Friday, February 27, 2015

"Ups and downs, Mr. Clennam."

 

  Everyone has those seasons in their life-- when things have lost their luster, inspiration is hard to come by, the days roll by in endless monotony, and nothing exciting seems to be on the horizon.

  Late winter can often be a very boring time for me. It's easy to get the blues when you're stuck inside your house practically 24/7 and the mercury is dropping right out of the bottom of the thermometer. Spring fever usually hits about now, and my mind is populated with dreams of flowers and birds singing in the trees and green meadows and sunny skies and dust-- oh, glorious dust! But I have to wait. And if I'm perfectly honest, I hate waiting.

Sometimes I totally feel like this.

  This year especially, the winter blues has hit me bad. And it's not only that; lately, I've been feeling my inspiration running low. That feeling of excitement that drives me. The passion to want to do awesome things, the motivation to get up at 5:30 in the morning and pour my emotions out into stories, the joy that keeps me smiling all day long. It's just...not there. I'm not sure where it went, because I had it just a little while ago. But lately-- yeah. I've just got the winter blues.

   Do you ever feel like your imagination is just running short of fuel? As though you've completely used up everything that's in there, or else lost it somewhere and you don't know quite where to find it again? That's a problem I've rarely, if ever, had to deal with. But I find myself feeling rather dry lately. Maybe it's the transitions that are going on in my life; maybe it's the weight of commitment in what I want to accomplish; maybe it's just that life is rarely what I want it to be. It's so easy to get discouraged, isn't it? You think of one thing that's wrong, pretty soon a hundred others follow, until it's just overwhelming. That's why it's so important not to fall into that trap.


  I'm trying to remember that there are always things to be grateful for. Yes, even in February! Even when I'm low on inspiration for my writing, even when my house is a mess, even when the bottom drops out of the thermometer. When I think about how God has blessed me, all the stupid little things that drag me down start to fade.

   So I guess this is one of my semi-frequent writer's block rants. ;-P Inspiration ebbs and flows; it'll come back. (Hopefully soon!) I need to not worry about it. So what if I haven't touched my novel in four days? I can come back to it, and I can write like crazy in the next four days. There's always tomorrow. But more importantly, there's today. I need to stop chasing after aching dreams of springtime and revel in the beauty of now. God made this cold, gray, stuffy day just like he made the warm sunshiney happy days of summer. I can't waste it just because I'm sick of snow and cold.

  And perhaps this is a time in my life when I should be paying attention and learning things, and not complaining and bemoaning what I don't have. News Flash: Sometimes it's good to give your writing a break. (Though it may feel like it's slowly killing you at the same time, which is what I've been experiencing!) I can go back to it with a renewed energy and motivation, new ideas and fresh inspiration. Just like Mr. Plornish says: "Ups and downs, Mr. Clennam. Ups and downs."

   Well, as the unsinkable Molly Brown says: "I ain't down yet."

    And I ain't.

    Even in the dead of winter there are rays of sunlight. Even in the darkest moments, ideas timidly push themselves into my head. And spring will come soon! I won't lose hope, because spring will come soon. My imagination is just....molting. That's it. This is a transition stage. It's hormones. I'll be okay. ;-)


    And so I will read good books and eat popcorn and write what I can and watch Brad Pitt movies good movies and continue to thank God for a life so sweet. Even in winter. :-)


"It will come sometime. Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen...wonderful things."  ~L.M. Montgomery

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Stars Fell On Henrietta (1995)


    "You've got to hitch your wagon to a star, sweetheart." 
      ~Mr. Cox


   There is this remarkable phenomenon that sometimes happens when I go to the VHS section of the library. I'm really not to be trusted. I'll see the side of a case {the good thing about VHS cases are you can find them better than DVDs, since they're bigger}, I 'll think it looks interesting, pull it out, maybe see an actor I like, and promptly decide to take it home and watch it. It happens startlingly often. I know, my poor family.

   Well, that's exactly what happened with The Stars Fell on Henrietta. I'd never heard a word about this movie until I happened across it while mindlessly wandering about the VHS section at the library, saw Robert Duvall's name, saw AIDAN QUINN's name, read the synopsis, and thought, yup. This could be good.

    And what do you know? It was. In fact, it was better than I'd even expected.

   The Stars Fell on Henrietta is an extremely strange movie, but I loved it. It's one of those stories that makes you homesick for a time before you were even born. The characters are like people you might know. It's definitely a weirdie. But you know what? Very often, those are the best kind.


    It's the story of a man named Mr. Cox {Robert Duvall}, a self-proclaimed "oil man" who has tried his hand at the business for years but never had any success. When he comes to the little town of Henrietta, Texas, he is convinced there is oil there to be drilled. When he meets farmer Don Day {Aidan Quinn}, whose family are at the risk of losing their farm, he fills their heads with dreams of striking oil on their land and turns their lives around forever.


