Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Reading List


FEBRUARY 18!  (And my hubby was born on February 18!

(100 GB = Great Books)

All reviews are below with the exception of the last five which will come on Sunday. 

6. Tom Sawyer (100 GB)
7. Othello (100 GB)
8. Julius Caesar (100 GB)
9. The Awakening (100 GB)
10. King Lear (100 GB)
11. Romeo and Juliet (100 GB)
12. Hawaii: From Origins to the End of the Monarchy
13. Billy Budd (100 GB)
14. The Call of the Wild (100 GB)
15. Daisy Miller (100 GB)
16. Ethan Frome (100 GB)
17. David Copperfield (100 GB)
18. Brave New World (100 GB)
19. The Tempest (100 GB)
20. Macbeth (100 GB)
21. Of Mice and Men (100 GB)
22. King Henry IV, Part 1 (100 GB)
23. The Taming of the Shrew (100 GB)



Still Peace Freewrite

The counter ticks from 15 minutes, but I will type slowly and deliberately today. It is early morning, and the house is ever so quiet. I love it when I can wake up early enough to have this space all to myself for what seems like an eternity. I use this for my time of meditation and writing and reading. Today the reading was Henry IV, Part 1 as I made my chai tea. 

My sleep was fitful owing to the tough strengthening workout from Shandra. She helped me before I went surfing so I would not injure myself, and I had one more session left. Here it is almost four months later, and I finally did it. I asked her for a weight work out, but she gave me a strengthening one that is time consuming, but it is effective. I am sore (but not too sore) and could feel it coming on even last night as I drifted off to sleep.

My dream was a big group and going to places for showers and having to wait for privacy. I finally realized I could wake up and go to the bathroom all by myself. LOL! We had a mission in that group. My dorm room was full of people. I could not even get in there to get my towel. George and I passed in the night as the men and women were separated. Nice to awaken to his sleep beside me and not set apart because of some group goal. 

Today, I must go to Pilates to stretch out the soreness. Then, I am working on Romans as I decided to write as I go along in the study with Kim and Rachel. I will also prepare for people tonight. 

The state of "The Well":

Well-Watered Soul


I am almost done with The Gospel Harmony Book Club posts. I am in the middle of Holy Week which puts me more than a month ahead. I have LOVED combining my Old Testament with Jesus! I am also loving giving notes about Romans as I study it with Kim and Rachel. That is a very good thing!


Well-Educated Mind 


Reading lots of shorter works, mostly by audiobook and following along if my hands are free. I think I have 35 more books on the "Great Books" List.


Well-Adjusted Heart 


Fabulous. Wanting to see others free from bitterness though. "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy." spoken by Nelson Mandela. I so agree. No poison these days for me. Free, forgiven, and forgiving.


Well-Tuned Strength


Pilates reentry was easy. So, this newest group of exercises from Shandra will really challenge me. I will do them. Some I need to be cautious because of my shoulder. Like the bicep lift may need a lighter weight. 


Cardio is good. Eating was good last night! Giving up ice cream for Lent has helped in that cause since I usually start craving it at about 9 pm at night. Last night, I just had a bit of chocolate and went to bed early. :)


Well, I have 1:08. So, I will sign off for now. I have a lot of writing before I go to Pilates in about an hour!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Morning 15

I have done this everyday but Tuesday! I have never had so many freewrites in one week, but they really do help me warm up to my morning writing routine. I have put a lot of hours into my book this week, and it is quite rewarding. I don't know what I am going to do with myself when I am done with the Gospel Harmony Book Club posts in the next month! Ha! I have much to do, and I have many rewrites and editing ahead of me on that score. I just wanted to get it out as I went through it with my Kingdom Community, and that is what I did (with few people viewing what I am sure are many typos and errors!). 


I am feeling better, but George is down with the same thing that I had from Sunday night to Friday morning! It helps to know it wasn't all in my imagination. It is the strangest little bug that doesn't really amount to anything major, but it just runs you down and has you stop. Thankfully, I did, and all was well with the people that I had to postpone meeting with. So, it is good.

This next week has this: 



Writing:  for Bible Book Club (2 Chronicles/1 Kings) and Gospel Harmony Book Club (Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem at this point. I have 52 out of 250 events left to cover. Wow! I really am close to being done on this, but the events of the crucifixion require more intensity as they are written in all four accounts. That always takes more time to back them up with the individual chapters for the 2013 "straight through" gospel reading that will run tandem with the chronological things. It is hard for me to know when to stop as the chapters overlap each other as I stop one and start another in the same event. It is fun though. I love walking with Jesus through these pages. I am growing.


Appointments and Women: Heather wants an evening meeting for some life coaching. Another girl wants some time for some emotional issues. Abi needs the gifts and personality type stuff for her Monday Jesus Community. Lots of time praying with Teala tonight during our annual get together. 

Bible Study: Romans 2 with Kim and Rachel (overlapping with writing Romans 1 for the BBC)



Prayer: 2-3 today on campus


Paul: He will no doubt need some encouragement to get that 8-10 page paper started and not to wait until the last minute.


Kingdom Community: I already did the prep work for this! I need to order the Simpson book and begin John 18 (overlapping with writing for the GHBC). Pick up Indo Night tickets






Photos: I have taken a month off, and I need to put my nose to the grindstone and get back to the completion of my only TRUE goal for the year: FINISH THOSE PHOTO BOOKS!


