Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fantasy Tag: What If?

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Hey guys!  This week I'm doing the What If...?  Fantasy tag, from Sarah/Leilani Sunblade.  It looked super fun, so here we are.  I'm not tagging anyone specifically, since I wasn't technically tagged either, but should anyone see this and want to do it, by all means, go ahead!  ^_^

And now, for the tag...

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1. Your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The cast of the most recent fantasy book you read comes to your assistance… who are they? Will they be helpful?

Actually, the closest thing to a fantasy book I just read is the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Expanded Edition), by Jason Fry.  So though they don't really have cars in Star Wars, I'd be willing to bet that between Rey, Poe, and Rose, they could figure something for me.  Finn would be useless, so he and I could play cards while we waited.

Image result for star wars finn rey poe rose

2. You go to bed one evening and wake up in the lair of the villain of the last fairy tale you read, where are you and how do you plan to get out?

See the source imageThe last fairy tale I read is a little-known one called Agnete and the Sea King.  In it, a young maiden is kidnapped by a lonesome sea nymph, who takes her to his underwater kingdom and enchants her so that she cannot remember her home, only him. 

Now, as far as I could tell, the Sea King was not especially powerful, just strong as a normal man, and with a talent for enchanted song.  So first, (presuming I'm not already enchanted- which I definitely would not be, since I know better than to fraternize with handsome and hypnotic water nymphs) I would stop up my ears with kelp, then swim to the surface and hope that the enchantment to let me breath underwater lasts long enough.  From there, I run to the church and claim sanctuary, because the nymphs cannot set foot in a church.  I'll wait them out, then head home safe.

3. You are transported into a fantasy realm and given a mythical creature as a companion and best friend… which mythical creature do you get?

A dragon, I hope!  Or a Tolkien-esque elf.  :D  
Perks of one- maybe we can fly together.  Perks of the other- elves are cool, and that's that. If the elf was a man... with any luck I could find a Aegnor/Andrethh style romance!

Image result for dragon

Image result for balsa moribito4. In a strange series of coincidences, you end up needing to take the place of your favorite fantasy hero or heroine. Who are you? 

Well, it was a toss-up between Morgan of Melksham, from The Nine Kingdoms Trilogy, and Balsa, from Serei no Moribito- literally.  In the end, Balsa won.

So, as Balsa, I am an incredibly skilled warrior, particularly in the use of a short spear.  My task is to protect a ten-year-old prince from the people who seek to harm him, and to do that we must live in hiding.  In the mean time, I just basically have to be a mother to him, and I feel like that's actually a task I could handle.  

5. To go along with question #4, now that you are that character, is there anything you would do differently than that character, now that you are running the show?

Definitely I would take up Tanda on his offer of marriage.  In the story, Balsa loves him dearly, but refrains from committing to him because of her difficult past experiences.  But I have no such qualms, so both Tanda and I would get a happy ending.

6. If you were yourself in a fantasy novel, what role do you think you would play in the story?

Though the role of main character is appealing, I suspect I'd make a better advisor/helpmate sort of character.  I'd be right there supporting the hero emotionally and physically, but probably more from behind the scenes.  I make a pretty good friend and confidant, but I have very little ambition or drive, and depend on others for it.

7. One morning, as you are going about your daily business, you pick up an everyday item and a voice booms in your head with prophetic words about your future. What object is it, and what is your prophecy?

I pick up a newspaper on the way into work at the library.  As soon as I touch it, the wind picks up, but the rest of the world becomes muffled and visions flash through my mind.  A voice booms out "The stories have laid the path; follow the memory they leave behind.   Find what has been lost... bring back what has been forgotten."

Image result for newspaper

8. You are transported into a magical realm and turned into a mythical beast… what beast/fantasy creature do you want to be?

An Elf.  Failing that, a member of the Fae.  Failing even that, a shapeshifter.

9. If you could read your way into any fantasy realm, but the catch is that you can never leave, would you? Which realm would you choose?

Honestly, as much as I love reading fantasy, there is no other place I'd rather live than here.  I'm very much in love with my home, even if I do wish we had more hills here (and less winter).    If I did leave, it would be to Rivendell, for obvious reasons.  