    Robert Duvall is officially my second-favorite actor. He's absolutely brilliant in this role, as always. Mr. Cox is dreamer, a go-getter, and crazier than a bedbug. He's a drifter, moving from place to place, trying to convince people to get on board with him in drilling for oil, even washing dishes in nasty Greek restaurants. He's charming, clever, and completely loony. In other words, classic Robert Duvall.
  And oh, I loved his cat Matilda! It's hilarious how he carries that cat around under his arm all the time. One of my favorite scenes was when Mr. Cox goes out into the field at night looking for where the oil is and swings Matilda around and around, finally flinging her up into the air. I want to do that with my cat. :-)


   As far as I'm concerned, Aidan Quinn has never been better than he is in this movie. I'm becoming an increasingly big fan fan of him in general. :-) Don Day is a dreamer, down on his luck like every other farmer during the Depression. After Mr. Cox tells him he knows there's oil in his land, Don decides to go for it. At first he has no luck, and things get worse before they get better. But Mr. Cox doesn't give up, and he pulls Don along with him until they finally reach their goal.


    Cora Day is played by Frances Fisher, who I'm not familiar with, but she's an amazing actress. Cora is at first against all the oil business, wanting her husband to play it safe. She's an interesting character, and for the most part I really liked her.
    The eldest daughter, Beatrice, was Lexi Randall! {From Sarah, Plain and Tall.} She was kind of a sullen character, but sweet. The younger daughter Pauline was adorable. It was Pauline who began the movie by narrating the story as an adult and concluding the story too, and I kind of felt like she should be a more prevalent character in the events because of that, but it was okay.
    Oh, And Robert Duvall talking to little children is about the sweetest thing ever. :-)

   Like I said, this is a very odd little movie, but real life is odd and so to me that makes a good story. It drew me in from the very beginning-- one of those movies where you've barely started it and already you've got that this-is-my-new-favorite-movie feeling. I've discovered I have a special affinity for stories about people in the 1930's trying to keep their homes and their land. This is a great movie, in my opinion, with a terrific cast {including Aidan Quinn :-)), and I'd definitely recommend it. And if that makes me loony too, well then, I guess that's alright with me.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Literary Heroine Blog Party!



      Over at Accordion to Kellie, it's time for the annual Literary Heroine Blog Party! I'm so excited to be participating this year! It's going to be great fun, and I'm excited to see what else Kellie's got planned. There's also a fun giveaway going on, and encourage y'all to hop on over to Kellie's blog and take a look-see for yourself!

   So here are the tag questions for the party.


Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!

    
Howdy! I'm Emma Jane Violet Anne Eponine Anderson Kennedy, but you can just call me Emma. :-) My life's vision would probably be to use everything the Lord's given me for his honor and glory, to make the most of the time He's given me on earth, to love, laugh, grow, and imagine things. I like summer and sunshine and flowers and 90's movies popcorn and straw hats. I dislike Nicholas Sparks books and wasting time and math (which is the same thing) and being tickled and talking to people I don't know in public settings. Yes, I'm an introvert.
   As for my aspirations, they are extensive. Foremost among them would be to glorify my Lord, write good books that make people feel deep, warm and happy, live in a pretty little house, keep in contact with my best friends in the world and be an inspiration to other people.
   Something completely random: Aidan Quinn is my third-favorite actor.

What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 
    A strong personality; in other (and less delicate) words, guts. She has to have courage and convictions and strong feelings. I don't care a bit for wishy-washy, oh-let's-do-this-but-I-don't-know, nothing-really-matters type heroines. They have to know what it is they're aiming for, or at least have a desire to know and eventually find the truth by the end of the book. They've got to be so genuine that I start to think of them as being real people. So yes, that's what I'd say makes a true heroine: she has to be real.


Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

     "Relate to" and "admire" will not always be mutually exclusive. :-) Okay, four heroines of literature I most admire: 
  • Mattie Ross (True Grit): she's got true grit. She has strong principles and the courage to confront evil and do something about it. I love her spunk and her determination and her perseverence.
  • Christy Huddleston (Christy): she's a naive city girl with a passion to help people, and she learns so much in her journey of getting to know the mountain people, and getting to know God. I love her desire to learn and her to do good.
  • Abbie Deal (A Lantern In Her Hand): she's a pioneer woman, a mother, who faces incredible hardship and comes through it all weathered and strengthened by her trials. She's a fiercely devoted mother and an amazing woman. I'd love to just sit down and talk with Abbie for hours on end.
  •  and Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables): because Anne's just so lovable. :-) She's spunky, imaginative, kind, honest, and you can't help but feel a strong kinship with her.


  And four heroines of literature I most relate to:

  •  Violet Rose Hayes (A Proper Pursuit): she's a daydreamer, an adventurer at heart, impulsive, and sometimes her wild thoughts run away with her. Also we both have an affinity for fair-haired lieutenants. ;-P
  • Ellis Eton (Love Comes Calling): she's well-meaning, easily distracted, gets excited easily, also worries easily, always seems to somehow get herself into the most awkward situations, and doesn't understand a lot of things.
  • Lizzie Glick (Lizzie Searches For Love trilogy): she's sometimes grumpy and impatient and, like me, there are so many things she still has to learn. When reading these books, it's often startling how often Lizzie says something or think something that makes me go, "Wait...haven't I said that exact same thing before?"
  • Emma Smallwood (The Tutor's Daughter): she likes things neat and orderly and in their proper places, and she likes to have things planned out just the way she wants them. Yup.
       
Five of your favorite historical novels? 

       My favorite novel EVER is Hidden Places by Lynn Austin. Other favorite historical novels: By Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, True Grit by Charles Portis, and Yankee Stranger by Elswyth Thane. Lotta Elswyth Thane going on. :-)

Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? 

