The boys and I recently finished reading Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I can remember Mrs. McGinley reading it to us in fourth grade after we had come back in from lunch recess. Amazingly, we would all sit quietly while she read to us for a good 30 minutes. Most of us would draw pictures while we listened, while a few were content to just put their heads on their folded arms and listen.
I realized quickly that I did not remember a lot of the story, which was strange to discover since I distinctly remember drawing a picture of a rather large peach rolling across the landscape...
Anyway, it didn't take long for August to become completely enthralled with the fantastical story and characters, nor did he tarry in discovering similarities between it and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The short chapters were notorious for leaving us hanging and so it wasn't uncommon to find ourselves stilled wrapped up in the story an hour later (wonderful on a lazy afternoon, not so wonderful when you realize it is suddenly 10:00 p.m.).
As we sprinted through the book we found ourselves pausing, every now and then, just to muse on what images were coming to mind. It was fun to listen to each other and build upon one another's fantasies. And every once in awhile, one of us would say, "I wonder how they would make this into a movie...?" Inevitably, each of us would slowly grin as we wandered back into our own reveries, imagining how what we "saw" might come to life. Somehow, in some deep, intangible way, I knew that it wasn't possible to pull off the craziness of this book. It was as if the story, as it played out in my brain, was only truly capable of existing within that realm--in my head.
We discovered, much to our disappointment, that we were completely right. The movie version (1996) that we watched this evening was partly live action, partly animated. The boy who played James was good enough, I suppose, but all of the other characters simply failed to live up to their bookish counterparts. Aunt Sponge wasn't nearly as obese as we had imagined and Aunt Spiker, although sufficiently frightening, was not tall and skinny enough. Needless to say, there were many changes to the plot which meant that important details were left out, confusing scenes that were not part of the original story were added, and the overall mood just didn't fit. At one point I actually said, out loud, "Why are they doing this to the story? I don't understand."
After the movie was over and I was tucking the boys in bed, Aidan shared that he "did not care for that movie one bit!" When I pressed him for details he paused, shook his head and said, "It was just so different from the book and it was not at all what I imagined." He was right and I suddenly regretted that we had watched the movie at all. I felt like I had stolen his interpretation of a wonderfully crazy tale and replaced it with a very cheap knock off. I wanted to take back the cinematic experience and go back to the place where the real story lived.
Oh well, lesson learned. I believe that I will think long and hard about watching a movie version of a beloved book from now on. It's so hard though. Books are these incredible living organisms that breathe into you, become part of you, change the way that you look at the world around you and it is only natural to want to make that experience tangible and real. Short of acting it out myself, I watch a movie (and its production company with its much bigger budget and its computer graphic capabilities...) to, hopefully, make some of that happen. I suppose that the best place for that to really blossom is where it belongs anyway, in my head.
"Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes."
I can now share pictures with you again!!!! It's a long story about why there haven't pictures on my blog for the last six months and most of it doesn't reflect well on me. Simply put, we have purchased a new computer with something like 4 million times the memory as the previous sloth machine. Now I will be able to illustrate more of my blog entries as I have been wont to do for eons...
As a way to celebrate, I thought that I would share some shots of the natural happenings around our place. I LOVE my camera and I am so impressed with its incredible ability to make me look like I know what I am doing behind the lens. Granted, Mother Nature provides the perfect material. I'm just lucky enough to stumble upon it.
As if not writing for months on end weren't enough to keep this space so vacant, I am now attempting this post for the second time after my computer just turned itself off on me in the middle of my composing. AARRGGHH!!! I suppose it's better than my computer having crashed, which is what I thought was happening before my very eyes.... but still!
Oh well, maybe my computer was playing editor to my rambling nonsense and now I'm forced to curtail and straighten up whatever it was that I was going to share with you.
It had something to do with what we've been up to the last month or two and that being the reason that I haven't darkened the door of my personal space on the "Inter-mi-net"...
So, a shortened list of what has been distracting me as of late:
I have named it thus because I must stop referring to it as our garden, or even, the garden. The truth is this--that garden wouldn't be here if it weren't for my sweet husband. For all my pining and longing for a verdant garden that drips with produce I really don't know the nuts and bolts of what said garden requires. What I do know, I know through John. I take phrases and sentences that he has said to me and then repeat them as if I had acquired that knowledge through diligent study and practice. I'm officially outing myself in regards to gardening. I live vicariously through my husband. Now you know. But I won't let that stop me from bragging on it or taking pictures of it or eating its harvest. I do the flower beds, he does the garden. And boy does he do it well (take that however you want).
This is the summer that the boys decided that they were tired of trying to swim while simultaneously trying to keep any part of their body above their neckline completely dry. I suppose this is the kind of thing that one just has to learn on their own. No amount of maternal suggestion, illustration or bribery was able to break through the stubbornness that fed this obsession. On the first day of swim lessons they both just decided it was time to put on their big boy panties swim trunks and face the music. Oh, the goggles from grandma and grandpa probably helped, too. Whatever the motivation, for it doesn't matter to me what it was, they moved ahead when they were ready. It's amazing how often this truth screams its way into my smallish, stubborn brain.
*Learning all the time...
My boys really don't understand the concept of "school" in any formal way. I've tried in the past to "do" some of that but it always blew up in my face. It has only been in this last half of the year that I have seen what we do for what it is. And what it is is simply--us being ourselves.
If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. ~Johann von Goethe
When we decided to keep our learning based at home, I had to begin a de-schooling process that still continues. I am constantly questioning how we do things and not in a way that is helpful. It is always with an eye for what is wrong, rather than what is right. But yesterday I had the most wonderful visit with a friend that I met through our homeschool group last year. We went to her house for a time of "joyful play" for the kids but what I received from her was a wonderful gift of acceptance and affirmation. She asked me some about how we do things around our house. I've gotten somewhat better about describing what a day looks like at our house but I still find myself trying to couch it in educational terms, for fear of being judged as a slacker or incompetent. She was so quick to tell me that she thought that what we did was great and even, that there was a part of her that wished that she could do things kind of like we did. What keeps her from being more of an unschooler is that she, by nature, is a very structured person (I think the term she used was neurotic but I think that is a bit harsh) and she craves an organizational structure on which she can hang their learning. I totally understand that. I even have my own moments when I feel the same way. But the beautiful thing is, both of us are right. (see above quote)
So for now, we will continue to learn what we want, as we want, at the pace we want. I believe that my boys are better for it.
So that is a brief little ditty to catch you up to the present day.
One of these days I'm going to fix it so I can bring you some pictures again (I've got some good ones for you).
In the meantime, I'll see if I can get myself back in the swing of things, blogging-wise.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer full of rope swings, swimming holes and sweet, drippy watermelon.