Image result for rivendell

10.  As you are going about your normal day, you discover that you have a magical power. What is it?

I am walking outside, enjoying the feel of the wind, when I take off running.  When I reach my top speed, I jump- and suddenly discover the secret of flying!  

Now I say this, rather than some other cool powers like telekinetics or empathy, because there have been so many times when I feel like I've almost got it.  That if I just ran a little faster, breathed a little deeper or jumped a little higher, I could do it.  Just take off flying, high and free.  It always seems to work in my dreams, anyway.  

There's not a whole lot of practical value to being able to fly... but it sure would make my life fun.

Image result for person flying

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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  All images in this post may be subject to copyright.  I own none of them.  No copyright infringement intended.)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Do Wonder: A Short Story

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Sometimes, in the dusky hours, I walk alone over empty plains and take in what beauty I can. So much has changed in so short a time. There are places where I once played as a child now gone forever, while others remain untouched, hidden. But wherever I walk, in the ashen light, still I see a strange sort of beauty in all of it.

You cross my mind now and then.

I think you were far more dear to me than I ever was to you. And I say this with a smile; I am not bitter. Each time we spoke, the memory of it remains fresh in my mind.

I have a good life now, nothing to want for. I have not become obsolete in this swiftly changing world as so many others have. I know that trouble moves closer by the day, and what I will do when it arrives, I don't know. But for now, all is, for me and my own, as well as can be expected. People still need me, so my work continues, dull and menial as it is. My life is rhythmic and steady, and though I can hear the distant sounds of war carried on the wind, I have already seen many of my childhood dreams achieved, so I am content.
I do wonder what became of you.

I met your mother once. Neither she nor I realized it at the time. We sat next to each other at the train station; I was returning to my family after clearing debris from the first wave of assault, and she was on her way to aid in the hospitals. We shared a cup of tea and a few sandwiches, then parted ways. It was only afterward I realized that the nickname she spoke of with such devotion was yours. In fact, it was months later, when I had again made the journey into the cities and glimpsed you up on the walls, that the connection finally dawned on me.

When you came into town yesterday I couldn't believe my eyes. You have changed a little, since last we spoke. You're older, hollower. And there is less laughter in your eyes, so the sadness I have always seen in you is more evident now.

You did not recognize me.

Now I debate whether I should go to you. I'm not sure what I would say if I did. And yet, there are things I wish to say to you, especially if the rumors of what you intend to do are true.

I can see by the look in your eyes that you do remember me. There is a question there which you do not speak, and which I cannot understand. But I think I do understand the weight this 'great destiny' has placed on you, for I can see what it has done to you. How must I look to your eyes, now? In my mind, I am unchanged: but I know I must be, for one does not become accustomed to the feel of a gun strapped the shoulder- and the knowledge that one could need it at any moment- without changing.
How different your voice has become!

For minutes or hours uncounted we sit together, speaking as we have not spoken before. My heart is poured out, imploring for you to understand. I do not speak of your mission at hand, but of what may come after, should your life be nearing its end. I want only to sleep soundly knowing I have done all I can for your soul, for beyond that it is out of my hands. I think my words take root in you, but I have my doubts whether you will heed them.

They tell me you looked strong as you walked toward the darkening horizon. When the thunder rolled I could hear it even from here.

Every now and then I look to the west. I am alright, you know. I have nothing to want for, a thing I still cannot comprehend when others have lost so much. But whatever lies ahead now, healing or pain, I am content for this moment in time.

I do wonder what became of you.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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The Resistance is on the run from the First Order- with a limited fuel supply that will not last long enough for them to escape.  In a desperate move, the daring pilot Poe Dameron sends ex-Storm Trooper Finn and Rose, an engineer, on a haphazard mission to find a master code-breaker who may be able to save them.  
Meanwhile, Rey, aspiring to be a Jedi, has found Luke Skywalker and his secluded hiding place.  But convincing him to join the fight against the First Order proves more difficult than she imagined.  And as she explores her abilities in the Force, she finds herself most peculiarly and inexorably connected with the last person she could ever expect....

