Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fourth Floor: Notions, Oceans, Potions and Vegetation.

Current Reading: Coyote Horizon, by Allen Steele

Inspirational Quote: "Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Howard Thurman

Random detritus from my brain:

I'm beginning to understand the truth about the necessity for conflict in a dramatic scene. Without it, there is no question in the reader's mind, nothing to compel them to read on. So, from this we can deduce that nothing interests people more than a good fight. I'm not sure I like what that says about human nature. It's possible that Juvenal was right: all we desire are bread and circuses.

Penelope tried her hand (and Cassandra's too) at vegetable gardening this year. Naturally, she chose the same year that the construction equipment came in, flattened our forest and filled in our swamp. As a result, we got half-a-dozen cucumbers, a dozen pea-pods and a miniature lake that drowned everything else. It was kind of pretty, but there's something a little weird about seeing cornstalks rising from a pool of water. I'm trying to convince them that next year, they should plant rice.

I am not qualified to raise children. My sons insist on doing stupid, dangerous things despite all I do to dissuade them. I hope they'll live long enough to see their brains develop. Actually, I'm hoping I'll live long enough to see their brains develop. They seem to be getting along fine, but I'm a nervous wreck.

This is a great place, although it's changed a lot since my youth, when it seemed like a combination of Disney World and the starship Enterprise: the essence of cool crossed with fun. Cassandra and I loved the reef-in-an-aquarium and the Harry Potter props exhibit. There's just so much to play with that, even though she can't read yet, she found dozens of things to do no matter where she went.

Cassandra discovered Harry Potter through the Lego video game. It's funny and clever and requires some thought. When she found out we had the books, she insisted that I read them to her. Of course, there's a lot in there that is dark and frightening, so we've only read the first, and we skipped over many of the creepier parts. While I was reading to her, I expected her to grow bored. The Philosopher's Stone is quite a long book for a six-year-old, and there are no pictures. I thought we'd soon be turning to Flat Stanley or Junie B. Jones for a little relief, but not only did she hang on every word of the much longer book, but afterward she insisted I make up stories about that world and its people. Mostly Fred and George, because they're funny and mischievous. Although some may cast aspersions on Ms. Rowling's ability, I can only watch her work spellbind a little girl and wish I had even a pinch of what Rowling has in barrels.

After that, we saw the movie of the Philosopher's Stone, which was darker still, so there was a lot of skipping over bits and we missed the climax entirely. No matter. She loved it, and couldn't wait to wander among the sets and costumes in the Science Center exhibit.

Summer is drawing to an end. It's been cool and rainy. On some trees in the Kingdom, the leaves are beginning to change and the air is taking on that smell which says Autumn is just around the corner. I love this time of year, partly because it's pretty, and partly because of the memories of falls when I was a kid. Nobody likes to go back to school, but for me there was always anticipation. Something new was about to start, and I could feel the possibilities spread out before me just waiting to be explored. Autumn always smells to me of potential and nostalgia.

Oh, and burning leaves because when some people see something breathtakingly beautiful, it only makes sense that they gather it up and set fire to it. People. Seriously, God, were we really the best you could come up with?

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