Summer Vacation 2007 (5 of 6)-Riding in Cars with Boys

All total we traveled 3000 miles. I must have filled up over 10 times! We stayed in 3 hotels. We went under mountains and through them and over them. We passed by fields, forests, lakes, an ocean, over bridges and through tunnels. All the while with four boys and a back-seat-driving wife! Minnie did something that she often does-something wonderful and magnificent and magical-she brought audio books along! SWEET!

We listened to 2 great books, Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen. And A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. we also listened to part of Culture Warrior by Bill O’Reilly, but since we did not finish I will save my review until another time-I will say I found what I heard extremely interesting and appreciative.

Water for elephants was about a man’s story in a circus in the 1930s in the midst of the Depression. It is told within a couple of years ago as he is much older. He starts out, “I am 90 or 93, I forget which…” It was a very touching story. It made me miss my dad. But it also made me thankful that he did not outlive his mind and body. It was also a story about life in a circus! It is a fairly new book and it was great, I highly recommend it. The ending was fantastic.

A 1000 Splendid Suns was also a great book. It journaled the life of 2 women who grew up in Afghanistan. It started in the mid 1970 and went to just a few years ago. Afghanistan, as it turns out, was peaceful and beautiful and radiant in the 1970s. Then the cold war hit smack dab in the middle and the U.S. gave the Afghanistan tribes weapons to fight off the Russians. Communism was established and land was taken away. The one thing that communism did bring to the region was a great importance on education and to have it equally to males and females. But women were allowed to learn and go to universities before this. Religion was downplayed and so was commerce. Once the Russians retreated the tribes were left with weapons and fought each other for power. Many people died at the hands of their own country men, but different tribes. There were fighters who tried to establish free elections, but they too were motivated by power and greed. Some tribes that had felt like they had been oppressed fought not for fair representation, but for total control. Then the Taliban came and everything went to hell. The Taliban proclaimed and enforce Sharia law. Women suddenly became worthless and oppressed. Women had to be covered in public by wearing burkas. They were never allowed to travel without a male escort and could not laugh in public or initiate conversation. Women were forbidden to work and attend schools. Hospitals were segregated. The character in the story was forced to attend a hospital with little electricity and ran only by women. They were not allowed anesthesia and the main character delivered a baby by cesarean with no pain medication whatsoever. A drought hit the region at the same time. Finally, Al Qaeda forced out the Taliban. I do not know how things went after that. There is actually a love story woven in and a relationship that strengthens between a young wife and an older wife married to the same abusive man. The few story lines take a bit to develop but are well worth the wait.

The Afghani book was written by an Afghan for Westerners. It showed how the people in general do not hate America, but have become oppressed and have been kept uneducated and taught to love war. It made me realize how little I know of the region, culture and history.

Since I am in review mode I will talk about Ratatouille which I saw with my family. Transformers was completely sold out. Disney’s Ratatouille was entertaining and the story was pretty good. The ending TOTALLY and completely sucked though. The multitude of rats running the kitchen was unbelievable and dumb. They spent all this time making us think that it is special and uncommon for a rat to interact with a human and to cook, then just expected us to think that it was OK for hundreds of rats to do the same, out goes special. It was like saying “Hey this is special and magical and now it is common life, no big deal.” The story with the food critic was pretty cool, I liked that-it was creative and fun-I liked the resolution. Then the very ending with the transitions that happen in the restaurant was just joltingly sudden and just disappointing. It was like they created a great script and built up to a great conflict then just wasn’t quite sure how to resolve and wrap things up-so they made a few wrong decisions…and it became boring and disappointing. I guess the theme came through: Anyone can cook. Yippy.

-Durk-

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