What I Did Last Saturday Night…. Spoiler: I Organized!

messy bookshelfOk, that doesn’t sound so exciting. But it really, really had to be done. I love my den, it’s such a cozy, comfy spot where you can just curl up and read, watch TV, eat, take your shoes off, throw junk around. You get the idea. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I found many, MANY pairs of shoes under the coffee table.

How did it this happen? It was like I woke up on Saturday night and finally saw the disaster area my comfy little nest had become.  I decided to tackle the really bad corner, where my bookshelves are.

messy shelvesWhat a mess! Oh, and that light on the left isn’t turned off for effect, the lightbulb had burned out and I just ignored it for I don’t know how long.

So we got started. My husband, cheerfully (!) took out the printer, chair, and all the big junky stuff. Oh yes, and he put a new lightbulb in the lamp. Then I started cleaning. Truthfully, and surprisingly, it wasn’t dirty, just a clutter trap. I decided to prettify the bookshelves somewhat. This is whaat I ended up with. If not beautiful, at least more organized.

clean bookshelf

Much better! Now I tackled the bigger shelves. I really tried hard on this one, you know, putting authors and subjects together. Or at least size of books. I realized that it could take a very long time to get it done perfectly, and I was running out of gas, so I called it a wrap. It looks ok, I think.

messy bookshelvesNot too bad for an evening’s work. The little dish on the table is to hold my scissors for cross stitch. I will be making a stitching nest for my next organization project. Stay tuned!

A Walk to the Rose Garden

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I am fortunate to live in a beautiful area, where every walk is an experience. Every season has it’s own beauty, but nothing matches spring and early summer in Oregon. I have been walking the 4 mile loop to the rose garden to check things out, and was finally rewarded with this…

rosesAnd how about these white roses. It looks like a rose waterfall!

snowy roses

These are the ultimate climbing roses. They climbed right into a tree!

trees with rosesIt was a beautiful stroll. I kept going back and forth, trying to get the best shot, or simply just talking in the beauty of it all.

roses everywhere

The weather has turned mean again, but supposedly it will be nice this weekend. Maybe I’ll meander back to see what’s what.

 

I’m Going to Try Camping!

me and Jim

I have to admit, I love my comfort. A soft bed, heat and air conditioning, the absence of critters. I still can’t believe that I am the one that brought up camping!

Background: I work in a stressful job. I love being a nurse, and the added responsibilities of clinical care manager stretch my critical thinking skills, and allows me to bring high standards of care to my residents. But it takes its toll. Vacation is one of those things that have gone by the wayside.

But we need it. I was checking out some cabin vacation rentals, and wow are they expensive! I don’t want to spend over 1000.00 for 4 days! And getting a travel trailer is another huge expense.

Finally I just said to Jim, “Screw it, let’s just get a tent and go camping.” He turned to me so fast, I though his head would swivel off his head. “You mean it? You would go camping?”  Sure. Why not? Uh, can I back out of this?

Jim started listing things we need, and looked up tents on the internet. That night and all day yesterday, we were running around to different stores, checking stuff out, comparing prices, and the like. And yes, he started an excel spreadsheet for what we need to buy at what store!

I have to say, Jim is totally concerned about me being comfortable. It kind of makes me feel bad, but I had no idea how much he wanted to camp.  He found a very nice tent, then found it cheaper on Amazon, and lots of little goodies that will make a camping trip a pleasant experience for both of us. I’m actually kind of excited.

Necklace

In other news, Zach made me a necklace. Or should I say, He found a green bead, wanted to make me a necklace, Elizabeth did the actual beadwork, but Zach supervised production. Either way I love it! Here’s a picture of us on the way to church.

 

 

Sunday Salon: I Know It’s May, But Can We Talk About Ghost Stories?

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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.

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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.

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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:

2c6f1ccb8c52d565934514a53774141414d6741The Shining by Stephen King

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?