Menu:
Sunday: Chicken Enchiladas
Monday: Roast
Tuesday: Leftovers 
Wednesday: Kingdom Community (Micah is cooking)
Thursday: Old Settler's with Cornbread
Friday: Fish 


That was 15 minutes. Sort of boring


Well-Educated Mind: The Tempest, Henry IV: Part 1.



52 in 52 Week 9: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley


Click image to view full cover


Oh my goodness! 


What a book! I LOVED it.


It is absolutely brilliant!!!! 


 We inherited it from my well-read, departed  father-in-law, and it has been staring at me from the bookcase that faces my bed, but I was afraid of it. My husband warned me, "Carol, it is PG-13." He tried to read it, and he didn't like all the sex. So, I have always been a bit hesitant about reading it.


Well, the sex isn't described in detail, and Huxley is satirizing the cheapening of sex in  this "civilized" society. The promiscuity is seen as a bad thing in the novel. Just want to make that clear from the beginning. 



In Brave New World, Huxley creates a world without Shakespeare and roses and God. Yet, Shakespeare is quoted throughout the book! How fun that I had just finished reading Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear, and will be reading The Tempest as my next book! These works (and many more) are quoted.  


In fact, the title of Brave New World comes from The Tempest:


How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in it!
(V,i) 

Blurry monochrome head-and-shoulders portrait of Aldous Huxley, facing viewer's right, chin a couple of inches above hand
Aldous Huxley
1894-1963
You can read all the quotes from Shakespeare HERE.


Before there was George Orwell (Eric Blair), there was Huxley. And Huxley happened to be Orwell's French teacher at Eaton where he was "an incompetent and hopeless teacher who couldn't keep discipline. Nevertheless, Blair and others were impressed with his use of words" (Wikipedia). We can see Huxley's influence in Orwell's famous novel, 1984



From Wikipedia: On 21 October 1949, Huxley wrote to George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four, congratulating him on "how fine and how profoundly important the book is". In his letter to Orwell, he predicted:
Within the next generation I believe that the world's leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.[13]
Both these works are considered "Anti-utopian (or dystopian)" novels pointing out society's weaknesses by highlighting its fanaticism. Many of the characters have names similar to famous personages of Marxism, Communism, and Fascism. The political symbolism is evident.


While 1984 has a very dark, cold, cruel, and serious tone, Brave New World is serious, satirical, and even funny at times; like a cross between Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. I like Brave New World much better than 1984. Maybe it was all the Shakespeare!



Huxley wrote that the major theme of this book is "the advancement of science as it affects human individuals." The novel "satirizes modern society by creating a future world in which population control and mental programming have been carried to extremes," and the "citizens of the benign brave new world have been conditioned to be happy and well adjusted. But along with this kind of happiness comes the loss of individualism, and perhaps even the loss of human values, history, and civilization" (The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics, p. 96). 


One way that this society achieves happiness is through that "happiness in a bottle" drug called SOMA. It so reminded me of the new AEROSHOT, breathable caffeine that is advertised as pure energy that is a "new healthy way to receive the energy you need to live an exciting and productive life - anytime, anywhere."  That is scary!

There are many more scary parallels in the book, but you have to read it to understand that. I don't want to spoil it for you.

One additional note, I told my husband that that was the best narration I had every heard. Then, I looked and saw it was narrated by acclaimed actor, Michael York. NO WONDER!  

I will stop here, by a quote from a friend on Facebook who responded when I said I had just finished this book, "I LOVE that book! Everyone should read it. At least every westerner should." I heartily agree!

52 in 52 Week 9: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens


Click image to view full cover

Happy 200th Birthday, 
Charles Dickens!

I'm a bit giddy about finishing this most satisfying read. It took me 10 days, and I did a combination of reading it on my Kindle and listening to the Frederick Davidson narration (which was excellent) as I worked out and read.

Yes, it is very long (because he wrote it in serialized form, maybe?), but Dicken's is so melodic in his prose. That man just knew how to write. He makes effortless similes (unlike most contemporary writers who make it very obvious that they are trying to accomplish that feat and overdo it). 

It stuck me just how funny Dickens is too. Yes, the story has some tragic twists and turns, but David also brings out the joy and laughter in life (Aunt Betsy and the donkeys is one example) too!

I read this on the heals of four American tragedies in the Naturalist/Realistic era of literature, and I ran back to Victorian Britain for a good old story where the good guys are really good, and the bad guys are really bad, and good triumphs over evil and true love wins! 

Rapturous delight. 

Some people have criticized David as being too good a character, but I disagree. He has his weakness, and he grows and matures through the book. 

This is often quoted through the book:

“There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose.”


"Annie Strong makes this remark to her husband, Doctor Strong, in Chapter XLV, when Mr. Dick brings the couple together again after Uriah Heep’s deviousness has torn them apart. Annie’s words haunt David in his new marriage to Dora, as he slowly realizes that his and Dora’s characters are irreconcilably different. Dickens indicates that true love must rest on an equality between souls, while equality of age and class is less significant. Equality of purpose is essential for two people to join their lives, fortunes, and futures. Without equality there can be only misunderstanding, and with it a dynamic in which one partner dominates and the other suffers. The most prominent examples of good marriage in David Copperfield are the Strongs’ marriage and David’s marriage to Agnes, both of which exemplify marital bliss in that both couples yearn for mutual happiness and act generously toward each other" (From Sparknotes: David Copperfield).

My husband's favorite quote is:

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

- Mr. Micawber, esquire from Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Ch. 12

Too bad our congress can't take Mr. Micawber's advice!




