Monday, February 17, 2014

Literary Heroines Blog Party: 2014


 First of all, I would like to give a huge thank you to the lovely hostess, Kellie! This party is also actually the anniversary of a great epoch in my life, i.e. it was through this that I first discovered many of my favorite blogs (including Kellie’s!) and through them many books, movies, and other great things!!! But enough of reminiscences and exclamation points. One more Thank You to Kellie for the party and delightful questions (“Thank You!”) and we will go on to the official post.

~ The Questions ~
 1. Introduce yourself! Divulge your life's vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random!
Hello! I am so glad that you are visiting! I am Éowyn, a Christian farm girl with a love for all animals (especially ones of the equine and feline species), a fascination for medical matters; and a subject of frequent writing fits. All of me loves cold weather with the hardy abandonment of a (mostly) Scandinavian girl–except for my nose, which came from the French side. I love to roam the fields alone–setting the hills alive with the sound of music, but I also enjoy the company of my family with a great enjoyment. As for my visions: right now I am still contently at home, working away at my studies and buzzing about, but who knows where Providence will lead?

2. What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? 
The foundation of all heroism is not from within oneself, but is given by God, and since that is the case a true heroine, I think, must in every way seek to be a woman after Christ's own heart. Not that they are perfect roses or do not make mistakes (actually, I like them the better for having their flaws), but when they do they brush off their hands and seek to grow better after each fall. Reflecting upon those virtues that I personally most look up to in a heroine, I realized that one of the things I most esteem (in any character for that matter) is their protection of and care for others and not just for those they, strictly speaking, “love”. And that is blended with the fact that any true heroine is self-sacrificing, whether it means she takes her life in her hands by saving lives on the battle front or by something everyday and small.

3. Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. 


  Mellie from “With Every Letter” by Sarah Sundin
 Mellie is certainly one of the heroines whom I can relate to in the most ways. She is shy, and simply because she does not know what to say and because she is afraid of being rebuffed, she does not even attempt to be friendly. Yet she also has strength of character and a strong faith that is always the foundation with which she faces any of the problems which come her way.


Azalea from “Entwined” by Heather Dixon
I have read a fair amount of books and there are few heroines whom I have so wholeheartedly liked as well as Azalea. She is a very real-life heroine. Left motherless with the almost sole responsibility of her eleven sisters, who can be quite challenging to work with at times, she squares her shoulders and does her very best to not only physically care for them, but to cheer and support them as their mother had when she was alive. Her romance with Lord Bradford is also so funny and sweet.


     Cherry from the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories by Helen Wells
Spirited, popular, and outright beautiful heroines tend not to be my favorites–simply a case of the psychology of the individual I suppose–but so it is. However, life is full of those little exceptions and Cherry Ames is one of mine. A more universally well liked and gorgeous heroine could not be named and yet I like her very much indeed. I think at least half of it is that she is a nurse. Yet another reason I like her is that 1) though every one does like her, not all of the men fall at her feet (as is the case with some girls) and 2) that though she is brimming with fun and adventure she is completely serious about her life calling.
                             
4. Five of your favorite historical novels? 
“Thank You Jeeves” by P.G. Wodehouse
“Shirley” by Charlotte Brontë
                          “Shattered Summer” by Madeline Polland                          
“To Have and to Hold” by Mary Johnston (the original version)
“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

 5. Out of those five books who is your favorite main character and why? 
Captain Ralph Percy from “To Have and To Hold”. Captain Percy is an interesting and original mix of the cavalier. He has all the skill and intelligence of one, yet he is older and can be at times rather stern, yet without being the least the brooding Byronic hero. The story is played out upon the rich canvas of early colonial North America and Captain Percy is perfect against it as he handles every situation with the same straightforward dealings, whether it be encounters with the worst hero ever (see below) or protecting the beautiful haughty lady who has set him in the places of the greatest adventure and danger of his entire soldiering life.

 6. Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Lady Sarah, Frances' mother from “Shattered Summer”. It is so refreshing to find a mother in stories every once in awhile that understands and know how to do things. And Lady Sarah is that type.
                  
7. If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to – and what would you plan to do there? 


...with the zebras and the house in the trees included, of course, and I would also love to have an exact replica of every single one of Roberta’s fun and practical outfits...

 

8. What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?
The Middle Ages! The entire aura of the medieval period is so exciting–and it is certainly no coincidence that my first published story is set in that time. I am currently studying that time period and I am savoring each moment. I do however also greatly enjoy reading about the 1800's and 1900 through the 50's (the 1800's being the 1800's while the 20's, 30's, and 40's are the excellent settings for some of my very favorite stories and subjects, i.e. nursing, horse racing, and Bertie Wooster.

