Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December!

Happy December! How can it be that we're already near the end of yet another year? How can it be that we're on month 12? How? I really would like to know.

I have this theory that time speeds up the older we get. I think it's a pretty popular theory outside of this blog, too, but I digress. Anyway. It seems like it takes forever to go somewhere or do something when you're young. That's why kids need toys and books. Something to distract them when all that dreadful time comes between them and, say, Christmas. This month is *not* going to shoot by for an eight-year-old, for instance. And even longer than the month is that wait for opening presents!

The older you get, of course, as some of you or all of you already realize, the faster time goes. We have about three weeks till Christmas. In weekend-time, that's six days! Oh, my goodness. I don't even have my tree up yet! We need something so we can relax with all that stress. That is why adults need toys and books. And candy.

Of course, speed of time in adult-land turns inverse when you're sick. I discovered this last week, when I ended up getting a stomach virus. Ick. I don't recommend it.

So, Happy December! I'll see you around, but if my posts are infrequent, don't fear--it's just the Holidays.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday returns

Happy Black Friday!

As much as I love Thanksgiving, part of the excitement is Black Friday...and what better slot to put it in than my Friday Favorite Things column!

The mass hordes of people will run rampant through the malls, today. And more retailers online will have a great weekend. Hoping for better than last year!

And I will be one of them. Probably after gifts for myself again, like I was last year. I've had many of my gifts for my family since...after last Christmas. I start my shopping early!

If you're one of the hordes, good luck...otherwise, see you online next week. I'm going to rest!

Peace, good will, and bargain shopping to you all. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, one and all.

So, Christmas has been in the air, of late. At least, here it has been. And as much as it annoys some people (read: my brother) to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving, my parents and I have been enjoying the musical selections of the holiday season on one station of the radio. Every song, 24/7, is a Christmas song, and has been since Halloween. I heard it may be in protest of some group trying to ban Christmas music from the radio till after Thanksgiving. I don't really care--I love Christmas music. I love Christmas!

But I also love Thanksgiving, and all of its thousands of calories dishes. And I refuse to skip over it, even if I am in the Christmas spirit. Because really, I'm just in the holiday-let's-celebrate spirit. Besides, it's not the day's fault that there aren't any really catchy Thanksgiving songs out there. What would they even be? I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Dinner Mint? How about Oh, Turkey-Bird instead of Oh, Tannenbaum? (Oh, Turkey-bird, oh, Turkey-bird--your legs and thighs are tasty. Oh, Turkey-bird, Oh, Turkey-bird--especially with gravy.) Or "Let us eat, let us eat, let us eat": Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the pie is so delightful--so since we've got snow and sleet--let us eat, let us eat, let us eat!

OK. See? This is why we don't have Thanksgiving songs.

But rest assured, I'm having a lovely, hearty, veggie-influenced (yum!) Thanksgiving this year--and I hope you are also enjoying the day, and giving thanks--I am, for friends, family, health, happiness, blessings, luck, and all that great food.

So, to put you into the Thanksgiving spirit, let me leave you with a few parting Thanksgiving thoughts.

Forever on Thanksgiving Day, The heart will find the pathway home. ~Wilbur D. Nesbit

You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by 'Thanksgiving,' Charlie Brown.~Marcie in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special

Family and friends
Give thanks and break bread.
Please pass the pumpkin pie.
~ Just Another Sarah :)


Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron




Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Things Fridays!

Another favorite color for this week: Sea Foam Green. What a gorgeous color this is!

I use to search this crayon, and periwinkle, out of my brother's and my big crayon box. Grab a silver, and you have the perfect colors for the ocean--which I was somewhat obsessed with. It's just so different--I think that's part of its charm. Soft and gentle, and yet full of excitement...at least, that's what I feel building, when I see it.

FYI, I did a search on Google images for the color, and found about a million sea foam green guitars. Apparently, it's a popular color!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Blog Year!!!! + blogfest

Hello, all! Today, three years after I started my blog, abandoned it, then rediscovered it, I have hit post 100! Today! With this post! Woo-hoo! And what better way to celebrate than to host a blogfest?

If you're new or not, come join the Blogfest: Retold! Even if it's just reading the entrants. Mr. Linky widget thing can be found below here, as well. Read everyone's...and enjoy!

Retellings are so interesting--even just a different POV can make things make more sense, or can put a different twist on things. I can think of so many awesome examples... like this poem, Penelope, by Dorothy Parker:

In the pathways of the sun,
In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
He shall ride the silver seas,
He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
They will call him brave.

My dad used to tell me bedtime stories like this: we'd pick the story, then we'd pick the POV. I loved them. So, I decided to go with a fairy tale because of that reason. I think I want to take it and add more story and more details and more length, but I wanted to give you this much, at least. So here it is. And don't forget to check out the other participants below!

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The courts had warned Rose's family long ago about the dangers of annoying the Magic Ones. But of course, you couldn't really talk to her parents. She didn't know what they had done to deserve it--no one really talked about that. But she knew they did deserve the curse they had earned for her. Because they did so many things to deserve just that sort of mistrust. And they knew it, too.

The curse had hung over her head from the first step she ever took. Her nanny told her how the maids all gasped when she took her first step, and immediately, the ruling came down from the throne: Remove all spindles. Even remove all spinning wheels. Looms. Anything. Just in case.

Rose kept looking around the castle for the strange things--they were foreign to her, anyway. Of course, the faerie who chose that as her curse knew what she was doing. In a land that had won its riches from textile exportation, spindles were part of daily life. Necessary. For everyone but Rose. Even before she totally understood the concept of it, she often thought it was justice--that her parents were forced to choose between her and between money.

The thread still had to be turned out, though. And she should have known her parents would not choose her, a girl, for long. Especially after Sam was born. Rose loved Sam, how rosy he was. Her parents were much more cautious, this time--and all the Magic Ones brought only kind gifts and boons. A sweet disposition, a strong leader, a healthy boy. Rose helped to care for him. Even his skin was silken.

But soon, it was not enough. She went looking for Nanny, and overheard the discussion from the hallway. "Hide the girl," her father's best adviser cautioned. "Keep her hidden away."

"You can't hide her forever," Nanny argued.

"It wouldn't be forever, would it?" Her mother asked. "The curse must end at some time."

"Curses can go on until they are filled," Nanny said. "You never know what might happen."

"Sire." The adviser sniffed. "We lose money everyday, sire."

So at age ten, she was hidden away from her family. Her brother, only four then, cried when she went away, and she wanted to run back and tell him not to cry, but she had to face her expulsion like the princess she was. Like a sacrificial beast sent to the altar. Kept away from the rest of the world.

She lived with her nanny for the next six years in the woods near the palace. She grew used to Nanny's murmurs and blandishments against her family. She muttered them herself, when Nanny wasn't there--Nanny would still box her ears for her complaints.

When she turned sixteen, though, she felt like that was should be the end of it. And she told Nanny so.

"Well, I've been thinking that you ought to return to the castle every day since we came to this loathsome cottage," Nanny said.

Rose smiled indulgently. Their home was a dear one, to her, and she knew Nanny loved it as much as she did. But she missed Sam, her sweet-faced brother, and she missed her parents--even their coldness.

She decided to sneak back the first night, so it wouldn't be so much of a shock. A lot could change in six years, after all. And it had--the buildings were much closer to forest than she remembered, and ran up against the walls surrounding the palace. They crept up and down the streets, traveling the same route they had used when they left, years ago.

They slipped through the gate, some ways away from a sleepy guard, and then they were home. Rose breathed in and let out a slow breath, pleased with their progress forward.

But not Nanny. "Oh, my stars," she said, and then she cursed a bluer streak than Rose had ever heard.

Rose blinked at this reaction, but then she looked around, too. And in the yard, in front of the doors, stood two large statues. She could see two more near another door, far off into the night. They looked the same--sort of wavy, and pointed six feet up in the air, gleaming in the moonlight.

"That, my dear, is your parents' homage to a spindle." Rose could hear Nanny's teeth grinding at her agitation. "Obviously, they are doing well. Blessings upon us."

Rose nodded in agreement, but she couldn't keep her eyes off the strange gold structures, gleaming blue in the night. And she found herself wanting--hoping--stretching.

"Come, Princess." Nanny obviously hadn't noticed, and Rose didn't want to bring it to her attention. "Let's go inside."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reminder

Hey, all! Don't forget about the Blogfest I'm hosting on Nov. 16--post a retelling of a scene. Pick a scene, any scene. Read more and sign up here!

