Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books

I was perusing the banned book lists floating around the internet this week. The last week of September is called something like Banned Book Week, and the ALA encourages us to get out there and read a banned book to celebrate our right to freedom of expression. This week-long celebration began in the early 80s, with a list of now-deemed classic literature which was at one time banned from schools libraries.

Here is a list of some of those titles:
  • 1984 - George Orwell
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) - Mark Twain
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
  • Age of Reason - Thomas Paine
  • Andersonville (1955) - MacKinlay Kantor
  • Animal Farm - George Orwell
  • Arabian Nights
  • As I Lay Dying (1932) - William Faulkner
  • Awakening - Kate Chopin
  • Beloved - Toni Morrison
  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  • Bless Me, Ultima - Rudolfo A. Anaya
  • Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
  • Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  • Call of the Wild - Jack London
  • Can Such Things Be? - Ambrose Bierce
  • Candide - Voltaire
  • Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
  • Catcher in the Rye (1951) - J. D. Salinger
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
  • Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau
  • Color Purple - Alice Walker
  • Confessions - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
  • Decameron - Boccaccio
  • Dubliners - James Joyce
  • Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  • Fanny Hill - John Cleland
  • Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
  • Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  • Grapes of Wrath (1939) - John Steinbeck
  • Hamlet - William Shakespeare
  • Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  • House of Spirits - Isabel Allende
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
  • Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde
  • Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
  • King Lear - William Shakespeare
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawrence
  • Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
  • Lolita (1955) - Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  • Lysistrata - Aristophanes
  • Macbeth - William Shakespeare
  • Madame Bovary
  • Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare
  • Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe
  • Monk - Matthew Lewis
  • Native Son - Richard Wright
  • Nigger of the Narcissus - Joseph Conrad
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
  • Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  • Origin of the Species - Charles Darwin
  • Passage to India
  • Portnoy's Complaint (1969) - Philip Roth
  • Rights of Man - Thomas Paine
  • Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
  • Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Separate Peace - John Knowles
  • Silas Marner - George Eliot
  • Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
  • Sons & Lovers - D.H. Lawrence
  • To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  • Tropic of Capricorn - Henry Miller
  • Twelfth Night - William Shakespeare
  • Ulysses - James Joyce
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
I have read quite a few of the titles listed above. And there are some titles I don't want to read. I looked at the top ten titles on the 2008 list of most-challenged books (out of 513 books challenged) and none of them sound like an appealing read to me. Maybe my grandkids (if I ever have any) will one day roll their eyes at me for my reading tastes. I don't lean toward violence, anti-religious, the occult, suicide and offensive language.

There are a lot of good books out there for me to read - (most recently I enjoyed The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.) I agree with the ALA and the other groups that sponsor Banned Book Week (American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores)
that we should celebrate our freedoms. But I feel like celebrating pleasurable reading - titles I would offer to my elderly lady friend at church as well as to the teenager down the road.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gun Shy

I was running through the woods today. The woods are approximately 14 miles from Ft. Riley - home of the Big Red One. (First Infantry Division. Google it.) Today was Artillery Day. I'm not sure that is the military term, and I KNOW it's not my term. My term for today's Ft. Riley goings-on would be Shooting Day. I don't know what kind of shooting they were training with, but the sounds were:

And so on.

And I trotted on.

These sounds are different from the days I refer to as Bombing Days. Now, those can be LOUD. The very first day we lived here, it was a clear, blue, sunny sky with nary a cloud in it. But I heard thunder. I kept looking up - where was that thunder coming from?

Since then I have learned that thunder can come from the normal places (black-looking cloud formations), or Ft. Riley. Bombing Days even make our old farmhouse windows rattle.

So I continued on my slow, slow run through the woods. About 20 minutes into my path, a huge BOOM! made me jump out of my cadence. Wowee, that was no shooting - that was a bombing.

