Category: The Hodge Podge
Lately, I have been on a book reading binge. A purposeful one.
I have been reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
I want to know, I need to know, if it was her writing in those legendary books. Or was it a collaboration between herself and her daughter, Rose.Or was it all Rose.
Call me crazy, call me obsessed, call me a fan of the TV show and books that started back in the 1970s. But there is a part of me that loves these books and hates seeing an author besmirched, especially when it is Laura who inspired so many childhood adventures and dreams. I might not have taken it to the extremes that Wendy McClure did but her book, The Wilder Life:My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. But McClure gave me the idea to someday camp at the South Dakota homestead in a Conestoga wagon.
I want to believe that Laura was the sole writer. After all, she did write a farming column for years. You try writing 500 words every week and see how easy it is not. Remember, too, she was an excellent student and a lover of poetry. I still remember when she accidentally found the book of Tennyson poetry, meant to be her Christmas gift in one of the later books. She loved that book.
I am willing to concede that Rose helped Laura with structure and plotting. I know from various sources that they discusses the books intensely. I know that Rose typed the books for her mother. I would not be surprised if she constantly edited whether it was needed or not. In Pamela Smith Hill’s biography Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, Hill discusses what both women talked about through the remains of letters and papers. But as time went on Laura relied on Rose less and less.
Which is why the last option really rankles me. After reading Susan Wittig Albert’s fictionalized account, A Wilder Rose, about the writing of the Little House books from Rose’s perspective, I wondered how far Albert had crawled up RWL’s ass. Her dismissive attitude towards Laura stood out from the first page. Norma Lee Browning was depicted as a simpering follower wanting nothing more than to fawn over Rose’s words of wisdom. Laura turns out to be a passive aggressive manipulator who is either constantly harping on her daughter and her choice of friends or interrupting Rose once she finally gets down to work. In the notes at the end of the book, Albert made sure to besmirch Manly as well as Laura. Did Albert only read Rose’s diaries and papers to get her story?
After reading this and other biographies, I truly believe that Rose should have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Her world truly stopped six inches from her nose. Rose builds a dream house for her parents without consulting them and demands they live there while she lives in the farmhouse they built for themselves – perfectly suited for their size and needs. Did it ever occur to her that all the little sniping was because Mom wanted to live in the house she built for herself? A gift is no gift when gratitude is demanded.
Adding insult to injury, Rose writes a book (Let the Hurricane Roar,1932) based on her mother’s stories that had been collected in Pioneer Girl, using the same names as her grandparents, hides the notices from her mother (documented in her own diary) and then wonders why her mother is angry. Really? I think I would have taken a switch to that girl despite the fact she was over 40 years old at the time. I kept thinking “Get over yourself, Rose. Yes, you grew up poor and didn’t have a silver spoon. But people reached out to you and gave you opportunities. And stop blaming your mother for everything.”
Now, as to who wrote what. After reading Let the Hurricane Roar/Young Pioneers, I doubt Rose’s ability to write in a lyrical manner. Her prose is very straight forward, utilitarian. Why, like that of a journalist. Which is exactly what Rose did for a living for many decades. She might have edited, it is easy to edit some one else’s work to make it sing, much harder to write the flowery descriptions from scratch. And their letters back and forth show more collaboration than out-and-out work by Rose alone.
Am I angry over this book? Damm straight. You want to show that Laura Ingalls Wilder did not write those books then you had better come up with better proof than only the daughter’s diary and a fake conversation with a woman who died in 2001 and cannot be contacted for verification. This book might be fiction but its overly smug attitude towards LIW reminds me of what was said about Shakespeare. How can a person with so little education write so good of a book?
Nor could I deal calmly with her attitude about the royalties, how the library had to sue in order to get what was willed to them. That if it wasn’t for Roger MacBride allowing the rights to be sold to the TV show, there would not have been over $800,000. Well, there would have been no tv shows if Laura had not written the books. But why should a tiny, leaky library in a podunk town get the money that was willed to them?