 “There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday

I didn't warm up my fingers today with a freewrite. I dove into Luke 16 early this morning as the rain softly (and sometimes wildly) fell. Now, the sun has broken through the clouds, and bathing my backyard in beautiful morning glow. My living room is also bathing in light.

Good morning, LORD!  I really enjoyed this morning. I pray we can all be good stewards of all that You give us.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Freewrite

I don't have enough time to start a new Bible Book Club/Gospel Harmony Book Club post before I walk to Pilates. So, I will just do a 10 minute freewrite here and then go.


I felt lousy again yesterday, but like Wednesday, I started feeling better at 11 am. That was enough time to write about Luke 15 and the lost sheep, coin, and son. I learned some new things too! I did all my back and shoulder exercises and go ready for my afternoon.


Then, I got ready to walk to campus to meet with someone I was supposed to meet with on Tuesday morning. Wisely, I scheduled it for 1 pm when I knew I would feel better. I started to go out the door when Michael came running back from the bus stop to get another notebook, and he tried to run back, but the bus went by. So, since I was going to that way anyway, I decided to drive to the library, bring back things due, and he walked to the Linn-Benton Loop Transit Center from there to catch the bus out to LB. I also knew that I could go shopping if I had the car.


I walked the .7 of a mile to campus and stopped by George's office to visit. Then, I walked a bit before going to my appointment near campus. It was 2 1/2 hours of listening and reflecting back. We took a walk to get her out and about, and she felt so much better. She is hurting, and she is inside her head quite a bit. I prayed for her, and I also shared the story of the lost son because she believes the person who wronged her will be punished, but I told her about the love, grace, and forgiveness of the Father for the prodigal son. So, it was very applicable.  I think she is better.


Then, I walked back to the library. I was going to sit and read, but they have SHOCKINGLY not returned the winged back chairs of the reading room. My place of solace in this city has been uncomfortably changed. (If that is my only stress from the day, I am doing really well).


After that, I went to Fred Meyer and did a full shopping trip. I was starting to drag, and George told me just to go home, but I pushed through. I stopped off for some you bake pizza and Paul helped me unload groceries. 


I settled my back on my new "roller" and did some exercises and sort of crashed. It was a lot to do in one day, and I am glad I didn't walk all the way to campus and back because I am not up for that yet. 


Then, we had some pizza, and I rested a bit until Kathleen came over from 7-10:15 p.m.  We had some great Theophostic time, and George visited with us for half of it. 


I crashed listening to Brave New World before I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.


Eight seconds left. Pretty good! BYE!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Freewrite

This is starting to be a more regular thing to do. It really helps me to get whatever is on my mind (on my plate) down. I used to have that in my journal, an "on my heart" time, and I loved that, but it seems my journaling is more here as of late. Maybe when I am done with the Bible Book Club/Gospel Harmony Book Club, I will be doing more physical writing, but this is more convenient at present.

I have been under the weather for three days now. Yesterday, I was good from 11-7, and I was able to write five posts and finish David Copperfield by 5 pm, but I faded in the middle of Kingdom Community last night. I feel better this morning than I did yesterday. So, I am on the upswing and am even going to attempt to walk to campus to have lunch with Heba at 1 pm. The other two mornings, I was going to meet with her, but I usually don't start feeling better until about 11 am. So, I scheduled our time for the afternoon. I know she meets with George at 3:30. So, I can walk back and rest before I meet with Kathleen at 7 pm. That may be too much for me, but I have all day Friday no appointments (except writing).

I have been asked to talk about forgiveness at a seminar on Saturday, and I need to pray and really see if the Lord has something for me there. I feel like this is not the year for public speaking, and I have turned down several requests lately. I feel like my plate is full with these projects that I have put on hold, and when I saw that my appointments were less with the exit of two people I met with regularly (to India and Southern California), I really put my hand to the plow on neglected projects. I am sure He will let me know. No word yet, but He always makes it clear, and I am less inclined to worry about disappointing people these days.

Writing on Luke 10 this week (sending out the 72) was so perfectly timed for our readings for Kingdom Community. George and I are all abuzz about the possibilities of him using up all his contract money in a nine month period and heading out for three months to apply the principles!  His boss is so open to anything. It is just money in an account, and when it is out, it is out. He can even work remotely part time while out and about. So, we are excited about those possibilities, and just praying about it now. :)  I am up for anything!

The kids are doing really well. They both work really hard at their studies, and they both get a "D" for Diligence as I always said when they were younger. They are really disciplined boys, and I almost wish they would have a little more fun in the process!  Paul keeps saying that he can't wait until June though. He is so much like me, probably studies more than he really needs to!  They are both so delightful to be around. It is such a privilege to be their mom.

Kathleen is going to Hawaii with Angie and her parents, and she asked me to go along. There is a condo, and I would just need to pay for food and a plane ticket. Oh my. That would be so fun, but I think two times in Hawaii for the Winter would be TOO much. LOL!

Well, the timer is at 45 seconds, and I think I am ready to dive into Luke 14 now. LOVE LUKE! But I pretty much just love the Bible.

Oh, by the way, I finished David Copperfield, and a review is coming!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Freewrite

Warming up my fingers for 15 minutes again. It always seems to help me write later.

I am making the switch back to the Old Testament as I am up to March 4 on the Gospel Harmony Book Club. Luke 10 took me 1 1/2 days to write, and I was already feeling puny (Didn't know this was a Southern word until Lisa O. pointed it out to me on Facebook today. Wonder how it got into my vernacular as a child? Southern Cal?). I also felt some attack from the enemy! It figures because Luke 10 is such a key chapter. I hadn't realized it until I dug deep into it.

