22 February 2010

One Writer's Beginnings...

I've been reading two books about authors: "One Writer's Beginnings" by Eudora Welty and Agatha Christie's autobiography. I've come to the conclusion that it's kind of confusing trying to keep their stories straight in my head, so I've put Agatha aside temporarily while I finish Eudora's book!

The Eudora Welty book is one I found for 50 cents at the library book sale and what a great find it was! It's LARGE PRINT, which is such a blessing "these days". It's fun to get an inside look at what makes anyone tick, but right now I'm particularly interested in writer's lives. This is a pretty quick read, so I hope to finish it tonight or in the morning, then I can continue with the saga of Agatha Christie.

After the two bios I plan to read some actual books on writing which, every writer knows, is just an excuse to postpone doing any actual writing myself. I bought several writing books at the above mentioned library sale (also the Christie bio). So I look forward to some good reading.

It's dark outside and I can see the occasional headlights of snowmobiles driving by on the trail adjacent to our pasture. The Olympics are on TV, hubby is napping, and I'm off to my favorite reading chair!


21 February 2010

Jingle trucks...

I saw these on the news this morning and thought they were so beautiful! These are very old trucks which are "pimped" by their owners. The article below tells the story better than I could.

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Posting date: 11/27/06
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url: http://traversa.typepad.com
Email: traversa@gimail.af.mail

One of the first things that struck me about Afghanistan, besides the stunning levels of poverty I saw everywhere, were the gloriously colorful trucks I saw everywhere. The style of the art reminded me of India, and they had many chains with pendants hanging from the bumpers. I would soon learn that these were called "jingle trucks". I did not immediately learn why, but I spent many days trying to get good photos of them. We are never allowed out of our vehicles unless we are on a base, and jingle trucks never seem to come on base, photos must be taken from inside our moving vehicle. Despite these difficulties, I managed to get some clear pictures.

The most striking thing about the artwork is that it depicts beautiful landscapes, usually with woods, grass, lakes, rivers, and many exotic animals. There are often beautiful cottages or new, modern buildings. All of this is done in bright colors; no pastels here. The poignancy is that the artwork depicts everything these people will probably never experience. The area of Afghanistan I've seen is uniformly brown and trees are rare, and grass almost non-existent. The only animals I ever see are endless flocks of sheep and mangy dogs. Jingle trucks are the only bright color in an otherwise drab landscape, expressing the hopes of all for a land of beauty they can only dream of.

I finally had a chance to learn the secret of why they are called "jingle trucks" when one came onto the Afghan Army base where I work. It was parked, but there was a good breeze blowing, and I heard wind chimes. It was the chains and pendants hanging from the front bumper. This had to be the answer; surely the jingle referred to the music from the pendants! But I had to nail it down, so I took my interpreter Hamid with me to find the driver, and asked him why they hung all the pendants from the bumper. Was it for the music, or for decoration? He shrugged and said, "Who knows? Both, probably." So much for an authoritative answer. Of course, it's not really important. I just appreciate seeing them. I never tire of looking at them as we head to work or back home. They are my favorite works of art, living testaments to the hopes of a people beaten down for over 25 years. And to think, they pay me to be here!

19 February 2010

High school recital music!

I was just going through old high school mementos and found the sheet music for two arias I sang for competitions in high school. Just for old times I'm saving a couple of videos of them. I didn't sing them this well, but just wanted to remember them!

This guy is pretty awesome! If you want to hear more by him look for him under Acapella John on You Tube.

16 February 2010


I've been wandering around cyber-land again and came across the 500 Words a Day Challenge. Fortunately, there is also a 250 Words a Day Challenge, because I'm not sure 500 is do-able for me right now. (Of course, if you're really serious you can go for the 1,000 Words a Day Challenge...)

Anyway, it's good to have a goal when it comes to writing or just about anything, so I'm taking the dare.

The "Words a Day" can include blogging or any kind of writing you want to count. I've been scribbling notes for a YA novel for a few months and this may be a good excuse to get a little more organized and disciplined about that.

Like to write? Click on the button in my right-hand column and join the challenge!

(That was only 140 words?!?!)

Book giveaway!

Michelle at the Beautiful Chaos blog is giving away a copy of her YA novel by the name of Eldala. Just go to her blog and leave a comment to enter the drawing!

