Tag Archives: 2013

St. Crispin’s Day

Today I learned that this day celebrates two saints: St. Crispin and St. Crispinian, who were apparently twins from the 3rd Century. They are patron saints of cobblers and those who work with leather. They were martyred for their faith, but I was relieved to learn that their deaths had nothing to do with shoes or hide. They were cobblers. And now, have some Shakespeare!

Westmoreland: O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

Henry V: What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act 4, scene 3


Chesterton, Treatment, and Aunthood

When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered by the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Food for thought.

Also, an update on how I am doing. As far as my prognosis goes, things are great. I have been downgraded from an original stage 3, to a stage 0. Basically, I no longer have cancer (thank you, God, for my doctors and my health!).

The combination of medicines primarily responsible for this extraordinary progress are, however, experimental, and so I am undergoing more “tested” treatments as well. I am through, hopefully, with surgery. I am currently undergoing Chemotherapy. I hope that, some day, this part of treatment will not be considered necessary.

It’s Not Fun, but I will make it through. The most annoying part has been the recurring fevers, most likely caused by one of the medications. I’ve lost most of my hair and buzzed the rest. I must say, baldness feels really good.  I am enjoying Fall weather, even if the trees are a little tardy with their colors this year.

My nephew has finally gotten to go home! I have not seen him in person for a while, but his parents supply the family and some close friends with pictures and videos daily. The last one I saw was a photograph of my brother reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar with his tiny son lying against his chest.

I just about died from cuteness overload. I’ve done that several times now. It will take some time for me to wrap my mind around the fact that my brother is a father, and that I am an aunt.

That is all for now!


I Love Dwarves: a recap

PublicDomain-Pictures.com

PublicDomain-Pictures.com

In anticipation of Peter Jackson’s second “Hobbit” film, I thought I would pull together some quotes from my series on the Khazâd for those who don’t want to suffer through reading the whole thing. High-Fantasy Dwarves have, and probably always will have, a bad rap that I do not think they deserve. The equation seems to go something like this:

Ugly = unimportant

What a great message for us. Instead of delving into the complexity  that Tolkien eventually created for his Dwarves, the film industry settles for the stereotype that everyone expects, believing that almost no one cares. The unspoken consensus seems to be that, regardless of who we are and what we contribute to the world,  it is our appearance that matters most.

What is it, in human nature, that makes us reluctant to be interested in someone who is, on the surface, unlovely? We preach against judging people by appearances, and yet we do it, often without realizing what we are doing.

Anyway, enough internal examination for one day. If you are curious about my full reasons for loving Tolkien’s Dwarves, scroll to the bottom and take on the full series. Otherwise, I hope you find these excepts interesting.

In some ways, the Khazâd are very like the caves in which they dwell. I find that both are often misunderstood and dismissed as unlovely… The Dwarves, like their underground homes, seem one thing from an outside perspective, but have quite a different character when one delves deeper. They remind me of geodes. On the surface they are hard, rough and unlovely. Within at least some of them (or more likely most of them) there is astounding beauty. If you do not believe me, take a closer look at Gimli in The Lord of the Rings (the books, not the films. Gimli’s character in the films just represents the stereotype most people expect from fantasy Dwarves).

Many readers of Tolkien’s scribblings see the hard surface of the Dwarves and look no deeper. They do not realize the world of imagination they are missing. They cast a geode aside, assuming that something so plain and rough could not possibly harbor anything extraordinary within. The other races of Arda often do the same.

Tolkien’s words suggest a people who, while rugged and shielded in other regards, are hyper-sensitive when it comes to the properties and beauties of the inanimate part of Arda.

From the outside, fascination with the material can look a lot like materialism. Now, some Dwarves from Tolkien’s writing are avaricious and materialistic. There is no denying that. After all, love of matter can become materialism if taken too far. But I believe there is a pure and healthy love of the physical that is not possessive, or hedonistic, or materialistic, and I believe that love is an underlying theme in the character of the Khazâd… It is a short step from loving creation, to wishing to create.

In my recent delving into Tolkien’s work, I kept a record of the objects and places shaped by the Dwarves. I have chosen a few to mention. Some you may know. Some might surprise you.

