Just for fun


“That’s one small step.”

Just four short words. Followed by a few more. And we recognize them instantly.

Public domain

Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the most notable achievements in human history: landing a man on the moon.

It’s remarkable. Transcendent. Historic.

I remember the day. I was nine years old.

Mom herded us kids into the living room to the old black and white stereo/console. “This is an historic event!” she exclaimed. “No one has ever done this before!”

“Done what?” I asked, not quite sure what all the hubbub was about.

“Neil Armstrong is about to walk on the moon!” Mom crowed, brown eyes flashing.

I had no idea who “Neil Armstrong” was.

But everything came to a standstill. I’ll never forget those grainy images from the moon. Armstrong’s iconic comments. Walter Cronkite whipping off his glasses and kind of shaking his head in awe, astonishment, and pride. My siblings and I watched, mouths agape, not fully comprehending the enormity of the moment. That took a few years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNE7Il3fs9M

What American astronauts and their team achieved on July 20, 1969, was, to put it mildly, an epic achievement. It set the gold standard of what good ‘ole American ingenuity, stick-to-it-iveness and know-how can accomplish.

It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that the Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were part of a bigger team. Like the entire crew at Mission Control in Houston. Thousands of additional employees and support personnel. Naval personnel who retrieved the space capsule after splashdown, etc.

All eyes were on the same ‘brass ring’: successfully landing a man on the moon. And bringing him home.

July 20, 1969

We did it. Beginning with a single small step.

You may not be headed to Tranquility Base. Or Fra Mauro. But what “small step” can you take today toward your ‘brass ring’? Maybe it’s:

  • Finding a new trail
  • Exploring a new park, beach, mountain, canyon, or desert
  • Losing weight
  • Getting more exercise
  • Eating healthier
  • Spending more time with family
  • Learning a new skill or hobby
  • Reaching out to a lonely neighbor
  • Start writing a book
  • Finish writing a book
  • Saying “I’m sorry”
  • Trying a new recipe, author, composer, or hair style
  • Planning for retirement
  • Offering or receiving forgiveness
  • Taking the first step to mend a broken relationship

A big goal for me this summer is exceeding last year’s high water mark related to our library’s annual Summer Reading Program. I read 156 books last summer. I just finished book #113.

I’m on target to meet my goal. But I may need to hit the after-burners. One book – one page – one paragraph, sentence and small step – at a time.

One page at a time…

What’s today’s “small step” for you?

Image credit – Moon Landing. NASA. Public Domain.   This post also appears on my sister site, Hiker Babe.

Reposting from 2018 in honor of Derby Day and the 145th Run for the Roses!

***

“Inevitable.” Isn’t that a great word? Learned it from Mom the other day. As in, the 144st annual Run for the Roses is coming up on May 5. So debates about who was the Greatest Thoroughbred of All Time are… inevitable.

Or so I’m told.

A few other things I learned:

The “Run for the Roses” is also known as The Kentucky Derby. The Derby is always run on the first Saturday in May. It’s the first jewel in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Why do I care about Thoroughbred racing? Well, I don’t. Not really. But Mom does!

She’s been reading a Walter Farley book about one of the greatest champions to ever set hooves on a race track: Man O’War. Along with legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat, Man O’War is a top contender for Greatest Thoroughbred of All Time honors.

Back to the Farley book.

Man O’War’s remarkable life unfolds through the eyes of fictional stable boy Danny Ryan. Mom says the story is nearly as powerful and compelling as the great Thoroughbred himself. I’m not sure what the means. But it sounds good.

Here’s Mom’s review of Farley’s Man O’ War.

So when Kentucky Derby time rolls around each May, the comparisons between Man O’ War and another great champion, Triple Crown Winner (1973) Secretariat, are inevitable. At least according to Mom. Which horse gets the nod for Horse of the Century? Depends on who you ask. And what day it is.

Both possessed blinding speed. Both ran challengers off their feet. Both broke records. Both have great stories.

So whether your vote for The Greatest goes to Secretariat or Man O-War, a few things are for sure:

1) May is the perfect month for awesome horse stories!

2) Any story by Walter Farley is a great story. Inevitably.

3) Churchill Downs promises another great Run for the Roses this Saturday. (“Run for the noses”? I always kinda thought that was when Mom calls me in for dinner. But I may be wrong about that.)

4) One of the finest athletes to ever set hooves on a race track, Man O’War remains a Champion for the Ages. Just like Walter Farley.

Is it dinner time yet?

Update – May 5: Congratulations to the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner, Justify!

View from Fremont TrailI had to laugh. Not because the situation was funny, but because there wasn’t much else to do.

Yours truly exercised executive privilege the other day and took the kiddos swimming at the local YMCA. Along with half the population of the Free World.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: a warm, blue, postcard-perfect summer day. An open afternoon. A recently renewed Y membership. A heated indoor pool. Almost-clean towels. (Nobody’s perfect.)