When the trailers said that "this isn't going to end the way that you think", they weren't lying.  Not to boast, but I'm usually pretty good with predicting where a movie's going to go.  But not so with this one!  It surprised me big time in more ways than one, which was really quite refreshing.

I seem to be one of the few people who actually really liked this movie.  If I'm honest, I don't just like it, I love it.  It's moved up to being my second favorite Star Wars movie, after Episode VI.

This is an unpopular opinion, but I stand by it.  I'll admit, the story's got some loopholes, as most Star Wars movies do.   There were somethings that maybe could have been written differently.  But the thing is... none of that really mattered to me as I watched it.  And a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that the story managed to tap into my emotions, so it won me over pretty quickly.

This movie took new characters we were introduced to in the last film and continued to develop them.  And for some, like Finn and Poe, it took them in a direction I did not expect, and I ended up liking them less for it.  Poe's lust for power and Finn's cowardice become more evident, giving them legitimate faults.  Even though I ended up admiring them less, I was alright with the development because that's how people often are too.  You meet someone and form one opinion of them, but over time their faults become more apparent, and your picture of them changes.

Rey is pretty much the same girl we met in Episode VII, but her perspective on the war is broadened throughout the course of the film.  Her talents in the Force have blossomed at an incredible rate that still falls into Mary Sue territory, but hey- you know what?  I like Rey, she's cool and nice, so I find I don't really care about that.  I wrote an article once on another blog making the case for why Mary Sues aren't always so bad, which I may or may not repost sometime.  At any rate, although I cant' deny she's a Mary Sue, I feel like she's the good kind.  

After all, when a movie character actually makes me say "Oooh!  I get to be her!", I think she deserves a little slack from me.  ;D

Kylo Ren, our antagonist/***SPOILER*** deuteragonist ***END SPOILER***  goes through some massive character development.  In Episode VII, he came off as a weak young man raging against his parents and using his idolized vision of his grandfather as a shield.  Though talented, he posed little threat as a villain due to his childish tendencies.  In The Last Jedi, this is called out by none other than his master, Supreme Leader Snoke.  And, after this reprimand, Kylo/Ben begins to show his true potential.  By the end of the film, my casual enjoyment of his character had transformed into wholehearted admiration.  He has proved himself a worthy successor in my eyes.  

As far as pacing and storytelling goes, this movie is rather long and rambling.  But it took the time it needed to tell the events that were happening, so I was okay with it.  So many times throughout this film, plans were made and then thwarted, re-worked and then thwarted again, which only amped up the suspense.  

Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, I found myself thinking, "Well, what happens next then?"  And that thought would be repeated, many, many times.  I'd make a prediction, see part of it fulfilled, and then have the rug pulled from beneath my feet once again.  

Speaking of the first fifteen minutes of the film, that brings me to the action.  I really loved the action scenes in this movie.  Well, expect for the chase scene on Canto Bight, but it wasn't so bad.  There were some cool moments in that one too.  The only reason I didn't like it was because it made me feel a little claustrophobic.  

The light saber fights were super cool, and the space battles were highly entertaining.  The visuals and computer work were quite striking, so for action fans I think this movie should satisfy.  

One thing I'll say about this story is that it is, at times, disappointing.  Luke Skywalker's current state is not only jarring, but just disagreeable.  And myself to terribly surprised by it.  Most of his actions throughout the movie had precedent in the original trilogy in some way or another.  His personality traits had just been taken to some unforeseen- but not unnatural- places.
 precedents in the previous films; his personality traits had been taken to some unexpected but not unnatural places.  

The battles don't end quite the way you want them to, and the characters don't always do what you want them to.  Overall, this movie sets up some expectations for you, then subverts them and it's not always comfortable.  But a wise character as much as says it in the film:  *** SPOILER***"The greatest teacher, failure is." ***END SPOILER***  

The characters do fail, often.  But sometimes, that's how life goes.  And what can we do but keep going and trying to do better next time?  Keep hoping that things will start to look up, and then do what comes next.  

And now for the pros and cons.