Angrist: the knife Beren used to cut a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown

Narsil: Sword of the Númenórean kings, broken in cutting the One Ring from Sauron’s hand,  later to become Andúril

Menegroth:  a cooperative effort of Dwarves and Elves

“The pillars of Meneroth were hewn in the likeness of the beeches of Oromë, stock, bough and leaf, and they were lit with lanterns of gold. The nightingales sang there as in the gardens of Lórien; and there were fountains of silver, and basins of marble, and floors of many-coloured stones. Carven figures of beasts and birds there ran upon the walls, or climbed upon the pillars, or peered among the branches entwined with many flowers.” – Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter 10

Nauglamír:

“It was a carcanet of gold, and set therin were gems uncounted from Valinor; but it had a power within it so that it rested lightly on its wearer as a strand of flax, and whatsoever neck it clasped it sat always with grace and loveliness.”  – Quenta Silmarilion, Chapter 13

This is a people who hang “flowering stars” on silver necklaces, create “metal wrought like fishes’ mail,” carve stone halls like beech forests, and treasure natural beauty deeply. The pop-culture ideas of elf-craft are probably closer to Tolkien’s idea of Dwarven works than the chunky and rigid images we always see. Not that there isn’t a place for stereotypical Dwarf-architecture. I like that too.

In many “fantasy” books, films, and games, Dwarves are either comic relief; gruff, warlike side-characters; or else the “Big Guy” of the story.  Because the clichés have roots in Tolkien, some assume that Tolkien wrote according to these pop-culture images. His Khazâd are not pretty or dashing enough to garner much attention, and so their subtle complexity is overlooked. In contrast, his equally-complex Elves have gotten so much attention that many people are sick of them, which is also sad.

The Khazâd are secretive. They do not teach their language to others and their true names are never written or told to outsiders. That’s right, we only have nicknames for the Dwarves! It may not help their relationships outside their own people, but I find the secretive aspect of Dwarven society mysterious. I like a little mystery.

The Khazâd are passionate beneath the surface. Cliché Dwarves seem to have three settings: wrathful, dour or rollicking. Tolkien’s writing gives a more balanced picture. His Dwarves show a full emotional range expressed in subtle, sometimes elegant, ways.

Far from the stereotypical “angry Dwarf shout of grief and rage!” that we get in the films, this is Gimli’s reaction on finding Balin’s tomb in Moria:

“Gimli cast his hood over his face.”

And when time came to escape:

“Gimli had to be dragged away by Legolas: in spite of the peril he lingered by Balin’s tomb with his head bowed.”

He breaks my heart, then gives it back to me whole and makes me smile:

“Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram… and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla. My heart trembles at the thought that I may see them soon.” – The Fellowship of the Ring

Music and song are mentioned repeatedly in relation to the Khazâd. And this from a people in exile whose story, like that of Arda itself, is one of devastating loss and victories that come at great cost. But the Dwarves are resilient, using their outward toughness to protect the gems beneath. Gimli makes me cry and laugh, and his whole race makes me smile.

Original series of Khazâd posts:

Of the Free Peoples of Arda
Contrariwise
Khazâd Part I: Aulë
Khazâd Part II: The Deep Places of the World
Khazâd Part III: Creation
Khazâd Part IV: The Road Goes On


Rewriting Tolkien

There are allowances to be made for adaptations. One cannot translate a story from one medium to another with absolute fidelity, and sometimes changes are necessary. Some changes even improve how the story is expressed in the new form. I easily accepted most of the changes made for Peter Jackson’s original “Lord of the Rings” films because the tone and overall theme matched well with the books, and for the most part the plot, characters and places seemed like themselves. There were, of course, a few things that bothered me, but they did not overpower what I felt was right about the films.

Then came the first Hobbit movie. The beginning thrilled me. It seemed to have its own flavor, and one that meshed well with the book on which it was based. As the movie progressed, however, it moved farther and farther away from the source material, not only in plot, but in feel. Some changes I could forgive as easily as I did with LotR, but the gestalt was disappointing.

Today, I watched the trailer for The Desolation of Smaug. Before I say more, take the time to watch it yourself.

