Thursday, March 23, 2017

learning to burn, part 27

Please start at the beginning.  And remember the craziness of first-draftiness!  heheeh

“Eminghare, he's really probably right. I would like to lay it all out for you right now, but if you know, your expectation of the worst, because you often do think the worst, would bring it to pass far more quickly if you know the details.”
“Oh. Do I? Really? I didn't realize. I don't what to think the worst. How can I stop?”
“Let us not worry with that question in this moment. We will have opportunities to discuss it soon. We must finish here and get going.”
The group finishes eating quietly and Oseratin adjusts the pack from which the food came. “I think this one is lightest, so I would like Eminghare to wear it. I am simply going to carry her now. Binia and Ofonode, you two can run abreast, yes?”
The two look at each other. Binia shrugs her shoulders and the two nod.
Binia lifts each pack and then picks one up and hands it to Oseratin, “You carry this. It's the next lightest. You're already carrying more than either of us. It's only right.”
“Okay. Thank you. I appreciate the thought.”
Oseratin lifts Eminghare and the group sets off again. They run steadily in silence for a few hours before they see the wall of THE NAME OF THE TOWN and slow to a walk.
“I didn't see any outlying farms...” Ofonode feels confused by the abruptness with which they've come in sight of the TOWN'S NAME.
“No. It's too dry here. What farms they have will be along THE RIVER NAME. I imagine, though, that they will have few farms. Most of their goods will come from the river and by way of other ships from the NAME OF LARGE SEA.”
“So, this place is not made of producers as much as servants?” Ofonode had heard there were such places, but had never seen one. “I'm excited to see how it is different from the other places we've been.”
“Maybe not too different. There will still be producers, though fewer.”
“Still. I'm excited to see NAME OF THE TOWN.”
“I would like to stop and discuss how we will enter.” Binia stops walking. Ofonode and Oseratin turn back.
“Yes. Let us. I think Eminghare will be fine to walk from here. Maybe you should cloak and I will enter in my smallest form.”
“I'm glad we are in agreement, Oseratin. Yes. We should let the young ones enter as if alone. In truth, we do not know what this place is like.”
Os puts Eminghare down carefully. “Since you wore your pack on your front, I think you could carry this one on your back, but you might prefer to have its straps directly on your shoulders because it is a bit heavier.”
“I wouldn't have even thought of that. Thank you, Oseratin.”
Ofonode has put both his pack and Binia's on as Eminghare makes the switch. Binia has already disappeared when Os shifts into his small lizard form.
“We should agree on our story before we enter here. I think it would be best if we speak only truth and simply leave out the information we would rather others not know. That's how I've been traveling so far and it has served me well.”
“I agree. I learned early it is unwise to try to tell stories because I couldn't remember what details I'd told and where. Truth is definitely easiest.”
“So, we are good friends traveling together and need work so we can continue our journey.”
“Yes. I think I will defer to you and pretend to be shy.”
“Would it be so much pretense?”
“Maybe not now. I used to think of myself as outgoing, but my time away from my people has taught me that I know so little that now I worry about everything I might say.”
“I've definitely experienced that first-hand.” The two laugh a little.
They hear a little chirrup and look down to see Os tapping one of his long nails. He pointedly looks in the direction of THE NAME OF THE TOWN and begins walking.
“I guess we better get on our way, then,” Ofonode says and the two burst into laughter.
Os climbs to Ofonode's shoulder as they approach the gate of THE NAME OF THE TOWN just before the sun begins to set into the horizon. Eminghare and Ofonode look at one another as they step close to the wall, “It's unusually tall, isn't it, Eminghare,” Ofonode says. She nods her head and then he hails, “Anyone there?”
A small door in the gate opens high up and a head pops through. The company of three look up in time to see the man as he says, “You've made it just in time, you have! Closed 'er up, we did. Figured all thems whose gon pass through had done, we did. Give 'er a minute to open it up and step back a ways, you must.”
The man pulls back and the small door high in the gate closes. The three step back from the gate, which opens only far enough for them to slip in. As they step up onto the cobble street of THE NAME OF THE TOWN the man whose head they saw, says, “No need to open 'er up all the way, me thinks. You three are awfully small, yous is. Figured you could slip right in, I did. I's right again, I is.”
Eminghare and Ofonode look up at the man. They realize they must look small to him because he must have had to stoop a little to put his head into the hold in the gate. “Is everyone here as tall as you?”
“Mostly so, though, we do have some small ones, we do. They come from away yonder, like yous. But they love it here, they do. So they stay and we think they are mighty happy, we do. We enjoy the Master's variety, we do. That's why we welcome alls who wants to come through and why wes lets em stay if they wants to, we do.”
“The Master's variety. Do you mean God?”
“Course. What other Master is there, I wants to know? None, I says. Only one Master… though He has two bodies. One for the Father and another for the Son... and an extra Spirit sort of body to witness His ways and truth, He do.”
“Yes! We believe the same as you. Isn't that wonderful?”
“It is. It's amazing and marvelous that truth is found in all the world. We are glad to be here. What's your name, kind sir?”
“Mine? Oh, well… no oneses asks my name…. You did, though, so I tells it to you: my name be Shabred. I be the keeper of the gate, I am. There only be me and the one who works my days off, there be. This were the only ocapation me mum could find for me, it were. She tried her hardest to find something good for me sos I could make my own way in the world, she did. But I aint as smart as the rest of my bruvers and sisters, I aint. But she's mighty proud of me, just the same, she is. She's an angel, me mum is… yes she is!”
“She sounds really wonderful,” Eminghare says. “Well, it's been a pleasure to meet you, Shabred.”

