Monday, December 26, 2016

Top Ten Lost Things I Wish I Could Find Again

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I was tagged with the "Christmas Character Tag" by Sarah of Dreams and Dragons, but I haven't had time yet to do it.  Even though it's past Christmas now, I'll still probably do it next time I have the chance.  
In the mean time, enjoy this list of things that sometimes keeps me awake at night.... 10 Lost Things I Wish I Could Find Again.  @_@

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Image result for fingers on piano public domain

#10 The Words to that One Song I Wrote...

One of the first songs I wrote was called (ironically) Forgotten Memory.  I had words for it, but I preferred the instrumenal version.  Now I've forgotten both the words, and the melody, and I'll never be able to get them back.

#9  Lily Baby

Probably my favorite toy from my earliest childhood years, Lily Baby was just a simple baby doll dressed in a beautiful white dress and pinafore.  She had a bonnet too at one point, though that was lost before the doll herself disappeared.  I remember, even in my little-kid-memory, that she was pretty discolored toward the end, so there's a good chance one of my parents is behind her eventual "retirement".  

Image result for gold ring with ruby and diamonds public domain

#8  My Ruby-Crystal Ring

 A pretty little piece of costume jewelry with a fake ruby and mock diamonds on either side.  This was the first pretty ring I remember having.  I lost it in a McDonald's ball pit.

#7  Emily Elizabeth

Another childhood toy, Emily Elizabeth was a life-size cloth doll in a pink dress with braided brow yarn-hair.  When I first got her, she had a miniature lookalike doll to go along with her.  I actually have a pretty good idea where Emily ended up.  She was mistakenly taken to a thrift store donation center by one of my parents, who (needless to say) felt horrible when they found out their mistake.  I forgave them of course, so all is well.  I hope some other little girl got to enjoy the doll afterward.  Though as I recall, Emily Elizabeth was missing a nose by the time she was taken, so maybe the thrift store didn't even put her on the shelves...  -_-

Image result for bible public domain

#6  That One Verse in Proverbs

Once I found a really cool verse in Proverbs that said something about a warrior who defended a city versus a warrior who waged war on another (or something like that), but I forgot the reference and I've never been able to find it again.  It's possible I imagined it and it was never there in the first place.  My fellow Bible-studiers out there may be able to point me in the right direction.  

#5  The Sisk 4 Necklace

When I was writing my first book, I gave my main character Nayrame a special necklace, a silver pendant depicting a rearing unicorn.  I had a similar necklace myself that served as the inspiration for it.  I call it the Sisk4necklace because these words were engraved on the back of the necklace, along with its twin, which I gave to my best friend at the time. After a few years of having it, I lost it at a Bible camp and despite many efforts to find it again, it has been lost ever since. I'm sure some kid picked it up and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  
The sad thing is, I've never been able to find another one just like it in any stores.  I've found others similar, but not the same.  Finally, not too long ago, I googled "Sisk-4" and found the same pendant on a different kind of chain, now valued at forty dollars plus shipping and handling!  I briefly considered getting it, but then came to my senses as I realized that $40 bucks is a bit much for such a small necklace.  0_o

#4  The Rest of My Enola Holmes Series

I'm not sure where the other books went.  I used to have the whole series, but now I only have the last book.  I last saw the series in a box I kept in the storage garage until I could get a new bookcase, but now they're nowhere to be found.  As you can imagine, this CHAFES ME GREATLY.

#3  My First Round of Checkbooks

What can I say? I had them stashed under my bed, safely away in one of my plastic totes.  Then, when I needed them after wearing out my very first checkbook, they were just... gone.  I have this nagging doubt in my mind that during one of my mad purging fits I threw the box out with other things I perceived to be junk.