Eveything I just mentione above.  Also, as an aside, the plot of this movie felt like one of my dreams.  If you're a member of that forum I frequent, and you've read the Dreams thread, you know what I mean.  Long, complicated, desperate, and emotional... it just felt like one of my many, crazy dreams.  


There were a couple of swear words in this movie, which is odd for a Star Wars movie.   

In the casino scenes on Canto Bight there are some scantily-clad alien creatures.  

Fantasy violence throughout the film.

This being a war movie, a lot of people die, and some of their death scenes may upset sensitive viewers.  

OVERALL:  I love this movie, and I think if you give it a shot, you will too.  Unless you don't, in which case I can't help you.  ;D

Can't wait for the next film!

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Spoilers Ahead)

I've just got to say... this movie broke my ship from Episode VII.  But it gave me a new one!  While I can't exactly say that I ship Rey/Ben, I really, really enjoyed their interactions.  The hand-touch scene?  Come on!!  That was pretty darn romantic.  Of course, it's not a good idea for poor, innocent Rey to fall in love with Kylo Ren at this time.  But is it so wrong for me to hope that his feelings for her might move him to step on the path of redemption, even now?  

Also there's a ton of great memes for them.  

That is all, for now.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beautiful Music: Drops in the River

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For this month's Beautiful Music we have Fleet Foxes' Drops In the River, from their 2008 album Sun Giant.

From the mysterious opening sounds of a cello string being dragged across a mandolin, to the tight harmonies sung with raw emotion, this song has the golden quality of late-summer sunlight, evoking images of lonesome countrysides and road-worn travelers.  

Like most Fleet Foxes songs, the lyrics are cryptic, and perhaps even nonsensical.  However, when you listen closely, it's easy to imagine a story to explain it.  What that story might be depends entirely on the listener, which is one of the reasons this group has become one of my favorite artists over the last year.   

And now, without further ado, I give you the song in question, Drops in the River.

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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  Copyright Fleet Foxes.  No copyright infringement intended.)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Book Review: Frankenstein (Or the Modern Prometheus)

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See the source imageI would say it's probably a safe guess that most people have heard of FrankensteinOr at least, Frankenstein's Monster.  He's only one of the top most famous literary monsters in history.
But the true monster of the novel is not the  monster we're all accustomed to seeing in the monster movies.  This becomes almost immediately apparent in Mary Shelly's original and brilliant novel, Frankenstein (Or the Modern Prometheus)

Frankenstein is one of those books that made me wonder, why haven't I read this before?  It's one of the best books I've ever read.  Of course, it's hard to replace Mr. Tolkien's works in my heart, but Frankenstein up near the top of the list for me.  

The story opens with letters written by a Captain Robert Walton, an explorer in the Antarctic, to his beloved sister back home.  Walton is possessed of a passionate thirst for discovery, and this desire has pushed him beyond whatever obstacles have plagued him until he finds himself stranded in the ice.  He is faced with the choice of pushing onward, or turning back.  But in the midst of his own drama, he witnesses two mysterious men pass nearby his ship on dog-drawn sleds, one pursuing the other.

When one of the men collapses, Walton brings him into the ship and there attempts to nurse him back to health.  The man, Victor Frankenstein, begins to forge a close friendship with the captain, and relates his sorry tale, which then leads us into the main story.

We are taken through a detailed account of  Victor's childhood, which at first seems like a simple sentimental backstory for our protagonist, but trust, me, almost every detail of this backstory becomes important later on in the story.

As a young man, Victor is influenced by his intent and passionate personality, his desire to learn and experiment with God's creation, and by the outdated science books he reads without knowing how flawed they are.  His early wondering soon flower into a solid idea once he reaches college, and he begins his quest to accomplish the impossible- to create life using the mysterious scientific process he has discovered.

After two years of obsessive labor that takes him to increasingly darker places, Victor is finally successful in building his 'perfect being', which he designs to be beautiful.  But as soon as the creature awakens, Victor is struck by the horror of what he has done.  He has gone against nature and God in one of the most blatant ways possible, and now he cannot take it back.  After a harrowing night spent hiding from his monstrous creation, Victory manages to elude it and finds it gone in the morning.  He believes his troubles and sins are safely buried... but soon finds that he cannot be so easily free from the dreadful crime he committed.  