I hope the excitement is bubbling up within you! And the creative juices too, of course!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Favorite Things Fridays!

I've mentioned it before; I have a list of favorite colors. I'm not even joking. And I think there is a shade or tint of nearly every basic color you can think of.

I really like almost all colors, even ones not on my list. And I find that I'm hesitant now to add some colors I totally dig. For example, I wear reds and blacks all the time...and yet neither are on the list. Perhaps because it's so long? Perhaps because part of me still doesn't believe that I really love those colors? I'm such a pink girl, after all. I don't know. But in any case, I guess I'll feature each color on its own--that's only fair, right?

Today's favorite color: gold. The color of fall, the color of fields of wheat. It's rich and yet sort of understated.I think every color sort of indicates a mood, and gold feels sort of comfortable, not quite cold, not quite warm, simple and yet showy. It's gold.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

I don't feel like we really do enough to celebrate Veterans Day. It's not like it's Christmas or Thanksgiving, after all...but it's just as important. Spare a thought for our veterans, in every country. They do what I could not, and I am thankful for them all.

Here's a bit of history, which we sometimes forget about: this day marks the celebration of the ceasefire during "The Great War," World War I. That was back when there was only one "world" war. That was some time ago.

For more history, check this link out. Or catch a slice of the culture with this famous poem, written during WWI.

              In Flanders Field
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Children's Books

I was on a crusade supporting children's picture books, but life and blogfests got in the way. So we'll just pick up where we left off for this week.

One of my favorite picture books of all times is a Sesame Street book. Maybe you've heard of it? It's so, so, so amazing. Grover warns readers that there is a *monster* at the end of the book. He cautions them not to read on, because he is afraid! He tries to tie the pages shut--he tries to put up a brick wall. Yet the reader continues to go forward through it all, pushing and pulling apart what he or she could never do on their own, simply by turning a page.

I can't sing the praises of this book enough. It's sort of meta, for a children's book. And it's funny. I suspect that it is cleverly enough done that it might help children who are afraid of monsters, get over it. L-O-V-E it!

This is a great read--if you have kids, go and get it, but if you don't, seriously. Find it. You will love it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Favorite Things Fridays!

I love butterflies. One year, when I was in college, my roommate had to "grow" monarch butterflies in our dorm room. We named them Lucy, Charlie and Pepe. Pepe was a girl, but you know, we named them when they were cocoons, so we did the best we could.

Having these darlings float around our room was pretty fantastic. One landed on my foot while I was studying, and hung out with me for about an hour--even when I got up to walk around.

We both missed them when we set them free.

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Don't forget to sign up for my Nov. 16 Blogfest: Retold! If you're interested. Sign up today!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lazy Blogfest

Today, I'm taking part in Summer's Lazy Blogfest. Check out the other entrants!

Basically, you're supposed to post about your writing space, preferably using a photo. Unfortunately, I was too lazy to actually take a picture of the space that I write in. Of course, I can describe to you where I write: I have this lovely golden couch in my living room, where I take my old black laptop and move around, trying to stay warm and comfortable. I scooch all over until an indent forms in the cushion...then I switch sides and find a new spot to move around.

However, there's also this: I don't think at the computer. My writing space is bigger than one might imagine...I find myself thinking about the whole process, and that involves plotting, fleshing out details, working out issues with characters and uncovering issues to bare in front of them. And for that, I find, just walking, preferably on a walking path or in a park, is just what I need. That becomes my thinking space, and heck, would probably be my writing space if it weren't for the fact that I can't see the screen of my laptop in the glare of the sunlight. (I'd write it out, but I just can't do that to myself. Besides, I apparently never learned how to correctly hold a pencil, so it's far more stressing on my hand than it might be, otherwise. Yep. I'm that talented. I still confuse the big and small hands on the clock, from time to time, too.

Back to my thinking space. I find that especially along this one pathway I take to work, my story changes--I walk through some pine trees. The trees are huge, and I am small, and I just realize things about my characters and their lives that I don't know if I would, otherwise. Of course, sometimes you almost get hit by cars if you wander around thinking of your book, your head in the clouds, you might have a few issues, so you want to watch that.

So, take part in the Lazy Blogfest! And that's about all I have to say right now.

Edit to add: Don't forget to sign up for my Blogfest: Retold, on Nov. 16!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I hope you are all having a wonderful, safe, happy Halloween! For those of you with families, enjoy trick-or-treating and candy. For those who don't, enjoy your other activities. I hope you get to dress up, or that you at least listen to the Monster Mash, watch Ghostbusters, and/or hear the Thriller song.

Or watch this video and see the choreography!

Or read some Edgar Allen Poe. :) Nothing quite like the tell-tale heart to raise goosebumps!

Enjoy the reason for celebration, and see you all in the coming week. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Favorite Things Friday!

Halloween is coming! So what's a favorite of mine that fits right into the day? Why, Alfred Hitchcock, of course. We'll let him make a cameo on my blog, in a bigger way than the famous cameos he made in most of his films.

This is not to say that I love or even have seen all of his movies. And I attribute my fear of flocks of black birds to him. (Not that I have seen "The Birds," but trust me when I say I'm not seeing it anytime soon!)

Even if I don't love all of his films, I find that I admire something in all of them. He was somewhat demanding, I understand, and much like a puppetmaster--a bit different from other directors. But if it's by Alfred Hitchcock, including his television series and the publications of stories under his approval, I glom on. Because hey--it's Alfred Hitchcock. It has to be good in some way, right?

A few (but not all) of my favorites of his films include:

Lifeboat, Psycho, Stage Fright, Dial M for Murder, Rope, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, The 39 Steps an (earlier film), and The Lady Vanishes (another earlier film).

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Don't forget to sign up for my Nov. 16 Blogfest: Retold! If you're interested. Sign up today!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Very Merry Halloweeny Blogfest

Effervescent Mia is hosting this Very Merry Halloweeny Blogfest today! Check out the other entrants here, and have a read. This is very much a WIP, which I just came up with in the last hour and a half. I kept going back and changing things, but I very much love Phil, and I hope you do, too.
I apologize for length. Skim, if you'd like. Oh, and don't forget to join my Blogfest Retold, set for November 16!
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Phil didn’t hate Halloween, really. But he wasn’t especially partial to it. Why should he be? Smelly, terrible children running from house to house, begging for sweets and threatening tricks if they didn’t get them. The caricatures they drew of the unknown. The way they preened.

And they were coming. It was tradition, after all. Every year, residents of the M-wing of the Rehab center had to see children on Halloween—like it was a therapy of some sort, and not torture. He never trusted children. Even less than he trusted the Government. And look how that had turned out! Granted, some of the residents here had checked themselves in, but most had arrived after the Government mandate that they all register. Of course, Phil had been forced to enter after he was found in that last blood bank. But at least he wasn’t actually attacking people and sucking up their blood. Not that he could have. How many times did he tell them that his teeth were not like straws?

In any case, most of the other residents looked forward to Halloween. They enjoyed the parading around of costumes, the love of the dead, the obscene, the craziness. They picked out their clothes carefully, trying to find the best outfits to wear. The traditional clothes of their people, some of them said. It was a good excuse to be who they really were. To let their true characters out.

Phil didn’t dress differently. He didn’t need to advertise what he was. He certainly didn’t have to—Lewis Smithson, the burly guard who had been assigned to him, did that for him already. Phil had no doubt that Smithson would stay sitting on his chair, reading his newspaper, the entire time the children were there. He could already hear him calling out, “That’s the Vamp. Don’t get too close to him. He’ll suck your face.”

It was to be expected, though he hated it. Hated what had happened to his kind. He hated this hall, where he was always watched, even when he was on his own. He hated Smithson, at least sometimes, and the way he smelled. Phil had no choice but to do his time…but he didn’t need to take part in any show.

For a moment, in desperation, he considered staying with Crazy Wanda, who lived down the hall with about ten thousand cats. Her room smelled of their urine and treats.

“It’s not safe out there!” she cried, as he passed by, back from getting last-minute candy. The only thing left on the shelf in their store—black licorice. His favorite, though, because kids hated it, and the sticks were long enough that he could tuck the candy into their bags from a safe distance.

“Mrs. Weems,” he said, because he always addressed her as such to her face, “There’s nothing to fear. Halloween comes but once a year.” He grinned a little, though he guessed the rhyme was lost on her.

“You say that now,” she said. She held a gray cat, stroking it dolefully. “But you don’t know what it can be like.” She shuddered. “The children…”

He sighed. “I don’t want them here anymore than you do, but shouldn't you get ready?”

