Monday, December 24, 2012

On this Christmas Eve...

On this Christmas Eve, I am thankful for all that I have: a roof over my head, enough food to keep me healthy, and most of all family and friends. I am also thankful for those friends I made through this blog and and the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I can connect with all of you both here in my country and around the world.

Yet, on this Christmas Eve, my thoughts turn to those who have so much less, and struggle each day to survive in war and poverty. I am also thinking of all those who have lost loved ones this past year through senseless violence.

And so, on this Christmas Eve, I am praying for peace and that we all come together around the world to realize the value of all human life and the need for peace, and the right of every human being to live free and safe without the worry of persecution or violence. I also pray that we learn to share with one another that no one should go without their basic human needs as in food, shelter, and medicine.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that we all realize that we are all connected no matter what our beliefs, race, nationality,gender, or orientation.

On this Christmas Eve, I pray that we set aside our materialism and focus on healing and recovering the damage we have inflicted on our planet. For without the Earth we will not survive.

On this Christmas Eve, I send blessings to all...


Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Little Behind, But Moving Forward

I am a little behind in posting lately. Well, actually I am a little behind in everything. Even during this busy time of year, I am usually very organized, but this past pre-holiday week, a few things took precedence over focusing on the coming holiday.

I unexpectedly had to sink a few dollars into my car in order that it would pass inspection.  While I knew it needed work and budgeted to save the money for repairs, it cost a little more than I prepared to spend. It all worked out though.

The day following the car repair, I awoke to the news of the terrible mass murder that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This horrible incident stopped me up short causing me to spend much time in prayer, meditation, and deep thought for much of the past week. The entire 2nd Amendment issue has placed me in conflict between my logic and my belief system. However, I do not feel up to discussing it in this blog. It will have to wait for a later blog.  Anyway, that’s enough said for now.

My mom was very ill with a stomach virus this past week and still is not 100%. I spent the beginning of the week at her apartment helping her out as much as I could. By Friday, I didn’t feel so good either and I am staying close to home hoping I will feel well by Christmas day. As I make most of my gifts, I don’t have to worry about last minute shopping, but I still have to add some finishing touches to the gifts I am making.  I will take some pictures of these gifts to post here once I give them away. As a side note: I have to start taking ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of the items I refurbish from old into new instead of posting the finished creation. It will give you a better idea of what I do.

Another major distraction this week came in the form of a gift from a very good friend who I haven’t seen in a couple of years although we talk on the phone often.  I knew he was sending me something.  He told me it was not a Christmas present, but a thank you present for helping him out.  I was a little taken back when he told me this, as I didn’t expect anything.  Anyway, the package came on Thursday and I opened it to find a Kindle Fire! I am still in shock and thrilled to death! He could not have sent me anything better. I am used to buying things I need rather than the things I want and more than anything else, I have wanted a Kindle Fire since they first came out.  I cannot say “Thank you!” enough!

Today and tomorrow, I plan on wrapping presents and baking while I listen to Christmas music. I am spending Christmas day at my brother and sister-in-law’s house with my mom and my niece and nephews. Then in the evening, I will relax with a movie, probably Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather.”

I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful holiday and many blessing for the coming year. Thanks so much for stopping by… ~Yvonne~


Thursday, December 06, 2012

My Thoughts on “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman

TheMagicians (2009) and its sequel The Magician King (2011) by Lev Grossman are novels of the Urban Fantasy genre.  (Viking Press)

The first of the two books, “The Magicians” follows the adventures of Quentin Coldwater, a young man living in Brooklyn, NY who is rather disillusioned and unsatisfied with life in general.  Quentin has completed high school and is about to enter college, but with no real idea of where he will fit into either the academic or real world.  He is in love with his childhood friend Julia Wicker who considers Quentin only a friend. He sees himself as a third wheel as he accompanies Julia and his best friend, whom Julia is dating, as they head out to apply to University.  

As the day progresses, Quentin finds himself in Brakebills Academy, a school located somewhere in Upstate New York within a parallel universe where he is tested and accepted on his magical abilities. During his testing, he sees Julia in a classroom taking a test as well, but as he does not see her again at Brakebills, he believes he is mistaken.

While attending Brakebills, Quentin meets and makes a few friends that are of his own like and falls in love with Alice Quinn, a magician with natural talents who takes her magical training and study seriously. Quentin finds his studies more difficult than he expected, sometimes grueling, though there are times when excitement does ensue.

Upon graduation, Quentin and his friends return to the real world and live together in an apartment in NYC. Once again, Quentin finds he is bored with life finding only monotony. Once again disillusioned, he wishes for adventure. He spends much of his life partying, while Alice continues to study magic beyond the walls of Brakebills. Quentin simply cannot find meaning in his life until one of his friends confirms something that Quentin always suspected was true.

Throughout the book, Quentin is obsessed with a series of children’s books titled “Filory and Further” written by a fictional author Christopher Plover.  The series follows the five Chatwin children as they discover and venture into the magical world of Filory.  (The description of the Filory books very much resembles the “Narnia” series written by the very real author C. S. Lewis).  Quentin, fed by rumors, always secretly held the belief that the Chatwin children and the land of Filory were real and through a friend finds that he is correct in his thinking.  It is with this discovery that the lives of Quentin and his friends take on new meaning as they set off to explore the world of Filory.