    Ehhhhh. That's tough. These are all my favorite books, so of course they're all my favorite characters! I'm going to say Atticus Finch, because he's amazing in every respect. But also Mattie Ross, Cabot Murray, and Gabe Harper.


Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? 

    I'd say Scout Finch, but she's not a secondary character. *thinks hard* I really like Mr. LaBoeuf in True Grit. He's rather stuck on himself, but he's a man of morals and he's brave and he eventually gives appreciates Mattie for who she is. Any friend of Mattie Ross is a friend of mine.

If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? 

     Well, of course I would want to go to Europe and visit my very best friend Alice who lives there! What would we do? We'd laugh, talk, watch movies, take walks, swoon over fictional characters, take pictures....we'd just have the time of our lives. :-)
     But if I couldn't do that, I'd love to go out to Montana and stay on a real ranch. I have this sort of fascination with Montana right now (blame it on Brad Pitt movies). ;-P I want to see the wide open country, the endless sky, the majestic mountains in the distance, and feel the never-ceasing wind.

This is Montana.
This is also Montana.

What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? 

      It's a toss-up between the 1930's and the Civil War, but right now I'd definitely say the 30's. I'm infatuated with the era, the styles, the life people lived back then. Most of my favorite books are set during the 30's, actually.
     I haven't read many books about the 1910's period, but if I could find a good one, I'd definitely love reading about that time. I've seen more movies about that era and it's one of my favorites. The novel I'm currently writing is actually set in 1910.


You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of? 

     Oh, singing. That's a no-brainer. I'd probably sing something classic Broadway. That's just how I roll. ;-P

If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? 

     How fun! Someone needs to make this a thing. :-) Let's see...maybe Violet Hayes, because she lives in the 1890's and wears gorgeous clothes and she's one of my favorite characters. Or Mattie Ross, but I didn't want to use her for my answer because I've been mentioning her too much already.
   Wait....did I just imply that it was possible to talk about Mattie Ross too much?! Perish the thought!


Favorite author(s)? 

     Boom, Lynn Austin. I didn't even have to think for that.

In which century were most of the books you read written? 

    This one. I'm woefully unaccomplished with classics. They're just so loooong. And most of my favorite authors are alive today and still writing, so...yeah.

In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is… 

    Gabe Harper needs more credit. I don't know if I'd say he's the ultimate....but he's pretty darn awesome. Horatio Hornblower is not my idea of a hero in the books, but in the movies he's about as dashing and heroic as they come. That was confusing; my answer is Horatio Hornblower.


In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... 
  
   I'd have to say, Rigaud (Blandois) from Little Dorrit. The man's a terror. He's a murderer, a swindler, and a creep. Yuck. Let's not talk about him.

Describe your ideal dwelling place. 

    A comfortable little house, small but roomy, with a historical flair-- it doesn't really matter what time period, just as long as it's got the feel of days past. It would have to be in the country, preferably somewhere with both flat open spaces and trees and creeks. A sunny little house with flowers and lots of windows and books everywhere. A place where creativity abounds.


   Definitely something smaller than this, but I just love this picture and the setting. :-)

Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 

     "I WISH it was vintage." ;-P Heehee. Simple, practical, sometimes slightly impractical, pretty and neat. Unless I'm in a weird mood, then I might wear a flowered scarf on my head or pain my fingernails blue or something. You never know what's gonna happen.


Three favorite Non-fiction books? 

     I really don't read non-fiction much....but I'll say the Bible, Nellie Bly, and The World of Downton Abbey.

Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 

     Writing fiction outside in the sunshine, drinking in the smells and sounds of the earth.


Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. 

     A wide-brimmed straw hat with an earthy-colored ribbon around the band, adorned with real flowers that somehow have the power not to wilt. ;-P

Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.

    Last summer I started writing a novel, the first novel I've worked on seriously. I had to seriously re-think things in November, but I'm still working on the novel and it's been one of the most exciting things that's happened to me. 


Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently.

   This is one of my favorite verses that continually inspires me in my daily life.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you. So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Thanks Kellie, for hosting this delightful event!

  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"I have been changed....for good."



      "There is something delicious about writing the first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they'll take you."    ~Beatrix Potter


    When I penned the first few words of my first blog post, I had no idea where they'd take me. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go, but the most exciting part was the not knowing. The beginning of the adventure, the anticipation of what might lie ahead.

    Today, my friends, is the two-year mark of a very special milestone in my life. At least, to me it has been very special. It's been inspiring, uplifting, amusing, encouraging, enlightening, interesting, and terribly fun. On this day two years ago, I got on the computer, clicked "Create Blog", and in many ways, changed my life forever. And let me tell you, that change has definitely been for the good.

    I'm guessing you've probably all heard the story of how I started blogging many times (in case you haven't, you can read my ramblings right about here), so I won't bore you by telling it all again. But I will say again that it was a huge step for me. 

