Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Character Encounter: The Playground ~Molly Delaney~

For this month’s Character Encounter, Kendra has decreed that we scribblers shall meet our Characters at the playground. I’ll admit that my contribution is a bit of a cop-out, since it mainly takes place near a playground instead of actually in it. The reason is that I’ve only seen the playground at Riverside Park once—driving by—so I can’t say for certain what it’s like. And I don’t really want to make one up for the purpose of this exercise.

Lazy. :-P

(Shut up.)
Anyway, you’ve already met Max from my very first books (which I plan to revise into a series for 9-12-year-old boys), so now I’ll introduce you to his best friend, Maxine Mary Delaney; more usually known as Molly. I haven’t written much about her yet, but the way she’s developing in my mind has made her one of my Favorites. Enjoy this little snippet of her character to date….

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I’ve come to expect one or another of my Characters to drop in on me in the Real World now and then, so I wasn’t too surprised to meet one of them at the local park last week.
     It was shopping-day, and Mom and I decided to take our lunch break in the park by the river and watch the geese and pigeons fly over the water…and clamor for tidbits. The size of the trees—all different varieties—never ceases to amaze me, and that, plus the well-kept grounds and beautiful flowers blooming in the warm Spring weather, gave the place a restful, peaceful air, even amid the honking of the geese and the happy shouts of the children on the playground nearby. I fetched the lunch bag and trotted off to find a table, while Mom locked up the car. I found a table in a shady spot by the river, near the playground, which looked relatively clean, so I claimed it.
     As I unzipped the lunch bag, I saw a girl with curly hair the color of milk chocolate coming toward me, beaming a sunny smile and waving one slender hand. She looked to be about eleven or twelve and wore jeans and a coral-colored T-shirt with a floral pattern to it.
     I waved back a little shyly, not recognizing her at first. But when she got close enough for me to see the sparkle in her pretty green eyes, I knew her immediately.
     “Hi, Anka!” she greeted.
     “Hi, Maxine—I mean Molly,” I replied, mentally kicking myself for slipping into using her original name.
     Molly laughed, seating herself opposite me at the table. “That’s OK. Technically, my name is still Maxine.”
     “But Molly is cuter, and it fits your personality better.” I began laying out the sandwiches Mom and I had packed. “So what brings you to the park?”
     “Oh, I was checking out that cool playground,” she answered, motioning to it. I could just see the peaked wooden roofs of the pay equipment from where we were, but not a whole lot of other details. “I was having great fun playing with the kids over there,” Molly continued. “There was one little girl who was afraid of the covered slide, so I offered to let her sit on my lap.”
     “And did that help?” I asked, remembering my own childhood fear of covered slides.
     Molly nodded. “Yeah, I think so. She was really nervous at first, but I just held onto her and told her Jesus would keep us safe.” Molly chuckled. “When we got to the bottom, she had this big smile on her face, and she said, ‘That was fun! Let’s do it again!’ So we did. I don’t think she’ll be afraid of slides anymore now.”
     “You certainly have a way with kids,” I remarked, trotting out the water bottles.
     “Speaking of which,” she said, rising, “Mama and I are supposed to go to Max’s house for lunch today. I promised Matthew I’d help him with his R-sounds. He’s doing really great, but it’s still hard for him.”
     “Well, just keep at it,” I encouraged. “I’m sure he’ll get it eventually.”
     “It was nice talking with you, Anka,” Molly beamed. “Have a lovely lunch! I think I see your mom coming.”
     I turned to look behind me, and sure enough, there was Mom, walking briskly towards the picnic table.
     “Sorry I took so long,” she apologized, “but someone pulled up and needed directions.”
     “That’s OK,” I smiled. “I wasn’t worried—and now I have the table all ready for us.”
     “Good, I’m starved!”
     As we sat down and prepared to say grace, I noticed my curly-haired Character had disappeared and smiled to myself, imagining how her afternoon at Max’s house would go...as soon as I could write it down….

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Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Life at Longacre, Part Two

~Inside Longacre House~

Gentle Readers, please forgive how long it’s taken me to get this posted. I honestly didn’t mean for the delay to be this long, but like the man said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” :-P Plus we sold some of our furniture and bought a few new pieces, so all the pictures I’d taken were obsolete and I had to take new ones! AAH!
But they’re all taken, and now that choir concerts and Easter cantatas and festivities are over, I have some free time to finish my virtual tour of Longacre. So pull up a chair and enjoy! (And don't forget to click on the pix to enlarge!)

