Saturday, March 31, 2012

We don't say "Invalid" anymore.

Last night I was joking around with a friend that I was going to do this whole invalid thing properly and sit around wearing a Victorian dressing gown on my divan. One just gets tired of answering every "how're you?" with "still sick, thanks." In our culture unless you're dying of cancer or some other really terrible disease, people just don't understand how a person can keep on getting sick all the time.

Well it can happen, and there are tons and tons of reasons that thankfully don't happen to a large percent of the population. I personally have an auto-immune disease and some chronic conditions that combined to create a really nasty soup of general ill-health. I have my good days, but then I also have my bad ones. There are no easy answers - there aren't even very many hard ones. We keep on searching out doctors and fixing everything we possibly can as we identify new issues. 

The point of this post isn't to ask for sympathy... but rather to answer some questions that I know some of my bloggers have been wondering. Yes, I do get sick a lot. Yes, we are doing everything we can to get me well. No, I'm not dying. Yes, it's a hard lifestyle but I've learned to cope about as well as a person can. And I treasure every day of good health that I'm allowed. 

We don't use the word 'invalid' anymore. It's become almost obsolete in our day and age. I think part of it is that it's associated with a general giving up of ever hoping to become well. Which isn't strictly true, but there are just negative connotations to the word. But the fact remains that even with modern medicine, there are still those of us who are pulled down by physical ill-health. All one can do is pray for relief and acceptance, seek out ways of healing the body, and use every good moment wisely.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Let Us Not Forget, Words Are Powerful!

So many people online use their words to tear down and hurt. To make fun of, to belittle, to destroy.

Why? Is it really worth the time to throw a mean sentence at someone you’ve never met? When the hurt is only going to make someone feel hurt or depressed?

 Kindness doesn’t cost anything - except perhaps one’s pride. And usually it ends up reaping the reward of kindness in return - if not from the person who you’re mad at, at least from others who are inspired and touched by your ability to rise above a situation and give love instead of hate in return.

 A smile, politeness, a word of love - these things are the greatest gift you could ever give, no matter how undeserved they are. And isn’t the whole point of a gift that it’s undeserved?

 I’m not perfect, but I am striving to be an example. It’s really, really hard sometimes, but I find that it is incredibly worth it and my life is generally much better when I speak with love and courtesy

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Great Quest of Books and Armchairs

Six months ago when I got sick and had to leave college, my parents were the ones who had to box everything up and take it off to storage. I was 3.5 hours away and so pretty much was only able to say stuff like "all my clothes, all my jewelry, the shelf with the Tolkien, the shelf with Harry Potter, the shelf with Jane Austen" and then they brought home about a forth of my books and everything else went into storage.

Today, having finally gotten well enough and sorted out enough space to bring some books back, Dad and I went over to the storage unit. Although we'd had a lot of my stuff in there for nearly six months now, I'd been too sick and then too busy to get over there myself. It was really quite nice, although I did remark to Dad as we drove in "I feel like I'm on Storage Wars!"

Dad kept warning me that I wasn't going to have enough room for everything, but I pooh poohed this because I'd made everything fit in my last room, so I mean, c'mon.

Well... I own a lot of books. Probably around 500 at this point, I'm not sure. So we started opening up boxes and I said things like "oh... this one I don't need right now..." and "Oh it's my classics! I missed you!!!"

My father was extremely patient and didn't make any comments on this and was quite wonderful about lifting the heavy stuff. We brought home about seven boxes of books.

Then we went over to check out the grand opening of our new "Home Goods" store. We were in quest of a good arm chair for reading and writing, because I desperately needed one especially as I'm pretty much confined to the house these days due to the chronic health stuff.

The place was a madhouse. It seems like everyone in our area had decided to check out the grand opening and stuff was flying off the shelves. The store had a really good inventory though, and I was able to test out a lot of chairs in search of the perfect one. I'd been properly spoiled by the big cushy chairs at Caribou Coffee and wanted to find something similar.