    Emma was never into computers or blogs-- in fact, she spent most of her life blissfully unaware of what a blog even was. One day, however, as she and her sister were looking at pictures from a certain favorite movie of theirs for no apparent reason, they stumbled across a lovely blog called Old-Fashioned Charm which had pictures from Anne of Green Gables on the header, and they were immediately intrigued. From there, Emma discovered all sorts of other period-drama themed blogs-- who knew there were other people out there who were as nuts as she was? Something sparked inside her. And suddenly, she knew she wanted to do this. She knew she had found her niche, and so that February day in 2013, she held her breath, took the plunge, and has never looked back since.


   As if I haven't said this before enough times, I love blogging. LOVE it. It's one of the best decisions I ever made to start this blog, and it makes me grin every time I think about my first few months of blogging; my silly posts, my inexperience, my wild ecstasy when I saw someone had followed me! Back in those days, everything was so exciting. It's still exciting, of course, and it always will be. But all of you who write blogs know exactly how thrilling it is when you first start out. It's like opening a whole new world {cue Disney music} of imagination, interests, even friends.


   Friends, Possibly the very best thing about blogging. Now, if you're like me, you probably always thought the idea of "meeting" someone and cultivating a friendship all through the internet was pretty far-out. Like, who does that? Well friends, let me tell you, that's wrong! It can happen. I've discovered that people can become great friends through correspondence over the internet. It's happened to me several times over. *wink-wink* I love all my readers, my blogging buddies, and so many have become more than just blogger-friends but actually real-life deep-down kindred spirits. Really, kindred spirits are not as scarce as I used to think. It's delightful to know there are so many in the world. :-)


    I feel like this year, I've really grown into myself and discovered more about who I really am, and where I want to go, and where God is leading me. I hope that shows through here on my blog. I know I've changed a lot since I began blogging two years ago, and looking back at my old posts is both amusing and a little embarrassing. (Sometimes it's like, what was I thinking?) ;-P For the Beauty of the Earth has come such a loooong way from what it began as, which was a young girl's dream to be just like the other bloggers she admired so much. For one thing, I'm not trying to be anyone else anymore. Of course I still admire so many people, who have given me inspiration and encouragement; I love and appreciate you all. But I've learned that if I try to make my blog and my writing, and even my very personality, like someone else's, it just plain won't work. I'm me, and you're you, and aren't we glad of the fact? :-)


  I know my blog reflects a lot of how I've matured in the past two years; some good, some not so good. In many ways I'm a very different person than I was. But I've never considered chucking it all and beginning afresh, because I never want to lose all those tokens of my gushing early-teen years. Sometimes I wonder what the people who've read my blog all along think-- it's super different from what it was. But I'm happy as a lark with my progress. I hope you are too. :-)

   So many wonderful young ladies have inspired and influenced me and "changed me for the better" in my blogging career. I'll always be extremely grateful to the first three girls who inspired me to blog: Miss Laurie, Miss Amy Dashwood, and Alexandra. If you're reading this, I want you to know how much I appreciate you! You've all three made a huge impression upon this starry-eyed little girl. :-)

  And thank YOU, all my wonderful readers! I seriously would not be doing what I do today without all of you. I know I've said that countless times, but I just want you to know. :-) You all are the best, and I'm so grateful for all your kind comments and your friendship. *blows kisses*


    I have been so blessed in this last year of blogging. God has been so good. I'm so glad to be able to do what I love! Thank you all for sticking around with me! Here's to another splendiferous year! :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Of a Romantic Nature



     Happy Valentine's Day! Well, here it is again, the day when people have love on the brain and give each other roses and chocolate and stuff like that. "The usual, flowers, chocolates, promises you don't intend to keep..." *ahem* Sorry. Anyway, I hope you are all having a splendiferously lovely day, spending it with the ones you love! (I'm overusing 'love', and I'm just getting started. Dear oh dear.) ;-P

 
   You all know what an incorrigible romantic I am. You probably also know how much I like to swoon over fictitious characters. Well, since it is Valentine's Day, I've decided to enumerate on some of my favorite fictional couples from my favorite books and movies. You all will love it, I know. :-) Here we go:


  Cabot Murray and Eden Day in Yankee Stranger-- I read this book and almost died. It was so amazing. Cabot and Eden may be my favorite fictional romance ever, seriously. THEY ARE SO EPIC. Civil War romances often seem to be the most captivating for some reason. Cabot is a young Yankee (stranger ;-)) and Eden is a third-generation Virginian with a big and traditional family. Their journey towards happiness together is full of danger and trials and misunderstandings and risks and all-around epicness. Why is this series so underrated?

  Violet Rose Hayes and Silas McClure in A Proper Pursuit-- Of course! One of my favorite Lynn Austin novels, this book also has one of my favorite couples. Violet is so much like me it's sometimes scary. (We have the same emotional problems over fantastical things and both dream of fair-haired lieutenants :-)) And Silas is just a charming goofball. They're adorable.



  Sully and Michaela in Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman-- Duh, people. :-) Sully and Dr. Mike are the most romantic couple put to screen. They've seen so many adventures, dangerous situations, court cases, Indian raids, and death sentences together. They rely on each other and give one another the best of themselves. Okay, maybe they kiss too much, but I think they're awesome.

Is anyone else dying right now?
 
 
  Matthew Crawley and Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey-- Ah, the long, agonizingly wonderful romance of Mary and Matthew. These two had me from the very beginning, and all that they went through before they finally got together only made it more romantic. I will never forget the beautiful romance they shared....even if some people will....we won't talk about that. It'll only make me cry.


