Saturday, June 30, 2012

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

The book opens with this paragraph, "They've gone now, and I'm alone at last.  I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won't waste a single moment of it.  I shan't sleep it away.  I won't dream it away either.  I mustn't, because every moment of it will be far too precious."  What follows are Tommo Peaceful's memories of his childhood with his mother, brothers Charlie and Big Joe and friend Molly, and how he became a soldier in World War I at the age of "nearly sixteen."  You know something terrible is going to happen when the night is over, but you don't find out what until near the end of the book.  This is by the same author as War Horse, another World War I young adult book, and it is very well written (you can see my review of War Horse here).  It is my 6th book for the World War I reading challenge, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

I read this book for a read-along with War Through the Generations blog, which sponsors the reading challenges I have done for the past 4 years (World War II in 2009, Vietnam in 2010, US Civil War in 2011, and now World War I this year).  I had never read any Hemingway before, so I thought this would be a good chance to read something of his.  It is the semi-autobiographical story of American Lieutenant Fredric Henry, who is serving as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, and the love affair between Henry and the British nurse Catherine Barkley.  Henry is the narrator of the story, and he is a very stoic character; we really don't learn much about him.  According to the blurb on the back of my copy of the book, "Hemingway wrote in short, declarative sentences and was known for his tough, terse prose."  This made it easy enough to read, but I can't say I enjoyed it much.  I rate it 2 out of 5.  It is my 5th book for the World War I reading challenge.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Journaling reads: "I’ve always loved waterfalls, so I’m glad we went to Yosemite in the spring when we could still see them. Above is Upper Yosemite Falls; upper right is Bridal Veil Falls; lower right is lower Yosemite Falls."

Joe's Journals - The Art & Tales of a Sojourner by Joe Miller

I'm reading A Farewell to Arms for a read along with War Through the Generations blog.  I don't want to get ahead of what we're discussing each week, because it's harder for me to discuss if I've read ahead.  I don't like to read more than one novel at a time, but I want to read something when I'm caught up on A Farewell to Arms.  So at those times, I've been reading Joe's Journals, which is a look into Joe Miller's (of Cheap Joe's Art Stuff) actual journals.  He is a watercolor artist who paints what he sees around him, and I found the book to be delightful.  He has a fun sense of humor and a great philosophy about his art.  On a page where he's sketched some boats, he states:
If you're a lobsterman, you probably cringe at my lobster boats.  If you're a fly fisherman and tie your own flies, you may cringe at my flies.  But all your cringing won't keep me from painting them.  They may not be accurate but they are mine.  My point is, don't let your inability to draw accurately keep you from enjoying art.  I do and so can you.  I love to watch children make art.  They don't worry about anything -- they just attack, and boy are they proud of their results.  We should learn from them.  (page 147)
  I love looking at other artists' journals.  I rate this 5 out of 5.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge - Urban Sketching 1

The current month's theme of the sketchbook challenge is urban sketching, so I took my sketchbook with me when my husband and I got our haircut. I sketched this while he had his hair cut. Perspective is off, but I sketched straight to pen, so it is what it is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Mile Bench

There were 13 of us who attempted the hike to the top of Black Mesa, a 4.2 mile (one way) distance. Eleven people made it all the way; two of us (my husband and I) stopped at the two mile bench and then turned around after resting (and sketching). Here is a photo of me sketching this scene.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Mesa B & B

We spent two nights here. Black Mesa, in Oklahoma's panhandle, is the highest point in the state at 4,973 feet. It shares borders with Colorado and New Mexico. This was the view from the front porch.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift

This is a travel journal of the artist's honeymoon in France in September of 2005.  It's a delightfully quirky book in which she compares travel and love:  "Anticipation.  In love and travel, getting there is half the fun.  The lustful impatience, the passionate daydreams, the nerve-wracking waiting . . . lovers and travelers are all alike when they find themselves on the brink of a new adventure." page 2. 

The book is filled with her wonderful illustrations of her trip and lots of fun information.  For example:  "The beagle rolling in the grass, celebrating being a lucky dog who lives in Paris, is named Benedict.  'Oh, yes, he is a happy dog,' his owner tells me; "Not very intelligent, but very, very happy.'  Travel Tip:  Ask Parisians about their dogs -- it's the only time they will gladly talk to you."

And in chapter 5, "The Going Gets Tough," she includes a number of "Survival tips for love and travel," including this one on page 113:  "Each morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say:  'You're no bargain either.'" 

I rate this book 5 out of 5.