This book, though technically a "horror" novel, does not read like one.  It's a slow burn from start to finish: and though the plot in itself is fairly predictable in this day and age, its mastery is in its prose, and the feelings that prose invokes in the reader.  Victor, the narrator, often waxes poetic on morality and philosophy, which makes this quite the  thought-provoking piece as the story progresses.

I think my favorite aspect of this novel is the characters.   They have a stasifying depth to them- even the Creature which Frankenstein creates.

Victor Frankenstin is a charming, likable young man with a loving, devoted family.  But his hubris, and his obsessive personality leads him down a road of self-destruction that he could have easily walked away from had he had the sense to look around him.  I got the sense that Victor may or may not have always been just a little bit insane, because of the way his mind works.  He's a strange fellow, but the reader comes to both love and despise him as the novel goes on.

As for the Creature (whom I came to think of as "Adam", since that's who Victor intended him to emulate), he was a surprisingly compelling character as well.  He is not the groaning, lumbering, Hulk-like beast as most movies tend to portray him.  No, the Creature quickly proves himself to be not only intelligent, but cunning.  His primary education, once he had taught himself to understand both language and reading, were Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious Greeks, and Goethe's Sorrows of Werter.
He is strong and quick, even graceful.  He is intuitive to human nature, and once he becomes Victor's foe, sets out to systematically drive his creator mad with grief.  But before that, I as a reader had already come to greatly sympathize with the Creature, for when he first awakened into the world of the living, he had a childlike innocence that, if nurtured, could have shaped him into quite the heroic figure.

Furthermore, I was surprised when I read this book to find that the physical description of the Creature is completely different than the classic aesthetic with which we are familiar.  Far from the flat-headed green monster, Victor describes having built the Creature to be beautiful; limbs in perfect proportion, long luxurious black hair, perfect teeth, handsome face, etc... it's just the fact that the Creature has been instilled with an unnatural life that makes him ugly.  Granted, when the Creature finally blinks to life, his skin is grayish and shriveled, his lips black, and his eyes a disturbing dun-white... but aside from those things, what truly makes him vile is the fact that he was not ever mean to exist.

For this review, I can't think of enough cons to do my usual PROS and CONS section.  Victor's ambitions border on the blasphemous at times, but the point of the book is to show how wrong he was.  There are a few instances of God's name in dialogue, some of which are undoubtedly in vain- but many of them seemed to me as being actually spoken to God in a kind of plea.

If you're looking for a book that transports you to another time and place, that questions the roles of hero and villain, look no further than Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (Or the Modern Prometheus).  It's well worth the read... and another read... and another.

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By the way, for any who have read the book and are frustrated with the fact that there are so many blatantly inaccurate adaptions, check out Hallmark's 2004 two-part mini series.  Of all the adaptions of this novel, that one is by far the most accurate.  It deviates from the book in several places, of course, but for the most part they got it right, though it being a film rather than a book, they had no means of delving into the moral and philosophical musings that characterize the original.  They get the Creature right (he stole the show!), and I very much approve of the casting for Victor and his friend, Henry Clerval.  

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-Emmarayn Redding

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm Back! | My Summer

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Whew, man, has it been a long time since I blogged!  I feel terrible.  0_0  It was just the other day that I was opening a new window in my browser that the blogger icon caught me eye, bringing the memory that I've been meaning to post here jolting back to my mind.

Life has been pretty busy since I got back from Montana, but there'll be more on that later.  First things first, let me tell you about my experiences at Trails End Ranch!

My summer in 2017 was a wonderful experience.  First of all, the camp where I worked is located in a beautiful spot, partially in the Custer National Forest as I mentioned in my last post, but there were plenty of open, rolling hills that, once you climbed high enough, you could look over for miles and miles.  The waving grasses and Ponderosa pines permeate the air with an enchanting scent reminiscent of vanilla, and blue birds light the forests with their bright feathers and lovely songs.  

See the source imageThe Medicine Rocks lay not far from the camp, and that place is probably the most enchanting and inspiring place I've ever been.