 
  Arthur Clennam and Amy Dorrit in Little Dorrit-- My favorite couple from classic literature. Amy is a perfect doll, the sweet but iron strong loyal daughter who's seen mostly dreariness in her life. Arthur is the kindhearted gentleman who needs someone to love and care for. I love their story of how they come to love each other, and what they overcome to be with each other. *sniffle* Excuse me while I go off in a corner to cry for a while.

 
 
  Sir Percy Blakeney and Margurite St. Just in The Scarlet Pimpernel-- Because Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. ;-P I haven't read this book, but the movie completely sweeps me away every time, especially Percy and Margurite's wildly romantic love story.

  James McGrath and Julia Hoffman in Fire By Night-- What did I tell you about Civil War love stories? Julia is a naive girl wanting to impress a man who doesn't love her, and James McGrath is a bitter man who is past caring what anyone thinks of him. And then BOOM they meet and from then on it's just wowwww. Go read it.

  John Thornton and Margaret Hale in North and South-- Because the DRAMA and TENSION and misunderstanding and long-suffering affection and sacrifice and....ohhh! *Emma falls into a swoon* It's just too much. ;-P They're both such deep, broody characters with strong feelings and convictions. I always love romances where it takes lots of drama to get the guy and the girl together in the end. So much has to HAPPEN, and then when they finally kiss at the end....it's all the more worth it. *sigh*


  Edward Ferrars and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility-- And of course, we must add at least one Jane Austen couple. :-) Elinor and Edward have always been a favorite. Their story isn't flying sparks and high adventure, but a quiet, steady affection delayed by misunderstanding. I love Elinor's overwhelming happiness at the end when Edward finally gives her his heart.
  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Think Happy Thoughts


"I have a garden of my own,
 But so with roses overgrown,
And lilies, that you might it guess
To be a little wilderness."
~Andrew Maxwell

     I know it's only February, but I can't help dreaming and looking forward to spring. Green grass, blue skies, gentle breezes, flowers, birds singing their songs to one another....it sounds like heaven to me right now. :-) But, first I have to trudge through another few months of winter. I feel the tingling, thrilling, discontent of anticipating something to come. Many things, actually. I have a wild anticipation for the next season of my life. It's an exhilarating feeling.


~ In just a few months, I'll be learning how to drive! (My mother says I must wait until spring. Okay. ;-P) One of my dreams is to drive a car all by myself on a sunny day, with all the windows rolled down, wearing a straw hat and sunglasses and listening to Broadway music. Yup. 

~ Also in just a few months or even less, I might {will} finish my novel! Now THAT is a staggering thought. It'll be the biggest, best accomplishment of my life so far. I'm so wildly excited. Don't you love when things finally come together and you can just feel it and it makes you so crazy and happy? I love my book. I love my characters. It's the best thing that's ever come out of me.


~ I'm going to finish GONE WITH THE WIND soon. I'm going to finish it if it kills me, which may very well happen. Cross your fingers.

~ In March, I'm going to see Celtic Woman in concert!!!!!! I can only imagine what a thrill it will be to see some of my favorite musicians LIVE AND IN PERSON. I'm going to have to keep asking Sadie to pinch me. Or shake me up. "Shake me up, Judy!"

~ In another month or so, the snow will melt! Hurrah! I'm going to go out and splash in the mud when it does. :-)

~ Seriously, when spring comes, I want to spend almost all my waking hours in the out of doors. I want to walk outside, read outside, write outside, live outside. I might even sleep outside. The arrival of spring each year makes me feel so giddy, like I could do anything. I can't, of course, but I can do my best. ;-P

~ So many wonderful books to read! Evenings spent with a bowl of popcorn, a cozy kitty and a good book-- what more can a girl ask for?!

~ I am blessed with so many amazing friends. Whenever I'm low on inspiration, or just plain blue, I can always rely on someone to make me smile. :-) There's something really special about friends through correspondence. Girls, y'all are the best.

~ I painted my nails blue the other night for no apparent reason. I still don't know why I did it. Sorry, that was really random.


~ I keep falling in love with fictional characters. Is this normal?

~ I love being sixteen! :-)

~ You know, sometimes I think: in ten years, I could be married. It's a strange and beautiful thought. I think I'm an overly romantic person sometimes. It's just who I am. :-)

~ Speaking of being overly romantic...it's been over a week since I watched a certain movie, and I just cannot get over it. I'm afraid I'm wildly obsessed. ;-P I've practically worn out the soundtrack listening to it over and over. It's bad, people. I have serious emotional problems concerning this movie. 

~ I love blogging! It's one of the best ideas I ever had to get this blog started, and I want to keep doing it for a good long time. You all are so dear to me, and it's such a blessed relief to be able to share my thoughts and fancies with you! I'm obnoxious sometimes, I know, and I tend to gush-- thank you for putting up with me anyway. What's even more awesome is that I've met people who are actually as crazy about things as I am! You all are the best!

~ I'm learning to take delight in life's little blessings-- the ones you don't always notice if you don't pay attention. I get really distracted sometimes. Sometimes I get tired of being so passionate about things. Sometimes I get bored with my life and wish I were somewhere else, doing something else, even when I can't do anything about it. My desires seem so strong, but very often they're not the most important thing. The Lord is constantly revealing things to me in His mysterious and wonderful ways, and for that I'm ever so thankful. 

