Wednesday, September 6, 2017

As the School Year Begins...

That title's not depressing at all, is it?
Hello all! This is a very short, very quick post just to say...that the summer is officially over. School (college, in my case) has begun and oh boy here we go! I'll be heading down to school again today (I commute, so it's about a 45 minute drive every day back and forth from school), the first of many days.

Needless to say, I'm going to be VERY busy these days. I'm taking 18 credits in this first semester alone, which is 9 classes (WHAT!!!!!) with varying amounts of credits. Two are zero credit. And so I'm not going to have as much time for this blog as I did over the summer. I will mainly be trying to keep up-to-date on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you comment and I don't respond for a while, please don't be mad at me! I WILL respond eventually, I promise! I might be a little late to see things both on my blog and other folks'. 

Well, that's it. That's all I have to say. Talk to you later, Auf Wiedersehen, Au Revoir, Vaarwel, Atsiprasau, Tchau, Mihi, Hwyl Fawr, Proschay, and Mar Sin Leat. Bonus points to anyone who can guess these languages! 

"Let us not say farewell--but as the French have it, au revoir!" 

Me going to school


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Announcing...a book review!


It's taken me long enough to get this out there! I planned on writing a review as soon as I finished, but of course it took a little while longer. Anyhoo, here it is. My review of C.S.Lewis' The Space Trilogy (comprised of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength)! 
And here's a great Lewis quote that I found, just as food for thought.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

In terms of money...we have no money...


So remember back when I said I was car-shopping? Well, I was. Now I'm not anymore. The reason for this is, quite simply, that I finally BOUGHT a car! (Which is, along with purchasing college textbooks, why I have no money.) AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
What you say after buying a car and realizing that you finally don't have to spend hours searching online anymore.

Yes, I bought a car. Me, my dad, and my younger-but-taller brother drove out to Grand Rapids, almost 2 hours away, one Friday morning to a conference celebrating the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (no offense meant to anyone who does not agree with Protestantism, but that's just where we went that morning) where we listened to a few sermons, wandered among book tables, and went to eat Burger King. (I had a grilled chicken sandwich, which I'd never had before and discovered was quite delicious.) Ahem.

After that, we drove down another hour to Kalamazoo, which is where we had seen a pretty good car listed on Craigslist. We test drove it, talked to the guy selling it (we prefer private party sellers), and it was pretty clear that I was going to buy it. And so...I counted out a great big pile of cash (bye-bye, savings account...), shook hands with the seller, and drove away. I drove that home while my dad drove his car. And my brother rode with me just cause. Then we stopped for dinner (at Arby's, which was super healthy after already eating fast food) and I drank something caffeinated, which may or may not have been good for me. Ah well, we made it home safe.

Oh yeah, you're probably thinking "Well, all of this is great, but what IS the car? What does it look like?" Well, it's a 2004 Chevrolet Impala and it's silver. It's a nice, not-too-small but not-too-big size, sturdy so that it won't fall over in a high wind, but small enough to get decent gas mileage.
Ok, so these are stock photos, but it's pretty much what the car looks like.
We were really thankful to find such a good deal. For the age of the car it is in extremely good condition, maybe a couple spots with surface rust but nothing worse, no mechanical (or whatever) problems, only 70,000 miles on it. And a decent price, when compared to similar vehicles. So yeah, I went to the Secretary of State (the sketchy one that's open on Saturdays) today and got my license plate. And I'm sure I'm understating everything--I mean, that was the biggest purchase I've ever made in my entire LIFE and probably the biggest until I have to buy my second car in hopefully over 10 years or a home someday. Kind of intimidating.

Anyway, just wanted to give an update on that situation. Don't worry, I'm really financially fine! Just like Dave Ramsey says, I paid cash for my car and didn't go into debt. And just so you know, I'm not "into" vehicles, so car posts are in no way going to become regular with me! :) Thanks for reading!
Thankfully I wasn't stuck with something like this...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What's up Doc?

