Category Archives: Celebrating Seventy

WOMEN, by Annie Leibovitz

The photography of Annie Leibovitz is always fascinating to me. She is a brilliant artist and her photographs are amazing and profound. Her book, WOMEN, a collaborative work with Susan Sontag, who wrote a powerful essay on women for the book, is an incredibly thought-provoking study of the diversity of women.

 

from the publisher:

The photographs by Annie Leibovitz in Women, taken especially for the book, encompass a broad spectrum of subjects: a rap artist, an astronaut, two Supreme Court justices, farmers, coal miners, movie stars, showgirls, rodeo riders, socialites, reporters, dancers, a maid, a general, a surgeon, the First Lady of the United States, the secretary of state, a senator, rock stars, prostitutes, teachers, singers, athletes, poets, writers, painters, musicians, theater directors, political activists, performance artists, and businesswomen. “Each of these pictures must stand on its own,” Susan Sontag writes in the essay that accompanies the portraits. “But the ensemble says, So this what women are now — as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this.”

Susan Sontag’s essay on women and photography was just as powerful as the photographs in the book.

“Women are judged by their appearance as men are not, and women are punished more than men are by the changes brought about by aging.”

“One of the tasks of photography is to disclose, and shape our sense of, the variety of the world. It is not to present ideals. There is no agenda except diversity and interestingness. There are no judgments, which of course is itself a judgment.”

I have used the words “powerful” and “profound” to describe this book, and the collaboration of these two women certainly achieved that! It is not a light-weight book. It is not one to just skim through. Their exploration of the lives of women is illuminating, disturbing, uplifting, fascinating. Take your time with this book.

This book was published in 1999 and Ms. Leibovitz considered that “the project was never done.” She continued to work on it,  and in collaboration with her friend, Gloria Steinem, created a 2016 international traveling exhibit called WOMEN: New Portraits

Self-portrait with daughters…

I read this book and celebrate this artist as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. Annie Leibovitz was born in the same year as me, 1949!

A Poem by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman at seventy

Queries to My Seventieth Year
~ by Walt Whitman

Approaching, nearing, curious,
Thou dim, uncertain spectre–bringest thou life or death?
Or placid skies and sun? Wilt stir the waters yet?
Or haply cut me short for good? Or leave me here as now,
Dull, parrot-like and old, with crack’d voice harping, screeching?

Sharing this poem is part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss, was published in 1949, so I grew up listening to this book and his other Bartholomew book, The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Both books were, and still are, so much fun!  When I was researching books written in my birth year, I was happy to find the Oobleck book on the list!  As a kid, as a Mom, and now as a Grandma, I have always adored Dr. Seuss!  And even though this book is seventy years old, it still provides timeless fun and humor.

Bartholomew is just a regular kid in the Kingdom of Didd, where King Derwin is not the smartest king on record. It was wintertime, and King Derwin was very tired and bored with the weather.

And that winter when the snow came down, he started shouting! “This snow! This fog! This sunshine! This rain! Bahh! These four things that come down from my sky!”

“But King Derwin,” Bartholomew tried to calm him. “You’ve always had these same four things come down.”

“That’s just the trouble!” bellowed the King. “Every year the same four things! I’m mighty tired of those old things! I want something NEW to come down!”

Call the royal magicians!

If you’ve already heard the story of The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, you know that the royal magicians are a bit bumbling. They can start magic, but can’t seem to finish it very well. They don’t have a lot of control over what happens with their spells! So, when they put together a spell to add something new to the weather, OOBLECK is what they got. And we all know that oobleck is very green and sticky stuff.

Thank goodness for level-headed, clear-thinking Bartholomew!

If you or your children or grandchildren want to make some Oobleck, here’s a link to the recipe for the green goop! Enjoy!