We did find a chair fairly quickly. I then spent about an hour sitting on it while we waited for mum to arrive with the bigger car and the employees to figure out the computer system so that we could actually buy the chair and take it home.

Thankfully the chair was really comfy and the employees were very nice -- even though it took about five of them plus the manager to figure out the computer system. Apparently it's new and they are the first store to implement it or something.

So now I have my chair (just in time to sit on it for Once Upon a Time tonight!) and my books (my babies!!!) so I'm quite happy. But yes, it was all quite a bit of an adventure.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Names of Once Upon a Time

What's in a name? Not much, says Shakespeare, but we've noticed some nifty connections in Storybrooke, a place where everything, even names, have double meanings! Here I lay out some of my findings.

(Note - there's been some confusion so I'm just going to say up front that the most obvious meanings I have not stated or expounded upon because I feel that reading them makes the meaning obvious and for me to state anything further would just be a waste of space and your reading time. Also I'm only commenting on the meanings of the Storybrooke names and how they connect to their Fairy Tale Identities.)

Dr. Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket
Original Story: Pinocchio
Name Meaning: Archibald = "Bold" or "Genuine." Appropriate, since his Enchanted Forest character is a conscience to another.


-------/Belle
Original Story: Beauty and the Beast
Name Meaning: Storybrook name unknown. Some guesses are "Rose" or "Isabel" or "Elizabeth."



Ashley Boyd/Cinderella
Original Story: Cinderella/Rumplestiltskin
Name Meaning: In addition to sounding "Ash-y," "Ashley" means "Ash tree clearing." Boyd = refers to the Scottish Island of Brute.



Dr. Whale/------
Original Story: ???
Name Meaning: First name unknown. Last name seems to link him with the story of Pinocchio in some way.



Emma Swan/--N/A?
Original Story: ???
Name Meaning: Emma = "Whole" or "Universal." Very appropriate as Emma is the one destined to save all of Storybrook and is really the central piece that brings everyone together. Her last name, Swan, could connect her to the story of the Ugly Duckling or the Swan Princess.




Nicolas and Ava Zimmer/Hansel and Gretel
Original Story: Hansel and Gretel
Name Meaning: Nicolas = "Victory of the people." Ava = "desired" (German), "Voice, sound," (Iranian), or "life" (English). I like how Nicolas's name points to the victory Hansel and Gretel achieved in the Enchanted Forest. And Gretel is definitely desired by many characters in the fairy tale.



Henry Mills/--NA?
Original Story: ???
Name Meaning: Henry = "home ruler." Henry IS sort of the little king of Storybrooke - he always does seem to get his way!



Kathryn Nolan/Abigail
Original Story: King Midas?
Name Meaning: Kathryn = "each of the two" or "torture", later associations have it as "pure." Kathryn is one of two women that her husband David, loves. She also suffers much torture. Finally she does, perhaps, represent the ideal of purity in this cast.





Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin
Original Story: Rumplestiltskin
Name Meaning: First name unknown. Last name is fairly obvious.




David Nolan/Prince Charming (James)
Original Story: Snow White
Name Meaning: David = "beloved." Especially appropriate considering that he has two women in love with him!



Regina Mills/Evil Queen
Original Story: Snow White
Name Meaning: Regina - Queen. Could you get any more perfect? I've also heard some interesting speculation on her last name. Theory #1 is that it is connected to 'milo' the Greek word for apple. Another possibility is that it hints at her possible identity as the Miller's daughter from the original Rumpelstiltskin story.



Ruby/Little Red Riding Hood
Original Story: Little Red Riding Hood
Name Meaning: Ruby = ruby, the precious stone. No hidden meanings here, I think, but it's a good name for her.





Sidney Glass/The Genii and The Magic Mirror
Original Story: Arabian Nights?
Name Meaning: Sidney = "wide island." He did first appear in the Enchanted Forest on a beach, but that could be a pretty far reach. Glass is pretty obviously connecting him to the Mirror.


Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White
Original Story: Snow White
Name Meaning: Mary = "Sea of bitterness" or "rebelliousness" (Hebrew) or "beloved" (Egyptian). Margaret = "pearl." It's interesting that we've recently seen a more rebellious side of Snow - and she certainly has quite a bit to be bitter about right now. The pearl meaning is a nice nod to the idea of whiteness.



Leroy/Grumpy
Original Story: Snow White
Name Meaning: Leroy = "the king" (French nickname). I'm amused here, because he is sort of the king of his little band of dwarves.


August W. Booth/--------
Original Story: ???
Name Meaning: August = "great" or "venerable." Most famously associated with Augustus Caesar who founded the Roman Empire. My friend Delaney pointed out that the name might also point to a connection with a friend of the Grimm Brothers who was called August.


What do you think? Any conclusions of your own to add?

All name meanings taking from Behindthename.com - a name site I highly recommend.

Friday, March 23, 2012

An Hour of Writing Keeps the Manuscript Going

In February I decided to make an effort to get into a real writing routine. Rather than try to carve out huge blocks of time to get a ton of writing done, I determined to write for an hour every week day, first thing after breakfast.

No excuses.

I don't allow myself to get distracted by anything. Everything else important - shower, kitchen clean up, putting away laundry - these are all important things that are GREAT excuses to procrastinate on writing. So I make sure to do my writing first and suddenly I have quite a decent first draft appearing in a pretty good period of time.

Everyone writes differently so I'm in no way trying to advocate for one particular method. But most writers do say that having some kind of routine is important. It gets your brain used to kicking into writing mode at that time/in that situation, and it makes it all easier.

I find writing for an hour is the ideal time for me. I end it right about when my brain starts getting tired, so the entire writing period is pretty optimal. I can get between 1200 and 1500 words done in an hour's period, sometimes more. For my hour's investment, that's a pretty good return. Also, an hour is a short enough period of time that it doesn't intimidate me to start. If I can't last through 60 minutes of writing a day, then how on earth do I think I am cut out to be a writer?

Also. I take weekends off to give my creative juices time to recharge. I find this is vastly helpful.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Doctor and the Avacado Companion

Head Writer Steven Moffat and new Doctor Who Companion Jenna-Louise Coleman
Ever since they announced that Amy and Rory would be leaving in Season 7 of new Who, we started speculating on who the new Companion would be. There were hopes for River Song as a full time companion, or the return of Jenny, the Doctor's Daughter. Many people hoped for Craig or perhaps a reincarnation of Romana. Sophia Myles was either a good bet or a red herring after cryptic tweets emerged between her and Moffat. 


I personally hoped for something slightly different from the show's norm. A male companion, perhaps, or a very young one, or one of a non-white ethnicity. Although I would have loved Myles, and was also excited by the rumor that Downton Abbey's Jessica Findlay might be in the running. 


I'm not disappointed by Jenna-Louise, however. She's 25, so hopefully she'll be written as very much an adult and not a teen (although it could still happen, she's so short and sweet faced that she looks younger than she is). And although she's not my Downton Abbey girl, she IS however in another Julian Fellowes historical drama, the Titanic Miniseries. 


She also rather adorably won many fans over by her admission that when she recieved the part - 
“I was in Marks and Spencers holding an avocado, having a debate about what goes best in an salmon salad.”
Doctor Who fans love food jokes - just try mentioning bananas, apples, or fish custard! Jenna is now officially the Avacado Companion.


As for who she is going to play? We don't know much. Moffat said: 


“It’s not often the Doctor meets someone who can talk even faster than he does, but it’s about to happen. Jenna is going to lead him his merriest dance yet. And that’s all you’re getting for now. Who she’s playing, how the Doctor meets her, and even where he finds her, are all part of one of the biggest mysteries the Time Lord ever encounters. Even by the Doctor’s standards, this isn’t your usual boy meets girl.” 