I am sorry that I had to cancel on two people yesterday because of my puniness (love that word). One is going through a really tough time but also very busy. So, I really can't risk her getting sick. Plus, her stuff is pretty intense, and I am not all there mentally. The other was a long needed catch up because we haven't met since before we went to Hawaii. We started catching up on Sunday afternoon though. So, hopefully, we can meet tomorrow night. I find it best to nip these colds in the bud before they go full-born. Then, the duration is much shorter. I am even skipping Pilates that starts in 5 minutes, but I must remember to do my "band" and "roller" work that I skipped yesterday because I felt so lousy.

Back to Luke 10. I called in prayer reinforcements on that one and was able to write it with ease after that. I think it was the enemy. Look it up. Luke 10 talks about us being ambassadors, neighbors, and worshiper. That is the essence of what following Jesus is all about! Powerful time yesterday despite the puniness. (I also like the word "oogley" that was given to me by Kim A.)

On a happier note, I got in bed very early last night due to my sickness and canceling with my friend, and I read David Copperfield straight through for three hours! It is much quicker to read than listen to it, but often I listen to it at times I would not be able to read AND cook or clean or walk or run or lift weights. So, I like being able to combine the two, and the Kindle makes that easy as I just search for the word that is on the narration and jump to it and read for a while. The transition BACK to the narration isn't quite as smooth (I hope someday they start having chapter marks in MP3 recordings, but I suspect this is because this was a CD converted to an MP3), but I think I have it down now, and it works almost flawlessly. For example, I see I am at 77% on my Kindle, and I multiply .77 by the number of "tracks" on my iPod. In this case it is 32. That makes it 24.64. So, I got to track 25 and I can even multiply .64 x the number of minutes on the track and even get it very close to the exact minutes where I am in the narration! I am such a nerd!!!!!

All that to say that it has been DELIGHTFUL to be immersed in Dickens (even though this is a very LONG book and could have used some editing, his bunny trails are fascinating to me)!  He is so clever and comedic even in the midst of tragedy. So much better than those awful American tragedies from the Realism/Naturalism genre!  It is nice to see the evil people gone and the good (or trying to be good) met with compassion and love and forgiveness. YAY! And URIAH HEEP IS A CREEP! Just sayin'.

Well, I think I have 50 seconds or so to go. So there is no proofreading so my there might be their, but I really do know the difference!

LOL! I am back to work now!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Morning Freewrite

I am setting the timer and going at it before I start my "real" writing for the day.

15 minutes and ready go!

I think I will give "The Well" update . . .

The Well-Educated Mind: Well, of course, the real list is completed, and I am immensely satisfied in the result. I don't think I am necessarily "Well-Educated," but I know so much more than when I first began. I am thankful. I have to say that this new list I am tackling, The 100 Great Books, is a cinch comparatively! I love that it is all fiction. I find them very easy to get through and understand. Many of them are plays that I can read/listen to in an afternoon. So, this is lovely.

I still have it in my mind to do an annotated bibliography of the 158 books that I read in The Well-Educated Mind and maybe even find a separate website for that subject. I want to be able to share what I learned with others who are on the same journey. It is exciting for me.

I am also loving learning about the time period before and after World War I from watching Downton Abbey! That is my new guilty pleasure that is going to be dormant until next January when it comes back again.

The Well-Tuned Body Strength: My shoulder and bicipital tendonitis is almost 100%. I did up/down planks in Pilates today with relatively little pain. It is all about placing your shoulder blades in place before attempting the strength move. My back is also enjoying pain-free days. I am doing more preventative things like moist heat with the slightest hint of tightness. I am also stretching throughout the day and making sure I get up every 15 minutes from my work at my desk. All in all, I am thrilled to be almost back to my fitness before my toe tendon severing of November 2009!

I am still feeling somewhat of a glutton. I had gotten down to five pounds below my goal weight, but I think I gained it all back and then some in Hawaii. Still find that a daily struggle. It is easy for me to exercise, but it is not easy for me to say no to the temptations of scrumptious food!

The Well-Watered Soul: I LOVE the new project of studying and writing the Life of Christ chronologically in the Gospel Harmony Book Club! It is also good to do this in tandem with the Year Two Old Testament of the Bible Book Club (almost at 100,000 page views!). It helps me to set my sight on Jesus as I trudge through Israel's rebellion! Whew. It is not an academic exercise for me. It is a spiritual experience that I will never regret though it takes hours and hours and hours of my time. God has carved it out for me to do it. I am convinced of that.

I love more prayer lately. I like to pray as I write and pray as I "go" along the way.  So, it has been lovely.

The Well-Adjusted Heart: I am happy. I am not prone to depression anyway, but I have few grumpy days, and if I start out a bit so, it seems to lift quickly as I pray through it and discover what is the lie behind my thinking. I had a little lie as I chatted with Brendon Coyle on the PBS Masterpiece site. None of my questions were going through, and I was getting a bit grumpy until I prayed and God said that I am important and that my questions getting through didn't matter, just enjoy and don't think you are being rejected. So, I enjoyed other people's questions instead of feeling slighted that mine were not being answered. There is nothing wrong with me or my questions!  So, there. I matter to God, and I don't know that Downton Abbey matters much to Him in the whole scheme of things. LOL!

Well, it is going to ring right NOW!

Bye, no proofread. Just hit "Publish"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

52 in 52 Week 8: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton 

Ethan Frome (1911) by Edith Wharton

I read House of Mirth many years ago. I loved it, but most of my book club didn't like her gritty realism. Ethan Frome is the same kind of novel.