“I’m not home.”

He tilted his head. “I think they might know you are.”

“They won’t know.” She slammed her door shut. “Not if they know what’s good for them.” It was muffled through the door, and meaningless. They had taken her magic away. Part of her mind had gone with it. She was a lifer…a useless witch.

He continued onward, ignoring the d├ęcor the other residents had slipped into the hallway. Luckily, it was almost deserted. Only Aquina was across the hall, adjusting her mat. She was wrapped in thin green filaments of cloth, which were almost transparent, sequined with fish hooks, seashells and seahorse bones. “Phil!”

He raised a hand, and tried to make his escape.

“Phil! Phil Drakes! Phil!”

He cursed inwardly, but turned. “Ah, hi, Aquina.”

“They’re almost here!” She giggled, and it sounded like pouring water. He noticed a puddle around her feet. Well—now they were feet. Once they were fins. “Where’s your costume? Don’t you have a nice cape somewhere?”

“Oh, I’ve got to—to put it on,” he mumbled, and he quickly shut the door behind him.

As the time drew near, Phil poured black licorice into a basket and began pacing. The first knock sounded at 6:02. It was a girl, dressed as a princess in bright purple, with canine teeth more finely pronounced than his own.

“Happy Halloween,” he said. She smelled terrible. Her blood was too young.

“Are you the vampire?” She puffed up her cheeks and blew between her teeth.

“Don’t talk to him, honey,” the mother said. She laughed, nervously. She smelled much better than the girl.

Phil stared at her. “I won’t hurt her.” He was more concerned about the opposite.

The mother looked surreptitiously back at the guard.

“We keep ‘em locked up well,” Smithson assured her. “He can’t go out of the building, without one of us following him.”

“I wouldn’t even be here, but she begged me,” the mother said, almost apologetically.

“Yeah, well, it’s good for ‘em. To see normal.” He chuckled.

Phil hadn’t seen anything normal yet.

“Say it! Say it!” The girl grabbed his hand, and he recoiled. “Please, say it?”

“Elizabeth!” the mother scolded.

Smithson fidgeted with his paper. “Aw, he can do it. Go on, Vamp. Say it for the little girl.”

Phil narrowed his eyes. “One.” He swallowed. “One stick of licorice.”

“Laugh. Just like on Sesame Street!” She clung to him. He was starting to feel dizzy, with her scent so near.

“Get her away, please,” Phil said, and the mother, eyes wide, snatched her lilac-clad daughter and ran the other way.

It was going to be a long night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favorite Things Fridays!

Today's favorite is not a thing, but a person--someone near and dear to my heart. Fred Astaire.



I can't quite recall the first time I saw him in a movie. I think it was in Shall We Dance with Ginger Rogers--I'm fairly positive I was mesmerized by his dancing, in any case. I consider him to be an inspiration.

Born Frederick Austerlitz, he danced when he was little and when he was old. There was a certain joie de vivre in his steps, no matter his age, and he helped transform musicals, dancing and just general awesomeness.

Yes, I'm a Gene Kelly fan, too, but even he gave props to my darling Fred. (Gene, I'll feature you later!)

I'll be the first to admit it--Fred isn't the typical dreamboat of a movie star. He looks sort of small and awkward. But his personality and his dance, and even his singing which is enjoyable--not broadway or Glee-worthy by any means--make his on-screen character shine greatly. You go, Fred.

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Don't forget to sign up for my Nov. 16 Blogfest: Retold! If you're interested. Sign up today!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The first picture book? Perhaps!

Last week, I discovered an article stating that picture books are a dying breed. Whether it's true or not...and hopefully, it's not...I decided to spend some time promoting and representing children's picture books. Every Tuesday this month, in fact.

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I did a tiny bit of research for this post, which is sort of unusual. It was by accident--I was looking for picture books online, trying to decide on the first one to feature. What I discovered was one of the first picture books: Orbis Pictus. Orbis Pictus is by Johann Comenius. Wikipedia tells me he published it in 1865. It was a textbook, published in Latin and German.

Go ahead--click on the link.

OK. I assume you've come back, or I'm typing into the vast unknown of the internet. Now, I know that you probably aren't fluent in Latin. I'll translate it for you. Luckily for you all, I am a Latin geek.

Chapter I. Invitation: The photo is of a teacher (magister) and a boy (puer).

The conversation follows:

     T: Come boy! Speak wisely.

     B: What is it, oh, wise one?

Okay--I'm not going to translate it all. But basically, the teacher is getting ready to teach the boy. And look at the woodcarving photo! Isn't it lovely?

I never thought of the history of picture books before. It always seems like they just morphed out one day, and we all reaped the benefits. Art and text, in one sweet package. Or, sometimes, just art. On pages. Have you ever read art?

I promise, I'm really going to set you up with a good picture book for today. Since I'm starting with, well, starting points, and since Maria from the Sound of Music said that it's the very first place to start, we had better begin with a picture book about the alphabet.

Chica Chica Boom Boom is a classic, and it shares the alphabet in a very unique way. I have to admit--I can't read this book out loud (or even quietly) without jamming out a bit to the beat of the words. I can't help but remember that the letters, as they scramble up the tree, will fall down...and that after they begin to untangle, the letter P will show with a black eye. This is an alphabet book that I can read over and over again. Highly recommended from this blogger--check it out. By Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Lois Ehlert.

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Don't forget to sign up for my Nov. 16 Blogfest: Retold! If you're interested. Sign up today!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Purple cauliflower and other wonders

I really enjoy food. And I love veggies. So it's been pretty exciting for me to see all of the different shades of produce this year. I mean it--it's really been a colorful bounty. Or maybe I'm just more aware of it? It's hard to say.

I was in my supermarket a few weeks ago when I discovered this: purple cauliflower. They also had orange, and green. Okay, seriously--green cauliflower looks like not-quite-ripe broccoli. Or like that spring green crayon color. So, it wasn't as exciting as these other colors. (They aren't genetically engineered, that I can tell, either...selective breeding. Much like what was done to carrots. No, they weren't always that lovely neon-orange shade. I'd like to find some yellow or purple ones, and eat those--that was once the color they were known to be!)

I went looking for some yesterday, and found the last purple cauliflower in the store. I hurried home and steamed it, with some broccoli. If you're into those sorts of veggies--mmmmm. The cauliflower doesn't taste that much different from regular--I'm not sure I could tell a difference in taste, at all. But, yummmmmmmm. I loved it! And I have plenty left for tonight.

Now, I've also discovered blue/purple potatoes, which are colored on the inside; yellow-y potatoes; purple broccoli; it's all so colorful and fantastic! And it makes me wonder what other vegetables and fruits are out there, or will be out there at some point soon.

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Don't forget to sign up for my Nov. 16 Blogfest: Retold! Spread the word!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Favorite Things Fridays!

A few years ago, two Great-Horned Owls decided to raise a family outside of my workplace. (I named the babies Jericho and Methuselah.) Everyone was excited about it--we all would go on our breaks and look for them. We watched them mature. I got to see them fly! They looked like giant cats sitting on tree limbs, from a distance. And for a while, I was an expert on all things Great-horned owl; I knew their eating habits, mating habits, habitat habits, gestation period, particular menu favorites, speed of flight. I don't remember much of it anymore, but I totally did know, once!

I'm not really a bird person. In fact, I find that I have an incredible fondness for the underdog--the poor earthworms that robins peck at throughout the year. Poor things. Robins can be vicious. But owls--at least, the Great Horned variety--are different. Sure, they eat small mammals, but they, at least the four I got to know and love, have one thing over other birds (specifically robins): They actually like me. I know it. I'm not sure this owl in the photo does, though.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feeling the bookrage!

I get this listserv email from Kathy's blog about Illustrating and Writing for children. It's kind of lovely, with tips and bits on writing, publishing, ups and downs, and once I even saw blogger Shannon Messenger featured on it--about how she got an agent. It's worth signing up for.

However, today, I opened it up, and what article is featured in it today? This, about the sad, slow death of picture books.

This is kind of depressing to me--first of all, if you read the article, that some parents are pushing their kids to read and not allowing them to look at picture books. All for the sake of learning? Pshaw. Pshaw, I say again! Why, what's wrong with instilling a love of reading first? And what are we saying when we insinuate at a very young age that only pushing kids to read books at higher reading levels will bring knowledge? If you haven't read this article yet, check out this quote from it:

“They’re 4 years old, and their parents are getting them ‘Stuart Little,’ ” said Dara La Porte, the manager of the children’s department at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. “I see children pick up picture books, and then the parents say, ‘You can do better than this, you can do more than this.’ It’s a terrible pressure parents are feeling — that somehow, I shouldn’t let my child have this picture book because she won’t get into Harvard.”