Yeah, I know. Bugs Bunny. 
Hello there! I have been rather busy lately, running here and there, doing this and that, and thought that this post title was very accurate. It fits the hectic last-weeks-of-summer-break attitude that most of us have around here!
So, without further ado, here is what's up, Doc:

Writing: 
Uhhh...yep. I've been slacking off, of course. I did finish typing out the 2nd draft (I handwrite my first drafts, so this is the first typing) of my 5th book, which is chronologically the 1st prequel, but as I wrote it the 2nd prequel (yes, it's complicated). Also, I've been working a bit on the 1st draft of the 6th book, which is chronologically the 3rd prequel AND I'm writing it last. Ha. There's at least some semblance of order! Then working on editing the second book in my trilogy, which thankfully, needs I think a bit less editing than the first one and I'm about halfway through the first stage of editing. 

Reading: 
  • Exiles by Jaye L. Knight (the fourth book of the Ilyon Chronicles). It was quite good! Thanks Natalie! (Read her latest post about it here
  • That Hideous Strength by C.S.Lewis. This summer I read the other two books of the Space Trilogy and I need to finish it. 
  • Other people's blog posts :D


BLOWING ALL MY MONEY ON BOOKS AAAAAAAGHHHH!
Ahem. Sorry about that. It's just that I discovered that for college, one must buy textbooks, and to buy textbooks, one must spend money. So I bought all 12-ish of my books and spent a grand total of $754.17.  Lemme say that again.  Seven hundred fifty-four dollars and seventeen cents. I mean, come on people! How expensive can schoolbooks be? At least I could borrow my brother's Amazon Prime for free shipping (at least for 8 of 12 books). And I get to read Stephen Hawking's A Briefer History of Time or whatever it is for school. Whoop-de-doo. 

Oh well, that's college for ya. I'm getting ready for that in a couple weeks, which I hope and pray will be a good transition from being homeschooled all my life to a public university.

Gallivanting:
Which basically means going around to different resale stores not particularly searching for anything, but just to get out and do something. I was able to go with a few different friends over the past week or so, and it's such a good time! Even when you don't find anything (such as when I ALMOST found a complete, old set of LOTR books, but didn't buy cause it was missing ROTK) it's fun. 

Gallivanting also can mean going different places as a 'last hurrah' before the school year. My family went up to Tawas yesterday, just for the day and to see some relatives who live up there. We ate too much food and had a good time. Plus I got to try bubble tea for the first time ever, which was interesting. The kind I had was actually rather good--tolerable at the very least--and I may have to try it again sometime. :) 

Car Shopping:
...yes...it's fun. So far I've driven 3 cars. One was nice to drive but had a terribly dirty interior (and it hadn't been used in soooooo long that there was a wasp nest on the thing-where-you-put-gas-in). One was nice-ish to drive (if I'd had more time) but REALLY messed up. One was really nice inside but I wasn't crazy about the way it drove and there was a strange clunking noise. So now I'm back to the drawing board. Or back to Craigslist, as the case may be. 

Eating and Sleeping:
This may sound rather dull, but the end of summer usually is the time I sleep in the most, knowing that when school starts I won't get that...uh, privilege, I guess. Weird thing is, I like to get up early but I don't like to WAKE up early if you see what I mean. I like getting up early once I'm out of bed and awake, but it's the waking up part that I simply cannot stand.

Watching:
How could I have forgotten this Very Important section until now???? *Smacks forehead* 
  • Oliver Twist (BBC, the 1985 version...someday when I can, perhaps I'll review it).
Oliver had a different actor when he got older, but little Oliver is simply adorable!
  • The first two episodes of Cranford with some friends who hadn't seen it before. That was fun! 
  • A bunch of other random movies that I won't bore you with listing...
  • Some episodes of Spongebob, because of my brothers.
And now I find that I don't have a 'wrap-up' for this post...so I will wave and awkwardly say "Good-bye!"
The best coloring page ever

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Daily Walk, a.k.a "I never knew there was this much green in the whole galaxy."

