"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Books


Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister -- While waiting up for her son to get home one night, Jen witnesses a murder: her son knifes a guy in their yard! What a nightmare. Somehow Jen sleeps that night, and wakes up upstairs in her bed though she doesn't recall going up there. (She remembers last sitting on the couch.) Turns out, she wakes up the day before she saw her son knife a guy to death. Then, it happens again. Each day she gets to relive what happened before, though this time, she pays closer attention to details that she was too busy to see before. Pretty interesting and different.

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica -- Jessie is waiting for her mom, Eden, to die from cancer and the insomnia has her mind playing tricks on her. After her mom dies, Jessie is still unable to sleep so she tracks down clues to her identity and why her social security number belongs to a child who died when she was three. Parts of this book were annoying and I skimmed a page or two towards the end because the insomnia-induced hallucinations were getting old, but overall this was an OK book.

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins -- When Emily reconnects with her childhood friend, she agrees to spend the summer with Chess in Italy! Chess is a best-selling author of self-help books while Emily writes cozy murders for a decent living. While in the villa, Emily reads about a murder that took place in the mid-1970s and is inspired to write about it and solve a mystery. Pretty good story.

My Name is Selma by Selma van de Perre -- this is "The remarkable memoir of a Jewish resistance fighter and Ravensbrück survivor." Andrew got this book at the library and thought I'd like it so I read it. Interesting story by this Dutch lady.

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama -- a pretty fast read with some encouraging words about how to go higher and such. I enjoyed reading about her parents and daughters (the latter of whom were living together in Los Angeles when the book was written.)

This next bit is long so I'll note where the next book starts in case you want to skip all this China talk. 

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang -- This is one of the longest books I've read in quite a while and it has so many interesting things. I just decided to jot down a few things that stood out to me so far. A blogger friend Danielle mentioned that this was a book she and her mom enjoyed reading and discussing.  Her post about that is rather touching.

Sorry these notes are in such a disjointed way...I am doing them mainly to remind myself of things that were fairly shocking.  I suppose since Danielle and her mom enjoyed this book so much, I wanted to make a special effort to record some things. Note:  I started this on February 8th and finished on the 12th. I alternated with the Obama book while reading this one since that one is a library book.

Part of this book takes place as Japan is in control of China and World War II is in the background. In fact, the Chinese of her region cheered when the American bombs were dropped on the Japanese.

Greatgrandma -- Wu "Er-ya-tou"  (born 1888)
Grandma -- Yu-fang  (born 1909)
Mom -- Bao Qin/De-hong  (born 1931)
Dad -- Wang Yu (born 1921)
Author --  Er-hong/Jung  (born 1952)

So many interesting cultural things to me:

The author's grandma -- feet broken and bound which was extremely painful for her her whole life; married as a concubine to a general who left her soon after the wedding and didn't return for six years; she was threatened with having her child taken from her to be raised as the official wife's child, but she escaped. Married a Manchu doctor who was much older; his children strongly rejected to this marriage as they were older than she was and thought she was after his money; they didn't want to honor her as their new mother. In protest, the eldest son shot himself to make a point, and instead killed himself. Re: her great-grandfather who was fourteen and married to a 20 year old:  the author made the comment that "it was considered one of the duties of the wife to help bring up her husband." (pg. 22) 

Author's great-grandma was named Er-ya-tou, basically "Number Two Girl." (pg. 22)

There was a lot of other rather-interesting things, but then I started jotting down notes of the author's mom as she related them. She was against Japanese rule, and initially was fine with the Kuomintang officials, but later she was enamored by what she'd learned about Communism. In its more ideal form, it does sound pretty good when you are thinking you can get rid of some of these ridiculous and harmful traditions. So the author's mom ended up marrying a Communist with a pretty high position. Her husband wasn't the loving caring person she hoped for and some of that struggle is outlined. Such as when they were leaving her hometown for his (which was actually not done much), he was able to ride in a vehicle whereas she had to walk and carry her bedroll. She saw another woman being carried across rivers by her husband, yet her own husband wouldn't even take her bedroll in his jeep. He said he had earned this position and she had not, and for him to ease her burden would be unfair to the others. Later, when she had stabbing pains in her abdomen and asked her husband to take her home, he saw the driver was enjoying the movie or music and didn't want to disturb him. (Which is actually kind of thoughtful except for the fact that the lady was having a miscarriage and had to have a blood transfusion and hospital stay so... legit abdominal pain there. She hobbled home by herself since her husband wouldn't leave.) At times she was criticized for crying. People said she had "behaved like 'a precious lady from the exploiting classes.'" (pg. 144) Side note: I cry a lot so I suppose I'm a "precious lady," too??