To me, that is simply another example of Rose being a jerk. Her mother knew the importance of helping a community. Laura was one of the community members who helped create that library. Apparently, Rose could not understand that sometimes you have to help the community be better by giving them access to a broader range of information. Her method seemed to involve a permanent sneer and running away with the middle finger raised high.
I am awaiting the new Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography edited by Pamela Smith Hill. Will it give a balanced story? Will it satisfy my LIW Hunger without destroying her image? I don’t know. But I would rather know she was a woman who tried than one who had to have her way by hook or by crook, even if it destroyed her daughter.
Has a book ever angered you so much you are willing to slap not only the author but the subject of the book as well?
I am sure that many of you have seen the meme that was going around saying how parents/moms are like rockstars.
I loved it because I live it. I know a minivan can be rocked by singing and dancing teens. I get followed in the bathroom still. The phone only rings when I step in the shower. Sit on the couch doing nothing and no one bothers you, start a project and there is nothing they don’t want – especially the husband.
But when I saw this meme, I decided that I should dress and live like a rock star.
I already have the ridicuous back leather purse with black leather ribbon on the front. I have long hair that sometimes accepts a curl. Plus, I have lost weight that allows me to wear clothes that look better on this body.
So my skinny jeans are paired with long sweaters and shiny silky camis. I wear boots with a corduroy printed skirt and a coordinated tee. My black leather skirt is paired with statement cardis or colorful tees. If I am not wearing the boots, I am wearing a silver pair of flats.
Then I found this book.
It seemed funny to me that I found this book while I am on the journey to be my best with a little flair. So, of course, I had to check it out.
I love this book because Anne Burrell gives a bunch of great recipes. But before that she explains what items you should have in your kitchen as well as what staples should be in your pantry.
For those of you who have wondered what you need besides some of the basics, this list is really wonderful. The truth is, once you have these items in the pantry you don’t have to go buying them special. When I add something new, it tends to stick around and get used for something else. I have never made polenta but I am considering it just to add to my repetoire.
Many of Anne’s recipes has an Italien flair to them but with a little something different such as fish fillets in paper or braised lamb shanks. I was looking at the Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts, Sausage Ragu, and Pasta Fagioli as possible dishes to try. For me the Rockstar part of cooking is using fresh herbs whenever possible along with a little Balsimic Vinegar or wine in your cooking to give the dish a little extra flair.
Are you a rock star parent? How do you show off your style?
Happy Birthday and all that. It is another grey day here.
Well, I had just written a lovely letter talking about the new Austen Project that Harper Collins is working on when my computer decided to lose everything. I had a link for you( http://theaustenproject.com/) and a little discussion on it all. But so much for that. I have neither the patience or the time to rewrite everything.
The first book in the series is Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, yes, of that Trollope family. Why did they need to use the exact same titles I do not understand but there it is. I have request a copy from the Library and hope to get it soon so that I may devour it. Then, and only then, will I come back with a full review.
Well, I would write more but the shower awaits and then I am off for the day to do numerous errands before showing up to work. This is a long day at work, which I do appreciate. Lord knows the money is helpful. I will tell you about my novel which is going through various re-writes before I send it off to my beta readers. I only have five chapters to go. Perhaps someday I will see it published but that is next year’s goal.
Once again, wishing you happy, happy. Have a lovely day, doing whatever it is you do there in heaven.
I have to bite.
I mean, I actually have to write about this.
Renee Zellweger does not look like the girl we knew just a few years ago.
I mean look at these pictures.
No really, look at these picture. Faces do change with age, even from thirties to 40s there can be some change. Faces get more squared off, eyes begin to have bags.
Renee says she looks great because she takes care of herself and is in a better place emotionally. Some of that might be true. I know I am 50 but with some recent weight loss I look more like 40. Pictures of me from my mid-thirties shows a woman with a more rounded face.