Hullo there! I have just returned from a Very Long car trip! That is, I suppose it was only 5-6 hours, but it was Very Long when 6 of us kids were riding in the back of a large van with only 7 seats between us. Along with all our cargo: backpacks and duffel bags, sheets, towels, a guitar (yep), seventy boxes of food and drinks, and a bunch of board games, books, and things. Oh, not to mention our pillows. All 8(ish) of them. And my younger siblings' stuffed animals. And...well, you get the idea. We went up to Michigan's Upper Peninsula (or the U.P. if you prefer) to spend a vacation week at a little cottage on a tiny, private lake called Piatt Lake. It's owned by a Bible conference society or something, and is quite a nice little place in the middle of Hiawatha national forest.

It is sooooo beautiful up there! I'm just going to share a few highlights from our trip.

  • The lovely view from our cottage deck, where I could just stand with a cup o' tea or coffee, listening to the silence.
  • Eating tons and tons of tasty food, getting ice cream at a small place in Newberry called "The Scoop." Living on the water makes me hungry.
  • Hearing somebody call their kid "Lando."  Like, as in Lando Calrissian? 
  • Two chipmunks, affectionately named "Teedo" and "The D.L.F" (by me) who would annoy us when we ate outside--one time, one was so close to me it was eating out of my hand. They didn't seem overly afraid of us. 
Aren't they adorable???
  • Hiking through the beautiful, lush green woods of the Upper peninsula (even if it was a bit muddy) and being blown away by the beauty of God's creation



The pictures don't do the lighting justice by a long road.
  • Chillin' with the guac from my chip hat, or rather, sitting inside with my notebook (I drafted like 16 pages!!!) and listening to my brothers' stir-crazy rainy-day madness. Somehow it was decided that Cinderella would henceforth be known as Cinderooble. Not sure how that happened. 
  • Jumping off smallish cliffs of sand and bouncing down the sand dunes! 
  • Reading books: "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis and "The Secret-Keepers" by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Standing on a giant dune with 500 feet to the waters of Lake Superior beneath me, the closest to flying I'll ever get. It was majestic. One wrong step and we would fall, on the edge of a precipice, but with such a glorious landscape. It was awe-inspiring indeed, and I plan to return someday so I can run down the huge dune. 

  • Seeing two Bald Eagles sparring in midair and getting it on video! Seeing a little baby bear in the wild (from a distance, that is) as well as hearing the eerie cries of loons.  
  • Kayaking across our "home lake" to a place where the water seemed like glass and all was silent. It's called "the lagoon" by the residents of the lake, and I can truly say that some of the places seemed magical. 
A view of the lagoon
  • Just...doing stuff...I guess....getting totally carried away in my book that I was writing and hardly being able to stop. It was lovely. 
Although I loved it up north, we didn't get to swim, really, it was already too cold (which is why I wouldn't want to live up there all the time--wouldn't be warm enough for my liking), and I was exceedingly glad to be home! To sleep in my own bed that doesn't smell like a stranger's house, to have the comfort and convenience of home...it's good to be back. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Master of Rivendell

There are probably hundreds or thousands of blog posts out there about the characters of Lord of the Rings. Mainly they are written about the bravery of Hobbits, the awesomeness of Aragorn, or the sweetness of the Shire, but this post is going to be dedicated to a sort of side mentor character.  Over the past--oh, I don't know, year or so--I have come to realize that there is more depth to this character than first meets the eye, and I want to bring that to light.  So here goes. Here is our character of the day:
He has had many names over the past 6000 years of his life, but most people just call him Elrond now. It got too hard to keep track of all those other names.

