Saturday, April 30, 2011

Heart List: Crock Pots

I LOVE MY CROCK POT!!! Seriously, it is a magical machine that can take the few paltry ingredients I throw in there and turn them into a meal infused with pure joy. I'm not exaggerating. I can call upon several friends and family members to support my statement. One of the things that I like most about crock pots is that it does all the work for me. I can put stuff in, go away for the day and come home to an awesome meal. My husband and I recently had a delicious meal of lamb and vegetables. I think I will post the recipe here so that you may all enjoy it as well. Yum! Crock pots rock!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Line

Whenever I watch a movie, there is a place in my mind where I draw the line between what I'm willing to believe and when I refuse to follow anymore. Seems reasonable, right? The problem is that I tend to draw that line in weird places. My husband often teases me about it. For example, we were watching the most recent incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I said, "Power lines don't bend like that. They'd break before doing that." My husband replied, "There are giant turtles doing 15 foot vertical jumps, and you are unwilling to believe the power lines?" Yeah, I guess so. I'm not saying it makes sense, it's just what happens in my brain. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World--defeated evil ex's turning into coins? That's fine. Singing demons? No way! Star Trek (the new one)--unexpected supernova? Not if they know anything about astronomy! Everything else? Sure! These are just a few examples, but I do it with every movie I see. I wonder if it gives some sort of psychological insight into my mind...

PS- I'm wondering the kind of impression I've given of myself by the movie examples I used. I promise I'm a more well-rounded movie-goer than what this blog entry might imply! I recently watched a PG13 version of The King's Speech, and it was awesome. See? Different genre.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heart List: Freshly Cut Grass

I love the smell of freshly cut grass! It's finally getting to that time of year when people are tending to their lawns, and I am glad to smelling that lovely scent. I'm not sure what it is about it, really. Maybe it's because I know that warmth of spring is on its way. Maybe it's the feeling I get from the beauty of nature. I associate so many things with that smell. I don't have anything against winter and snow, but it's nice to feel the change in season. Hurray for grass and the way it smells!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heart List: Gina Torres

Gina Torres is just amazing. I've seen her in a variety of roles, and regardless of the type of character she's playing, she always brings a certain elegance to her performance. She tends to play the villain, but I am of the opinion that villains take a better actor than a hero. Also, I think she is gorgeous. I really wish I had hair as awesome as hers. She isn't really a household name yet, but it's only a matter of time. Anytime I see that she is part of a project, I anticipate something awesome to happen (at least, I know her performance will be awesome, even if the project itself isn't all that great). Hurray for Gina Torres!

Rich People Rules

Apparently, rich people follow a different set of rules than the rest of us. I always thought that common courtesy was called that because it was meant to be a widespread thing. I guess not. I was helping a customer at the bank (where I work, just in case you didn't catch that from my profile) and he started yelling at me for following bank procedure. He went on and on about how much money he has in the bank and threatened to take it to a different bank. I was tempted to tell him to go ahead, but all banks follow the same procedure. Instead, I bit my tongue and hurried him on his way. When I told my manager about it and asked what I should do, my manager urged me to get him involved next time. He insisted that I didn't have to take that kind of abuse and offered to put such customers in their place. Then he asked the name of the customer, and I gave it to him. My manager proceeded to tell me that the customer I just named was fine, and told me to apologize next time I saw him. Wait. I need to apologize to him because he tore me up one side and down the other? Apparently, I don't have to put up with that kind of abuse...unless it's a rich customer with a horrible temper. Awesome.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: The Positronic Man

My husband and I have been reading together, and the latest book was The Positronic Man. I'm not sure what I was expecting as we began, but I was pleased as the story progressed. The reader is easily engaged in the life and development of Andrew Martin, the main character, and it becomes natural to see the world through his eyes. I appreciated that the author explained the technical aspects of the story in a way that was clear but didn't make me feel like I was being spoken to like an imbecile. The author brings up many interesting insights as Andrew Martin strives to understand what it means to be human. There were a couple of opinions that came across a little strong, but for the most part each idea is simply presented for the reader's consideration. The story was well-constructed, and I would definitely recommend it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Weaver: Chapter One

I am finally beginning the true purpose of this blog. I am posting the first chapter of my most recent writing project (which is titled Weaver), and I would appreciate as much feedback as possible. It's a story in the junior reads genre, and I've never written with that age of readers in mind. Of course, I want it to be enjoyable by all age groups, but I want to make sure that I'm hitting the target audience. Please share any thoughts you have on this chapter--good or bad. I promise you, no one is more critical than myself, so you can't offend me. Also, if you would all be so kind as to spread the word of my blog, I would be grateful to have the feedback of as many people as possible. Thank you and enjoy.