When her mom traveled two months to see her daughter in her new home, word got around that she was cooking (not allowed) and making clothes for the upcoming baby (how dare the baby need new clothes? just use old ones). So the mother who'd traveled two months to get to her daughter's new home was forced to leave after only staying a month. The husband wouldn't make an exception for his family. Oh, also the author's mom was criticized for putting family first (pg. 164).

She was also criticized for wanting to wash too much (peasants rarely wash, why should you?) and since her husband was a higher-up person, he could wash with hot water. She would use his leftover water...how dare she?

Clearly these criticisms caught my eye!

Also, they had to get permission to marry - from the Party! The author notes that the Community Party was the new patriarch. (pg. 127)

Pages 240-307
In my reading today (February 9th), I learned about the author's parents mellowing in their beliefs, especially her father who always put Party over his family. The author tells of her privileged upbringing since her dad was a higher-up official, yet how she would shrink down in the car so no one would see her, and how her father applauded her doing this as it showed she didn't like having privileges.  Her dad said that they worked so that one day all people could have the privileges her family had.  Her parents got along better during this time and her mom wasn't as resentful of her father.

I smiled at the part where Chinese parents would tell their children to eat their food or whatever because the poor capitalist kids were starving.  One day her friend had a raincoat and Jung was envious, but later criticized herself for this "'bourgeois' tendency" thinking of "'all the children in the capitalist world - they can't even think of owning an umbrella!'"  (pg. 246)

The author admitted that her brother loved science and became enamored with the United States which caused her father to be "at a loss about how to respond." ""What can we do? This child is going to grow up to become a rightist!'" (pg. 248)

Jung talks about how Mao eventually declared grass, flowers, and pets as "bourgeois" so the children had to go around school pulling up blades of grass and destroying flowers. (pg. 270).  Pulling up grass was a common method of punishment and since the grass was stubborn, there was usually a ready supply of it to be pulled!

Though she joined the Red Guards, she relates how things they did didn't sit well with her including closing tea shops. One old man told her that he went there because he shared a room with two grandsons.  "I come up here for quiet," and Jung was ashamed. She didn't realize people lived like this and had to share a small space in this way. (pg. 291)

I didn't note much about the remaining pages though they were interesting as Mao had his various campaigns, and her loyal parents were denounced, tormented, detained, and sent to various parts of the country, separately. The family of 6, at one time, was in five different places throughout the country. Really interesting look at Jung's family, and how her parents changed in many ways over the years, and how her own views of Mao changed. It's hard to change your mind about someone revered like a god.

Towards the end of the book, the author wrote this which I shared on Facebook:

"In the days after Mao's death, I did a lot of thinking. I knew he was considered a philosopher, and I tried to think of what his 'philosophy' really was. It seemed to me that its central principle was the need - or the desire? - for perpetual conflict. The core of his thinking seemed to be that human struggles were the motivating force of history, and that in order to make history 'class enemies' had to be continuously created en masse. ...

But Mao's theory might just be the extension of his personality. He was, it seemed to me, really a restless fight promoter by nature, and good at it. He understood ugly human instincts such as envy and resentment, and knew how to mobilize them for his ends. He ruled by getting people to hate each other. In doing so, he got ordinary Chinese to carry out many of the tasks undertaken in other dictatorships by professional elites. Mao had managed to turn the people into the ultimate weapons of dictatorship. That was why under him there was no real equivalent of the KGB in China. There was no need. In bringing out and nourishing the worst in people, Mao had created a moral wasteland and a land of hatred."  (pg. 495-6)

Hahaha...seems I read this book in September 2012 as I blogged about it. Well, it was a good reread ten years later. I kept thinking the lady looked familiar, but I also read a book by her in 2018.


