School starts for us teachers in less than two weeks, for the kids in less than three.  So I ordered a couple of history books to read before then.  I have two sections of college prep history this year, thank God-much as I love economics, I don't want to teach only one subject.  The unfortunate other is one section of government, though.  I think I do a good job of teaching it, but I don't like to teach it, and wish that we had geography as an offering, since I'd much rather teach that.  Anyway, here are my new books:
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The French and Indian War:  Deciding the Fate of North America, by Walter R. Borneman.  Finally, a book that will cover early New England history outside of Boston.  Can't wait to get started on this one.  I always spend time on our frontier forts along the Connecticut and our taking of Fort Louisbourg and the subsequent give-back of the British when they trade it to the French for exclusive rights in India.  Needless to say, colonists were not really thrilled with that move, and New Englanders especially, since it was our men at work for the ungrateful Mother Country.

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The next one is 1789:  The Threshold of the Modern Age, by David Andress.  Can't wait-The Declaration of the Rights of Man in France, The Bill of Rights here at home, and a mad king in Great Britain.  Exciting times!

 
 

Remember that I'm eclectic?  One of my absolute loves, maybe even one of the things I'm most passionate about, is architecture.  I draw houseplans to relax, I take photographs of things like rooflines, roof overhangs, windows, eaves, porch ballisters, doorways, etc.  Wherever I travel I memorize the housing details.  I do a lot of the same things with landscaping, but not to the degree that I do with architecture.  I just love the story that architecture tells about the time period, the way that people lived and built, the reasons for things being built as they were.  Maybe it comes from growing up in my great grandfather's American Foursquare, "The Old Plantation", or maybe it just comes from my love of symmetry and aesthetics.  But whatever the reason, I'd love to have suggestions about books relating to architecture that are also good reads.

 
 

I have done very little pleasure reading for months now, though I have been very busy reading the news.  That means that I have also been very busy writing to my representatives and senators, to my governor, to the White House and the RNC (I get weekly email updates from both of them about what they are trying to do and how).  I got a great and very detailed reply from my senator about TARP and the early bail-out programs; nothing from the White House & RNC except more questionnaires about what they can be doing and crowing about what they both think they have done; and from my governor an empty letter that sounded like a third grader's first attempt at responding to a letter whose contents they know nothing about.  That was very disappointing, to say the least, and will definitely determine my vote two years from now unless something else changes.  I do not expect letters that agree with my viewpoints-I have yet to receive one-but I do expect a response that explains why they are doing what they are doing and acknowledges any concerns that I have as being valid.

Now, on to lighter stuff.  The girls and I watched Race to Witch Mountain a couple of weeks ago.  All through the film they kept predicting when the scientist and second in command of the guys in black would meet.  They believe that they are twins who do not yet know that they are twins or that they are aliens (you'd have to have seen Return to Witch Mountain to know what they're talking about).  At the end of the movie, when the twin thing isn't revealed, they were disappointed-I told them that they just left room for a sequel.

This past week was an insomniac week for me, so I rented Twilight on-demand in the middle of the night.  I really liked it.  It had to be watched when LB was not around because she has read the books and refuses to watch the movie.

I also watched Chocolat, at last.  Juliette Binoche is probably my favorite actress, so that was enjoyable, of course.

Last night we watched Australia.  G went to bed halfway through the film, bored, but I stayed up to watch it all.  Big disappointment.  He doesn't like Nicole Kidman anyway, but I do, and I like Hugh Jackman, and I was thrilled to see "Joe Harmon" from "A Town Like Alice", even if he was the bad guy.  Overall, though, my criticisms are too long to list here.

 
 

Last week LB and I went to see "Taken" with Liam Neeson.  It was good.  I always like to watch movies repeatedly, so as soon as I got home I wanted to see it again to see what I missed the first time through.  But I'll have to wait for the video.

This morning I watched "Taking Chance" with Kevin Bacon.  What a tear-jerker!  Then I found out it is a true story.  Having been to Wyoming, I can appreciate the funeral procession that took place as he was being escorted from the Billings airport to the funeral home in his hometown; I would expect no less from the people of Wyoming.  And Bacon does a perfect job of blending stoic military professionalism with the sensitivity of a man, father, and soldier.

 
 

Remember the song stuck in my head?  I had to buy a new copy of A Town Like Alice (and watch it all, of course) because a certain two year old who likes to collect rocks put one in our VCR and it then ate my tape.  The machine is fine, which is good since it's also our DVD player, and I've satisfied my need to hear the theme song for a while.

G also found out today that his latest book, Public Enemies, is going to be made into a movie starring Christian Bale and Johnny Depp.  I'm sure it will be a good one.

 
 

Okay, no one is home right now and I can't get a tune out of my head, so I've got to watch one of my favorite movies-A Town Like Alice.  There are no words to the tune and the movie isn't the greatest quality-they have never put it on DVD so I have a VHS copy that wasn't the greatest quality to begin with, but when you have a tune stuck in your head, you have no choice.