Chapter One: Skeptic
Bentley Smith-Smythe was not a normal child.
He stopped believing in fairy tales when he was four years old and started reading the old college textbooks that belonged to his parents. He liked learning about philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce, rather than silly stories about tiny men who could spin straw into gold. His parents tried to take away the textbooks and give him books with nursery rhymes and fables. However, Bentley pursed his lips and scowled until his parents finally gave in and let him read what he wanted. They would have tried again, but they were soon killed in a car accident and Bentley was placed in the care of Eunice Smythe, his great-aunt.
She lived alone in a cottage in the countryside, and didn’t like the idea of raising a child. She thought that children were like untrained monkeys. They were noisy and messy and didn’t know the first thing about manners. She was delighted to find that Bentley was extremely polite, as well as practical and quiet, and they got along very well from the beginning.
Aunt Eunice had been a teacher most of her life, and gave the boy a rigorous education at home instead of sending him to school. She viewed the fence around her property as a thin barrier between them and all the evils of the outside world. She didn’t let Bentley out of the yard very often because she didn’t want him tainted by the bad influences of the naughty children of the neighboring village.
The first time he met someone his own age was when he was ten years old.
“Hey! Aren’t you old Miss Smythe’s nephew?”
Bentley stopped in his tracks, resting the bag of groceries he carried on his hip. “Great-nephew,” he corrected.
The boy who had spoken had as much expression on his face as a bowl of pudding. “What’s so great about you, then?” asked the boy, giving his two playmates a smirk as if he had said something very clever.
The two other boys snickered appreciatively at their leader’s wit.
Bentley didn’t understand the attempt at humor. “Being a great-nephew means that she is my great-aunt—my grandfather’s sister.”
The boy decided to ignore Bentley’s explanation. “I hear she never lets you out of the house and that she chains you to your bed.”
Bentley frowned. “That statement is false, as you can plainly see. I am out of the house at this moment.”
The boy began pounding his fists together and moving closer to Bentley. “Are you making fun of me?”
“Leave him alone, Jake. You’re just trying to pick a fight.”
The whole group turned to see who was talking to them. It was a girl their age, with dark curly hair and big hazel eyes. Her fists were on her hips and the look on her face was like the sky before a storm.
The boys shuffled away, mumbling to each other about how she was always getting in the way of their fun. The girl waited until they were gone and then smiled at Bentley.
“They’re bullies. Don’t pay any attention to them. What’s your name?”
“Bentley Smith-Smythe.”
She laughed, and the sound of it made Bentley’s chest feel like it had been filled with hot chocolate. “That’s a funny name. I like it! My name is Brenda Washburn, and I live on the very edge of town with my mom and dad.”
“Why is it a funny name?” he asked in confusion.
She continued to smile as she answered him honestly. “Your first name sounds like a last name, and your last name almost sounds like the same name twice. I like it, though. It makes you sound smart.”
“I am smart, but I would be so regardless of my name.”
Bentley couldn’t decide if he was offended or not. Her words were blunt, but there was no teasing in the way that she talked to him. She seemed too nice to be rude on purpose.
“Can I call you Ben? It seems more friendly.”
No one had ever shown interest in being friendly with him. Aunt Eunice always said his name as if the words were too sharp to stay in her mouth.
“I…suppose you may, if you wish.”
Her smile spread across her face. “Thanks! Want me to help you carry that?” she asked, pointing to the bag of groceries in his arms.
Bentley shook his head, “No, thank you. I can manage on my own.”
He started to walk towards his home, but Brenda followed him. They walked in silence for a couple of minutes before she decided to start the conversation herself.
“My dad says that Miss Smythe was the best teacher he’s ever had, and it was a sad thing for the school when she retired. He said she even retired late so that she could teach for a few extra years. I want to be a teacher when I grow up!”
This caught Bentley’s interest. He really did love his stern old aunt, and was glad to hear her praised. “Aunt Eunice taught your father?”
Brenda nodded. “When he was really young. He said that she was very strict and only accepted excellence from her students. Daddy thinks that teachers today let students pass the class without learning a thing.”
“Is that why you want to be a teacher?” asked Bentley. “To fix that problem?”
She nodded again. “Yep! I want to be the best teacher in the world! Then all of my students will talk about me the way that Daddy talks about Miss Smythe.”
They walked for several more steps in silence before Brenda continued talking. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Bentley was surprised by the question. “I do not know. I always supposed that I could not decide until I had finished learning.”
