Monday, May 27, 2013

Extra, Extra!

Today is an extra day off for me, so I thought I'd write an extra post. Well, that's not entirely true. I didn't plan to write another post, but since I have the luxury of additional time to pleasure read...the writing just comes naturally when thoughts persist and wish to be expressed.

I've figured out another one of the many reasons I enjoy Patrick Rothfuss' books. I am currently in the middle of reading The Wise Man's Fear, and the banter between the characters has, once again, got me chuckling...and thinking.

Rothfuss likes intelligent women. You can tell it from the way he writes. How many male authors do you know that would allow the women characters to have the greatest wit? the sharpest tongues? and be the experts in their field of study? Not many, I assure you. It's too intimidating for most of the male species. 

It's not just the way the women are intelligent, either. It's that they are also beautiful, in their own ways. He describes them as different body types, hair color, eye color, but...all attractive in their own right. This author loves women, and you can tell it in the way he writes his female characters. While he writes them as having intellect of varying kinds (some of "the University" and some "street smart"), he never fails to appreciate what they bring to the table of life...or a good fiction story. 

Often times, female characters are viewed as either smart or pretty - seldom both. While Velma and Daphne of "Scooby-Doo" are merely cartoon characters, they characterize much of the stereo-type you see in written form when the author is male. Need I also mention the three women characters in "The Big Bang Theory"? - one of my favorite shows, by the way. The sexiest is the dumbest. The smartest is the least attractive, wears glasses, and doesn't know how to dress fashionably. 

You see my point??

Rothfuss doesn't stick to that old, out-dated formula. His women characters are smart and sassy...and sexy. They also have flaring tempers and are very quick-witted. Some of them have a side that has been made tough and prickly because of what life has done to them, but they are resilient and resourceful. They are also tender and gentle and compassionate. Others, like the one I'm reading about right now, do not pay much mind to their appearances because they have placed their time and energy into their studies. However, when the occasion causes - and they take time away from their academics - they are found to be not only intelligent,...but beautiful.

There is one character that I love which Kvothe calls "Auri," and she has been one of my favorite from the beginning. She is magical and mysterious. She has an incredible imagination, and you don't really know what is going on with her most of the time, understand - or, at least, I do. She is like a pixie come to life. To me, it is another way that Rothfuss celebrates all the many facets of females and the special brand of magic we add to this world.

So many times in my life I have met men who say they appreciate an intelligent woman. So few of them are actually telling the truth. What most of them really mean is that they're glad to meet a woman who is 'not as dumb as the rest,' can carry on a decent conversation, but...isn't quite as bright as themselves. Foolish, foolish men. I'm sorry, I just have to laugh at their ignorance. They don't know what they're missing,...

ahhhhh,...but Rothfuss does! 


Write on, Patrick, write on! :)

A quote, a quote,...I must add a quote:

   Fela flushed, ducking her head a little, causing her long hair to cascade off her shoulder. "Candles. When you make colored candles you can't use a water-based dye. It needs to be powder or oil. It's a solubility issue. Polar and nonpolar alignments."
   "I love the University," Sim said to Wilem on the other side of the fire. "Educated women are so much more attractive."
   "I'd like to say the same," Mola said dryly. "But I've never known any educated men."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"In My Own Little Chair..."

In 1965 (the year I was born), Lesley Ann Warren played "Cinderella" in a television production of the famous fairy tale. As a little girl, it was a big event to it watch every year. In the musical, Cinderella sang a song that plays in my heart to this day: "In my own little corner, in my own little chair I can be whatever I want to be..."

It's true, you know? Every word of that song. I think we all need a place to be whatever we want to be. There are so many things we "must" be - responsibilities that must be attended to, lives we must lead - that it is even more important to have a place where we can step outside ourselves and take "mini vacations" in our own minds. It makes us better people and enables us to give more of ourselves when it IS necessary. A book is a special mode of transportation and having just the right place to read is important to me.

I have more than one favorite reading spot in my home, but I recently received a wonderful surprise from my husband when I came home from work to find my own reading chair in my own little corner! I had been leaving the corner of our newly remodeled room empty until I found just the perfect reading chair. I had looked at many chairs over the months and had found the one I liked the most, but didn't buy it (I hate to spend money). My husband decided it would make a lovely Mother's Day present, but the chair had to be ordered and didn't come in until recently.

Reading chairs are extra special for all the reasons Cinderella sings about. In that chair, in my own little corner of the world, I really can be whatever I want to be. I have always found it quite easy to lose myself in a book and forget the world around me. It has saved my sanity on numerous occasions. Stephen King once said, "Books are a uniquely portable magic," and I believe that with all my heart.

