Monday, August 25, 2008

The drive from Oklahoma and other jazz

I'm finally back in Mississippi! Squee! Yesterday was the big driving day, home from Tulsa. Above is the Lake Village Tourist Information Center in Arkansas (taken with my new phone camera, which is total crap but better than nothing), a regular bathroom break stop on the route home. It's hard to see, but the tropical storm was whipping up like crazy and there were lots of whitecaps (only one is visible -- don't ask me why; I'll just blame the camera). I walked into the building and the fellow who works there said, "Power's out." I said, "Okay, I guess I'll just have to use the bathroom in the dark, then!" Like I was going to wait for a McDonald's.

About a half-hour after Lake Village, I hit the tropical storm, around Lake Providence, Louisiana. Civil War buffs probably know the place the storm let loose: Soldiers' Rest in Lake Providence. Across the road from Soldiers' Rest is a cemetery that I'll have to check out someday -- a tomb with a carved marble soldier in Civil War regalia dominates the view from the road. From there on, I was occasionally mumbling at people who drove too fast or didn't bother to turn their headlights on as visibility dimmed. As I told Carrie K., at that point God cracked the tropical storm egg and out fell the yolk of yuck -- the kind of rain that windshield wipers simply can't keep up with. It was bracing. But, I made it home fine.

While in Oklahoma, I finished:

Copper Fire by Suzanne Woods Fisher (review here) and
The Importance of Being Married by Gemma Townley

I spent a lot of time on the road and very little time on the computer -- and I didn't even break out the laptop -- so I hand-wrote my review of A Promise to Remember and will try to get that typed up, tomorrow.

I'm finally really "getting" The Words of War (dispatches during the Civil War by reporters from The New York Times and The Charleston Mercury, along with a brief account of what historians say) by Donagh Bracken. Because I'm so thoroughly ignorant about the Civil War, I bought an atlas of battles, as I mentioned earlier. But, neither book is for those who are totally unfamiliar with either the geography or the personalities involved in the war; and I've had to really study the maps to figure out who was who and what was where. Fortunately, I'm a nerd and even though it has sometimes has felt a bit like "homework" reading the two books, the truth is that I always did like homework. My husband claims that's one of the keys to Bookfool: "You love learning more than anything."

Suddenly, everything began to click, this weekend. The problem was that I had to look back and forth, back and forth, figuring out who was on each side. I knew Grant was a Federal and Gettysburg is in Pennsylvania, as well as the fact that Port Gibson, MS, was, "too beautiful to burn" (and, of course, I know about Vicksburg), but that's about it. Seriously, I knew that little about the Civil War. So, I'm about 2/3 of the way through the war and it's just now finally clicked. I know Bragg, Hood, Sherman, Hill and Longstreet are Rebel names, for example. Till they finally sank in (around the time Longstreet was struck in the shoulder by his own men in The Wilderness), it was taking me hours to get through a single battle. I have learned a great deal. I'll have to travel home one more time, though, so it's possible that you won't see a review of The Words of War till next week. We'll see. I'm loving it, at this point.

Playlist for the road:

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams (this has become an all-time favorite album)
B. B. King - Why I Sing the Blues
John Mayer - Continuum
Steven Curtis Chapman - This Moment (The song "Yours" makes me bawl, since hearing the new verse about the loss of his daughter, Maria Sue, so I end up mopping my eyes at that point -- probably not good to listen to while driving -- "Cinderella" also gets me)
Three Doors Down (self-titled album -- this one is my youngest son's fault; he left it in the CD player)
Disc 3 of Journey to the Center of the Earth, audio (but it was putting me to sleep, this time, so I canned that).

I am currently reading:

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and, of course,
The Words of War by Donagh Bracken

Just started reading:

Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate

If roadkill was dinner, yesterday we would have eaten:

Armadillo with a little raccoon side dish

Hope everyone had a fabulous week! I'm ready to get this estate-clearing business over with, and hope that things will stabilize after the last trip home, this weekend.

Bookfool, buried in little trinkets that I'll probably end up wanting to sweep out the door


  1. Luckily I didn't have to drive in the tropical storm, so I just got to enjoy reading in the rain ;) I'm sorry you had to drive in it :( I hate driving in the rain more than anything...I take that back, I hate driving in the rain IN THE DARK more than anything.

    The Words of War definitely doesn't sound like my kind of book, so I'll just take my history lesson from you ;) I probably know even less than you about the civil war. History was just never my thing.

    I love that John Mayer album. I was never a fan of his until he came out with Continuum. Such a good CD.

    And what is it with the roadkill lately? I've been seeing more squished squirrels on the street than ever before! It's disturbing...

  2. Chris,

    I'm with you. I hate driving in the rain, but in the rain in the dark . . . forget it. I won't do that unless I have absolutely no choice.

    History was not my thing, till recently, although I think I always had an interest in it but it was taught badly. It wasn't till I home-schooled my eldest using a timeline approach that I started to make some sense of the hodge-podge of what I'd been taught. I think doing units about, say, the Romans, American History, the Dark Ages, etc., out of order, is a bad, bad approach. That's how I was taught.

    I just discovered John Mayer, recently. I mean, I'd seen him on the tabloids but he was just some womanizing musician (with kind of creepy eyes, if you ask me) until I heard "Waiting for the World to Change," and that made me dance around the room, so I ran out and bought the album. I love Continuum!

