The Play’s the Thing

By now, you’re probably thinking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, since the title comes from that play, specifically Act 2, Scene 2:

More relative than this. The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

But I was actually thinking of what you do when you have downtime (like I did in this post). And in my area, we had oodles of downtime, thanks to the latest snowfall, which brought several inches overnight. What do you do when you barely have electricity (it flickered on and off on the night the snow began to fall in earnest and into the next day), no hot water, bad roads, and no internet, thanks to the snowstorm? (Working at home, I need internet.)

You go outside to scrape the snow boulders off your car, grumbling as you do so, because you can’t get your driver’s side door open. A layer of ice keeps it stuck fast. Same with the passenger door. And you need the scraper on the front seat. You grumble again. Finally, you get the rear passenger door open and crawl to the front over the center console, knocking your rearview mirror askew, and wind up in a tangled heap of boots, coat, and scarf in the driver’s seat. After shoving and shoving, you get the door open.

You scrape. And grumble. And scrape. Rinse. Repeat.

But then, something magical happens. In the distance, you notice the trees as the snow continues to fall. With the snow lacing their branches, they look like Christmas trees. And as you trudge wearily back to your building, you take in the sheer delight of a small child experiencing snow for the first time. His excitement is contagious. You think, The snow is pretty. Winter dresses the earth in frosting with a skill the finest cake decorator can only dream of emulating. (Okay, one tree is a little heavy on the frosting.)

   

This is a scene where you wouldn’t be surprised if a unicorn showed up.

  

As you talk with the child and his grandfather, you realize that going out to play is the thing to do on a day like this.

    

As I headed inside to cocoa it up, a friend texted, It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

It sure is.

If you have snow in your area, what’s your favorite thing to do on a snowy day?

Do you want to build a snowman?

Donatina thinks this chunk of snow looks like a dog.

P.S. The power finally went out for a while, then came back on, only to go out again and on again. Finally got internet early Tuesday morning.

Photos by L. Mare. Donatina Shoppie by Moose Toys.

Happy Fall?

Well, if the weather were a song, it would go like this. (Um you have to supply your own music.)

You never stay the same.

There’s no need for me to complain.

   

I’m onto your yearly game.

These photos will try to explain.

Okay, it’s not much of a song. More like a chorus. 😀 😁

If you live in the Midwest, you know the drill. The weather is as changeable as some celebrities’ hair colors. Eighteen degrees Fahrenheit (-7.7 Celsius) one minute, 32 (or 0 Celsius) the next. Dry one day, snow the next, and then back to dry—all within a few days. Since the temperature is as up and down as a yo-yo, perhaps the celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the best musician to play a song based on it. (Okay, that was a groaner. Wuh-wah.)

At least Illinois ranked number 13 on the list of states with the worst winters. That means twelve other states have it worse! (In case you’re wondering, Minnesota is number one. Click here for that list. Hawaii is dead last, which made me laugh. Perhaps they could try harder this coming season.) And the winter season has not officially started! Still, the changeable weather makes deciding what to wear very interesting.

Speaking of interesting, you’re probably interested in who won the $25 Amazon card announced in this post. (Thank you to all who commented, by the way.)

Without further ado, the winner, thanks to the random number generator, is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Marie of 1 Write Way!

Congrats, Marie! Please comment to confirm below. I will need the email address you use for Amazon. If you prefer to email me that info, please let me know.

Doug from the movie up was found at Reddit.com. Amazon image from Amazon. Other photos by L. Marie.

Snow, Snow, Slow Your Roll

I’m sitting here as I write this, gazing out of the window at a gray-blue sky. We’ve had day after day after day after day of snowfall. And more is on the way, according to my brother and sister-in-law, who within hours of each other, texted the happy news to me.

   

Yeah, I know. That’s what winter is all about, Charlie Brown. Snow falls. Temperatures drop.

   

Anyway, I was complaining to Barbie about this recently. She’s a good listener. Even put down her magazine and gave me her full attention. I was explaining how the snowfall has caused me to slow down while driving.

She gave me a look as if to say, “Like that’s a bad thing?” Snow-Fro the Shoppet also concurred. She would. She was made for winter.

