Friday, October 23, 2015

Sleeping In {and other delights}


     I really do not like sleeping in.

     That feeling of opening your eyes, sensing the sun already shining boldly outside, rolling yourself out of bed, stumbling into the bathroom and looking at the clock -- and it's already, like, 9:30. Oh look, you've missed half the day. I hate it.

    I've been sleeping in quite often lately, unfortunately. I've been trying to stop it by asking my mother to please, wake me up EARLY tomorrow, "even if I don't respond, just drag me out of bed and splash my face with cold water." My mother, of course, proceeds to assure me that it's okay because (apparently?) I need my sleep, also there's this thing called being a teenager which seems to have bearing in such situations. (No idea what all that's about.) And so, with no outside help, I continue to sleep in.

    The main reason for this is that I've been staying out late nights these past few weeks. The main reason for that is because I'm in a musical -- a college production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. *cheers die down* If you've ever been in a musical show, you know how exhausting evening rehearsals can be. Especially when you're playing a nurse and you don't really have much to do. (Is it just me, or are ensemble roles much harder than lead ones? When you're a lead, you have your character, you know your purpose in life. When you're a random person in the chorus, you're....who? It's easy to get lost in the anonymity.)

    Anyway! So that's fun. Kind of. But it also makes me tired, which leads to sleeping in.

    Another cause is this sleep disorder I have -- it's called reading.


    I have a wonderful  terrible habit of reading at night under my covers with a flashlight. And I can't stop. Lately that's been the only time of day I've had time for reading, and so I look forward to going to bed not because of, you know, going to bed, but because it means READING. And BOOKS. And BOOKS ARE MY LIFE PEOPLE. But then I get lost in the stories and lose all perception of time and then before you know it, whoa, it's almost one o'clock. And then, don't you know, I've gotten myself so worked UP about the book that it's impossible to even think about sleep for another hour at least.

     I have a hard life, folks.

     When I sleep late, I feel like I miss things. The sun's already up, my parents are already up, it's like the whole world is already up and going on with its business and I'm still lying in bed wondering what it was I did last night that made me so tired. It also makes me feel lazy, because then when I do get up I'm super behind on everything I want to get done.

    I don't want to miss things. I want to soak up every ray of sunshine I can, sing all the songs I want to, write all the stories tumbling around inside my head. I want to DO things, and SEE things, and LIVE while I can. That's why I'm not going to sleep in anymore....

    So I say. :-) We'll see what tomorrow brings!


     October is gorgeous. Every year it hits me with a whoosh and gives me this glowy, happy, thrilling sensation -- I love it. The golden meadows, the stubbly plowed-down cornfields, the nippy air, the tangy smell of apple cider everywhere. (Would you look at that, I'm a poet -- and you did not know it! *goes off cackling*) Here are some delightful things of late:



     ~ My cat, Oliver. He sleeps in berry flats. He is wonderful.



     ~ NEWSIES!!!!!! Folks, I have a new obsession. (If you follow my Pinterest boards, this is old news to you. ;-P) I cannot believe it's taken me this long to get into this musical, but MAN am I into it now. After watching the movie and listening to the Broadway recording about a hundred-odd times, I think I have a new third-favorite musical. I'M SO IN LOVE RIGHT NOW. It's beginning to annoy my sister. ;-D Just...Jeremy Jordan. I have no words.


     Is he within an inch of being perfect or WHAT.

 
 
     ~ I've been learning to drive both our red Ford trucks!!! *happy dance* Today I drove the big diesel on the highway for the first time. IT WAS EPIC.


     ~ Apples, apples, and....a whole lotta apples. :-D Our barn is an apple heaven right now.

Has anyone seen this ep? IT'S SO GOOD.

     ~ Re-watching classic Waltons episodes. *nostalgic sigh* There is nothing like this show, people! Everything I needed to know I learned from watching The Waltons. That's only a slight exaggeration. ;-P


     ~ Taking walks on warm, windy evenings....

   

     How about you? What have y'all been taking delight in lately? Do you dislike sleeping late as much as I do? Do you ever read book under your covers at night?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Memory Nest


     Hello friends! The lovely Erudessa over at The Flowering Vales has come up with a fun post idea, and kindly asked me to be in on it! Thanks, dear!

   It goes like this (I'm pasting Erudessa's explanation from her blog because she does it better than I could):

      Instead of having to answer questions or tell random facts about yourself {like a normal tag} you make up random nonsense that starts with:
  'When I grow up and have my own house'  And then list a random fact.  It can be true example: 'When I grow up and have my own house, I am going to learn to play the Violin', or serious, 'When I grow up and have my own house, I want and Old English Garden with a sun dial' or complete nonsense like, 'When I grow up and have my own house, I am going to make a different chocolate dessert everyday.'
  Instead of an 'awards tag' it's a Memory Nest.  We are helping each other build a nest made out of Memories.  And instead of 'tagging' a certain number of people that have to answer questions, you 'peck' ONE other person.  One thing, is that this can last as long as our imaginations hold out because we can come up with the most ridiculous things and never say the same thing (I know that you eventually run out of random facts about yourself when answering tags) but as long as we have imaginations this can go on and on!!