#2  My Cat

Image result for beautiful short-hair cat  siamese public domainI guess he wasn't really my cat, but he was my favorite.  Angel was the most beautiful cat I've ever seen.  He resembled a Siamese cat, but with more patches.  He was perfectly proportioned, and had a face full of character.  His bright blue eyes were almost hypnotic in their intensity.  I'm serious, this cat could have made money in shows if we'd have only known his parentage.  He was clever too, unlike his mother Bella whom we affectionately acknowledged as a Supreme Ditz.  
Unfortunately, Angel disappeared on the eve of his adulthood.  Maybe a hawk took him, or a fox got him.  Maybe he took to wandering and decided not to come back.  Or MAYBE some well-meaning person saw him walking around on the farm and thought, "Hey, this cat is so pretty he doesn't deserve to be treated as an outside cat.  Come with me, kitty-kitty, I'll take good care of you!  Leave your silly mean masters behind, I have tuna!"
Alas, we shall never know.  But I did see a cat in the pet store recently that I could swear was descended from him...  


Image result for star sapphire ring  public domain

 #1  My Star Sapphire Ring

This one really galls me.  My grandpa bought a 10-karat silver ring with a real star sapphire set in the center when he received his very first Christmas bonus.  Fast forward to many-years-later, when he gave it to me as a gift.  I was so taken with it, I loved that ring.  I wore it often, and my friends at school thought it was so neat how you could really see a six-pointed star in the gem when you held it under the light.  But then one day, with no explanation, I couldn't find it.  I don't know if it was stolen, or if it just fell off in the snow somewhere.  I didn't notice when it went missing  because my finger had grown so used to wearing it I couldn't even tell when it was off.  We turned the house upside down looking for it, but to no avail.  
Now it's my plan that if I ever get a job where they give Christmas bonuses, I'll use my first one to get a star sapphire ring, and finally complete the circle.

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Images taken from the public domain)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Winter Wanderer: a Christmas Poem

The Winter Wanderer

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Dark, the tide of cloud stretched out

across the western sky

blotting out the twinkling stars

in the pale blue sea on high

A mournful wind was crying 'cross

the glistening snowy plains

ghosting through the pines and

stealing through the window panes

Emptiness, quite tangible, had

gripped the winter world

And frost in biting patterns

on the frozen trees was swirled

Then, with grim resolve he pulled

his patched-up jacket tight

He could see the shape of town ahead

in a line of dimming lights

Down a slope, so weary now

He stumbled backward twice

Every step now bound him

like a fetter to the ice

Oh, God above,” at last he cried

and to the ground he fell

On hands and knees he crawled

as if to flee the threat of Hell

I've wandered far against what I

have always known is right

And though I'm trying to return

I cannot make it through the night

If You have loved me as they say

then my soul at last be won

if You reach down to save me now-

'Thy will, not mine, be done'”

He stood, and swaying in the wind

He saw the wooden door-

a church stood there, he could have sworn

had not been there before

With a shout he tugged the unlatched door

and stumbled through inside

A praise from wind-chapped lips he gave

for warmth in which to hide

So through the night he slept in peace

his sorrows far away

And in the morning light he saw

a shining Christmas Day

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(Poem property of Emmarayn Redding.  All rights reserved.  Photo taken from the public domain)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Beautiful Music: Codail a Linbh

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Codail a Linbh is a Celtic Christmas song.  Arranged by Michael McGlynn and sung by his group Anuna, the lyrics translate  beautifully to English with this simple Gospel message:

I worship you, my little child come on earth
Sleep peacefully, my child
I worship him, weak, naked and helpless
Sleep peacefully, my child
Tell me, my love, as you lie in the manger
Tell me why you lay stretched in the straw
You are a treasury of grace, and Jesus, Son of God
Sleep peacefully, my child
Sleep peacefully, my child
Mary, my mother and gentle nurse
Sleep peacefully, my child
I am a treasury of grace, and Jesus, Son of God
Sleep peacefully, my child
Desperately poor, I came with desire into this world
To save wandering exiles from death
And when I am suspended on high they will lean towards me
Sleep peacefully, my child
Sleep peacefully, my child

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review: Charmed Life by Dianna Wynne Jones

