Wednesday, February 4, 2015

O Pioneers!

O Pioneers! 
by Willa Cather

Kindle Edition
192 pages
My first Back to the Classics Challenge book,
and this fulfills #6, 
a Classic Novella.

I am not sure how this book has escaped my reading it before now. I adore historical fiction. I read a lot about the prairie days of westward expansion and of the hard working pioneer families that are a part of my ancestry. However, somehow this book was missed. Throughout high school, college and personal reading. I am glad that I discovered it. 
Honestly, I don't recall hearing Cather's name before which is a shock as well. I must say that I will be looking into more of her writings in the future. 

Originally published in 1913, "The book takes place on the plains of Nebraska in the late 19th Century as the Prairie is settled by Swedish, Bohemian, and French immigrants trying to eke out a living from what appears to be a harsh, inhospitable land. The heroine of the book is Alexandra Bergson who inherits her father's farm as a young woman, raises his three sons and stays with the farm through the harsh times to become a successful landowner and farmer. The book speaks of being wedded to the land and to place. In this sense it is an instance of the American dream of a home. It also speaks of a strong woman, not a cliched, late 20th Century terms but with a sense of ambiguity, difficulty and loss. This is a story as well of thwarted love, of the difficult nature of sexuality, and of human passion. There is also the beginning of what in Cather's works will become and increased sense of religion, Catholicism in particular, as a haven and a solace for the sorrow she finds at the heart of human endeavor. Above all it is a picture of stark life in the Midwest. There is almost as much blood-letting in this short book as in an Elizabethan tragedy. Cather's picture of American life on the plains, even in her earliest books, is not an easy or simple one, however, "O Pioneers" is a thoughtful, well written story of immigrant life on the plains and of the sorrow pain, and strength of the American experience." (Amazon description)

From the very beginning, I was struck by Cather's descriptions. Listen to this, the SECOND sentence. "A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky." Can't you just see it?! Do you feel the icy cold of the snow?
Her descriptions continue throughout, a wonderful addition to the story. I have a lot of admiration for Alexandra. She is a strong girl, an adoring older sister to Emil, and a good daughter. I was quite surprised by some events in this book, but it's hard to review this book and not give away spoilers, so I think I will end with just a few of the quotes that I loved, and the recommendation to read it if you are at all interested in the history of our country, or of the west. 

"A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves."

"People have to snatch at happiness when they can, in the world. It is always easier to lose than to find. What I have is yours, if you care enough about me to take it."

"We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it - for a little while."


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just checking in...

 So it's been about two weeks since I've visited, figured it'd be a good time to check in. 
I think I might need to keep checking in to hold myself accountable and keep striving towards my goals.

Sis and I attended a Bridal Expo today. 
Got some ideas (and an amazing massage!) and have plenty of work to be doing in order to pull off a beautiful wedding for my baby girl. 
They went and had engagement pics done yesterday. 
This time is going to fly by! 
Momma isn't so sure about this...

I think I've been making some good steps towards my goals so far.

~I started a devotional reading on the You Version app. 
Have read the past 15 days, not missing one.
It's not quite what I was thinking, but I guess it's a start on my goal of spending more time in the Bible. 

~I've attended two yoga classes so far this month, I did miss class last week due to the weather, but I did a yoga dvd I have. 
Still feeling soreness, but sticking to it.
I've discovered a LOT of great yoga inspiration on Instagram.
There are some amazing ladies out there! 

~I've started a book for the Back to the Classics Challenge, 'O Pioneers' and am currently about 50% through it. 
I've also started reading 
although I'm only on page 16. 

~This is my third post for January so I'm happy I've made it here at least more than in 2014, lol! 

~I have gotten to crochet a bit. 
Working on a baby gift for my great nephew. 
Got stopped on one portion as I ran out of blue yarn....and then got stopped on another when I realized it was calling for triple crochet. Need to google that one! 
I also have an order for an arm knit scarf that I hope to get done this evening. 
My first order! 
So exciting for me. 

~I have not made it to any cemeteries but have looked longingly at them as driving past...

~I've done a small (very small) amount of cleaning & organizing. 
I have dropped off one decent sized box plus a few larger items to Good Will, and have another box almost full. 
We've also taken some winter gear in and donated it at Sis's orthodontist office, as they have a collection drive each year.

Overall I am thinking that January has gone well. 
I've made some good progress and am staying on task. 
How are your goals and resolutions coming? 


Sunday, January 11, 2015

What I'm reading for the Back to the Classics Challenge

So as you know,  I signed up for the Back to the Classics Challenge over at Karens Books and Chocolate. 
Being the slightest bit OCD like I am, I've been chewing over what books to put on my list and gather...
So - 
here is what I'm planning on reading for this challenge.

1. 19th Century Classic - I'm starting with 

I'm picking this one simply because I do like to read what the girls are reading for school, and this is the next book Bug will be reading. Beyond that, it does sound really good.

2. 20th Century Classic - I had a much harder time deciding on this category, but finally decided to try 

3. A Classic by a Woman Author - This was an easy choice! 
(I couldn't find an image of the version I will be reading. I have a Juvenile Library hardcover edition that sadly, has no dust jacket)
I've been wanting to read this one for years just haven't had the time. I LOVE the movie though. 

4. A Classic in Translation - 

5. A Very Long Classic Novel - 

6. A Classic Novella - 

7. A Classic with a Person's Name -
I'm positive I have this book in our school library, but Bug couldn't find it today. If I can't scrounge up a copy, this may change, but I've been wanting to read it with the girls.

8. A Humorous Classic -

9. A Forgotten Classic - 

10. A Nonfiction Classic - I'm super excited to attempt this one! I even cashed in some swagbucks to buy a physical copy to add to our school library! 