I like to zip around town, catching every green light, making good time, getting to my destination quickly. But zipping down a road, heedless of what the conditions are like, is how accidents happen. Having had my share of winter accidents, I learned the value of taking it slow. When you live with snow and ice, you adjust to the pace of the season.

Revision is that way. I’m revising a young adult fantasy novel for probably the twelfth time. I want to zip through it, like I zip down the street when the roads are ice free. But that’s what I did before. And I’ve discovered several things I missed in the earlier revisions. Like the gaps in logic or faulty descriptions I constantly find as I read the chapters.

My revision cave, where, yes, crocheting and video watching also occur

One chapter took me two days to work through. Two. Days. So, no matter how hard it’s been and how long it’s taking, I need to give myself permission to keep at it. “Slow your roll, L.,” I remind myself.

Winter is here in all of its messy glory. Just like revision. I’m trying to be present in the moment and present on the page in this season of change.

The sun is out, like a kiss of heaven. Though the snow lingers and threatens, I can’t help believing that I can weather the snow and the revision.

   

Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel. Snow-Fro and Kissy Boo Shoppets and Fluffy Snowball and Terri Tennis Ball Shopkins are registered trademarks of Moose Toys. Photos by L. Marie.

Returning to Childish Things

Before I get into the subject of today’s post, let me just say my thoughts and prayers are with and for those affected by Hurricane Irma. And of course I think about 9/11 so many years ago, when terrorist attacks here in the States changed our world in so many ways.

😦

You know how you’re told to “put away childish things” when you become an adult? That’s good advice, especially when it comes to relating to people. It encourages us to actually talk to people we’re in conflict with, instead of rolling our eyes and sticking our tongues out at them, like we did when we were kids, or making up a song about them and taunting them with it.

Oh wait . . .

Moving on (though you probably have the song “Bad Blood” going through your head), I went against the advice to put childish things away and returned to a childhood pastime—making paper rooms.

Why would you do that? I hear you asking. Well, fiction writing has been difficult for me lately. I freeze up whenever I attempt to put words on a page in any of the stories I’ve been working on. Whenever I ran low on inspiration when I was a kid, I made what I called a chain house. First, I would make furniture by folding notebook paper and taping or gluing it so that it would stand up. Second, I would arrange the furniture of each room to fit on one sheet of paper. When I finished two rooms, I would tape them together in a chain before moving on to the next set of two, until the house was complete. The chain houses could be rolled up and stored away.

But these days, instead of using notebook paper, I use the paper you find in the paper crafting section of Michaels or Jo-Ann. Yeah. The good stuff.

Here’s my first attempt at a living room, bedroom, and kitchen.

    

This room is my crafter’s room:

When I was a kid, I never revised anything. Stories remained as they were first written. Same with drawings and chain house rooms.

Now that I’m an adult, revision is second nature. Whatever I write, I revise. And now I’ve begun revising the paper rooms. Here is the revision of the bedroom above. Instead of just a generic bedroom, I positioned it as the ultimate girl’s room. I’m picturing a kid who isn’t the neatest kid on earth living in this room and having sleepovers here.

Instead of a generic living room-like space as before, I’m going for a cozy family room in this revision. Obviously, I have a lot more to do in this room to add more character. Like maybe adding more furniture.

What I realized through this paper room exercise is the value of having specific goals for each space, as well as having characters in mind. When I made the first rooms (the living room and bedroom), I didn’t put much thought into the rooms. I just made them, because they were fun to make. But during the revision phase, I realized I needed to have goals for the space, as well as character marks to show what the person or people who occupy that space is/are like.

When I made the crafter’s room, I had a specific person in mind—myself. I don’t really have a craft room like this. This room reflects my crafting style and the tools I often use. But the reason why you don’t see a revised version of this room, is because I knew when I started it what the goal was and who it was for. I’m happy with how it turned out.

Maybe what I learned while making paper rooms will help me when I return to fiction writing. So many times, I’ve leaped into a story without giving much thought to goals and without really knowing the characters I wanted to write about. But now I know I can give more thought to both and have fun during the journey.