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Well, now that I’ve given you a look about the accessible grounds, it’s time to head back up the hill for a tour of Longacre House.
I feel I should mention here, first, that our settling on this house, out of all the homes we looked at, was totally a God-thing. I’ve never seen His hand at work so transparently, so blatantly obvious. We looked at several other places, but one by one, God eliminated them. They were either too old and run down, too close to the road…or too both. This one, while it initially wasn’t my first choice, was the only one that was well-kept and livable (apart from a strong cat-odor in the carpet), and wonder of wonders, the price was right in our budget, even though we took a loss on the sale of Prairie Cottage! Awesome! :-D And just for the record, my “But I don’t want this place” feelings vanished on Moving Day, and all at once it just felt like home…even amid the chaos that is moving in. :-)
Peter did an amazing job of packing the moving van
Built in 1972, what is now Longacre House is actually a mobile/manufactured home (which is partly why it was such a steal) that the former owners used as a sort of Summer home. It had already been updated with double-pane windows, a heat-pump (which kept us nice and cool in the Summer and warm when the weather turned cooler), as well as a new coat of paint inside and out, and some laminate and linoleum flooring. We ripped out the ginormous carpet in the main part of the house (with the help of some old friends from California, who dropped in just eight days after Moving Day, to help us out), and Peter installed laminate flooring to match what was already in the house. Our California friends bought him a chop-saw and the right kind of blade for laminate flooring, to make the installation easier.

Peter likes his new "toy"!

Installing the floorboards

But here I am, yacking away about the house, when you’re likely champing at the bit to see the pictures. So then, let’s take a look about, shall we?
 Front entry and porch, seen from the High Road. The former owners had a dog, so they rigged this sturdy gate to keep it on the porch. This Spring, we were delighted to discover Spanish bluebells...
Pix don't do them justice
(and one lone "pinkbell" :-))

 tulips and narcissus...

 in the attempt at flower beds by the crumbling cement pathway, as well as some culinary herbs, California poppies, crocuses, and a rose that say clearly, “We’re not dead yet!”

The PORCH! I still can’t get over how big this is! Who wants to come over for a barbecue? :-D
And now, do come in the house itself and have a look-see!
The plaque, depicting "The Last Supper," was
a housewarming gift from "Aunt" Patty
when we moved to Idaho
Entry, seen from the front door. Here’s where guests can sit and remove their shoes if they wish. This piece of furniture is actually a TV stand, and we still keep our DVD collection in it. Please excuse that ugly strip of unpainted paneling…and get used to the sight from now on, because the former owners left some of the funky ’70s paneling unpainted, and we did some remodeling and haven’t had time to paint. That’s a project for this Summer (Lord willing).

Entry (by the door) and hallway, with a glimpse of Peter’s room. The original third bedroom had been converted into a den at some point, so we hired an excellent handyman (recommended by Aunt Betty) to frame it in again. Poor Peter had to sleep in the living room for several weeks during construction (quoth he, “My room kinda doesn’t exist yet”). Some in-progress photos:
Peter ripping out the countertop and mini-sink (???)
...with some "help" from Mister Licorice
Framed in!
 Due to limited space, our handyman installed a cool pocket-door (which you can see in the entry photo above)

Peter put up the massive computer desk and abundant shelving himself, including the ones in the new closet (“Shelves in the closet—happy thought indeed.”)
All of which the cats heartily approve :-))
Further down the hall is the abode of one Tom Wild Rose. :-) 
Thanks to my mom for making this composite image!
 I’m loving the soothing aqua/pale-blue color they painted it, as it fits the feel of my French Provincial furniture. You’ll note that I left off the “unicorn horn” bits of my bedposts (seen here); they just felt too grand, too imposing…presumptuous, even. The simplified look fits the feel of the room better, IMHO.
The window beside the bed faces East, and it’ll be perfect for hanging my prism collection in…once I figure out how to attach them to the blinds….

The closet! Oh, I am so happy about this! One thing I’ve missed these past five years in Idaho is all the storage I had in California, so I'm thrilled to have a real closet again, plus the two cupboards and drawers for craft books and beading supplies. As you can see, the former owners didn’t bother to paint this wall, but hopefully we can find some more of this color next year….