Quentin and his friends soon discover that something has gone terribly wrong in Filory, and it is not the world of their expectations. They set off on an adventure to set things right, but find many harmful and confusing barriers along the way. Unfortunate tragedy strikes the group as they battle the evil that has disrupted the magical world.  At the conclusion of the adventure, Quentin decides he is better off in the real world and leaves his friends Filory and forsakes magic altogether. Until one night…

For the week it took me to read these two books, I traveled in worlds that I wish existed.  I found myself laughing aloud and even voicing warnings to the characters such as, “No, don’t do that.” If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy and Adventure genre books, I highly recommend this book and its sequel. You will not be disappointed.

Quentin’s story continues in the sequel “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman.  My thoughts on the sequel are forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading… ~Yvonne~

Monday, December 03, 2012

Creating for Christmas

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am a big believer of recycling the old to make the new.  This is true of gifts for others as well.  I rarely, if ever run around town buying this or that gift or struggle within the madness of crowds and traffic to buy into the media’s materialistic version of the spirit of giving.  If I do buy new, it is something unique from a local artisan.

Friends and family can usually expect a recycled book or two as a gift from me, no matter what the gift-giving occasion. The books are always used editions that I find at local used bookstores or library book sales. 

However for the most part, my gifts are hand-made or home-baked.  Hand-made gifts usually come in the form of recycled and refurbished items from second-hand stores or garage sales that I purchased earlier in the year. For instance, this year I am refurbishing and decorating the wood frame of a mirror, a wood jewelry box and a wood tray. I also have plans for a couple of quilted wall hangings made from scrap fabrics from used clothing that are far beyond repair.

Over the next few weeks, my house will look like a disaster area with paint and bits of string, fabric, beads, and paper scattered everywhere.  During the last week leading up to the big day, the kitchen will have the addition of a light covering of flour, and powdered sugar to look like there was a light snowfall. The fragrant smell of sweet goodies will permeate the house as I bake and package the cookies and small breads for gifts.

Well, I am off to paint, sew, cut, and paste. Hope you all have a great week!

Thanks for stopping by… ~Yvonne~

Friday, November 23, 2012

Writing on Writing Entry 7 - Laying Down the Bones

The first step to writing is to get the story, whether a short story or novel-sized or even the essay, out of your head, into words, and into a print format.  I like to call this process as gathering the bones, otherwise known as producing a first draft.  When writing the first draft you should not concern yourself too much with whether or not the story is written well, if the punctuation is correct, if there are typos, or poor grammar, or even whether the story is in the right order. It only matters that you write your story down so that you have something to work with, or so that someone else, as for instance your editor has something to see in order that he or she can direct you through the next step.  Without the first draft, there is no story at all, no matter whether that first draft is a short story, an essay, or a novel sized manuscript.

The second step to writing is revision or laying down the bones. In revising a first draft, your job is to lay out the bones in the correct order and in the process remove any bones that don’t belong or any duplicate bones such as repetitive ideas.  You will also check each bone for cracks or breaks such as unrealistic or unjustified occurrences. This goes for fantasy/sci-fi or fiction.  When writing fantasy/sci-fi, make sure you do not step out of the boundaries of the world you create without first notifying your audience.  Also, make sure to set up your worlds in a manner realistic to your story. When writing fiction, it is even more important to stick to realism.  Make sure of the placement of any existing or previously existing landmarks. Research any historical facts or people that you might include in your story.  Search out any contradictions within your story. Research and keep notes on your research to refer to later.  Now is the time to mend these bones.

Just a note here: It is common for writers when trying to express a point that they write the same idea to describe a circumstance in different ways to make sure their readers understand what they are trying to say.  A good rule to follow here is to say it once, say it well and then leave it be.  Repetition is a common trick that students use when writing an assignment to boost their word count.  This is not a good ploy as most, if not all, teachers or professors see right through this ruse.  So, my advice is to stick to the afore mentioned rule.  

Once you have the bones of your first draft placed in the proper order, you have a good strong structure as a base to build your story.  It is now an easier task to begin to go on to the next steps of revision, which is to add the body of your story including the vital organs, the muscle and tissue, or as they say, “flesh the story out.”

Don’t fear that bag of bones.  Remember, first drafts are never the final product; they are just the beginning of the writing process. So sit down and fill that bag.  In other words: Don’t think, just write.

Thanks for stopping by... ~Yvonne~

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Well, it’s Tuesday...

Well, it’s Tuesday.  Two days until Thanksgiving and then Christmas is just around the corner. 

Why is it that when you really have to do something you would much rather do something else? I have loads to do for the coming holidays and absolutely no ambition to get started.  I don’t have much to buy as far as gifts because I usually make gifts, and this year, I have plenty of gifts to make.  I think that once I decorate I will get into the holiday spirit.

For the past week or so, I have accomplished quite a lot, mostly reading and writing.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I was on a Stephen King kick there for a couple of weeks. Of course, this man does not write short novels so reading took up much of my time.  I read The Stand, a book that I read previously; and I read 11/22/63. I wrote blogs about each of them. You can find the blogs under the list titled My Reviews.  I read The Help by Susanne Stockette in print format a month or so ago and I saw the movie sometime within the last two weeks. Then last week I found the book in audio format at the library and I consumed that over the last weekend.  I found that the audio version was the best of the three.  Also, I like audio because I can get other things done while consuming a book.  Currently, I am reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman and I am enjoying it immensely. It reminds me of Harry Potter but on an adult scale.  The language (I refer here to cursing) is adult and the interaction of the characters is more adult as well.  So far the story is not as adventurous as HP but it is interesting and at times it is otherworldly scary. I really can’t judge overall as I am just getting started. 