Edith Wharton  "became known for her psychological examination of characters faced with changes in the moral and social values of middle-class and upper-class society. Her novels and short stories provide numerous expert characterizations of complex men and women"  (THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc.).

This is a "no way out" kind of story. It made me really sad, but Edith Wharton is such an excellent writer! I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen with Ethan, Zeena, and Mattie!

I did not plan to read all these American tragedies for Week 8! 

I need a happy novel or at least one with a happy ending. So, I am going back to Britain and Charles Dickens!

52 in 52 Week 8: Daisy Miller by Henry James


DaisyMiller.jpg 

Daisy Miller (1879) by Henry James.
From Wikipedia:
"Henry James (1843–1916) confronted the Old World-New World dilemma by writing directly about it. Although born in New York City, he spent most of his adult years in England. Many of his novels center on Americans who live in or travel to Europe. With its intricate, highly qualified sentences and dissection of emotional and psychological nuance, James's fiction can be daunting. Among his more accessible works are the novellas Daisy Miller, about an enchanting American girl in Europe, and The Turn of the Screw, an enigmatic ghost story."

I loved Portrait of a Lady by James. I didn't find that daunting but an amazing psychological portrait of an innocent lady and the evil around her.


This is in the realism genre. I do love how James writes, and it is more a cautionary tale with some boundaries of right and wrong which I didn't like in some of the other realistic/naturalistic novels I read this week. 


Again, the Portrait of a Lady, is a longer read. So, this is a way to get a little taste of Henry James to see if you like it enough to make a bigger investment! 


(I am happy to post my full analysis from Portrait of a Lady here too. One of these days, I will post all of my analyses of The Well-Educated Mind book list here, but that will be a MOMENTOUS task!)

52 in 52 Week 8: The Call of the Wild by Jack London


The Call of the Wild
The Call of the Wild (1903) by Jack London

This book was also from the Naturalism time period (1890's to 1920's):
Other writers associated with naturalism include Jack London (1876-1916), who often explored the Darwinian contiguity between humans and animals and how the otherwise buried animalistic survival instinct surfaces in extreme circumstances. This is exemplified in THE SEA-WOLF (1904), but is frequently a theme in London's Klondike stories, and distinctions between human and animal behavior were often blurred in his writing, as in THE CALL OF THE WILD (1903) and WHITE FANG (1906). http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/naturalism.html
Naturalists (literary determinists) believed that life is determined by environment, heredity, and chance. Jack London's THE CALL OF THE WILD, seven interrelated short stories -- each with its own characters, plot, and climax -- is unified by Buck, a tame dog that reverts to his original primitive state when removed from his comfortable California estate and thrust into the rugged terrain of the Klondike. Told from Buck's point of view, THE CALL OF THE WILD is a naturalistic novel that can be read on several levels.  
On the surface, the book tells the story of a dog who learns to survive by reverting to his wild wolf background. Symbolically, the novel can be read as revealing what London himself endured as he climbed out of poverty and obscurity to become affluent and celebrated. In this interpretation, Buck represents London, whose struggle for success taught him cruel lessons about the universe's indifference and brutality. On political and philosophical levels, the novel exemplifies the naturalists' theory of social Darwinism, that only the fittest survive. According to London, buried within each individual is a "ferine strain," a bestial instinct, which has been subdued by civilization but never eliminated. 
The novel shows that life is more than just survival;it is also the struggle for mastery: beneath our veneer of civilization, London saw a prehistoric beast who fought and conquered through might and deceit. For this theme, he drew from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche's dichotomy between masters and those they dominated. London celebrates Buck's fierce battle for dominance, despite its inherent and inescapable savagery.  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/thecallofthewild.html 

I read that London converted Nietzsche's "Superman" into animal form in The Call of the Wild" (The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics, p. 104). 


I read this more as an adventure novel and hoped it wasn't tragic because of previous ones this week! LOL! I am not a social Darwinist, but I do believe that man has a sinful nature, and eventually it comes out, as we one can observe in many of the human characters in this story. We aren't descended from beasts, but we can act like beasts!


My favorite character was John Thornton. He was my hope that we don't have to beasts even in the hardest situations. :) 

52 in 52 Week 8: Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Billy Budd, Foretopman by Herman MelvilleFile:Billy Budd jacket.jpg

Billy Budd, Sailor (1891) by Herman Melville

If you want to read the genius of Melville without having to read Moby-Dick (although you probably should do that too), this is a great alternative.
At his death, he left the manuscript of BILLY BUDD, SAILOR. This short novel, first published in 1924 and considered Melville's finest book after MOBY-DICK, is a symbolic story about the clash between innocence and evil, and between social forms and individual liberty.
From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. 
From Wikipedia: 
[Nathaniel] Hawthorne's fiction had a profound impact on his friend Herman Melville (1819–1891), who first made a name for himself by turning material from his seafaring days into exotic and sensational sea narrative novels. Inspired by Hawthorne's focus on allegories and dark psychology, Melville went on to write romances replete with philosophical speculation. In Moby-Dick, an adventurous whaling voyage becomes the vehicle for examining such themes as obsession, the nature of evil, and human struggle against the elements. In another fine work, the short novel Billy Budd, Melville dramatizes the conflicting claims of duty and compassion on board a ship in time of war. His more profound books sold poorly, and he had been long forgotten by the time of his death. He was rediscovered in the early decades of the 20th century.Anti-transcendental works from Melville, Hawthorne, and Poe all comprise the Dark Romanticism subgenre of literature popular during this time.
About Dark Romanticism from Wikipedia: 

