Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Read All About It! Colonies Form Union - Break Away From England!

Here in the Unites States, we call it the Revolution. In Britain, they call it the Rebellion. Of course, I prefer the former. But when you look around the world and see "rebels" trying to overthrow governments, remember that 239 years ago that's just what Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and their band of brothers and sisters were doing. Sure you learned all about it in school but if you really want to learn the truth, there are plenty of books to choose from.

You can hardly go wrong picking up a book by Joseph Ellis, Jeff Shaara, David McCullough, or Page Smith but don't stop there. There is always something new to be learned, surprisingly.

The men are certainly well covered by books and it's interesting to be able to read their actual writings. Don't stop with these well known books - there are a number that discuss the contributions of Benedict Arnold before he betrayed the cause, books about the men from other countries who helped the revolutionaries, and those lesser-known founding fathers who played major roles in the founding of our country.

And let's don't forget the ladies! Of course, we're all familiar with Abigail Adams. But there were women behind most of those founding fathers who made it possible for them to go off and do what they did and who often found themselves in the position of defending their homes on their own.

Now where did I put my copy of Nathaniel Philbrick's Bunker Hill??

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Life: It Goes On - June 28

Feeling very lazy this morning - not quite sure what to do with myself. Usually on this day every year we are headed over to an annual family reunion. This year we are foregoing it for a number of reasons; but, it feels strange not to be rushing around, trying to put together the food to take and get out of the door to be there by noon. And also feels good to be having a weekend with very little on the calendar. I know my house is appreciating it!

Friday evening I spent at Miss H's, helping her, again, get her room cleaned up. Have I mentioned how absolutely minuscule it is? Not nearly big enough for a 20 year old girl with all of her makeup, nail polish, clothes, shoes, and crafting supplies. About the time we finally get it so that it really works for her, her lease will be up. But it's always fun to spend the time with her  so I don't really mind.

Last night was our next-door neighbors annual summer party, complete with a band, fireworks, wonderful food, and a margarita machine. Good thing we only had to walk a few feet to get home! 

This Week I'm:

Listening To: The last disc of The Book of Night Women by Marlon James. So, so good! I'm not sure I can launch into another book right away without being disappointed so I will probably catch up on podcasts.

Watching: Miss H and I watched the first three episodes of Orange Is The New Black on Thursday. Not sure when we'll have time to get back to it now that she'll be working regular people hours and we won't have Thursday afternoons. Yesterday I watched Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia in When A Man Loves a Woman. Love that movie!

Reading: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas on my Nook. Really enjoying it so far; it continues the good reading streak I've got going right now. I finished Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven the other day and absolutely loved it - if I ever get around to updating my Goodreads page, it will be a five-star read. Review to come this week.

Making: Brownies, pastas, salads, steaks. Today we're grilling burgers, peaches and pineapple (thanks, Ti, for the peach idea!). Homemade ice cream will definitely be on the agenda for this week!

Planning: For the upcoming long holiday weekend. We have a neighborhood party Friday night with a potluck dinner then my folks are coming in Saturday so I'm working out a menu for that night. July decorating will get done this week in anticipation of the holiday and I will head off to pick up a few fireworks so my mom can have some fountains to watch, her favorite.

Grateful for: The largely calm response to this week's Supreme Court rulings. I feared it could get ugly on my social media pages but there has been no anger, at least none that I have had to face head on. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion but there is never any reason to say hurtful things that could damage relationships with people you care about.

Enjoying: Book club - even if we really didn't talk much about the book. We've had a lot of new ladies join us in the past few months and are just getting back to the point where we are all really comfortable together (and chatty!) again.

Feeling: Hopeful.

Looking forward to: Getting a chance to talk to Mini-me about his week in Amherst. He got back early this morning but is off sleeping now and with our work schedules, I'm not sure when we'll get to see him.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lit: Uniquely Portable Magic

Mini-me is off to the Juniper Writer's Workshop this week. I'm proud of him for putting himself in a position to get this opportunity and even more proud of him stepping way out of his comfort zone and going off to do it.

University of Massachusetts
Amherst library
There's a reason I've nicknamed this one "Mini-me." Had I been given the opportunity to do something like this, I'm not sure I could have screwed up the courage to go. So many things that would need to be done that I'd never done before and there would be multiple people critiquing my work. He's much the same way but it's something I've encouraged him to work through and he's much more brave than I am!

He's been great about checking in (better than I would have expected), but he's been kept busy and even has "homework" when he's not in sessions so we haven't had much chance to talk. Can't wait for him to get back so I can get all of the details and read some of what he's been working on.

 During the day they are working on writing; in the evenings there are readings. The first night he was excited to hear James Tate, Pulitzer-prize winning poet, read and was impressed with Mitchell S. Jackson, who read from his book The Residue Years (so much so that he bought the book). I'm sure he'll come home with one or two more books tucked in his bag.

Have you ever done anything like this? The whole idea of taking a week to hone your writing skill has me giving NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) some consideration. I've got these idea percolating away in my brain...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Misery by Stephen King

Misery by Stephen King
Published May 1990 by Penguin Group
Source: this one is mine

Publisher's Summary:
Overview Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.

My Thoughts:
Well, it was summer and clearly summer is the time for a Stephen King readalong so I couldn't resist when Care of Care's Online Book Club rallied the King Readalongers. Here's the thing with Stephen King - he can be very grisly and gruesome but he really is quite a good writer so I always know that it will be worth my time to join the gang.

I often say that I don't read horror books or watch horror movies because there is enough to be afraid of in the real world and I don't need any new ways to be frightened. There are all kinds of things to be afraid of in the world but in Misery King comes back to the idea that one individual can be the scariest thing. In Misery, Uncle Stevie hasn't given me a new thing to be afraid of; instead, he has hit on exactly the thing that I fear the most - people who are utterly lacking in a moral compass. The paranoids, the self-absorbed who care only about getting what they want regardless of the cost to others. That would be Annie Wilkes. She gives credence to the argument that some people are just born evil. Seriously, she is one screwed up lady who is undoubtedly mentally ill but, folks, this business with Paul is not her first trip to the rodeo.

Is it a stretch, sometimes, to buy into the idea that Paul could disappear for months and have left so little trail that no one even has idea where to start. Maybe. Is it a stretch to believer that Annie could have done what she's done in the past and still be free to go about her business? Maybe. But by the time that you might start to think "really???", it's too late. You are too sucked into needing to find out just how deranged Annie will get and whether or not Paul will survive. And, oh, how King plays with his readers, showing sympathetic glimpses of Annie and making Paul a rather unlikeable man it can be hard to care for.

In the end, although there's more than enough violence, Misery is a mind game. Can Paul keep his sanity long enough to free himself? Can he manage to outwit Annie or even figure her out well enough to keep her on an even keel? How, exactly, does she envision this playing out in her mind? I could have done with less gore but I do appreciate a psychological thriller and a book that makes me afraid to keep reading. On that score, King succeeds.