Life on the Mississippi by Rinker Buck -- This is one that Suzanne mentioned on her blog that she read in 2022. Last year I read another book by this guy at her recommendation (when he traveled the Oregon Trail by mule) so I decided to read this one. He had a flat bottom boat built which he and a variety of folks who joined him along the way sailed from the Ohio River down the Mississippi to New Orleans.  Some of the stuff was a bit boring to me, but mostly it was pretty good. I like when he pulled into river towns and locals would join him in the evenings. He went to a Pentecostal church's picnic while in New Madrid, Missouri, and such fun things. He met an interesting bunch of people along the way. I enjoyed the history of the rivers, and how it contributed to America's growth in good and bad ways.

Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb -- I've read most of her books by now, I think. This was one I got for Christmas that I'd had on my Amazon Wishlist. An ok book about Camille Claudel a French sculptor who learned under Auguste Rodin.

The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict -- An interesting look at World War II's beginnings from the viewpoints of Unity, Diana, and Nancy Mitford, the first two big-time fans and friends of Hitler. Pretty good book.

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton -- When a neighborhood favorite Charlie goes missing. detective Elise King investigates. Only she's on medical leave so her investigation is a bit on the sly...until her department reinstates her. Pretty interesting story.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney -- As Amber lies in a coma, she hears voices: her husband and sister, the nurses, and a voice from her past. This book alternates between Amber being in the coma, as well as the days leading up to her hospitalization, plus a diary written twenty-some years ago. Pretty good, twisty tale.

My Wife Is Missing by D.J. Palmer -- When Michael gets back to the hotel room in New York City with the pizza his family is hungry for, he is startled to discover his wife and children aren't there. Especially when he sees that their suitcases are missing as well. Eventually Michael realizes his family left him - but why? 
Note to self as I post this on 2/28:  H36BD, DBF,III. I <3 U! 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 4 Notes


In Season 4 Noraly is home for the winter so she decides to investigate the Dutch Moto Scene by riding on three Ducati bikes, training at race tracks for motocross and flat track and a Dutch police department, and such things. Sounds kind of dreadful if you aren't into motorcycles, but she made it entertaining and it was a neat thing for her to do while stuck in The Netherlands in late 2020 as the pandemic still had many borders shut.

She mentioned in a Live Chat that she really wanted to go to a place where she could overland with Rhonin, but with some countries open and others not, she was having trouble figuring out where to go next.  In the meantime . . .

Note: all of these take place in The Netherlands except for the last episode in this series.

February 23

watched episodes 1-2, plus a Live Chat from back then ; I enjoyed seeing her talk to the children at the race track where they train

February 24

watched episodes 3-5 which included training on trial bikes, motocross, and a race with twelve year old Jayson

February 25

watched episodes 6-7 which included training and races at a flat track (mud flying onto her face) and a ride on an electric motorcycle as she followed a park ranger through the natural preserve; I enjoyed seeing the cows, sheep, trees, and views here

We also watched the Christmas Special which doesn't have an episode designation, but was enjoyable as Noraly shopped at the Dutch version of a dollar store and bought and wrapped many presents which she passed out as she drove around on her motorcycle while wearing a Santa suit. She also dropped off 140 Christmas cards for residents of an elderly-care place. Though she didn't show us a close-up of what she wrote, it was more than a signature of "Merry Christmas! From, Noraly"!

February 26

watched episodes 8-10 which included two episodes where Noraly trained with Dutch police who ride motorcycles. That was pretty neat, and Andrew and I thought how weird it was to have a civilian, YouTube star train with police. Wonder if this were a recruitment tool for the Dutch PD!

Episode 10 is the only one in this series to take place outside of The Netherlands. Noraly traveled two and a half hours to Belgium to train with a couple of guys who do Enduro races. That was tough!

