27 November 2014

Happy Birthday, Tessie!

Today is the 14th birthday of my favorite little sister, Tessie! It's hard to believe she's fourteen...
Tessie and I have always been really close since we are only about 18 months apart. We have had so much fun together over the years. We argue pretty frequently, as would be expected, but we always find it hard to stay mad at each other. Sometimes we are glaring at each other and just burst out laughing. Tessie is pretty much the complete opposite of me, so we get along really well. She pushes me into things I don't want to do, and I hold her back when she's getting too crazy.
Isn't she gorgeous?
Tessie and I have so many inside jokes and share so many looks. We love being weird together and laughing hysterically. I don't know what I would do without her! Happy birthday, dearie!
PS Happy Thanksgiving!

This was a long time ago...

Tessie and Patrick being crazy.

And all of us being crazy in Morocco!

24 November 2014

Poetry, and other things

In a couple weeks I'm going to participate in our homeschool group's Poetry Out Loud contest. You memorize two of the poems found in their anthology and recite them in front of a representative of the organization. Then she decides who did the best and whoever wins goes on to the state competition. Last year I got second.
The first poem I'm doing is by Seamus Heaney, who actually translated the version of Beowulf I read for literature this year. It's called "Blackberry-Picking."

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
Isn't it sweet? I love the imagery in it.

My other poem is "Surprised By Joy" by William Wordsworth. (You may recognize this as the title of a book by C. S. Lewis--he took it from this poem.)

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee?—Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

It's got a very different tone. I like how he manages to get his sorrow across in a way that is melancholy but not desperate.
Now for the other things. 
We had an awesome Christ the King Sunday with great music. I'm so excited for Advent! I'm already singing "Creator of the Stars of Night" in my head. Advent is such a lovely time. It's so cozy and anticipatory yet solemn.
Also, after a brief two-day respite from the snow, it's started up again. It was literally snowing the ENTIRE week last week. But then a lot of it melted over the weekend. We had temperatures of a scorching 36°! T-shirt weather, for sure.
My writing class and I are Skyping weekly during our very long break between semesters. Our teacher purposefully made our break long so we could have more time to write! Isn't she nice? Oh, and while I'm talking about her, check out this news story on her son: http://www.ibtimes.com/blind-13-year-old-might-be-able-go-college-dance-thanks-google-glass-1726424 Pretty cool, eh?
Well, I think that's it for now. I've been knitting and crocheting a lot and soon I'll make a post about the projects I've done.
A bientot!

23 November 2014

the Shapeshifter and the Shadow

As I'm catching up blogging about story archetypes, writing class actually ended for the semester, so I have no new ones coming in. Two weeks ago was the Shapeshifter and the Shadow-- arguably two of the most important archetypes in a story.
Shapeshifter--even the name is disconcerting. The Shapeshifter in a story is the person who cannot be trusted, though the Hero may only find that out when it's too late. Often the Shapeshifter poses as an Ally (which I'll talk about another time) but turns out to be on the side of the villain, or at least against the Hero. Shapeshifters are easy to identify: Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Professor Snape in Harry Potter, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, etc.
The main thing about Shapeshifters is they can't be relied upon. They are unpredictable and volatile, maybe even treacherous. The Hero is perplexed by the Shapeshifter because he is not always who he claims to be. The Hero is filled with questions about his character that the Shapeshifter is content to leave unanswered. It adds a tone of mystery or unsteadiness to the story. 
The Shadow is the main villain of the story. The Hero's number one antagonist, the one who will stop at nothing to defeat the Hero. It has been said that a story is only as good as its villain. That is because the whole mythic structure of a tale hinges upon the Hero's struggle with and vanquishment of the Shadow. Shadows represent everything negative, dark, morally questionable, or evil. Where the Hero is fighting for the good, the Shadow is fighting for the bad. 
Often the Shadow has a backstory which explains why he it the way he is. No one is born evil. Maybe he is motivated by want of revenge, hatred, prejudice, skewed morals, fear, or a traumatic past. Whatever the motivation, the Shadow has for some reason turned against the Hero and all he stands for. He has, in effect, "turned to the dark side." 
The Hero must overcome even the most powerful evil force or the most unpredictable event in order to complete his journey.

10 November 2014


Today it snowed. According to weather.com, it is 21° but feels like 5°. And it's supposed to be in the 20s all week. Then you remember it's November 10th, and you're like, whaaa?? 
Though I shouldn't be complaining. Normally it would have snowed several times by now. That's South Dakota for you. That's our version of "Fall." Still another month of this stuff until it is technically winter. And we still haven't turned on the heat. Yeah. 65° in the house most of the day. (Brr!) At least Advent starts soon! And we made tea and scones this afternoon. I'm trying to rationalize myself into not minding the weather. Ah, well, c'est la vie. Happy...pseudo-fall!

The lovely view from my bedroom window. Just lovely.

06 November 2014

The Herald

I'm behind in posting about my writing class. I got thrown off because we didn't have class last week.
Two weeks ago we learned about the Herald.
Everyone can recognize the Herald in a story. He is the one who gets the story rolling. The inciting incident, you might say. The Herald introduces change and issues a challenge to the Hero.
Before the arrival of the Herald, the Hero has been in the ordinary world, just living his life. Nothing special. But the Herald acts as a force that makes the Hero rise to the occasion, not content with normal life any longer. The Hero is thrown out of the usual state of things into the unknown, the changing and the challenging.
The Herald, as with any archetype, does not have to be a person. Maybe the Hero gets a letter from his father he thought was dead. Maybe the Hero comes home from a trip to a hometown devastated by a hurricane. Anything that proclaims the Call to Adventure is the Herald.
The Herald motivates the Hero to change. Maybe the Hero doesn't want to change, doesn't think he needs to. The Herald shows him how urgent a necessity the change is.
The Herald can be positive, negative, or neutral. An uncle bringing good news of an inheritance he suddenly received. A direct challenge from the antagonist or his minion. Simply a news report about something that impacts the Hero.
The Herald presses upon the Hero an indelible dissatisfaction with the way things are, and he will only be content again when the problems are solved. It gets the story going as the Hero embarks on his journey.

01 November 2014


Last night my parents and I went to the Kanes' house for hanging out while lots of littles went trick-or-treating. (Tessie was trick-or-treating with her service group in Brookings.) We did plenty of sitting around, laughing, and eating candy.
Our large group of costume-ized kids! Can you name what everyone is?

It was a ton of fun to see people I hadn't seen in months! And of course we listened to Pride and Prejudice on the way back. I was glad we went.