9. You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation – what is your act comprised of?
If I must accept... my act would be singing and singing alone. It is not that I an extraordinary vocalist, but I do sing a great deal and I have not had any practice in the other subjects.

10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? 


Nancy Drew. Both her and her stories have long been favorites of mine. To illustrate: soon after I was first introduced to Nancy Drew, when I was eleven years old, I even went so far as to have my long hair cut to above my shoulders that I might look like the Nancy Drew of the yellow books. It would be so fun making an outfit for the said character–besides it would be very practical, as I could wear it other times as well!

 11. What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? 
  I personally do not eat the said delicacy, but I like the aura and smell of it very much.

12. Favorite author(s)?
 I enjoy the works of a great many authors but these are the ones who have several books that are on my most read and enjoyed list: G. A. Henty, Jane Austen, P. G. Wodehouse, Madeline Polland, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

 13. Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? 
This a rather challenging question to answer as one girl's luxury is another’s essential and what you should or should not take naturally depends upon whether one is going to Europe or Mexico. That being the case, I am going to take the very basics: camera, notebooks, pens, one or two good books, and a Bible.

14. In which century were most of the books you read written? 
The 19th

  15. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… 
Dr. Roger Penhallow from “A Tangled Web” by L. M. Montgomery. There are many heroes who I think are great and marvelous and perfectly breathtaking. But in many ways Roger is my ideal. He is a hero in an every day way. He can manage anyone, has infinite patience, is very understanding, and possesses a wry sense of the humor. And did I mention that he also happens to have been an ace during WWI? However, to my mind the ultimate “epic” hero is....Jean Valjean. He has a strong character in both senses of the word and he forgives. And, you know, true, complete forgiveness and relinquishment can be piercingly hard. And Jean Valjean does both. When it comes to my ideal: I would like a man who can bear with me like Roger Penhallow, forgive me like Jean Valjean, and make me laugh like Bertie Wooster. Now that would be a Prince Charming.

16. Describe your ideal dwelling place. 
Some type of bungalow. As for exact location I am not too particular, but I would like some type of vine growing up a lattice on the front porch and flowers and a kitchen garden behind. With a grove of ancient trees near at hand, preferably of pine and/or firs, and a barn. A great big barn, with a paddock for a cow behind and at least five horse stalls.


 17. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. 
  English country with a dash of prairie girl.

18. Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? 
 I don't recollect every wishing to do so as most of the time if I like the character–even if I disliked the name on first reading–I come to like it in connection with them. And if I do not like the personage with the offending name I just think they deserve it. :)

 19. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is...
Lord Carnal from “To Have and to Hold”!!!  From my very first reading of the book he was awarded my Most Detestable Villain Ever Award, for which place he has not yet had any serious contestants. He is creepy, incredibly selfish–even for a villain–and his ego or his boldness in trying to get that which what he craves hardly helps either, plus a terribly dangerous amount of power and influence in high places behind his name. He is not a brawny shouting villain, stalking to and fro over the earth, but he is smooth and exactly like a silky poison.
                                
20. Three favorite Non-fiction books?
   “Kisses from Katie” by Katie Davis with Beth Clark
     “Ballet Beautiful” by Mary Helen Bowers
      “A Shot of Faith to the Head” by Mitch Stokes

 21. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? 
    I would take an old white tablecloth down to our valley. Laying it down on the very edge where the woods slope down to the edge of the short grass, I would sit down on it and, with my notebook beside me, in case of random inspiration, I would just lie back upon it, watching the intermingling of the sifting rays of sunlight and the emerald shapes of the mulberry and walnut tree leaves above and here and there the blue, blue sky... Or I would like to go to where, a few miles from here, there is a river with a place that narrows till it is only a few swift moving channels hemmed in by willows and other trees upon the banks and, right beyond the bend, a still shady pool. Either way the afternoon would end with pages and pages of writing inspiration.

 22. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat – in such a way as will best portray your true character. 
    Hats and bonnets are one of my favorite things so this is a very hard question–as I like a wide range of hats that could show different things about me, but I think the one that would show my character the best would be along the lines of this one of Molly's. Old-fashioned and of a practical size with a simply shaped brim, relieved with a little style and excitement shown by the ribbon.


23. Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year.
     Our family trip back to Seattle last fall, discovering TTouch, starting my two blogs, publishing my first story, watching Brigadoon for the first time...


24. Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently
“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.
It is not in Heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?'
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?'
But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.” - Deuteronomy 30:11-14







Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine Day Summary


Listening... to “Bug Music: Music Of The Raymond Scott Quintette, John Kirby & His Orchestra, And The Duke Ellington Orchestra” Classic big band and jazz at its absolute best. I have not listened to the album for far too long and I am so happy to hear it again!  Bug music is different from the other jazz that I have listened to, in that there is always a story or energy in every song. My father used to turn it on when I was younger and it has several very fun memories connected with it. It is still one of my favorite albums.

Writing... a valentine episode for my short story collection, “The Mitchell Files” came to mind and everything just fit. So I write. I have also been working quite industriously upon the outline for “Doctors & Daughters”.

Drawing... houses. I am working through a drawing instruction book and houses are the current subject. They are quite enjoyable to draw and the book is excellent. Hence everything is quite satisfactory

Sewing... a pair of 1940's trousers. It is my first trouser project and my second project using a vintage style pattern. I have been wishing to make another 1940's style garment and a pair of retro trousers for some time, so I am very excited!

Reading... “Sense & Sensibility” by Jane Austen and “Outlining Your Novel” by K. M. Weiland. Both excellent and inspiring books in their different ways. Also, Deuteronomy and Romans in the Bible.

Watching... the Gwyneth Paltrow “Emma” with my family this evening. My favorite version of the story that I have viewed, the scenery and costumes are as sunny and fresh as can be found. It is an all around family favorite.

Helping... my older brother get some barn wood that we might make a shed for my horse.

Studying... life in general, and math and history, horsemanship and science in particular. I dearly love to study.

Have a lovely Valentines day!



Monday, February 3, 2014

Defending the Phantom

From what little I have read and observed, Erik aka the Phantom of the Opera, must be one of the most debated characters in story. Some like him, some don't. As you most likely guessed from the title, I like him. Indeed to be frank I am staunchly Team Phantom. Perhaps it is simply my love for the misunderstood and dramatic coming forth, but I truly do believe that despite his flaws and misdoings he had a character and spirit that, once rescued, would become a true man.

Put simply, I believe that Christine could have married him and that they would have been very happy together. Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting one go and find the nearest loony who happens to have taken a fancy to you, marry him, and hope that his fancy will hold you through life. No, I think that would be a very unwise idea, but....the Phantom of the Opera is not an everyday story. If we really look openly at the book we see that this is in no way an ordinary tale. Though told in a straightforward–“This is the way it happened and I an only writing what is commonly known” style–it is more of a fairy-tale with its telling of desperate humans turned into monsters waiting to be disenchanted and a lovely young lady turned in one night into a glorious singer by the mysterious and magical teaching of an invisible teacher.

Which brings me to another thing. I think Christine was the key to the disenchanting. It was by her willing heart to sacrifice herself that the Phantom finally realized that true love means sacrifice. He saw that that if he truly loved Christine then he would give her freedom to do as she wished. And he did. He gave her her freedom when she was in his power. He simply let her go. Broken by the world's rejection, holding within his hands the only beauty he had ever had for his own. He gave her the freedom to fly and bloom where she wished. (It is at this point that I start crying nearly as hard as the Phantom.) You see this whole part is about so much more than mere romantic passion. He had never known love. Never heard a word or note of love. Not the merest touch of the tiniest hand of kindness. Think of it. Never, never never having known or felt any type or single moment of the barest kindness or beauty. He was in total despair with not even the faintest glimmering of the hope that might have made his life at least not full of utter darkness. And when he had it all, he released it: beauty, sweetness, a kind and tender heart.

Even when people change their ways they still have to struggle with their past. However, when we again see the Phantom some little time later he is still in that reformed state. And besides, this is such a fantastical story already why can't it end with happiness for all concerned? (Excepting possibly, Raoul. But he was still a mere youth anyway and I think he could have found someone else.) Yes, there can be no true change without the Spirit of God, but He works at times through humans. Though, as stated before, in real life you should never marry people hoping that you might change them, even with its real life setting “The Phantom” is a fairy-tale and anything is possible in that magical realm.

And yet...I am satisfied with the way the story is finished. The Phantom is sad and alone, but he has truly lived and loved and even felt, if ever so slightly, love and sympathy returned. He is at peace. And so the story ends: the heartbreak and tragedy still present, but in it there has been redemption and the great tragic figure of the Phantom may know peace at last.

And that, friends, is why I am Team Phantom.




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