Beach Reading Survey 2016

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It’s that time of year again! The time when I grab my beach towel, hat, sunglasses and chair and I plop myself right in the sand, close to the water’s edge. I take a look up and down the beach and I wonder…what’s everybody reading? And THEN, I do the thing my family has come to expect from me. I get up, start walking and start talking to the people who are reading about what they are reading. It’s become one of my favorite things to do on our beach vacation.

This is the third year of conducting my survey. The results of the first one were reported on my facebook page with no pictures. Last year I talked to a lot more people and you can read that post and see those photos here.

So without further ado, here is what the people were reading last week at North Myrtle Beach, SC.

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This may be my favorite. I call her the Gangsta Reader.

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This adorable couple was from West Virginia. Their one month old baby girl was sleeping back in the room. Mom’s not reading here but told me she is a big Emily Giffin fan.

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The beach was covered in readers this year and I’d like to thank them for being super cool and allowing me to post their photo on the world wide web. See ya next summer!!

Little Men

It is hard to believe but, my boys are now 18 years old. Baby A and Baby B have made it to adulthood. Whew!! Or at least what I consider the onset of adulthood. There is still a great deal of transition going on around here. You know just as well as I that there is nothing magic about that number. (Except now, the Doctors and the Financial Aid officers and Teachers are no longer interested in hearing from me. Whatever.)

I’m going to spare you most of the mushy-gushy feelings that I have because you know, I’m their mom and it won’t surprise anyone to read about all the fierce emotions that have come with parenting them. I’d rather talk about who they are now and allow you to get to know them a little better, if you don’t already. So I conducted an interview…

20160806_133744-1_resizedThis is Jonathan. (Baby A)
He is hilarious. Only when he wants to be though, never on demand. He’s like a two year old that way. But my gosh he can crack people up. He is sooo smart and such a deep thinker. He studied a lot of Shakespeare last year and he loved Hamlet and Julius Ceasar. He can straight up dance like nobody’s business but he doesn’t do that on demand either. He is a great listener and adviser to his friends. My favorite thing he said as a kid: I received flowers from my husband and  I was making a big deal about them. Jonathan asked me what my favorite flower was and I told him “daffodils,” and he said, “When I get big, I’m gonna give you a hundred daffodils.”

The Interview :
Who’s your Celebrity Crush? – Hayley Williams (Paramore) I don’t like that question.
Favorite Band/Music Artist – Twenty One Pilots (even before they hit mainstream)
Favorite Song of All Time – Bohemian Rhapsody
Favorite TV Show Ever – Drake and Josh
Favorite LOST Character – Sun and Sawyer (Yes, I trained them well)
Favorite Movie – The Dark Knight and The Sixth Sense
Favorite Childhood Movie – Toy Story 2
Favorite Childhood Book – A Wrinkle in Time
Favorite Super Hero – Please, Batman. But Superman inspires me more. Then why don’t you just say Superman? Cause Batman is cooler.
Favorite Villain – The Joker
Favorite Thing about your Brother – His willingness to try.
Favorite Thing about your Sister? She buys me stuff.
Favorite School Subject – Literature (That’s my boy!!)
What Makes You Happy? – Music, concerts
What Makes You Sad? – Political stuff on social media. Arguing, hate. Hate makes me sad.
What do you want out of life? I don’t know….chicken.

20160806_134119_resizedThis is Caleb. (Baby B)
He is a forever kid, full of the sense of wonder and always getting the most out of life. He plays guitar, basketball and spends way too much money on nerd collectibles. He is also a deep thinker and an animal lover. He loves a party, loves a wedding, and doesn’t shy away from hard work. In the last year or two he has acquired a taste for sarcasm. I tell him that’s fine with his peers, not with his mama. My favorite thing he said as a kid: He was still in a car seat. We were listening to Christmas Carols in the car and The First Noel was on. He was listening intently and said, “That poor shepherd, he couldn’t find his sheep and he just said, ‘Oh well.'” (He thought the song was saying Oh well instead of Noel, Noel. That still cracks me up!)