All I can say is thank goodness I live where soldiers are training for and not fighting a war. To live in the constant fear of such noises would be so sad.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walking Schoolbus:

Here in Bellingham, WA, the elementary schools have implemented programs to encourage physical activity for the students. One very nice thing they have is a "walking schoolbus". The principal, a teacher, or a parent walks a schoolbus route and stops by each student's home to pick them up, and they all walk/ride a bike to school together. I think that is a very nice idea.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Touring with Niece Melinda:

It is 7:00 am and I am sitting near Niece Melinda's open balcony door, listening to the rain. Because it IS Seattle. There WOULD have to be rain on the morning we two are to venture out to Lincoln Park to watch The Boy run.

The amount of activity we have engaged in in the past 40 hours is amazing. Niece Melinda picked me up at the airport on Thursday at noon, and before we arrived on her doorstep we managed to lunch (Indian cuisine), visit 4 parks, have coffee, (because it IS Seattle, home of Starbucks), visit a chocolate factory (because Niece Melinda knows her Auntie too well), and do some light grocery shopping (fresh salmon and asparagus for dinner!)

Yesterday I walked at least a half-million acres of University of Washington (U-Dub, it is called). These acres were not flat K-State acres, they were vertical. Vertical and along the water. If I were a student at U-Dub, I would be too busy looking at the passing sailboats and cruise ships to entertain any thought of requirements and electives.

We dropped by REI to pick up some shoes for Niece Melinda (because she likes to rock climb!), grabbed some Greek food, and headed to the museum and botanical gardens. To cap off the day, we ventured to the Ballard Locks, where the boats and ships pass to head off into the wild aquatic yonder. My word, you should have seen the salmon jumping around the locks! These fish were big and very pretty!

So now we two are off to the races, after which time she will send me packing on some bus to points north. Bellingham, here I come...

(I should mention that a good time has been had!)

The Ballard Locks

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Cello Update:

Ok, so I am aware that my family is awash with music critics. Four - count them: FOUR generations of people who think they are in The Know of music, be it classical, jazz, operatic, or WHATEVER. We People seem to think We Know.

I honestly did not think this musical opinion filtered down to the next generation, but this afternoon, I was smacked in the forehead with the realization of such.

Daughter #2, Claire, and her boyfriend came out to our house this afternoon. After a brief visit of How are classes and My, you look pretty banged-up after that motorcycle ran your bike off the road (the BF), I thought it an excellent opportunity to give an impromptu cello recital to Daughter #2, Claire, who has played cello for upwards of 7 years. (Those of you who are just joining this blog...I began cello lessons 2 months ago, after I realized A) I very nearly had an empty nest , and B) I had a cello in my possession. And a pretty good one, at that!)

So...recital began:
Once in Royal David's City (yes, I KNOW it's a Christmas song, and yes, I KNOW I began learning it a month ago; but things change, often for the better...)

I was playing along, concentrating on my dynamics and such, when I cast a glance at Daughter # 2, Claire: She was SMIRKING! No, that's not right at all; it was more of a a grimace mixed with a smirk. Yep - that's it: a grimace: 70%, smirk: 30%. And funnily, at the time, all I saw was my Great Aunt Alpha's expression. How could this be, that 4 generations have passed, and my daughter who barely knows Great Aunt Alpha (103 years old) can exhibit the SAME emotions on her face?! And besides: how DARE her grimace at my art?

Adding fuel to my withering egotistical fire (which was now burning out of control), the Boyfriend pipes up with, "Is that Baa Baa Blacksheep?"

Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mr. Hine

As I mentioned in a previous post, Daughter #1, Gillian, and I went on a museum crawl last weekend. I already spoke about one artist I have always liked, Mr. George Copeland Ault.

There is another that Daughter Gillian and I had fun discussing, because he had such a rich eye for his time and place: Mr.
Lewis Hine. Not only a keen eye in photography, but Mr. Hine had a keen sense of "right" for the common man, the common employee, and the pathetic child laborers of his time. He took time to study and interview and photograph these "kids".

I am going to post some of his photos - and keep in mind, these are wonderful photos before the time of Photoshop and whatever. These are "realtime".

Owls as Neighbors:

Several weeks ago I went out to the barn for something - who knows what?

There was a HUGE fluttering of feathers and wings, and for a brief moment I thought to myself, "Omigoodness, the peacocks are back!!" but, I knew, realistically, that my peacocks are happily encamped in their new home and would never have made the many-miles trek back to their former abode. What was that??!

