My friend Wendy over at Musings of a Bookish Kitty suggested we fill up Facebook with poetry today to celebrate New Year’s Day. Why not the whole internet?
My favorite poem, actually it is just a stanza, is from The Lotos Eaters by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
This poem is based on the story of Odysseus’s mariners described in scroll IX of Homer’s Odyssey. A storm blows them off course as they journey back from Troy. They come to a land where people do nothing but eat lotos (the Greek for our English “lotus”), a flower so delicious that some of the men, upon tasting it, lose all desire to return to Ithaca and long only to remain in the Land of the Lotos. Odysseus must drag his men away so that they can resume their journey home.
When my children were small and had a scary dream, or otherwise could not sleep, I would tell them to shut their eyes and imagine they are flying to a beautiful island. Then I would recite this stanza.
Have a Happy, Poetry Filled New Year!
Finally! I graduated from nursing school at the end of September and last Monday took my NCLEX and passed! I am a licensed nurse now! Yep. Nurse Jaimie on duty. So I put all my nursing, NCLEX prep, etc. books away for the first time in over a year. My house looks like a normal home now!
Here are a couple pics from my pinning ceremony. My husband pinned me, he was so proud. What a wonderful night that was!
Yesterday we finally were able to celebrate and among other things we did, ended up at Barnes and Noble. Oh my goodness gracious am I behind in my reading! I picked up a couple books but it was difficult to hold back. I wanted everything!
When I was standing in line the women behind us were chatting and one of them said, When I get home, I’m just going to read.” I thought, wow! I can say that now too!
I have Nook too, and for a while, that was all that I was using. But now that the novelty has worn off I have started to buy books again. I actually like having both, each has it’s place.
Here are the books I got. I am going to start The Dante Club today because it seems like a fun and fast read. I probably need to ease mysef back into it.
I finished “Sail” a few days ago and framed it myself. Wow, have you priced professional frame jobs lately? They must be out of their minds! I love my projects and want them to look good framed, but sheesh!
It was a nice feeling to get something done. I love these small projects that can be finished in a relatively short period of time. I wasn’t even working on it every day or even every other day.
So of course I am choosing a bigger project to do next. After going through my big binder of patterns, I decided on an old Prairie Schooler. It is so old that it doesn’t even show up in the archives on the official Prairie Schooler website. I did the one on the far left back in 1995!. This time I’ll be stitching the one on the right. I love them all though, and who knows, maybe someday I’ll get around to stitching that last one with the birdhouse.
I have gathered all my supplies. Pics to follow once the actual stitching starts.
I’m in the middle of a four day weekend and having a blast. We are trying not to spend a lot of money these days so I’ve been watching movies and doing cross stitch. We did go to see Star Trek. Meh. It paled in comparison to The Great Gatsby. And another important milestone was achieved…my granddaughter Ada turned 1 year old on Friday!
Unfortunately they live in Arizona and we were unable to visit this time. Someday I will have a life again. Here is my daughter having a swim with Ada. I asked if she needed a suit but Melissa assured me it was unnecessary. Personally, I think she is afraid I would buy her something weird. Where’s the trust?
Here’s a cute picture with Daddy. Love the tulle skirt! You know it’s funny. When Tweeters was this age he was so happy and laughing all the time until a camera pointed his way and suddenly he would get the deadpan look. I think this must run in the family. No worries though. I am sure they will start hamming it up for the cameras soon.
Stuart Font is having both an affair with a woman named Claudia and a housewarming party. A few months previous, he moved into an apartment complex full of interesting characters and he wants to meet, well, some of them. He doesn’t like the drama or the expense of his affair, but just can’t seem to say no. Like Stuart, some of his neighbors are obsessed with particular addictions, while others are victims of someone else’s obsessions.
Claudia’s husband Freddie is suspicious and places some monitoring devices on her computer. He confronts Stuart with his new-found information with a stick and attacks him. This “warning” goes unheeded, despite the fact that Stuart knows he needs (and wants) to end the relationship. He can’t stop. His neighbor Olwen is an alcoholic. I would like to say she is battling with alcoholism, but in truth, she has given herself over entirely to the disease. Her descent is both amazingly accurate and heartbreaking.
There are also a doctor and his wife, an ex-hippie who loves to study Milton, a homeopathic healer, three college girls, the woman who cleans the flats, and her husband, an as-yet not guilty pedophile who is straying into dangerous territory. He just can’t stop himself, and rationalizes every step he takes into further depravity.
