Saturday, June 9, 2012

Snapshot Saturday - The most serious nurse you'll ever meet :)


I've been planning all week to share with you some of the photos I've been taking for Fat Mum Slim's PhotoADay June...and if you've not heard of this fantastic photo project, go ahead on over and take a look :) 

But...

As expected at my house, life gets in the way of even the best laid blogging plans. 

My youngest went to the movie last night with one of her favorite babysitters and came home with 103 fever :(   That fever climbed to 103.4 before I could get it managed.
You can only imagine how bad the youngest felt...bloodshot eyes, red cheeks, skin hot to the touch, and twice she vomited.

The 2nd time the youngest vomited, Layla had had enough.  
My husband just about had to drag her out of the bathroom to get her out of the way.  
Layla was in full fight mode...whatever was hurting her girl was fixin' to get it!  

She climbed up on the bed and rested right at the youngest's feet until I got up to go refill the ice chips.  I came back to find Layla in my spot in the bed :/  with a look on her face like, "Don't even think about asking me to move."
I didn't.




The youngest slept on and off most of the morning and finally the fever broke around 2 pm.  She started pulling covers off and I knew we had made some progress.  She's moved to the couch now, and I'm disinfecting the bedroom and everything and everybody in my house.  I go a little nuts when folks get sick :/

Maybe next week I'll get to the PhotoADay pictures...
just as a teaser, I'll share this one...the one I would most like right now...


Snapshot Saturday is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review - The Book Thief


The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Borzoi Books, 2005

Format? oversized paperback given to me by a Secret Santa two Christmases ago
Why?  The first year I blogged, every. single. blog. I read sang the praises of this book.  I try not to get too wrapped up in hype bc I want there to be a little bit of distance between what's covered in the media and my own true thoughts.  I put the book on my Christmas list, received it, and then let it sit on my TBR shelves for over a year.  I needed a book this past spring for my hybrid class...a class with which I read a novel for the first time...The Book Thief was it.
What Now?  I will and have recommended this one to anybody and everybody.  My firstborn has already read it, and my boss gets it next.  I will probably buy a hardback version of this one and then put it in its rightful place on my keeper shelves.

Golden Lines

It's the leftover humans.
The suvivors.
They're the ones I can't stand to look at, although on many occasions I still fail.  I deliberately seek out the colors to keep my mind off them, but now and then, I witness the ones who are left behind, crumbling among the jigsaw puzzle of realization, despair, and surprise.  They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.

***SOME FACTS ABOUT STALINGRAD***
1.  In 1942 and early '43, in that city, the sky was bleached bedsheet-white each morning.
2.  All day long, as I carried the souls across it, that sheet was splashed with blood, until it was full and bulging to the earth.
3.  In the evening, it would be wrung out and bleached again, ready for the next dawn.
4.  And that was when the fighting was only during the day.


You could argue that Liesel Meminger had it easy.  She did have it easy compared to max Vandenburg.  Certainly, her brother practically died in her arms.  Her mother abandoned her.
But anything was better than being a Jew.

Life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened.
Imagine smiling after a slap in the face.  Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.
That was the business of hiding a Jew


The scrawled words of practice stood magnificently on the wall by the stairs, jagged and childlike and sweet.  They looked on as both the hidden Jew and the girl slept, hand to shoulder.
They breathed.
German and Jewish lungs.

"Gentlemen," a stout referee in black pants and a blue shirt began.  A bow tie was fixed to his throat.  "First and foremost, we want a good clean fight."  He addressed only the Fuhrer now, "Unless, of course, Herr Hitler, you begin to lose.  Should this occur, I will be quite willing to turn a blind eye to any unconscionable tactics you might employ to grind this piece of Jewish stench and filth into the canvas."  He nodded, with great courtesy.  "Is that clear?"
The Fuhrer spoke his first word then.  "Crystal."


You hide a Jew.  You pay.  Somehow or other, you must.


In all honesty (and I know I'm complaining excessively now), I was still getting over Stalin, in Russia.  The so-called second revolution - the murder of his own people.
Then came Hitler.


