Friday, February 27, 2009

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Hoochee Book Club)

Peace Like a River is the story of eleven year-old Reuben Land, his western-poetry-writing sister, Swede, his miracle-performing father, Jeremiah, and his older brother, Davy. Davy shoots and kills two teenage boys who invade their home. When Davy breaks out of jail and goes on the run, the rest of the family decide to go west in search of him, trusting in the father's close relationship with God to lead them to their outlaw brother/son.

I admit to having waited too long to write this, as I finished the book some time ago (this is a problem with me, as I immediately request a book from the library, so I'll definitely have it, then I've read it too early...) Anyway, I'll try my best, but I apologize now for this haphazard "review." I hope to do better on the next book.

First off, I love that the father is the care-taker of the children. My father was my and my brother's primary parent, and with all the deadbeat dad stuff, it's good to read about a man like Jeremiah. Of course, Jeremiah does some amazing stuff. Reading the book, I wondered if some of the miracles were figments of Reuben's imagination, but at least one I can think of could not have been. I did think it was funny that Reuben and Swede thought that the police somehow missed seeing their car and that was a miracle. I just thought maybe the police were going to give the Lands a hard time, that it was more of a warning to them that "you can run, but you can't hide."

One of the big questions of this book is whether or not Davy was a "bad guy." I am not sure of my opinion. In some ways, I don't blame him for shooting at least one of the guys, if he really woke up and heard them in his home. However, if he really knew they would be coming to retaliate for something he had done earlier, it does seem wrong. (I wasn't sure if he'd really done some of the things that the relatives of the guys he shot accused him of). Well, sort of wrong. I do feel that if someone breaks in your home, you have a right to defend yourself and your family to the fullest extent possible. Also, the time period of the book (early 1960s per may affect one's opinion of Davy's hero versus villain status.

I really enjoyed Swede's poetry, and how the events taking place in her life played out in her writing. The characterization of both Reuben and Swede seemed right-on to me. Reuben's need to prove himself against his asthma, his frustrations with Swede's poems - it all seemed just what an eleven year-old boy would think and feel. I also really enjoyed the allusion to the biblical story of the prodigal son, and the way this book questioned how to treat a wayward child.

The settings in the book play a role in the action: the Badlands (are there really cracks filled with "fire" there?) and the farm where they eventually settle. Even the settings in Swede's poems reveal the characters' desires i.e., the valley where they dynamite the only entrance/exit closed and live happily ever after.

The book questions what is wrong, what is evil? are there levels of badness? But, it also focuses on love and giving. There is no doubt that Jeremiah would give anything to help his children and his love is boundless. Despite his actions which separate him from his family, Reuben, Swede, and their father all love Davy.

One of my favorite quotes from this book (and there were several) is "Fair is whatever God wants to do."

If you don't want to know what happens, stop reading now!

I just had to say that halfway through, I felt sure Davy would not make it to the end of the book alive. So, I was very surprised with how things ended and who Sara ended up marrying! Also, I loved the description of the outskirts of heaven! Everyone running to get there! Looking forward to reading others thoughts on Peace Like a River.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