Dark Romanticism (often conflated with Gothicism or called American Romanticism) is a literary subgenre.[1] It has been suggested that Dark Romantics present individuals as prone to sin and self-destruction, not as inherently possessing divinity and wisdomG. R. Thompson describes this disagreement, stating "the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satandevilsghostswerewolvesvampires, and ghouls."[2] For these Dark Romantics, the natural world is dark, decaying, and mysterious; when it does reveal truth to man, its revelations are evil and hellish. Finally, whereas Transcendentalists advocatesocial reform when appropriate, works of Dark Romanticism frequently show individuals failing in their attempts to make changes for the better. Thompson sums up the characteristics of the subgenre, writing:
Fallen man's inability fully to comprehend haunting reminders of another, supernatural realm that yet seemed not to exist, the constant perplexity of inexplicable and vastly metaphysical phenomena, a propensity for seemingly perverse or evil moral choices that had no firm or fixed measure or rule, and a sense of nameless guilt combined with a suspicion the external world was a delusive projection of the mind--these were major elements in the vision of man the Dark Romantics opposed to the mainstream of Romantic thought.[3]
This story took place in the summer of 1797 and followed two mutinies that shook the naval world and greatly influences this novella. Of course, I had to look up the information about them, and you can find that information HERE.


I have read that Billy Budd is a Christ figure too. The moral dilemma in this novella is amazing. I really liked this story.  

52 in 52 Week 8: Hawaii: From Origins to the End of the Monarchy




Hawaii: From Origins to the End of the Monarchy by Brien Kalai Foerster


Above is a video posted by the author that basically has all the pictures and maps in the book. 


As I sat on the beach at Waikiki, I wondered how the United States acquired such a lovely place. My mother-in-law said, "Well, I think we took it!"  So, I found a Kindle book and downloaded and started reading it where the sand meets the sea at Waikiki! 

I guess it is true to its cover that it goes to the end of the monarchy, but I wanted to know more about what happened after the monarchy. It was interesting to read about the ancient peoples, but it got really bogged down at the end with all the myths about Maui and the long names. It is the only book of its kind out there though.

I really think it is stinky that the US just TOOK this lovely group of islands away from their monarchy!  I guess Hawaii is glad to be part of the US though.


52 in 52 Week 8: The Awakening by Kate Chopin

The Awakening by Kate ChopinKate Chopin


The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)


How interesting that this book began and ended at the sea, and I was reading it by the sea! 


This book is considered an early feminist novel and from the Naturalism time period (1890's to 1920's) in American Literature.
. . . in spite of the romantic tradition in which she wrote, Kate Chopin explored naturalistic ideas. This is especially so in THE AWAKENING (1899), in which she expresses through the character Dr. Mandelet the naturalist view that romantic love is an illusion damaging to women's social status since it determines for them the biological role of motherhood. The illusion of love, he says, is "a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race." In spite of this, Chopin's heroine, Edna Pontellier, maintains a romantic view of experience and her suicide, in sharp contrast to that of Crane's Maggie, is a triumphant expression of individual will over circumstance. 
(from:http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/naturalism.html)

The main character, Edna, response to Dr. Mandelet's view:


"Yes," she said. "The years that are gone seem like dreams--if one might go on sleeping and dreaming--but to wake up and find--oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one's life."  
And that is what 28 year old Edna does, she "awakens" to herself and the possibility that she can be more than a mother and an extension of her husband. He is verbally condescending if not verging on abusive, and she is awakened to other possibilities when a younger man, Robert Lebrun, whose specialty is making female guests at his mother's summer resort feel attractive and cared for, begins to pay attention to her.


This is what I wrote before I looked up anything about the book:


I had no idea what to expect from this book. All I know is that there are numerous questions about it in the "Never-Ending Book Quiz" on Good Reads, and it was on my 100 Great Books list. 
I am sure the feminists love it, but I wanted to puke. What a selfish brat of a woman who “finds” herself when she has two small children to take care of.  
Her husband even seemed willing to explore what was going on and had genuine concern as evidenced by going to the doctor for help and advice, but she just shut him out!  
You make your bed, lady, you lie in it. Life is not all about personal happiness! UGH! The writing was beautiful, but the message STUNK! I think it is in the classics genre because this woman was writing way ahead of her time in the evolution of the women’s liberation movement. YES, men can be jerks sometimes. YES, sometimes we marry so young that we often don’t know what we are getting ourselves into,  but PLEASE! 
I see many women who are “awakening” to who they really are, and they find they might have married the “wrong” man that inhibits their “self-actualization,” and most don’t see the need to fight for their marriages, but my favorite line in the book is from the natural mother, Adele Ratignole, who reminds the protagonist, "Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!"   
Apparently, Edna didn't care to think of them because she does what feels good, and what a mess! I read this on the heals of four Shakespearean tragedies hoping for something lighter, but at least Shakespeare has heroes and villains based on morals of good and evil.  
This woman is no heroine.