 

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

 

 

Seventy Years

Today is my seventieth birthday. In all the old classic books I’ve read, the female characters that are 70 years old are really old ladies. Actually, they are portrayed as really old ladies at age 60! But I don’t feel that old and am probably in better physical condition that I was ten years ago, before I retired, thanks to being able to spend time at the gym and keep a challenging walking schedule on top of that. I’ve had a number of friends who are already well into their seventies and eighties and are very active, involved women so I am inspired to follow in their footsteps.

I embrace this birthday and this new decade! I’d like to read a lot, love a lot, and do what I can for the people around me, and try and make a little bit of difference in this crazy world.

Self-Portrait
by Mary Oliver

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.

Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch

though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.

 

The Red Pony

The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck, is a novella in four stories about a young boy growing up on a ranch near Salinas, California. The boy, ten-year-old Jody Tiflin, lives with his father, a strict and harsh disciplinarian, and his mother, who is strong and understanding, and one ranch hand, Billy Buck.  All of them work hard to make a living from the ranch.  It is good, honest work, and they are good people, but life is harsh.

Although just a young adolescent, Jody has to grow up quickly. He has to carry his own weight in terms of chores and help on the ranch, and he is constantly learning. In the first story, he is given a beautiful red pony and it is his responsibility to care for her and keep her well and safe. He relies on Billy Buck to guide him and teach him everything he needs to know about his pony. One day, when Jody has to be in school all day, Billy Buck tells him that he can let the horse stay out in the field for the day. Jody questions him about the weather because the pony shouldn’t be outside in the rain. Billy reassures him that it won’t rain. Unfortunately, it does rain and after spending most of the day outside in the elements, the horse gets sick.

Jody must face life’s challenges head on, but he is resilient, imaginative, and still very much a young boy (collecting frogs on his way home from school and putting them in his lunchbox, to the dismay of his mother). When his grandfather comes to visit, his imagination is captured by the stories he tells Jody of leading a wagon train westward.

Jody lay in his bed and thought of the impossible world of Indians and buffaloes, a world that had ceased to be forever. He wished he could have been living in the heroic time, but he knew he was not of heroic timber. No one living now, save possibly Billy Buck, was worthy to do the things that had been done. A race of giants had lived then, fearless men, men of a staunchness unknown in this day. Jody thought of the wide plains and of the wagons moving across like centipedes. He thought of Grandfather on a huge white horse, marshaling the people. Across his mind marched the great phantoms, and they marched off the earth and they were gone.

Although I read this book a long time ago, this re-read was like reading it for the first time. I remembered that it was sad, and that it wasn’t a children’s story. But I hadn’t remembered how beautifully written it was, and that John Steinbeck was an extraordinary storyteller. I must revisit more of his books!

 

I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. The movie version of this book was released in 1949, my birth year.

 

 

I also read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

The Big Snow

The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader, won the Caldecott Medal in 1949. It’s a lovely book for children about the animals in the forest getting ready for a long winter. The illustrations are wonderful, and it shows how each of the animals prepares for “the big snow.”  Some animals pack away food, some hibernate, some migrate south, and some simply stay for the winter. In this story, however, the winter was a particularly hard one for the animals that stayed put, so the kindly couple that lived in the stone house (most definitely Berta and Elmer Hader!), helped the animals by spreading seed and corn, hay and bread each day during the snowiest time. It was a book that definitely deserved the Caldecott Medal!



I read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 1949, my birth year.

First Book of 2019

This book of poems by Judith Viorst is delightful. I’m Too Young to Be Seventy, and Other Delusions, is full of poems that are both humorous and poignant. She nails the aging process in every way, from the physical changes, to the relationship changes. From children growing up and the arrival of grandchildren. From the unavoidable realization of limited instead of limitless time.  I decided that since I am turning seventy later this month, I should return the library book and buy a copy for myself.

As you probably know, Judith Viorst writes wonderfully humorous books. My family loved her book for children (of all ages!), Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It was originally published in 1972, when my son was 6 months old. We read it to him, and then to our daughter, many times, and the well-worn book now sits on my grandson’s bookshelf. It’s amazing to realize that she has been a part of my life for almost half a century!