On the surface, this story seems pretty tame compared to the usual dangerous and manipulative nutjobs Rendell writes about. Yet it is realistic, and you can see people like this in everyday life. All in all, it wasn’t my favorite but it’s a pretty good read. For a great Rendell read, try 13 Steps Down.
I had some time this weekend to sit down and do some work on Sail. The “a” and “i” are done and I’ve started working on “S”. Interesting note: The boat in the picture is dark blue while the pattern says it is currant. This is the DMC 902 color. I like the dark blue better so I went through my DMC floss collection and picked one out. We’ll see.
The weather has turned cool and grey again so my burst of summertime energy has waned a bit. Hopefully it will be back soon.
Last week my Nook shopping feature listed a haunted house book for only .99 which got pretty good reviews. I decided that despite the May flowers and sunshine, it was time to scare myself silly. It’s fun, isn’t it?
I don’t like to criticize authors so I won’t mention their name. The book was awful, terrible, very badly conceived and written. Finally giving up in disgust, I realized that most of the ghost stories I read over the years either fell into the category of fantastic or a complete dog. Why is this?
On the surface, writing a ghost story doesn’t seem tremendously difficult. They all follow certain patterns and many use the same stereotypes. So what makes one story spine-tingling and another completely ridiculous? How can one allow the reader to suspend disbelief while another causes the reader say, yeah right?
What makes a good ghost story work?
First, it is all about escalation. The writer must build suspense. Apart from the popular use of the appetizer prologue, throwing spooks at people too soon ruins the tension. It is far scarier to think you are safe and slowly realize that something ain’t right in Denmark.
Stereotyping works up to a point in a scary story. You know the one where Mom/girlfriend and the kids see weird stuff while Dad/boyfriend is totally clueless. But if the character’s experience remains one-dimensional, the story quickly becomes tiresome. And this is important: unless the female character is intentionally being driven insane by her husband, ease up on anything approaching gaslighting. These stories with “Honey, it’s all in your imagination” husbands drive me crazy. You want to see something scary? Tell me I’m imagining things. No ghost can compete with my wrath.
Ghosts have a purpose or a reason for their hauntings. Traditionally they are:
- To exact revenge on an evildoer
- To send a message
- Get out of my house! Or, join us here.
- Acting out because they are ticked off/opportunistic at being woken or called up via occult or other means.
- Random hauntings that are associated with a particular place, time, or thing.
The human element needs to be believable. In fact, the more plausible the character’s responses, the more the reader can suspend disbelief towards supernatural events. In ghost stories, identification with the characters is crucial. You can’t get scared if you can’t put yourself in their position. Dysfunction or addiction in other characters can intensify the drama. For example, the mom’s religious mania in Carrie or Jack’s alcoholism in The Shining. Ok, Carrie isn’t technically a ghost story, but you see what I mean?
Death in ghost stories is a natural by-product. However, knocking off people right and left will sometimes weaken, rather than strengthen the effect. Why is this? Because it is the threat of harm that builds terror.
Some people just have a gift for storytelling. I once read a short story called The Haunted Saucepan. Really, a pot? But seriously, it was creepy! My husband thought so also. In fact, while I was writing this post, he mentioned that story specifically.
A good storyteller can make the ordinary super scary. Remember in the movie Paranormal Activity when the sheet blew up just a little bit? Or when the bedroom door moved just slightly? Bleeding walls couldn’t compare to the start those gave me.
Here are some of my all time scary ghost story faves:
Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
It by Stephen King (more a monster than a ghost)
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
The Virago Book of Ghost Stories edited by Richard Dalby (has The Haunted Saucepan)
What are your favorite ghost stories? What makes them scary to you?
This weekend my husband and I went to see The Great Gatsby. It was terrific. Leo DiCaprio was amazing as usual, and the characters, like the book, were very nuanced. One-dimensional characters drive me up the wall. Here each one elicits both sympathy and disgust at different points, which made for an interesting show. The costumes, especially the women’s dresses and headpieces, were gorgeous! And the parties! I have to say, their portrayal of excess was just marvelous.
The actual movie-going experience was interesting. We had originally planned to go on Friday night but when we got there we found out that only the 3D version was playing. What the what? I thought they were just for action and children’s films. Little do I know. So we came back Saturday for the matinee.
So we got there and I decided snacks were needed. I got one popcorn, one diet coke, and one box of peanut M&Ms all for the low, low price of $15.00. Soooooo, next time no snacks. After the movie we were walking out and a group of about eight high school girls in front of us were discussing the movie as compared to the book. I really loved that; it’s so good to hear young people chatting like this. The couple in back of us were talking too, so the movie really inspired some discussion.