It is interesting to read about the novelist:
Kate Chopin was never a member of a suffragist group of women, and certainly she wouldn't have labeled herself a feminist. She was a woman with a house full of children--a wife and mother who happened to write. She was, however, a strong and independent woman (probably because her father died and four, and she was raised by strong women); she smoked and defied convention by going out alone--without a male escort--wherever she wished to go in New Orleans. She was, however, aware of women's issues. The leading New Orleans newspaper was edited by a woman and a good many editorials championed women's rights. The notion of feminism was in the air, so Chopin was well aware of the various women's rights movements, even though she was not an activist. Despite the budding women's rights movement, when The Awakening was published the reviewers scathingly condemned the novel. One reviewer wrote that "one would fain beg the gods, in pure cowardice, for sleep unending . . . ." A reviewer in St. Louis, Chopin's hometown, gasped, "one feels that the heroine should pray for deliverance from temptation. . . .This is not a healthy book. . . . It is a morbid book." . . . Chopin, however, humorously trumped all of her male critics by publishing this statement: "Having a group of people at my disposal, I thought that it might be entertaining (to myself) to throw them together and see what would happen. I never dreamed of Mrs. Pontellier making such a mess of things and working out her own damnation as she did. If I had had the slightest intimation of such a thing, I would have excluded her from the company. But when I found out what she was up to, the play was half over, and it was then too late." Today the novel is regarded as a masterpiece of American fiction and is required reading in universities and high schools throughout America. Long after her death, the United States finally awakened to the genius and art of Kate Chopin. (The Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics, p. 62). 
It is a morbid book.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Morning Freewrite

I'm setting the timer for this. Fifteen minutes will do. Then, I am getting some writing in, bake a Bonnie Butter Cake and go to Book Babes at 8 am


I woke up at 4 am with a hot flash. Sometimes when it is that late in the sleep cycle, I can't seem to go back to sleep. So, I got up at 4:30, made some chai tea as I listened to David Copperfield, set the butter to softening for the Bonnie Butter Cake (LOL! Bonnie Butter and Book Babes before breakfast - love alliterations), checked responses to the Downton Abbey finale post on Facebook, and read John 14. I love the Upper Room Discourse.


Now, I am warming up my fingers before I write about John 14. 


I love to write. I was around a lot of writers for many years, and I always felt that they made it clear that they were writers, and I was not. Just as when we got into photography, and some took on the air of being the experts in critiquing other's photos because they had evolved into photographers, and some had not. Who defines that? (I am a photo journalist and not an artsy photographer - their pictures are artistic but didn't tell me a story ,and that left me flat. Plus photoshop always made their photos fake looking to me)


So, I still write everyday and take pictures everyday, and I still don't feel like I am a writer or a photographer; but I had a problem even saying that I was an athlete even though I was a college basketball player (and a pretty good one at that).  What is that about me?  I have learned to force myself to communicate that I am a writer now because people don't believe that I "work."  I also do counseling, and I just go ahead now and tell people that I do counseling even though I don't do it in the traditional way with a sign and a business card.


What defines a title? Is it when we make money for doing what we do?  I just feel like I get up everyday and work to the best of my ability. Sometimes I put in a 13 hour day writing. Thursdays, I counseled with one person for four hours. Really the only day I even "goof off" is Friday afternoon into Saturday. Friday afternoon seems to be the only day where I really give myself total permission to do frivolous things! Most of the time it involves going on a history bent, like the time I researched all the background history behind The Count of Monte Cristo before my book club the next day (what a nerd!).


Yesterday, my goofing off consisted of researching and writing about all the non-Shakesperean tragedies I read. That was fun, but it was very time consuming.


I am supposed to keep on writing in a freewrite even though I desperately want to proofread this before hitting the "publish" button. 


Press. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Freewrite

I stayed up and read my book a little bit longer last night so I could wait until the pea soup in the crock pot was done (put it on high to be done by about 11:55 pm. I turned out my light for "just a few minutes," and I was out like a light. I woke up at 3 am to the smell of the pea soup and realized that I hadn't put it away.

So, I got up, and then I couldn't fall back asleep again. So, I got up at 4 am and worked a bit on Bible Book Club and Gospel Harmony Book Club. I also listened to David Copperfield a bit.

I love this book, but it is VERY long. I loved the "short Shakespeares" that I read over the vacation. That and finishing up Tom Sawyer on the plane, the Hawaii history book while there, The Awakening, , Billy Budd (plane back)Daisy Miller (partially on the plane back)The Call of the Wild, and Ethan Frome. It was nice to read "a book a day" for the first 11 days of February, but I realize that at the rate I am going, David Copperfield will take me at least that long to complete!  But alas, it is also quite refreshing to read a book that I know will end happily rather than tragically like all the other ones (excepting Tom Sawyer)!

I am also processing my pictures from Hawaii. I can't get over the Pearl Harbor ones. I am crying through them. I cry even writing this. I hope I never stop crying about it. It is hard because we also took two lovely hikes that day (complete with locals jumping off cliffs), went to Tantalus Drive with amazing views of O'ahu, and got wonderful pictures of our luau! Pearl Harbor deserves its place though. There is no denying that it deserves the honor of being the picture of the day. 

I could not have asked for a better vacation though. The weather was perfect, even the rain during my surfing was great. The company was lovely. I loved having freedom to explore and also spend time with Aunt Dot and my mother-in-law (their picture from the balcony will definitely make my picture of the day that day - so cute!). 

Well, I better get back to work. I want to get a couple days ahead on Gospel Harmony Book Club, and I keep on getting distracted!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

52 in 52 Week 7: Shakespearean Tragedy - Romeo and Juliet

I wanted to wait until Valentine's Day to read this, but I couldn't wait. It is during Valentine's Week though!


Click image to view full cover



"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee, 
The more I have, for both are infinite.
  - Juliet

Isn't that just beautiful? I read this by the sea in Waikiki and was so moved. What an amazing and tragic love story.

