Saturday, October 15, 2016

Beautiful People (September 2016): Rayfus

What? Two posts in two days? We thought this was the blog of the woman who doesn't live here any more. After all, the only thing that has happened recently was a tag (which scarcely counts) and a 69-word "happy birthday" post, which definitely does not count.
Nonetheless (don't you love that word? and nevertheless...), here I am. I realized that I have never done a BP for Rayfus*, or any other character questionnaire that I can remember.

Well obviously that's got to change, so here we go.

*The disgusting and weird and very not medieval name is going to be changed in second drafts to Lancelot, as this character basically fulfills Lancelot's functions in my Arthur story. However, I currently have another character named Lancelot (for no other reason than that when I was twelve I thought it would be fun to name a character Lancelot and make him have nothing to do with Lancelot — ???), so I'm waiting to officially change it until he has another name.

1. How did you come up with this character?
 Rayfus appeared at the same time the story did. I was (not surprisingly) talking to myself and making up a story, in which a woman who had just given birth was worried about her baby's safety. It came out that her husband was dead and she was worried about this man, Rayfus, because he wanted to be king, but her son was the heir. At some point in here, Rayfus became her son also. And then I said, "Hey, I could make this a King Arthur story" (because this sounds just like a King Arthur story).

2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?
Definitely not. Princes in wealthy kingdoms don't have to worry about that sort of thing. And while he has been on war campaigns where belts might have been tight, Rayfus is not the sort of person who'd feel oblige to deny himself because "the men have to."

3. Do they have a talent or skill that they're proud of?
Rayfus is not an unemotional person, but he prides himself on his control of his emotions. Also, he is very good at reading people and staying in control of most situations. Thirdly, he feels that most people don't have the "vision" he does to see bigger and better things happening. (Except for being politically conservative/old-fashioned, he is in favor of "progress" — *shudder*).

4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.
1. His wife, Guillamine (another name that is likely to change) gets on his nerves, so if he was already stressed/annoyed he might lose his temper with her.
2. When his carefully laid plans are ruined because one of his "lackeys" makes a mistake.
3. If someone started saying he was very incapable and had no ability to rule, etc. it would make him very angry, but he would still be able to control his temper, partially by assuring himself they had no idea what they were talking about.

5. What is their favorite type of weather? Least favorite?
Rayfus isn't too particular about the weather, but I think he likes cloudy days best. He doesn't like snow.

6. What is their Hogwarts House or MBTI personality?
 Well, as I said yesterday, I don't believe in MBTI so much... but I think he is either ESTJ or ENTJ (probably more of an ESTJ).

7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?
Rayfus doesn't "freak out", but he definitely plans ahead for different problems and scenarios. Current events can stress him if thing aren't going according to plan.

8. What is their favorite thing to drink?
A good red wine.

9. Favorite color? Least favorite?

Indigo/Royal Blue would be his favorite. Practical, not too "flashy", yet denotes his status with proper dignity. Least favorite: Beige. Too plain.

10. What is a book that changed their life?
Reading wasn't very common in the Middle Ages, and Rayfus isn't a big reader. He does read books on military tactics and such, and no doubt those have affect his life.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Graduation Party

As you may or may not know, I am graduating high school this year. As you also may or may not know, I have a cynical streak. When I start looking at senior picture ideas or thinking about graduation videos, that streak comes out very strongly. (Everything looks and sounds sappy and cheesy.) (I intend to have a very short graduation video and play "In the Mood" rather than a song with words. I'm not unsentimental, but I dislike music that tries to get me to be sentimental. I will feel it or I will not. Don't try to mess with my emotions, you sad songs. That's rude.)

Now, I don't believe in "introverts" and "extroverts". I don't think that when God made people he said "I'm going to make 10 introverts now, and then 10 extroverts tomorrow". I think every person needs both alone time and socialization. If the whole MBTI thing helps you, great. It is an interesting perspective, but not accurate in my humble opinion.
However, I tend toward needing more alone time. Or, at least "just family" (which includes certain friends) time. I never like crowds. Even youth group is a little much for me some time. So the idea of a graduation party where more than 15 people (probably five times that much, at least — gasp) are invited is a little frightening, to say the least.
So, in order to be prepared for this ahead of time and be able to get used to the idea, I wrote out my invitations. What do you think? Does it look good?