She laughed merrily at this statement. “No one ever finishes learning! What would be the point of life if there was nothing left to learn?”
He had never thought of that before. “Then perhaps I will spend my life learning everything.”
A dreamy smile replaced the merry one on her lips. “It would be nice to know everything. Everybody would travel from around the world to ask your advice!”
Bentley’s insides shivered at such an idea. “I would not like that.”
“Why not?”
He had a hard time thinking of the words to describe what he was feeling. “I would rather be left alone. I could never study if people were asking me questions all the time.”
Brenda seemed to feel the exact opposite. “I would love to meet all those people! I could hear their stories about where they came from and how long they traveled to come to me. We could talk about their troubles and how to fix them. I would like helping so many people!”
“They would never learn to fix their own problems if you were always helping them,” Bentley pointed out.
She thought about this and replied, “Then I would only help them once, with a really big problem!”
They had arrived at Bentley’s home, and Aunt Eunice could be seen standing at the bay window, waiting for his return. She gave a quick motion of her hand that ordered him inside immediately.
He waved to Brenda as he opened the gate. “It was nice to meet you.”
She waved back with a sunny grin on her face. “It was nice to meet you, too, Ben!”
He hurried down the path that led to the house, not wanting to keep his aunt waiting. Aunt Eunice was standing just inside the door when Bentley walked in. She took the bag of groceries from him and set them on a nearby table.
“Who was that young girl, Bentley? Why were you talking to strangers?”
He stood as still as an icicle as he answered her questions, not wanting to make her more upset by fidgeting. “Her name is Brenda Washburn, and she stopped some of the neighborhood boys from starting a fight. I was talking to her to be polite.”
Aunt Eunice’s face softened a bit. “Howard Washburn’s granddaughter?”
Bentley hesitated. “I don’t know. She said they lived on the very edge of town.”
“It must be her,” she decided. “Howard’s youngest son lives there with his family. Well, I suppose that’s alright, but don’t make a habit of talking to the young trouble-makers of that town!”
He thought back to the group of boys that he had met earlier. “I won’t, Aunt Eunice. I do not like them at all.”
She indicated that he should put the groceries away, and sat down to watch him do it. “I taught all of Howard’s children in school. They were all very well-behaved.”
That was a very high compliment coming from Aunt Eunice. She rarely called any child well behaved.
“Brenda said that her father considers you the best teacher he’s ever had.”
Aunt Eunice tried to hide how pleased she was by this praise. “Well, it all comes from hard work.”
The rest of their day went on as normal. Bentley did his schoolwork until it was time for supper, and then after they ate they sat together by the fireplace. Aunt Eunice dozed as Bentley read a book to her out loud. When the clock struck eight o’clock, Bentley went to bed without being told. He washed his face and brushed his teeth, and put on his favorite pajamas. Aunt Eunice didn’t tuck him into bed or wish him a goodnight, but he didn’t mind because she never did.
Bentley’s dreams that night made him feel cold and sweaty at the same time. He dreamt that he was sitting on a high mountain in a wooden shack. There was a line of people as far as the eye could see, all waiting to tell him of their troubles and ask his advice. He tried to tell them that he just wanted to be left alone, but they wouldn’t listen to him.
He tossed and turned in his bed as he slept, becoming more and more restless. Finally, he got too close to the edge of the bed and tumbled off the side. He awoke with a start as he hit the ground.
For a moment he just laid there, scowling at the ground and muttering about his dreams. He heard a strange noise behind him and he turned his head to see what it was. The room was dark, but he could see the faint outline of something standing a few feet away.
Bentley jumped to his feet in alarm. “Who are you?”
There was no reply.
He reached behind him to grab the flashlight from his bedside table, and he suddenly realized that it wasn’t there. The table was gone, his bed was gone, the whole room was gone!
“Where am I?” he demanded.
A slightly rusty-sounding mechanical voice answered, “Nowhere.”

Heart List: Soldiers

I am not making a statement about my personal feelings about the war. All I wish to express is my love and appreciation for the men and women who give so much--not just for this country, but for many nations all over the world. I work in an airport and I have seen groups of soldiers leaving for their tour of duty and groups of soldiers coming home. I get really emotional seeing both situations. I cannot imagine all that they have been through or the sacrifices that they make every single day. I can't even find the way to describe how I feel. All I can say is that I am so proud of our soldiers, and that I am grateful beyond words for all that they do.