Some of my favorite books are children's: middle grade, young adult and picture books. Last Christmas, my Mom picked up a gem I found, which I got wrapped under the tree--Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Let me tell you, this book has it all--cute photos, clever rhyming text, an ironic twist! I encourage you all to check it out.

In fact, I encourage you all to post and share some of your favorites--new or old--that are picture books.

So for the rest of the month, on Tuesdays, I'm going to share classic picture books and authors. And I do hope you all go out and hunt them down. Even for yourself--I know I still do.

On an unrelated side note, be sure to sign up for my Blogfest: Retold! It should, hopefully, be a fantastic time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Announcement: The blogfest, retold!

Well, I went back and forth about it a bit, but I had almost completely decided on the theme of the blogfest I am hosting after after I wrote this post, hyping my fantastic record of writing 80 posts in close to three years.

You may or may not recall from the review I wrote on "The Thirteenth Princess," but I love retellings. That is, I love to hear things from more than one point of view. I think that's what gives us ideas, really. What gives us inspiration, often. It's how we explain things, sometimes to ourselves, sometimes to others. Because we all ought to know, there's never just one story. Right? There are reasons motivating every character, and their reasons can, and should, tell a completely different tale.

So, I welcome you to join "The Blogfest, Retold!" (trademarked with exclamation point) on November 16!

Yes, I want you to retell a scene from someone else's view point. Let us know, for example, what motivated that third little pig to build his house of brick...actually before his brothers turned into bacon. Or explain to me, in your lyrical prose, how the muses feel about singing to Vergil. Whether or not Herodotus actually saw a Unicorn. Why the Trojan war actually happened. How the ship Titantic felt about its name...to name a few examples. You can and are even encouraged to borrow your script from one of these fabulous sources:

Fairy tales
Mythology/legends
History!

You can also retell a story of your own making, but please, post your original scene, so we can see the difference.

Maybe limit your word count to about 500-750 words? I want to try to read them all, and that's difficult when there are a verbose plethora. Yes, I know, I'm one to talk...I always go overboard, myself. But this is just a scene, after all. You can write the fabulous book or short story it inspires afterward.

So, please sign up below...remember, this is for November 16th! You have lots of time. Hurray!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10!

Happy triple-ten day! It's not every day we get to see such lovely symmetry. It's like a symphony!

OK. Maybe I'm a bit tired.

Friday, October 8, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...Fridays!

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've decided to start a (semi) regular post on Fridays. About my favorite things. Yes, this is a big shock, after reading the heading of my blog. Surprise!

So, I have many, many favorites. Of everything. Hugs. Hugs are my favorites. And dark chocolate. I have a list of favorite colors. But I want to feature all manner of things. So, to start with, I'm going to feature one of my favorite books when I was young.

Robert the Rose Horse is a masterful tale. The images are detailed line drawings in reds and blues. Get this--Robert, a horse, has allergies to roses! For a girl growing up with allergies, this book totally rocked. I mean, I totally got Robert--and he totally understood me! Even if we probably couldn't go too near to each other. I am allergic to fur, after all.

Totally love-love-love this book. So it, and Robert's journey from country horse to working horse, belongs in my long list of faves. By Joan Heilbroner, and by the way, fantastic for those without allergies, too. :)

So Happy Favorite Things Friday!

Friday, October 1, 2010

From the Post office, with love

I received a little present from the post office, yesterday. I consider every bit of mail I get to be exciting, although granted, when it turns out to be junk mail, I am a little disappointed. And bills aren't all that exciting to pay...but there is some satisfaction in opening the envelope, knowing it's for you. I've received all sorts of varieties of things in my life, but yesterday's little gift was something I've never experienced--a summons to serve on a jury.

I know most people are severely disappointed to receive that sort of an item, but I'm new to the idea of juries, so I haven't made any impressions of the concept of serving on one, yet. And, you have to remember, that I have a love of mysteries, (some) court room dramas, and more. I am typing this, watching an Alfred Hitchcock film. (I've never seen the movie Suspicion before, but just found it at the library today. Oh, oh, oh--Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock. How fantastic is that? Cary Grant's shoulders are so dreamy. I wonder if anyone called him Cary? They must have--but I just don't think his first name alone holds all the punch his full name does. Anyway. I digress.) So I have to admit to a variety of feelings, which I'm sure will only increase as my time for possibly serving approaches. I'm kind of excited to be part of that atmosphere--to be part of the process. I'm a little bit proud--this is that civic duty sort of feeling. But I'm kind of nervous, too. I want to do a good job, but won't it be difficult? I mean, Heavens to Betsy, it takes me long enough to decide wear in the morning. How will I ever figure out who is innocent or guilty? I am taking this very seriously!

In any case, this could shape up to be an interesting month!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Siftings

The last few days, I've been going through some old boxes of mine. It's kind of exciting--like opening a pack of trading cards when you're little. You kind of know what to expect, but not completely--will you get that special foil card? That really rare card? Or will you finish off a collection?

I found a treasure!

I think I should start out by admitting that I'm a pack-rat. It's a tendency I'm trying to overcome. But I'm so glad that I found these--old school papers from elementary school. The big, bulky, construction paper-enriched crafts. Math tests, math papers, social studies papers...and writing!

Oh, my gosh. What did you write like, when you were little? Or what did you write about?

I'm pretty sure we were given pictures and were told to write stories about them. I was hoping mine would be fantastic and show how I was a writer at a young age, but alas, they weren't. There were some misspellings--I was just freshly seven, having had my birthday right before school began. But they were such treasures. Interesting views into my mind, in fact. I wrote a lot about kittens and blond girls named Lisa (I wanted to be blond, though I'm definitely not, and I wanted my name to be Lisa, though I love it as is). I laughed, and laughed, and I'm so glad I found them, and I'm so proud of them, whether or not they are well-written. I packed them away, but drawing on my memory:

If I found a dinosaur outside of my house, I would: ask my Mom if I can keep him and then I would keep him and I would call him farad. (I think that was supposed to be Fred. It wasn't capitalized in my "story," either.)

In the summertime: We wear three types of clothes; skirts, shorts and swimsuits. If you are a boy, you can only wear two. If you are a girl, you can wear all three. And you can play with the garden hose.

One Christmas: Everyone forgot, except for a little girl named Lisa. But she didn't know anyone forgot, so she didn't tell anyone. She left him (Santa?) a gift on Christmas Eve. (I assume that's the only gift given, and if you really want to think into it, Santa forgot, too, so he didn't even get his present...but oh, well.)

Oh, sometimes it's annoying to get prompts, but sometimes it's a lot of fun. So, I challenge you to tell me your own stories--what happened in the summer? What happened one Christmas? And what would you do if you found a dinosaur outside your house?

Or, you know, just enjoy my sad "stories." I did. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blogging it... for almost three years

Well, readers, this is post number 80!

I've noticed my posts are getting higher in number. This makes me remember when I first started my blog. Many of you will remember when I started to pop up around the web site...but actually, though still somewhat of a newbie, I started blogging just about three years ago.

Here's the difference between then and now: I had no idea what I was doing.

You want proof? Here's my first-ever entry. With such a clever name...(insert eye roll here). (I still like to use dashes and ellipses, by the way.) I wrote one more entry that year, and then didn't write again until--March of 2009. Then another in May. My friend Amalia found out about my sad blog sometime around July, and since then, mostly because she keeps me in the blog circles, told me about some good blogs to read, first told me about blogfests, even mentioned me from time to time--because of all that, I am still here. With 80 posts under my belt!

Well, these 80 posts later, not a lot has changed, but at least I have a better idea of what I'm doing.

I'm sort of thinking, too, that maybe I should host a blogfest on my 100-post marker. Or something just for fun. Of course, many fantastic ideas have come and gone...so I'll have to try to be clever (which always works oh-so-well) and come up with something clever and fantastic of my own. And that means I'll have to figure out how to use that Mr. Linky form...and people will have to spread the word...

But then again, that's twenty posts from now! An eternity! Or so it seems.

Eh, but what the heck. I've just about decided. In fact, I have decided. This is a go.

Within the next few posts, I'll discern the theme. And then...on November 16--my three-year anniversary of joining, and if I'm lucky, sometime close to my 100 post-mark--I shall have a blogfest.