A few nights later That Spouse o' Mine came in and announced that we now had a barn owl. In our barn. Yippee! I love fowl of any abstract sort.

The following day That Spouse o' Mine went on an "Everyone Must Have Their Oil Changed:TODAY!!!" campaign, and so to the oil changer place, I went. While I sat in the oil changer place's lobby-or-whatever, I grabbed a really old issue of Birds 'n' Blooms. I perused the pages, and WHAT DO YOU KNOW??? There was a brief blurb about the benefits of "Building Owl Houses in Your Woods."

We have woods!

We have a resident owl!

Would more resident owls come a' knockin' if we had more owl houses?

YES!!! I hope so!!!

So after the oil changer place, I went to the local public library, which, let me assure you, has more owl house plans that my internet provider. At least owl house plans for the simple-minded. The Audubon one on the internet was geared for Fine Living and HGTV, I think. All I wanted to know was how much plywood, what shape, and how high. That's all.

Now I have the plans, and have informed all parties who may dwell in this abode in the next 30 days, that this is their task.

You, too, be forewarned.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Grocery:

I went to the grocery store today, and this is what I saw:
  • Lots of squalling kids.
  • Some angry parents. Like the dad with 3 boys, who was yelling at one of them, and I thought looked ready to hit him. Scary dad, to be sure.
  • Some oblivious parents. Like the mom who was yelling for her kid, whom I assumed must be perhaps early elementary-aged. The mom attracted enough attention throughout the store, I thought somebody was going to issue an Amber Alert. But the mom didn't appear overly concerned. A few aisles later, I had to stop my cart for this filthy little three yr. old kid who was ROLLING DOWN THE AISLE FLOOR with two fingers stuck in her mouth. And at the end of the aisle was the same mother. Waiting for the filthy kid. I wanted to explain hygiene to the mom, but refrained.
  • The groups of consumers who shopped 4-abreast, so that no speedy grocery shopper such as myself could cope cheerfully. But I did try.
  • And finally, in the potato department: individually-foil-wrapped potatoes, ready to pop into the oven! And - they cost nearly as much as a bag of potatoes! Yay, marketing ploys for brainless consumers!
On an interesting note: my shopping bill was about 1/2 as high, and the amount of bags in my car were about half as many, as when I shopped when The Boy lived at home.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Shine On...

It was a full moon this weekend. Did you notice it? I was in the Rocky Mountains, and, yes, I woke up each night building up to the full moon. I don't know why... maybe my inner being felt the pull of the ocean's tides, or maybe my eyes opened a teeny slit and thought it was near dawn. Whatever the reason, that old full moon hanging above the mountains was a delight to my imagination! It set over the mountains about an hour before sunrise tipped the summits. (You may accurately note: I was sleep-deprived last week. But I sure enjoyed nature!)

This painting (above) is one of my
very very favorite paintings in the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City: January Full Moon, by George Copeland Ault. Daughter Gill & I did a museum crawl today, and I once again enjoyed viewing this painting. This blog cannot translate the wonderful image that this painting is! If any of you have experienced a snowy earth at full moon, then perhaps you can imagine the vision. That Mr. Ault captured it with oil on canvas is amazing - most people nowadays would resort to digital Photoshopping.

I love the cold, snowy nights when we can go out and the moon is so bright on the snow, we can see distinct shadows! Tonight, as That Spouse o' Mine and I headed back from Kansas City, we saw the waning moon in our back mirror: still quite big and bright on the horizon.

Next week will bring dark nights; this is ok - then I can go out in the night, sit and listen to the local owls, and learn more constellations other than the Dippers and Orion's Belt.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Hooray for Chlorophyll Breakdown!

All right, I don't care what causes it (although it is a play of chemical reactions, less sunlight, cooler temperatures, and whatnot), but there are some wonderful things going on outside - coming soon to YOUR neighborhood!