So, yeah. Elrond. Of course he's not an Aragorn character, he doesn't go on the quest, and he really isn't seen fighting much, but we all know he's got the skill. He's got all Legolas' skill most likely multiplied by six. Plus, he's like the manliest elf alive (ahem) at least in the movies, and just really a nice guy. I'll go better into detail below. First, let's start with his family: 

Okay. So, Elrond's parents were Eärendil and Elwing, who were both of mixed human/elvish blood if I am correct. I have the Silmarillion sitting next to me and the Tolkien Gateway website open in another tab, so I'd BETTER be. They had two children, Elrond and Elros, who were given the choice, due to their mixed blood, of remaining as an elf or as a human. Elros chose to become a human (interestingly enough, it's from HIS line that Aragorn came) and Elrond remained an elf for thousands and thousands of years. He married Celebrían, who was the daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn of Lothlorien. 
I mean, imagine having her as your mother-in-law!
He and Celebrían had twin sons, named Elladan and Elrohir, who are REALLY COOL in the books. They come with their ranger friends to help Aragorn and co. through the paths of the dead. That is one thing I really, really wish had been in the movie. They would constantly shoot Aragorn looks like, "You better be good to my sister!" I would have loved that. Anyway, I digress. Arwen was the youngest of Elrond's children, and she lived with Galadriel (her grandmother) for a great time, while Elrond was helping to raise the young man named "Estel" (aka Aragorn) in Rivendell. 

500 or 600 years before LOTR (obviously before Aragorn was in Rivendell or even born), Rivendell was attacked by Orcs and Celebrían was captured. Elladan and Elrohir managed to rescue her, but she was injured beyond cure and Elrond had to send her into the west in order to save her life. He would rather send her away and let her live than keep her in Rivendell with him for a short time while she died. Awwwww........isn't that so sweeeeeeet???!!!

It makes more sense after that why he would be so protective of his only daughter and be so eager to sail into the west as well. He doesn't want her to end up hurt like her mother was, and wants to send her somewhere where she will be safe. And he wants to see his wife again. Sniff, sniff. 

In The Hobbit, Elrond is described thus: "He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer." In The Fellowship of the Ring: "The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were as grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fulness of his strength. He was the Lord of Rivendell and mighty among both Elves and Men."

I mean, wow. I personally think Hugo Weaving did a very good job portraying him in the movies. Your thoughts? 

Now, on to some other things. In the very beginning, we see Elrond trying to get Isildur to throw the ring into the fire, get rid of it for good, and save the land. He knows what's going on and how to fix it, but nobody ever listens to his very wise advice! Come on, Isildur! Get it together man! If you had listened to Elrond, then maybe poor Frodo wouldn't have had such a bad time of it! 

Throughout the years until the ring is re-discovered, Elrond continues to keep an eye on Middle-earth, helping all kinds of folk with their various things. He helps the company of Thorin Oakenshield decipher their map to the Lonely Mountain, is generous and lets Bilbo keep one of his silk pocket-handkerchiefs (in the book), and is a father figure to Aragorn throughout the years. He is also part of the White Council (along with Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel...), and a bearer of one of the three elven rings of power, though never corrupted by it. 

Vilya, the Ring of Air, arguably the most powerful ring of the three given to elves

During the Lord of the Rings, Elrond is considerably helpful. He hosts the Council to determine what is to be done with the Ring (the real Ring, the One Ring), heals, or at least mostly heals, Frodo from his terrible wound inflicted by the Ringwraiths, and gives Aragorn the reforged sword of Isildur. In the books, Aragorn has the sword right after they leave Rivendell, but in the movies, Elrond rides all the way to Rohan from Rivendell just to give Aragorn the sword (see? Legolas x 6 = Elrond's skill) and then back again. Of course, Peter Jackson and I agree that was a very good plot twist and appeals to the audience's emotion, but Tolkien and I agree that the way it was written is the way it was supposed to be. But that's more a criticism on Jackson's depiction of Aragorn's character, and I will have to talk about that later.