I'm sure there will be plenty of speculation about her character between now and Christmas, when she'll debut in the Christmas Special. Before then we still have half a season of Amy and Rory left to enjoy! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Inheritance: Or the Vault of Souls

It's funny how books can be slammed as derivative and predictable, and yet become bestsellers. Why is this? I think it's because we humans like new application of familiar concepts. They say, after all, that there are only seven different general stories (exact number differs occasionally, but it's in that ballpark). 

While I don't think Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is anywhere near the literary greatness of "The Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter", I nonetheless found the books to be greatly entertaining. Paolini might reuse basic ideas more blatantly than a more experienced writer, but he brings a feeling of excitement and true appreciation that makes his stories endearing despite this. 

I was however disappointed in the first 200 pages of the final installment in the Inheritance Cycle. They comprised solely of Roran's siege of what proved to be an inconsequential city, and Eragon spending a ton of time battling Arya in swordplay. While both of these elements are important to make known to us readers, they were not worthy of nearly a fourth of the book and made for so slow a beginning that I nearly put the book down. 

However things picked up after this. I appreciated the chance to get to know Nasauda better, Saphira remains as amusing as ever, and it was great to see Murtagh finally get some decent page time as well as a proper introduction to Galbatorix. The Vault of Souls itself met all expectations, although I thought if there were going to be Eldunari, why would there be less there than those that Galbatorix had already gathered? The existence of the eggs was pretty cool though.

I didn't mind the long ending. Paolini has always followed very closely in the steps of Tolkien and therefore an extra 100 pages after the climatic battle was to be expected.

Cue Spoiler Alert.

What I did NOT get was why not only did Eragon and Arya get together, but we also got no good resolution for the obvious romantic attraction between Nasauda and Murtagh. Seriously? You draw out this series for an extra book and then you DON'T give us romantic resolution for EITHER couple? I'm really not at all sure what to make of this. 

I WAS glad that Arya got a dragon (that was SO needed), although I'm disappointed that Firnien didn't give Saphira an egg. I'd been waiting the whole series for Saphira to have an egg and it was totally lame that she didn't. 

*sigh*

Ah well. The ending left enough open that we readers can extrapolate our own futures for our characters. It's not impossible, and indeed likely that the romances will be resolved eventually... we just don't get to see them.

However, perhaps contrary to other fan reactions, I did like the final confrontation with Galbatorix. I'm not exactly sure what other kind of fight would have worked, and I think it played out fairly plausibly. 

Overall I think it was a decent ending to an entertaining series, and certainly a good foray into the world of writing for a very young author (who could still use the guidance of a good editor). 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rumplestiltskin as "The Beast"

Do you remember our first introduction to Rumplestiltskin? The creepy little man with the slimy looking skin and the bone-shuddering high-pitched giggle who was clearly completely off his rocker and entirely too intuitive?

Ugh.

But his brilliant acting was also immediately apparent. It only took a few episodes for most of us to appreciate the actor, then the character. We liked to watch him, and by the time we got his backstory episode, we sympathized with him and enjoyed him as a character.

But, Rumplestiltskin still had that creepy slimy appearance and laugh and remained, well, repulsive! When most people heard that he would be "The Beast" in OuaT's retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" we were horrified! How could you put that creepy old guy with Emilie de Ravin's gorgeous sweet young Belle?

That reaction is exactly why he was perfect.

For those of us (which I assume is most of us) who grew up watching Disney's B&B, we long ago ceased to think of the Beast as repulsive, but rather as the adorable, sweet, repentant hero of one of our favorite movies. And in novel retellings (such as Robin McKinley's "Beauty") we never had to come face to face with visual repulsiveness and often there wasn't much of personality repulsiveness either. In short, "Beast" ceased to become an accurate descriptor in our culture.

However, in "Once Upon a Time" we got to know Rumplestiltskin as a villian and slimy (though brilliant!) guy long before we associated him with the romantic lead of a favorite fairy tale. So when he did take that role, he fit.