When I posted a picture on facebook of my happiness over the great surprise, a friend of mine commented about how he doesn't read in the same chair he pays bills in. I thought he brought up a really good point! I'd never thought about it, but I am the same way. I don't do work tasks, of any kind, in my reading chair. Work tasks belong at my desk or on my couch (I've even been known to grade papers in my bed), but never in my reading chair. Who would do things like pay bills in the same place you transport yourself to other places? Would H.G. Wells' time traveler have paid his bills or done paperwork while sitting in the seat of his time machine? I think not. You see my point, yes? :)

I'm now looking forward to my summer vacation, which will begin in a couple of weeks, for two reasons. One reason is because I will be doing a bit of traveling overseas. The second reason is because I will finally have plenty of time to do a great deal of traveling "in my own little corner, in my own little chair..."

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jeep Love Runs Deep

Jeep hair is the best!
Have I mentioned how much I love my Jeep? It is one of those rare pleasures in life I have waited for since I was a teenager, and I enjoy every minute I spend in it! Through all the years that I raised my three daughters and drove a Dodge Ram Conversion Van (because, I'm sorry, I'll never be caught dead in a mini-van. Ever.), I had a saying my friends knew well. I would always say, "I may look like a big, white van,...but I am a red, rag-top Jeep Wrangler in my heart!"

Once my daughters were all grown, and I no longer had need for a big vehicle or four doors, it was the right time to get my heart's desire! My Jeep Wrangler is not a rag-top, however, it is a hard top that can be removed in part or whole, which I love! It is easy to take off the t-tops and throw them in the back any day. The back half, which is a one-piece hard shell, is removed with a pulley system in my garage and stays there until I back the Jeep back up under it to put it back on. This means, I better be sure of the weather before I head-out completely topless. :)

It is hard to say what I love the most about my Jeep Wrangler...because I love everything! First, I have a stick shift, which means it has a manual transmission. There is something quite satisfying about shifting gears. It is rhythm, it is power, it When you add the wind blowing through your hair and across your body, the sun shining down on everything around you, and your favorite music playing on the stereo,...HOW can it get ANY better than that?! It doesn't. It absolutely doesn't.

It is also difficult to describe what it is to be a Jeep Wrangler person. I suppose it's like people who ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles - they have a special understanding, it says something about the kind of person you are. I think it is the same way for owners of Jeep Wranglers. Well, I won't say all Jeep owners, I have seen a few exceptions. You know, those people who have never taken the top off their Wrangler. If you have a Jeep Wrangler, but never take the top off you either a) live in a very bad climate or b) don't really want to be driving a Jeep Wrangler.

In the part of Texas that I live in, Jeep Wrangler owners all wave to each other when we pass. Always. Like I said, it's an understanding. It says, "Hey, I like your Jeep! Aren't Wranglers great?! I like the kind of person you are - you're a free spirit, you don't care what your hair looks like, you don't care what people think, you love the outdoors, and doesn't this sun and wind feel FABULOUS! Have a nice day!" Well,...something like that. ;)

I got tickled the other day when my husband was driving the Jeep and we stopped to get some gas. There was another guy in an older model Jeep in front of us. He nodded at my husband and waved. We both waved back. The guy got out and both men began complimenting the Jeeps. The guy had been customizing his, and it was a work in progress. It looked great, though, and I said so. I told him I especially liked the sport seats he put in his Jeep. I must say, though, my favorite part of the conversation was when the guy pointed to my Jeep and asked my husband, "Nice! Is that your toy?" and my husband shook his head and pointed to me grinning in the passenger seat. "No," he smiled back, "it's hers."

Did I mention? My husband may look like a silver, convertible BMW,...but he's a black Jeep Wrangler in his heart. ;)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

SiZe Matters

I know sometimes people like to debate whether size matters or not. I've given it some thought recently, with good reason, and decided to weigh in on this issue.

When I'm trying to decide what I want and what will satisfy my needs, I do look at size. I mean, how can I not? The bigger it is, the more time I know it will require. Before I choose, I tend to ask myself if I have the time and energy to invest in a large one, or if I need to choose a smaller one because I can do it quicker with less effort. Depending on my work schedule, and what else is going on in my life, I choose the size to fit my mood and according to what I think I can handle at the moment. I mean, life is busy - sometimes a big one is just more than I have time to handle.

Most of the time, I sprinkle a few smaller ones in between the bigger ones. I do like variety and, normally, I would be hard-pressed to choose a definite favorite. I have never believed that bigger is always better. Many times I have found myself in the middle of enjoying a large one only to discover it was far too shallow for my taste. I have also been known to find small treasures with great depth. What they lacked in size, they made up for in heart,...and I found myself wishing the experience wasn't over so soon.