    I don't know about the roadkill. Maybe the squirrel population is exploding in your area! LOL It was all armadillo, armadillo, armadillo and then a raccoon on the drive home. Those armadillos do not do well around highways. They need to grow wheels.

  3. It's good to have you back! I hope you are able to settle down soon. I know it hasn't been easy for you.

    Have a great week.

  4. Wendy,

    Thank you. I'm glad to be back. Wish I was going to be here a bit longer, but we should be done by next week (except for things that can wait a while).

    Right back at ya! :)

  5. Welcome Back!!!!!!!!

    You said, "so I hand-wrote my review..." I have tried to do this so many times, but I simply need to sit at the computer with that delete key (and cut & paste functions) at the ready. Gone are the days of writing anything of length by hand!

    I'm right there with you when it comes to the Civil War. I know NOTHING! Whenever we play Trivial Pursuit, I pray I never get a Civil War question. Nothing like lookin' like a complete idiot. Sheesh.

    Jack Johnson. Sigh. He's my new favorite artist. I bought On & On and Sleep Through the Static a few weeks ago. I listen to then ALL THE TIME!! Guess I'll have to get In Between Dreams now that you've mentioned it. ;)

    Very heartbreaking story about Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter... :(

  6. Hi Les!

    Thank you!!!!! :)

    Yep, I hand-wrote the review because for some reason I just didn't feel like getting out the laptop -- probably because I was just so darn tired from all the driving. I did that when I was taking care of my mother, too, although I very seldom hand-write anything, anymore.

    Oh, good, maybe you and I can play Trivial Pursuit and I won't be quite so embarrassed, now. LOL Seriously, I've learned so much, but now I understand why Civil War buffs study the details. If you just memorize names, dates and locations you really still know almost nothing. The interesting bits are the stories inside the stories -- the fact that a particular general screwed up because he was injured and didn't want to hand over command but was really too fuzzy to lead, for example (I believe General Hooker made that particular screw-up) or that certain battles were complete slaughters because one side or the other simply had the advantage due to land formations -- that's the good stuff. Okay, I'm really sounding like a nerd, now!

    Yep, Jack's my new favorite, too! Funny! I just recently got a copy of Sleep Through the Static. It's a little too relaxed for driving, I think, but In Between Dreams is ridiculously fun. You must get a copy, immediately.

    It is truly heart-breaking about Chapman's daughter. I've watched some interviews with the family and they are absolutely amazing.

  7. I'm so glad you made it! Sounds like your drive was an adventure.

    Looks like you've been busy on the reading front. I'm going to have to check some of those titles out.

  8. Nikki,

    There were some interesting moments on that drive! I particularly love passing the two lake towns; they're so pretty.

    It didn't seem like I read much, but I guess I did more than I realized. Reading was my way of winding down after driving and packing things up, which was soooo not fun. It's bad when the people in the toll booths are starting to recognize you! :)

  9. Anonymous6:26 PM

    I still love that "yolk of yuck". It's so utterly descriptive.

    BB King is the only name I recognize on your playlist.

    It's probably says something about me and the times, but I hear the label "Christian" or "Romance" and I don't even pick up the book. Both the two you reviewed sound quite good.

  10. Carrie,

    Eggs and pouring rain can be equally yucky. LOL

    Really? Jack Johnson is great -- you should look him up. BB is the guy who taught me how to love the blues. Steven Curtis Chapman sings Contemporary Christian music -- he's been around for a couple of decades. I used to listen to nothing but Christian music when I lived in Tulsa, but then we moved here and there were no Christian radio stations (till recently). Three Doors Down is what I'd call a rock group but not heavy; apparently they're from Oxford, MS. John Mayer is a young singer. I guess he's jazz. We should ask Les; she knows everything.

    I used to do exactly that -- shied away from Christian and Romance completely. Then, I joined a romance writers' group and discovered romance isn't what it used to be. And, I just realized Christian fiction isn't the preachy, overpowering genre of the past, either, so I'm going to read plenty more. It's fun taking a different tack. And, thank you. That's a lovely compliment. :)

  11. LOL, "the yolk of yuck"!! Glad you made it back ok though. I once drove through a snow storm where I couldn't see more than maybe a couple of feet in front of the car, everything else was blowing white, and I had to follow the tracks of the previous car because the snow was piling up on the road! I was kind of glad that at the time I didn't know that stretch of highway actually ran along a cliff! Course now it's my 'I've driven in that I can drive in anything' story! ;)

  12. I'm glad you made it home safely!

    I really want to read Princess Academy. I look forward to your review :)

  13. Nat,

    Thank you! It's good to be home. Just two more days before I have to fly back to OK and rent a moving van to move furniture, but I'll be glad to get that all over with!

    I've been through similar, but without the cliff. There was a time when I was in high school and we had a mix of snow and sleet. It had been snowing for a while, before I left work, and the windshield was completely iced up. So, I had to hang out the window to see where I was going. But, even at just a few miles per hour, with sleet and snow blowing in your face, it's really hard to see anything at all. I'll never forget that drive home! :)


    Thank you! I'm so ready to get the trips to OK over with!

    Princess Academy was great. I had trouble getting into it, at first, but it surprised me in many ways and has a terrific ending. :)


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