Yet as beastly as he is, we also appreciate where he is coming from, and all it takes is a crack in his creepiness for us to understand what Belle sees in him. We are ready and able to make the transition to perceiving him as the romantic hero of what so far has been a tragic love story.

Although the writing of OuaT can be shaky at times, I think it is no stretch to say that one of their strongest points has been their writing of Rumplestiltskin and Mr. Gold. This is of course greatly helped by the magnificent acting of Robert Carlyle, who I hope we have the pleasure of seeing for many more seasons of this show.

Oh, and I'll reveal one more reason why I like the character. Since I was young, I always adored spinning wheels. "Rumplestiltskin" was one of my favorites because it featured tons and tons of spinning! So I slightly geek out whenever OuaT shows Rumple with his wheel, and then try to assess whether he's spinning it properly. ;)


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Fellow Writers

Consider this your daily reminder to BACK UP YOUR WORK.

Jumpdrive. E-mail. External server/harddrive. DO IT.

Once a week is NOT enough. You need to back up your work EVERY TIME YOU WRITE.

There is no way to know for sure that your computer won't crash tomorrow. That your harddrive won't burn out. That a virus won't wipe everything clean.

I e-mail my files to myself after each writing session. I keep using the same message over and over again, so everything is neatly together and in proper chronological order. What is your favorite/suggested method?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Red Handed

My oh my. After tonight's explosive episode, I'm not the only fan in shock! 

If you haven't seen the episode, don't read further, as serious spoilers follow the picture!


Speaking of the picture... can I take a moment to gush over Snow and Red's capes? I mean, honestly, they're so rich and the colors are so gorgeous... and I don't believe the juxposition of Snow White and Red as friends is unintentional. Seriously, how could the writers NOT want to evoke "Snow White and Rose Red" for the die hard fairy tale geeks?

Anyhow. On to the meaty stuff.

In Fairy Tale Land:
The first half of the episode was fairly predictable from what we'd seen in trailers. Red lives with Granny, wolf in the woods, everyone wants to kill it, forbidden love - oh, and Snow shows up. For those of you who saw last year's "Little Red Riding Hood" you may have felt (as I did) that the episode was a total rip off of that movie. The werewolf aspect was not a surprise at all.

Until.

Wow. I had suspected Granny, but not in a million years would I have suspected Red. In a movie they couldn't have pulled off something like that with a protagonist, but OuaT condenses things into such a short time frame that we never have a chance to notice that Red is never around when the wolf is. Because, well, WE are never around when the wolf is!

Although... poor Red. Perhaps the most shocking part was that she killed (and ate?) Peter. I mean... really? Isn't that going a bit far? Unless he turns into a wolf later...?

In retrospect, the title pretty much gives the twist away, although only an extremely astute watcher would figure that out!

In Storybrooke:

At long last we get some more time with Ruby! From day one I've been intrigued by this girl with the bold hair and dramatic clothes and have been very patiently awaiting her story. And she was a character worth waiting for! I'm sad we wont' get to see her continue working for Emma, but it was cool how her wolf abilities transfered over to Storybrooke to allow Ruby to track down David and...

The heart. Did anyone NOT guess that it was a heart in there? The only question remaining is - whose heart is it? Obviously no one thinks Mary Margaret did it - suspicion is squarely and determinely on Regina for us watchers. But some fans think that it might be Graham's heart. I disagree because we saw Regina hide away Graham's heart under the crypt, and the box is suspiciously near where Kathryn disappeared.

But is Kathryn really dead? The absence of a heart doesn't mean death in this world, and Kathryn could be a prisoner elsewhere, under Regina's control. Another thing to consider. If Kathryn is alive and without a heart, there is nothing to say that this loss of a heart happened recently. What if Regina took it long ago - perhaps even back in the fairy tale world!