An emdash blogfest! No, totally joking. I wouldn't do that to you. We don't want too much of a good thing!

But we do want...something. (Ominous music in the background.) (Maybe with some flashes of lightning for dramatic effect.)

 So...beware. It's coming....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Okay, so maybe I was about the last person in the world to see this movie, marking it as a Toy Trilogy, by the way--and, may I add, one of the greatest trilogies since Star Wars (the original episodes) found their way into the world.

So, if you can't guess from that, this is going to be a glowing review.

I don't know how Pixar does it. How they tell a story so phenomenally three times in a row, with similar tendencies, similar problems, and yet make three completely different yet connected, fantastic films. Each one is sparkling and new. Each one is beautiful. Each one packs a message without walloping you over the head with it.

And this one made me cry.

Okay, so if you were to ask my brother, he'd say that's not very difficult. But it made my cousin cry, too. We saw it together. She and I loved it. I laughed and laughed--it was so stellar! So--Pixar!

My one complaint is that Bo is in this photo I found, but is not in the movie (although she's mentioned. Thanks, Pixar!)

The thing about this movie is, we've grown up. Andy has. His sister has. Most of the toys are gone. Have been, for a while. But the special ones are left. (Hey, I've still got Polly Pockets--the old-school type--and they're sticking with me. You know? I totally understood.) They were about to go into the attic--all but Woody, whom Andy was going to take with to college. But through a mistake, they end up going to a day care. And as usual, they have to fend for themselves, find their love, and live (as toys) again, somehow.

We meet some new toys and people, and mourn the loss of old ones. We laugh ourselves silly over Ken--oh, my gosh, KEN! So....good...you just have to watch it for his antics, alone. We feel our hearts break and mend, faster than you can pull dry play dough out of its tub. (I'm grasping at metaphors, here.)

One thing is for sure--Pixar knows quality, and they know how to take chances. I respect them, and their stories. They've made me fall in love with them, all over again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yes, Haiku--Part Two!

The longer I participate in this Haiku ordeal, hosted by Stephanie Thornton, the cornier my jokes/blog headings are getting. But I love it. Who knew?

You can read my haikus from yesterday down below this post--and here are a few more, because, apparently, I can't get enough!

Starting with a more serious one:

When the air is crisp
Why doesn't it crumple? I
breathe; it stays intact.

Ok, that's enough of that. One I shared with a friend yesterday:

Sometimes, the in-laws
Are really more like out-laws.
It's good they aren't armed.

And now there's just no stopping me!

Spidey shoots web while
Superman flies. DC or Marvel:
Who best wears spandex?

When she learned the states
Stella just had to wonder
What did Delaware?

Pink slides and brown mules
Lie on the ground. He and she
Kiss in the tree!

Wind blasts the tall grass
Till it looks like verdant waves.
Where are the starfish?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Haiku! Don't you?

I was quickly commenting on my friend Amalia T.'s blog, when I saw that she had posted a winning haiku in Stephanie Thornton's totally awesome Haiku blogfest! What the heck? How did I miss this! I'm not poet--not at all, though I wrote a totally awesome, rhyme-contrived poem for my dad one year, entitled "Mr. Fix-It." Don't expect it to ever hit this blog.

So, I entered my name just now, and came up with this.

I just shook your hand.
I wish I knew why I can't
kiss your palm, instead.

And suddenly was like, "Ooooh! Haikus are fun!"

So, I think I'm going to do a few more. Read what you want. Take part! Have fun, is all. And it's for two days! Score!

Haikus, I think, are
Sweet as thick, orange marmalade.
But beware! They bite!

Ich liebe dich, he sighed.
I gazed at him and whispered,
"I do not speak French."

She walked into wind
And fog, and snow, and ice, but
She danced in the rain.

She longed for a frog,
But soon found that a true friend
makes for a better prince.

Okay! I am done
For now, at least, with this fun
..Till I think of more.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: The Thirteenth Princess

I love, love, love to read. I haven't read a new book front to end in a long time--I've just been too busy with other things, or I figure I ought to write instead, or--well, you know. But I saw this book, by Diane Zahler, and I was just taken by the cover and the premise; it is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale.

Let me explain one thing right here. I love retellings. My Dad used to tell me fairy tales from various points of view of the other characters, and I think that might be part of the reason why. The wolf could speak for himself and was maybe an innocent bystander in Little Red Riding Hood, but oh! Let me tell you, that lumberjack had a good tale to tell, as well. And it wasn't just that one--the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson either rolled in their separate graves, or rose in spirit with the new life we breathed into those tales. I love how things are explained, how characters are developed, or how sense can be made of what we otherwise would not have understood, set down as they are. So, I love retellings. And fairy tales, in general.

Back to "The Thirteenth Princess." I found a commercial for this book, by the way, which you should watch--it's pretty terrible. It's overly dramatic, and does not at all make me want to read this book. I'm glad I didn't see it beforehand. I probably wouldn't have read it. It's definitely a middle reader, but does that really matter in the grand scheme of things? If a book is good, then it's good!

However, this book was average for me. Granted, I was up until 3am or so, reading it. On a weekday. When I had to work at 8 the next morning. Ouch. But that was because I had just hit the meat of the book. The really good parts. And where this book is good, the writing is crisp and descriptive, and you're sucked in. However, there's a bit too much that is not quite there, for me.

The story follows our red-haired protagonist, Zita. She is the thirteenth princess, born last to a queen of failing health (who then dies), and to a king who wanted a son, who spurns her, forces her to live with the servants, while her twelve Barbie-blond sisters live in splendor. Magic is banned here, but of course that is just a recipe for magic to occur. I'm not entirely convinced of the plausibility of magic being banned so easily, anyway, but maybe I'm not supposed to, so I am okay with this point.

Zita is supposed to live up to her red-haired description. In the beginning of the book, I do not think she does. She wheedles, she is baby-ish, she is never just strong, though she is told she is different--a Princess who can cook! Well, what else was she supposed to do? She was living in the kitchen, after all!

The sisters, too, often annoy me. They all have names beginning with "A", and they are all almost too perfect, though I respect that the oldest, accurately named Aurelia (Golden), wishes to find a husband who will accept her as Queen and not want to rule. (You go girl!) I just wish she had more backbone--or even that I could tell the other princesses apart. True, they are under an enchantment, but still.

I didn't get into the book until the sisters started to get sick, and Zita had to find out why. She starts to show a little bit more character in that part, as well. Yet I can't get over the fact that I knew who was casting the enchantment, a big mystery in the book, by the time she first realized someone actually was enchanting them, and began to wonder who it was. I had about four or five chapters on her. Nonetheless, Zahler pulled off the reveal with some interesting revelations I wouldn't have necessarily thought of, so I felt satiated by the way the pieces matched up.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I'm glad I read it. There was some very lovely writing here...but it was not a book I feel like I'll be raving over or even insisting that my friends read. It's worth a read, especially if you're into fairy tales, and it's quite fast to read...but I found some character traits wanting, and felt the action came a bit too late. So, from a self-proclaimed fairy tale aficionado--it wasn't bad. Just don't let that terrible "book preview" link I added above keep you from giving it a shot!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blog-guilt

So lately, I've been feeling guilty for neglecting my blog. So today, I'm going to brush it off, get the cobwebs out of dear Bloggy's ears, and add my few cents to the day.

It is cold here today. Well, not cold by cold's standards--upper sixties and lower seventies are heaven in January, in this region. Or February. March. Often just a dream by the time we reach April. Perhaps we'll get there, by the end of May. But this summer has actually been warm, with temps in the nineties to one-hundreds, and I have been able to melt off the outer layer of ice that the last two winters bore. And now, I fear it's coming back.

But in other news--well. It's officially the last day of August. It's been a busy month for me, though not in every way I'd like. No writing was accomplished throughout this whole month, pretty much--well, not fictionally-speaking, and obviously very little here, as well. When the blog suffers, you know that other things must be going on. I've been training in to teach a new class, keeping busy at work. Trying to become a healthier person, too, by getting into a more regular work out schedule. And preparing to run about 5 miles in a marathon relay that I'm totally going to be terrible at. (Another topic for the future!) And now that it's about to be September, all sorts of new things are about to jump out, grab me by the scruff of my neck, shake me up a bit and demand my attention. All those little things we volunteer or (sometimes) are forced into really add up, you know?

But I promise, my dears--I hope it's okay with you all if I call you that? I'm running on just a few hours of sleep, here--I promise to be back. Because I have two reviews I'd like to share with you, one a book and one a movie. And because Bloggy is just purring so happily, now that I've allowed her to stretch out and get back into the social network.