It’s been a great week for reading actual books. I finally finished Clara and Mr. Tiffany and would definitely recommend it. It is loosely based on a true story and was very poignant in some places. Women could not join the union and when their department took on an impossible task and completed it, the jealously of the men’s department was palpable. They almost shut them down. Thank goodness for the laws we have now.
I also read The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. It takes place in London just after WWII and chronicles the lives of three women and one man. The story goes back in time, rather than forward and their secrets are slowly uncovered. It was a very well written story though I don’t think any of hers will surpass Fingersmith. I don’t think writing a real review is possible at this time, though it certainly deserves one. I have a paper on mental disorders to write so I’m just happy to read a good book that quickly.
I’m looking through my TBR shelf but haven’t settled on my next read. I’m feeling exotic right now so it’s down to Empress Orchid by Anchee Min or Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.
Just a quick post to show my progress on a new project called Sail, by Shepherd’s Bush. I love these little , uh, how shall I say, four letter word themes they have created. I also have Love and Home in my future project pile. I stitched Bulb a couple of years ago.
I finished “A” with the beach ball and started on the sand castle “I”. I want to group it on my buffet with a bunch of other summer related items like a couple of pics of my kids at the beach and a bowl of shells. I also picked up a cute little box with a seashore theme down at JoAnn’s. It was 50% off which made it $5.00. This is my price range these days.
Now some scary news. Here in the Eugene/Springfield area we have had two attempted kidnappings in the last two days. It was totally random kids and the first time the guy opened the door to a private home, came in, and tried to grab the little girl. The mom fought him off and he ran away. The second just happened in Springfield near Thurston where a man was trying to get a five-year old into his car by asking her to help him deliver the mail. Scary stuff!
I just talked to my daughter on the phone, she is at school right now, so she is going to call her fiance to have him keep little Tweeters inside until they catch this psycho.
Teach your children and grandchildren about stranger danger, please!
It was a busy weekend. We went over to George and Elizabeth’s house so Jim could help remove the brake rotors to get them turned, get new brake pads, and then put everything back together. Sounds simple, right? Ha! And by help I mean Jim did the work, George “supervised”, and Elizabeth and I took Zach to the park and then went to Burger King to get lunch for everyone.
Here are George and me, hovering at the front of the garage. George put up a new screen door and I stayed out of the way by mostly sitting in the shade with Elizabeth where we chatted and watched Zach play. Jim hit a snag after they picked up the rotors so we went home and came back Sunday morning to finish it. It was done very quickly. I have to say my husband is so awesome at stuff like this. He can put together and fix anything! He saved the kids over $500.00 bucks by doing the work himself. That’s some real money!
I didn’t get any pictures of Zach on Saturday and Sunday he was off visiting his Dad before we got there. I’ll get some at our Mother’s Day BBQ. But I wanted to get a picture of a project Elizabeth is working on. She has done some beautiful work over the years but with school and a toddler, just can’t find the time for it. See how close to being finished she is?
Gorgeous, isn’t it? Once she gets going on her projects, there’s no stopping her. She attacks it with a single-minded determination I can only dream of.
Here’s the finished car, minus the hubcaps, about to be taken on a test drive. Everything worked perfectly and we left around noon. It was tiring but very satisfying.
Third term finals are over and fourth term begins bright and early at 6:00 Monday morning. What to do with two and a half days of freedom from homework and stress? How about a little reading? I started a couple of books quite a while ago and have been inching my way through them.
The first one is Clara and Mr. Tiffany by SusanVreeland. It is the story of Clara Driscoll, a designer who worked for Louis Tiffany in the late 1800s. It’s a fascinating story, not only because of the details that went into describing the beautiful glass artwork, but because it is about a woman who had a relatively successful career in a time when most people thought women stayed at home. News flash: many women worked.
Another aspect that I am just getting to is where I found out that it is Clara and not Louis Tiffany who brainstormed and designed the famous Tiffany lamps. She’s just now getting started on the dragonflies which is special to me because I own a beautiful table lamp with the Tiffany-inspired dragonfly pattern. It is one of my favorite things.
Another book I started on is Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult. It was given to me by a nurse at work who said it was pretty good for a Jodi Picoult. Both of us feel the same way about this author. Picoult is a good writer, but we just don’t know if we like her books. I had previously read Plain Truth and was completely weirded out, especially by the ending. She had a similar experience with another one of her books but assured me that Salem Falls was pretty good, so I’m going with that.
Other than that we had a pretty quiet weekend. My daughter’s car had some trouble so we went over to help with that. Correction, my husband helped with the car while my daughter and I yakked and played with Zach.
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