And now, lets see the rest of the house, wot?
Living room (seen from the entry). Behind the wing-chair are the book closet...

and my jewelry bench, where I use my God-given talents to create unique beaded jewelry. :-)

Living room, seen from jewelry bench
 The lovely oak corner armoire holds the TV, VCR and DVD player, as well as some larger game-boards that wouldn’t fit with our other games. Like the arbor-seat outside, this came with the house, and we were so thrilled! 
Living/dining room, seen from entry
 This house was listed as being 1380 square feet, but after being cramped in the barely-1000sf Prairie Cottage for five years (and the even smaller hotel room for four days before Moving Day), it looks way bigger! We’re loving the spacious, open living room and looking forward to having people over to visit.
Mom’s new piano. We were NOT of the mind to haul our old one down from North Idaho, LOL. Mom bought this one from a local fellow who says it was probably built in the ’60s. It has a much nicer, less “crassy” tone than the other one.
And obviously it has the Mister Licorice stamp of approval! :-P
The Dining Room. Our friends from California helped us replace the ugly, ’70’s-does-Medieval hanging lamp with a much nicer one during their visit. It’s also much safer for people who happen to be over five-foot-nothin’ (which is pretty much everyone of our acquaintance, LOL).
The wall behind the table houses a built-in china hutch and used to have funky, gold-streaked mirror-panels. As you can see, we’ve replaced them with cherished family heirlooms—in fact, pretty much everything displayed in or on the hutch is an heirloom, and they all have a story.

Across from that is the new plant shelf we built to house some African violets and a maidenhair fern. We’ve missed having house-plants!

Behind that is what we call the Kitty Kastle. You know those scratch-posts they sell for cats, with shelves for Kitty to nap on and tunnels to explore, all covered in carpet? That’s what this is, on steroids! 
There was an old-as-dirt woodstove in this corner, but because it was so old, it couldn’t be certified, so we wouldn’t have been able to use it. The former owners left us the name of a fellow who hauls off metal and stuff for scrap, so we had him take the old stove off our hands. And because we live in a rural area where there are possibly predators (and neighbors with dogs), we decided our cats will be indoor-only cats…which meant they needed something to sharpen their claws on. So, with the help of Aunt Betty and Cousin Brenda, we built this!
The Kitchen. While not as big or efficient as the one at Prairie Cottage (there’s also no possibility of making it so, either), it serves us well enough and has one thing the other kitchen didn’t—a pantry!
Enclosed and shelved by our handyman;
door hung and racks installed by Peter :-D

Mom’s room. I still can’t get over how big this room is! As you can see, it’s plenty spacious enough for typical bedroom furniture, plus a nice custom-built computer desk. 

(The desk was originally under the matching shelf, but that arrangement didn’t work, so we rearranged things, and the room is much better organized now.)

So that’s pretty much it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little snippet of life in the G family household. Thanks for stopping by!

(For the record, I don’t think I’ll do any more Real Life posts. Life happens so fast—changes before I can finish writing my post. So if y’all want to know what’s going on with me, just shoot me an e-mail at tomwildrose@gmail.com…or better yet, drop by for a visit! You can also follow me on Etsy and Pinterest.
From now on, I’d like this blog to focus on my writing (be prepared for interruptions by the Peanut Gallery!), and I’ll probably be posting pix of my jewelry in shameless self-promotion every now and again. :-P 

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Literary Heroine Blog Party!

Yes, Gentle Readers, it’s that time of year again—a time we (or at least I) look forward to every February with delight. I’m speaking of course of Miss Kellie’s fabulous Literary Heroine Blog Party, now in its fifth year running.

[Pixie] *Bouncing up and down* We look forward to it, too! *BoingBoingBoing!*


[Bramblerose] Aye, an’ that you may tie to, m’lady.

[Ciára] For certain!

[Lady Cashmere] As you said, Tom, it is an event to look forward to each Winter. A spot of sunshine amid Winter’s gloom.

[Hobbes] Mind you, this Winter has been decidedly milder than in previous years, due the to the more temperate climate we have moved to.

[Huckle] Ooh, but I know our Anka's still been eager for the day of this Party to come!

[Elsa Lightfoot] It will be interesting to see what this festival entails. From what my comrades tell me, it is quite intriguing.

Well, there you have it—this event now has the Peanut Gallery’s stamp of approval. ;-) 
Now then, let the Blog Party begin!!!