I was driving along the Front Range today, in the mountains around Denver, and I got to see the Aspen turning. Turning what, you may ask? Lemon yellow! These Quaking Aspen (and yes, there are other varieties of poplars) shake in the breeze, given their roundish shape, and just this week have begun their seasonal change from lovely green to lovely yellow. The aspen trees stand out amongst the green pine trees all up & down the mountainsides.

And this is just a harbinger of things to come in your own neighborhood (if, in fact, you live in the Northern Hemisphere; otherwise, bookmark this entry and save it for next April.)

As for me, yes, well, I am READY for autumn. Apples and acorns. Pumpkins and the whole falling leaves bit.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post - only a few amongst the plethora of media outlets who see Sarah Palin as a news item - all have articles out this week.

Sarah Palin: I do not care, DID not care, do not have an opinion, a judgment, a view, other than to think that she is the stereotypical politician. She seems vapid in interviews (I suspect she's got a better head on her shoulders than the press allows.) People are judgemental about her political aspirations and her children. The press is more interested in her attire (and the cost thereof), her kids and marital well-being, than anything. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin is fodder for the tabloids. I predict her political ambitions will be unmet, like so many other Americans along the way. Do I care? Not one whit.

What I DO care aboout is this nonsense appearing in the next issue of Vanity Fair. Please do not run out and buy a copy, because that would defeat the purpose of this writing. Catch it on the Washington Post and NYT issues (links below...). VF has acquired a nonsensical interview from the former boyfriend/sperm donor of and to Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, who had a baby last spring at age 18. This 19 year old "kid" gives his views and opinions about the Palin household and of Sarah Palin herself. What a stupid interview. (Again, see links below and do not dignify Vanity Fair w/ your payment.)

The only thing about this whole hoo-hah is my own wee mental humor, which thinks: "Omigoodness, what MUST the former and current boyfriends (of our daughters) think about our family, and ME, specifically?"

That Spouse o' Mine, The Boy, and I traveled west across the United States this past weekend. With us, we took 4 bicycles, a plethora of running shorts, socks and shoes, a chess set, a guitar, and a 50+ year old Aussie. And even more things.

The Boy is heading to college, his freshman year at Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington (State. I often have to add that. Where in the world would Western Washington be? - in the District of Columbia??) The Aussie is That Spouse o' Mine's college roommate from 30 years ago. (Is this beginning to sound like the prologue to a screenplay??)

When we arrived here in Colorado, there was a haze in the air. It wasn't terribly discernible, but hazy nonetheless. I thought there must be a fire somewhere in the mountains, since there are so many dead pine trees scourged by the mountain pine beetle. Shop keepers throughout the town could be overheard complaining about the smoke. But I couldn't smell smoke. My eyes didn't burn like they do when it's smoggy. Finally, I asked one of the locals where the fire was. "It's from the fires in California - carried by the jet stream." Interesting!

But...worthy of complaints? Ha! As a Flatlander, I thought to myself (instead of out loud to the locals), "These Front Range nature folk have got NOTHING over the locals of the Flint Hills in the spring!" Now, THAT'S a smokin' place come April and May. The ranchers of the tall grass prairie land annually burn the Flint Hills as a means of maintaining the grassland, keeping it free of unwanted weeds and woody vegetation. For weeks, the smoke invades your senses - your eyes, your nose, your throat. Some people are affected more seriously than others, and asthmatic people are particularly uncomfortable in the smoke. But it is an interesting time of year as well. It's really pretty to look out in the nighttime, and see miles of blazing land. And, yes, sometimes it can look alarming. Occasionally the fires can get out of hand. But generally, the millions of acres of rolling hills go from wintertime brown, to scorched black, and then: amazing! a week or two later, the Flint Hills are the greenest green around.

Flint Hills burn:

This is a black bear, not to be confused with that precious bundle of fur shown below.
A black bear like this was seen in the drive of the house where I am staying in Breckenridge yesterday. I keep peering out every window of the house in hopes of catching sight of him. I have never seen a bear in the wild. I have also purchased a bear bell for my bike.

What I DID enjoy early this morning was the doe and her two fawns making their ways back and forth across the yard. Mrs. Doe stood for about 45 seconds, watching me through the window. It was hard for me to freeze for that long. She won the stare-off.
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