Hither from a magical land of falafels, wedding cake, and cousins.
I was told I should write a story about falafels gone wrong, but unfortunately, I was absent from the kitchen when the woeful event occurred and only heard tale of it later when I was asked to step out of the way as the huge can of burning oil was run out of the house to be disposed of.
When the Falafel Flopped does sound like a best seller though, doesn’t it?
And everyone wants to read a story where Whole Foods is the hero, right?
Well, amidst the busy kitchen bustle, the fountains of flowers, the family get-togthers, the glorious flood of frisbee games (in the middle of thunderstorms no less…), gyros and falafels, and the mysterious mosquito bites that appeared the day after the wedding, I have made a new best friend.
Reader, meet Kermit, Kermit meet reader.
Kermit is my new role model. And he really is a frog-of-all-trades.
I have found his wisdom in moments to be absolutely priceless and breathtakingly insightful.
Kermit… Kermit is one of those crazy-talented friends that just gets you. One of those people you respect.
When your first sibling gets engaged.
And then gets married a few months later.
And then when you realize school is just a few days away.
And then you realize you still haven’t finished your book’s first draft like you were hoping…
And then you spontaneously decide to make a goal of writing 10k this month.
But then achieve half of that goal in two days.
And then someone asks the name of your brother’s “wife.”
And then you discover that your little brother is officially taller than you even when you wear your high heels.
And then you realize you’re the oldest non-legal adult out of the siblings…. your turn is next.
And then you get stuck on the subject school again and realize you’re only a few years away from graduating high school….
And then realize that the next academic Mock Trial season is coming and you can’t wait and so you begin flailing your arms and screaming.
But, of course, first grab a legal pad and your favorite black pen and throw on a suit.
Then cue the flailing.
And you end up screaming the Rules of Evidence and Hearsay Objections, instead of random gibberish.
(For those who don’t know Mock Trial is simply the best sport ever and the only sport you play in high heels and suits and the only sport you get to scribble notes on legal pads and pretend you know everything or pretend to cry or pretend you’re British and the only sport you get to interrogate people during and the reason I have a strange sense of being home when at a courthouse. See why I’m flailing??)
Well sitting here eating a fresh slice of homemade zucchini bread and sipping some Irish tea and trying to sit still (because my mind is still stuck on Mock Trial…), I’m realizing that I’m not sure where to take this post.
My (not-so-little) little brother said that he has never seen a random post from me.
He says I should just randomly end the post with a random “bye” and shrug off any sense of satisfaction and unconcluded flailing, and no lesson learned.
Confirmed fact: My little brother is Fozzie Bear. 😉
Not that I don’t like silliness, jokes, or such wonderful-ness, it just feels so inadequate to leave you hanging. Especially after flailing in your face and internal screaming in excitement and shock.
I remember one time chatting with some friends and one offered a template: Thanks to the family who birthed me, raised me, and taught me to _____.
I filled that blank in with “laughter.”
My family has a talent of being able to step back and laugh when everything goes wrong. Not in a mean or flippant way, but just in a fun, spunky, relieving-sort-of-way.
Like when the fire alarm goes off at a hotel in the middle of the night after a day running around at a rollercoaster park, even though it turned out there was no fire, and we end up standing in the middle of a parking lot for three hours, with no shoes and in our pajamas seven firetrucks blinking and flashing until our heads hurt.
Dad says: “Hey let’s see if someone will take a family picture of us in front of one!”
Or during a road trip when we are just chilling on top of a mountain in New Mexico and a huge thunderstorm suddenly covers the sky and pelts us in huge pieces of ice and freezing rain that drenches us to the bones until we can’t feel our limbs are sloshing down as fast as we can, crying so hard we’re laughing, and laughing so hard until we’re crying.
Dad says: “Hey this is a great time to take a video to send to our friends back home!”
Or the week of a huge move, when a hurricane decides to have in on the fun. Our power goes out for days straight (and we were on a well so that means no water. Period.) while we were hosting my brother and his co-worker for furniture market. (no showers…) and then a friend comes over to help us take apart furniture only to get stranded when our favorite tree (and one of our thickest, largest trees) throws a fit about our abandoning him and tries to smash the first moving trailer that shows up, but barely misses and barricades our driveway instead. And trying to pack everything into the moving trucks (which get stuck in the mud in our yard and are there for many hours) until we are loading in the pitch dark with fifty people in our house (remember no water. Which means no toilet flushing) tripping over each other with boxes of books and bed railing and big fat heavy dressers.