Speaking of Harry Potter, I placed a hold on the audio version of J. K. Rowling’s newest release A Casual Vacancy.  I am #23 on the list so might take a few weeks before my number comes up.  The Harry Potter  series is so imaginative; I am interested to see what and how Rowling writes outside of the HP universe. I will certainly let you know.

As I mentioned earlier, writing takes much of my time lately, too.  I wrote several scenes, though as yet, I am not sure of their placement in my story. It will come to me though.  I just hope I don’t have to edit too much out to get them all in.  Ah well, the completion is a long way off and I will worry about the editing when the time comes. Poetry isn’t coming to me so easily lately. I think I have to get involved with a class or workshop to start the creative juices flowing again. That is one more add for my to-do list.

Twitter notifications now pack my email inbox to the brim.  This occurred over the past couple of days.  I usually try to respond to each new follower, mention, and RT-er individually and on a daily basis, but I let it slide for a couple of days and now my inbox is up to close to 100 and the prospect of acknowledging each one is daunting. I can see this project taking up an entire day. 

Well, I think I have told you all I can for now.  I am spending Thanksgiving at Mom’s place.  They put on a nice buffet for the residents and I enjoy the people.  It is usually an early day, so I have time to visit elsewhere later.  I probably will not blog again until the weekend.

 I wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday.

Thanks for stopping by… ~Yvonne~

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Thoughts on “11/22/63” by Stephen King

Last evening I finished reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King.  This is a book that I was excited to read since its publication, because not am I a fan of the author, but as well because I have an unusually clear memory of this incident in history.  Additionally, I was aware of our country’s confrontation with Cuba and the threat of nuclear attack on American soil and of the Civil Rights Movement, of which both Mr. King refers to in this novel.  

With this story, Mr. King does a fine job of combining the genres of Science Fiction, Horror, and Historical Fiction.  His research for the story was obviously extensive and his description was thorough.  He takes into account not only the monetary and technological differences between the late 1950s and early 1960s, he additionally takes into account the social and political climate of those years along with the differences of these aspects between the Northern and Southern areas of the United States.  He also delves into other historical events and even profiles Lee Harvey Oswald life and personality years before his ultimate and horrific act that stunned our country and dissolved our young people’s innocence and complacency.  I cannot speak, of course, for everyone of my generation; however, for me that one act of violence and subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby forever changed my view of the world, and in turn influenced who I am as a person.  Ultimately, not only did this incident in history change my view but also many individual’s view and as well as our country and the world.  In his very riveting story, Mr. King through the lives and experiences of his characters addresses the question of how not only the world would change but also, how individual lives would change without certain incidents and experiences taking place. 

In his novel, Mr. King’s main character Jake Ebbing alias George Amberson, travels back in time through a time portal that only he and the owner of a local diner Al Templeton, have knowledge.   The portal takes the time Jake/George to an exact point in time September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a. m. No matter the amount of time he spends in the past whether an hour or five years, when he returns through the portal only two minutes pass in present time.  Whatever changes he makes in the past, whether a major incident or anything that seems inconsequential, remains as a change in the past and impacts the future, either on an accordingly micro or macro scale, or changes an individual’s life or the entire universe.  Jake/George learns from Al that if he never again takes another trip through the portal then history remains fixed to whatever changes the he make to the past.  However, if he uses the portal again, all the changes on previous excursions void out and the future and is the same as it was originally.  Another drawback Jake/George experiences is his aging process in that while only two minutes pass in real time, he ages for time he spent in the past.

Additionally, Jake/George soon learns that changing the past does not always produce the intended outcome and that every time he attempts to change something he experiences dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, obstacles.  Jake/George recognizes this as a foe and as a living entity referring to it as the “obdurate” past.  His adventures span five years in which he not only focuses on stopping the President’s assassin he also comes to make many friends and finds his true love, Sadie Dunhill.  At one point, in Jake/George’s travels he comes to the fictional town of Derry, Maine where he meets two characters, Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh from King’s previous novel “It”.  The two teenagers seem to realize that Jake/George is not of their world and in turn, Jake/George feels the evil cloud that seems to cover the town.  I liked this reference and as Stephen King fan, I am inclined to want to read “It” again.

I will not say anymore about the story here in this review, as I do not want to give away too much information to those who have not and wish to read the book.  I do highly recommend this book to both those who are fans of Stephen King and those who are not.  It does have its horror and well-described bloody violence, yet this is expected as referenced by the date in history for which the book is titled. 

Thanks for reading… ~Yvonne~

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finally Back in the Groove…

Even though it’s Monday I finally feel like I am back in the groove.  The past two weeks had me spinning and I could not seem to focus on anything long enough to its completion, except reading. 

It started with Hurricane Sandy.  I was thoroughly prepared to evacuate if it came to that, and prepared items such as candles, lanterns, batteries, and extra blankets in case I lost power.  I also pulled the air conditioner out of my bedroom window, which was a feat I never should have attempted on my own.  I got it out though, but my wrist ached for a few days afterward and caused my sciatica to kick in for about a week as well.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper for a week or so and within that time I must have consumed about 20 aspirin.  Anyway, Sandy roared in with a cacophony that sounded like a freight train was speeding up the road and winds that rattled the windows and shook the house.  However, my power stayed steady and other than laying down a carpet of leaves and small branches, there was no real damage.  A few of my neighbors down the road who live closer to the lake’s shore and don’t have the advantage of cliff between their homes and the lake had to evacuate to shelters.  A few lost power, and had to contend with a couple of fallen trees, but nothing near the catastrophe of NYC and New Jersey.  Considering the damage to these areas and others, I feel the Creator watched over us throughout the storm!