Recently, though, something has changed. I don't know if I've gotten so used to the big ones that the smaller ones don't satisfy me as much, or if it's just my recent choices that have left me wanting. Either way, I was longing to lose myself in a big one and not have to come out for awhile. I knew what I needed, but I had been putting it off. I wanted to save the next large one for some time later in May and savor it for as long as I could. I had a strong need, though, and there was only one big one that was going to satisfy me.

I needed Patrick Rothfuss! I needed HIS big one! I was left completely satiated the last time I allowed him to pull me in, and I knew I would find satisfaction again if I would just give myself over to the pleasure. The truth is, knowing how much pleasure I was sure to gain from my next experience with him, I actually wanted to enjoy the anticipation for awhile.

I finally gave in yesterday, I couldn't wait any longer. I smiled a deliciously wicked smile when I reached for his treasure. It was beautiful, and I loved the weight of it in my hands. I wanted to devour it immediately, but I chose to take my time. After the last two small, weaker ones I had finished off quickly, Rothfuss' big one was a sight for sore eyes. I was ready for the ride, I had longed for it since February!

While there is no way to describe the heady experience Rothfuss has already brought to me with this second novel (and we have only just begun), I already feel the sweet satisfaction of his words settling in to my bones. It is impossible to describe unless you give yourself over to it. I will, however, leave you with a small morsel from an incredible feast...

   "I touched the loose peg gently, running my hands over the warm wood of the lute. The varnish was scraped and scuffed in places. It had been treated unkindly in the past, but that didn't make it less lovely underneath.
    So yes. It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect."

~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

Привіт! Дякую за читання моє blog!

The Wise Man's Fear is the second book in the The Kingkiller Chronicle series. The softcover edition I have is 1000 pages. The smaller paperback edition has 1120 pages. The first book in the series is The Name of the Wind, which I wrote about in a post on February 13, 2013. The author, Patrick Rothfuss, is currently working on the third book in this trilogy. 

I tried to make myself wait until the third book came out before reading the second, but I really needed it now. It is medicine to my soul...

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Pied Piper of Poetry?

We had "Electronics Day" at school last week for the sixth graders. As a reward, they were able to bring small electronics to school and enjoy them during the day. Most of the students brought something that played music (MP3 players, cell phones). All day long students kept coming up to me in the hallways and in the classroom to show me that they had the song "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons on their music device. They had the biggest smiles on their faces.

Earlier in the school year, I had introduced the students to the song "Radioactive" as part of a poetry study. I had so many students who said they didn't like poetry that I wanted to show them poetry comes in many different forms. I let them listen to the song. I put the lyrics up on a screen and we analyzed them - talking about what the words meant and what the song was trying to say. My students really liked the song. I showed them the music video afterwards, and we compared our analysis of the lyrics to what the video showed. We discussed what the visual images represented and talked about the video's message.

"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons:

While I knew the students were familiar with the song from our study, it wasn't until later in the day that I truly understood what was really going on with everyone showing me that song on their playlist. In the afternoon, I had this conversation with a student that summed up what many of my students were thinking:

Student: Look at the song I have on my ipod!

Me: That's great! I'm glad you like it!

Student: The first time I ever heard it was in your class, remember? Remember when we studied it for poetry?

Me: Yes, I remember...

Student: Because we studied it in class, we liked it first AND we understand the song, AND now EVERYONE likes the song - it's EVEN on the RADIO! That means you are the coolest because you knew it was a good song first and you made it popular! 

Well, I had to chuckle (and was a bit flattered) that my sweet student thought that I had single-handedly made a song popular...and that I was "the coolest." I realized, though, there was something really important going on behind those big smiles and "thumbs up" I was seeing all day. I understood the "bigger lesson" my students learned from a song.

The BIGGER lesson:

Television and movies (and, in my opinion, society in general) bombards our young people with the message that being "dumb" or "the class clown" is funny...and that it's cool to be ignorant. They watch reality shows where people have no intellect, no common sense, and no talent (and, most of the time, no class)...but these people are popular (and on television) for being stupid and acting stupid. It sends a bad message. How often do young people ever get the message how great it feels to be smart?

The lesson my students learned was how great it feels to KNOW something, to UNDERSTAND something, and to FEEL GOOD about themselves for having that knowledge. They walked taller, they felt smarter, and they were proud to show what they knew and to share it with others who didn't know. "You don't know this song? Oh, we learned it in Mrs. H's class. Let me tell you what the song means, you'll really like it!"

The old saying, 'Ignorance is bliss' is a lie. Ignorance is just ignorance,...but knowledge?


If you don't believe me, just ask my sixth graders...