Bright side? I will never forget my last week in my childhood house. It seemed so fitting too and I wouldn’t want it to have ended any other way.
Of course I struggle.
Being stuck in a house with a handful of other people for a week with literally nothing to do or even to sit on but the hard cold floor, can get tense and chaotic. Dramatic. Crazy. Without books (except your Latin textbooks) and no furniture (but sleeping bags) suddenly everyone’s personal bubbles are a bit easier to rub against.
Between the glares, strange new character voices bubble to the surface and are added to our repertoire. The strangest pieces of art work splatter out of our brains and the weirdest inside jokes or newest sarcastic comebacks.
I still find myself worrying over things going-wrong too, which is probably why movies like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents are just plain… painful.
Views which just make my family laugh harder, as I cringe and groan and consider hiding under a blanket and covering my eyes and ears.
I guess when I sit down for entertainment I’m not looking to cringe and laugh and wince at how everything goes wrong in everyone else’s lives.
Too close to home maybe.
Or maybe its the fact that the characters never seem to get it. Instead of making a fool out of yourself and trying to make it look like you’re brilliant and nothing goes wrong under your watch, why not laugh it off and just clean the spilled (chocolate) milk up with a cheap roll of paper towels from Dollar Tree?
After spending a whole week surrounded on all side with siblings, working all together, our super-duper superpower has come out even more. Even when the falafel-mission failed and all we had left were some strange form of hushpuppies and a can of burning oil, everything was fine because my siblings focused on what mattered.
The food didn’t need to be perfect. The décor didn’t need to be exact. We definitely worked hard to make it beautiful and special, but if something small popped or cracked, we went with Plan B. Pulled out the super glue and paint supplies. Trimmed the bushes with leaves brown and dying from the power wash.
Because it was all about family and love and laughter and fellowship, not about being perfect.
Some things just aren’t worth getting upset over. Fretting about. In the end it’s the people and what you make out of what you have. And come on… it is kinda funny that the couple decided to have Greek food for their wedding and cook it all themselves the afternoon before even though they have never tried it before. Even sounds a little cliched ha.
Well, a thing about life: When it gets crazy, it only means you can make it crazy fun.
I even think part of my training in becoming a poet has greatly stemmed from the laughter my family has taught me.
(I know you were wondering if I would make it through a post without a single mention of poetry… 😉 )
Being a poet is being someone who sees through surface things. As written in the song that Andrew Peterson sings, To All the Poets, they see “beauty in the common place, saw incarnation in a Baby’s face, and in a drop of rain the stars.”
My family has taught me how to see things. How to see the funny side to being stuck camping in a teepee with a gaping hole designed in the roof for a couple days of thunderstorms.
How to see the fun side of a literal 22 hour road trip (yes… we drove 22 hours straight. Yes, 22 hours in the car driving) or being able to have a conversation about how the kudzu in the dark makes it look like there’s a giant elephant sitting in our backyard. Either that or an old man wearing a hat.
Much of my playful limerick-type of playful poetry comes from true stories. But in a way don’t all fictional stories stem from a true story?
You just have to decide what type of genre you are living in. 😉
So, in closing, remember:
When your falafels flop, Whole Foods is always there.
Love you fam.<3
**all gifs hunted and trapped by my personal internet minion squad via giphy**
Despite what gossip my character have been spreading, I am not a crafty villain scheming up plans of horror and pain. Maybe.
I mean ‘crafty’ as in, I like to take little string and sit for a couple hours looping it on sticks to try to make hats and scarves.
However, during the school year with school. And school. And more school. I only have time for sitting and translating Latin sentences and learning that the Romans defeated the Gauls.
Oh and that the sailors refuse to pray.
So when I finally finished that last math test and ‘summer’ was here, I pulled out my supplies and dove into the world of waking earlier, living at my desk in the basement, and having my family point out the paint stains on my hands I had missed or the bits of thread I had forgotten to brush off my shirt.
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
cause I am obsessed with bullet points
I’ve always been interested in quilting, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago I made my first quilt.
Okay, actually it was about five years ago and it was so tiny my doll would even have trouble using it.
Not that she got the chance because I didn’t finish that quilt until two months ago when I pulled it out again.
In the meantime, somewhere in the past five years I did patriciate in a crazy quilt day workshop and came out with a finished mini quilt, but, while I learned a lot, in the end, it was still mini.