From looking at the caption on this video, it seems she had more planned for this series, but more covid lockdowns made further episodes impossible at this time. Thus ends Season 4.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 3 Notes


In previous posts, I've mentioned Itchy Boots, and I wanted to continue recording our viewing history and my notes here.

Season 3 began with Noraly back in The Netherlands (I never know whether or not to capitalize the "The," so bear with my inconsistencies. I see it both ways.) due to the pandemic. Before the season officially begins, she has a couple of specials where she talks about buying herself a new bike, a Honda which she named Rhonin.  In this season, Noraly travels to some Northern European countries which had opened up. Actually it was quite tricky because as she started the adventure, Norway closed their borders, but later when she gets rejected by Finland, she learned Norway will accept her since she's arriving by a northern Swedish border crossing. So, yeah, covid lockdowns and border closings were a reality for her then.

In order to stay more isolated, Noraly planned to camp instead of staying in a lot of hotels, and she did do some camping, but not as much as she wished. For one thing, parts of Sweden and Norway were just too cold - and at one time it rained for days, so...

I really enjoyed seeing these parts of Europe and experiencing camping and riding with her during these 33 episodes. Also some of the food bits were funny, especially in Sweden as she tried this fermented canned fish that smelled horribly.

February 13, 2023

started with a couple of pre-episodes explaining her decision to buy a new bike, and the name she chose for it

watched episodes 1-3 which were in The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark

February 14

watched episodes 4-7 which were in Denmark and Iceland

February 16

watched episodes 8-13 which were in Iceland

February 17

watched episodes 14-23 which were in Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden

February 18

watched episodes 24-29 which were in Sweden, Lapland, and Norway

February 21

watched episodes 30-33 which were in Norway, Denmark, Germany, and The Netherlands

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Itchy Boots Season 2 & The Netherlands Episodes


In a previous post, I introduced this blog to Itchy Boots and how we came to watch her YouTube channel last year. I also wrote about watching Season 1 while waiting for her to start a new journey which I believe she started around January 30. New videos should begin soon, maybe tomorrow. She usually gives herself a couple weeks head start before she starts posting new videos - and she's been leaving her fans hanging as to where she will be this time! (It took so long to start Season 7 because she shipped her bike, Alaska, this time, and apparently shipping takes much, much longer.) 

We started Season 2 on January 17. This was supposed to be the year and a half she had planned to ride from Buenos Aires, Argentina, down to the most southern place she could travel in Patagonia and then start north towards Alaska. But you may recall that she didn't make it to Alaska until Season 6 (August 2022) and this season began in late 2019. Looking at the dates, you can probably figure out what happened to her travel plans.

January 17, 2023

started with "Good News, Bad News" in which she talks about why she can't ride Basanti any more, and instead has a new bike which she named Dhanno

watched episodes 1-5 which were in The Netherlands, the UK (she loaded Dhanno to transport here as it was much cheaper to fly her bike from Heathrow than from The Netherlands), back to The Netherlands (where she flew from), and on to Argentina

January 19

 watched episodes 6-11 which were in Argentina

January 20

 watched episodes 12-16 which were in Argentina

she said she was 1.68 meters tall when she was standing near a petrified tree; I had wondered about her height since I heard that Dutch people were among the tallest in the world

January 22

 watched episodes 17-21 which were in Argentina, Chile, and Argentina again

she got to the End of the Road where there was a small naval station; from then on, she was headed north to Alaska

January 24

 watched episodes 22-25 which were in Argentina and Chile

I really enjoyed when she was showing us her errands in eps. 23 and we met Juan who chatted with her in the store. His questions and responses amused me.

Also, in eps. 24, I really enjoyed the Venezuelan guy who was living in Chile and working at the place where Noraly saw the condors.

She mentioned later that she saw the best wildlife during her travels in Argentina, and I really enjoyed seeing that as well. She took us on a couple of "tours" to places where we could see penguins and sea lions.

