Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Can I Do With a Toad or Two? :)

Little Gracie (3) has been absolutely loving our big old volume of Beatrix Potter's books. In the past, I have written and illustrated a series of books for Abigail, (at least, a few) so I am thinking it is high time I did another one, complete with watercolor illustrations for Gracie. Recently, I've been inspired by Beatrix Potter's books, and have been studying her paintings, to see what exactly makes them so terribly charming! So I'm off on a quest to make a book for Grace that even somewhat resembles the charm found in the Potter tales! But a good artist needs a model, and since I don't want to draw the book about LaMancha goats, a dog, chickens, or a cat, the only capturable thing I have around here are toads. But what is charming about a toad? What sort of inspiration can one find in those warty beasts? I am off to find out. I shall make a tale about a toad-a good tale, and paint him faithfully. That is, unless something more congenial comes along. The only other thing I could paint is a guinea pig of ours. But she leads a very dull life in her cage, and is rather unoteworthy, excepting the fact that she is a very pretty creature indeed! :) Wish me luck in my attempts to make a masterpiece out of a toad or two! :) -Rachel

Friday, June 25, 2010

I've Been Brought Down! ;)

I am ever of the opinion that you can stay very humble as an aspiring author by reading classic books. I just finished watching BBC's version of "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell (Which I read earlier this spring) and was so inspired. I don't know why though. It is the most irritating kind of inspiration, where it makes me want to write, but at the same time, realize that I am not a "Great author". I told Leah, "Watching one of those movies or reading one of those books leaves me feeling one way: I want to either be brilliant, or have an English accent- it doesn't really matter which!" :) I have no great hopes of ever writing something so great as a classic, but write I must, and write I shall, and no backwards inspiration shall stop my pen! ;)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The First Installment of "Lydia's Journal" (temporary title)

Okay guys! Here is the first installment of my story for the story-club! It is the journal of a young Colonial girl like I stated a few posts ago! :) Hope you like it! If you read it, please tell me what you think! :0)

April 3rd, the year of our Lord 1775

I begin this chronicle under the happiest of auspices- April 3rd is Henry's birthday, I am happy as waiting-maid to the misses Redford, and the early sunlight shows bright and clear upon this page. I am sensible of the fact that to be literate is a great privilege to one of my station. Henry taunts me about the fact that I am a learned young woman. Most girls my age are only taught housewifery, and skills useful for finding a good position in a wealthy family. But Henry and I are different. There was a time when many a head would turn at the name "Lydia Cobb", and Henry possessed good chances of attending the great college of William and Mary. But those days are gone, and have all but faded from memory. Was it only five years ago when Papa was a wealthy merchant? What happy times those were! Papa insisted that I, his only daughter, be taught to read and write, and that Henry learn to speak French like a native, and read Latin as well as any Roman of old spoke it. How merry we all were in those days before the trouble began! The evenings were the most pleasant times. Henry and Papa would play chess on the walnut table in the corner while I read the Bible, or one of Papa's books aloud to Mama. In those times I never dreamed of what I was to become. The trouble I speak of began the August I was thirteen. One of Papas ships was taken by pirates. The crew of another mutinied. Two more sank in dreadful storms crossing the Atlantic. The business was ruined, and Papa grew thin and pale. It seemed that our Lord no longer chose to smile upon us. But Papa's faith remained strong. Often he would bid me to sit on a footstool close beside him and read of Job's trials. I can see yet the firelight dancing upon his thin face, making the hollows in his cheeks appear hollower still, and then the old happy smile light his wan countenance as I read Job's words: "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord."
A week later Mama fell ill, and the accounts at the apothecary grew larger and larger. I waited upon Mama to save the expense of a hired woman, and I grew to love my mother with a deeper affection than I had ever felt for anyone before! But despite all our careful attention and the bitter draughts the doctor gave her to drink, Mama slipped away by Michaelmas to be with the Lord in Heaven. After our grief mellowed, Papa gathered his courage and went to sea as a sailor upon one of the remaining ships he had formerly owned. My good, tender, noble Papa!
One hot day the following summer, Henry came to me. I knew something was amiss by the gentle, halting manner in which he approached me, and placed a trembling hand upon my shoulder. "Lydia, my lass," he said, and looked so like our dear Papa that I was almost frightened of him, "The ship was in the West Indies...Papa caught the yellow fever and....he joined Mama in Heaven-God bless us now!"
Poor Henry had begun bravely, but the last words choked him, and he hugged me tightly with the tears streaming down his cheeks. Those were melancholy days following. Henry found employment as a clerk, and I, only a small girl of fourteen, learnt the art of servitude as well as I possibly could with no mother to teach me. What a blessing it was when good Master Redford, fancying the daughter of his former colleague, employed me as a waiting-maid and companion for his two daughters! I soon learnt to perform all the small and pretty duties the Redford ladies required, and became quite a proficient little hairdresser and milliner. I little understood the great honor conferred therein, as I do now! What I then considered as a matter of course, I now understand to be a blessing from the Almighty. That a prominent businessman in Williamsburg would choose me as a companion for his daughters was a strange happening indeed!
As I read over the words my pen has etched upon these pages thus far, they strike me as being only sorrowful accounts of an orphaned young lady. But I am not melancholy. These events did happen, and the days were dark, but, to quote one of Papa's favorite sayings:

"After the night the mists shall clear,
After the storm, the sun appear;
Spring returns each blessed year,
And the Lord is faithful here."

I am at peace. Henry is a most affectionate brother, and treats me like a fine lady. Master Redford and his daughters are cordial to me. I want for nothing except, perhaps, a bit more amusement, but that I hope, this journal shall give me. Who can tell what events may take place between these two handsome covers? I have saved long to buy such a book at the Stationer's, and I trust there shall be some profit in practicing my writing herein. I do not expect that I shall have many diverting experiences to record, and yet, who can tell? Inside, I am still "Mistress Lydia Cobb", daughter of a wealthy merchant; a genteel young lady every bit as worthy as Georgianna Redford. And, while adventures may not happen to waiting-maids, perhaps they shall not pass by a gentlewoman!"

What do you think? Hope you like it! :) -Rachel

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poetry-Writing Tips

I think I can write poetry pretty well. I don't say that to be boastful or anything like that, but to explain the reason why I feel I can give a list of tips to writing poetry. That being explained, here I go:

Tips for Writing Enjoyable Poetry:

1. Write the entire alphabet (minus vowels a,e,i,o,u) across the top of your page and use as a rhyming dictionary. Example: I want a word the rhyme with "page". So I go through the alphabet: "bage, cage, dage, fage, gauge, hage...etc." Some of the words are real, others of course, you wouldn't use! :) This really helps alot!

2. Pick a subject that would be interesting to read about, and not too abstract. (For instance, I don't really like writing about "feelings" because you end up with a cloudy, sometimes strange, abstract, and...boring poem!)

3. If you wish to write a rhyming poem...make sure that it really rhymes please! I do not consider the words "about" and "down" to rhyme in any way. They may have similiar vowel sounds, but really, don't do that please! :) (Perhaps it is an assonance, but who cares? It makes for a very awkward poem!)

4. Keep the meter (the beat of the poem) pretty steady. Don't skip around. If the first line has 8 syllables, keep it that way or at least, change it in some orderly fashion. If I wrote a couplet like this:
"I love flowers, Pink and blue
I love them too!"
That would be entirely awkward (and terrible poetry! ;) and you would be hard-pressed to find any reader who could read that without it sounding....very juvenile. Nursery rhymes have better rhythm than that! :)

5. Always read your poem aloud or at least read it over to yourself before showing it to anyone.

6. Always copy neatly down on a new sheet of paper the final poem.

There! These are things I always keep in mind when writing poetry! :) -Rachel

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Leetla Giorgio Washeenton"