As Time Goes By

I wake on Monday,
Eat lunch on Wednesday,
Go to sleep on Friday,
And next thing I know it’s
The middle of next week
And I am shaking mothballs
Out of the winter clothes
I stored for the summer
Five minutes ago,
Because snowstorms follow
The Fourth of July
Faster than faxes,
Faster than e-mail,
Faster, maybe, than the speed of light.

You want to slow down time?
Try root canal.
Try an MRI.
Try waiting for the report on the biopsy.
Or try being a child on a rainy morning
With nothing to do,
Wishing away the hours, the days, the years,
As if there will
Always
Always
Always
Be more.

This First Book of the Year 2019 is also part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

 

THANK YOU, Sheila, from Book Journey, for hosting this fun event at the first of each year!

Embracing Seventy

At the end of January, I turn seventy. It feels like a big deal to me, similar to the feeling I had when I turned 30. I’ve always embraced my age and looked forward to each milestone, and I’m particularly excited about this birthday and look forward to this 8th decade of my life.

So I decided that I will celebrate 70 by putting together a list of books to read this year, all related to my age in one way or another. Some are birth year books, some are books about turning seventy, some are by authors born in the same year as me, or on the same day, and some have main characters that are seventy years old!  I’ll try to review most of them and provide interesting links, as well. And if I find more books that aren’t listed here, or that might work better, I’ll add them to my list or make some substitutions. I think I’ll throw in some movies from 1949, and perhaps some music and art from that year, too.  It’s a birthday celebration that will last all year for me! Please check back here occasionally during the year to see how I am coming along with this milestone-birthday project.

Books:

  1. At Seventy, by May Sarton
  2. Doing Sixty and Seventy, by Gloria Steinem
  3. I’m Too Young to be Seventy: And Other Delusions, by Judith Viorst
  4. Charles at Seventy — Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams, by Robert Jobson
  5. 70 Things to Do When You Turn 70: More Than 70 Experts on the Subject of Turning 70, by Sally Wyman Paradysz and Ronnie Sellers
  6. 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade, by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole
  • A Classic published in 1949:  Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther
  • Book by an author born in 1949:  Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
  • Newbery Medal winner for 1949:  King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
  • Caldecott Award winner for 1949:  The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader
  • Pulitzer Prize for Drama for 1949:  Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
  • Nobel Prize for Literature for 1949:  William Faulkner: Light in August
  • Mystery book from 1949:  The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  • Children’s Book from 1949:  The Secret Seven, Enid Blyton
  • A Short Story from 1949:  The Golden Apples, by Eudora Welty
  • A Memoir from 1949:  This I Remember, by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • A Book to Movie from 1949:  The Red Pony, by John Steinbeck
  • A Book of Essays from 1949:  Willa Cather On Writing
  • A Novel from 1949:  Kinfolk, by Pearl S. Buck
  • A Non-Fiction book from 1949:  The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir
  • A “Birthday Buddy” (born on the same day, though not the same year) book:  The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey
  • A Book of Poetry from 1949:  Collected Poems of Robert Frost 1949
  • A book to reread: Pied Piper, by Nevil Shute (main character is 70!)
  • A Dr. Seuss book from 1949: Bartholomew and the Oobleck
  • A Fiction book from 1949: Vittoria Cottage, by D.E. Stevenson
  • A book by an artist born in 1949: WOMEN, by Annie Leibovitz

Movies from 1949:

  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (I love these old Alec Guiness movies!) I was able to stream this old movie through my library. Alec Guiness plays all the different characters in this darkly humorous story of revenge. One note: Towards the end of the movie, there are some racist comments that are not acceptable in today’s world, but that reveal the ingrained racism of the culture of that time.
  • Little Women (the one with Elizabeth Taylor)
  • The Secret Garden (with Margerat O’Brien)
  • The Third Man (with Carol Reed and Joseph Cotton)
  • The Red Pony (with Robert Mitchum and Myrna Loy)
  • Stray Dog (a film by Akira Kurasawa)