Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thoughts on The Face of War

The Face of War. Uplifting title, huh? It's the title of the book I've been reading lately. It's a collection of articles written by war correspondent, Martha Gelhorn (better known as the third wife of Ernest Hemingway). Martha covered various wars for nearly 50 years, starting with the Spanish Civil War in 1937. She visited the front lines of many, many wars, and was frequently the only woman to do so. She wrote about the people - civilians mainly - caught in the crossfire of wars created by a few men. She wrote about the aftermath of these wars and the affect they had on soldiers and people like you and me. It's a stunning portrayal. Candid. Human. I can't get this book out of my head. Here are a few thoughts from the book:

From The Battle of the Bulge, written January 1945. "On the night of New Year's Day, I thought of a wonderful New Year's resolution for the men who run the world: get to know the people who only live in it."

From The War in Java: "... a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon separates America from all of the people who have known war in their own countries. War, for Americans, is a fact but not a reality; it has not happened here in living memory. The history of the failed peace and the threatening future would be different if a few bombs had fallen on a few American cities during World War II. It is strange that too much safety should prove to be so dangerous." Yes, we had 9/11, which was a type of war. Still, the majority of us can't grasp the devastation and desperation that traditional war brings to people just like us. People who just want to make a living, be with their families, love, and smile. And I hope I never have to grasp that concept. I am very thankful to be an American, and very thankful for the men and women who choose to protect us at all cost. 

From They Talked of Peace, written December 1946. "For in the end, peace is not in the hands of delegates but in the hands of all people everywhere. It is an almost overpowering effort to be just, informed, sane and strong when you are worried about a roof over your head, money for food, for the children's shoes, for coal, for a little fun, worried and harassed by the daily unending problem of living. But it is an effort that must be made, for lasting peace is not going to come of itself, nor cheaply, nor due to someone else."

Marthal Gelhorn was a phenomenal writer and, at least to me, an interesting person. I've have the pleasure of reading one of her travel memoirs, her biography, and some of her letters. I find her to be intelligent, reflective, talented, and human. I am really looking forward to exploring her novels this year.

Now that I've gottent his out of my head, I'm moving on ... right upstairs to my cozy bed.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ideal Reality Vs. Real Reality: Another Literary Definition

If you've ever read the quote at the top of my blog, you know it relates to the struggle of desiring a life of ideal reality while having to accept a life of real reality. I love the quote because, to me, it defines a struggle that I imagine most of us battle daily.

I just started reading Steve Martin's book, The Pleasure of My Company,  and found this:

"Her  mind is being overwhelmed by two processes that must simultaneously proceed at full steam. One is to deal with and live in the present world. The other is to re-experience and mourn something that happened long ago. It is as though her lightness pulls her toward heaven, but the extra gravity around her keeps her earthbound." Wow. Yep. Ideal vs. Real.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two New Things I Love

The peeps turned 4 years old this week! Happy Birthday, peeps! My sister bought them this:

And I think I have played it way more than they have. I am lovin' this game. Bye-bye aggression.

I bought myself this: 
My local Michael's is closing and everything in the store was marked 70% off. By the time I got to the sale, the store was stripped clean. But I found this print. Originally $11.99. It was love at first sight. I almost didn't buy it. I held it, then put it back. I held it again, and put it back. It's my shopping ritual. Finally, I held it and never let go. It made me smile. It made me giggle. It still does. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sprinkles, Please

Human behavior fascinates me, especially behavior that is out of my realm of possibility in my little world.

Take, for example, this funky little news article: Man assaults local Tim Horton's employee over doughnut sprinkles. Seriously? Sprinkles are disgusting! Heh heh heh.

Again, seriously. Depending on the type of day I was having, it would be in my realm of possibility to assault someone if I found one itty bitty speck of a sprinkle on my donut. And I wouldn't bother walking into the restaurant. I'd take care of bizness right there at the drive-thru. I'd just crawl right on in because I'm small but scrappy and extremely efficient.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Do You Take Your Play-Doh?

 I like mine like this:

Ahhh ... neat, orderly, each color in its proper container. I'm giddy just looking at this image. I also like my life like this. I used to be ashamed to admit it, but you know what? It works for me. But hold up. Let's whip out the monocle and examine this topic a little more closely.