Happy end of August to you. Enjoy the Kalends of September, which are soon to be upon us.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Yay, birthday!

This unicorn is wishing me a happy birthday!
So, today is my birthday, and I feel obligated to post something. Something quick and short.

I am a quarter of a century. I feel very old, although everyone scoffs at that idea. But today has been fantastic--so fantastic that I completely forgot I aged today!

What I did today:

*Took off work
*Slept in (but not too late--only till about 8:30)
*Exercised!
*Went out to eat with Mom, ate back what I worked off, I'm sure, with one fudge-topped, delicious Sundae. Which was free.
*Went shopping with Mom
*Had a fruit smoothie at McDonald's, because I've been thinking it actually looks good. (Shocking!) It really was!
*Came home and responded to the almost a hundred emails/facebook shout-outs.

Today has been great!

Of course, aside from my birth, August 9th has great historical significance. Not for good reasons, necessarily. I know it is the day the US dropped the Atomic bomb on Nagasaki. (Really, really sorry!)

A few other historical events, according to Historyorb.com and brainyhistory.com:
48 BC - Caesar's civil war: Battle of Pharsalus - Julius Caesar decisively defeats Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey flees to Egypt. (Though this date may be off...)
1173 - Construction of the Tower of Pisa begins, and it takes two centuries to complete. (Sweet!)
1483 - Opening of the Sistine Chapel (Also sweet!)

1726 - Netherlands signs Covenant of Hannover 
1854 Henry David Thoreau publishes "Walden"
1930 Betty Boop debuts in Max Fleischer's animated cartoon Dizzy Dishes 
1950 Lusty Song wins Hambletonian  (At first, I thought this was a song. I don't know much about horses.)
1964 1st Rolling Stones concert in Netherlands  (Apparently, the Netherlands love August 9!)
1973 - USSR launches Mars 7
1992 - "Streetcar Named Desire" closes at Ethel Barrymore NYC after 137 performances

OK, so that's enough. Yeah, well, you get the point.

So, go have a piece of cake, or better yet (and my favorite), ice cream. It's for my birthday. And birthday calories don't count, you know?

PS--I love unicorns.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The meaning of success

I know this is dumb, but sometimes I just feel like I am unsuccessful. Maybe I hear about a friend who is going to be travelling; maybe I hear about this great job that just fits in with everything some other friend wants to do. I see other people socializing and having fun in other places...and I'm just back in my old neighborhood. Working on short stories I've barely even tried to publish. (I know, I need to work on that.)

OK. I know I shouldn't whine. I have many reasons to feel successful, and many reasons to feel lucky. Here are a few:

*I work in a museum (which is totally awesome, by the way).
*I am not traveling currently, but that doesn't mean I can't travel in the future.
*I have some wonderful friends, who are very supportive of me--even if they aren't right by.
*I have awesome friends who support my writing.
*I have been able to do some part time writing and editing, both of which are my passions.

When I graduated from high school, a friend of our family gave me a plaque with that whole bit entitled "Success." It's less of a poem and more of a guideline; but then, it's attributed to Emerson, but doesn't seem to necessarily have been written by him. Here's another site. (Is that irony, rearing its twisted head?) In any case--for those who may be feeling the unsuccessful blues--this is for you.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Harmonica.

Sometimes, I just wish I could play the harmonica like this guy. Or do something analagous--like write a best-selling book. Whatever.

This is totally awesome.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The wonderful world of technology

To be honest, sometimes I hate technology.

I was just having a conversation about this with my coworker. How we're always working to improve, to do better, make things easier. OK. I get it. I love indoor plumbing as much as the next person. I am attached to my computer at the hip. I love IM, and even though I don't text (I know, shocking, right? Especially since I am in the age and era to do so), I totally have my cell on me at all times.

That's like, plus-5,000 points for technology. Woo-hoo!

But then I start to notice--like, how many kids stay inside to play video games instead of allowing their imagination to take over? Nothing against video games or rpgs (my bro is addicted to an rpg, and I'm in love with Rock Band. Best game ever made!)--just, what about bicycles and baseball, legos and tree houses? My favorite games from when I was little were imagined. My brother and I used to play "shipwrecked." I swear, I was obsessed with shipwrecks! Probably because I'm land-locked. Anyway, we had this old inflatable mattress that we blew up when company came. Afterward, bro and I would load it up with blankets and whatever else was handy. It became a raft in the ocean. Bro would be the captain, I would be the doctor, and we would look for land, weather storms, call for help. It was the *best.* Sometimes our cousins played along, and we would all sail those seas together. In fact, it was practically the only game that bro would play with us, if they were there.

I made mud cakes and watched bro dig holes in the ground, which we'd fill up with water and then take turns jumping into for, basically, mud baths. We played spy games, "parachuted" our cabbage patch dolls down the stairs using plastic bags. We traveled through time when we played, no matter what we played with. Bro knew everything, and I followed his lead.

It was awesome. Maybe that's partly why I am into the things I am.

I know I get reminiscent, sort of dreamy. I believe in saving traditions. I long for the sweet-tasting, sun-swept summers of my youth.

And I work at a museum.

Now, we are learning to record oral histories. We've been doing this for years, but the technology keeps changing. First it was only written, then with photo copies, then cassette tapes. We moved to video, then DVDs and CDs. And now, I'm learning to interview people across the country with Skype.

It is super-cool, and I'm so very excited about it--I'm over the moon!

I love that technology can be used to trap a piece of the past, to give to the future. I love that.

Yes, technology can be great. And it can be overrated. It's simpler by far to do things without. Some people say it's character-building. Hey, I'm the first to admit that I hope to never use an outhouse. Ever. Ever. I love that we work constantly to better ourselves. I love the great inventions that we use everyday, that we will use everyday in the future.

But sometimes, I feel torn.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hello, out there!

I know, I know. It's been eons since I last wrote. I've got an excuse! I really do! Since my hard drive crashed (backupyourcomputers), I haven't quite gotten back into the swing of things--though let me mention that I now have Windows 7, which is *sooo* much better than Windows Vista!

I have been busy here and there with other items, trying to set up some of the writing I lost (thank Heavens for the blogfests. Most of my newest writing got partial bits posted, because of it!) But I've been busy with other stuff, too--my job, my other job teaching fitness a few fitness classes locally, running back and forth to weddings...I went to two weddings in the last two weeks, and am going to another one this Saturday. (Yay, dances!) I am hoping to make at least one of the three I'm invited to in August. I have more upcoming.

But I did just want to share this news article, which just struck me as funny. Up in my neck of the woods, there are quite a few giant animal statues. Yes. And now, one has been named. Hooray!

Now, if only we could get ourselves our very own carhenge...

I don't suppose any of you have been there? ;) I have. I know, you're jealous.

So, anywho. Hello, and for now, goodbye.

Edit: Pictures of the buffalo. If you read the facts, note that #3 is no longer correct. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

New background!

Oooh, oooh, ooh. More colors and designs for me to choose from!

I'm talking, of course, about my blog's background.

It's difficult to find just the right background, isn't it? Or maybe it's just me. I have a hard time picking a favorite color, much less a pattern. But oooh...isn't this exciting?

Well, maybe that's also just me.

I have a new background, in any case. It's pink! I like pink. But not too overwhelmingly pink, I hope, so as not to scare off anyone.

At least it doesn't have any birds on it. I have a thing about birds. Especially robins. They stare down their beaks at me. I once saw a robin play with its food, a poor, innocent worm. It's so cruel! No, I have not and will not ever watch the Birds.

So. I'm still out here, surviving on my computer. I have a new hard drive, a new operating system (Windows 7), and a few ideas for new stories. Even if I am lacking the oomph to write, right now. The newness of everything is exciting, if a bit daunting. But that's a good thing, right?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hard Drives, and why they are important.

I assume everyone knows how important hard drives are. Especially if you are on here. After all, hard drives store everything--the entire life of your computer, and all of the files you add on. That's why it's so important to back things up. Heard that before? I have. And I've meant to.

You know, I can be awfully lazy about things like that. Who isn't, really? I think, to be perfectly honest, that the last time I backed up my computer was about 2 years ago. Maybe even a bit more. Since then, I've added stories, video, music and photos, all of which are terribly, terribly important to me.

I'm going to find out how long ago I backed up my computer today. Why? Because last Thursday, my hard drive failed.