Join us for a party from 5:00-8:00 (doors close at 5:15), May 20th. Phones will be checked at the door. Water will be served on the front lawn. 
To help the graduate prepare for being a poor college student, we will spend the time discussing economics and the principles of being frugal. If you are handed a different topic card, please stick to it. No frivolous chitchat will be tolerated.
Please bring $10 to cover the costs of paper and cups. Don't forget to dress up: women in below-the-knee dresses (no bare shoulders), men in suits.

*Invitation only. No "plus-ones". RSVP by May 1st.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Tag

I have been tagged by Lover of Lemmas! Just so you know, I love being tagged but rarely do I follow the rules.
 The said rules (which are basically the same for every tag):

Note the person who nominated you (see above).
Answer the questions.
Nominate 10 bloggers.
Write them 10 questions and tell them you've tagged them.

The questions:

1. Do you play a sport? Is there a sport you want to learn?
English country dancing is a sport, right? I'd like to play croquet more often.
(as far as actual sports, absolutely Not. I'm not a sport person At All.)

2. Sunrise or sunset? Why?
Sunrise. I love mornings, and I also think that sunrises are very delicate and gentle. Sunsets are almost too glorious. I love the gentle wakening of the earth.

3. What was your dream job as a little kid?
Well, I remember thinking quite distinctly, when I was very young that I wanted to be a mother, and failing that, a nun. I liked this idea for some time; then I fantasized about writing books and illustrating them. I also wanted to teach a one-room school house at one point. (Now I'm closer to the mother/nun idea again ;P ).

4. What was the last movie you watched you really liked?
We just watched Annie Get Your Gun last weekend. Being an old movie, it's definitely racist towards Native Americans, and the ending is less than satisfactory (but it's a musical so we forgive plot details). I also watched The Young Victoria a few weeks ago and that was soooo good.

5. What songs are stuck in your head?
I woke up with this in my head. Yesterday, I had a few French sentences that whirled in my head for hours. It was kind of exhausting. (Quelle est l'heure? Quelle est l'heure? Quelle est l'heure?)

6. What is something that makes you feel nostalgic?
Lots of things — going through old letters, journals or emails, but I'm guessing that is pretty common. Recently, the fact that the days are getting dark earlier is making me nostalgic because it makes me think of drama, of the practices towards the end of the season when you keep leaving later than it officially gets over and it's completely dark and you're carrying lots of stuff. Specifically, it makes me think of one Sunday during the Anne of Green Gables season when we were putting up the set for the less-than-a-week-away performance, and because I was there and the Gilbert actor was there, our director had us run some extra scenes. And then some friends who are now my secondary family gave me a ride home for the first time (I think) and I felt a little bad (which is funny, because I now force myself upon them and ask for rides without a thought).

7. If you were granted an extra hour to your day (so you have 25 hours) what would you spend the hour doing?
Can I be boring and say sleeping? I can't complain because I've been getting about eight hours every night, but an extra hour wouldn't be bad. OR I'd get up an hour early and do me some writing before breakfast. That would be kind of cool. Can I get that extra hour, please?

8. What is one of the most embarrassing moments you're willing to share?
When you are walking through a grocery store/your coworker comes up behind you/the good looking employee walks by, and you're TALKING TO YOURSELF. (In a British accent, no less.) (I almost always talk to myself in a British accent. But sometimes it's French.)

9. If you could customize your car license plate (for most U.S. readers, that means pick any combination of 5-7 words and letters), what would you want your license plate to say?
I've always thought it'd be cool to have a customized plate, but they cost more per year and I've never settled on one thing. I wouldn't want to have to say something like "ILVJAAS" because what's the point of a personalized plate if no one can figure out what you're trying to say? (Props if you can figure that one out). Anything I'd like to have stamped on my car is more than seven letters. Hm... I guess "JANEITE".

10. Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, or the ocean?
The ocean. I don't like sand but I love the ocean. Ponds/lakes/rivers all tend to be 90% mud. I do like little streams though.

I'm going to be terribly un-fun and not sportmanshiplike and not tag anyone. I don't follow that many blogs (it looks like I do, but three of them are just food blogs and half of them never post) and those I do have already been tagged. Yes, yes, rules and all that. Sorry, sorry.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

This is just a very quick note to remind everyone that it is the twenty-second of September. And as we all ought to remember, that means it is the birthday of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins, two under-appreciated, steadfast heroes from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, respectively.