I’m a Free Woman!… Sort of…

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Yesterday was my last night at work! After working full time and going to nursing school full time, I finally took the plunge and quit to focus on school. It is both super scary and a tremendous relief. So here I am, up at 6:00 am, typing on my computer. I couldn’t even sleep in the first day! I figure it may take some time to sink in.

So what have I been reading lately? Uh….nursing books. Does that count? I found the underlying themes for the Gastrointestinal Disorders chapter quite riveting. Sorry, I’m feeling a little punchy. Did I mention I just quit my job?

One of my goals is to post every week in Sunday Salon. And a super-duper goal is to do two regular blog posts a week, one for cross stitch, one for books.  Which of course means I need to find time to read and do cross stitch every week.

I have other goals too. One is to get my health back. I am run down. I used to kid around that I had chronic fatigue syndrome, but in the last month, it was no joke.

I’m thinking about making some coffee and watching the sunrise. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Pride and Prejudice: A Visit in Film History

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Elizabeth, having rather expected to affront him, was amazed at his gallantry; but there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her. He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.

I was thinking about writing a post on the first time I saw the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. But as much as I loved it, it didn’t have the impact like when I actually saw P&P on the screen for the very first time. It was the 1940 version with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier. Mmmmm, Lawrence Olivier.

And yes, I know. To Austen purists, it is fraught with holes and odd interpretations. I noticed that the last time I watched. But the essence of the story is there. To those who have not watched it, I included a few stills to show the lovely sets and costumes.

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The family. Like many other versions, the mom is hilarious. Ringlets are a popular hairstyle for them, although you can see the forties style given to Elizabeth. Jane is played by Maureen O’Sullivan.

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At the dance, when Elizabeth overhears some very uncharming things about herself. Yes, the location makes one wonder why the Bennet family is in any way concerned about money, but, what the hey. The style costumes that the men are wearing are probably (not 100% sure) more authentic for the time period.

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Elizabeth, Jane, and Kitty. Kitty is played by Heather Angel.  She is really funny in this adaptation. The scene where she plays the piano and sings is priceless.

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Elizabeth and Lady Catherine de Bourgh played by Edna May Oliver. Check out that hat!

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Sigh, true love. The sets are so lovely. The roses in the background are just beautiful as are these two. This is what happily ever after looked like to me when I was young.

I love watching all the versions of P&P, depending on what mood I am in. I had lots of fun looking up all these stills and remembering how enchanted I was as a little girl when I first saw this wonderful. Little was I to know what a lasting positive impact it made to my life, and the literature I was inspired to read and enjoy.

But I digress……

dt.common.streams.StreamServerThis blog is for the very personal part of what makes me happy. I love reading books, talking about them, and yes, even getting a little nerdy about them. I have met many people, including my husband, who are voracious readers also. Through the internet, I have expanded that circle of book lovers and they in turn have expanded my literary knowledge and brought fresh joy to that experience.

I love cross stitch too, and I have joined groups, exchanges, and roundabouts. I have met people all over the world who share my love for this incredible and addictive art form. Readers and cross stitchers alike, most whom I will never meet in this life, after in some cases years of knowing you online, I call you friends. I love you all.

But I digress….

Most of you know I work at a rehab/long term care facility. Last week, a husband of one of our residents called up the facility and said that he was going to come in and shoot everyone in the building. The threat was repeated a second time. I can’t say everything that happened because of HIPPA regulations, but suffice it to say, it was pretty heavy stuff. May I also say that no one went home because of it; no one left our residents vulnerable.

The police arrested the man last night and in his home found a loaded AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, the same type of weapon used in many of the recent mass shootings. It made front page news here in Eugene. The picture above is that very rifle, the last thing a beloved resident, a treasured co-worker, or myself might have ever seen.

What else do I want to say about it? No rants, no debates, just that I am glad to be here.

May all beings live in peace, free from greed and hatred.