The time change was the next event that through me off the rails.  It doesn't matter whether we are springing forward of falling back, the time change always messes with my head even though it is for just an hour either way.  I wish they would do away with this foolishness and keep it one way or the other, although I would prefer the spring forward time that gives us more daylight and longer days.

I have to have my car inspected this month, so last Monday I took it to the neighborhood to have it checked out for needed repairs.  The horn doesn't work, which I would never know because I never use it, and the back windshield wiper needs replacing (another item I never use).  The big expense is tires of which I need all four replaced.  I could get by with replacing the two front tires, but better safe than sorry.  Also, I figure if I don’t replace all four now I will end up replacing the other two next year, so it’s better to get them all done now when I have some extra money to get it done.  I live on a very modest budget as it is, but you never know what another year will bring or take away.

Tuesday brought the elections.  I am not one to discuss politics with anyone except for a few close friends.  Nor do I openly state my opinions in any public forum.  Other’s opinions do not influence me within my decision process, but I do spend quite a bit of time before the elections contemplating my vote.  In the end, I vote my conscience and hope and pray for the best.  All I will say here is that I am satisfied with the outcome.

By last Thursday, all the stress of the past two weeks brought a visitation from a massive migraine headache.  I thought that it was gone Friday morning, but it came back with a vengeance by the afternoon.  I was at Mom’s when it arrived, but I managed to accomplish all the tasks and errands she needed me to complete. We also had some time to attend a gathering in the main dining room where we had coffee served with pumpkin cake and ice cream (definitely a sugar overload for all partaking).  During this outing, I had a chance to listen to the elder’s conversations as they talked about their current and past experiences, which is something I always find interesting.

Friday evening I had one more ‘to do’ left on my list.  I received a notice for jury duty several weeks earlier and my instructions were to call after 5:30 for further instructions concerning the task.  Luckily, the recording told me that I did not have to do anything except call back for further instructions the following Tuesday.  Of course, with caring for Mom, I will not be able to accommodate the request, but it is still something that weighs heavy on my mind until its closure.

This past weekend was a time to unwind.  I kept busy with designing a new pattern for my “Ode to the Quilt” series and I wrote a poem for Veteran’s Day that I posted yesterday on this blog.  I caught up on the television series that I follow which includes “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”  I also watched “The King’s Speech” not for the first time.  Other than that, I continued reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King.  It was a very relaxing weekend.

This brings me back to Monday where I feel that a weight has lifted from my shoulders.  I am excited with the prospects of writing and creating over the coming weeks.  My friends and family are sure to receive handmade gifts and an abundance of baked goods as Christmas presents from me this year.  

 Now with all that said, I am off to get started on the many tasks ahead…

Thanks for stopping by… ~Yvonne~

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On this Veteran’s Day…

On this Veteran’s Day…

I honor all those both past and present who leave their families and homes placing their lives on the line in rising to the call by taking on the mantle of protector and defender.

On this Veteran’s Day…

 I honor all those both past and present who leave the safety of their homelands placing their lives on the line to bring us news and first-hand accounts of the battles afar.

On this Veteran’s Day…

I honor all those both past and present who leave the safety of their homes placing their lives on the line to reach out to all those in need who are suffering within the ravages of war.

On this Veteran’s Day…

I honor all those both past and present who suffer the devastation of the destruction of their homes and homelands, and those that suffer under the oppression, cruelty, and greed of others.

On this Veteran’s Day…

I honor all those both past and present who suffer injuries to mind and body, and those who suffer the loss of the lives of loved ones.  

On this Veteran’s Day…

I pray for peace that all Human Beings come to understand and accept the differences of others.  I pray that all Human Beings come to care for one another through sharing and giving.  I pray for the entire Human Race that we receive the blessing of enlightenment to the knowledge and reasoning that all Human Beings are related, that we are all connected.

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read.  ~Yvonne~

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My Thoughts on All Things “The Stand” by Stephen King

My mind is a boggle of thoughts these days, which is preventing me from writing much that is coherent.  For me, this is a form of writer’s block.  It’s not that I can’t write, in fact I have plenty of ideas and continue to write them down in order that I won’t forget them when the time comes to write more than a page or two without wandering to some other far off unrelated subject other than the one at hand.  This blog is an attempt, of sorts, to focus on the culprit of my wandering thoughts.

I am blaming Stephen King for this dive into self-absorption as a couple of days ago I finished reading his novel TheStand.   This is not the first time I read this novel, in fact I believe it is the forth.  However, this time, having found it in audio format at the library, Grover Gardner (an excellent narrative reader) read it to me over the course of 37 CD's  Whether or not I was a fan (or Constant Reader as Mr. King refers) of Mr. King’s work, I would have to dub The Stand as the best apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic story ever published. 