    The rules:


  • thank the person that 'pecked' you
  • list five things that start with "when I grow up and have my own house..." (they can be true, or utterly ridiculous, whatever you feel like writing :-))
  • 'peck' one other person and let them know you have done so.
     Alright then! Here we go....

    #1 When I grow up and have my own house...I am going to have lots of bunnies and let them sit on my desk and drink out of my teacup while I write my stories.

    #2 When I grow up and have my own house....I'll have a brown fence around my yard and grow clematis vines along it.

     #3 When I grow up and have my own house....I will listen to my Broadway soundtracks as loud as I want all day long. (Oh wait...I do that now. Oh well.) ;-P

    #4 When I grow up and have my own house....I will watch the sunrise over the hill every morning.

    #5 When I grow up and have my own house, I am going to make quilts for every one of the beds. (This is a scary thought, since I hardly know how to sew at all, but hey! I can learn!)



     And I peck....Miss March.

    That's all for now, folks! :-)




Friday, October 9, 2015

Swirl of Words


        Today as I was watching the leaves tumbling to the ground, in my mind they seemed to me like words -- little bits of golden wisdom that swirl around me. I love words. I live and breathe words. I can't speak them as eloquently as I'd like to -- I don't have that gift. But I can write them. I can create beauty from nothing more than little marks on a page. One by one, they make up something wonderful. Word by word.

   

patchwork

chestnut

flaxseed

buttermilk

eyelet

ruffle

ribbon

supper

whisper

pages

copper

grasses

lonesome

flannel

braided

willow

apron

dancing

alabaster

scuffle

forest

harbor

thatched

cottage

blossom

russet

wilderness

envelope


What are some of your favorite words?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"And God bless Uncle Chester. Amen."


     There is a nostalgic joy that comes with revisiting your favorite books after years of not touching them. It's the same way with characters -- at least, for me. Book characters are like friends. Many of them are dear friends. And when I'm separated from them for long periods of time, like friends in real life, I start to miss them with an ache that can only be cured by opening up the book again.

    Recently I was re-united with one of my very best friends of literature -- a southpaw orphan girl with big dreams by the name of Hattie Inez Brooks.

    I first read Hattie Big Sky several years ago -- I must have been ten or eleven -- and I pretty much loved it from page one. Hattie's gumption inspired me, her sense of humor tickled mine. The story was told in such a wholesome, straightforward, no-frills way that it just sent happy shivers all through me. (It still does.) Sometimes I Like a book, and sometimes I Really Like a book. Well, I LOVED Hattie Big Sky with a passion as big as the Montana prairie.

    So, upon discovering the wildly exciting piece of information that THERE IS A SECOND HATTIE BOOK, I did what any truly obsessed book-lover would do. I completely freaked out. A sequel to one of my favorite books?!? And I never knew! MUST READ IT.

     Still.....I was a little hesitant. What if the second book didn't live up to my expectations? What if Hattie had changed? What if it disappointed me horribly? Despite my trepidation, I grabbed the book first chance I got. After reading the front jacket (and finding out that Hattie turns down Charlie!!! What!!!), I was even more unsure. But I held my breath and dove in.

    I don't know what I was so nervous about. Kirby Larson still has her incredible gift with words. The characters hadn't exchanged personalities while my back was turned. Hattie Brooks, changing? Piffle. Never. She's as steady as the Montana sky. :-)

    I LOVED the second book, even as much as I loved the first. Maybe....maybe even more. It's possible. Here's my review of both.

    (Warning: lots of squealing exclamations and rapturous sighing to follow. I already told you I loved these books. You are about to find out just what I meant.)



     In Hattie Big Sky, we are introduced to sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks, a small timid girl who has spent most of her life being passed from this relative to that. At this point, she lives in Arlington, Iowa, with her stiff-necked Aunt Ivy and her boring and stodgy but vaguely kind Uncle Holt, who doesn't really do anything but read the newspaper.

    When she receives a letter from her deceased Uncle Chester bequeathing her his homestead in Montana, she's shocked. And...strangely excited. Could she really go out there by herself, prove up on the claim, have her own home? Somewhere that was really hers, where she really belonged? She decides to do it. And so begins Hattie's adventures.