Now, the last topic is the relationship between Elrond and his daughter, Arwen. It is never really talked about much in the books of LOTR, but that's one thing I actually liked that Peter Jackson added in the movies. Like, he's not changing anything between father and daughter, just adding what he imagined Tolkien would have written (maybe), and I am kind of a sucker for father/daughter relationships. 



It's so sweet. She wants to marry Aragorn but Elrond doesn't want her leaving him, he wants her to sail away with him, where they may be reunited with Arwen's mother someday and live happily ever after. He knows that Arwen will have to face the difficulty of losing a spouse (in her case, Aragorn) someday and doesn't want her to have to go through that. Maybe it's because right now I'm working on writing a book where a big part of the story is a father/daughter relationship and how he doesn't want to let her go, but it just gets me every time. Elrond has a really strong love for his daughter and never wants to let her go. He doesn't want to give her over to another man, to let another man become her protection, her comfort, her help in everything. 


THIS SCENE! You guys! I had to make it big enough for you to see it all.
So, he finally comes to realize that, "Whether by his will or not," Arwen loves Aragorn, and he is what will fulfill her and make her life complete. She is meant to be with him, and Elrond understands that. It hurts, but he understands. (In the movie, he reforges the sword and comes to give Aragorn a little pep talk, but, all that aside...) And he decides to let her go to her Aragorn, to leave the shores of Middle-earth and sail into the west with the other ring-bearers, marking the end of the Third Age. Near the end of The Return of the King, we see him with his daughter in Gondor at Aragorn's coronation, still guiding her and finally giving her over to another man. 



You can see it in his face: love, joy, pride, sorrow. He's terribly sad to have his daughter leave him, to see her all grown up and married, but at the same time so proud of her, so glad to see her happy, with the man she loves, and knowing that Aragorn will take good care of her. And he's half-crying, half-smiling. He knows this is what's right to do for Arwen. But he's still going to miss her.


I know for my part that whenever my dad cries, it makes me cry, probably more than when anyone else is crying. And as I've been getting older, actually paying attention at weddings, I've realized how much it must ache for a father to let his daughter go to another man, and the mixture of joy and sadness he would most likely be feeling. She wouldn't be able to cry into his shoulder anymore, to come to her "Ada/Daddy" for help, and I can never say that I truly understand the feeling or ever will, because I won't, except a very hypothetical-someday-but-probably-not MAYBE from Arwen's point of view. But I can sympathize. 

(Wow, that got more personal than I intended. Ahem, oh well.) 

The story of Elrond ends with him sailing away into the west, helping Bilbo aboard the ship and being quite ready to leave. He's ready to go and see his wife again, leaving Rivendell and the world of Middle-earth behind. The departure of him and the other ringbearers (Gandalf, Galadriel, Bilbo, and Frodo) marks the end of the Third Age in Middle-earth and the beginning of the Fourth Age, the Age of Men, in which his daughter will still play a part.

In closing, I think that Elrond is one of the best father characters I can think of. Until recently, I never realized the depth of his character, and I don't know if it's intended to be quite so deep, but the thing about Tolkien is that he always put a whole lot of thought into each and every character he made up, even somewhat less important characters. Elrond is one of those characters, who is the wise, great elf-lord at the same time as being a soft-hearted, loving father. 

If anyone read this whole post, then good job you and thank you for being very patient! I hope you learned something out of it or at least were interested. Thanks for reading! 


Hey, I'm Elrond! (Rankin-Bass version of "The Hobbit")


No, I'm Elrond! (Ralph Bakshi version of "The Lord of the Rings")
I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: Hugo Weaving did the best job.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Quick Announcement for all you book lovers out there....

I'm not going to talk much in this post. It is just to announce that I have become a Goodreads author (finally). That's really it. So, if you care to, please check it out! Thanks y'all! Please enjoy!