The Book

As per always, Mr. King fleshes out his characters in such a way that the reader knows them on an intimate basis.  He delves into their experiences, both past and present, and gives a clear explanation of the affect those experiences have on their psyches.  We know how they think both of themselves and of the people and the world that they presently inhabit.  As readers, if we were to meet these characters in the real world, we would know them well enough to have a sit-down conversation with them.  Once we have this grasp on the characters Mr. King then goes further to take these characters to very unusual, frightening, and horrific predicaments and circumstances. While Mr. King’s stories are in the genre of Horror, the horror does not always spring from a purely supernatural force but combines with the horrible acts of human beings upon one another. Hence, Mr. King evens out his stories to bring them into both character and plot driven supernatural adventures.  

However, in The Stand, Mr. King goes even further by touching on subjects and rounding them out as well as he does his characters. This novel forces the reader to look at the human condition in the face of an apocalyptic occurrence. The reader begins to consider what resources are important to the survival of the human race and to weed out the items that are not required for survival.  As well, the reader reflects on not only the psychology of an individual, but also the psychology of individual groups.  Other subjects come into play as will such as Sociology, Theology, Spirituality and the importance of the individual within the group.  These subjects then combine with mysticism and paranormal experiences that in some ways bring about an almost evolutionary advance in human brain development.

Three of the most important individuals to the group’s survival are those that society would pass or judge insignificant in normal circumstances – Nick Andros, a deaf/mute, Tom Cullen, a high functioning mentally challenged man, and Abigail Freemantle, an extremely elderly woman.   Even with their very different belief structures—Nick as an atheist, Abigail as a bible/religion based Christian, and Tom as a man who has the simple concept of right and wrong—all three join forces and work well as a whole.  Some characters, such as Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Frances Goldsmith, Harold Lauder, Nadine Cross, and Ralph Bretner, each battle their own personal demons, and in turn, question their own abilities and make life altering decisions in either facing or  joining the very real demon that threatens not only the group’s but their own personal survival.  

On the evil side of the story, a group of characters forms their own community under the rule of a demon, Randall Flagg, who takes many forms including human.  Again, some individual characters question their choices and their abilities in their importance to the group’s survival.  Others in the group find that as outcasts in the world before the apocalyptic event, they have found their place in this post-apocalyptic society.  However, as time and events go on, some find that they might be on the wrong side of the fence.

As the story ends, more questions arise as to what form the new world should take.  Do the survivors wish to go back to the old ways of government and economic structure, or should they reform to a new society, a more advanced and equal society? Is it even possible to regroup? And, what of the dangers that still lurk both within and beyond their borders?  These questions and others Mr. King leaves for the reader’s imagination to ponder.

The Mini Series

After completing the novel, I watched the four part made-for-TV miniseries.  Again, this was not for the first time.  The mini-series does not live up to the novel and I feel it is in many ways disappointing.  The series focuses on plot more than characterization, even though it is through the characters who in the book tell the story.  In fact, the characters as portrayed in the series are mere shells of their true selves.  The story is there, however, it is more of an outline of details rather than an in-depth portrayal of the horrors that occur in the written version.  The combination of the characters of Nadine Cross and Rita (the woman who Larry Underwood meets in NYC) fails to portray Nadine’s personality and her difficulty in making her ultimate decision.  The series version of Harold Lauder does not show his superior intelligence or the changes of his physical appearance over time spent on the road.  As well, the characters look in too good condition as they take their perilous journey half way across the United States.

There is talk periodically of producing a theatrical movie version of The Stand, consisting of three or even for parts.  I hope that this comes to fusion in the future as I think this epic novel deserves an epic film.  If you have not read the book, I highly recommend that you do either in print of audio format.  Don’t depend on the mini-series to tell you the story.  However, I warn you, that whether you read the print version or listen to the audio version of the book, the story will cause you to have very deep thoughts that occupy both your waking and even sleeping moments.

Thanks for stopping by… ~Yvonne~

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Waiting for the Storm

Well, Hurricane Sandy is predicted to hit my neck of the woods within the next few hours.  Currently, the sky is a dark grey, and the wind is light causing the leaves to gently dance in the light breeze.  The birds are quiet, I haven’t heard as much as a peep this morning, and the squirrels are not out playing their jungle gum antics through the trees.  All of nature seems quiet waiting for the impending storm. 

I am preparing as well.  My hurricane lamps are full of oil and I have washed their shining glass chimneys.  I have filled some large pitchers with water and set them in the refrigerator.  Extra canned goods and prepared foods stock my cupboard shelves.  I have charcoal for the grill in case I have to cook outside; though I don’t foresee this happening I also checked the flashlights and the radio for batteries.  I located my first aid kit and took inventory of its contents so that I know what I have in case of any first aid emergency that might occur.  I pulled the quilts out of the cedar chest. I have extra just in case my neighbors find they are in need anything.  During the threat of storms such as these, I often wish I had a fireplace or a wood stove, or even a generator.  I have heaters, but I use them with much caution.

I may not need these things, however I feel better when I prepare.  After the ice storm in 1991, I was without electricity for 14 days.  I found that I wrote more with a pen and paper than usual during those two weeks and drew a lot more, too.  Excessive creativity is the advantage of not having electronics to entertain.  It was like an extended in-house camping adventure. 

It’s funny (not ha-ha funny, but peculiar) how easily one can get used to doing without.  Once you have to make due with less, you begin to realize how much you really have.
Thanks for stopping by. ~Yvonne~

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Keeper of Memories

I am the listener…
As the Elders tell their stories
Of their memories of yesteryear
As if it all happened yesterday.