Things are really heating up now, aren't they? What are you speculations for the rest of the season? We have just six episodes left, with appearances scheduled from a young Snow White, the evil Queen's mother, and a special trip to Wonderland with the Mad Hatter!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Housekeeping

As you've probably noticed, I've been doing a bit of sorting and rearranging here on the blog. I finally took down the costume page which redirected to my costume site. If you wish to visit Confessions of a Seamstress simply hit the link on the sidebar! 

Also on the sidebar is the e-mail address connected to my blog. If you have any questions or ideas that don't work as comments, feel free to send me a note at elenatintil [at] gmail [dot] com. 

And then there are the two new pages! Doctor Who was taking over my Geek Portal, so I gave it a page of its own. Jane Austen was spread out all over the blog and Downton Abbey was getting pretty big, so I created an addition for them.

Hopefully this will make navigation a bit easier and more friendly to new users, or old users who are searching for a particular article/subject. 

Did I miss anything? Let me know if something confuses you, or if there is another section you believe I should make, or any other changes I could implement that would improve your blogging experience!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Recently my library has updated their website, which includes a constantly updated scroll of the covers of their most popular books. I think this is a pretty smart move as a good cover is more powerful than a good title. For instance, the book in consideration.

As most of you know I am a dedicated seamstress. When I'm well, I'm never very far from my sewing area, and no matter what my health I'm always mentally sorting through designs for future projects. Fabric, needles, thread - they all catch my interest in a heartbeat. So of course when "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" showed up on the library homepage, I instantly wanted to check it out.

The story I found does indeed strike home to a seamstress - but what makes it enduring is that it is relevant to all readers. To women, and to those who want to give the women in their lives the best future possible.

"The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" is the story of a young woman of Afghanistan, who along with her sisters was caught up in the Taliban rule. Under strict law, they were forbidden to work outside the home, leave the house without wearing a full burqa, could not go to school, and could not go out in public unless accompanied by a male family member. With the Taliban pressing all military age men into service (or executing them for treachery, perceived or otherwise), this left many of the women of capitol Kabul without breadwinners, or any way to earn money themselves. They were cooped up, left with minimal medical assistance, and in real danger of starving.

Kamila, the second eldest of five sisters, was only 19 when the Taliban marched in. For all of her life her father had encouraged her and her sisters to seek an education. Smart, talented and clever, she watched the future stolen away and her parents and elder brother forced to leave her and her sisters alone with only a 13-year-old brother to allow them any chance to leave the house. Money was quickly running out and the women of Kabul forced into a virtual dark age... until Kamila planned a way out.

"The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" is the extraordinary true story of a community surviving under terrible circumstances. It is the story of brave and courageous woman, and the remarkable men who supported and encouraged their dreams. It is a look into the very darkest and very brightest sides of Islam in a story that will endure for years to come.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life in Victorian Times

Friends, may I present for your reading perusal a lovely and detailed blog on life in Victorian times? "The Victorianist" releases lengthy pieces every week detailing a different aspect of Victorian life, from maternity care to the Olympics. While you're waiting for me to get back on my feet and start writing my own articles again, this may be just the blog to keep you entertained!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oh the Fever!

Still here folks, but sick. Hopefully it'll only be a 48 hour virus or something and I'll be up for writing some more marvelous posts for you all soon. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fairyland continued

Winter Fairyland photoshoot proceeded swimmingly! Well, icily. I layered up under my hoopskirt, but there wasn't much I could do for my hands and head, not if I wanted the costume to show! So we darted indoors in when we got really cold and warmed up, then back into the cold.

Want to see our pictures? I've picked my favorites and posted them over on my sewing blog. You can find them here!

I'm not sharing my sister's pictures to protect her privacy, but she looked absolutely gorgeous as well, an elvish snow maiden! Do you ever do themed photoshoots?

In other news, fairyland has vanished in the mists of leap year, and we're back to soggy, drippy, bleak March. Thankfully that soggy drippyness means that it's at least warm, even if it's terribly gray. I hope the weather where you are is slightly happier - I hear it was 60 degrees in Chicago yesterday!