It is beautiful, and it resembles Tolkien’s The Hobbit as much as I resemble a pumpkin. I know I take Tolkien too seriously, but his writing is one of my greatest literary pleasures, and I was hoping to have the joy of a good adaptation of Bilbo’s story on top of what I feel was a good adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

It is time, now, to lay that hope to rest. “Lay her i’ the earth: And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May violets spring!” -Hamlet, Act V scene 1


Dose of Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant–
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
.
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
.
Or every man be blind —
.
-Emily Dickinson
.
I’ve been thinking about this poem a lot lately, especially in terms of storytelling. Most of the time, I think, truth is best served straight, but I also think that Emily is right. Sometimes “the Truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind.” It raises interesting questions.

Liebster Award!?

lieber-award

My friend David, of The Warden’s Walk, has given me permission to steal the introductory paragraph from his Liebster Acceptance Post. He puts it better than I can:

I’ve been given the prestigiously obscure Liebster Award, in which one blogger with fewer than 200 followers writes trivia and answers to random questions about themselves, and then tags a bunch of other bloggers with fewer than 200 followers to write more trivia and more random questions. My eternal thanks to Lady Blue Whimsy for sharing the fun with me!

As far as I can tell, this serves 2 purposes. It spreads the word about obscure blogs to enjoy, and it is entertaining. Thank you for my nomination,

The rules, according to Lady Blue Whimsy are these:

1) Expose my readers to the randomness of my soul.

2) Supply my nominator with answers to her queries.

3) Impose this honor and task upon others deemed worthy.

4) Notify said worthies.

5) Demand said worthies to expose the randomness of their souls.

6) Give thanks.

Being the contrarian that I am, I shall undertake these tasks in reverse order. Therefore:

Thank you, Lady Blue Whimsy, for nominating me and providing such an entertaining post in the process! I am glad and flattered that you enjoy my blog enough to have thought of me.

As for making demands of my nominees, I cannot. Instead, I merely thank them for creating blogs that I enjoy, point others towards them, and give them the opportunity to have fun with this award if they so wish! If they do so, here are my questions for them (and for any other friends or fellow bloggers who like the questions and want to answer them):

5 Questions for the worthies!

1. If you could walk into a book and make a home there, where would that home be, what would it be like, and what sort of people/creatures would you try to befriend? Specifics would be fun and you can give more than one answer if you like.

2. Name a food you have read about, but never eaten, that you have since wanted to try. It doesn’t have to actually exist. What, in the reading, piqued your interest?

3. Do you have a favorite plant? If so, what is it and why do you like it so much?

4. What fictional character is your favorite hero (male or female), and what villain really scares you and why?

5. There is a crossroad at your feet. Behind you lies the path back to home and hearth (wherever that might be). The road directly ahead leads to a city, blue in the distance, settled among hills and on the edge of a bright inland sea. To your right lies a steep climb into old, low mountains clothed in forest and fern. To your left is rolling farmland that eventually flattens out into broad plains dappled by the clouds overhead. You can go as far as you like on any of the roads (even farther than you can see), including back home. There’s no wrong answer, only the where and why.

Consider them notified, as of your reading this (though not as of my typing it. What an odd idea that is to me!)

Now we come to it. Many whom I would love to link have already received this “prestigiously obscure” award from others. I’m not sure what the rules are on re-awarding, therefore I will stick to ones who, as far as I know/remember, have not received this one yet.

So without further ado, my nominees are (in reverse alphabetical order)*:

Technicolorlilypond – Photographer, scientist, crafter, writer and avid reader. And I do mean “avid.” This Renaissance Woman puts me to shame with the number of books (many of them dense and difficult) that she consumes.

StrangeFigures – I suspect this lady has more than 200 followers, but my feed only says 163, so here she is. Sharon is bold, witty and not afraid of a good debate. In fact, she seems to know very well that no one can grow or learn unless they are challenged. She certainly challenges me.

SoughingofPines – She does not post often in this venue, but perhaps some day she will. At any rate, she is a dear friend, an excellent writer, a kind heart and she plays the cello. Also, martial arts. You have been warned.