I am almost finished with LotR, so I shall be giving you all a very long, gushing post shortly.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

An Announcement and a Review

Bonjour, mes amis! Having a great deal of school to do, I have but time to deliver an announcement and a brief review.
First, the fleas are GONE, praise the Lord!!! My dear little cat is out and the daily vacuuming is over.
Second, I have just finished Louisa May Alcott’s Hospital Sketches (as I'm wrapping up my study of the Civil War) and, since I mentioned it in my post on Little Women, thought I'd deliver a short review.
It's a very thin volume and her witty, engaging style makes it a quick read (much appreciated by moi, as I'm surrounded by books to be read). Originally published serially as six “sketches” that she adapted from letters she sent home, it was compiled in 1863. Louisa was a nurse for only about a month before she contracted typhoid and went home, but her sketches are a moving, interesting and occasionally amusing glimpse of the nurse’s side of the war. Three of my favorite passages:

(Describing her bedroom at the makeshift hospital) It was well ventilated, for five panes of glass had suffered compound fractures, which all the surgeons and nurses had failed to heal… A bare floor supported two narrow iron beds, spread with thin mattresses like plasters, furnished with pillows in the last stages of consumption… A mirror (let us be elegant!) of the dimensions of a muffin, and about as reflective, hung over a tin basin…

The three meals were “pretty much of a muchness,” and consisted of beef, evidently put down for the men of ‘76; pork, just in from the street [pigs wandered freely in the city]; army bread, composed of saw-dust and saleratus; butter, [salty] as if churned by Lot’s wife; stewed blackberries, so much like preserved cockroaches, that only those devoid of imagination could partake of with relish; coffee, mild and muddy; tea, three dried huckleberry leaves to a quart of water…

(Describing passerby officers) Some of these gentlemen affected painfully tight uniforms, and little caps, kept on by some new law of gravitation, as they covered only the bridge of the nose, yet never fell off; the men looked like stuffed fowls, and rode as if the safety of the nation depended on their speed alone.

The whole book, though, is filled with Louisa’s particular style, which is quaint and pleasant. I especially like the many clever literary allusions she uses. I recommend this to about 8th grade and up.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Rancher Artie: Part Two

“Ya really think I could do my father proud, Ginny?”
Artie were settin’ on the young school teacher’s desk as she tidied up the school room.
“Ya shot ain’t bad,” she said with a smile.
“I dun’t think I’d win, o’ course; if I git even ter the second round I’d be might pleased.”
“I’ll come watch with yer parents,” she promised. “Just git off my desk so I can put these things away.”
He grinned and hustled off.

Ray Crawfish had set up some targets in a field, and had one of his hands draw up lists fer the competition order. Artie checked and double checked fer his name ta be sure he knew what time he had ter be ready. His parents sat on the grass with Ginny and waved. He tried ter smile, but he were nervous; he’d never set hisself up against anutter in compertition like this. He hurried back to his sack to git out his pistol and make sure it were in readiness. There was his handkerchief… extrar bullets… an apple… Panicked, he emptied the sack upside down, but there warn’t no pistol inside.
He was supposed ter shoot in near thirty minutes. It was a fair piece ter town and back, too. “I don’t have no other idear,” he muttered to hisseln. “Best make it quick.”
He flung hisself on the horse and set his spurs. Through the fields and along a dirt road into the dusty town. Once at the boarding house, he stopped only ter wind the halter ‘round the hitchin’ post before he charged into the buildin’. It were real quiet inside, since all the folks thereabouts was at the shootin’ contest. Up the rickety stairs that shook with evera step, and into the little room. In a moment o’ horror, he discovered the pistol were not in his box where it ought ter o’ been. He hesitated, befer tearin’ open his father Vin’s box. There were a nice pistol in there; it warn’t his’n, but he didn’t think his father would’a minded, seein’ the siteration. Back down ther stairs, onto his harse, and flyin’ down tha road ter the contest.