"Leetla Giorgio Washeenton"
Thomas Augustine Daly
You know w'at for ees school keep out
Dees holiday, my son?
Wal, den, I gona tal you `bout
Dees Giorgio Washeenton.
Wal, Giorgio was a leetla keed
Ees leeve long time ago,
An' he gon' school for learn to read
An' write hees nam', you know.
He moocha like for gona school
An' learna hard all day,
Baycause he no gat time for fool
Weeth bada keeds an' play.
Wal, wan cold day w'en Giorgio
Ees steel so vera small,
He start from home, but he ees no
Show up een school at all!
Oh, my! hees Pop ees gatta mad
An' so he tal hees wife:
"Som' leetla boy ees gon' feel bad
Today, you bat my life!"
An' den he grab a beega steeck
An' gon' out een da snow
An' lookin' all aroun' for seek
Da leetla Giorgio.
Ha! W'at you theenk? Firs' theeng he see
Where leetla boy he stan'
All tangla up een cherry tree,
Weeth hatchet een hees han'.
"Ha! w'at you do?" hees Pop he say,
"W'at for you busta rule
an' stay away like dees for play
Eenstead for gon' to school?"
Da boy ees say; "I no can lie,
An' so I speaka true.
I stay away from school for try
An' gat som' wood for you.
I theenka deesa cherry tree
Ees gooda size for chop,
An' so I cut heem down, you see,
For justa help my Pop."
Hees Pop he no can gatta mad,
But looka please' an' say:
"My leetla boy, I am so glad
You taka holiday."
Ees good for leetla' boy, you see,
For be so bright an' try
For help hees Pop; so den he be
And granda man bimeby.
So now you gatta holiday
An' eet ees good, you know,
Foor you gon' do da sama way
Like leetla Giorgio.
Don't play so mooch, but justa stop,
Eef you want be som' good,
An' justa help your poor old Pop
By carry home sonme wood;
An' mebbe so like Giorgio
You grow for be so great
You gon be da Presidant
Of dese Unita State'.
This poem has always cracked us up since we first read it. I can always get Daniel to laugh by saying in a funny voice: "Ees gooda size for chop!" :) This was hard enough to type, I wonder if it was hard for the author to write! Enjoy this brilliant poem and read it out loud. It's twice as funny! -Rachel

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Prolific Man Indeed!

Here is a question for all of us amateurs to ponder:
"How on earth did Dickens manage to write so many, many, 4-inch thick books, and still present each one with a pound of humor and wit that never grows old?!?!"
That is what I am wondering. I marvel at this man's great talent! And have any of you been driven crazy by the knowledge that Dickens died before telling anyone the ending of the book he was writing: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"? Argh! A mystery without an end! :( Charles Dickens was a "Maniac, and a man, and a marvel in a million!" ;) *smiles at Sarah, and anyone else who has seen "Our Mutual Friend"*

Monday, June 7, 2010

Characer Bio. on Fennel Seasoning

Okay! Here is the last of the bunch! She is my least favorite, only because she is not such a major part of the story! Do any of you want to read part of the story? If you do, leave a comment! :)

Name: Fennel Amelia Rowena Seasoning

Age: 4

Occupation: Youngest child, the "baby" of the family

Home: Cape Farsight, India

Physical appearance: blond fluffy hair, big blue eyes

Physical build: slight, small, dainty

While sitting: Rosemary's lap of course! :)

While standing: Do children ever stand in any one position?

What you notice first about her: That she is the family "doll" :)

Place of birth: India

Siblings: You've met them all now! :)

Characteristics: loving, sweet, innocent, well-intentioned

Favorite expressions: N/A

Special Love: Her "Bayzie",(Basil) Rosemary's stories, Tighty (the puppy)

There we go! You have met the whole "Pot O' Seasonings"! I won't tell you who the mother finally is! -Rachel

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Characer Bio. on Rosemary Seasoning

Here I introduce:

Name: Rosemary Adelaide Beatrice Seasoning

Age: 11

Occupation: eldest daughter, grammar teacher, family beauty

Home: Cape Farsight, India

Physical Appearance: brown wavy hair, rosy cheeks, blue eyes, sweet expression

Physical Build: girlish figure, medium height, fashionably roundish

While sitting: any lady-like position

While standing: good posture, a bit shy

What you notice first about her: her sweet expression, her motherly ways, her modest beauty

Place of birth: India

Siblings: Older brother Basil, younger sisters Angelica and Fennel, younger brother Dill

Characteristics: sweet, even temper, motherly, happy, thoughtful and kind,

Favorite expressions: "My word!" or "Good heavens!"