“The pleasure has been all mine, it has.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

my thoughts: contentment versus complacency

So, I've been working through this for some time now. I have at least one pretty big issue with Paul, so reading his words from when he wrote/taught the Philippians about contentment was a little difficult. I understand the words and see their validity, but because it was Paul… I'm not sure I can adequately explain my issue.

Anyway… I've felt confused about the difference between contentment and complacency for a while. Mostly because we are told to be content, but NOT complacent. The first definition found via google for each are as follows:
contentment – a state of happiness and satisfaction
complacent – showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements

While those are the given definitions, my understanding of the two words has been more like:
contentment – accepting what is without motivation to pursue more
complacency – ignorance of need for improvement or exceeding laziness of character which stagnates an individual where they are such that they do not move forward or changeable

Based on common usage, I think the actual definition of complacency is very much a combination of my understanding and the definition cited. However, I think the second part of my definition for complacency is the more accurate one based on usage I've heard and read.

So, given all that, I can completely understand how and why we would be advised against complacency. While, especially in the way Paul uses it, I really even still have a tough time with contentment. I do believe we should choose to be happy in whatsoever circumstances we find ourselves. However, if we do so, how do we feel motivated to improve our circumstances? I'm still troubling over this, in fact. I guess if I come to a point where I understand it fully, I'll share what I come up with. Until then, tell me what YOU think! I seriously would love some help with this and reading your perspective could be just what I need! Thank you in advance if you take some time to help me figure this out!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen, a book review

While Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen fits easily in women's fiction, I think almost any adult would enjoy it. Those who enjoy and are familiar with Poe's works would probably enjoy it even more than a more general adult audience. I enjoyed the novel.

As an English major, I was already familiar with Poe, but didn't find him as fascinating as many folks I've known found him. For me, Lynn Cullen brought him to life through Mrs. Osborne's eyes and experiences in such a way as to make him far more interesting to me than he ever was on his own!

The notes at the end of the book are extremely interesting as well. In my experience of the novel, those note add relevance and 'meat' to the fictional story preceding them. Perhaps especially the notes about what pre and post dated the events reported within the novel.

I enjoyed the novel and the experience of Poe coming to life for me in a way that none of my university studies and classroom discussions about him and his work ever made him. I appreciate the treatment of the one love scene presented.

My girls will have to wait until they are in their late teens to read Mrs. Poe. This is a novel intended for adults and deals with subjects appropriate to such. I strive to present adult material to my children carefully. The material that would not be appropriate for my youngsters pertains to sex/sexuality, abortion, and faithfulness (or lack thereof).