Here's the interesting thing. (Are you ready? Hold on to your mind, this just might blow it right out of your beautiful head.) In my ideal reality, my life is a wild and crazy mish-mash of color. And in my real reality, my life is a wild and crazy mish-mash of color. For once, I have it both ways! Yet, for whatever reason, I can't quite come to terms that my real reality is one big mound of warm, oozy, smushed, smashed, somewhat salty multi-colored Play-Doh. Weird. I still try my darnedest to put my all the colors in my life into their proper container. Huh. I think I just uncovered an alternate ideal reality in which everything is ordered and precise. Whoa. I think I just blew my own mind. Need more coffee.

In my search to find an image of smushy, mixed up Play-Doh to represent my real reality (obviously, I came up with nada), I came across tons and tons of sites devoted to the age-old question: To mix or not to mix? Apparently, there is a raging debate on this subject. Just Google "mixing playdough colors." Of course, I should give props to Hasbro, the god/goddess of Play-Doh. According to the company, it is 100% A-OK to mix colors. (See the official Color Mixing Guide). How else would you get stunning colors such as Leaf, Plum, Sunset, Sky, Sea and Pumpkin?  And doesn't everyone's life need some stunning color from time to time? I know mine does. Perhaps it's time I start appreciating the colors I do have and mixing some new ones.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Found Another Treasure Box Book!

A quickie post: I just read Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen (Book No. 2), and the main character, Finn, has a treasure box! It's not called a treasure box, but Finn keeps his treasures in an old cigar box. I don't know about you, but it seems that every time something catches my attention - like these treasure boxes - it seems to pop up all the time. Coolio.

I also finished Book No. 3: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J. Fox. Quick read. Fun. Recommend. I attempted to read his book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, but after 100 pages I just couldn't get into it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life's Treasure Boxes

I finished reading Book No. 1 a few days ago! Only 110 left to go on my Centurions quest to read 111 books this year. Mama Mia!

I loved, loved, loved, loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows). Did I mention how much I love this book? It will always and forever be in my book collection. And I will always and forever want to travel to Guernsey. The writing was so alive that should I ever have the opportunity to explore Guernsey, I will expect to meet all of the characters whose letters made up the book. I still can't get over how, with so many characters, the authors manage to carve distinct and unique lives and voices for each of them. It's books like this one that make me realize I will never have what it takes to write a publishable book. Sigh.

One brief spot in the book, consisting of maybe four sentences, had me sobbing. Four-year-old Kit, the orphaned daughter of a woman who had been executed in a German concentration camp, toted a small box tied with ribbon with her wherever she went. Everyone called it her "treasure box." It wasn't until late in the novel that the box's treasures were revealed. It contained mementos of her mother, including the last note she had written concerning Kit.

Like Kit, my mother passed away when I was a young girl. A rare form of cancer. It was Halloween night, and I was five years old. I don't remember my mother well; I was young, and the passing years have stolen most of the concrete memories from my mind. But I have treasures, the most prized of which is a handwritten letter my mother sent to one of her friends when I was a toddler. In the letter, my mom wrote about my upcoming birthday, and the cake she was going to make for me. She sounded happy. I remember those cakes: Fluffy angel food with pink icing and little candy decals for decoration. They still make those decals, and I find myself buying some every year for my own daughters' birthdays. For some reason, her friend kept the letter and was kind enough to send it my way. I can see my mother's handwriting; I can hear her voice through those words.

But unlike Kit, I don't have a designated treasure box. My treasures are stored here and there around the house. But after reading this book (which, by the way, includes a few other characters who have treasure boxes), I want one. And I'm going to make one. Just for my mamma's stuff.

What about you? What do you treasure? And do you have a treasure box like Kit?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One-Word Goals for 2011

Catchy title, huh? Here's what I'll be up to this year. Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and prosperous new year!

Model. (Not the beauty kind of modeling. That would be a laugh and a half. The role model kind.)
Read. (Apparently the Centurions Group upped the ante to 111 books this year. YIKES!)

Book No. 1: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I'm on page 84 and HIGHLY recommend it! I can tell it's going to be one of my favorites