This summer, I ended up working as the Arts and Crafts Director, of "Craftmaster", as I referred to myself.  When I went there, I had expected to be made a counselor for one of the older kids' cabins.  But, due to my plantar fasciitis (a condition that makes it extremely painful to walk/stand for long periods of time) I ended up using crutches for the first several days of staff training.  I knew I wouldn't be able to handle following a group of kids around those hills for very long, and the camp directors, Jim and Kim, knew it too.  So they put me in charge of crafts all summer, which turned out to be the perfect job for me.

In the mornings, I would get up and walk across camp, email my family using what little internet connection there was, then head over to the dining hall for a cup of coffee.  I would do my devotions, and sometimes play a few tunes on my pennywhistles.  The way the music echoed off the hills was so surreal, I could have gone on for hours.

As Craftmaster, I went to the craft cabin each day and prepared art projects for the kids to try throughout the day.  Usually, after breakfast, I'd get a couple groups of Trailblazers, which were the youngest groups of kids we got (third grade and up).  With the help of their counselors, I'd set them up with whatever projects they wanted to do, then once their hour was up, I'd clean everything up and get it all ready for the next group.

In the afternoons, if any of the older kids (Explorers or Adventure Teens) had chosen Art as their 'path' for the week, they would come in and I would teach a special art class for them for three hours.  We covered all sorts of fun things in that class, from drawing realistic portraits to doing Fresco  and creating our own Super Hero characters.  Sometimes I would take them all outside and we'd find something from the hills to sketch.

In the slow hours, when I had no kids in the art room, I would set plaster molds (by far our most popular project), or create example crafts for kids to copy.  I spent a lot of time wood-burning two large signs for the camp.  The signs were to indicate the place where campers were supposed to set their things when we were preparing to go on a special campout under the stars once a week, and required a lot of painstaking detail with a tiny wood-burning pen.

Speaking of campout, I'll talk about that for a minute.  Every Wednesday, rain or shine, we would take all the kids out of the main camp area and set up in various forest glens, and spend the night there.  No tents, no pre-cooked food (unless it was a dry week when there was a Fire-Ban)  just us, our sleeping bags, and the stars.

See the source imageOn these campouts, I became a story-teller.  I bought a ratty old blanket I didn't mind getting soiled, and when I spread it out on the ground the kids knew it was time to listen to whatever tales I had for them that week.  Whoever was interested would come and squeeze onto whatever room there was on the blanket.

Inevitably, they would ask for scary stories.  As it turns out, I know waaaay more scary stories than I thought, and most of it is thanks to the fairy tales I've read.   Those old fairy tales are creepy things, man!  Bluebeard was a favorite, as was the Taily-PoThe Luck Child went over well.  One story I made up on the spot, based on Native American monster tales, and called it The Wendigo's Hunt.

I also did a retelling of Tell-Tale Heart, told as much in the style of the original story as possible, which was a ton of fun.  This one kid got so into it, his eyes looked like they were going to pop out  of his head.  Someone walked up behind him and grabbed his shoulders, and he nearly jumped out of his skin!  It was hilarious.

As Craftmaster, I actually spent a lot of time alone, and didn't have nearly as much of an opportunity to minister closely with the children as some of the counselors did.  But there were a few kids with whom I formed a close connection.

During the course of the summer, I became extremely lonely.  Not because of the amount of time I spent alone in a craft shop, but because I wasn't with my family.  But this sense of loneliness is not entirely unfamiliar- I've felt it many times before, and I think it might be God's way of drawing me closer to Him.

Now for some reason, a lot of the kids who chose Art Path were kids who were super homesick or painfully shy.  But as it happens, I was a really good person to help kids who were feeling that way.  I'm not shy, but I'm a good listener, and I'm usually pretty good about bringing people out of their shell.  And with the loneliness I was experiencing, it gave me the perfect starting ground for connecting with the homesick kids.

I was able to lead one girl to Christ this summer.  I can't tell her story here (I told her I wouldn't), but it was something that I will never forget.  I pray for her still, and I hope that if I ever meet her again I will be able to see how much she had grown in the faith.

