A Little Bit of Theory, a Little Bit of Fun.

When I imagined finishing my last graduate course, I envisioned many hours of bubble gum reading.  I'd indulge in every genre imaginable.  I talked a bit about my intended reading lists here and here.   As I look at those old posts, I'm happy to see that at least a few of them have been read.

The Hangman's Daughter (The Hangman's Daughter #1)   Calamity Jayne (Calamity Jayne Mystery, #1)     The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

I still intend to make my way through those lists before the year's end.  Those and several more.  After all, I set myself a ridiculous reading goal this year: 100 books.  Right now, I've read a whopping 34 titles.  That only leaves...66 to go before December 31.  With approximately 15 weeks to go, that means I'll need to read four and a half books a week.  

Um. Yikes. 

That's a lot of books and not a lot of time.  Now, I'm not saying it's impossible because I could absolutely select books that are easily consumed in a day or two.  Skinny books with low page counts come immediately to mind.  Also, some genres read easier than others.  

Reading theory for fun, though, is seriously slowing me down.  Right now, I've got three books at various stages of progress. 

The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences   The Wave in the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination    The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination

Foucault I started just last week.  I'm reading this one with a friend (you know who you are!).  Our goal is to read two chapters a week and discuss them on one of our afternoon walks.  This is a good thing because I'm going to need someone else to bounce ideas off as this is not nearly as accessible as I first thought it would be.  Although, as I near the end of chapter two, I feel he is beginning to speak a language I can once again understand.  The abstract is becoming more concrete. 

I've read about half of LeGuin's book.  It's not theory on the same level as Foucault or Gubar & Gilbert, but it's defintely not easy reading, either.  Well, some of the essays are actually quite accessible and even entertaining.  In all honesty, this book will be the easiest of the three to finish.  I just need to figure out where I left it...it's somewhere in the house.  I'm sure of it. 

Gilbert and Gubar's book uses theory but reads like literary analysis.  It's interesting, but can be somewhat challenging when the discussion shifts to novels I've not read.  Knowing the story and the characters the two have put under the microscope helps.  Let's just say I'll never look at Frankenstein or Wuthering Heights the same way.  Also, I now feel the very real need to sit down and read Milton's Paradise Lost.

On a more entertaining note, I'm also reading this...

House of Leaves

It's perhaps one of the strangest pieces of fiction I've read in a very long time.  I'm only page 74, so I'm not sure I should even try at this point to give any kind of an overview.  Let's just say, I have a feeling the weirdness is only beginning.  

The Badlands of South Dakota

This is it.  The last post on the big 2013 family vacation.

On our way home, we continued our small detour and ventured into the South Dakota Badlands.  We spent quite a few hours driving through the park, admiring bizarre landscape and its abundant wildlife. 

While most of the mountainous formations were a pale ash color, there were splashes of color.  These pink and yellow layers in the rock were very striking. Looking at these pictures now, it's easy to let the imagination run a little wild.  Could this be some alien landscape undergoing human terra-forming? Hmm. Story fodder for later, perhaps. 

They were so ready to go home and weren't quite as impressed as mom and dad at this point.  This changed, though, when the animals started to appear. 

We might not have spotted these bighorn sheep if some other tourists hadn't been out photographing them.  They were several ridges away and their coats and horns really didn't stand out in stark contrast against the backdrop of the sand-colored mountains.  

We watched these fellas (I assume they're boys because of those horns...am I wrong?) for some time. Eventually, though, we decided to leave them to their sunbathing. 

Not too far around the next bend we found the prairie dog town.  Can I just say that I think these little critters are adorable?  

There were hundreds (thousands?) of these little critters in the Badlands, but this concentration of burrows were fairly close to the road and easily accessible. I was able to get fairly close to this mama and her babies without alarming them.  When I got a little too close for comfort, they chittered at me to keep my distance. Strangely, they did not bolt below ground. 

There were, of course, more pronghorns.  This feisty pair even put on a bit of a show by locking horns a bit. 

Yikes!  Rattlesnakes?  I was walking barefoot earlier.  If I had known rattlesnakes might be in the vicinity, I wouldn't have gotten out of the car!

After seeing this sign, I tried my best to keep the boys from wandering off into the grass.  They found my paranoia amusing.

My oldest even did a little videotaping and cell-phone photography with my phone.  Although you can't really see it here, he was laughing as he kept the phone of my reach.  Stinker!

We were nearly out of the park when we happened to notice these bighorn sheep ambling along.  I snapped a few pictures from the car.  Ken was a bit braver.  He pulled over, grabbed the camera, and crept up along a grassy buttress that blocked him from the sheep's sight.  

They never knew he was there. 

After several hundred miles in the car later, we were home.  While it was sad to think we would soon be back at work and into the old routine, it was very nice seeing this little fella again!

We sure did miss him.