On a Saturday Afternoon

We recently celebrated my husband's birthday with the usual cake, ice cream, and a few small gifts, but this year C had a request for a gift from me. Before I tell you what it was he wanted, let me say that he's an honest man. He told me when we'd been dating for a few months that there were certain things he liked. It wasn't a long list, but it included some weaponry, if you will: namely, knives and guns. So, for this birthday, he wanted me to come along to the shooting range. Now, I know some people really dislike guns. We know they are dangerous. We practice gun safety. I grew up in a house with guns and was taught how to be safe around them. C's reasoning for wanting me to go was twofold: 1) so I could learn to safely and accurately use a gun if the need arises and 2) he's hoping I'll discover some deep-hidden gun-nuttiness. I believe reason one is a good one, and I didn't hold out a lot of hope for him on the second. You see, shooting ranges are loud, and there is so much gun powder in the air that when you blow your nose upon leaving, there's a black tinge ('nough said). Still, this sounded like a gift I could give fairly easily with the help of my mom as childcare. So, we went, we waited for a lane to open up (I guess that's what you call it, a shooting lane), and we shot. I didn't much like it. It was very, very loud, and I have good hearing. It was quite smoky, making my throat itch. I asked if I finished off the bullets in the gun, could I head back out to the car? C reluctantly agreed, but then I thought I would watch him. Then, I thought, I'll try another "round" (not sure if that's correct terminology). Then, I started thinking, it wasn't so bad. I was getting used to how it felt to shoot, and I was noticing that my aim was not so good (although giving myself some slack as I had never been to a range before). I am a competitive person who likes to over-achieve, and I didn't much like that I wasn't hitting where I was aiming. I started to kind of (gasp!) enjoy myself. So, although I don't think I caught C's gun-nuttiness, I do think I would like to go back and continue to learn (insert cheering husband here). Below are two of our targets, can you guess which one is mine?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking the Ying with the Yang

Good News: No laundry to fold.
Bad News: Our dryer isn't heating up.

Good News: My handy hubby may be able to fix the dryer.
Bad News: Right now, aforementioned handy man is coming down with a cold (or sinus infection).

Good News: W seems to be getting over the same cold.
Bad News: My throat feels a little funny.

Good News: I am fortunate that I can use my mom's dryer if needed.
Bad News: She has a sinus infection and an upper respiratory infection (out damned germs!)

Good News: I placed an order for a book, a video, and fat pencils for H (our pediatrician recommended them).
Bad News: The shipping on those pencils made it a tad bit more expensive than I was expecting.

Good News: I'm planning to take H to a birthday party this weekend, book club this weekend, and tomorrow is Friday! No more bad news, I want to end on a positive note :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Odds & Ends

The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is way better than the version with Keira Knightley (I did, in fact, rent it this past weekend). If you're wanting the movie to be like the book, you definitely want to watch the BBC version. I think I might be getting old. I watched the Keira Knightley version and thought, "what's with all these long, drawn-out, just looking at her or her face scenes?" I guess the cinematic devices are just not my cup of tea (maybe it's because I haven't seen a movie in a theater in years?) Also, what is up with the sound on DVDs of movies? Why is it always too loud or not loud enough? Maybe it's just our player or something, but I always have that problem.

This weekend, I was putting H's socks on and pulling them up so they would keep him warm.
H: Mommy, don't pull my socks up! (He's pushing them down toward his ankles).
Me: Well, I have to at least pull them up to get them over your heel.
H: Don't pull them over my heel.
Me: Do you even know what a heel is?
H: (pauses, blinks) No.
I just started laughing. I love his honesty.

This coming weekend is book club. We'll be discussing Loving Frank about the love affair between architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mamah Cheney. It was a bit long, but boy did the ending surprise (particularly since I did not know anything beyond the fact that FLW was a famous architect). I am so looking forward to book club as I missed our last meeting due to W's surgery. So I haven't seen these girls in what feels like a looong time. I also get to car pool with one of my good friends to book club, so I'll get to catch up with her on the way there. She's kindly offered to drive, letting me have a glass of wine or two without worry :) What a gal!

Hoping to post some more soon! Still waiting on Mel's baby as far as I know!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeling Bubbly

This morning, while W was napping, H and I headed outside to blow some bubbles. The wind was lifting and tossing the bubbles, some as high as the tree tops, before they burst! What a beautiful, taste-of-Spring day. I am always reminded of the simple pleasures when watching H watch his bubbles. We discovered some flowers that have put on their Spring best.