Have you read Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen? What did you think of it?

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Leprechaun's St. Patrick's Day by Sarah Kirwan Blazek

A Leprechaun's St. Patrick's Day by Sarah Kirwan Blazek is lovely for a few reasons. First, it starts out with a particular rhyme pattern and keeps it going through the whole book. Second, there are some Gaelic words and phrases used and their definitions are very easily seen and understood on the same page in which the word or phrase appears. Third, the illustrations work really well to inform and support the verbal part of the story.

My eldest daughter recognized the illustrator by his work. James Rice has a distinctive style and has illustrated at least one other book we've enjoyed.

If you're like me and want to have a few sweet family traditions, you could use this for one. Buy a copy for your closet and pull it out ONLY on St. Patty's Day to read with your little Leprechauns. Make sure to make it a special thing that you're pulling it out and they'll be sure to look forward to its appearance once a year.

My five eldest children and I enjoyed this book and recommend it. What do you think of it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

writing life: what I do in town

Two or three days a week, most weeks, I go to town to do some work online. This is particularly enjoyable for me because I very much dislike really hot weather. Sitting in air conditioning to work, is easier, for sure.

Most of the time, I work at the Library (which is in the mall) or Whataburger. The latter being somewhat easier some of the time because I'm able to have water there. It's difficult for a nursing Mama to be without water for very long.

GrA is with me when I go to town on my own, which is one or two days each week, most weeks. I prefer going at night because he's getting older and it's more difficult to work while caring for him. When he was younger (and I started going to town to work on writerly stuff when he was two months old), it was pretty easy because he just slept and nursed. Now, though, he wants a great deal more interaction. He does sleep well through the night, so going to town during the night I'm able to get more done than if I try to work through the day.

So, one or two days a week I go to town anywhere from 2pm until sometime in the wee hours of the next morning. Some days I've stayed as late at 7am. Those are days when my arrival is considerably later the night before. Usually, I leave between 5 and 6am.

What do I do online? Well, I usually have a few things to cut and paste and upload. Sometimes I copy and paste writing (like this, actually) in to my blog. Often, I have videos of GrA and other YouTube things to upload. When I was first learning to use the video editing software I use, I watched “How To” YouTubes as I did it because I couldn't figure it out on my own. YouTube is awesome!

The free picture editing tools online are better than any I have, so I do that in town. I also search for free pictures and clipart to prepare various things for different purposes. For instance, pictures may be used for a thumbnail for YouTube, a meme for Facebook, and potentially for my blog as well. If there's no picture for each blog entry, it's not very Pinnable, doncha know!

For the most part, I don't write much while in town. Sometimes I edit when I wasn't able to finish that at home for something that needs to be posted or scheduled. I prefer to get things scheduled rather than just saved as drafts because if it's a draft I still have to think about it. Whereas, if it's scheduled, it's ready to go. I like having things fully ready!

In addition to all that, I also prepare posts for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I've started working in Goodreads a little here and there.

Getting things scheduled out, is very important and helpful to me. As a Mama of six, I simply refuse to allow my work life to be a last-minute sort of situation. Knowing myself as I do, that would cause me tremendous anxiety. So, I schedule posts out as far in advance as I'm able.

Before I ever began this effort and venture, I'd read about other bloggers who have their whole calendar fully scheduled for six months in advance. I'm sure there are times where it gets a little less and even some when they have their blog ready for more than that. That makes absolute and perfect sense to me. And since I have so many social media outlets I'm working to build, I attempt to schedule out as much as I can manage.

It's definitely a progression and building process!

From the beginning, I had a plan. It has changed and grown along the way. I think and hope it's all for the better. I'd love to hear what you think of what you've seen!

Can you see how I've been building? Can you tell where I've started? What I've focused on first? I'm curious, if you've been following since I've made this effort public, if you can tell what I've been doing and where it looks to you like I'm going! Do tell!

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross, a book review

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross immediately reveals very little, yet caught this reader firmly. I had to force myself to stop to go to sleep when I felt tired.