January 26

 watched episodes 26-31 which were in Chile and Argentina (mostly)

January 27

 watched episodes 32-35 which were in Argentina and Chile

January 28

 watched episodes 36-41 which were in Chile and Argentina

in eps. 41, she said "welcome to 2020" although it wasn't quite 2020 when she recorded it since she has that built-in posting delay

January 30

 watched episodes 42-46 which were in Argentina, Chile, and back to Argentina

January 31

 watched episodes 47-50 which were in Argentina

Here she decided to take a few weeks off to rest and get some things straightened out. I checked her publishing dates from back then and it went from January 20, 2020, to February 11, 2020, when she posted again.

February 2

watched episodes 51-56 which were in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia

February 3

watched episodes 57-61 which were in Bolivia

really enjoyed the tour of the silver mine here

February 5

watched episodes 62-66 which were in Bolivia

February 7

watched episodes 67-72 which were in Bolivia and Peru

She had planned to stay a week in La Paz, and even got a week's membership at the gym thinking working out at higher altitude would prepare her for upcoming weeks, but after a couple of days, she had a major change of plans when Bolivia decided to shut down the borders. Noraly had to quickly get to Peru where she hoped she would be able to continue traveling. Unfortunately in Peru, she got stuck in quarantine in a place where she, the blond-haired, blue-eyed European, was frowned upon for possibly bringing covid into their village. She kept a really interesting "diary" of her days while waiting to see what would happen next. She wanted to ride out quarantine in Peru until she felt her life was in danger. She said this was the first time she had ever experienced this in all her travels.

February 9

watched episodes 73-76 which were in Peru and the Netherlands

Interesting episodes about how she got to Lima from the small village she had been in for a couple of weeks; how she was repatriated to The Netherlands with hundreds of others; and her arrival at an airport she'd been in countless times - and it was so empty.

After Season 2 ended abruptly, Noraly did a few specials, a couple of which we'd watched before: some footage of times she'd fallen and had some other mishaps, and then some highlights of her travels since she'd ridden over 60,000 kilometers around the world. It was fun to see some of the folks from her Asia trip (Season 1) as well as highlights from Season 2.

February 9

We watched Special episodes 1 and 2 about The Netherlands; she rode a motorcycle she named Lima (this one is borrowed since she had to leave Dhanno in Peru)

February 10

We watched a live chat called "What's Next?" where she discussed some plans while waiting for things to open up again; we also watched eps. 3 about her country (tragic day that affected my family); her father joined her for a few minutes in this one.

In her live chat, Noraly was asked about languages she spoke, and she declared that she wasn't fluent in Spanish, but tried to improve it as she traveled. (In one of the videos, she mentioned living with a family in Guatemala, I believe, several years back where she took Spanish language classes.)  She mentioned having taken six languages in high school: Dutch, English, German, French, some Spanish, Latin, and "old" Greek. She learned some Portuguese during her years of living in Brazil. She said she's lost a lot of that, but thinks it would come back if she ever went there again.

February 11

Finished watching the last two videos around the Netherlands plus another live chat "What's Happening?" -- since much of the world was in some form of lockdown, these live chats seemed popular

The episodes around the Netherlands, she said, took her about three days to prepare. She tried to read historical and interesting information to share, and these last two were really good. She took us to the highest point in the Netherlands which is actually where her country meets Germany and Belgium. She took a walk to all three points. Also, she showed us a limestone mine and had a brief tour of where the Dutch people stored paintings so they would be preserved during World War II. She walked into a vault where the temperature was controlled and where one painting that was too big to store properly, was rolled up and turned daily by workers so it would be preserved.

The final episode was on the day the Dutch were celebrating 75 years of freedom, and she took us to places important in the war against the Germans. There is a bridge named after an American who parachuted into that region. She also recommended the movie "A Bridge Too Far" which told about another place where Allied forces were unable to achieve their objectives. She said the reasons were too much to get into and suggested the movie. She showed a very well-kept cemetery where Dutch soldiers were buried. She said there were others in the Netherlands for Allied troops, but some were closed due to covid. She said the Dutch people adopted the graves to keep them looking nice and putting flowers on them. She said the waiting list was so long for people wanting to adopt a grave, that they no longer accepted names for the list! 



If you want to watch Season 7 from the start, it should start soon! I wonder where she will go this time.