As if often the case with humans, when I read about them in the book thief's words, I pitied them, though not as much as I felt for the ones I scooped up from various camps in that time.  The Germans in basements were pitiable, surely, but at least they had a chance.  That basement was not a washroom.  They were not sent there for a shower.  For those people, life was still achievable.


"When everything was quiet, I went up to the corridor and the curtain in the living room was open just a crack....I could see outside.  I watched, only for a few seconds."  He had not seen the outside world for twenty-two months.


They watched the Jews come down the road like a catalog of colors.  That wasn't how the book thief described them, but I can tell you that that's exactly what they were, for many of them would die.  They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke and their souls trailing behind.


No, thought Liesel as she walked.  It's my heart that is tired.  A thirteen-year-old heart shouldn't feel like this.

Summary

German Liesel Meminger is left with foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann in a town called Molching on a cold winter night; her brother is dead, having died on the train, and her mother, unable to feed and care for her children anymore, is gone.
Liesel settles in with the Hubermanns, grows accustomed to Rosa's sharp tongue and Hans' gentleness and understanding and discovers a best friend, Rudy Steiner.  Life in Hitler's Germany is tough even for non-Jewish Germans...their food is rationed, there are no extras of anything, there are strict rules to follow and family members may be taken away at any time to serve Hitler in whatever way he so chooses.
The families do everything possible to keep life as normal as possible.
Hans begins to read with Liesel each night when she wakens from her nightmares, first from A Gravediggers Handbook that Liesel, "The Book Thief," recovered after it was lost in the snow by an apprentice gravedigger at her brother's burial and then from books Liesel steals from the mayor's wife's library.  She later continues her reading and writing lessons in the basement with a Jew named Max (the son of an old friend of Hans) who shows up one night needing help.
Life gets tougher on Himmel Street; the war begins spiraling out of control, Jews are marched down the street of Molching on their way to concentration camps, air raid sirens become part of normal life, Rosa loses many of her washing jobs bc of prejudice, and the family is frightened for their lives 24/7 if Max is found in their basement.
Is it even possible for this story to have a happy ending?
Should it?

What I Liked

Death, the narrator - foreshadowing - I could almost hear music...you know the kind that comes on while you're watching a scary movie...the killer is around the corner...if only the heroine could hear the music, right??  That's when everybody starts screaming, "Don't you go in there, Girl!! Just don't do it!"  Even when you've seen the movie before, you still hope that she won't go in there...that's how this story felt to me.
I knew how it would end.  We all do.  

Liesel - in the past when someone mentioned the name Liesel, I would think of the older sister in "The Sound of Music"...that won't happen anymore.  This Liesel is unforgettable.  Her strength, her soul, her ability to adjust to her surroundings, her ability to pick up and keep moving, her ability to love, her ability to see the world around her realistically...all of that and more...nevermind the fact that this child is only 9-13 years old throughout the story.

Format - I'm sure there's a word for this type of structure, but I don't  know what it is...The narrator, Death, goes back and forth in time as he pleases and interrupts the flow with comments and/or bolded newsflashes of sort.  I would think the danger of this kind of format would be a chopped up feel, but there is none of that here.  Quite the contrary, the most effective flashes and context seem to be incorporated seamlessly this way.

Death complaining about having too much on his plate - Most of us see Death as that hooded creature with the scythe...it's a Hollywood version that's become ingrained in our brains.  But, Death as the storyteller in The Book Thief doesn't seem to be a frightening thing at all...the way he gently scoops the victims up in his arms and takes them away, the way Death truly mourns over the lives of worthy humans, the way Death sees all that's happening in the world as a waste, but not something he can stop almost endears him to the reader.  I could go on and on about the symbolism here...how mankind hurts itself over and over, etc. but I'll let you experience that for yourself.

The humor - both Death's sarcastic remarks and Liesel and Rudy's attempts to carry on conversations with adult words tickled me from time to time.  I appreciated the ability to have a rest every now and then from subject matter that weighed so heavily on my chest.  The German curse words were my favorites :)

The History - once again there are things here that I never even knew about...scores of Jews escaped Germany while they were able and ended up in Australia...hence, Zusak's (an Australian) interest in the Jewish families who survived and the members/branches of those families who were left behind and essentially wiped off the face of the earth.