~ The Questions ~
1.      Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random! At this point in my life, I’m trying, with God’s help, to get back into my creative writing. Of all the talents He’s given me, writing is one of the most satisfying (especially when I’m able to jot down a scene that’s been burning a hole in my stomach for days on end…). This might sound a little weird—or maybe just kinda childish—but pretending the characters in my books are real people, and I’m their appointed historian…well, somehow that’s helped me focus better on not only their stories, but the worlds they live in, as well. It’s amazing!
2.      What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? A true heroine must be, first and foremost, a truly devoted Christian, obedient to God’s leading in her life. She is kind and compassionate, but able to stand up for her convictions, and not afraid to confront wrongdoing. She never gives up on those she loves, no matter how beastly they are at times. She is willing to help, comfort and encourage them in time of need. If she is married, she supports her husband and knows how best to build him up. She expresses her opinions in a calm, diplomatic way and is willing to step back and let Hubby Dearest make the final decision…and she NEVER says “I told you so” when it turns out to be the wrong one. If she is single, she finds other ways of serving the Lord and leading a fulfilled life, seeing her singleness as a gift.
3.      Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to.

~Jo March (Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women). Like Jo, I’ve always had an active imagination and began writing at a young age. It’s hard for me to adjust to change, and I sometimes wish things would stay the same.

~Elizabeth Bennett (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). I admire Eliza’s spunk and wit, as well as her willingness to take a good, hard look at her family and opinions and learn from her experiences. And a heroine who walks three miles in the mud to see her sick sister—in an era when such a thing was frowned upon for women—is automatically a kindred spirit. ;-)

~Queen Elsa (Disney’s Frozen). OK, so this one is a stretch. Technically, Frozen is supposedly based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, but the movie is such a far cry from the original (and is actually better, IMHO) that it’s essentially a new story. Anyway, I included Elsa because I really connected with her more than any other Disney heroine. Like her, I have a lot of fear, especially about using my gifts or even telling people about my writing. Some people (especially in Christian circles) seem to think anything imaginative/fantastical is wicked, so in order to appear “the good girl I always have to be,” I shy away from telling people I write fantasy (“conceal-don’t-feel”). Like Elsa, I feel inhibited, trapped inside myself. But I’m getting tired of being so afraid, so perhaps one day I, too, will reach a “Let It Go” moment (but there will DEFINITELY be right, wrong and rules for me!).
4.      Five of your favorite historical novels?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire
by Howard Pyle
Wives and Daughters
by Elizabeth Gaskell
Anne of Green Gables
series by L.M. Montgommery
5.      Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? It’s pretty evenly tied between Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennett and Molly Gibson. They’re all spunky, yet respectful to those in authority over them, ladylike yet not weak. I think the prize has to go to Jane, though, for leaving Mr. Rochester even though it went right smack against her feelings. Her convictions about right and wrong were stronger than her emotions…and her integrity was rewarded.
6.      Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? I’m going to say Roger Hamely (Wives and Daughters). His family called him clumsy, but I loved how he took Molly under his wing like a big brother would do. He was loyal to his father, even when the Squire was in a foul temper, and to his brother, despite his somewhat wayward nature. My only beef with Roger is his idiotic puppy-love for Cynthia. Oy!
7.      If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? I’d still dearly love to visit Great Britain and explore my roots. England, Scotland, Ireland…the old castles, the quaint little villages, the breathtaking scenery…*sigh* Sometimes I fancy I can feel it all calling to me….
8.      What is your favorite time period and culture to read about? I’m most interested in the Medieval to Renaissance and Regency eras, and there are certain facets of East-Indian and Japanese culture that are quite intriguing.
9.      You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation, tap dancing… what is your act comprised of? I’m with my mom, brother, aunt and cousin, teaching anyone who wishes some fun little folk dances Mom and Aunt learned as children.
10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? I’ve puzzled over this one off and on for several years now. Most of my favorite heroines are brunettes (or played by them), and since I’ve vowed never to dye my hair and can’t afford a wig, this leaves me up a bit of a creek. However, I might be able to pull off Elsa (if I could just get that Coronation hairdo right), or Snow White from the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White and Rose Red.
11. Favorite author(s)? Ones that are generally good throughout their works:
~L. Frank Baum
~A.A. Milne
~Jeanette Oke
~L.M. Montgomery (with some exceptions)