I am the questioner…
That sparks recollections
Of days gone by
Of lives once lived.

I am the viewer…
Of worn photographs
Of the people and places
Now gone from this world.

I am the writer…
That transcribes the frail voices
Piecing fragments together
As their life’s stories unfold.

I am the keeper of the memories they’ve told

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday 10/22/12: A Random Journal Entry

I should explain that I am a night person, and I say this in all seriousness.  I write best at night particularly between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am, so I generally don’t fall to sleep before 3 am. 

I woke to a group of sparrows having an early morning community meeting outside my window on top of the air conditioner.  It seems there was some disagreement as they were putting up a loud ruckus and knocking one another off their perch with high pitch chatter and much flutter of feathered wings.  Along with this, my neighbor across the road is having a house built where his old house stood.  Over the past week I finally grew accustom to the noise, and I could sleep through the sound of pounding and sawing, and trucks backing down the road.  However, this morning all the various power tools reached a new level of cacophony as for some reason they were all in use at the same time.  Needless to say, I did not get my usual 6 hours of sleep, more like 4-1/2.  I feel I could use a nap; however, that would throw my time clock way off course, as I won’t fall asleep until 5 or 6 o’clock tomorrow morning.  Miss Kitty is sleeping beside me as I write this and I must admit that I am a bit jealous. 

Like most Mondays, my productivity level is low.  I did accomplish a small amount of writing, but I kept on flitting from one project to another, so I set it aside.  Maybe this evening I will have better concentration.  Also, I sorted through my email inbox.  This took some time as I haven’t checked it in a couple of days and the count was well over the usual 50 mark.  It was more like 250.  I deleted the junk mail and responded to quite a few others that needed attention.  The others left are notifications of new blog entries written by fellow bloggers that I follow, so I think that the rest of the afternoon I will spend reading these. 

Later, I am going to watch the most recent episodes of “The Walking Dead” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”   These are two series that I anticipate watching on Monday evenings.   The first season of “Once Upon a Time” is now available as streaming on Netflix and I am really enjoying this series, too, but if I am to get any real, solid writing done, I won’t turn that on today.

Well, I guess it’s time to sign off for now.  Fare thee well until next time.  ~Yvonne~

Sunday, October 21, 2012


“Sometimes we are impatient.  When we are impatient, we get no rewards.  Let other people do their own thing.  Wait, take your turn when it comes.  The Creator will always put something in your future, something very special.”  ~Franklin Kahn, Navajo~

To wait with patience is not always an easy task.  Throughout life, we sometimes find ourselves waiting for the turn in life’s road that brings us to the path of new changes and challenges.  It is within these times that we are likely to become impatient.  Nothing seems to happen and we feel stagnant, stuck.  We do not see these times of rest as a blessing or a time to reflect on our previous experiences and to take an account of the lessons those experiences taught.  Often during our time of rest, we will come across memories of times when we felt just as we do now as we wait for the tides to turn us to our new direction.  Breathe, reflect, be patient…

We all have goals and desires for our future and we sometimes see others moving forward with their lives while we see ourselves standing still.  For whatever reason, the time for our new journey to begin is not yet right.  As we watch another finding their path, we may feel a twinge of jealousy for their good fortune; or we may fear that we are alone and left behind.  This may cause us to forge ahead before our time is right in which case we may discover that we are unhappy in our circumstance or that we are unable to complete the journey or attain the outcome we desired.  We may discover later that while we blundered down the wrong road at the wrong moment that another better path presented itself that was perfect for us.  It is best to stay grounded where you are. Express encouragement and be happy for the other person and offer advice or assistance if needed.  Be happy, encourage, advise, be patient…

We are not always sure of what new path we want to take or for what new path we are waiting.  Sometimes, even though we know it is the right road to travel, we are tentative about stepping onto the path that opens for us.  At times such as these, we need to combine courage with faith and patience.  If the path is right, even if it is unexpected, we find through contemplation, that our previous experiences have led us to this particular step in our life’s journey.  Although we may think that to travel a particular road is a waste of our time, eventually we find that it is a necessary step to reaching our goal.  We find that our experiences and the lessons we learn on this road lead us to a better understanding and an increase of knowledge that we need in order to arrive and accomplish our dreams.   Be courageous, have faith, be patient…

We all envision what our dreams will encompass and what our lives will be like when we reach our goals, yet sometimes what comes to us is not exactly what we imagined.  Sometimes as we travel our road a disaster, loss, or tragedy occurs that causes us to lose sight of our path.  These occurrences also can cause a deviation to our dream’s outcome. However, these experiences come to us with life lessons that we must learn before our dreams or goals come to fruition.   These experiences may throw us off balance into a state of depression or cause us to lose sight of our dreams.  During these times of struggle, it is important to have strength and to be thankful for all we do have or even for all we had and have lost.  It is important that we remember that there are those who have less than we have, or even those who have lost and will never find peace.  It is in accepting our losses and moving forward on our life’s path that we develop the ability to adapt to having less, yet finding more.   Although we may find that our dreams have not come to fulfillment as we foresaw, we find they are rewarding in such a way that we are happier than we ever imagined.   Be strong, be thankful, be patient… Your time will come!