Over the course of the summer, I met and got to know a ton of really cool new friends.  My fellow staff members were awesome, and came from all kinds of different backgrounds.  The mix of personalities is not something you'd find many other places, but we all got along and it was great to get to know so many people in my age group.  We had adventures and misadventures, conversations that could be both hilarious and touching, and a whole lot of "you-had-to-be-there" moments.  I'll probably reference them in future posts, so be prepared for the occasional Camp Story here and there.  :)

Overall, the summer was a fantastic experience, and I hope I can go back someday.

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Since I've been home, I've settled back into ordinary life pretty well.  As soon as I returned, I got what amounts to a promotion in my job at the library, so now I work every day with the title  Assistant Librarian, and am the primary employee there.  

My family and I went to the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which was great.  The ark especially was fascinating to me, particularly the parts where they had detailed life-sized models of the animals that may have been housed in the original for the year of the Flood.

I've been dong a lot of writing.  I try to write every day, and though I don't always meet that expectation, the writing sessions have been very productive, so I'm making a lot of progress in my book.

I'm working mainly on Rise of Ralienah, but I'll talk more about that in another post.  I'm very excited that the story is coming along so well.  I can't wait to finish the manuscript.  

In the coming weeks, I'm going to try to post a little more often.  No promises, but the truth is I miss blogging and it's sort of important for the work that I do, so it starts today.  :D  

I'm thrilled to be back with you guys, and I'm looking forward to the rest of 2018!

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Some pictures from my summer before I go...

Me during my first week there.  This was taken from the balcony of the cabin where I stayed during staff training.

On a women's retreat during staff training, I took a walk by the river.  I met a baby rattlesnake not far from where this picture was taken, and promptly decided I didn't have enough leg protection to go on any further...

More from the river...

We took a trip to see Mount Rushmore towards the end of the summer.  You can't see much because my phone's camera is awful, but there you go.

My desk in the craft shop.  I shared the building with the snack shack, so it worked out rather well for me.  That glass window you see to the far right is the ice cream display freezer.

Me in my craft shop.  You can't see it well, but I arranged all the paints according to their color values, and it looked great.  

We went to the Medora Musical after camp ended, and it was a lot of fun.  This is before the show started, but the set was super cool. Those buildings in the back are on tracks, so they slide in as the band stand slides forward.  

-Emmarayn Redding

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Journey Begins/Farewell (For Now)

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Image result for road public domain image

Well my friends, the time has finally come.  Tomorrow my sister and I depart for Trails End Ranch at five-o-clock in the morning. For three months, Brethyn and I will work as counselors and as musicians for the worship team.  I am so excited for this!  I've wanted to do this for as long as I can remember, and now it's finally happening.
Every time I take a walk or a bike ride, I always find myself pausing to gaze toward the west.  I live in a valley, where the ground is so that if the shelterbelts didn't block your view, you could see for miles.  But in west you can see the hills begin to rise, and as the sun sets, that mystical sight tugs at my heart every time I see it.  I've always told myself, Someday... someday I will go there.  Tomorrow, that too will come true!  We'll head west across North Dakota and into Montana in what is approximately an eight-hour drive.  We'll stop by Medora, a western-themed town that has all kinds of cool sights to see, and finally end up in the middle of Custer National Forest at our beloved camp.

This will be the longest time I've been away from home, and it will also be the first missions trip I've ever done.  I'll admit that I've shed quite a few tears in my quiet moments at the thought of leaving my family.  They're pretty much my best friends, and even though I'm not a very social person, they are the eight special people I always love to spend time with.  But even though I'll miss them dearly, I look forward to this new adventure with hope and anticipation.  I'm leaving the Shire!  This is my adventure, and I can't wait to see where it will take me.  

Of course, this will be a very busy few months for me.  As a counselor I won't have much time for anything I usually do, like reading, writing, movie watching, etc... all those things will have to take a back seat.  As will blogging, as it so happens.  If I get a chance to blog during the summer, I certainly will- but don't be surprised if I don't post here again until August.  I'll miss all of you!  And I do hope to come on every now and then to catch up if I can.  But until then, I bid you all a very fond farewell- until we meet again!

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Image taken from the public domain.  Music copyright Patrick Doyle)