   Have a lovely evening, friends! Think happy thoughts. :-)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Beautiful People ~ Addie and Jimmy



    I've never been in on the whole Beautiful People post thing, though I've seen it all over the place ever since I started blogging. Normally I don't really like to divulge much about my characters on my blog while I'm in this stage of writing-- because right now they're strictly MY characters and nobody else's. ;-P But I saw this set of questions on Eowyn's blog and they looked like fun, so I thought, hey, let's do it. :-)
   The theme this month is love, which of course is a popular subject with me, as you all probably know. :-) So, friends, may I introduce to you the heroine of my novel and her long-suffering lover-- Adelaide Jane Taylor and James Hamilton. Otherwise and more commonly known as Addie and Jimmy.


How long have they been a couple? 

   As far as most of the townsfolk are concerned, ever since Addie came of age she and Jimmy were practically halfway to the altar. Addie fights this, though, for most of the story. She likes Jimmy a lot, but she has no intention of giving all the town busybodies the satisfaction of having matched them up, and besides, to Addie's way of thinking, Jimmy is a 'boy'. Addie is only interested in 'men', and she has a very definite idea of what a man is. Jimmy doesn't fit into her dream.

    Jimmy was one of the few young men around Old Ripley whom I actually liked. He was just a year or so older than me, though an only child, and he lived with his parents on their farm, just a little nearer to town than we did. Jimmy would one day inherit the family farm from his father, something which gave him a great deal of pride. He obviously liked being a farmer, and was always so excited whenever anything went well and optimistic when it didn’t. He and I didn’t have very much in common, except a shared childhood and the fact that we’d grown up on farms less than a mile from each other. He was a nice boy and I liked him. He was still a boy though.

~*~*~*~*~*~

How did they first meet? 

    They don't remember. When they were both very young children, at any rate. They've never thought about it because they've just always known each other.

What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?) 

   They don't remember that either. ;-P They've always been fond of each other, but as they grow older Jimmy's love for Addie becomes more steady and Addie gets increasingly annoyed with his countrified ways and persistence, not to mention his boyish enthusiasm for everything.



What do they do that most annoys each other? 

   Addie's always dreaming, wanting what she can't have, which doesn't exactly annoy Jimmy as much as it just bothers him. Jimmy is content with whatever life gives him. Jimmy whistles all the time and sings silly songs off-key, and as mentioned before, his indefatigable optimism.

Are their personalities opposite or similar?

  They're not very similar, though when it comes right down to it they ultimately care about the same things. Jimmy is easy-going, Addie is dramatic and sometimes given to unnecessary panic. Also Addie is always chasing after some wild dream, while Jimmy is happy-go-lucky and takes more pleasure in the simple delights of life. Addie tends to be rather nearsighted. She doesn't see obvious things that are right under her nose. Jimmy is more assertive than Addie in that way.

     I sat up as straight as I could, tried to still my fidgeting hands in my lap and waited as patiently as I deemed humanly possible for him to speak up and tell me what on earth this was all about.
  “Hey, Addie,” was all he said.
   I lifted my eyebrows expectantly. “Hey yourself.”
  “It’s good to see you.”
   I just kept smiling, wondering what in the sam hill that was supposed to mean.
  After another considerable silence, I decided I had to prod things along. “Listen, Jimmy, is there something you wanted to tell me? Because if there is, I wish you’d just come out with it instead of making me sit here and try to read the look on your face-- which would be a sight easier, I might add, if you got a haircut so you didn’t always have so much hair falling over your eyes all the time.” There. I’d said it. I hoped he wouldn’t be offended by my bluntness, but someone had to tell him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 How would their lives be different without each other? 

     Go listen to "If I Never Knew You" from Pocahontas. Basically, yeah. :-) Jimmy, being Jimmy, would probably marry some nice girl and have a family. Addie might go a little bit nuts without Jimmy's steadfast personality to keep her in line. ;-P

Just so you know, Jimmy's not a cowboy. Though he probably would have been, if he were born farther west.

Are they ever embarrassed of each other? 
 
   Oh my, yes. That is, Addie is sometimes embarrassed by Jimmy. Jimmy is just so good-natured he just rolls with whatever.

 Does anyone disapprove of their relationship? 

    Addie does, at first! But everyone else thinks Providence matched them up. :-)

Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage? 

   Jimmy definitely does. Addie has far more 'important' things on her mind than marriage.

If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go? 

   Addie would want to go someplace glamorous, somewhere with lots of flowers. Jimmy would want whatever would make Addie happy. If Jimmy could afford it, they'd go to some fancy hotel by the lake and stroll together down by the water....but more realistically, they'd probably just go for a picnic in the meadow or something, and Addie would just imagine the rest about a lake. :-)



   "Tell me what else you'd like me to say," he said. His hands were dirty and felt rough through the light cotton bodice I wore. It felt more wonderful than anything I could have dreamed of. Suddenly I felt shivery, even though the sun was still shining valiantly as it descended in the sky and the temperature hadn't dropped.
   "Well, you could say how much you've missed me," I went on.
   "Terribly, he said, lifting one hand to tuck a stray wisp of hair behind my ear. "More than you can imagine. You could fill two grain barrels with it and still have some left over. That was poetic, wasn't it?"
  
   ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sixteen



"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."
~Madeline L'Engle

     So today I am sixteen. What.

     I suppose it shouldn't surprise me; after all I have been fifteen for a year, and sixteen is usually what comes next. But for some reason it feels very big. I'm a whole year older than I was last year at this time. I've done so many things I'd never done before, met people, made friendships, learned things, lived. And I feel a giddy excitement for this what my next year will hold.


   Sixteen feels like a very important birthday. I'm halfway between being a child and being a grown-up person now-- I can act older, I can learn how to drive, I can do a lot of things I've had to wait to be sixteen to do. I am also now the same age as Jane Austin's youngest heroine, Marianne Dashwood, which is a small consolation to not being the same age as Mattie Ross anymore. (Of course, I haven't been the same age as Mattie for a year. For a while I felt like I'd just always be fourteen, because Mattie Ross was fourteen, and so was I, and it was just gonna stay that way, but then it didn't.) ;-)


   I'm also the same age as Anne Shirley, which makes me happy. It also makes me feel like I have a lot to live up to in the next year, heehee.

   I'M ALMOST AN ADULT, PEOPLE. Gaahhh. It's kind of scary. Maybe I should start acting more sophisticated. But I'm still young enough that I can do silly things, and people will excuse it because, after all, "I'm sixteen." I can still stand on my desk and sing along loudly to the Wicked soundtrack. I can still act out ridiculous dramas with my stuffed animals in bed at night with my sister. I can still sing Veggie Tales songs when the mood hits. Things don't really have to change, of course. I'll always be somewhat crazy, you understand, no matter how old I get. ;-P Likely I'll still be wildly fangirling over Hornblower when I'm 30. (I can't wait!)

   Speaking of which, my sister and I were observing recently how the coolest people seem to be in their 30's. Anyone else notice that? I can't wait till I'm 30. Then maybe I'll be 'cute and interesting'. (*ahem* that's an inside joke between sisters, *ahem*)


  
 But I do have a good feeling that I'm finally learning some very important things about growing up. I'm a much more sensible person than I was two years ago-- even one year ago. I'm stronger, more resilient, and my imagination has grown by leaps and bounds. (I have several people to thank for that) :-) I've been made a better person by the good books I've read, the experiences I've had and all the friendships I've made.

  When I was younger, I kind of tried to grow up before I needed to. I remember very often being discontent with myself, trying to be someone I wasn't. I tried to grow up too fast, but I didn't know that what I needed was to grow into myself. Sometimes I didn't know how to be a child when I was one, and now I finally understand how, it's too late and I'm well on my way to being a full-blown grown-up person. (What a thought!) But I can't dwell on regrets, because that'll get me nowhere. It's all in the past and I've lived, and I'm still living, and each day is new and that's what I'm grateful for. I'm not a grown-up, not yet. I still have many years of frolicking and dreaming and wishing and prancing and all that. And even when I am older, I'll still be dreaming and wishing. I'll be dreaming and wishing my whole life. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? ;-)

Maybe a handsome man who will carry me home through a rainstorm....kidding. ;-P
   
    I have the feeling I'm really going to like being sixteen.  Then again, I haven't been any age where I actually disliked it. Fourteen and fifteen have definitely been some of the best, and now I have high hopes for sixteen. This year I hope to finish my first novel, get a role in another musical, learn how to drive...and maybe even meet my best friend in person. Yes, I have high hopes. :-)


   "....If the path set before her feet was to be narrow, she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joys of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams."   
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

   
   Thank you, Lord, for giving me sixteen. :-)

   

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Legends of the Fall (1994)

 
  
  "I thought Tristan would never live to be an old man. I was wrong about that. I was wrong about many things. It was those who loved him most who died young. He was a rock they broke themselves against however much he tried to protect them."   ~One Stab


    I've been debating whether or not I should write a review of this movie for ages (translate: a few days) ever since I saw it and was completely overcome with the depth and drama of it. I wasn't sure if I should, since I didn't know if it's the kind of movie many of my readers would be interested in, and plus I'd probably just end up gushing and ranting and ultimately end in a puddle of tears at the end. But, I've decided I must. I just have so much to expound upon, I can't resist. So be ye warned, this may get scary.

   The first introduction I ever had to this movie was...golly, probably four years ago now, when I saw a trailer for it on something else and I immediately thought WHAT is this movie!?!? It looked like the greatest movie ever. I was starstruck. I MUST watch it. My mom recalled having watched it years ago, but she said there were some inappropriate parts, and when I found out what it was rated, I resigned myself reluctantly to the fact that this was a movie I wouldn't be watching anytime in the near future.

   I may have kind of forgotten about it for a while. But then my sister discovered the soundtrack, and I promptly came to the conclusion that it was the most beautiful music ever written. Some time later I bought the soundtrack, and commenced listening to it at least once a day.

  (I just realized something: all my reviews seem to start with some long-winded story of how I first got acquainted with the movie. Don't y'all love that?) ;-P

  Where was I? Oh yes, the soundtrack. To put things in the simplest way possible, IT'S GORGEOUS. I'm listening to it at this very moment while I type this, swooning over the beauty and pure epicness.