I was watching TV on my computer, in part because I don't have cable and my television set barely gets two channels at the moment. Suddenly, I heard a clicking noise, repeating. "Click-click-click-click-click." And then my computer rebooted, because it was unable to read anything. And it rebooted again, and again, and again.

I freaked out a bit right there, but overall, I've been fairly calm. Not much else I can do, really. Thank Heavens that I emailed a few things to both myself and to my writing bud Amalia T. (It occurs to me that I missed out on her dream sequence blogfest. I just saw it was on Friday, yesterday. Good gravy. I've been out for a while, and it's not been easy. Sorry, Amalia!) And thank Heavens that I took part in as many blogfests as I did. I have some tidbits here and there, a few things saved other places. I'm not as lost as I could be.

But--I still lost a lot. And trust me, I've looked into file retrieval. It's not looking pretty.

So, I'm still here, dear readers and followers. Barely. But please, learn from me--back up your hard drive. Or at least the files that are most important to you. Because if you lose everything, you will feel lost, too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Feeling Lost, but learning from it (Watch out for spoilers, about midway down)

This isn't a unique feeling or post, I'm sure, and the title is a bit cheesy, I think, but seriously. Seriously!

OK. So, I started watching the TV Show "Lost" about three weeks ago. I wanted to figure out what was going on before the finale, so I could watch the finale. I just wanted to know about the hype. Yes, I got sucked into some stuff, though I had no clue what was going on with some other stuff. Thanks to Wikipedia, Hulu and my cousin, I felt pretty ready for the finale.

I almost cried the entire time! Some of my predictions came true, some had no legs to stand on, anyway. But, oh, my gosh.

Then I started to think about the parallels between the pilot and the finale. If you haven't seen it yet, but want to, maybe you shouldn't read past this point. If you don't care one way or the other, keep on reading.

Jack Shepherd, one of the main cast, starts out the entire show when he wakes up, after the plane has crashed on the island (you all knew that anyway, right?). It starts, as I recall, with the zoomed in close-up of his eyes opening. Vincent the dog finds him in the field, and then Jack's racing for the beach, starting to try to save everyone's life. The plane is in flames, and people are screaming. Locke is discovering he can walk. (He was in a wheelchair.) I think still in the pilot, there is the ubiquitous reference to black and white, good and evil.

What about the finale, then? Jack again is racing to save everyone, only this time, with his last breath. There's a subdued yet rushed feeling to his last walk through the bamboo. He has given his life to save the world this time, without thinking--much like his gut reaction in the pilot. Whatever he may have done in the meantime, he is what he is--he could not escape it. He was caught in that trap from the first episode. At the end, he sank down, fell down, and watched as the last few people escaped the island--Sawyer (once, his competition), Kate (his love), Claire (his half-sister), the pilot, Miles, and Richard. He sort of smiles. Vincent the dog finds him where he has fallen, in the bamboo patch. He's wounded again, as he was in the pilot, but this time, there's nothing he can do about it. There's a zoom-in, and he dies--with the last scene showing us his eye closing.

It's hauntingly beautiful, in a way. That his life has echoed itself, that he has done what he has to do, he has accepted it. It tears you apart--at least, it tore me apart. The parallel, and all of the meat in-between--his character development, the way he said goodbye to his loved one(s), and the sacrifice--all the death, to be completed by one last death. It's like literary fiction!

Yeah, sure, there are alternate time lines and alternate universes and alternate existences--in fact, in the finale you learn that the people from the flight made a place together, a (loosely-termed) purgatory of sorts, where they can meet each other again, remember, and then move on to the next plane together. (Not airplane, guys!) Yes, there's a lot of goofy other stuff going on--polar bears and such, and time travel, some group of people under an initiative that no one seems to know anything about. Think past all that. It's not so important as the basic story, which I believe lies in the first and last season (although this could be just me, as those are the only full seasons I watched). It's the struggle of life, death; it's the turmoil of emotions and relations, of friends, family, strangers, love, hate, the wild vs. civilization, good and evil. Opposites, that are so magnetized to each other that they cannot be one without the other, in many theories, in many instances.

These parallels are, in my humble opinion, beautiful ways to frame stories. The overarching themes that carry through, the true-to-character actions, the parallels, the meat in-between.

And though I didn't understand everything that went down in the finale--I think, after I've, ahem, gone through my grieving process--that it brings this show a bit of closure, and provides some lessons we can all learn from. And that, even if I don't understand, even if I am torn apart, I can respect, admire and even enjoy the framing of the story, and the story itself.

RIP, Lost.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blogfest: Let's Talk

Well, I guess I missed a few blogfests. What can I say? Next time I'll catch 'em.


But today is the "Let's talk" blogfest, so talk we shall. I just did some very light revisions on this piece, and trust me, I'm sure I missed great gobs of stuff. So comment away, okay? (Did you notice that rhymed? Yeah, I'm tired.) It's long, so stop reading whenever you want.

And check out the other partakers here. Oh, and thanks to Roni, our host!
~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Well, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I asked what your name is.”

This wasn’t at all going the way she wanted it too. This wasn’t how she imagined intruders. This wasn’t how she imagined anyone. “What’s yours?”

He grinned. “Okay, then. You can call me John.”

“John what?” she asked. She crossed her arms.

“There is no last name. You can call me John.”

“You have to have a last name.”

“I do, but I don’t want you to call me by it. Now, aren’t you going to tell me your name?”

“It doesn’t matter what my name is,” she said. “However, since this is my place, and not yours, and I don’t know you and I doubt very much that you are friends with my roommate, who, by the way, will be home very soon, it matters very much what your name is.”

“Fair enough,” he said.

They stared at each other while he ate the sandwich.

“So, your roommate’s coming?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, hoping he couldn’t tell she was lying.

“He’s your boyfriend?” he asked.

“Yes, yes, he is,” she said. “And he won’t take kindly to you, I can tell you.”

John smiled, and stepped forward. He dropped his voice. “He must make love to you every night, and thank his lucky stars that he’s with you as he does,” he said.

“Excuse me?” She flushed again, and stepped back into the refrigerator.

“And he must really like the color pink, too,” he said. “Because it’s everywhere in here.” He tipped his head, and his voice dropped to a whisper. “But you don’t seem like a pink sort of girl.”

Did he see everything? No, she didn’t like pink as much as Jenna. Jenna was the reason behind the pink.

“You don’t have a boyfriend coming home,” he said. “I doubt that you have a boyfriend.”

She looked up at him, embarrassed and angry. “You don’t know anything.”

“I don’t know about that.” He laughed.

“Why are you here?” she asked.

He ignored her question. “You don’t have a boyfriend. You’re buttoned up to here,” he said, pointing at her neck. She reached up and fingered the offending button. “You’re bursting to be loved, to be that object. And you’re afraid. Not just of me. You’re afraid.”

“And you,” she said, her cheeks burning. She was angry. Angry that he could see things. She fingered the top button of her shirt again. “You’re hiding out. You’re afraid. You expect me to believe you, and you come in here and tell me about my awful existence, and stand as close as you can, and you know what you’re doing—you know…”

He grinned, and she stood up.

“You need to go now.”

“I don’t want to go,” he said. “I like you, you know.”

“No, I don’t, and I don’t like you.”

“You tend to get to read people well, when you have to,” he said.

“You didn’t even tell me your real name.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I did.” He smiled. “You ought to have a boyfriend. Someone to love you.”

“Who are you hiding from?” she asked him.

He sighed. “From the police,” he said. “You should have figured that out by now.”

“I had.” She glared at him.

“I didn’t kill anyone,” he said.

“Then what did you do, and why are you here?” she asked. “I’m tired of asking.”

“Then it’s a good time to stop,” he said. “And speaking of that, maybe we should go back to the other room—you don’t look comfortable, up against the refrigerator like that.” He smiled. “Nice, but not comfortable.”
**Some notes: Jenna is her roommate; he is escaped from prison and ended up at her and Jenna's apartment on a weekend in which she (unnamed character) is all alone.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blog-tag!

I loved playing tag when I was little. I played Merry-Go-Round Tag one day, and injured myself.

You know how kids don't have merry-go-rounds at school anymore? Well, I'm one of the reasons why. Statistically speaking. I hurt myself playing that game!

I wonder if you know how it goes? One person is it; they stand in the middle, their eyes closed; then kids move around the outside of the Merry-Go-Round, trying to get away. Oh, yeah--and the Merry-Go-Round is moving. As fast as you want.

