Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

In the Valley of the Giants

Way out on the Western edge of the United States of America, a great many miles from the hustle and bustle of city life,  is a valley full of giants.  These giants are not the scary type;  they will not chase you or grind your bones to make their bread.  Instead, the giants of the Pacific Northwest Rain Forest stand tall and proud, their very tip tops reaching through the fog and mist that provides the moisture which allows these giants to grow so big and strong. 

(The picture above is the largest Douglas Fir in the World, standing 302 feet tall and stretching 40 feet around!  Below is the Worlds Largest Sitka Spruce, measuring almost 59 feet in circumference, standing 191 feet tall and estimated to be over 1000 years old!)
In this same foggy world happily lived a man and his wife.  The man was brave, adventurous and strong and his wife was gentle, sweet and the fairest in the land. (HEY!  This is my story.  I can tell it how I want!)  To celebrate the anniversary of the day the couple had joined their lives in marriage, the man and his wife traveled, in their horseless carriage,  a few hours north to the land of the giants.  
The couple was much beloved (YES they were!- stop interrupting!) to all who knew them.  Even the smallest squirrel and the lowliest slug came out to greet them and bid them a good day as they strolled through the deep woods inhabited by the giants.

The man and his lovely wife so enjoyed these deep woods, contented with the drip of fog and the fresh breeze blowing through the forest.  The pleasant couple tried to stay on the trails so as not to hurt the fragile plant growth under their shoes, but alas, from time to time the trails through the wood were very overgrown with salmonberry plants and the trail became more of a creek than an actual trail.
Sometimes they would pause and look up in wonder.   "What a pretty tree this one is!"  "Look at how big this guy is.  He must be 300 years old if he's a day!"  Even as they spoke, the tree's were busy growing another ring taller and wider.  The moss was busy covering the tree's and the ferns were busy stretching their fiddleheads to the sky.  The man and his wife were delighted at all the wonder around them.

(This tree is a Western Red Cedar - the trunk measures 63 feet around and this hollow tree stands 174 feet tall!  Still living, but hollow, you can stand inside the trunk!)

Now that the wonderful couple had met three of the six giants that lived in the valley, giants who were as old as the earth itself, and had found that the giants were not fierce and savage, but gentle and kind, it was time to get out of the woods and rest a bit.  So the two set of for the castle....
and there they spent a pleasant evening, breaking bread and warming themselves with a magic brown potion known as Starbucks, surrounded on all sides by the gentle giants of the wood.   
And then, this most beloved couple lived happily ever after....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Holy Cow!  Has it really been a month since my last post!  I kept meaning to get to it, but you can see it never happened.  BUT - I did get some reading done AND it is time for Turn the Page Tuesday once again so --- here is where I've been ~
I was in the deep south, Shoutin' with Rick Bragg~

All Over But the Shoutin' is a memoir by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Rick Bragg, in which he recalls his childhood in rural Alabama. 

I began reading this book thinking that it was all about a man trying to come to terms with the abusive, alcoholic father that left the family when Rick was just a boy; left them poverty-stricken and afraid that he just might return. Instead what I found turned out to be a wonderful story about a boy turned man who loved his Mama. Ricks mom was a hard-working woman who took the abuse of her husband for a few years so that her boys would have food on the table; who worked in the cotton-fields with a baby strapped to her back to get by; and who went without food many times so her boys wouldn't have to. 

The author takes us on a completely honest tour of his childhood in the south; from the young boy hiding from his father under the bed, to the comfort of his Grandmothers house, to his time at church and to his accomplishments in the high school journalism room. He then carries us along on his journey as an up and coming reporter before heading back down south to once again spend time with family. 

This book was sad at times, funny at times and written beautifully. 

I can't pinpoint my favorite quote from this book, but the following ranks high on my list:
"As long as we have faith, we are as strong as our faith. Because no matter how dark it is, if I have faith, I have a song in the night"
Then, when I was done with Shoutin', I went right back to the south to meet Rick Bragg's grandfather in Ava's Man.

I loved this book!! Rick Bragg tells a beautiful story of the grandfather he never knew in Ava's Man, bringing both tears and out loud laughter while I was reading. Not only that, but I think my family got a little irritated and me constantly saying, "Listen! I need to read you this passage..."

The author brings his grandparents, Charlie and Ava Bundrum to life for all his readers. Ava was the young daughter of a prominent farmer who choose, against her families wishes, to marry Charlie; an uneducated, handsome young man with a sparkle in his eye. Charlie was a very tall, thin man with huge hands who could brawl with the best of them but also had endless patience for his babies. He was a carpenter and a moonshiner who, during the depression years, moved his family 21 times chasing work and being chased by the law. 

This is an incredible story of an every day man living and raising a family in the poverty ridden deep south. There are so many passages I would like to quote for you here, but one, from the very beginning of the book that just touched my heart and sums up the story of Charlie Bundrum. Rick grew up surrounded by a family who never talked about Charlie, so when Rick started asking questions, he found out why he had never heard very much about his grandfather. Here is why-

'I remember the night, an icy night in December, I asked three of Charlie Bundrum's daughters to tell me about his funeral. I sat in embarrassment as my aunts, all in their sixties, just stared hard at the floor. Juanita, tough as whalebone and hell, began to softly cry, and Jo, who has survived Uncle John and ulcers, wiped at her eyes. My mother, Margaret, got up and left the room. For coffee, she said. 
What kind of man was this, I wondered, who is so beloved, so missed, that the mere mention of his death would make them cry forty-two years after he was preached into the sky?'

This was a story I never wanted to end, and now that it has, I almost believe that I miss Charlie as much as his family does. Hand me a kleenex please...

I read some other books this past month, but I honestly cannot review them here.  Not in the same space with the two above- they just don't deserve it.  I have another Rick Bragg on my to be read shelf - The Prince of Frogtown -  but I'm a little scared to read it.  What if it doesn't hold up to Ava's Man and All Over but the Shoutin'?  I just don't know how it could...

Pop over to Adrienne's Turn the Page Tuesday to let us know what you've been reading and see what others have on their shelves.