Chess is the main character of this future fiction. A future in which Elvis Presley is a constellation and Star Wars and Star Trek have become one crazy story. A time when nanites have cleaned the earth and turned on their creators.

This is an awesome story. My two eldest daughters and I have adopted some of the phrases from the story in our communications (to be silly and to sorta make our own family language). It's the purplest! Seriously. You should read this book so you can join in!

Have you read The Fog Diver by Joel Ross? What did you think of it?

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Pitiful Pirates by Jane Arlington, a book review

My children read The Pitiful Pirates by Jane Arlington before I did. Very soon after they read it, they put it in front of me telling me I absolutely had to read it. They were so excited as I began it, that I couldn't help wondering what was so great about the story. It's not a rhyming story (which I definitely prefer in children's picture books), so I was waiting to realize why they were so excited for me to read it.

When I read the part of the story in which the storm kicks up, I did find it pretty funny. Of course, given our Cap'N Hugh “Strongback” Golly, this book would be pretty appropriate and enjoyable to all of us. Lydian, the little girl in the story, made a suggestion to the pirates after observing their difficulty with the storm. That is why my children were so tickled and excited for me to read this book. It's pretty perfect for us if you think of my very first children's book!

Meredeth Johnson illustrated this picture book. The illustrations are really perfect for the story. The portrayal of Lydia in the illustrations is completely believable and adorable. The other characters are equally fitting and fun.

We liked this children's picture book! Have you read The Pitiful Pirates by Jane Arlington? What did you think?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my eldest daughter!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

learning to burn, part 26

Please start at the beginning.  And remember this is the very first draft, goofy notes to myself and all.