Hans Hubermann - how the heck do you not like a man like Hans?


What I Didn't Like

There is literally nothing about this novel that I didn't like, except of course, the subject matter.  How in the world this part of our history exists completely baffles me.  And, then sometimes it doesn't; I can look around at the world we live in today and see some of the same mindset that guided the worst genocide in our nation's history, and I get scared.  Really.

Hitler was one man.
One of the statistics Death brings out in this novel is that at one point in history 90% of Germans backed Hitler.
90%.
Out of every 100 people, 90 of them believed what Hiltler proposed was right and/or believed that his strategies/actions had to happen in order to create a powerful German human race.

Even as I type those words, it seems so stupid...like something we'd all snicker at and say the person needs psychiatric help.
But, time and time again, things happen that we think never would.
How did this happen?
90%.
It's called blind conformity.
It's a disease, and...

This book is a classic.  

Overall Recommendation

Everybody needs to read this book.
The End.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Salon - The Vegas Edition



The Head of my Household and I tried to act like 25 year olds last night; I think we at least walked through each hotel/casino, saw most of the special effects/ that each offers, had a wonderful dinner at The Venetian and even a few margaritas.  This morning my feet are killing me...and my 43 year old body is complaining about staying out so late.  
Oy.  
Here we are on the gondola ride inside The Venetian:


We've had fun...we were able to watch part of the practice sessions for the Miss USA pageant yesterday...Donald Trump, Kelly Osbourne and Guiliana Rancic were there and that was about as cool as cool can be.  


Our girl is Myverick Garcia from Mississippi, of course...if you're a pageant person (or not) and don't have a horse in this race, tweet for our girl :)



My reading life is still right on track...I began an online class mid-week last week so I will have to start reading student essay,s but it's just one class instead of the 3 I had originally been assigned.  I just decided that my sanity isn't worth the stress...plus our enrollment is low (the economy is impacting higher education as much as every other business in America right now), and most likely my salary would have been pro-rated based on the number of students enrolled in the class.  Since the other two classes were face to face classes, that means I would still do the same amount of work planning, etc. while still losing the same amount of family/home time but for less money.  
Nah.  
After the stress of the end of this semester, it's just not worth it.

I'm still working on my Review Policy...thanks for the tips I've received so far and please continue sending/posting things you've found imperative in keeping the reviewing process from becoming out of control.  

I finished listening to Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye on the long flight to Vegas...if you haven't put this one on your list, please do...I'm actually going to buy the book even though I've already listened to it...that's how good this one is.  And, Stephen Boyer is the best narrator I've listened to yet...and that's saying something given how ridiculously picky I am about narrators.  I'll have my review up later this week :)

I've been toying some with the idea of playing around with the design of my blog...I don't want to lose the original "look" of things bc Uh-Oh will always be my "muse" and I want him in my header, but there were a few things I really wanted to tweak.  I have been pretty nervous about it and even contemplated hiring an outside designer person to fix up things for me.  
I sorta got thrown into the "fix-up" arena on my own last week when my background from Shabbyblogs caused readers (me too) to get this scary looking warning that my blog via Shabbyblogs was infected with some kind of virus and readers were warned not to enter.  
Yikes. 
 I decided after a few hours of no change, to take the background off.  I hated to lose my Jane Austen books, but even Jane Austen with a virus has to go.  With the new backgrounds I was also able to play with my template and widened my columns after much playing, rapid heartbeats, and trials and tribulations :)  I'm pretty satisfied with the new look...not completely on board with the background but getting use to it.  Unfortunately, the one aspect that I've known from the beginning that I didn't want to change (Uh-Oh) won't stretch to fit the new header box, and of course, I can't find the original jpeg anywhere to try and load it again.  
Oy.

That's about it for the Vegas Sunday Salon...the husband just said we're going out into the 100+ temps again today to see anything we missed last night before the pageant tonight.  
He's like Clark Griswold on speed when it comes to seeing everything you can see in whatever amount of time you're given.  
:p