For anyone unfamiliar with this movie and book (of course I have the book, too), also called The Legacy, it was written by Nevil Shute and made into a movie in 1956, then again in 1981.  It takes place in Malaya, England, and Australia, and is a sweeping drama about WWII in the South Pacific.  The characters are based on people Shute actually met in the 1940s-a Dutch woman forced to march 1,200 miles with other women for 2-1/2 years by the Japanese and an Australian man who was crucified for 63 hours by the same. 

 
 

G is excited because he just found a new book on American gangsters called Public Enemies:  America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-1934, by Bryan Burrough.  This is a departure for him from the usual but is something he has been looking for.  He actually had an ancestor involved in organized crime at this time, though he must have annoyed someone because they shut him up.  I, again, have no interest in true crime or cop stories.  Fiction I can handle and love both Dana Stabenow and Nevada Barr and occasionally some others, but those are nature-based mysteries and they are fiction as well.

 
 

The only movie that I've seen recently is Mamma Mia! and it was awesome.  My sister and I went with her daughter's college roommate and her son's French girlfriend.  I didn't know all the music was from Abba, so it was a great surprise-I still remember the words to all their songs.  (Yeah, we sang all the way home)  "Fernando" remains my favorite, but it's almost a tie now that I've seen Julie Walters sing "Take a Chance on Me".  She really is great in everything she does.

All that has been on the tube this week is the Democratic National Convention.  All that will be on it next week is the Republican National Convention.  I missed the others if they've already happened-eight years ago I watched five-DNC, RNC, Green, Reformed, and Libertarian.  This time I'll only get the two in.  You can pretty much scramble most of the speeches up, reassign them to another party, and not tell the difference, but every now and then there is one that sounds like a real person talking honestly to you and making sense.  I did only catch speeches during commercials last night, since Wednesday is my t.v. night and if I have to choose between my fashion/art/beauty shows or politics, fashion and art will ALWAYS win-after all, they have vision, they are uplifting, and they endure-unlike politicians.

Now, on to my new book.  I first looked at it because the author's name is Wroblewski and one of my best friends growing up was named Grablewski, a sweet Lithuanian/Irish girl who introduced me to salami (yum) and marmalade (not so yum) and liverwurst (yuck).  The book is called Edgar Sawtelle and if it is as good as it looks, I'm buying a copy for my fifth brother.  It is a novel about a boy and his dogs and survival, set in the woods of Wisconsin.  I took it out to read just after shutting myself and my chow into the bathroom for an hour to work on his dred locks and get the burdocks out of his tail and rump that he apparently sat in or rubbed up against.  I absolutely love that dog, so it made me want to read the book right away.

When I am finished with that, I think I'm going to re-read the Sacketts-all of them-by Louis L'Amour.  I haven't read them in about 20 years so it is time to revisit the family-the brothers, cousins, etc.

 
 

Only one week left before going back to work and into the "long, dark night" that is the school year.  I am going to try my best to limit work to 55 hours a week, but it will be tough.  What usually happens at this time of year (the last week) is that I read everything I can for fun to cram it in just in case I have no time for myself during the school year.  So here is what just joined the shelf:

*Sea Fever by Virginia Kantra-paranormal romance
*The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg-need I say what it's about?
*Return to Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux-fiction about three best friends returning to Maine as grown women
*Best Hikes with Children:  Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine-hoping to hike with YB and LB if it ever stops raining-this will be a return to hiking for me, as I used to do a lot of it but had to stop after lyme disease took over
*And last, I want to finish the trilogy by Paullina Simons:  The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander, and The Summer Garden-historic fiction that begins in 1940s Russia and ends up decades later in the U.S.  (beautiful work by a Russian immigrant, for anyone that is looking for a truly gifted novel writer-the kind of books you put on a high shelf and don't lend out because they are keepers)

 
 

I just finished watching this documentary, made underground in China, and playing now on HBO.  It does a good job of showing the practice and enforcement of the One Child Policy.  It also shows the criminal element from the perspective of parents whose five year old was kidnapped, a former police officer who works to investigate and sometimes rescue kidnap victims, and a trafficker who sells both a three month old girl and one year old boy for parents who cannot afford the fines to keep them.

 

    G & Me

    G loves to read history of the American West and loves to watch movies that are western, action, intrigue, comedy.  He doesn't have favorites.  He does not like anything that is musical (though he loves music), romantic, or related to aviation.  His favorite time period is from the Civil War to the turn of the 20th century.

    I am eclectic in my reading but do not like science fiction or police stories.  In movies I like drama best, but also like some of the same things that G does, and I like both romantic movies and those that relate to aviation.  My favorite time periods are probably the 1830s and 1840s, the post-Reconstruction era to the eve of WWI, WWII, and the late 1950s-forward.  My favorite books are Gone With the Wind, My Antonia, All Quiet on the Western Front, A Lantern in Her Hand, and Nigger by Dick Gregory.  My favorite movies are The Memphis Belle, Return to Me, Since You Went Away, Steel Magnolias, Nicholas &  Alexandra, Sometimes in April, and  The Winds of War (there are just so many that this is incomplete) .

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