Last month, one of my sons' friends expressed how vehemently he hated having to read this play for one of his classes in high school. Another reason why I think that some classics are best left when a person is older and can truly appreciate it! We all need to "ease into him.  I started my kids in elementary school on the "cereal" of Shakespearean comedy by reading them Lois Burdett's Shakespeare Can Be Fun series. Then, I took them to plays based on those versions put on by our local community college. By the time they were in middle school, I took them to great productions of the comedies, and they were hooked. When I taught it in high school, we read the comedies together and used props. Then, we watched a good movie rendition, complete with fun snacks. But I digress. 

I have never read this play and had only seen the Franco Zeffirelli 1968 movie version (which I didn't particularly care for). The play is so beautiful and so very sad. 

Two young people from two opposing families fall hopelessly in love, and they throw caution to the wind and unite. 

The moral compass in this movie is definitely Friar Lawrence:

"These violent delights have violent ends 
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, 
Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey 
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness 
And in the taste confounds the appetite: 
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so; 
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow."   

Too bad the Friar's letter did not arrive in time. :(

The Cast:

Romeo – Michael Sheen
Juliet – Kate Beckinsale
Chorus – Philip Madoc
Prince – Norman Rodway
Capulet – David Bradley
Lady Capulet – Frances Barber
Montague – Edward de Souza
Lady Montague – Judy Loe
Nurse – Fiona Shaw
Friar Lawrence – Heathcote Williams
Mercutio – Anton Lesser
Tybalt – Jasper Britton
Paris – Ronan Vibert
Benvolio – Simon Harris
Friar John/Apothecary/Cousin Capulet – Peter Yapp
Balthasar/Servant – John Paul Connolly
Peter/Abram – Jason Cheater
Samson – John Summerfield
Gregory – Hywell Simons



52 in 52 Week 7: Shakespearean Tragedy - King Lear


Click image to view full cover



The weight of this sad time we must obey; 
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. 
Albany in King Lear


Cordelia is so courageous. What a heroine. I love the moral of this story. Evil lurks in the halls of power. King Lear is loonie! Even though this is a tragedy. Some parts made me laugh. Scofield (A Man for All Seasons) was amazing as King Lear!



This is the only dramatized edition that really wasn't unabridged. So, I followed along with my Kindle version and turned it off to read the small parts that were omitted. It added so much to the reading to have these fantastic actors make it come alive!


Here is what the jacket from the dramatization says: 


The tragedy of King Lear receives an outstanding performance in an all-star cast led by Britain’s senior classical actor, Paul Scofield. He is joined by Alec McCowen as Gloucester, Kenneth Branagh as The Fool, Harriet Walter as Gonerill, Sara Kestelman as Regan and Emilia Fox as Cordelia. This is the ninth recording of Shakespeare plays undertaken by Naxos AudioBooks in conjunction with Cambridge University Press, and is directed by John Tydeman. It was released to mark the eightieth birthday of Paul Scofield in January 2002.

CAST
King Lear – Paul Scofield
Gonerill his eldest daughter – Harriet Walter
Regan his second daughter – Sara Kestelman
Cordelia his youngest daughter – Emilia Fox
Duke of Albany married to Gonerill – Peter Blythe
Duke of Cornwall married to Regan – Jack Klaff
Earl of Gloucester – Alec McCowen
Edgar his elder son and heir – Richard McCabe
Edmond his illegitimate son – Toby Stephens
Earl of Kent (later disguised as Caius) – David Burke
Fool – Kenneth Branagh
King of Burgundy suitor to Cordelia – John McAndrew
King of France suitor to Cordelia – Simon Treves
Oswald Gonerill’s steward – Matthew Morgan
Curan a courtier – Steve Hodson

52 in 52 Week 7: Shakespearean Tragedy - Julius Caesar


Cover image for Julius Caesar


"Beware the ides of March."


Did the saying, "It was Greek to me" originate with this play?


I have said it once, and I will say it again: Shakepeare was not meant to be read but experienced dramatically. Since you cannot follow along with a book while you are watching a play, I follow along to a dramatized version. Most of these are unabridged. If they skip anything, I turn it off and read until I get the dramatized version picks up again.


I got this through the Oregon Digital Library, but it is only $3.95 on iTunes! It is part of an educational program put on by LA Theatre Works.  Fantastic!


Richard Dreyfus as Mark Anthony! This is on my 100 Great Books. Shakespeare's tragedies move and stir, but they do not depress. I loved it. Shakespeare took much of this play from Plutarch’s Lives. Since I read Plutarch a few years back, it was fun to get a dramatic rendition of it (although not historically accurate). Brutus is a somewhat sympathetic character in this one, and I am not so sure he was in real life.


The dead center of the drama is the murder of Caesar. The rest of it is the aftermath with the reaction of the different characters. Mark Anthony shines in this part. Brutus makes me sad. 


Amazing, amazing, amazing. 

Cast:
Stacy Keach as Marcus Brutus
John de Lancie as Cassius
Richard Dreyfuss as Marc Antony
Harold Gould as Caesar
Jack Coleman as Casca
JoBeth Williams as Portia
Bonnie Bedelia as Calphurnia
Kelsey Grammer as Murellus
John Randolph as Flavius and Artemidorus
Arye Gross as Octavius
alongside the voices of Paul Winfield, John Vickery, Basil Langton, David Birney, George Murdock, James Morrison, Andrew White, Rudy Hornish, Lee Arenberg, Jon Matthews, Josh Fardon, Paul Mercier, Arthur Hanket and Marnie Mosiman




I found this fantastic study guide for anyone who wants to teach it to their kids or class:

http://www.latw.org/acrobat/julius.pdf

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...