The Interview
Celebrity Crush – Daisy Ridley
Favorite Band/ Music Artist – Switchfoot
Favorite Song of All Time – Dare You To Move (Switchfoot)
Favorite TV Show Ever – LOST (that’s my boy!) and Person of Interest
Favorite LOST Character – Desmond
Favorite Movie – Lord of the Rings/Return of the King
Favorite Childhood Movie – Spirit
Favorite Childhood Book – The Trumpet of the Swan and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM
Favorite Super Hero – Batman
Favorite Villain – The Joker
What do you like most about your brother – His sense of humor
What do you like most about your sister – Her compassion. The way she cares for others.
Favorite School Subject – Math (Not really my favorite but it’s my best.)
What Makes You Happy? – Jenna
What Makes You Sad? – When pre-movie reviews aren’t good. It kills my excitement.
What do you want out of life? – To represent Christ.

I truly love these boys so much. And I really like them too. I don’t say that to be trite, they are enjoyable people 99% of the time. The other one percent? They’re imperfect and aggravating like everyone else. I’ve been known, occasionally, to try and give them away. And for all the great things about them, they are still dang messy. They haven’t grown out of that yet. They’re only in transition…right?

 

 

 

What’s Been Up

Hello readers, friends, and strangers! I’ve been muy ocupado this summer and I thought I’d just give ya’ll an update on all that’s been going on. Let’s start from now, and move backwards, shall we?

My daughter is in Uganda. That’s on the other side of the world. All the way on the other side. Sigh. She has been thinking of making this trip for two years now. She is there with three other people from our church and 21 other people from around the U.S. They are there serving Imani Milele, an organization that is devoted to locating and rescuing orphans and vulnerable children from the villages and areas out in the bush. Lindsay and her team are there to work in a medical clinic, have Vacation Bible School camps for sooooo many children and to help construct brick classrooms for their schooling.

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There’s a lot of people at the airport at 4 am.

In Uganda, there is no free education. If a child is rich, they can go to school. Otherwise, you must be sponsored in order to go. Education is absolutely PARAMOUNT in the lives of these Ugandan children because it is the only way to break the cycle of poverty. If a girl reaches the age of 13 or so, and is not in school, she will be married off and will perpetuate the cycle. But if she is in school, if someone pays for her school, then she is able to continue through college. The children that we have hosted in our home for the past few summers have described what it is like to go to school. They rise at about three or four a.m. They walk between 1 1/2 and 2 hours to school. School begins at  6 am and ends at 6 pm. Then they walk back home. They do this 6 days a week and they love it. They appreciate it so much because they know what the alternative is. Most of their classrooms are mud huts that get destroyed in the rain. That’s why Lindsay’s team is there to contribute to the construction of brick classrooms.

All of the children that come here to the US for their choir tour have been sponsored. They take a year off from school so they can make the tour. They come completely devoted to their work of raising awareness of the plight of children in their homeland and they ask us to come. It’s interesting that they would so much rather have you come to Uganda to help them than they would have you write them a check. They are the most loving and hospitable people I have ever encountered in my entire life.

The week before Lindsay left, we hosted two boys. Julius and Geofrey. Each child in the organization has a Ugandan name and a “Christian” name. (Which I think just means an “English” name.) We had a wonderful time with them, even with the distractions of getting Lindsay ready to go.

Geofrey loves to cook and he was often in the kitchen helping me with meal preparation. I started to slice an avocado one day and he took it right out of my hand, preparing it the way that he had been taught. He had great skills with a knife and I showed him how to use a vegetable peeler. He also made us Ugandan eggs. We call this an omelet. When he was not cooking, he was goofing off, laughing or playing Mario Kart.

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Julius loves Jazz music and wanted it to be playing at all times. I showed him how to find music and artists on youtube. In the last few years, my world has become very quiet. I can be in the house for hours and hours and never have the TV or radio on. I won’t even notice it. So when I was cooking or cleaning or whatever, he would come in the room and turn on Jonathan Butler or George Benson or Kirk Whalum or Peter White. And he liked it loud. We would all be washing dishes, (because my dishwasher messed up the week before they came), and we’d be talking and I would turn the music down a little so I could hear people and not have to shout and as soon as I did, Julius would apologize for it being too loud. It’s so funny that there are some people like me where music is in the back ground of their day and others where music is in the forefront at all times.
( He also likes Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. And I promise I didn’t even bring it up. He did when he saw my bookshelf.)

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Julius also bonded with my cat. Even though cats are considered a nuisance where he’s from.