11. A Classic Children's Book -

12. A  Classic Play - I had a REALLY hard time deciding this category! 

Have you decided to join the challenge yet? 
Do you think I've made some good choices? 
A lot of these are new to me authors so I sure hope so! 

Country Girl

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sure is dusty round here...

It sure is dusty round here! There are cobwebs everywhere! 
Seems like it's been a long time since I've stopped by.

There has been lots happening in our life, 
and I just haven't made much time for my poor ole blog. 
But here it is, a brand spanking new (and going to be a crazy busy one too!) year and that has gotten me to thinking... 

My baby girl has gotten engaged and we are busy planning a wedding! 
But even amidst that joy and tears, there is still our lives to be lived and things for us to do. 

So, what do I want to accomplish this year? 
Well after doing some thinking, I've made a list of my goals.
 I sure do hate the words 'New Years Resolutions', as they just always get broke, so I like 'Goals' much better. 

~~Goals for 2015~~

~ I need to spend more time reading the Bible. 
This is an area where I have always struggled. 
I LOVE our Bible time in school and I love learning with the kids. 
I really enjoy learning at church. 
It's my personal, private time that I struggle with. 
Finding the time, or often just the ALERTNESS, or of knowing where and what to read, etc. have been what I struggle with.
I'd love to hear your tips or suggestions! 

~I need to work on getting myself fit.
I've struggled with my weight since I was eleven. 
I'm so tired of dieting. 
So this year I've decided to focus simply on getting fit.
Sis and I went to our first Yoga class last night. 
It was fun. 
I'm starting my goal low, in that I am hoping to attend class at least once a week. 
If I can go more, great, if not, once is a start. 
I'm also hoping to add in some other things at home. 
I mean, after all, I DO have to look somewhat decent as the Mother of the Bride right? 

~I want to read more. 
We read a lot in school, but it seems like it's been months since I've read anything for ME. 
Again, there is that time and alertness issue....
I stumbled across this Back to the Classics Challenge at Karens Books and Chocolate. 
It sounds like a lot of fun and might help motivate me into reading. 
Bonus is that I can tie in Civil War era lit for some of this! 
Be sure to check out her challenge and let me know if you are joining the fun!

~I want to do a bit more here. 
I KNOW I won't be doing daily posts, but I sure hope to be here a bit more often than in 2014. lol! 

~I want to spend more time crafting and sewing.
My Civil War sewing list is atrociously long! 
I recently learned to crochet and my project list is huge! 
I really need to polish my knitting skills and get busy there.
I haven't scrap booked in YEARS, and would like to make some headway there. 
Not to mention everything else I enjoy doing or want to learn...

~I want to spend more time in the cemetery. 
Ok, I'm sure that just sounds plain weird, but as a genealogist, cemeteries are important places! 
I've joined Find a Grave and I want to be able to help others. 
My goal is to get out to and photograph more than what I did in 2014. 

~I want NEED to spend time organizing and cleaning this house.
We just have too much stuff that isn't needed or loved or used. 
Now granted, our house is 115 years old, it just doesn't have the storage space, and there are a lot of us too, but it needs to get gone through and organized and we need to majorly purge!
Which is actually the last of my goals. 

Things just need to go! 

So there is my seemingly huge and impossible list of goals.
Stay tuned and see how I'm doing with them, and feel free to share what your goals for this year are with me.
Maybe we could work on them together. 

Country Girl

Monday, August 4, 2014

All Things Hidden

All Things Hidden
by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

This is a fictional account of a real event, during the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Project of the Matanuska Colonization. 

Gwyn Hillerman is a nurse at her fathers clinic on the Alaskan frontier of the 1930's. Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan has had his world turned upside down and has left Chicago to help Dr. Hillerman prepare for the flood of colonists that are coming. 
While a later time period than I typically read, I really enjoyed this story. Gywn and her father were very likeable people, as were the close characters to them. There were struggles of self, of prejudice, and against nature but the Hillerman's focused on God and what His plans were. 
I enjoyed learning a bit about this time in history and wondering how my life would have been, if my grandparents had been chosen to go to Alaska. 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review - A Sensible Arrangement

Lone Star Brides
Tracie Peterson

Marty Olsen is a widow who wants to get away from the memories of her past so she agrees to leave Texas and marry a man she doesn't know. Jake Wythe is a banker in Denver who placed an ad for a 'Lone Star Bride,' looking to marry because his employer is pressuring him to. They enter into this sensible arrangement just planning on being lifelong friends but end up finding much more.

This book is full of wonderful characters, humor, mystery and of course the message to trust God. Tracie Peterson has a way of pulling you into her stories and I found that I often couldn't put it down. I did feel that there were some loose ends, but I think that book two will help with those. 

**I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review - The Quarryman's Bride

Land of Shining Water, Book #2
Tracie Peterson

Emmalyne and Tavin were weeks away from their wedding when tragedy strikes and her father calls it off. Tradition says the youngest daughter will not marry but remain with her parents to care for them in their old age. Emmalyne makes the heart breaking decision to obey her father rather than follow her heart. Eleven years later, they return and so does Tavin...

This story is more than just a romance. Topics of honoring parents and Biblical obedience, grief and mental illness are all discussed. I love how Emmalyne looks to scripture for guidance and comfort. Her life with her father has been so difficult, however, she still strives to honor God by honoring and loving him. I found this to be a thought provoking story and frequently found myself wondering how I would have responded to the situation. Another wonderful read by Tracie Peterson.

While this is book #2 in the Land of Shining Water series, it is a stand alone book.
** I received my copy free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.