Special love: doing good deeds, reading romances, playing "mother"

There you have her: a classic sweet older sister! :) (And no, I am not saying this is me! ;) -Rach

Friday, June 4, 2010

Characer Bio. on Basil Seasoning

Alright folks. Meet the next of the "Pot O' Seasonings"

Name: Basil ( NOT "BAZZEL") Andrew Cyrus Seasoning

Age: 12-nearly-13

Occupation: Captain of the children on any quests, oldest child and son, trainer of dog, spokesperson

Home: Cape Farsight, India

Physical Appearance: Brownish, wavy hair, blue-ish eyes, nice smile

Physical Build: tall, fit, upright

While sitting: Legs apart, hands clasped behind back, usually in front of a fireplace

While walking: energetic stride, commanding attitude

What you notice first about him: His quiet strength, his gentlemanly and courteous manners, his smile

Place of Birth: India

Siblings: Younger sisters Rosemary and Angelica, younger brother Dill, younger sister Fennel

Characteristics: more serious-minded, a leader, full of boyish whims yet, gentlemanly and thoughtful, kind-hearted

Favorite Expressions: "Oh Sally!" ;) , "For pity's sake", and "Good heavens!"

Special Love: his puppy: Queen Titiana Silver-hair, Papa, and adventures

There you have him in all his glory: Mr. Basil Andrew Cyrus Seasoning

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Character Bio. on Angelica Seasoning

Here is the Character Bio. on Angelica Seasoning:

Name: Angelica Seasoning (Angie)

Age: 10

Occupation: Family Ettiquette instructor, co-conspiritor with Dill, society queen

Home: Cape Farsight, India

Physical appearance: Blond curls, blue eyes, tallish, light-footed

Physical build: willowy, tall for her age, promising to be a beauty

While sitting: any position she feels like, often lays on the tiger rug, sometimes perches on arms of chairs, etc.

While walking: a light, springy step, sometimes dances about

What you notice first: Her pretty manners, and mischivous twinkle in her eyes

Place of Birth: India

Siblings: Older brother Basil, older sister Rosemary, younger brother Dill, younger sister Fennel

Characteristics: charming, frank, strong-willed, present-minded, spunky, passionate

Favorite expressions: "Well!", and using everyone's full names when reprimanding them :)

Special love: her brother Dill, new clothes, and going on "Quests" :)

There you go! Miss Angelica Seasoning, meet all your admirers! :) -Rachel

p.s. It is funny, because all the other children have super long names, but only Angie ever uses them.....I need two middle names, that sound elegant and Victorian. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Character Bio. On Dill Seasoning

Okay. Sorry to jerk ya'll around, but I'm a writer who works on several things at a time. The book I am currently final-editing before packing off to a publisher, is called "A Mother For The Seasonings". There are five Seasoning children, and I thought I'd do a character bio on each child, in order from my favorite, down to my least favorite. (I give myself the liberty of choosing favorites. :)
So here goes nothing!

Name: Dill Vervain Octavius Seasoning :)

Age: 8

Occupation: Son of a British Navy Captain. Family food connoisseur

Home: Cape Farsight, India

Physical appearance: round, rosy, brown hair, rougish smile

Physical build: shortish, jaunty, round

While sitting: any position but the proper one

While standing: legs apart, hands in pockets

While walking: a slight swagger

What you notice first: his naughty smile

Place of birth: India

Siblings: Older brother: Basil, older sisters: Rosemary and Angelica, younger sister: Fennel

Characteristics: likes to eat, is difficult, naughty, but good-hearted

Favorite expressions: "What in tarnation", "blast", 'For pity's sake", etc.

Special Love: Anything that comes out of the kitchen :)

Okay. I picture this little pickle as a Clovis in "The Apple Dumpling Gang", only a little more handsome and rougish, and less swarthy looking! :) -Rachel