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read. ~Yvonne~

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror Genre Television Then and Now

I have never been a big fan of television other than a few series of the science fiction, fantasy/horror genre and the once in awhile drama.  When I was a child growing up in the early ‘60s and ‘70s, the selections of these genres were rare, and for the most part, they did not last an extended length of time.  Even so, I was too young to keep up with a series on a weekly/yearly basis.  Over the years, other series of these genres were out there, but none that held my attention or sparked my imagination so that I wanted to schedule my time to sit for a half hour or an hour each week to watch.

The many series that I mention in this blog, all have some common characteristics.  The most important of these is good, intelligent story telling.  I approach a television series much in the same way that I approach a book.  If a book or series does not captivate me by the time I finish the third chapter, or the third episode I will stop reading or watching.  The second most important element is an emotional attachment to the characters and their plight.  I want to see and understand the character’s lives and motives, whether those characters are human or supernatural in nature.  Consistency of character and an understanding of their reasoning and actions when things go wrong in their worlds are important.  The protagonist must have fallibility, and the antagonist must have one or more quality, characteristic, or back-story experience that causes me to have some understanding of, or even empathy for the character to some degree.

Another quality to I need television series relative to reading is that when a series comes to an end that the story remained true to itself to the end.  As with finishing a book, I want to have the feeling that I am saying goodbye to the characters and that I will miss them.  I also want to know that just as I will want to re-read a book that I will want to re-watch a series.  There are many series that I have or will in the future re-watch. 

There are also some series that by the time they reached their last season that they went too far off their story line to the point that I have no desire to watch them again.  I feel that this is a real shame and I question the writers and creators as to what they were thinking.  A couple of examples of these series are Roswell (1999-2002), and Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010).  This is, of course, my personal opinion, but I have to say that I was very disappointed with the final seasons of these two series.

Another quandary is series that had great potential that the networks cancelled before their time.  A couple of examples of these are Harsh Realm (1999-2000) and Tru Calling (2003-2005).  Of course Firefly (2002-2003) falls into this category as well, however Joss Whedon gave us more with the full-length movie Serenity (2005) and the continuation of the story in comic book form.

Some series that were available during my childhood were Doctor Who (1963-1989), The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), The Outer Limits (1963-1965), The Time Tunnel (1966-1967), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968). They were, in my opinion, the best of their genres for their time.  In 1966, Star Trek (1966-1969) came along and brought the science fiction genre, as I knew it on television, to a new height.  I was ten years old when Star Trek premiered and I remember having a feeling of awe and excitement at the thought that this series was to air every week with a new episode.  I never missed an episode.  That same year Dark Shadows (1966-1971) began as a soap opera and I watched that as well, but it was rare that I arrived home from school to see an entire episode.  (Note: Remember younger folk, at that time VCRs and other technology were a thing of the future).  

After Doctor Who went on its hiatus in 1989, I did not watch any series television until 1993 when The X-Files (1993-2002) began its nine-season run with Millennium (1996-1999) and The Lone Gunman (2001) following, and all created by Chris Carter.  It was during this period that Joss Whedon came along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Angel (1999-2004).  These series created by Whedon and Carter were the top series that I labeled as not to miss.  Lost (2004-2010) came along in 2004 running for and Medium (2005-20011) which continued for seven seasons.

Quite a few series of which I became a fan appeared in 2005 that I continue to watch religiously.  Some of these include  Supernatural (2005-) premiered and is now in its eighth season as well as the return of Doctor Who (2005-) now in season seven which brought Torchwood (2006-2011)  along as spin-off of its parent series.  After this run in 2005 Fringe (2008-) came along in 2008 and is now in its fifth season, followed by The Vampire Diaries (2009-) now beginning its fourth season and  The Walking Dead (2010-) now beginning its third season. Grimm (2011-) is now in its second season as is Once Upon a Time (2011-).

Well, this is pretty much my list of must see television series of the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genre.  I might have left out a couple that will come to me soon after this post is up.  There are a couple of series premiering this fall that I do not have an opinion on as yet, but I will let you know what I think of these when the time comes.  I only hope that more and more of this genre keep appearing. In future blogs I will proceed into in-depth posts regarding a few, if not all, of these series individually.  We’ll see how that works out…

As always thanks for reading and I hope all is well with you and yours.  ~Yvonne~

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Resetting My Internal Clock

So far, this week is a strange week for me. My internal clock is way off kilter. Mondays are usually a dead day for me, but this past Monday turned out as very productive. I spent most of the day outside cleaning off the back porch and getting summer outdoor gear into the shed. I also cleaned out all the flower pots which was a big job as I have so many of them. I am hoping to paint and decorate some more clay pots over the winter months. I took a count and I have twenty-three that I can turn into decorative pots.  The rest, another seventeen, are plastic.

I also washed up all of the downstairs windows and checked the seals on the storm windows. They are in great shape, so no problems there. I still haven't removed the air conditioner, but I think I will need help with that as it would be just my luck to drop it out the window, or worse, injure my bum wrist. I was warned by two doctors that even with my wrist brace I should not lift too much weight. They both said no more than ten pounds with both hands, but I know that at times I exceed that limit.

Tuesday ended  up more like a usual Monday. I really didn't accomplish anything at all. My allergies were treating me very badly, which isn't surprising as the city where I live is rated 14 out of 20 as the worst cities for allergies in the country. I don't like to take allergy meds as they either make me sleepy or just plain lazy, but I took them yesterday and ended up watching videos all day. I guess that is not a bad thing, really. We all need to have those days occasionally.

