn't they get it closer to the novel the second time around?  At least I had two beautiful people in mind as the main characters while I read.

And speaking of reading...I'm so glad I read this Nobel Prize winning book that the CIA helped spread around during the Cold War.  I so love classic literature.  The language!  (I bet it sounds even better in the native tongue.)  Just sink your teeth into these quotes:





Does anyone still write like this in our soundbite world?  Pasternak was also a poet and it shows, no?


I had to include that last one.  It seems oddly...contemporary.  (Looks like I cut off the last several words which are "and left nothing behind them.")

I'm thinking of reading Moby Dick next.  It doesn't have "Sea" in the title, but I think it counts for sticking to my traditional summer reading theme.  What are you reading this summer?






Thursday, June 21, 2018

Books o' the Month: Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years



Andrew and I are almost finished with Laura Ingalls Wilder's series.  We read Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.  They are both wonderful.  I find myself wishing I had read them to my Grandma.  She was born in 1913 in Minnesota.  She lived there and in Iowa before moving to California in the late 1930s.  I think she would have loved the stories of prairie life and found many things familiar, especially the descriptions of the cold weather.

Next up, The First Four Years.  This will be the beginning of Laura's life with Almanzo and the birth of their daughter, Rose.  The description on the book jacket sounds like hard times lay ahead, which will be different from the happy courtship story in the previous book.  That's life, I suppose.

I am also reading Dr. Zhivago after watching two film versions of the book first--never a good idea.  But, more about that later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book o' Last Month: The Seven Sisters

Margaret Drabble's The Seven Sisters did not disappoint. I first read her novel The Waterfall for a class in college. She has a very accessible style and intriguing themes.

Now that summer vacation is here, I'm hoping to do more reading, but all I seem to be doing is driving my kids around to their activities. Oh well. Seems summer is for kids, just like Friday nights, weekends, holidays, and vacations.

Books are my escape. After reading just a couple of pages, I am in another city, another country, another time, another life. Where are books taking you this summer?