Let me put it this way, I want to believe that what Renee says is true. I want to believe that she is happier and it shows. But the problem with that is I can see that her chin is just a touch longer now. Her eyes no longer have that ‘sleepy’ look to them. And her cheeks seem less puffy. Renee’s face has been stretched out just enough to make her look less like a chipmunk.
I know firsthand the hatred of those chipmunk cheeks. I have tried every trick in the book to make them less apparent. I also know it is possible to get surgery to make those sleepy eyes get wider.
So while I might want to believe what she says, I am not buying it. I will leave the whys to someone else. I can only imagine in a place like Hollywood where age is a liability, especially for women, why she would consider such a thing.
For the record, I am not judging Renee. I am just sad that the face that made her an individual has now disappeared. She looks like everyone else. Let’s hope that her new projects show that her talent is still in full force.
Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
The other day my daughter and one of her girlfriends made a comment about some cute and cuddly creature they wanted to buy or own or simply possess.
When I asked “what happens if it gets wet?,” the girls looked at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Then I remembered that they had not grown up in the 80s and knew nothing about Gremlins.
How is it that these girls who have watched The Breakfast Club knew nothing about one of the biggest movies of that decade? Gremlins sparked a wild toy craze and a not-so-great-sequel several years later.
To me if a sequel takes more than two years to get from script to screen, there is something wrong. But that is another story for another day. In watching Gremlins, I came to realize I never watched the movie. When it originally came out, I was in college and too cool for a kid’s movie. I mean, there are puppets in it. I was not interested. It wasn’t until the other night that I saw it for the first time.
What Gremlins portrays and what it appears to be about are two different things.
The story starts with with an inventor father giving his son an early Christmas gift of a mogwai that he bought in a store in Chinatown. There are three simple rules for taking care of one of these creatures. Do not get them wet, do not feed them after midnight, and do not take them out into direct sunlight or even shine a bright light on them.
Billy, as portrayed sweetly by Zack Galligan, breaks the first rule inadvertently. The second rule is broken when his clock is stopped at 11:30 p.m., making him think he still has time to feed the critters.
What starts off as a cute movie about small town life and the meaning of the season, becomes something different. The send up to It’s A Wonderful Life turns into a parody of sorts to monster movies from the 50s and 60s. But these are deadly monsters. The town drunk and a science teacher are the first victims and their mischief reaches out to the rest of this small city until they finally come together at the movie theater.
This is a movie that’s strangely conflicted. I have heard it described as a kid’s movie but I would not show it to kids under the age of ten. There are too many elements, such as Phoebe Cate’s story about her father’s disappearance and the death of various gremlins, that are too adult in context. Nor is it a classic horror or monster movie that would appeal to older teens or adults because the mayhem is light weight in comparison to the standards of even 80s horror and monster movies.
Can you have a cutesy monster movie? I guess this movie would be the proof. If I was to share it with anyone, I guess it would be with tween kids and those who do not really like the full-on gore of most monster movies. However, if I never see it again, I am pretty much okay with that, too.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.
As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.
I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.
I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.
In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.
Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.
But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.
Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.
Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.
Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.
After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.
But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.
All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.
I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).
I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.
I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.
But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.
Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.
So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.
What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?
Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
This week is going to be a blur.
I already know it because it is the start of 4H judging season. This past Monday was the food judging night. We prepared by making cookies, sweet rolls, and cheese muffins.
Wednesday is the clothing judging day. And then starts the race to get all of the rest of the projects done. Along the way some of our chosen projects will get pushed to the wayside. We did not get them done and therefore, it is not going to happen. I am not sure if that is better or worse than the year someone’s corn stalks were attacked by raccoons or when it was so dry there were not enough tomatoes to put on a plate.
To me that is OK because there is always next year. Maybe something was too much of a challenge for this year but next year it will make more sense or have more relevance. At least, that is what I am hoping.