So, it’s been a little busy as you can see. I don’t know why I always look forward to some down time in the summer because really, most days are just as busy as the other seasons of the year. I guess the one thing that is a huge sense of rest to me in the summer is that I don’t have to worry about if my boys are getting all their school work done. You have no idea the amount of space that takes up in my brain on a daily basis during the school year. I know people think I’m going to be sad when that comes to an end in 2017, but I won’t. Not about that anyway.

Since I have taken up enough internet space thus far, in my next post I’m going to tell you all about my pie adventures this summer. You don’t want to miss it! Yum!! See ya later!

Thursday Thrillers

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

“Good, as in God, the style of Henry, or if I might call him so, Mr. James, author of The Turn of the Screw, who in the late nineteenth century wrote the thin ghost story, is torturous, as a stretching on the rack. One might imagine, if so inclined as to imagine such a horror, a horror beyond compare, the voice of Shatner, William Shatner reading each phrase, set off with a preponderance of punctuation in the form of commas, commas that precede every unnecessary phrase, like a water torture of Chinese design and implementation, dripping prose into one’s mind in an effort to present a story, a tale, of ghosts and other mysteries.

Woof. It’ll drive you nuts but perhaps that’s the point.”

When I read that quote from James Brush I busted out laughing. If you have never read Henry James then you should know, that is how it is. It is EXHAUSTING! Thank goodness The Turn of the Screw was short because the entire story is written that way.

Turn of the screw
It’s been a few years since I read The Turn of the Screw but I do remember it was a spooky ghost story. There is a governess hired to take care of two young children while their father/uncle/someone is away. The governess dotes on the children and continues to care for them even after she begins seeing ghosts in the house and on the grounds. The children begin to show signs of being aware of, perhaps even in control of, all the ghostly happenings. It’s never clear about what is going on and that adds to the spookiness. The children are creepy but they are still children and as the reader you’re left not really sure what to think about it all. It is an enjoyable read, if you can sit back, relax and be ok with reading about three times as many words than are needed to tell the story. Lots of words, lots of ambiguity.

Carrie by Stephen King

king-carrieI almost wimped out and didn’t read this one. I remembered seeing scenes of the movie when I was growing up and it was gory and scary. But I decided that I had set a goal for myself to read the whole LOST list and I needed to be a grown up about it and not dodge a certain book because it made me uncomfortable. And even though there was enough content in the book to confirm my hesitations, I’m glad I went through with it. It was good to actually read and know the story that put Stephen King on his life-long path of literary super stardom. It is, at it’s core, an interesting and intellectual piece of work, and other than the supernatural/psychic element, it serves as a reminder of the damaging effects and consequences of bullying.

The story begins in a girls locker room after P.E. class. Carrie is showering, and it is then that she begins her first menstrual period. She is frightened because she has no idea what it is. (Way to go, mom.) The other girls begin to laugh at her and mock her and throw feminine products at her. (It’s at this time that I would like to ask where the P.E. teacher is.) She shows up eventually, a little too late though. The damage is done.

Life after the locker room incident continues to disintegrate and in Carrie’s anger and hurt, she discovers she has some kind of psychic powers. Her mother, who is a cray-cray, misguided, religious fanatic, is aware of Carrie’s powers and thinks she is possessed by the devil. It’s all creepy and sad. There are a couple of people who are kind to Carrie, one girl in particular is sorry for the way she treated her in the locker room, but for the most part Carrie is alone.

Months later Carrie is invited to Prom.The students arranged ahead of time to vote her the Prom queen. (More mocking). And as she is being crowned, they play a horrible practical joke on her that incites her to such a level of humiliation and rage that she summons all of her powers to wreak havoc on the entire gymnasium. It’s all horrible.

Here’s what I liked though, and what I didn’t expect. Many times the story is interrupted and you realize there is an investigation going on. Those that were witnesses of the Prom night episode are telling their story. Articles are written and referenced. Studies are conducted on psychic behavior, letters written, etc. I loved that aspect of the book and it provided, for me, a reprieve from the heaviness and a bright spot that showed a future for the survivors. (Carrie’s rampage is pretty extensive.)

So this one is featured on LOST in the episode titled A Tale of Two Cities. Juliet is hosting book club and her pick is Carrie. She leaves Ben out of the meeting though and and when he finds out, he gives us one of my very favorite lines and moments of the whole six seasons.