TheOldBookJunkie – He is a junkie for old books! In his posts on literature, culture, and society he often  challenges me, which is something we all need, and I enjoy our discussions and debates. I think and hope he does too.

Grimmella – A contrarian, like myself. Entertaining and sometimes acerbic reviews as well as other Fantasy-themed posts. She is not afraid to say what she thinks, and I have spent many a happy hour exploring her library of posts. I bet you will, too.

DreamingofOtherRealms – A wonderful dreamer, indeed, and a writer. She is also an inhabitant of New Zealand, which is exciting to me because I have yet to visit any place in the Southeastern Hemisphere. I am always fascinated by the impact location has on an author’s work.

BekindRewrite – And here, I cheat (you knew I would). Bekind definitely has more than 200 followers, but her blog and our discussions have been great inspirations to me, so I must include her anyway. At the least, I want her answers to my questions. If you are a writer, in any stage of the process, Bekind’s blog has useful resources, researched advice, writing exercises and inspiration-fodder. She’s also usually up for a good discussion or debate. Go there!

*If you are not on my list but I read your blog, know that either you have too many followers (and I didn’t want to cheat too much), you have already received this award (that I am aware of) or I was unsure whether or not you would appreciate the attention (the latter applies to family and a few non-internet friends).

Now to what you all have been… or rather what one or two of you might possibly have been waiting for. The questions!

LadyBlueWhimsy asked these questions eight!

1. If you could date a fictional character, whom would it be?

Hmm. Do Hobbits date? If so, Sam Gamgee, though only if Rosie did not exist. Also, I would prefer to be a Hobbit in this scenario.

2. If you could travel either forwards or backwards in time, which one, and why?

Backwards, if only because Forwards would take the fun out of the fun parts and make me wince in anticipation of the rough stuff to come. I’m a worrier by nature, and it is a lot harder to be worried about the past. I’d prefer to be an observer, also, rather than active in this scenario.

3. Vanilla, chocolate, or Superman ice cream?

What is Superman ice cream? Um… Chocolate. And Vanilla. In that order. *holds out hands expectantly*

4. If you had to name your children after your family and relatives, which five names would you pick?

Colleen, Harry, Austin, Wynn and Jenny would be my top picks, I think.

5. What one type of food or dish could you eat every day for the rest of your life?

Fresh Blueberries.

6. If you could be a fictional character, whom would you be?

Who am I most like, or who would I most like to be? I shudder to answer the first possible question, but as for the latter… I want to be Bilbo Baggins. I had to answer either a Hobbit or a Dwarf (yes, I know, my single-mindedness can be tiresome) and Bilbo has the best mix of adventure and happy ending of any of them. What a lucky chap.

7. If you could only write one story in your entire writing life, which would it be?

I suppose I will know if I write it. Right now there are three very close to my heart. One that I plan to finish but not publish is a picaresque following the sometimes-intertwining stories of a thief, several monks, a couple of dragons, a wizard and a deceased were-jackal. Competing for this place is also an epic-length quasi-epistolary story about a vampire. This is partially my rebellion against all things Anne-Rice-to-Stephenie-Meyer, and partially a way to deal with the fact that this particular character is very talky in my head. If I ever manage to write the thing (it intimidates me greatly) it ought to be a different kind of vampire story. And then there is my current focus, which is about three people who have lost their homes and with it their identities, and their adventures in a ghost-story world.

8. If you could change the ending to a favorite story, which would it be?

Well, stories with endings I do not like are usually not my favorites. Endings really can make or break any story. That said, I rather enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but the ending bothers me, A LOT. The one thing I was waiting for the entire series, the revelation that the main characters’ opinions of  Slytherin House were not justified, never came. Oh, some people will argue with me on this point, and even J. K. Rowling seems to have a higher opinion of her Slytherins than she communicated in her stories, but my opinion remains. They were painted with a wide brush, and the end left them with much the same image as the beginning.

And now, apparently, I am supposed to expose you all to eleven random things about myself. Consider yourself warned.