(more…)

I’m a tag expert. Get the ball? I’m on it! Fetch the stick! It’s mine! Grab the Frisbee? Oh yeah! So Mom says we’re getting the tail wagging for 2019 with a New Year’s Book Tag.

Ready to play? Aw, come on! It’ll be fun! Let’s jump on it! Ready? Set? Let’s go:

How Many Books Will You Read This Year?

Mom’s Goodreads goal was 365 books for 2018. She finished with 383. Can we get back to you on this year?

What are five books you didn’t get to in 2018 but will make a priority for 2019?

Hmmmm… Maybe Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series and Neal Shusterman’s Scythe series. You?

What genre do you want to read more of?

Creative non-fiction narrative. It’s non-fiction that reads like fiction, with a compelling plot. Mom wants to read more about Czar Nicholas II. I’m holding out for more Rin Tin Tin. Go figure.

Three non-bookish goals for 2019?

  • Mom: Walk 10 – 15 miles a week. Me: Walk 100 miles a week. (We may have to negotiate.)
  • Mom: Learn how to make tiramisu
  • “Teach the dog to let go of the ball” (What’s up with that?)

A book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

Mom reads fast. I mean, Like. The. Wind. She also has a pretty good handle on what she is and isn’t interested in. So she doesn’t have much to say about this category. Other than she wants to finish the sequels to The Darkest Minds. You?

What word will define your 2019?

Just one? Are you kidding me?! Well, okay. If you insist. How ‘bout squirrel? No? Would you settle for pizza? (I like Hawaiian. Just sayin’.)

Now it’s your turn. Ready to do this? Consider yourself tagged.

“Clear the decks!” crows Mom. “It’s Best Books time!”

She may be a bit confused. Ever since my puppy days it’s been “deck the halls” this time of year. Well. You know how moms are. Especially when someone asks, “Which kid is your favorite?”

Okay, okay. So no one put it quite like that. But plenty have asked which books are her favorite. “It’s almost the same thing,” sniffs Mom.

Hah, bumhug! says I.

Arf you may know, Mom met her 2018 reading challenge last week: 365 books in one year. People keep asking which “kids” are her favorite from that long, long list. (For background, see: When They Tell You It’s “Impossible.” Also see: How I Read 100+ books in 90 days.)

I’m kinda curious myself. I gave her the puppy eyes look.

Works every time.

So ‘clear the decks’ for Mom’s Top Reads of 2018.

Warning: “That ‘top 20’ thing’s just not gonna happen,” says Mom.

Indeed, competition for a spot on Mom’s ‘totally subjective, 100% unscientific’ list was fierce. So bow-wow-ish, in fact, that Mom divided the list into four basic categories:

  1. Best Fiction
  2. Best Non-Fiction
  3. Best Series
  4. Favorite Authors.

Also Honorable Mentions.

Each book earned its respective spot based on quality of writing, creativity and poignancy, superior characterizations, outstanding, unique plots and overall excellence. And Just Plain Fun. (Note: No book that brainlessly, repeatedly deploys gratuitous profanity ever makes Mom’s “best” list. She calls that “sloppy-writing-lazy.” Hah, bumhug again.)

365 books in one year. And then some! November 27, 2018.

Anyway, Mom’s Top Books Read in 2018 are,in no particular order:

Best Fiction

  1. Hattie Big Sky – Kirby Larson
  2. Time for Andrew – Mary Downing Hahn
  3. A Dog Called Homeless – Sarah Lean
  4. Run Far, Run Fast – Walt Morey
  5. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  6. There Come a Soldier Peggy Mercer
  7. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin
  8. Anchor in the Storm – Sarah Sundin
  9. The Wood – Chelsea Bobulski
  10. Man O’War – Walter Farley
  11. The Journey Back – Priscilla Cummings
  12. Sarah Bishop, Thunder Rolling in the Mountains – Scott O’Dell
  13. The Adoration of Jenna Fox – Mary Pearson
  14. Ever the Hunted– Erin Summerill
  15. Hoot – Carl Hiassen
  16. Dividing Eden – Joelle Charbonneau
  17. The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
  18. Unwind – Neal Shusterman

Re-reading a seasonal favorite, “The Christmas Box,” by Richard Paul Evans.

Best Nonfiction

  1. A Prisoner and Yet – Corrie ten Boom
  2. The Kite Runner (historical fiction) – Khaled Hosseini
  3. The Black Dogs Project – Fred Levy
  4. Before Amen – Max Lucado
  5. My Family for the War (historical novel) – Anne Voorhoeve
  6. Great Lodges of the National Parks – Christine Barnes
  7. Hidden Child – Isaac Millman

Best Series

  1. The Misty of Chincoteague series – Marguerite Henry
  2. The Silver Brumby series – Elyne Mitchell
  3. Billy and Blaze books– C.W. Anderson
  4. The Jimmy Vega mystery series – Suzanne Chazin
  5. Black Stallion series– Walter Farley
  6. The Survivors series – Erin Hunter
  7. Fire and Thorns trilogy – Rae Carson

Favorite Authors

Honorable Mentions

Well, woof the deck! Or something. All this reading and book-ing makes me hungry. About that leftover pot roast… You gonna eat that?

