Five Weeks (or seven days mentally) in a Balloon

The latest book I finished is Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon or Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Englishmen.  It is the first book in the Jules Verne Collection I bought from the Kindle store.

This was a tough read for me.  I almost stopped reading at the start given the scientific (e.g., how the balloon functions) and historical (e.g., previous expeditions) references in the first few chapters.  In addition, difficult words abound in this edition; for some words, it was even the first time I encountered them  (NOTE: Thankfully, I am reading via Kindle which has a built-in dictionary/word look-up).

But, I was after an “adventure” and this kept me going to push and read on.

At the end of the book, I have to say I did get my aeronaut adventure crossing Africa.  A lot of trials were experienced by Dr. Samuel Ferguson, Joseph “Joe” Wilson and Richard “Dick” Kennedy throughout their five-week journey – dehydration, lack of wind, bandits and condors, etc.  It was not a smooth five weeks, especially in the last few stretches of the trip.  I do not fancy this kind of trip, but it was an experience and exercise for the imagination.  As they put it:

these trips across the desert are far more perilous than those across the ocean.  The desert has all the dangers of the sea, including the risk of being swallowed up, and added thereto are unendurable fatigues and deprivations.

Joe stood out for me in this trip, even with his short episode of greed.

However, nowadays, there are probably better and more accurate description of the wonders of African continent, especially its human population.  I have not been there but the consistent description of them as gullible, savages and cannibals, among others, I felt was a bit over the top.

Glad I was able to finish this one.  Now I need a lighter read.

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Oz Notebook

Oz is one of those fairy places that I always heard of but did not know much about, except for the image of Dorothy with a Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Lion in tow.  So curiosity got the best of me and bought the Oz collection from the Amazon store.  No regrets here.  Thank you L. Frank Baum for the wonderful stories!

Favorite book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Book 1)

Favorite character:  Dorothy (runner-up:  Scarecrow) // Memorable villain:  Nome King // Character I wish to know more of:  Zeb (runner-up:  Glinda the Good)

Favorite chapter:  The Discovery of Oz, the Terrible – Book 1 (runner-up: Bunnybury – Book 6)

Similar to what I did for the Harry Potter series, I selected one quote for each book in the Oz series.  I posted them in twitter and now collecting the quotes here in my cyber pensieve for easier reference.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz –

“Can’t you give me brains?” asked the Scarecrow. “You don’t need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn’t know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get. (Wizard)

The Marvelous Land of Oz-

“You are both rich, my friends,” said Ozma, gently; “and your riches are the only riches worth having—the riches of content!”

Ozma of Oz –

“No,” said Dorothy, “I wasn’t drowned at all. And I’ve come to nurse you and take care of you, Uncle Henry, and you must promise to get well as soon as poss’ble.” Uncle Henry smiled and cuddled his little niece close in his lap. “I’m better already, my darling,” said he.

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz –

“That is right, Eureka,” remarked the Wizard, earnestly. “Let us all be a happy family and love one another.” Eureka yawned and stretched herself. “I’ve always loved the piglets,” she said; “but they don’t love me.” “No one can love a person he’s afraid of,” asserted Dorothy. “If you behave, and don’t scare the little pigs, I’m sure they’ll grow very fond of you.”

The Road to Oz –

“Money! Money in Oz!” cried the Tin Woodman. “What a queer idea! Did you suppose we are so vulgar as to use money here?” “Why not?” asked the shaggy man. “If we used money to buy things with, instead of love and kindness and the desire to please one another, then we should be no better than the rest of the world,” declared the Tin Woodman. “Fortunately money is not known in the Land of Oz at all. We have no rich, and no poor; for what one wishes the others all try to give him, in order to make him happy, and no one in all Oz cares to have more than he can use.”

The Emerald City of Oz –

Yet, strange as it may seem, she had accomplished all these wonders not because she was a fairy or had any magical powers whatever, but because she was a simple, sweet and true little girl who was honest to herself and to all whom she met. In this world in which we live simplicity and kindness are the only magic wands that work wonders, and in the Land of Oz Dorothy found these same qualities had won for her the love and admiration of the people.

Journey through Oz part 6

41% into the Oz collection e-book I am reading and it is already goodbye. The Emerald City of Oz is the sixth book in the collection and it ends with a chapter entitled “How the Story of Oz Came to an End.”

Ozma is once again challenged by The Nome King or more formally known as King Roquat the Red. This time, his plot slowly builds up across the story and is more sinister than ever. Thankfully, with the help of the Scarecrow’s wits and Ozma’s magic picture, Roquat’s plan is once again thwarted.

No new major characters in this book but quirky places (Utensia, Bunbury and Bunnybury) and characters (Cuttenclips) still abound in its pages. I liked Bunnybury’s chapter the most in this book because it was a lesson on gratitude.

But this book was not limited to watching Roquat’s plan to conquer Oz. This time around, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry gets to finally meet the wonderful land of Oz! Aunt Em was having a real hard time accepting everything which presents a great contrast with how Dorothy is open to new things. But really, who would not be confused and amazed with the wonderful land of Oz?