  So the more I listened to the music, the more I yearned to see the movie. I suppose I kind of pestered my mom about it-- when can I watch it? We can just skip over the bad parts! I just know it'll be so good! But my mother, being wise as she is, thought it best I wait a while.

   Well, the other night, I watched it.


   And I am still getting over it.

  GAAAHHHHHH THE FEELS! The drama! The tragedy! The romance! AAAHHHH!

  This movie is just so...so...so MUCH. There's so much to take in. So much happens. It's almost too much. No, it's definitely too much. You almost can't handle it all. And that's what makes it so amazing. It's not exactly a western, and it's not exactly a war movie, though it does have elements of both. If you want to call it anything, call it a tragedy. What it is is drama. A lot of it.


  This is definitely one of the most tragic movies I've ever seen; and people, I've seen some sad ones, believe me. ;-P It's a sad movie about sad people. But it's sad without being bleak, so it's not depressing or discouraging, at least I didn't find it so. It's just so darn good. *sighs dramatically* I can't...I just can't....OHHHH.

  Yeah, I told you I was still recovering. :-) I watched it three nights ago, so I'm just starting to get over the initial impact.


  One of the main things that makes this movie what it is is most definitely the acting. I mean, just look at the cast. Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond. It even made me like Brad Pitt, for heaven's sake. The characters were all troubled people, who lived through terrible things, and most of them ended tragically too. They were all so deep, and all the actors brought the people to the screen so completely. Sometimes I don't realize what really good acting is, because if it's that good I'll just be so absorbed in the story and the characters' lives I sometimes won't even remember that I'm not really there watching it all happen. That's what really brilliant acting does. At least to me. Does anyone else feel that way?


    The story centers around Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and his three sons, Alfred, Tristan and Samuel. It's the just before the first World War, and they are living happily in rural Montana. Then Samuel gets engaged to Susanna (Julia Ormond) and brings her back to his father's ranch, and shortly after that all three boys go to war. Up until this point things have been mostly good; but after the three brothers leave, the tragedy begins, and it stays that way pretty much all the way through to the end.

   The theme of family relationship and strife between brothers actually reminded me a little of East of Eden, although EofE is a better story all around in my opinion. The strongest theme of the movie was that of the bond between the brothers, which was absolutely fascinating. Tristan's devotion to Samuel and Alfred's timely appearance coming to his brother's rescue had me in tears. There was just so much emotion.


T
The three brothers heading off for war....MAJOR feels at this point.

  I won't go into great detail about all the characters because I'd probably just start bawling and not be able to write anything coherent, and nobody wants that. But I can't restrain myself from gushing a little, so you may just have to deal with it. ;-P



  Tristan (Brad Pitt) was basically the main character, and the movie is basically all about Brad Pitt. He was also the most tragic character. Tristan was a very complicated person, sometimes downright horrible, but the tragedy he had seen and endured helped you understand why he acted the way he did sometimes. (Although there was a while there when he was actually not right in his head....that was scary.) I didn't fall in love with Tristan or anything. He wasn't a bad person, but his mind was so fixed on revenge so much of the time and he didn't live by many morals. But I certainly didn't hate him, and I really felt for him when so many terrible things kept happening to him.


   Alfred was the oldest brother, the one who "followed all the rules". He wasn't particularly brave or dashing, but he did his best to be a good son and brother and husband. And just.....Aidan Quinn. I have no words. :-)


   Samuel was the youngest brother, the sweet and sensitive and innocent one. He was very noble and wanted to do what was right, which was what drove him to the army in the first place. And...I will say no more. *tries to keep composure*



    Susanna! Oh, what can I even say about her? Well, an easy thing to say is that she's very beautiful, and I loved her hairstyles. :-) She also had more to deal with than she deserved. That doesn't even begin to cover it. As Alfred said, "You deserve to be happy," but for most of the movie she wasn't. Oh, the pain! The grief! The despair! *ahem* Yes...she was another tragic character. And I'd better shut up before I say too much.

 

    Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins, and Anthony Hopkins is brilliant in every role he's ever played, so that's that. Any questions?

Aidan Quinn has the most amazing eyes.

   So....did I like this movie? Yes. I did. It's brilliant. It's so sad at parts you just want to scream, but it's beautiful and epic and dramatic and I actually did love it. It is rated R, though, for violence and language and some nasty parts-- the word 'nasty' here meaning people without their clothes on. (They're not too frequent, though, and they don't last very long so it's easy to just turn away.) The violence is the worst part. There are a few really intense, gory scenes that I didn't watch. The language wasn't horrible, except for one tiny little part-- it's a very adult movie, so I definitely recommend discretion. I'm glad I waited until now to watch it, because it's not very easy to handle. It is a very dramatic movie, though, so if you don't like stuff like that, you might just want to pass. But it's a good story, despite its flaws, and being the starry-eyed dramatic I am, I'm still swooning over it. :-)


   And I can't forget to mention the ending, which was the best thing since East of Eden. I cried. I almost screamed. It was really quite something. And James Horner's score is, again, breathtaking. It really adds a huge element to the scope of the movie.


   So, there you go. It really is a brilliant movie. Now go back and count how many times I used the word "dramatic". :-) 

  "I'll wait for you, Tristan. However long it takes. I'll wait forever."
~Susanna


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