“So, that funny saying my Auntie loved 'Man plans, God laughs,' should really only happen frequently if we don't seek His blessing on our plans and goals?”
Oseratin passes out the bowls of mash, “I believe so and that very fact has played out in my life. Of course, there are other people, so sometimes even when we receive confirmation, we must remain flexible because someone else's agency can cause necessary changes in what we would strive to accomplish. Eminghare, please bless the food.” She does so.
“What will we do with this female?” Eminghare asks.
Oseratin moves her so that she rests next to the rocks of the outcropping and returns to where the others sit watching him. “We will leave her as she is. No harm will come to her and she will wake in a day or so. She will seek the others of her Order.” Os returns to eating his food and the others follow suit.
Right before all have finished their food Binia says, “We will stay on the road. Unless we have a problem with others of your kind, we will pass easily. It is important for us to move quickly, perhaps even jog and run until we make it to THE NAME OF THE CITY.”
“That makes it sound like you know something we don't.” Eminghare says to Binia.
“Yes. I will share as we go. Let us ready ourselves.”
The group gathers their things and settles the packs on their backs. “I will be last this time.” Oseratin says.
Ofonode says, “I'll run just before him. Maybe you two could run side by side so I can hear Binia?”
“That sounds good. Do you mind running at my pace, Binia?”
“Not at all. Let's go.” The group sets off and Binia begins to relate her experiences.
“What I know that you don't is this: the Drack Order has begun to gather their members. There were at least ten when they had me. Plus that female. They now know some of my strength. I did not have to reveal all, but they will be much better prepared. Thankfully they know almost nothing of Oseratin outside menspar. So, we still have advantage there, but they will hunt us. Oseratin and I are a tremendous hindrance to them. They have been seeking the destruction of all the members of the Holy Order since we arrive on your planet. Even Os and I don't know how many of us are left. Perhaps we are the only ones. So, they will hunt us and anyone with whom we are associated. They will assume you know our purpose and work with us to accomplish it. Nevermind that it isn't true. The truth never really gets in their way, you must understand. They don't care about it. They believe they know best at all times and will seek to fulfill their own will and advance their own understanding whatever the cost.
“So, I stopped along the way yesterday to relieve myself. I should have stopped everyone, but I wanted to be alone for just a moment. I have always enjoyed my time alone. It is probably one of my greatest difficulties… my desire to be alone. Still, I do need some time to myself… I will just make sure to communicate my need and we will figure out how to make it work from here on out.
“I returned to the road and was easily catching you when the Dracks overtook me. I didn't even hear them on the road. They may have been flying. However, I believe they were only able to catch me because they have a ship. That's the most alarming part of the whole ordeal yesterday. We thought our craft were all destroyed. We were wrong. So, the fact that they have even one ship is an advantage to them. But since we know about it now, we will be able to defend against it, thankfully.”
“You did not tell me of the ship, Binia.” Oseratin sounds shocked and displeased.
“I was very tired. It was not the most important thing in my mind. Please forgive me, Oseratin.”
“All is forgiven, of course. We will speak more of what you know of the ship they have constructed later.”
“Yes. So, they attempted to hold me. Obviously they succeeded somewhat. But they knew they would not be able to keep me long. Fortunately for me and us, they misjudged my strengths and abilities and did not guard their conversations well, though they did not speak out loud at all. I guess my time away from all other invisians and attempting to commune with another species has strengthened my ability to hear what is not said. So, I listened carefully while I worked myself out of their hold. Thus the information I have already shared.”
“And you're sure they didn't allow you to overhear it as a means of setting a trap?” Eminghare asks what the rest are thinking.
“I am as sure as I can be. It wasn't simple to hear them and some of the comments they made led me to believe they thought I couldn't possibly understand them. I'm sure they would have been able to catch us by now since they do have that air ship. Yet, they have not. This is, to me, an additional confirmation that they did not know I could understand them.”
Oseratin says, “We have, it seems, both guessed wrongly about the other. Let us assume they are laying a trap and hope Ofonode's foretelling dreams will warn us if we are in danger. If we assume danger is ahead and we encounter none, we are no worse for the wariness.”
Breathing heavily, Ofonode says, “How were they holding you? And how did you get free?”
“To explain both would require a lesson in physics that I am not prepared to give as we run along the road. If, at some point in the future, it seems we have the time and there is need for you to know the intricacies of a branch of science you have no studied at all, I will attempt to help you. For now, suffice it to say that I did.”
“I know we've only been running a short time, but I need to slow down for a while.” Eminghare's voice sounds weak to Ofonode. He slows immediately, as do Binia and Os. Though the pace is significantly reduced, Eminghare visibly struggles to keep up.
“Shall I carry you again, my dear?”
“I hate to ask you to, Oseratin, but if you could….”
“Of course.” Os jumps forward and smoothly lifts the girl into his arms.
I wish I was as strong as Os, Ofonode thinks. Eminghare looks over at him and smiles. Ofonode realizes she's heard him and a hot blush rises to his cheeks and his hair begins to float out behind him.
Os looks over at Ofonode and winks with a big grin on his face.
The group runs unmolested for the rest of the morning. They stop for lunch when they reach a cleared area with a large black circle lined with rocks and a secondary circle of logs outside the rocks. To one side of the circle is a low box and in the opposite direction is a table with benches. It is a well-used spot and the group is relieved to find it.
Os puts Eminghare down on a log and the rest of them put their packs down on logs near her. Ofonode opens the box and finds logs, kindling, and a fire starter in it. On the underside of the box is written a message that those who choose to use what lies within should either replace in kind or leave some form of payment as a maintenance fee. Ofonode closes the lid without removing anything.
“Will we have a fire here?”
“I think it unnecessary, my boy. Eminghare requires rest and food. It need not be hot food, though. It is best if we are on our way as soon as possible.” Binia is standing next to Os digging through the pack with the most food and nods her head.
“You look like you're doing okay. How do you feel?” Ofonode asks.
“I still feel weaker than I have for the whole of my journey so far. I don't understand it. It seems like I should be stronger since I've been on the road so long, but exactly the opposite is happening.
Binia and Os look at one another.
“What? I see the way you two are looking at each other. What's that all about?”
Oseratin shakes his head. Binia scrunches her eyes into slits and nods her head one time before she speaks, “You must return to your people as quickly as possible.” She immediately returns to moving things around in the pack and starts to take a few things out here and there.
“Yes. That's what I'm trying to do. I can't really help it that all sorts of things are causing delays. Can I? What does returning to my people have to do with the way I can't seem to run and feel so weak and tired after so little exertion?”
Binia looks up and is about to speak when Oseratin puts his hand on Binia's arm and says, “My concern is that if you know the details of the problem, the knowing may compound the problem exponentially.”
Os takes the food from Binia and passes it around to everyone. All but Eminghare begin to eat.
“So, what. You two… is it Ofonode, too? You three know there's something wrong with me and haven't told me?” She takes an angry bite and chew, but not enough, swallows too much, and begins to cough. Binia gently rubs her back and looks pleadingly at Oseratin.
“No, not at all, my dear.” Os says to Eminghare, “We did wonder if your genes carried the sickness. We had no way to know if it would trouble you. We did not know something was truly amiss until just now. Your words have revealed the trouble. We thoughts yesterday was only an isolated occurrence and had no idea you've been feeling an overall weakness and lethargy as we see you must have been, now. Lest you think poorly of Ofonode, I must tell you that he has not had even the beginning of a clue about what we are speaking.”
“You've said I'm sick? But I don't feel sick.”
“It's not an illness of the body, per se. It just appears as an illness after exertion… the body simply shows symptoms so that you will return to your people and be renewed.”
Eminghare sits quietly eating for a moment, “Renewed… my mother spoke of that. When she did, though, it had something to do with going to our worship meetings each week. What does it have to do with needing to return home?”
“Just so. Exactly that. You know all there is to know, my dear.”
Eminghare looks completely confused and Binia says, “She does, but she doesn't. Surely it would do no harm for me to explain it to her explicitly?”