1. I was very excited when I learned that I have Welsh ancestors in my very mixed pedigree.

2. I name my cars, usually according to their make. My first car was Mononoke, my second was Kagura, and my third and current one breaks from tradition. Though it is of Japanese make, its name is Fred. This is mostly because my friend’s new car is named Ginger.

3. While I love Spring ephemerals, my favorite time for flowers to bloom is Autumn. Fall-blooming flowers give the air of being tough as well as bright, and they remind me of someone singing at the close of day.

4. My favorite smell is a tie between woodsmoke and partially-broken-down leaf-litter. You know, that dark stuff that looks like dirt, but doesn’t to stick to your hand and smells earthy and sweet?

5. I am immune to Poison Ivy and allergic to Juniper. Nevertheless, Juniper is one of my favorite trees and I planted several in my yard.

6. I am scared of camel crickets. They aren’t dangerous, but I can’t quite convince my instincts.

7. Despite their being usually full of the above-mentioned crickets, I love caves. I am also fond of elevators and closets. I am not a big fan of the Great Plains or deserts, though I am theoretically glad they exist.

8. I have learned to love reading my Bible. It used to be a chore (and one I would frequently skip), but now it seems to read me as much as I read it, and the interplay makes it truly fascinating.

9. I hate getting my hands dirty, but I love clay, gardening, cooking and various other crafts, like papier mâché. This causes a lot of internal conflict.

10. I hate being pigeon-holed. Every time someone tries to categorize me, my first instinct is to fight their assumptions.  On the flip side, I try never to assume I know the whole of any person. Mystery and uncertainty give birth to doubt, and doubt keeps us active, inquisitive and humble.

11. I love words, but perhaps my favorite one is “gloaming.”  …”Parsnip” is pretty fantastic, too, as is “mountebank.” I had better stop now.

And I believe that is it! I hope you found this massive post entertaining, especially you, LadyBlueWhimsy!

P.S. I meant the part about anyone who wants to try their hand at the five questions I supplied! I would love to hear your thoughts on them, even if you are not among my nominees.


Lord of the Dance (which has nothing to do with pseudo-Irish dancing)

The question we want to ask about Man’s ‘central’ position in this drama is really on a level with the disciples’ question, ‘Which of them was the greatest?’ It is the sort of question which God does not answer.

If from Man’s point of view the re-creation of non-human and even inanimate Nature appears a mere by-product of his own redemption, then equally from some remote, non-human point of view Man’s redemption may seem merely the preliminary to this more widely diffused springtime, and the very permission of Man’s fall may be supposed to have had that larger end in view.

Both attitudes will be right if they will consent to drop the words mere and merely. Nothing is ‘merely a by-product’ of anything else. All results are intended from the first.

What is subservient from one point of view is the main purpose from another. No thing or event is first or highest in a sense which forbids it to be also last and lowest. The partner who bows to Man in one movement of the dance receives Man’s reverences in another.

To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washes the feet of men. The concepts we usually bring to the consideration of such matters are miserably political and prosaic.

We think of flat repetitive equality and arbitrary privilege as the only two alternatives- thus missing all the overtones, the counterpoint, the vibrant sensitiveness, the inter-inanimations of reality.

From Miracles, by C. S. Lewis

Firstly, I am not sure “inter-inanimations” make sense in this quote, but I can find no evidence of it being a typo. There are days when it would be so convenient to send a deceased person a letter and get an answering one, but I guess Lewis deserves a break from correspondence for a while.

Third and lastly, there is a lot in here to unwind before I figure out how much I agree or disagree. Miracles is, by far, the most dense and difficult of Lewis’s works that I have encountered. I am acutely aware that I am not a scholar on his level, which seems to be the target audience. Still, I appreciate the challenge.


New Blood

And as promised, I will now post some pictures of my more recent masks. These range from around 7 years old, to a few weeks. Most of my work lately has been in clay, but I am contemplating some more mixed-media creations, especially a new shell-mask a friend has commissioned me to make for her house.

Bandit1

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

I wanted something with horns. The picture is a little tilted. I may try to correct that when I have time.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

My newest shell mask. The starfish is a metal broach.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

One of my favorite of my newest masks. I may have to keep her. Clay, glass and copper leaf.

I had square glass beads.

