The great and powerful Oz…

To complete my cabin narratives, I feel compelled to tell you about my father’s obsession with The Wizard of Oz.  Somehow, I always thought he had read the book many years ago and fell in love with it then.  I was mistaken.  He fell in love with the movie, and only now is reading the original book.  At the cabin.  Out loud…while everyone else is trying to read their own books.  I brought a highly intellectual book to read and needed all my concentration to solve the mystery of the Highlander and his woman (snicker), and I was very involved in this deep plot when my father would burst out “Did you know in the original Wizard of Oz that Dorothy changed into the gingham dress after she landed on the witch?”  No dad.  I didn’t.  My mom and I would go back to our books.  A few seconds later “Did you know that it was really very violent and the Tin Man cut off his own arms and legs and head with this enchanted axe, and that’s how he became tin?”  No dad.  I didn’t.  Sigh.  What was the author on?

In my head, I was thinking he would stop if I ignored him.  Should I look interested?  It was pretty interesting, but I was reading my own book.  He must be done now.  Okay, back to Scotland.  “Did you know that the witch sent 40 wolves to kill them first, but the Tin Woodsman killed them all?  Ha.  Dorothy woke up to a pile of bloody wolves.”  Okay dad.  At this point, my mom is irritated.  She starts reading out loud and I decide to join in.  Ha.  Dad goes back to his book, but only after saying loudly “She tried to send crows to peek out their eyes and bees first!”  We think he is done.  Not so.  A little while later, “Did you know that Dorothy’s slippers were silver in the book?”  Really dad, I did not know that.  A little while later “and the Wizard appeared differently to all of them.”  If you would like to read more about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz check out the original book.  Beware, it causes you to cite random Oz facts wherever you might go.  It is habit-forming.  I actually missed hearing these facts on the drive home so every once in a while my husband would repeat one new fact my dad told us.  Lastly, I would like to share these photos that are magical.  Nothing to do with Oz, but I like them all the same.  The stream was getting bits of ice around it and my daughter ran down there and had me take a look.

ice Ice3ice2

“Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity.” 

~L. Frank Baum

The “Stone of Eloquence”…

  Aha!  It’s that time again. Time to bring out the little people.  We change our mantel display to reflect the upcoming holiday, and my husband loves to display our Finnians.  These little guys have a piece of the Blarney Stone with them and we need all the luck we can get.

Speaking of “Blarney“…I respect the idea that kissing the stone can bring good luck, but after doing a bit of research, it appears it was only meant to give you eloquent speech.  I am still not certain why people must be upside down…and why anyone would want to kiss the same spot that over 300,000 people kiss a year.  However, if it works for you, great.  The “Stone of Eloquence” does not appear to offer just plain good luck, but there are some people who could certainly benefit from kissing it I’m sure.

Moving on from articulation issues, there is also a book I read every year called Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola.  Now, I don’t know how you read books, but you haven’t heard a story read like this one until you have heard me read it.  Seriously.  I love reading to my kids and I read this particular story with an Irish accent (as best as I can) and I have done that for years.  Okay, well the truth is, I read every story in a certain “voice”.  I use voices for characters as well as a “narrator” voice.  I believe in tone, expression, and the pure delivery of a story.  A good story-teller can weave a story just by watching the audience and using words to paint a picture.  So the next time you are reading out loud, please don’t forget to use the voices you hear in your head.  Ha.

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
~Irish Blessing


Wicked coincidence…

The movie opens with a steam train in the cover of darkness.  In the background, a haunting melody plays as the train comes closer.  The scene changes to a crisp autumn day in a sleepy little town.  Two little boys are seen in a school room with an old-fashioned teacher.  As the movie progresses, the plot unfolds to include a man by the name of Mr. Dark who is seen briefly throwing flyers for his dark and mysterious carnival into the wind.  As the train pulls into town during the “witching hour”, the boys spy the carnival magically appear in a clearing.  From that point on, we see good versus evil, magic, illusions, and trances.  One of the most interesting points in the story comes when Mr. Dark pulls up his sleeve and shows his ever-moving sinister tattoo.  I start to think I have seen this before; however, this novel was written in 1962.  I am talking about the book Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

My family watched the movie tonight and we are fans of J. K. Rowling’s work.  At one point, I leaned over to my daughter and asked her if Mr. Dark reminded her of anyone.  Not physically, but his very essence…oh and the fact that he had a moving tattoo.  If you haven’t read the book or watched the movie, go ahead and see what you think.  I will leave you with this clip:

“My stories run up and bite me on the leg – I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.”  ~Ray Bradbury

The extinct book…

The house does not have a doorbell.  In fact, it has a thick wood door stained a dark espresso color.  The door knocker is brass and wishes you fàilte or welcome.  Today, I heard a timid knock on my door.  When I opened it up, a girl of about 20 years old stood there with big, wide beautiful eyes.  I knew at once who this girl was even though I had never laid eyes on her.  She was from the Czech Republic, and she was selling books.  She introduced herself to me and I told her that she had recently visited a friend’s house.  She was very happy that I already knew why she was there.  I invited her inside as her pack was quite heavy and she was already covered in a sheen of sweat.