Not sure what the rest of the collection holds but I felt like this was a fitting end to what has been a wonderful set of adventures. Dorothy gets to be a Princess in Oz with her Oz and Kansas (Toto, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry) family together in the Emerald Palace.

As Princess Dorothy of Oz’s little note to all the readers in the end:

You will never hear anything more about Oz because we are now cut off forever from all the rest of the world. But Toto and I will always love you and all the children who love us. – Dorothy Gale

It was an awesome six trips in Oz. And, as the author puts it “may they live long in their invisible country and be very happy.”

Currently reading:  Ultimate collection of the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (E-book)

First Time: Painting (without numbers)

Last Saturday (March 5), I was at Sip and Gogh Kapitolyo to try out painting.  I do not know much about painting but curious enough to experience it.

Since it was an open session, we (me, my mom and sisters) were asked to select a painting that we would try to replicate.  I thought it would be a painting by numbers type of lesson but I guessed wrong.  The staff would really teach you how to mix colors and paint (my mind went blank and heart started beating fast).

But, I have to say the dedicated staff of Sip and Gogh to our group was very encouraging.  By the end of our two-hour session, I did have something presentable.

Fireflies - Sip and Gogh.jpg

My version of a Night filled with Fireflies

I chose this painting because I remembered two things:

(a) my fireflies watching experience in Loboc River, Bohol – a magical experience that I was not able to capture on camera; and,

(b) Fireflies by Owl City – one of my favorite songs of all time.

My brain went to overdrive upon seeing it and started day dreaming for a few seconds with the following thought bubble:

I know fireflies are not fairies or pixies that come from far faraway lands.  There is nothing magic about how they produce light given that is more on biology.

But, from time to time, I allow myself to experience a bit of magic through imagination.  A night filled with fireflies is definitely my kind of whimsy..  I could just close my eyes and let my imagination do the rest (cue Fireflies by Owl City).

So there… I am happy with the experience and my output.  Thank you Sip and Gogh since I can now enjoy a night filled with fireflies at the comfort of my home.

I also realized I am not that bad at arts after all. Still a lot to learn but something not to be afraid of.  As one of the Van Gogh quotes posted in the wall says:

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

Journey through Oz part 5

The Road to Oz is the fifth book in the Oz collection I am currently reading.

By now, I can really say that the power of Baum’s stories rests with the quirky characters and landscape sprinkled in each trip to Oz.

This time around, I got to meet the Shaggy man, Button Bright and Polychrome. Together with Dorothy and Toto, they made their way to Oz in another adventure filled journey. Along the way they meet King Dox of Foxville, King Kik-a-Bray, Musicker and Johnny Dooit. I got scared a bit by the Scoodlers but thankfully they were able to get out of the mess.

I loved how this book ended with a grand celebration of Princess Ozma’s birthday. More than reuniting Dorothy with friends, it expanded the possibilities for the Oz collection. Apparently, there are other fairy countries outside Oz and they know each other. Even Santa was invited in Ozma’s party!

Personally, my favorite scenes are those when Dorothy encounters her friends from previous trips to Oz… So much love and respect for each other.

Seeing this dynamic, I remember a line in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which says that “there are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other.” There may be no mountain trolls in these stories (yet?) but Dorothy and friends are definitely not short of adventures.

Currently reading:  Ultimate collection of the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (E-book)

Journey through Oz part 4

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz is the 4th book in the Oz collection.

This book does not steer away from the sense of adventure and camaraderie present in the earlier Oz stories.  In the end, we even get to spend some more time with well-loved characters from the previous three books.  It is as if a whole Oz family is slowly being built throughout the collection.

As the title suggests, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz are at the core of this adventure.  They are accompanied by Zeb (human), Jim (horse) and Eureka (cat).  I liked Zeb’s character and felt like he was a wonderful addition to the Oz family.  Maybe he can appear again in another Oz story?

For the 4th book, I got reminded of the magic that the 1st book brought through description of terrains.  In this one, I got introduced to the vegetable kingdom, valley of voe, country of the gargoyles and den of dragonettes.  The journey also felt similar with the 1st one when a band of friends are traveling together in a foreign fairy country.

I honestly felt that this could be my favorite from the series but something about the ending chapters made me stick with the 1st book (so far).  Still a big fan of Dorothy and looking forward to more adventures with her (and the quirky characters that she will meet along the way)..

Currently reading:  Ultimate collection of the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (E-book)

Author’s Note (Oz 4th book)

So prior to starting my journey in the Oz collection’s 4th book, I read the author’s note and just had to add this in my Cyber Pensieve:

I believe, my dears, that I am the proudest story-teller that ever lived. Many a time tears of pride and joy have stood in my eyes while I read the tender, loving, appealing letters that come to me in almost every mail from my little readers. To have pleased you, to have interested you, to have won your friendship, and perhaps your love, through my stories, is to my mind as great an achievement as to become President of the United States. Indeed, I would much rather be your story-teller, under these conditions, than to be the President. So you have helped me to fulfill my life’s ambition, and I am more grateful to you, my dears, than I can express in words

L. Frank Baum / Colorado, 1908

Cheers for the wonderful storytellers!  Again, thank you for the stories.