I had square glass beads.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

The second shell mask I ever made, intended to be more masculine than the first one.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn't run got the most candy.

this one is wearable, and I once scared some trick-or-treaters with it. The one who didn’t run got the most candy.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

Papier mâché, grass, persimmon caps, moss and glass.

One of my mother's favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

One of my mother’s favorites, though I have never quite been satisfied with it.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

This one is a memorial to a tree of mine that had to be cut down.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

An early mask, though obviously not one of the original set.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

My parents brought me home a horseshoe crab shell. It makes a fragile but impressive mask.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

Lattice clay work, nail-polish and Siberian Iris leaves.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

This present for a friend was a long time in coming. Sometimes it takes me a while to find a mask that I think will really please someone.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

Ah, blue oni. I made this one out of clay, all for the fangs.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

One of my more creepy creations, made from papier mâché, lily leaves, gold paper and a lion pendant.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.

Created to celebrate the wedding of a friend.


The Old Guard

Well, I know it took longer than I expected, but I am back now!

Two days ago, I experienced the craziest day of my life. For one thing, I went into surgery to remove what remained of my cancer. That would have been a big day by itself.

However, I woke up after my surgery to learn that I had become an aunt. I won’t go into great detail, but my sister-in-law had to have an emergency c-section. She and baby are fine, though the latter will be in intensive care for a while.  Wonderful, bizarre, crazy day.

And now, I promised you all masks when I returned to this blog. I will keep my promise with two whole posts. Here I will give you the rest (some are in my first mask post) of the original set of fourteen I made in college. In the next post, I will display my more recent creations.

Enjoy!

The first mask I ever made. It was so fun, I couldn't stop.

The first mask I ever made. It was so fun, I couldn’t stop.

The second mask I ever made, and the most time-consuming.

The second mask I ever made, and the most time-consuming.

I was never quite satisfied with this one, but it is interesting.

I was never quite satisfied with this one, but it is interesting.

My father's favorite of the original set.

My father’s favorite of the original set.

A detail shot of my father's favorite.

A detail shot of my father’s favorite.

Pine bark and needles. My poor sister-in-law got poison ivy while helping me collect the bark.

Pine bark and needles. My poor sister-in-law got poison ivy while helping me collect the bark.

This one was made by taking an impression of cherry-tree bark.

This one was made by taking an impression of cherry-tree bark.

A detail shot of the cherry tree mask.

A detail shot of the cherry tree mask.

The Muri Kai

The Muri Kai

The skull-mask above comes with a story. I made it as a release for anger, and as a statement. Shortly before creating the Muri Kai, I learned that cosmetics companies had been (and presumably still are) going into impoverished places all over the world and convincing people to buy their products. Forget having enough money for shoes, you need lipstick!

This one is made from pinecones, grass, pollen, lily-leaves and maple-tree whirlygigs.

This one is made from pine cones, grass, pollen, lily-leaves and maple-tree whirlygigs.

My brother's favorite, made from terracotta.

My brother’s favorite, made from terracotta.

My favorite of the bunch.

My favorite of the bunch.

A detail shot of my favorite catching the light.

A detail shot of my favorite catching the light.

Last but not least, the bur oak mask, made from an impression of oak bark and newly fallen leaves.

Last but not least, the bur oak mask, made from an impression of oak bark and newly fallen leaves.

And there you have the old guard. Tomorrow, I hope, I will post pictures of my more recent creations.

Glad to be back! I look forward to catching up on your blogs!


I didn’t mean to lie

I really was intending that to be my last post for a while, but the in light of the news I got from the doctor today, I felt that I owed it to my blog-friends to pass on some good news. Whether you have been praying or sending good thoughts, thank you.

The tumor has shrunk so significantly that they were unable to do a biopsy on it today. It is less than a quarter of its original size and did not show up on an ultrasound. My doctor and nurses were so happy that some of them cried a little.

I am grateful to God for His mercy, for my physicians, and for the progress of medical science!

For now, treatment will continue as it is. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are still in my immediate future, but this is a great triumph, and I wanted to share it with all of you and thank you, again, for your thoughts and prayers.

Love and blessings!

Ok, my break starts now, for reals.


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