Well after pulling the first quilt out and finishing the binding at the beginning of this summer, I took in the stack of scrap fabric in our craft closest and the bundle of batting and, remembering a book I had once read at the library, decided to try my hand at making a bigger quilt.
I picked the Log Cabin pattern, because I really loved the examples in the book and it seemed perfect for left-over fabric, since really all I needed was two-inch wide strips.
Originally I sorted out these little stacks of fabric: one blue themed, one pink themed, brown, green, yellow, etc., thinking I might be able to squeeze out three or four squares out of each.
Out of the blue stack of fabric, I was able to make twenty 11 inch(ish) squares: perfect for a baby blanket size.
Shows you how much I know about estimating.
I’m that person who always scoops left-over food in a container that is way too big.
I sewed the squares over three days, trimmed them and pieced them together another, and then, after a trip to Hobby Lobby to buy some backing and edging, began the actual quilting process (which I should hopefully finish today.)
It was a lot of fun piecing together, and I’m starting to now eye the stack of pink fabric in the closet. (:
#2. Jewelry Making
I began making earrings about a year ago when my sister and a friend organized a craft day at our house.
They’re really fun and fairly easy to make. The hardest part is looping the wire. Especially since I was trying to use the wrong kind of pliers to do it.
Imagine my joy when my grandmother gave me the right type (and more beads!)
To illustrate the immediate affect:
So I’ve been making tons of earrings lately.
My homeschool co-op community has a craft fair each December so I’ll probably bring my growing stash of earrings.
Or I might decide to keep them all muahahaha
If only I had more ears. 😉
It’s really cool being able to make things that I know will be used. Gone are the days of braiding hundreds of random strands of rainbow colored craft yarn I found.
It’s doubly neat to be able to make those things I’ve always wanted. Whatever style of earrings such as ones with beads partially wrapped in wire.
Then last week my mother was out running errands when she noticed a small artisan shop in our downtown that is opened only a couple times a month.
She stopped and looked around and decided to take me that afternoon for inspiration and ideas.
Such as quilled paper earrings:
Despite what this post has so far implied I have been writing this summer. I’ve been continuing my attempts to capture everyday, little things in a fresh new way, and have been plowing away at 51 usually late in the evening or early in the morning. I’ve found over the past year that those are the most productive times for me.
When people ask whether I’m a night owl or morning bird, me: “Um…both?”
Who said owls aren’t birds… 😉
51 has been going well though.
A week or so a writing friend mentioned during a conversation about names how they once read somewhere about a writer using elephant in all caps as a place holder in the rough draft stage.
So of course I had to steal borrow the idea.
Who knew Zeb had such big pockets?
Or that he was that strong. 😉
As a technical update: 51 is at 21,651 words and maybe through one fourth of the story written.
The good news is, I have the ending planned! and written shh don’t tell anyone.
Now I just have to fill in the rest of the middle… 😛
I’ve been reading a nice amount of books too. A lot of revisiting for old favorites, but also some new ones.
Current book I’m reading?
The Mollhill, Vol 3!
It’s my first one to read and I’m really enjoying it.
Basically, for those who don’t know, it’s a collection of poetry, art, essays, stories, and recipes from The Rabbit Room, a community of Christian artists.
Also! I was forced to join joined a local book club started by a writer-friend.
The first get-together that I have been able to attend yet will be tomorrow. Book for that meeting?
The Book Thief!
I’m excited. (:
#5. Hiking & Swimming
Summer did not feel truly feel like summer until last week when we finally went swimming.
It had been a full year for me because of the craziness of moving and settling in and life.
But after spending a day splashing in the sun, and I came home and collapsed on my floor, limbs aching and with raisins for fingers, and my shoulder burning with the most glorious sunburn, it was suddenly summer.
I had never realized how nostalgic that feeling is…
I’ve also gone on a couple hiking trips. The most notable one was with my Dad a couple Saturdays ago. We packed some water, books, and hammocks and hiked up to a private little overlook. There we spent a couple hours swinging lazily in a mossy clearing, swatting flies, and (for me) reading Canterbury Tales.
When I said it was mossy, I meant it was mossy.
This gorgeous clearing gave an entirely new meaning to the common phrase “the forest was carpeted with moss.”
#6. Sketching and Painting
And one of the other things I’ve been doing quite a lot is experimenting with is mixing ink sketching with watercolor.
As you can see, I’ve only been doing little simple projects of things I’m familiar with. (i.e. plants, elephants, and my school drawers)
#7. Prepping for school
And here we are at the end.