I haven't done much writing lately. I am in a bit of a slump, but I have some ideas wandering around in my head, so when the slump subsides I know I will have plenty to write. It is not uncommon for the change of seasons to stop me in my tracks for a week or two. My sleeping patterns are off a bit, too. I am not sleepy until around 3 or 3:30 in the morning, yet I wake up between 8 and 8:30 wide awake and rested. It's kind of like my internal clock is preforming a reset, but I will be so very happy when all gets back to normal.

Thanks for stopping by... ~Yvonne~

Friday, October 05, 2012

Autumn Gathering

It's Friday, and I am looking forward to the weekend! Not that I plan on doing anything special, but on weekends the days are less regimented.

The weather is still fairly warm here and I haven't taken the air conditioner out yet, even though I haven't turned it on in about six weeks. I will get that done soon as I am sure the cold weather will visit us in a surprise burst of cold air. Also, I have to change my closet over from summery cool clothes to the heavier warm clothes of winter. This task usually takes an entire afternoon to complete, and I always end up with a bag of clothes to give away that I didn't wear at all over the last season.

I collected a few leaves and twigs this past week to use in some art projects that I will probably give away as Holiday presents. The leaves are not in full color as yet, but when they are, I plan on a gathering day woodland walk. I want to get some photographs of the landscape as well. 

There are still some flowers in bloom bloom in front of the house - mostly Black-eyed Susans, but there are a couple of Roses, too. I want to get out there and do a pre-winter weeding. I never tried to dry pressed flowers as I do leaves, but I think I am going to experiment with some of the flowers I have left. My heavy books are put to more use than just reading around this time of year. Sometimes I forget which books I used to press leaves and find them unexpectedly between the pages of some heavy reference book. That's always a welcome surprise.

Well, I am going to go and get started on the day ahead. Thanks for stopping by, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend. ~Yvonne~

Monday, October 01, 2012

Used vs. New in the 21st

While I was clicking through ‘news’ stories the other day, I came across a video article from The Jeff Probst Show, headlined“Could You Buy Nothing New for 5 Years?” in which Mr. Probst interviews a woman as a member of the Compact Movement who has not purchased anything new in the past 5 years.

The Compact Movement is a group started in San Francisco in 2006, among a group of friends who challenged one another to refrain from purchasing any thing 'new' for 1 year. Their goals were as follows:

1.      to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socio-economic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc.;
2.      to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er);
3.      to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
The people involved in this movement buy used items from thrift stores, garage/yard sales, barter, trade, and rescue items destined for the trash. They refurbish and repair items that others normally discard. When they do purchase new items, they restrict their purchases to local small businesses whenever possible.

Now, this isn't the first time I read about this movement. I read another article some years back when the movement first started, and my thoughts at that time were the same as they were when I saw the video clip the other day. "Well," I thought, "this idea isn't new to me. I've consumed in this manner for most of my life."

In fact, I was raised to consume in this manner, as my mother was raised before me. I own very few items that I purchased new, and those items that I did purchase new, I have kept in good repair or had repaired when needed in order to avoid having to purchase new items. I can honestly say that I haven't purchased a new item since 2004 when I broke down and bought a microwave to replace the old one I had for 20 years.
Every piece of furniture I own I purchased from a thrift store, garage/yard sale, bartered for, or rescued from the curb. The same is true of my appliances such as my coffee maker, food processor, toaster, etc. My clothing, except for undergarments, I purchase from community volunteer thrift stores and local consignment stores.
I have never purchased a new car. The car I have now is a '98 Saturn and the one before that was a '96 Ford Crown Victoria that I purchased from a friend for $300.00 and had on the road for about 2 years.  That car, like the one before that, I donated to the Kidney Foundation.

I also purchase most tech items used.  I bought the computer on which I am typing this post, as used furbished for $125.00. My TV I bought from the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $50.00. I bought my XBOX (an older model) for $5.00 at a garage sale. My landline phones and answering machine were given to me. A few years ago, a friend gave me a computer monitor when I helped him out in purchasing a car. I purchase video games, DVDs and CDs from local businesses that buy and sell used items. Many of my books I purchase from used bookstores or my town's library used book store.

I have bartered on several occasions by working for people such as helping them move, painting, or gardening and even writing, which is how I attained some of my most prized pieces of furniture. A few years ago, the sum-pump broke down and my brother traded an old one he had lying around for my old turntable, a pot of chili, and two loaves of homemade bread. It was a perfect deal!
Bartering and and trading goods and services is also a good way to create community. Some of my most prized possessions I acquired through bartering services such as helping someone to move, painting, gardening, and even writing. Many times someone will give me. or I will find, an item I cannot use , but rather than have it thrown out in the trash I will take it. I then try to find someone who can use the item. If within a year I find no one who can use the item, or if I cannot sell it at a garage sale, I donate it to a community volunteer thrift store.  Donating back to the community is the opposite end of buying used.

Living a Compact Movement manner is not only a cheaper way to consume; it is also good for the environment. We live in a throw-away society, in which people are always looking to buy the next best thing and the old is tossed out.  Everything we throw into the trash molders and damages the Earth and serves to destroy Nature's delicate balance.
The old sayings as well as the new still hold true for us as humans and for the Earth. A few of these sayings are as follows:
          "Recycle whatever you can, whenever possible, where ever consumption is concerned."
          "Make it up or wear it out, use it up or do without."
          "Respect the Earth as your Mother, for humanity's contiued existence depends on it."
Thanks for reading. ~Yvonne~