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Image result for diana wynne jones charmed lifeAs a huge fan of Dianna Wynne Jones's "Howl's Moving Castle", I was delighted to find this highly intriguing-looking book on the shelves of my local book store.  I know it's almost Christmas and I shouldn't have bought myself a new book, but I just couldn't resist.   After skimming over the back cover summary I went straight to the checkout and bought it- which is something I hardly ever do with books.  
Usually I prefer to mail order my books only after I've researched them and read reviews, or if I've already read them from the library and want them for my own shelves.  This is mostly because I'm pretty choosy about what I read, and more choosy about what I actually want on my personal shelves.  If a book doesn't grab me, I don't want it, and it would be a waste of money to buy all the books that reguarly catch my eye!  ;)
But this book did not disappoint.  In typical Dianna Wynne Jones fashion, it had me from the first words of the first chapter, and I settled down in a rocking chair and happily stayed there practically until I finished reading it (aside from the part where I had to get up and dig my sister's car out of the snow when she got stuck...).

Book One in The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.  In "Charmed Life", young Eric Chant (or Cat) and his older sister Gwendolyn, are orphans.  Gwendolyn has a powerful gift of magic, and she's determined to become the most masterful magician she can be.  Cat watches as she hones her talents with admiration, but things go awry when his willful sister clashes with their enigmatic host and benefactor, the Great Chrestomanci.

PROS:  This book, though not connected directly to Howl or his bunch, is similar in feel.  The laws of magic seem to work the same way, though in this story we get to see it up close.  But Charmed Life is a bit darker in my opinion, but I won't get into why just yet.  
The characters were suitably whimsical and mysterious.  Cat was an innocent, trusting boy who was believably childish and naive, unlike most fictional heroes.  Gwendolyn...  boy oh boy, don't get me started on Gwendolyn.  The book is really about two people, and that's her and Chrestomanci, even though neither are the main character.  So if I were to talk much about Gwendolyn, I would be giving away too much of the story.  
My favorite character was probably Chrestomanci himself.  Distant and dreamy, kind, yet simultaneously terrifying, this mysterious character steals every scene he's in as you, the reader, try to figure him out.  I also very much liked his assistant, Michael.   (MICHAEL, you say??  Not A-Certain-Other-Michael-from-Ingary, is he?  I don't know...)

Like in Jones's other books, every detail counts.  There are clues hidden everywhere, and it isn't until you reach the end that it all makes sense.  I was extremely proud of myself for being able to predict one of the revelations, which I've never been able to do before in one of her books.  This isn't to say that Charmed Life is predictable, but rather that Jones did a good job of weaving the answer throughout the whole story, instead of just dropping it on you at the end.

CONS:  Like I said earlier though, this books is darker than the Howl's Moving Castle books.  Dark magic is played with here, and though it is most definitely shown to be evil and forbidden, the way it figured into the plot was very sad.  
There is a scene in which a group of characters attend a church, and one of them causes the stained-glass artwork to come alive during the sermon in an attempt to draw attention to herself.  This is set in a fantasy world, and no direct mention of God is made, but some people may find this offensive anyway.  The character is scolded and told that she went too far, but still.
Fortunately, there are no significant red-flags as far as the actual magic use in the book goes.  Magic words and incantations are mentioned, but not written directly.   A pentagram is mentioned to be painted on the floor of Chrestomanci's office, but that was the only objectionable element I noticed throughout the book.
Mostly, it is the nature of the great crime committed by the villain of the story that children (and parents) may find disturbing:
 ***BIG SPOILER***  
It is revealed that a beloved character who unwittingly possesses nine lives has been killed several times without their knowledge by Someone who should have protected them in order for that Someone to obtain the nine-lived-character's magic.
Aside from that, there are a few magical-apparitions that appear in quite a frightening manner.


Charmed Life was a fun, exciting, quick-to-finish book with a great mystery and decent conclusion. Being book one in a series, the ending left you wondering what else might happen, but there are several other books I have not yet read.  The second book takes us back in time several years to explore the backstory of one of the most important character, so I'm looking forward to finding some answers there.
I would recommend this book to people 13 and up.  Adults can enjoy it as much as children, so don't be shy. Parents of young children should be aware that magic and the use of it is a major theme throughout this book, and it can be compared to Harry Potter, though unlike Harry Potter the magic words are not written out for readers to memorize.  
To people who loved Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, or House of Many Ways, this is the book for you!

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-Emmarayn Redding