He’d never did as nice as he did that day; his shots were perfect with that pistol, which didn’t shoot ter the left as his other’n did. It fit real nice in his hand, with it’s gold-engraved handle, and he wondered how in the sam hill his father had sich a nice thing.
But he warn’t niver as shocked as when he done won the contest. That was a field-shaker and no mistake.
“The winner is Artie—” Ray Crawfish stopped and stared at the gun in Artie’s hand. “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Where’d you get that there pistol?” he asked.
Artie reddened. “It ain’t mine. It’s my pa’s.”
“Where’s ya pa?”
Vin stood up. “There be a problem, Mr. Crawfish?”
“Sure not!” Ray said enthusiastically. “Kin ya tell me where ya got that pistol?”
“It was giv’n ter me,” Vin said shortly. He looked at Arthur. “Kin we have a piece a’ talk alone, Mr. Crawfish?”
Ray nodded and drew him off.
“It’s like this,” Vin said quietly. “He ain’t no son o’ ours. He were a young’un, not a year old, when his ma brought him to us. She couldn’t take care of him no more. She said that pistol were his pa’s. I ain’t told the boy any of this. Wherever his pa and ma be, they ain’t done him no good turn and he don’t need to get mixed up with them none.”
“On the contrare,” Ray said with a grin, “his pa jist done him one real good turn.”

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quite A Lot To Say

Good afternoon, one and all! I mentioned a few things in my 'Little Letters' post in July that needed follow-up, and besides, things have happened since then that were not mentioned at all.
(I'm going to do this professional blogger style and have lots of pictures in this post. Because that's totally necessary to look professional.)

I have a reason for all the pictures, except this one. I just like it.
First of all, I mentioned A Tale of Two Cities. What I did not say, was that I am now an avid Dickens fan and immediately started listening to Bleak House.
What I also did not say is how poorly I am following the Classics Challenge. I really wanted to read my July and August books, but I have been doing school and reading tons of history books (non-figuratively speaking, I'm sure there's been close to one ton of books) and have had precious little time for reading that I can't justify as productive. Yes, I am still plugging away at Lord of the Rings. When I have time for it, I eat it up quickly, but time is of the essence.
I have also put it aside several nights in a row because I have wanted to read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell for a very long time (I've had it checked out from the library for more than four months), and since I was studying the Industrial Revolution it was a good time to tell myself it was For School. It has been good from the beginning, but at first I'd switch off between it and LotR. Last night all the bones in my body were sort of melting because it was so good and I have no one with whom I can speak of it, as no one in my family or circle of acquaintances has read it! Which also presents the problem of who will watch the BBC miniseries with me when I finish...

But back to the Classics Challenge. I'm currently studying The Civil War era in history, but haven't yet started any other of my subjects. Next week, that will change. I'll be doing Calculus, Physics, a literature group, and another class in addition to history. My reading time is only going to shrink. So rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and the Anne of Green Gables series may not happen. I'd love to so much, but I have more books in my drawer of next-ups, and four or five on my shelf that I've never read at all. Rest assured that I shall do my best to finish the last two months (books that are not rereads) and post about them here.

Moving on, I do have some good news! My sister and I now have a knight in shining armor. We share him with some jealousy but he is open-hearted and treats us equally, I think. Sir Jeffrey is a silver 1999 Honda Civic and we are very happy to have him.

Also, we went camping in the beginning of August and took these Instant Oatmeal Packets. It was my first time actually camping for more than one night, and I liked it quite a bit. I'm now obsessed with the Instant Oatmeal packets. I loooovvveee oatmeal of all kinds. And also millet is really good. My family is going to be doing a grain-free diet soon, so I will get them only rarely, or if perchance I make breakfast alone (I'm alone half the time anyhow so that shouldn't be too infrequent).

I'm also rather obsessed with 1850s dresses currently.
Another thing mentioned in the Little Letters post was drama. Well, for better or for worse I am directing The Eskimos Have Landed, which has nothing to do with Eskimos and everything to do with history, old ladies, and New England. I have a cast of five girls and I'm excited for it. I am acting in a play for the seniors of the group called The Cop and the Anthem, taken from the O. Henry short story. (I'm a waitress and an Irish cop, which is rather funny because I've been an Irish cop before in Arsenic and Old Lace, spring 2013).

I've been writing a fair amount, and I'm 300 words into Chapter 10, of thirteen. The thirteenth is planned to be very short, mind. So in essence I have three chapters left. Then of course it'll be back to the beginning in second drafts. I may take a break and pursue a short story or dabble in something else first. That will enable me to be openly critical about everything instead of it being my newly-birthed darling who shouldn't be touched. Since I wrote a Twelve Dancing Princesses short story in Fall 2014, the beginning of school and autumn weather always puts me in both a short story mood and a Twelve Dancing Princesses mood, which means I have put three or four TDP books on reserve at the library and am excited about finishing Arthur and looking at something else for a while.

