Monday, July 30, 2012

Somnium means Dream in Latin

I just read a fun book called Kepler's Dream by Juliet Bell. It grabbed me right from the get-go, mostly because I knew it was a book I wanted to share with V (I'll be sending it to her at camp today). It's a wonderful story filled with interesting inside information and great sayings. 

Here are some of my favorite great sayings:
Expletive Deleted (I should explain "expletive deleted".  An expletive is a swear word. I got the phrase from Mom, who used to say it instead of swearing. And she got it from Richard Nixon, who left the presidency in a cloud of shame and cusswords when Mom was a kid. Nixon, I guess, had a pretty dirty mouth - something he had in common with my dad - and when they wrote down what he use to say in meetings, they kept substituting "expletive deleted" for all the bad words. Like an earlier version of bleep.
Meanagers I explained to Rosie about "expletive deleted" and how handy it was around foul mouthed people. She thought that was funny. We started walking along the back tangle together with Lou, talking about teens - how when some people turn sixteen they suddenly seem to stop doing anything but swearing and texting. I told Rosie about the day in Santa Rosa when there was an obnoxious bunch of high schoolers on our bus ride home and Abbie had made up a new word: meanagers.
I plan on using "expletive deleted" in place of swear words, and "meanagers" when referring to mean teenagers on a more regular basis.

Here are some more of my favorite bits:

She made it clear in some lecture or other - maybe the time she told me I must never go into her room without asking; or the time she said, with her trademark sarcasm, how delightful it would be if people would sound less like a herd of elephants stampeding through the hallways - well, anyway, it was clear that if I ever woke my grandmother up by mistake, I would regret it. I'd always been confused about the difference between corporal and capital punishment, but I was pretty sure the GM believed in both. 
(FYI - capital punishment is the death penalty and corporal punishment is the infliction of physical injury - like spanking. I love this bit; especially the amount of punctuation it takes to pull off that first sentence!)

It wasn't my idea to spend that summer at my grandmother's house. I hardly even knew my grandmother had a house - made out of mud or anything else. I'd heard that she and my dad didn't get along, and that she was maybe mean, or crazy, or both, but I never met the woman before. She was like a made-up character, Cruella de Ville or Darth Vader, someone you've heard stories about but don't believe actually exists. 

I don't know where you want to draw the line between being "nosy" and being "curious". Or whether "curious" is even always a good thing. When we were doing our science fair projects, Ms. Nelson told us that curiosity was an important quality for a scientist; on the other hand, look how much trouble that famous monkey George gets into, even if things usually work out for him in the end. As for nosiness, I never appreciated it when my mom occasionally went investigating in my room and found my secret stash of Halloween candy, or some dumb teen magazine I was embarrassed for her to see. "That's private!" I'd protest, and she'd just give me a look, like, Not anymore, it isn't.

And finally:

So here's a piece of advice I will give you free of charge. Don't, if you can help it, lie to horse people about how much riding experience you have. It isn't worth it.

And yet I haven't said a thing about what Kepler's Dream is about; in a nutshell...

Eleven-year-old Ella's mother is hospitalized to undergo a dangerous cancer treatment and Ella is forced to spend the summer with her estranged grandmother. Through a rare and beloved book called Kepler's Dream of the Moon comes mystery and forgiveness and the enduring bond of family and friendship.

A book about a book is always a favorite of mine.

Some things you might want to reference 
if you read Kepler's Dream:
This is the crew of Apollo 11
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, & Michael Collins (center)

Johannes Kepler

GM's House of Mud Map

The Big Dipper pattern
The Big Dipper is made up of seven brightest Ursa Major stars. The Dipper is significant because the North Star (Polaris) can be found using it ... maybe now I've given too much away!?

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