     This books combines everything I love in a story. A gritty heroine who is determined and independent but still feminine, quirky and lovable supporting characters, just the right amount of tension where tension is needed. While living on Uncle Chester's homestead, Hattie makes the acquaintance of her neighbors -- an old smelly bachelor by the name of Rooster Jim, a plucky old woman named Leafy Purvis, a self-sure ranch owner named Traft Martin, and the Mueller family: Karl, a quiet hardworking German man; Perilee, who becomes Hattie's dearest friend in her new home; and their children, Chase and Mattie. Hattie works hard to prove up on her uncle's claim, all the while keeping up a regular correspondence with her friend Charlie Hawley from back in Iowa, who is away in Europe fighting the Germans in World War I.

    Hattie herself is a writer, though at this point she hasn't fully realized that. Much of the story is told through her letters to Charlie and his letters back to her. Later on, she begins writing a newspaper article for the paper back in Iowa, telling about her homestead adventures.

    In the end, Hattie fails to prove up on Uncle Chester's claim. I like that. We don't always get what we want in life, even if we try hard, and Hattie tried as hard as anyone could have and still didn't quite make it. Though she is sorry to leave her beloved Montana, it's time for her to move on, and we say goodbye as she boards a train headed west.

    I haven't read this book in several years, so admittedly I can't remember all of the details. But I remember all the things I loved most about it. Hattie's spunk, the strength of her friendships, her unwavering strength even in the hardest of times, and her cozy wit are what I love most about this character. She's like a crossover of Mattie Ross and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I want to be like Hattie. I want her to be real so I can talk to her, but as it is I'm okay with settling for reading about her. :-)




    Hattie Ever After picks up in 1919, with Hattie working as a maid in a boarding house in Great Falls, Washington. She still has big dreams, but now her dream is not to have her own homestead. It's to become a big-city reporter.

    Finding this out, I was a leeeeeetle disappointed at first. I didn't want my Hattie to go all batty (hey, that rhymed) about moving to a big city, getting a fancy job, being a big-shot, and all that. I wanted her to marry Charlie, have a nice little home of her own, have children, and be happy. Of course she could write, but none of that soap-box suffragette I-don't-need-no-man business, please. That's not my Hattie.

     Well, that's not my Hattie, which she proved straight off! Hattie's motives are never selfish. With this reaffirmed in my brain, I wanted to hug her and tell her I was sorry for ever imagining that she'd act that way.

    Charlie, who is now working for the Boeing Airplane company (smart boy, that Charlie Hawley), comes to see Hattie where she works. Having not seen him since he left for the war years ago, Hattie is overjoyed to see him. But...she's not ready to be his wife yet. Charlie, being the first-rate DARLING that he is, understands and doesn't push her. (Can we have a collective swoon from everyone who's ever read these books? Ohhh, Charlie!!!!!)

     When Hattie is suddenly handed a job as a costume mistress with a vaudeville theater company headed for San Francisco, she jumps at the chance. Of course, patching up sequined gowns and men's trousers is not her dream occupation, but San Francisco...that's a place where a body can be someone. Plus, Hattie wants to find out more about her late Uncle Chester, and a curious envelope delivered to her addressed to her uncle suggests that San Francisco might be the place to do it.

     The setting of this second book is very different from the first. Hattie Big Sky takes place on the wide open Montana prairie; Hattie Ever After takes place in early twentieth-century San Francisco. Hattie's adventures here are much different than they were -- and yet, in many ways it's not so different at all. Hattie's still got her gumption. So when she lands a job as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, you're really not surprised.

     I LOVED how Hattie found her inner writer self. I LOVED how Charlie came to San Francisco. I LOVED how Hattie made peace with all that she discovered about Uncle Chester. Let's save a lot of time and space and just say that I LOVED pretty much everything about this book. As a sequel, it was perfect. It had everything I wanted. It satisfied me that Hattie would end up happy, doing what she was made to do, with who she was made for.

     (And yes, Hattie marries Charlie. I don't consider that a spoiler, because anyone with any brain could see that from practically the beginning of the first book. If you don't have a brain, you have my most sincere sympathy. That must be hard for you.)

     I stayed up late into the night to finish the second half of this book, reading with a flashlight under my covers. My sister, trying to sleep in the bunk above mine, probably heard me gasp and sigh a few times; I COULD NOT HELP IT. Hattie's heartfelt prayer asking for understanding almost had me in tears. And Charlie's last letter to Hattie....well, my heart dissolved into something sort of like bananas when you mash them, or cotton candy, or melted butter, or something of that nature. (It's okay, I didn't really need my heart anyway.) It was utterly beautiful. When I closed the book on the last page, my heart was full of happy flutters. Two of my favorite characters had found happiness together, and I couldn't be more overjoyed with the way it had happened. :-D

     In the author's note at the end, I read that Kirby Larson had never intended to write another book about Hattie, but she got so many requests from readers and was badgered so much by fans who wanted more of Hattie's story that she finally gave in. And ooo-boy, am I glad she did! Both of these books hold a special place in my heart. If you haven't met Hattie Brooks, get thyself to a library post-haste. Read these books. You'll thank me, I promise.

     Thus ends my spiel. :-)
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