“Later, certainly. Eminghare, you must know that we both have your best interests at heart. I feel concern that Binia may share overmuch with you because she has been traveling with you so long and loves you so dearly. While I, though I love you night as much as she, am a more objective observer, as it were. Please trust me.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Door in the Lake by Nancy Butts, a book review

Nancy Butts caught me and my daughters well, solidly, and immediately in The Door in the Lake. The cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter are such that I neglected the chapter breaks a few times when I meant to stop reading to sleep. I started the book one afternoon and finished the next day, which isn't surprising because it's really not very long.

It is suspenseful without being heartpoundingly unnerving. I particularly enjoyed the imagery pertaining to the door itself. The way Nancy Butts treats time in the novel is perfect. I was imagining, the night after finishing it, what Joey's brother, parents, and others did in the time-line he left. Ripe for fan fiction opportunities me thinks.

My three eldest girls have read and enjoyed it. The youngest of those three being seven, almost eight. It is appropriate for all ages, thankfully!

Have you read The Door in the Lake by Nancy Butts? What did you think of it?

Nancy Butts caught me and my daughters well, solidly, and immediately in The Door in the Lake. The cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter are such that I neglected the chapter breaks a few times when I meant to stop reading to sleep. I started the book one afternoon and finished the next day, which isn't surprising because it's really not very long.

It is suspenseful without being heartpoundingly unnerving. I particularly enjoyed the imagery pertaining to the door itself. The way Nancy Butts treats time in the novel is perfect. I was imagining, the night after finishing it, what Joey's brother, parents, and others did in the time-line he left. Ripe for fan fiction opportunities me thinks.

My three eldest girls have read and enjoyed it. The youngest of those three being seven, almost eight. It is appropriate for all ages, thankfully!

Have you read The Door in the Lake by Nancy Butts? What did you think of it?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Carousel Cat by Robert J. Blake, a book review

Apparently, I really like children's picture books in which the author is also illustrator! Carousel Cat is written and illustrated by Robert J. Blake.

The illustrations in this book were not nearly so captivating to me as in previous author/illustrator books I've reviewed. My children really enjoyed them, though. How do I know? If they don't enjoy the pictures, they get up when I'm reading and the quiet erupts into their noisier play. So, I'm pleased with the art for its ability to keep my children's attention.

I like the story. It left me wondering if the happenings were based on real incidents. Are the characters based on real people? I haven't been curious enough to find out, but it's interesting to think that they could be.

The plot twist involving the cat is pretty fun. My children really enjoyed it.

Have you read Carousel Cat? What did you think?