 

First things first. I haven’t moved houses or switched dog food brands. My humans are all fine. The neighborhood powder puff – that yappy little furball on four legs – is still around. So annoying. We’ve just been running around all over the place. Seems like we just wrapped up summer and now we’re halfway through fall!

Squirrel!

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Halfway through fall.

Speaking of “halves,” Mom and Dad have been thinking about midlife reading lately. Cuz two of us (who shall remain nameless) are right there. You know, that time in life where relationships change. So does work. Or so I’m told. Then there’s The Kid. At age 19, the dude actually thinks he’s an adult.

We need to talk, bro!

Well. Somebody recently posted a list of 10 Great Books to Read at Midlife. Yabba-dabba-gag-me. The powder puff could’ve come up with better choices.

Not to be outdone by ‘ole pp, Mom and I put together our own list of Top 10 Favorite Reads for Midlife. Then we got to thinking, what’s up with that? Why limit the list to “midlife”? A good read is a good read, right?

So rather than list titles, Mom and I decided to settle on some favorite authors. Because once sweater weather arrives and I get to roll around in mounds of nice, crackly leaves and jump in mud puddles, it’s also a great time to curl up with a hot mug of whatever and a good book. “Besides,” chirps Mom, “Midlife isn’t really the ‘fall’ of life. Seems more like spring to me!”

So if you’re looking to spring into some peppy, vivacious fall reads by some top-notch authors who deliver heaping helpings  of inspiration, hope, and grace and have some fun while you’re doing that midlife thing – or whatever – here ya go (in no particular order):

Jan Karon

We’re big Mitford fans. Jan does uplifting, inspirational reads about three-dimensional characters as eccentric as they are lovable and authentic. Besides. Who can resist a main character with a dog as big as a Buick?

Max Lucado

‘Max is a preacher with a storyteller’s gift — a pastor’s heart and a poet’s pen. Max’s message is simple: God loves you; let him.’

Richard Paul Evans

A master storyteller whose beautifully crafted, gentle love stories always include one essential element: Hope. He typically releases a new title every year in the fall. See my tail wagging?

Gary Paulsen

If you enjoy outdoors adventures, you’ll love this guy. What else would you expect from a dog lover and a one-time Iditarod competitor?

Anna Quindlen

Mom says she doesn’t agree with this author on anything politically. But that Anna’s a great “get real” writer with lots of insight. I don’t know what that means. But it sounds good. Does it come with milk bones?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura published her first little house book at age 65. ‘Sides. I like her dog Jack. Bet we could’ve been buddies.

 

Who would you add?

 

Have I mentioned that Her Mom-ness is sometimes a bit of a mutterer? Especially when it comes to making a movie out of a well-loved book?

Her Mom-ness and The Kid went to see a movie last week. It had the unmitigated gall to pretend it was based on an A.A. Milne classic. (“Unmitigated gall.” Isn’t that a great mutter? Learned it from Mom.)

Anyway, this Disney release pretends to be about Christopher Robin and his boyhood buds from the Hundred Acre Wood. Or something. Except that now Christopher is all grown up. Living in London. He gets a surprise visit from his old buddy Winnie-the-Pooh. There’s a train. Lots of trees. Fog. A return to London.

The rest of the meandering, strained storyline has to do with Christopher’s return to the Hundred Acre Wood, fighting Heffalumps and Woozles and a sneering, shifty boss. Also Christopher’s guilt over reneging on a promise to spend a weekend at the cottage with his wife and daughter due to a work deadline.

“Moves with the alacrity of a three-toed sloth” Mom opined. She literally fell asleep during the first hour of this “snooze-fest.” Nodded off right there in the theater for a couple minutes. Woke up. Hadn’t missed a bloomin’ thing.

The movie can’t decide whether it’s a nostalgic look back or a “silly explanation” of present time. With honey. In the end, it just doesn’t work. And what’s up with that creepy neighbor dude and Gin Rummy?

“Virtually incoherent” Mom muttered. Is there a point here? Cuz now would be good.”

“Stick with the books,” Mom concluded, shaking her head. “You can’t go wrong with The Real Deal.” We both like Pooh better on the printed page. Way better.

The good news: I got a long walk and a game of frisbee in, post theatrical dud. With ‘nary a Mom Mutter along the way.

Is this place great, or what?

Have you ever been turned off by the movie adaptation or extension of a favorite story or book? Why?

 

 

 

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