12 February 2010

Another great library book sale!

Well, this time I only had 1.5 hours before work in which to scour the boxes and shelves of books for sale at the library, but I managed to find some treasures!
I spent a grand total of $6! =0)

I'm a Beatrix Potter fan, so I was happy to add this little volume of "Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan" to my collection. I also have a small collection of Chaim Potok books which I love! "Bleak House" is a book I've wanted to read and "Show, Don't Tell" looks like an interesting book on writing.

I couldn't pass up "Holiday Time" by Maj Lindman. I haven't seen this book before, but I read her Flicka, Ricka and Dicka/Snipp, Snapp and Snurr books to my kiddos when they were small. I love her illustrations. "Johnny Crow's Garden" has wonderful pen and ink illustrations, so I just had to give it a home.

Many people have recommended "The Brothers Karamazov", so I now have a copy for "someday". "Walden" is another I've never read, but am curious about. "Writing Without a Teacher" is one of several good books on writing that I found. I already have "Green Dolphin Street", but felt sorry for this little copy! Anyone want it? I thought I had read all of Miss Read's books, but maybe not this one! "Eden's Gate" is a Christian novel that looked interesting. "Twenty Letters to a Friend" has to do with Russia and just looked like something I might find fascinating. The "Basic Horsemanship" was for either my daughter or hubby since they are both horse people.

"A Window Over the Sink" looked like a fun read and "Christian Caregiving" should be full of good information on a subject I've wanted to learn more about. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is another book I've heard many mention as a favorite. Then four more writing books! Jackpot!

06 February 2010

A bragging mom moment...

My son, Jordan, recently moved down to the Fort Worth area to spend some time with his brother and sister-in-law. He's been wanting to put some songs on You Tube for some time and I'm glad to see he's finally done it! Nice to see him and hear his voice!

This first song is one he wrote based on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". He said he wrote it after watching "Australia".

This is a "cover" of a song by Glen Hansard.

04 February 2010

Fearless by Max Lucado

I've been reading "Fearless" by Max Lucado with great interest. Fear is something I've wrestled with all my life, and I think I can honestly say, with the Lord's help, I'm making progress on this front. So when I saw this title available on Booksneeze, which is a site that gives me books for free in return for reviewing them, I thought it sounded intriguing.

I love Max Lucado's writing, and this book hasn't been a disappointment! I just fininshed Chapter 8 entitled "This Brutal Planet". He deals with the age old question: "Why do Christians experience suffering and violence?" I can't type out the entire chapter here, but he makes some pretty good points.

We live in a world that Adam and Eve turned over to Lucifer by obeying him rather than God. He (Lucifer) has been trying to kill and destroy us ever since. Max mentions Hebrews 11 which names many "heroes of the faith" like Abel, who though "being dead still speaks"; Enoch, who "did not see death"; Noah, who "became heir of the righteousness"; Abraham and Sarah, whose descendants are as "innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore". On the other hand, "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented."

Nobody has ever died a more violent death than Jesus himself endured. As Mr. Lucado points out, "A calmer death would have sufficed. A single drop of blood could have redeemed mankind. Shed his blood, silence his breath, still his pulse, but be quick about it. Plunge a sword into his heart. Take a dagger to his neck. Did the atonement for sin demand six hours of violence?

No, but his triumph over sadism did. Jesus once and for all displayed his authority over savagery. Evil may have her moments, but they will be brief. Satan unleashed his meanest demons on God's Son. He tortured every nerve ending and inflicted every misery. Yet the master of death could not destroy the Lord of life. Heaven's best took hell's worst and turned it into hope." (end of quote)

He never promised us an easy life as His followers. He did promise to never leave us or forsake us, and that He goes to prepare a place for us so we can be with Him forever after this life. He also said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)

To get back to the book, Mr. Lucado addresses many types of fear that bind us up and keep us from living the life God intended for us. Some of the fears he deals with include:

fear of not mattering
fear of disappointing God
fear of running out
fear of not protecting my kids
fear of overwhelming challenges
fear of worst-case scenarios
fear of violence
fear of the coming winter
fear of life's final moments
fear of what's next
fear that God is not real
fear of global calamity
and the one healthy terror: fear of God getting out of my box

Fear is not of God. This book helps equip us to triumph over it.