I'm also desperately trying to find space in the coming months to hold a ball. Everything is on the drawing board right now, so there isn't much I can say about it, but I wanted to share the above image. For it's so true! Even my dad noticed me doing rock steps while doing dishes.

That's all for now, folks.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blueberry Peach Crumble Muffins – Gluten-free, Vegan and Refined Sugar-free

I saw this post I wrote a year ago, and I thought to myself "Wow, that would be a good muffin". So I adapted the Chocolate Cherry Muffins that I posted in June, as follows.

Blueberry Peach Crumble Muffins

Prep time: 10  minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

3/4 Tbl flax meal
2 Tbl and 1 tsp water
2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (if your mix does not have xanthan gum, increase to 1 tsp)
1 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened non-GMO soy milk)
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup and 1 Tbl canola oil
1/4-1/2 tsp liquid stevia*
1 Tbl vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped peaches (each piece should be about 1 centimeter cubed)
1 1/2 Tbl Earth Balance 
1/2 c oats
3 tsp cinnamon

Combine the flax meal and water in a small bowl. Let sit for five minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray with oil.
Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients (including flax mixture) in a medium bowl. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk. Stir well, then fold in blueberries and cherries. Scoop 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. 
In a small bowl combine Earth Balance, oats, and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. Place a rounded 1/2 tsp of this mixture on the top of each muffin.
Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins sit in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

*These muffins are not very sweet. If you like your muffins sweet, add the full amount of stevia.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Classics Challenge: A Tale of Two Cities (June)

I have so much I could say about this book. First of all, I LOVED it. The only Dickens I'd read previous to this was A Christmas Carol and a Great Illustrated Classics Oliver (yes, Author, we owned an abridged book). I'd mostly heard he was paid by the word, and therefore longwinded, dry, and dull.

Ohhhhh no. Was he ever far from dull! Did I already say I loved it?

Lucie Mannette from the Broadway musical. There's also a ballet of TOTC!

The audio book was almost 17 hours long and it has been my companion during many loads of dishes, several batches of laundry, and a fair amount of laundry. I even considered listening to it while driving [in our new car!], but since I've had my license only a few months I decided that was a bad idea.
I'll greatly miss Doctor Mannette and Mr. Lorry and Darnay and Pross. Even Jerry Cruncher.
Anyway. How to explain this wonderful book without spoilers is tough.

The first paragraph describes well the French Revolution:
"IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

And then there was the haunting repetition "Buried how long?" which really intrigued me. I really appreciated that I knew nothing about this book because I was very confused at first, but it made it so hard to put down. The plot is long and complex and I was so curious to know what would happen next! *SPOILER* I will say that I did predict was Carton would do at the end, and also I guessed who Solomon was before he identified himself. But don't let this make you think it was predictable! Personally I like books where you can figure out a few things if you're paying attention. *END SPOILER*
The plot is, as I said, very complex. Everything that is ever mentioned is tied back in somehow. A character barely mentioned will return, I assure you. Something that happened years ago will come back in.

It's also a really funny book. I liked it when Mr. Lorry (I love him!) keeps insisting "A matter of business!" when you can clearly see he cares.

I found it very difficult to find a picture of Mr. Lorry. He has spectacles, people! But I like this one of Miss Pross.
Then it's filled with food for thought. Comparing Darnay and Carton (more on that later) is an obvious one, but also think about the two leading ladies, Lucie Mannette and Madame Defarge. They both have very good reasons to be bitter towards a particular character, but their actions and choices are so different!
  *HUGE MAJOR SPOILERS* Granted Lucie didn't know this about D. before she married him. Still, if she DID know, perhaps she wouldn't have married him, but it's clear she would have still acted in forgiveness (it wasn't his fault to be born into his family) rather than being consumed with vengeance like Madame Defarge. *END THE TERRIBLE SPOILERS*.