My first day of class with my weekly homeschool co-op is three weeks away, so I’ve pulled out the brick of biology flashcards, put tabs in my math book, and sped up in my reading of the literature books I will be writing papers on through the year. (Right now it’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And I thought the first part of the book was weird…)
I’m surprising excited for the school year as a whole. This year focuses on British literature, I’ll be studying paintings, music, and art in general, more Team Policy debates, and more Algebra and Trigonometry.
Which finally brings me to a quick note about one last thing that’s been going on around here: my brother’s wedding!
I am suuuper excited about my (soon-to-be) new sister! She is just soooo amazing and fun! And just… well I probably could write another five paragraphs about it but I better not. (:
I must say it’s weird growing up though. (Any one else agree out there? *raises hand* Anyone?)
Well, because of this joyous occasion of amazingness but also the busyness that comes with it (did I mention it will be held in our backyard?), I am not going to promise a post next Friday.
Maybe I’ll throw out a poem or something, but we’ll see. (:
What time of day is best for writing for you? How has your summer been? Are you prepping for school yet? What will you be studying?
As I work through The Roar on the Other Side this year (amazing book on poetry, 10/10 recommend) I’ve been learning all types of poetry schemes, methods, and tropes.
Some of them are fairly simple while others seem nearly impossible.
Such as writing a poem with twenty six words, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet, descending in order from A to Z.
I have yet to try that one, but one such daunting kind was palindrome poetry, which turned out very interesting and fun to write!
While the crafting is not so simple, the idea is: Palindrome poetry is composed so that read backwards it is the same, word for word, as it is read forwards.
I quickly discovered I couldn’t start the poem with a “the” or an “a,” or really use them at all.
Here was my first poem:
Darkness caught stars
or maybe nets with stars
I really enjoyed making it, so I tried another! (The night I wrote all these, I was amidst wading through Beowulf for school…)
Hopes and memory of courage built Beowulf so
Beowulf built courage of memory and hopes.
That one was… okay, but didn’t turn out the way I had wanted it to, so I wrote a third one, which by far is my favorite.
Years waste bodies.
Our lives are frail and short.
Away slinks time.
We may understand that
Eyes and sight change.
Oh yes, we stumble.
We are wispy and hollow wind –
Hollow and wispy are we.
Stumble we, yes.
Oh change sight and eyes that
Understand may we
Time slinks away.
Short and frail are lives.
Our bodies waste years.
And so ended my little palindrome poetry session. (:
Last week’s schedule was pretty full for me. Especially the first half in which I volunteered at a three day summer camp of twenty-five six to eight-year-olds.
I sharpened hundreds of colored pencils, cut out tons of little continents, and rocked my fancy nametag. I assisted with map-tracing, paper-gluing, white-board-cleaning, and picture-book-reading, as well as breaking up fights, escorting kids to the bathroom, and spending twenty minutes cleaning their paint brushes. (My hands were blue for the rest of the day…)
It is fair to say that it was a blast!
… but I was pretty exhausted at the end of everyday.
It is times like those (well more like times like now as I look back) that I wish I had an assistant. Someone to prod me off the couch, brew some tea, crank up the music, and stick a pen in my hand.
And now this week we’ve been busy hosting friends and working on some projects for a party tomorrow (like making a giant Bananagrams game to play in the backyard.)
Aberdeen the Authorosaurus. (Here’s his digsite if you somehow missed the two other portals. 😉 )
3. Tag 5-10 bloggers who need assistants (and if they don’t need them, tag them anyway).
4. Please answer the questions so the author assistant agency can find the right assistant for you.
1. What type of creature/species would you like your assistant to be (human, animal, dragon, dinosaur, figment of your imagination, etc.) and why?
Something like a raggant from N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboard series, because they’re so small, smart, and loyal.
2. What do you want your assistant to look like?
So raggants are basically like gray rhinos with wings (like this), however… I would prefer to find a raggant that is unusually fuzzy, has huge dropping ears, and an elephant’s trunk.
(If any of you see one, let me know…)
3. What qualities are you looking for in an assistant (responsible, lovable, exasperating, etc.)?
Lovable, loving, and loyal, but fierce when needed.
4. What job(s) would your assistant be in charge of?
Researching random facts, sorting my character summaries, cleaning out my old folders, burning old poetry, putting the kettle on the stove, answering emails, and holding a fork to my back when I have writer’s block and then another later to force me to take a break and go outside.
Also reminding me to water my plants.
