Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back from the Beach

We're back from our yearly beach week with the Stells. It was wonderful to see everyone, especially after missing last year. The week got off to a really bad start with the drive down. We caravaned in three cars - Eric, Sawyer and I in one, Megan, Ryan and Caroline in the second, and Grandy, Erin and Rob in the third. We met at Megan and Ryan's house and set out around 10:00 Saturday morning, planning to stop for lunch around Williamsburg and arrive at the beach around 4:00; the rental office opened at 3:00 and the drive normally takes us 5 hours plus stopping time. Good plan, right? Well, it was not to be. Traffic on I95 was horrendous. After 2 hours, we were only as far as Stafford. And that was as far as we would go for a while, because at that point Erin noticed smoke pouring out from under Grandy's car. So we all waited for the tow truck, and then followed it to a repair shop where we waited until we could get a rental. Rob had been driving Grandy's car and was pretty shaken up by what had happened, mostly because the day before he had been in a car accident and he was worried that he was cursed in some way.

By the time we were ready to go again it was lunch time, so we found a place to eat and then set off again into the still terrible traffic. We didn't reach the bridge onto Southern Shores until 8:00. At that point we had all given up trying to caravan and had been separated for quite a while. Eric and I stopped in at Walmart to get another copy of Harry Potter so he could continue reading on his own (I had been reading aloud to him for the whole drive). When we got back in the car we got a call from Erin saying that they had been in a car accident in the rental car. Someone had rear-ended them in the stop-and-go traffic of the island road. Luckily no one was hurt and damage to the car was minimal, but Robbie was even more freaked out. What are the chances of that many car troubles happening to one person in one weekend?

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went uneventfully and we arrived in Corolla around 9:00, safe but thoroughly tired of being in the car.

After that bad start, our week could only get better, and it did. Nothing else bad happened to Robbie - unless you count the time he was in the pool and stuck his hand into the filter and pulled out a huge dead bird. We spent lots of time sitting on the beach and getting sunburned (I'm already peeling!), eating great food (Uncle Billy made his famous fried shrimp twice, and Aunt Carrie made a chocolate chip cookie pie that was to die for - YUM), and watching The Office in the evenings. I had brought the DVDs just in case we had a rainy day, and everyone liked it so much that we watched all three seasons. We were all quoting Michael and Dwight the whole week.

Now we're home and trying to get back into the groove of everyday life, cleaning and cooking and laundry. I wish I was still sitting on the beach.

Here are some pictures of our week: Beach Photos I can't wait for next year!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter

In anticipation of the final book in the Harry Potter series coming out tomorrow night, I’ve been doing a lot of theorizing. Eric and I have debates about it almost every night. (I never claimed we weren’t huge nerds.) I’ve re-read all the previous books over the past 3 weeks or so. And I have no idea how I’m going to find time to eat and sleep once I have The Deathly Hallows in my hot, nerdy little hands.

We also went to see The Order of the Phoenix last week. I loved it; I think it’s the best of the movies so far. The actors have gotten better and better as they’ve grown up - Daniel Radcliffe started out as a cute kid who looked like Harry Potter and had passable acting skills; who knew he would become such a terrific, likeable actor? The climax of Phoenix (and all of its emotional suspense) hinges on the audience believing and caring about Harry’s inner struggle, and Radcliffe rose to the occasion brilliantly.

So here are my theories for the final book (which I will read sitting on the beach!) Here are the big ones: (Spoiler alert if you haven’t read books 1-6 yet!)

-Dumbledore isn’t really dead. Or at least, he’s not permanently dead. His chosen pet is a phoenix, which regularly dies in a flash of flame and then is reborn. At Dumbledore’s funeral, his body spontaneously goes up into flames and when the flames go away, the coffin is sealed up. My guess is, he’s not in there anymore. We saw Dumbledore disappear in Order of the Phoenix when Umbridge is trying to have him sent to Azkaban – he grabs Fawkes’ tail and vanishes in flames. So it’s possible he pulled off a similar disappearance this time.

- Dumbledore knew that Malfoy was trying to kill him and that eventually it would come to a confrontation, either with him or other Death Eaters. So Dumbledore planned to appear to die so that Voldemort could be totally sure that Dumbledore was dead and gone. I don’t know how Dumbledore survived the Avada Kedavra curse or the fall from the tower, but I’m guessing that he has found another way to keep himself alive, possibly the good version of Voldemort’s horcruxes. Maybe a spell tied to Hogwarts, since Dumbledore says to Harry that he’ll never really be gone as long as there are those at the school who are loyal to him. (Or, maybe he never died in the first place; maybe he was able to wordlessly block the Killing Curse, fly over the side of the tower somehow and take the Draught of Living Death that we read about early in the book – the one Snape helped Harry make in Potions class as the Half-Blood Prince.) Dumbledore wouldn’t pursue immortality selfishly, but he would do it knowing that he is the only one who can help Harry finally kill Voldemort. And my next point follows logically (although Eric strongly disagrees with me on this one)…

- Snape is still on the good side. I believe that he has been working for Dumbledore all along and was in on the plan to stage the headmaster’s death, but he has to appear to be on Voldemort’s side in order to remain in his position as a spy. Killing Dumbledore would seal him forever in the Dark Lord’s good graces. So why didn’t Dumbledore tell Harry about his plan? Because Harry is a miserable failure at Occlumency, the ability to keep his thoughts hidden. This is Snape's parting shot to Harry as he is escaping the scene of Dumbledore's fall - that Harry can't defeat him in a duel until he learns to block others from his thoughts. Snape is extremely skilled in Occlumency and he can block memories of the plan from his mind to prevent Voldemort from seeing them. If Harry (or anyone else) knew about the plan, it would be far too easy for Voldemort to look into his mind and see that Dumbledore is still a threat.

The main reason I believe Snape is good is that as he leaves the scene of Dumbledore’s “death” he doesn’t harm a single person. If he had really just given up the pretense of being on the good side, wouldn’t he be firing curses at everyone willy-nilly the way the other Death Eaters did, trying to take out as many people as possible? And more to the point, why wouldn’t he take Harry with him and bring him directly to Voldemort now that Dumbledore is out of the way? Instead, he refuses to duel with Harry and simply deflects the curses Harry fires at him, then hits him out of the way in order to escape the duel and leave Harry safely behind.

-Dumbledore will show up in the final confrontation and show Harry how to defeat Voldemort. Snape will be instrumental too – now that Snape has Voldemort’s complete trust, he’ll be able to get the most crucial information of all: how to destroy him.
I can’t wait to see how Harry behaves now that he believes he is completely on his own. In Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince he blossoms into a leader. He accepts that his life will never be easy and decides that if he’s going to be killed by Voldemort, he’s going down fighting the way his parents, Sirius, and Dumbledore have done. Harry is going to kick some ass!

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