I have a little scar on my leg that has faded over time; it marks where my kneecap used to be when I was about ten. As I've grown up, it's grown down. a white, cock-eyed circular thing that marks where I slipped off the Merry-Go-Round and cut a very large, bloody and pebble-filled gash into my poor little leg. Trust me, it was painful. And I wasn't even it!

Blog-tag is not so painful. Or, at least, hopefully it isn't. I know lately, it's seemed like I've done nothing but blogfest, but I really am here, with other things to tell you. Amalia T., my lovely blogging/writing/other buddy, tagged me with some other lovely people, all who are delightful. Check her out, check out her links, and then, don't forget to return and check out my answers to this exciting literary sport of blog-tag. Five questions with five different(-ish) answers...oh, the thrill of it all!


Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?

  1. It's hard to believe now, but I was in college. Where did the time go?
  2. I was just getting into Ballroom Dance.
  3. In a very cold dorm room.
  4. In crush with some guy.
  5. In a good and happy place.
Question 2 - Where would you like to be in five years?
  1. Published. (Amalia, I'm keeping this one.)
  2. Home, after traveling the world.
  3. Living the dream!
  4. Among loved ones.
  5. Dancing with Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly....? (Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)
Question 3 - What is on your to-do list today? (Or, in this case, tomorrow.)
  1. Work. It's not exactly 9 to 5, though--it's more 8 to 4:30 with a lunch break.
  2. Choir. Last one of the season! I have to go.
  3. I should be doing some writing. It's not too exciting--but it's historical, it is sometimes fun, and I get paid for it.
  4. Finally cooking that chicken tikka masala. (Thanks, Jamie!) And then doing the dishes. Shucks.
  5. Well...practicing for that Fitness class I'll be teaching...but I'm sure we all know that's not going to happen...
Question 4 - What snacks do you enjoy?
  1. Ice cream. Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream! Chocolate's my favorite.
  2. Peanut butter. Straight.
  3. Fruit. This is a category of its own. Almost anything goes! Strawberries, bananas, apples, fresh peaches, cherries, blueberries and raspberries top the list.
  4. I really like cold baked beans. This is not so much of a snack as a side, but oh, well.
  5. I also really like cold sweet potatoes. Nothing on them! (See 4!)
Question 5 - What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
  1. Pay off my house and other such loans.
  2. Travel around the world.
  3. Diversify! Invest in my future, a few stocks, and let some collect in the bank. And donate some to charity.
  4. Buy something nice, and big, for my parents. Like a new house.
  5. Open up a dance hall in my non-dancing town.
Amalia says that the rules are to tag five bloggers I admire. This is totally unfair, because she tagged some I would have. And I suppose she'll say no tag-backs. What's a girl to do? :P But there are still many awesome followers to choose from. This is difficult! And to limit it to five? Well, here goes.

Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs
Charity at My Writing Journey
Eric Trant at Digging with the Worms
Jon Paul at Where Sky Meets Ground
Laura Canon at Pray for Rain

So, check them out, y'all! (I totally love to say y'all. Does that make me a wannabe southerner? I'm from the northern half of the country!) And then come back--I'm sure there's a blogfest coming up somewhere that I signed up for and forgot about.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bad Girl Blogfest

Oi. This caught me off-guard--how did the May blogfests sneak up on me so easily? I had a lot of work-related writing to do tonight, and so this, which is from a story I started but never finished, is the best I can do. I'm about to pass out from exhaustion, now. Maybe I'll try and make edits tomorrow.

I probably won't, though.

I think I may have to finish this one, too. We'll see.

Oh, and do read other entrants here. Thanks, Iapetus999, for hosting!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Do you hear something?” Jared hissed.

“Shut up. She won’t even notice we’ve been here. The girl is totally loaded. Her family must be those guys who own—”

“I don’t care what she owns!” He could hear it again, he thought. Maybe not, though…it could be in his imagination, after all. Couldn’t it?

“You aren’t helping, Dude. You aren’t going to get anything for your share. I'm doing all the work.”

“I don’t want it!” He ducked around Phil and peered out the window. He could just see Candace—Candy. That was what she said to call her—as she had been the night before. Soft short-shorts, so that the definition of her legs was visible. She had beautiful legs. “I don’t want it!” He wanted her, not her possessions. He was in love.

“I’m telling you, she won’t even know.” Phil almost sounded like he was going to giggle.

“How can she not? These look like heirlooms.”

“You know about the rash of burglaries. We’ll blame it on that.”

“But—”

There was a soft sound, and he stopped. This time, Phil heard it, too. He could tell. They stared at each other, and crept forward.

“We need to get out of here,” Phil said.

It was too late. “Hello?” Candy was standing in the door. Jared froze.

She was wearing all black, and Jared noticed that first. Even her shorts were black. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her in that. She looked hot. And mad.

His stomach dropped into the nether region of his feet. “C-Candy.”

“Hi, boys. What are you doing here?” Her forehead furrowed, and he wanted to kiss her. He shoved that thought down. He had to do some damage control.

“We—we—“ he couldn’t ever talk around her, could he?

“We thought we heard the burglar in your room, Candace,” Phil said. His eyes were round, his face white—he actually looked believable, Jared thought. He glanced back at Candy.

“So, you two were just trying to protect me,” she said, her tone hard. “How sweet.” She stepped into the dark room.

“Phil—” Jared didn’t know what to do.

“That’s it exactly, Candy.” He could hear Phil’s thoughts; he was saying, Shut up, Jared. I’ve got this covered.

Candy seemed to trip over her couch, and she landed behind Phil. She grabbed him from behind, twisted his head and brought him to his knees, his scream piercing Jared’s ears. Run, Jared. Get out of here.

Candy hit Phil’s head against her coffee table, and he dropped belly-down to the floor. She yanked his head up by his hair. “You know what your mistake was, boys?”

Phil wasn't saying anything. He wasn't making any sound. Run, Jared. “Wh-What?’ he stuttered.

“You don’t know your enemy.” She laughed, short and low, and pulled something out of the pocket of her shorts.

“I don’t understand,” Jared said.

Candy grinned, and her face looked feral. “I mean, it’s hard for me to get robbed by that burglar…when I’m the burglar.” She unfolded the metal with one hand, and held the small, sharp blade up against Jared’s throat. “And you read about the other jobs--you know what they say about me.”

“Y-yes,” Jared said. “No-n-no-no…”

She licked her lips. “That’s right. No survivors.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Primal Scream!

OK. It's time for another blogfest, and I'm not even done with the last two. (Thanks for the reminder, Roland!) Sometimes I feel like I just keep blogging by the skin of my teeth, you know?

Anyway, this is the Primal Scream 'fest, hosted by Raquel Byrnes. (With more to come--even this week, yet!) And I'm not completely sure what all I was supposed to do in this blogfest, except post a scene that may include a primal-ish scream. Self-explanatory, huh?

Well, I'm not so fond of this, for this scene, and I don't think I did the best with it, but it's from my WIP, and looking at it sure has been helpful. Pulling bits out really make you look hard at what you have, you know?

Here are a few bits of explanation, this time:
-Herrick wants the Stone
-Sallie knows how to use the Stone, and Herrick wants to know how
-they are not at this time known to Sallie, but she can hear them. Whoever they are.

So, anyway, I hope you enjoy it, at least some. Check out Raquel's page to see more, okay? Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Herrick thrust the Stone into her hands. “Take it.” He folded his hands around hers, forcing her to curl her hands around the rock. “Think.” He snarled, his face inches away from hers. “Think,” he said again.

She felt like he had inserted a knife down her spine, into her vertebrae. Her mind turned white-hot, smoking, and she could see a pile of brown and ash, the ruins of her house on the Outside. She could see Trina, staring in horror at her, backing away, crying, babbling something. She could see Herrick, standing in front of her, bending over her. His mouth moved. Think. Think. She had to think, she had to do something. She was there, and she was here. She saw almost everything separately, then at the same time, then darkness, stars, fire, heat.

Pain, pain, hot, searing—

Circle, sphere, black, white, red-orange-red—

A long spire, a horse with wings of flame, a horse that was not a horse, but moved more gracefully, with fire in its eyes, brown, black—

“Don’t force it,” Amity saying, over and over. “Don’t force it. Don’t force it.”

She was screaming, she hurt, she screamed more.

“Let go,” they said, “let go!”

“No!” a woman screamed, and something whizzed past Sallie’s ear, and it was a knife, and it hit the man who was with her, the man who was Herrick.

She felt something fall away, and she dropped to her knees, to her palms. She pressed her forehead on the marble of the tomb and closed her eyes.

“Get the hell away from my daughter,” her mother said.