“So, I guess I’m out of the book club…”

Wednesday What???

Hey boys and girls. It’s Wednesday, day three of my #weekofreviews. Today I’m going to talk about three books that made me go “WHAT???”

Let me say first that I did read these books in their entirety. My eyes read over every page and every word.


Fear and Trembling
by Soren Kierkegaard (read 2012)

I have to tell you that I never knew who this person was until college. My friends that were Religion or Philosophy majors were crying the blues about him all the time. You can be sure that I was thankful to not have to deal with any of that. But guess where it showed up later?? You guessed it. On LOST. And you know the story, I was stuck because I committed to read all those books. It was gonna happen whether I wanted it to or not.

Well, I’d say the first 20% or so really wasn’t that bad. It was all about Abram and Issac and the Biblical account of when God asked Abram to take his son up on a mountain and sacrifice him. That is a story that even the most devoted and studied believer grapples with so I will make no attempt to make sense of it here. Kierkegaard presents several versions of that scenario over and over at the start of the book and it’s not too difficult to follow. THEN he moves into a-whole-nother realm for the rest of the book and I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. All I know is that Kierkegaard is a beloved philosopher that was cautious and troubled about his religion. He believed Christianity was a leap of faith that he couldn’t understand completely yet he couldn’t let it go. (Oh my gosh that is so LOSTy right there. That has to be why they put it in the show.)

My friend Justin knows all about Kierkegaard. I asked him for a one sentence description. He said:“Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher burdened by the nominal Christianity of his countrymen and earnest to present true faith as a leap in the dark with everything at stake.” He came up with that right then. I have smart friends.

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (read 2012)

This is a two part book. Part one is an intellectual, philosophical work that I didn’t understand and part two is a story featuring an unnamed narrator. I think it was about Utopia. I remember thinking the man was pathetic and whiny. I found a funny review of it on Goodreads by someone named Nate D. Check that out if you’re interested. If you would like a more serious and fine-tuned assessment of Notes then please, go here.

VALIS Philip K. Dick (read 2013)

Vast Active Living Intelligence System. This one is science fiction and it is much easier to read and follow than the other two mentioned above. But science fiction isn’t really my thing so it took effort to stay engaged.

Our narrator’s name is Horselover Fat. He’s insane. He believes that God has spoken to him through a pink laser and he is in pursuit of what all that means in his life. It really does follow the trajectory of insane thinking and I was left scratching my head. However, I do remember getting emotional at the end. Horselover was broken and distraught and even though I could not relate to this person at all, I had come to sympathize with him. There are lots of PKD fans out there who would do this review more justice. I apologize to them.

Regardless of how little I enjoyed reading these pieces, I still learned from them and I’m glad I read them. Going through my reading challenge list efficiently often meant not marinating in any particular book because I was just needing to check it off the list. That’s why sometimes I mention that I would love to take a class on a particular book. But not any of these. I’m all good with these.

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about some of the spookier titles I read for the LOST Book Club.  See you then!

 

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

8117HB7WbvLYou better believe I’m going to review this for #weekofreviews. I get bragging rights for reading this one. To be honest, this one was not even a chore. I enjoyed it very much, but I took a l-o-n-g time to go through it. Think of this review as a primer for a Russian literary tomb. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Brothers Karamazov is the story of three brothers and their wretched scoundrel of a father. It’s a family drama, a philosophical exploration and a whodunnit mystery all in one. One of my favorite quotes about TBK is found in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

“Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn’t science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.”

And from Madeleine L’Engle, in speaking about flawed art in her nonfiction book, A Circle of Quiet:

“The truly great books are flawed: The Brothers Karamazov is unwieldy in structure; a present-day editor would probably want to cut the Grand Inquisitor scene because it isn’t necessary to the plot. For me, The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels ever written, and this is perhaps because of, rather than in spite of, its human faults.”

ALL KINDS of things in this book are worthy of contemplation. There are some places that are obviously symbolic. Sometimes I think readers are looking for statements and worldviews in a book that perhaps the author never intended to create. But then, there are other pieces of literature that are heavy laden with thought, beliefs and social commentary. I believe this is one of those.

Here’s what you need to know if you want to read The Brothers Karamazov.