Sometimes it’s good to return to childish things.

Have you returned to an activity you loved when you were a kid? How has this activity helped you in your adult life?

The start of the next room . . .

Girl sticking her tongue out image from imgrcade.com. All other photos by L. Marie.

When It Rains, It Pours

This weekend, we celebrated my younger brother and sister-in-law’s silver wedding anniversary with “a party of special magnificence.” (If you’re up on your fantasy novels, you’ll know that reference. If not, scroll down to the end of the post to find out where this quote came from.)

Yet the joy of the celebration was tempered not only by those who were invited but couldn’t come for various reasons, but especially by the arrival of Hurricane Harvey and the flooding of Houston. My parents and older brother and sister-in-law live on the outskirts of Houston. A tornado recently hit that area, thanks to the hurricane. Also, the sister of a friend lives in Corpus Christi where the hurricane landed.

After some phone calls, I’m relieved to mention that all are safe. Yet so many people are struggling right now, as you can see on the news, thanks to the rainfall.

My cousin, who had come to celebrate with us, mentioned that her husband is preparing to head down to Texas for storm duty. He works for an insurance company, so he has long hours of work ahead of him.

As the party wound down, we stared at all of the pans of untouched food, wondering what to do with them. My brother and sister-in-law finally decided to take the food to a nearby homeless shelter. Wouldn’t you know it? When they walked in, the workers told them that a record number of people had shown up that day and they weren’t sure what to serve them. In walked my brother and sister-in-law with the solution.

I sat outside after returning home from the party. The gray sky had a bruised sort of look to it, almost like it too mourned what was happening down in Texas. And I felt sort of bruised too. Bruised, but still hopeful.

Life certainly has some highs and lows, doesn’t it? From the wonder of the solar eclipse to the horror of Hurricane Harvey. There’s also the unrelenting sadness of homelessness. But as we saw on the news, people reached out to rescue those in Houston who were trapped in flooded homes. And a homeless shelter in Illinois was able to serve those in need, thanks to some party guests who didn’t show up.

P.S. The quote at the beginning is from the first paragraph of chapter 1 in The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Photo by L. Marie.

Cloudy with a Chance of Awesome

If you were a kid like me, cloud watching was an integral part of your day. But when adulthood beckoned, bills and boys and benchmarks and a plethora of worries crowded out the cloud-watching habit. I have since discovered the error of my ways and returned to cloud watching.

I’m so glad I did. Clouds are beautiful masterpieces painted on a heavenly canvas each day. And they have been really interesting lately. Like these clouds below. They look like letters to me. What letters, if any, do you see?

    

Or how about this one? I see one letter just above the tree at the left, in the center of the photo. Do you see it?

For some reason, this one gives me a Cinderella-going-to-the-ball vibe. It’s actually the first “letter” in the first photo before the clouds shifted a bit.

I see numbers in the photo below. Do you? The cloud at the left looks like a 4 or a 1 and a 7. The middle one could be another 7 or a 1. The one at the right looks like an upside-down 2, or even a Z. What do you think?

This one looks like a heart (top center) surrounded by a larger heart:

This one has a cloud that looks like a hand (at the right):

Here are some others. For the second one, I think, “Sheep May Safely Graze.”

   

Clouds remind me of infinite possibilities—of creativity and wonder. Honestly, I’d rather watch the clouds than continue to watch recent news events, which have frustrated and angered me, and nearly driven me to despair.

That’s why I look up. I can dream of a world where hate has no place; where fingers aren’t angrily aimed at people in blame; where voices are raised in praise and gratitude, rather than in fury.

That’s why I’m also grateful for authors like Steve Bramucci, who write books to take kids and adults on an adventure. What a positive goal! (How’s that for a segue?)

This is as good of a time as any to announce the winner of The Danger Gang and the Pirates of Borneo! by Steve Bramucci. (For the interview with Steve, click here.)

   

The winner is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

S. K. Van Zandt!

S. K. Van Zandt, please comment below to confirm. Thank you to all who commented!

P. S. Keep looking up!

Book cover and author photo courtesy of Steve Bramucci. Cloud photos by L. Marie.