12. In which century were most of the books you read written? Mainly 19th to early 20th, with a very few earlier and/or later.
13. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in all literature is… Och, it’s been so long since I read any of my favorite books, I really can’t say. So I’m going to vote for Samwise Gamgee again.
14. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... Pretty evenly tied between Mr. Brocklehurst (Jane Eyre), Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Hyacinth Clare-Gibson (Wives and Daughters), AKA Horrible Hyacinth. :-P
15. Describe your ideal dwelling place. See my previous entries here, here, here and here. I’ll have to write up a proper in-depth description and post it in serial form in future….
16. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. Classically feminine, practical, versatile and comfortable, leaning towards romantic with a generous dash of whimsy.
17. Three favorite Non-fiction books? 
~Making and Dressing Dolls’ House Dolls in 1/12th Scale by Sue Atkinson
~How to Make your Dolls’ House Special
by Beryl Armstong
~The Miniature Costumiere
by Catriona Hall
18. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? In Summer, sitting out in the arbor-seat or gazebo, listening to the birds in the woods, watching the ones coming to the feeder and the hummingbirds and butterflies in the flowerbeds, feeling the soft breeze in my hair as I embroider my favorite flowers and other pretty designs on a peasant blouse or tunic (…after we’ve planted the flowers, set up a bird area and the gazebo, that is…).
In the cooler months, you’d find me either playing with PaintShop in an attempt to make Character portraits (and eventually illustrations for their stories), knitting or crocheting, or curled up with a good book and a wee snack. :-)

19. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character.  Every year I puzzle over this one, too, since my bangs make hat-wearing rather difficult (and I must have bangs. Trust me). And while I do acknowledge the fact that the right hat can really complete a cute outfit, I find myself drawn to ones that are more serviceable than decorative…although they need to look nice, of course. For Spring and Fall, I find my “Snowbunny” Earflap Stocking-cap works pretty well:

Photo courtesy of my Bro :-D
(Garn, I hate my profile!!)
It’s made from a knitted material that has mohair or something similar in the mix (a Christmas present from Mom), lined with flannel and trimmed with acrylic yarn. It needs some TLC and a bit of tweaking, but overall it serves me well.
For the coldest months of Winter, I fancy something like this:
A knitted “Pixie-bonnet” with ties…only I’d make mine in ocean colors (blues, greens, teals, turquoises, purples), with a tweedy texture produced by twisting two worsted-weight yarns together to simulate the bulky yarn called for in the pattern. I’d also make I-cord ties, add tassels to them and the top point of the hat, and line it with fleece for extra wind protection.
Summer is the hardest season for hat-wearing for me, actually. Being fair-skinned, I tend to burn easily in places (mainly my scalp and oily nose!), so I need a wide-brimmed hat of some type. I actually have one make from strips of white ribbed material (similar to grosgrain ribbon) all gathered together, which works pretty well…but it looks a little plain. Anybody have any suggestions on how to dress up a hat without it looking like a costume accessory??
If I had my ’druthers, I’d try the kerchief look (see below):
Portrait of a Young Girl in a Red Kerchief
It seems like it’d be so much more comfortable…and if they got dirty, I could just toss them in the wash!
20. Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. Our move to Oregon was pretty significant—and how! I have never seen the Lord’s hand at work so clearly…or so quickly! (Mind you, there were admittedly some thumb-twiddling and downright head-banging rounds of The Waiting Game, but once things fell into place, we hit the ground running to try and keep up with Him!!!) See this post for how it all began….
21.  Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently. One of the elders at our church (we’re currently between pastors) has been going through the book of Malachi, and amongst the warnings and chidings from the Lord to rebellious Israel was this passage:

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His Name.
“And they shall be Mine,” saith the LORD of hosts, “in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
Malachi 3: 16-17, KJV (capitols added to Divine Pronouns)

To me, this passage says that those whom God has chosen for His own are as precious to Him as jewels, and He will keep and protect us from His coming wrath. When we surrender our lives to Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord, we are counted as His children. It brings to mind several other wonderful and uplifting Scriptures in Paul and Peter’s epistles, speaking about our “inheritance incorruptible,” which God is “able to keep” until the day He calls us Home. Hallelujah!
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Be sure to stop by Kellie’s blog and read some of the other entries—it’s always such fun to read how other people answer the same questions.

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,