We also spied this little guy trying to hang on to his branch during all that wind.
H and I talked about how some seeds travel much like the bubbles. It was a very science-y sort of morning. Then, in the evening, I headed for my library book club where the discussion of Pride and Prejudice lasted over an hour and someone had to come tell us that the library would be closing in ten minutes!!! That's some good discussion, y'all! And, if talking about Jane Austen for over an hour with other book-lovers doesn't make me all bubbly, I don't know what does. I gave my mom a hug when I got home for watching the boys for me, so that I could attend the book club. There was also some discussion of the two currently popular versions of P and P: the BBC version and the Keira Knightley version. I am a die hard BBC version fan, as I believe Colin Firth was born to play Mr. Darcy. However, I do confess that I have never even seen the Keira Knightley version. So, after listening to all the talk about them both, I feel the urge to watch the one again and the other for the first time. If you've seen both, tell me which one you like best. I see a trip to Blockbuster in my (hopefully near) future.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In the Air

Spring is in the air around here, so we are soaking it up (as I have the feeling Winter will not go quite so quietly). I am really enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (I'm even doing the A-V-M over my head a la Village People's YMCA). However, I confess to eating (Mel - you may want to stop reading here) cheese, Wheat Thins, and highly processed pepperoni (cringe) last night while reading it. For me to really enjoy a non-fiction, a-bit-like-a-text-book book is rare! I hope to write more about it after finishing it, and as it is due back at the library on Friday, that should be soon. If you've got fine weather where you are, I hope you are basking in it :)

Note: In case you didn't see my little warning note on the side, this new background is honor of Valentine's Day. It won't last too long!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Old Switcheroo

I've been practicing a little reverse psychology of late in order to keep the (relative) peace. H has decided that he is only going to do, eat, read, or watch what he has thought of himself. That's right, if he didn't think of it, then it's nothing doing, folks. One of the funniest things about this is that he will completely deny facts in order to make something his idea i.e., I say that we need to "at least try" to use the potty, by some minor miracle, he does try without a fight and does in fact pee, I say "you did have some pee in there," he says (while a stream of urine is pouring out), "no, I didn't," okay, whatever (I'm thinking), Mommy needs to get you to bed. The other funny thing he pulls is if he likes the idea I've put out there, he makes it his own and denies that Mommy had any hand in it. Something like this:

Me: H, would you like to go outside?
H (imagine a very indignant four year-old): No, I do not want to go outside!
Me: Well, I am going to go put some letters in the mailbox while you stay inside.
H (now a bit whiny): I do, I do want to go to the mailbox.
Me: I thought you might like to go out.
H (completely confident with an almost teenage-like arrogance): No, I said I wanted to go but you didn't.

So, wise mommy that I am, I've learned the ropes (sort of). Tonight I said, "I'm making a sweet potato for you." (Yes, I know this was a mistake, I said I've sort of learned). He immediately starts carrying on, "No, I didn't want that." I jump in quickly saying, "Oh, that's right you wanted scrambled eggs and green peas, not a sweet potato." Now calmer, he replies, "No, no, I want a sweet potato." Great, because it's already cooking! Mommy just pulled a fast one on you!

That's what we've been learning at my house. How to "work" our child's very strong urge to be the boss.

Don't frighten me too much about his future indecisiveness or completely controlling need-to-be-right-and-in-charge-all-the-time tendencies (where did he get those from I wonder? umm that would be from the maternal side) However, if you have a child or know a child like this, please commiserate with me via a comment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Angels and Demons

No, I'm not talking about the various facets of my children's personalities :) I saw a preview for the movie Angels and Demons during the superbowl! I thought Angels and Demons was a better book than The Da Vinci Code, so I am pretty excited about the movie. C and I don't usually like the same types of movies, but we could probably agree on this one. Most of the book is set in Rome, and that makes it even more fun for us as we've been there together! I can't recall the last time I've been to a movie (we're not so good at that date night stuff). However, now I have two I'd like to see this year (Harry Potter being the other). There's a good chance we'll really be watching these on DVD farther in the future, but it's still fun. And another good thing about the superbowl? C made chili for us - yum!