I like Doctor Mannette too. He seems weak, at first, but of course this isn't so. He's incredibly brave and strong, but years of suffering take their toll on a person. I love how his relationship with his daughter restores him. He's so selfless, this man. He always thinks of his daughter (and we only learn the depth of this at the end). *SPOILER* I like how we get to see him being the strong one at the end, cleverly using his influence and his popularity for the sake of those whom he loves. When we walks in at the end of Chapter 12 ("Darkness"), oh, OH! :( *End SPOILER*

I liked Charles Darnay from the beginning. I mean, anytime someone is put on trial for his life you kind of feel bad for the guy! 

"The Jackal"
I was at first confused about who Sydney Carton was and confused Stryver and Carton (audio books do that kind of thing to you). *SPOILER* But by the end I was enamored with Carton and frequently whispered to myself as I switched laundry and listened enthralled, "I love Carton!" It's rather fascinating how he, who at first appeared to be a random confusing lawyer person, really becomes the hero of the book. I started out thinking Lorry would be the main character, then Dr. Mannette and his daughter.  *BIG HUGE MAJOR ENDING SPOILERS* Then Darnay enters and it's kind of easy to say "Love interest" and I rooted for him. But really? Which of the "twins" is the more heroic one? We can't say whether Darnay would have died for Carton (though really, Carton died for Lucie, not Darnay), so perhaps that's not answerable. What we can say is that Carton is a lot more complex than Darnay, who's basically just "the good guy". I don't think he's as clever as Carton (but then, one could argue that he came to France when he did not because he was stupid but because a poor innocent servant required his assistance, and he was going to help whether his life was at stake or not). Also Darnay puts Carton down (after the latter had left) to Lucie and Dr. Mannette, which was unkind too poor Carton. Personally, I would have preferred that Darnay died and Carton married Lucie. (No, not really, because Carton was so wonderful in giving his life for love of Lucie, so that she could be with the husband she loved. Oh, Carton. :( ) *END ALL SPOILERS*

It was much harder to find a satisfactory picture of Carton than Darnay. I think that's telling.
"Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away."
(Sob sob)

Of other characters, we mustn't forget Miss Pross, Lucie's companion/nurse/servant. She's so devoted and strong, and also provides a lot of the humor of the book with her high standards for her "ladybird". Nor Mr. Cruncher, whom I disliked a lot at the beginning. I felt so bad for poor Mrs. Cruncher! Yet even Mr. Cruncher was dear to me by the end, and I think some consistent hardwork in the company of such kind people like the Mannettes was good for him. *LITTLE SPOILER* He did promise to stop interfering with Mrs. Cruncher's "flopping, you know. He improved. *END SPOILER*

No summary of characters would be complete without speaking of the Defarges.
Though shown in a much less favorable light than the Mannettes, they are definitely main characters also. They're well-developed. At first I thought Madame Defarge was just a random lady who was always knitting and I found that hilarious. Of course that was the last of the hilarity we got from her, as she's a woman with horribly twisted femininity. Bitterness and a desire for vengeance has consumed the gentleness and beauty that ought to have been hers. "We can kill as well as the men when the place is taken!" she shouts to other women at the forcing of the Bastille. Though just as lustful for blood as she, Ernest Defarge is less awful. Maybe because she is a woman, and therefore what her character has become the antithesis of her God-given nature.
  *THIS IS A BIG SPOILER* As awful and twisted as Madame Defarge is, when we learn her history it is easy to feel sympathy for her, if not acquit her of all her crimes *END BIG SPOILERS*
 Side note, I loved the showdown between Miss Pross and Madame Defarge. *VEILED SPOILER* But I was shocked by what happened afterwards. It wasn't Miss Pross's fault, after all, so that was a sorry reward for her loyalty. *END SPOILER*

Another thing I really liked about this book besides the witty writing, the well-developed characters, and the enthralling plot, was how Dickens shows both sides of the Revolution. I'm a person who believes there's two sides to every thing, and I don't like it when people assume one person or set of persons is the "good" group and the other is the "wrong". Though the Revolution is rightly shown to be a terrible thing and a horribly unjust time, Defarge is still a realistic human and one we can empathize with. The Marquis St. Evremonde is a consistently awful person, whose crimes no one will condone. We understand that the aristocrats weren't just poor innocents wrongly accused who need rescuing by The Scarlet Pimpernel. Did that happen? Oh yes it did, as this book also shows many examples of. But it's not just "the evil Saint Antoine people" vs. "the poor aristos".