This past weekend saw the release of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and it is a movie that is being called better than the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is very rare that a sequel is better than the original movie. The only other movies in my book like that are Toy Story 2 and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Both movies continue the story in spectacular fashion while making their own compelling and watchable film.
Over the weekend, one of the cable stations ran the 2011 Planet of the Apes movie. As I watched with my son, I noticed that certain elements from the original Charleston Heston movie had to be retained. The line, the famous line of “Get your hands off of him, you damned dirty ape” was re-written but included when a hateful zoo keeper tortures Caesar for fun.
It is a long movie, set in San Fransico. James Franco plays Will, a scientist looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease that plagues his father, John Lithgow. Caeser was born to an ape who was given a drug to help cure Alzheimer’s but it also made her smarter. Caeser inherits these abilities which become known after Will takes him home.
There is much, much more. But what I find most interesting of all is how the Apes develop. The back story involves a man-made virus. And the teens at my house felt that this was a reasonable concern. I told them that the original movie gave nuclear war as the explanation.
Remember the final scene when Heston comes upon the top of the Statue of Liberty on the beach? It is then that he realizes Man destroyed the planet somehow, that this is how the Apes came to take control. Funny how the explanation for what destroys life as we know it now comes in the final scene of the 2011 movie as well.
Both movies are compelling while dealing with our fears. Just as my generation feared nuclear destruction, it seems our children also fear a man-made tool of destruction. But this one is created in a lab.
Wondering who should watch this movie? I would go with tweens and older. I personally think parts of this movie is too long and drawn out to keep the attention of the younger kids. Some of the actions might be too violent for them as well.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.
Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
Because I see so many movies, I am always surprised when I begin to see certain actors turn up again and again.
Sometimes it is because they are the flavor/the cutie of the moment. And sometimes it is because that actor is so good everyone wants to use them in every possible way.
The latest actor who seems to be everywhere is Benedict Cumberbatch. His most famous role is that of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. The Sherlock Holmes character seems to be enjoying a bit of revival with the Guy Ritchie movies, the BBC series starring Cumberbatch, and the CBS series starring Johnny Lee Miller. I have watched them all and appreciate the difference of each production.
With Cumberbatch’s performance, there is the usual high level of confidence in his knowledge about, well, everything. This Sherlock doesn’t suffer fools although he can be kind at times as well. What I love most about Cumberbatch’s performance is the insouciance he gives Sherlock. The way he is a petulant child despite his high intelligence.
Holmes is a bear to deal with in the best of circumstances but when he is without a case he is libel to start shooting a gun at the awful wallpaper of his flat. And once he gets a case, he happily steps on the coffee table to get to where he wants to go like a teenager making their way to the kitchen for food.
The thing is, as I watch all of the movies I meant to see last fall, I start noticing Cumberbatch in many of them. Last weekend, I watched August:Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.The story is about a family gathering together after the disappearance of the patriarch. Soon it becomes a funeral gathering. But it is a mean spirited one in which two women from an older generation feel the need to tear down their spouses and children at every turn.
Cumberbatch plays the son of the aunt who has fallen in love with one of his cousins. It is a brilliant performance in that he does not play a confident man or a smart one. Little Charles is simply trying to get through life and is happy he has found someone those little joys.
You could almost say the same about his performance as a plantation and slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. It is not that his character is suprememly smart or stupid. He is a man of his times in which you needed slaves to run a succesful plantation. His character might have some decency but not enough, not enough to stand up to those things he knows are wrong.
Finally, there is his character in Star Trek Into Darkness. Cumberbatch plays Khan with steely eyed fearsomeness. He is smart, crafty, willing to blame it all on anyone but himself. Fierce, loyal to his fellow creatures, and willing to double cross all because the means do justify the ends.
There are two other movies I have not seen yet that feature Cumberbatch. The first is The Fifth Estate about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. The second movie is The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug in which Cumberbatch voices the dragon. I have them on my list of must-see movies because for Adults, Cumberbatch is always a great actor to watch.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.