1. Russian names: One thing that can be confusing is the use of nicknames. You have to catch on to these pretty quickly in order to keep up.
Alyosha aka Alexei
Dmitri aka Mitya
Ivan. I think he’s just Ivan. My memory fails me.
Nikolai aka Kolya
You get the gist…

2. It’s long. But the chapters and sections are divided in really doable amounts so that should not be an issue. I get a little fussy about long chapters and this one did not irritate me.

3. This one is heavy on religious philosophy. It’s not the only philosophy presented but it is the main one. Specifically, the existence of God and is Intellectual enlightenment more valuable than Spiritual enlightenment.

4. There is some really beautiful language and thought in this book.

5. There is all kinds of online help if you have trouble keeping up. I read this one probably four or five years ago and I found a couple of professors on youtube lecturing on different parts of the book. This book would make an excellent semester long study for college students. I would take that class. Like now.

So, I didn’t get much into the summary here in all my rambling but in short, Daddy Karamazov, the scoundrel, is despicable and has basically cast off his three sons, now grown, to different people to raise. Aloysha, the youngest, seeks a life in the monastery and serving God, Ivan finds his pleasure and worth in Intellectualism and Dmitri, unfortunately, is a chip off the old block and is a lot like his father in behavior. But not in heart. This is their story and it’s no spoiler to share with you that at some point, someone makes an end of Daddy, and you, the reader, get to follow along to find out who. It’s good ya’ll. Even if there are some confusing moments. And some boring ones as well.

The end was very exciting. It didn’t end the way I thought it would, but you know, that’s life for most of us.

makes it’s appearance in LOST in season 2 when Ben, aka Henry Gale, is locked in the gun closet in the underground hatch. He’s being held there because he’s suspected of shenanigans. Locke brings him something to read to pass the time.

Ben looks at the book. “Dostoevsky…. You don’t have any Stephen King?”

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Alright ya’ll, don’t be scared. You need to read this book!!

Ode to Watership Down

When I was in the seventh grade I was convinced that my family was the last family in America to not have a microwave oven. But I was pretty sure we were the first people to have HBO.

Do you guys have any idea how many times JAWS was shown on HBO in the early 80’s? About a bazillion. I wasn’t allowed to watch it. But I did. And I cried at a slumber party because I was afraid for my parents who were taking a weekend trip to the beach.  And sometimes I was afraid to sit on the toilet because I thought a head might float out of the tunnel to the surface. (Cause that happens in a boat in JAWS, but not in a toilet.) I was a scaredy cat.

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Have you guys seen these shoes?? Are they not the BEST? They belong to my friend Bryan.There is even bloody tissue paper in the box!  I.Just.Can’t.Even.

Another movie in heavy rotation on HBO was Watership Down. I laid on the couch one night after supper thinking I would watch that cartoon movie about the rabbits. You know, just chill for a while before I went to bed. Uh….that little rabbit movie was a little disturbing, and it had me feeling all dark inside. Brrr…chills….not what I expected.

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Fast forward to my freshman year of college. A friend of mine was majoring in English and I saw that she was reading Watership Down. And I’m like…”Oh, it’s a book!” I tell my friend about the movie and make a mental note to someday read it.

Fast forward fifteen-plus years and I’m watching LOST. (No!! Really??) And there’s Sawyer, walking up out of the ocean, talking about the book about bunnies. And I’m like, There’s that book again! 

Fast forward one more time to 2011. LOST has been over for a year and I’m in TV mourning. I’m making out my summer reading plans and thinking about all the books featured on LOST and I make the decision to finally read Watership Down.

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I read it and I swear that book stayed with me the rest of the summer. It’s like it was the book I was always meant to read. I thought about the rabbits and how they bared such close resemblances to the characters on LOST. I thought about their plight and how sometimes you’re called to be the leader, even when you don’t want to be. And I thought about whether or not there is a right time to steal. And there was just so much to ponder about survival, adventure, prophecy, rest and the after-life. I don’t know, it just worked for me. All I can do is gush about it. That is all.

This week I have committed to post five reviews for #weekofreviews. I’m focusing primarily on books from the LOST list that I read but never got around to blogging about. Ya’ll stick around, it’s going to be fabulous!  Up next: The Brothers Karamazov.