Although I'm not sure that Charles Dickens was a Christian (he believed in God but hated "dogma" and was really rather more of a Deist or a Unitarian; plus he had a mistress for a time), his characters are, and the Bible is quoted on more than one occasion. I love reading about other people's faith in times of trouble, and this was no exception. (Particularly Carton's at the end...)

Random fun fact: France is on their fifth republic, and their motto is STILL Liberty, Equality and Fraternity! That just shocks me. And you probably already know that they still celebrate Bastille day. It just seems very odd.

Do I recommend this book, and to whom? Yes, I would recommend this book to anyone I see who can read. Ha. Probably 13+, because there is a little violence (it's the French Revolution, after all). I think d---ed is used a few times. But yes. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Little Letters July 2016 ~ or Vacuum Cleaners, Limeade and 90°+

It has been a while since I've written about my life, and so I thought I'd do another "little letters" post to elucidate my state of affairs.

Dear CPU-2T,
I love you. I could just leave it at that, but you deserve more. Your energy, your trim figure, your cheerful color... There is much to admire about you even from a stranger's persepctive, but few can understand the relationship we share. It is unfortunate that there is no legal basis for a marriage with one of your kind. Let me simply say, that there is no one I would rather clean an office with.

There once was an office housekeeper,
Whose vacuum was just a sad peeper.
She was given a CPU
and is no longer blue,
For her new friend's a magnificent sweeper!
Dear Summer,
I have heard you are a pleasant companion in England, Kalaalit Nunaat, and Nova Scotia. There are even some parts of the United States where you are no bad friend. But here, in the Midwest, let me just say that you are abominable. We have had over a month of constant 90°-100° weather, with only half a dozen days of 85° and one blissful weekend of 68°. I. Do. Not. Like. It. I do not like this weather in a box, nor with a fox, nor in a train, nor in the rain (if there's going to be rain it ought to cool the world, not just add to the humidity! One feels cheated!). Please get a hold of yourself.

Dear Limeade,
On these very hot days you are my one consolation (other than my mother, cold black tea, air conditioning, books, and babies). I've never really seen the need for you, since lemonade is so delightful, but when the need arose for a lemon-free and sugar-free drink, I thought I'd give you a try with a bit o' stevia, and voila! You're delicious.

Dear Fleas who reside in the basement,
Get OUT of my house so my poor kitty can come upstairs. You could not be more unwanted if you tried. Just die, every last one of you. (Yes I know I'm a vegetarian and I love killing bugs and I'm a contradiction. Be quiet.)

Dear Tale of Two Cities,
I have heard many poor reviews of your master, Mr. Dickens, but from my personal experience I can now refute them. Your characters are realistic and interesting (with the exception of Lucy Mannette...), your plot is anything but predictable and your writing is witty. Though I am only half done with you, I heartily applaud your maker.

Dear Drama,
It is so strange and sad that this will be my last year acting, and equally strange and exciting that I will get to direct a one-act play. If I could only FIND a one-act play, that is. Directing I'm not worried about, casting I'm just a little nervous for, but finding a script is very trying. 

Dear Breakfast at Tiffany's,
I am so confused. I have so many reactions that I have no idea if I even like you.

My dear, dear, Arthur,
You have reached 91, 530 words, or approximately 366 pages, and yet in all likelihood you will need 8,000 more words before being finished. I am half amazed and half horrified. But there is no "halves" about it when I think of finishing this first draft. Do you believe we've been working together since January 2012? That's over four years. Crazy. There have been ups and downs — goals met and goals failed. Favorite characters who are killed and moments of uncertainty if this work would ever come to fruition. But my dear, I no longer fear that end. 8,000 words seems a large amount to write before I reach the end, but since we've been doing 1000 a day, that's really a very short amount of time.

Dear Future Car,
I would be so pleased, tickled pink even, if you would just get a move on and show up. To say that my sister and I are eager for your arrival is an understatement. 

Dear Tolkien,
I write you yet again because Lord of the Rings is just awesome. The fact that I am STILL reading it, yes, three months after starting it, has nothing to do with the quality of the book. It is neither boring nor hard to read. It is lovely and I regret that I have so little time for pleasure reading, or I might have been finished long ago.

Dear Classics Challenge,
Never mind.

Dear Nineteenth Century,
I love doing school in the summer when it means I get to study history. You're no exception to the fascination I have with bygone eras. Napoleon, Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Beethoven — and that's just the first half. I am eager to learn more of the second.

Most sincerely,
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