We went into the kitchen where I offered her a chair and she asked if she could share her books with me.  I said of course.  A million thoughts had already raced through my mind when I opened the door.  I know that money is tight right now and that I had no business looking at these books, but I was going to anyway.  I have been feeling particularly nostalgic about books lately.  She showed me her pamphlets and talked about what a good value these books were.  I sat and listened and wondered what her life was like back in her country.  As I am wont to do, I came up with a vision of her life while she was speaking with her accented English.  She apologized for her accent and I told her I understood her perfectly.  I pulled myself back to our conversation.

You see, part of my thinking was going the way of the extinct book.  I recently received an e-mail from the CEO of Borders wishing me a fond farewell.  It was actually quite sad.  During one part of his letter, he stated “The fact is that Borders has been facing headwinds for quite some time, including a rapidly changing book industry, the eReader revolution, and a turbulent economy.  We put up a great fight, but regrettably, in the end, we weren’t able to overcome these external forces.”  My fantasy book loving mind envisioned this CEO with a sword in hand fighting off millions of little Kindles and Nooks as they flew at him much like L. Frank Baum’s winged monkeys. 

Every time you buy a book, you are keeping up the good fight.  Each time you crack open a new hardcover and hear it sigh with pleasure as you hold it in your hands, you are helping.  It doesn’t matter that I am currently reading a 924 page book that is heavier than my dachshund, all that matters is that I refuse to buy a device to replace books.  Join me in my quest to save all books from extinction.  Do not be fooled by your friends who have given in.  I have now supported my children’s love of reading as well as helped a girl raise money for college in another country.

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C. S. Lewis

Life is a fantasy…

So I have been thinking about this post for a while, but somehow haven’t gotten around to writing it.  As far back as I can remember, I have loved to read.  Books of every kind are stacked in my room, by the bed, on the nightstand, on my dresser, and on top of the armoire.  Just in case I forget that books are waiting to be read, there are some in the hall as well on a little stand.  When you get downstairs, there are perhaps a few more, and in the area I affectionately call the dungeon of my home, there is a whole wall of books.  My “office” has a bookcase full of children’s literature and of course, my framed map of Mirkwood, should you need to get “there and back again”.  For those of you not familiar with this place, it was the forest dwelling of the wood-elves in Tokien’s stories until well, that’s a long story.  Read about it in The Lord of the Rings if you want to know why it is now called Mirkwood.

I have developed what I will now call BJD ( Book Jumping Disorder).  If you are not accustomed to this, I will now explain.  I start reading a book, and it is really good.  If it is extraordinary, I finish it within a few days.  If it takes me a while to get into and my mind starts to wander, as it often does, I put my bookmark in it and decide to get back to it later.  It’s not that I meant to start cheating on my books this way, it’s just that I can’t seem to fully submerse myself into that world at this present time.  When I read, it’s a completely different place and time for me.  I think that is why my favorite books are fantasy.  I must be focused on everything that is happening at that time.  For example, I finished reading A Discovery of Witches in a few days.  Knowing that it would be a trilogy also helps as I get to revisit that world.  I finished Robert Jordan’s books all in a summer just to catch up to my husband.  I am currently in between two books again because a series is going to come out on television and I don’t want that to spoil my view of the characters, so I must hurry up and read before it comes out.  Yes, I am reading A Game of Thrones.  Shh.  Don’t spoil it!

When I was reading the War of the Spider Queen series, there were some books I liked better than others because 6 different authors wrote about the drow; however, with R. A. Salvatore overseeing the project, I knew they were going to be intriguing.  I must admit I also like seeing the cover art for the books and sometimes it lives up to my expectations of what I think that character would look like.  Every time I crack open a new book and settle down with it, the experience is like talking to a friend.  We have the same things in common and they are always there when I need to unwind from my sources of stress.

To the sober fantasy resides in a world that cannot be reached, but for the insane fantasy is a world that cannot be left. ~Anon.