5. What would you like your assistant to be named?
6. What would you feed your assistant (candy, books, pickles, etc)?
I would say pickles except I wouldn’t want to share mine. But then if that’s what his menu would be, I guess I’d have an excuse to buy pickles every month.
Pickles, bagels, red peppers, and dark chocolate.
7. How would you pay your assistant and what benefits would you offer as compensation for their work?
The official position of honorary first alpha reader. Also free access to my bookshelf and pickle-popcorn stash.
8. What special abilities would you like your assistant to have (i.e. ice powers to freeze writer’s block, super strength to break writer’s block, or super stupidity to stare at you while you’re having writer’s block)?
The ability to eat old manuscripts for breakfast, misused commas for lunch, and spam comments for dinner.
9. Where would you like your assistant to be from (Jurassic Park, Narnia, your head)?
From wherever you can find a fuzzy, long-eared, elephant-trunked, raggant creature…
10. Will you solemnly swear to you will not fire your assistant in either sickness or in health, for richer for poorer, smarter or stupider, writing or not writing, for as long as you both shall live?
And Aberdeen said I could pass along this offer to some other bloggers…
Sometimes inspiration rises from the everyday happenings that feel so forlorn and bland.
Everyone has a unique experience and while they might overlook common formalities: another dinner, another drive, another drag of school. They can all be captured.
The art of the poet is to see the beauty in the commonplace; to encompass and package a little breath of truth to bring a little light, a little hope, a little sense of understanding to another human being.
Well, lately I’ve been focusing on metaphors and similes, and imagination in general within my poetry, as well as using familiar and everyday objects/activities as my subjects. Through these experiments, I’ve fallen in love with a more subtle rhyming method, where the rhymes do not fall at the end of every sentence and sentences carry over lines. Apparently the term for that is enjambment or run-over lines as opposed to end-stopped.
Here is a poem I wrote this week about my family’s minivan, which, unfortunately, appears to be living out its final days.
I hope you enjoy! (:
Ode To The Family’s 2003 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan
I’m sure you’ve always wondered how to bond with your friendly, local, neighborhood unicorn, and here’s your once-in-a-life-time chance to learn! 😉
Writing prompts can be fun little breaks for me when up to my eyes in a long writing project. At least, as long as that’s all it is: A fun little break. I have to be careful not to use it just to procrastinate, and so I generally stay away from flash fiction and such rabbit trails.
However, a couple months or so ago, a writer-friend shared this prompt with me: write step by step directions relating to a fantastical element such as a mythical creature, place, or person.
It was a lot of fun to mess around with, and tried to leave lose ends here and there. I enjoy stories that have such deep world building that it naturally fits to the point that even the smallest remarks remind you that you aren’t on Earth anymore (or at least your version of Earth). There is a story behind every off hand reference from a character, and it intrigues me, awakening my imagination. Who is this mentioned person? Where is this place?
Maybe someday I’ll pick up this piece and it’s loose ends to weave a story…
How To Bond with a Unicorn
Find a unicorn
Don’t yell at it. Don’t make sudden moves.
Approach with caution and look it straight in the eyes.
Bring mushrooms from the swamps of Swindellea. Make sure they are fresh and plucked within two days’ time.
Don’t wear black.
They have to like you if they want to bond, so be yourself.
Unless you’re a jerk.
And don’t gape. They hate it.
Extend the mushrooms before you and begin to sing the songs you learned from the man in the back of the tavern when I sent you to fetch the rolls.
And you better not have eaten or lost those rolls! If you do I’ll skin you alive and send you to Maleilann for clean-up duty.
At this point, you have 13 minutes and 56 seconds before the forest guard arrives, but don’t rush it. Wait for the unicorn to acknowledge you.
Don’t do anything stupid.
Pray that he accepts your gift.
Show your mark of the guild. He will question it. But when he searches your face he will trust your claim. Whether he agrees to come or not depends on his mood. Or you. (See steps 9 through 11 for reference.)
If he doesn’t offer for you to ride him, you’re dead. Unless you find a way out, despite your witless little half-brain, but you better think quick and not underestimate the forest guard. And I’d hope my tutorage has come to something.
You might have to convince him your efforts are noble. Well… good luck.
And, against all the odds, if he does offer you a ride, don’t gawk. Thank him politely and mount.
Hold on tight. I’m telling you, these things are fast. And beware of the darts.
If you get out alive, ask the unicorn to go north to Armesta, before returning to me. You must meet an old man in the wilds of the outer pastures.