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30 December 2009

Lady in Waiting

If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~ Toni Morrison

Honestly, it wasn't so much the "book not written" or the fact I have to write it that caught me. It was one little word. One insistent, provoking, prodding word. Must. A compulsory word. A word that means, no matter what, it shall be done. It MUST be done. To feel so compelled to write, to feel so pulled by tendrils of story and light that I have no choice but to sit at my computer, at a pile of paper, to scratch words into leaves.

Not so easy. Life rushes at us at breakneck speed. I wake every morning knowing eight hours of my day is devoted to helping someone else's dreams of success come true. I wake when all is quiet and glance down my dark hallway, wanting desperately to take a candle and climb the stairs to the second hand table and type. Nothing in particular. Just to get words out. To let loose the moths in my soul and let them fly northward to the moon. They flitter about all day, turning circus tricks in my stomach. I know they want freedom. It's my freedom they mimic.

I think of stories all day long. Sometimes I act them out when no one's around. I'll speak the lines of every character. It helps me process. C.S. Lewis is rumored to have told his friend J.R.R. Tolkien that the books they wished to read weren't written yet so it fell to them to write them. What if they hadn't? What if Tolkien and Lewis had been so trapped in the day to day that Narnia and Middle Earth never existed except in their dreams?

The world would have lost out. Maybe you think you don't have a Narnia. Perhaps the thought of Middle Earth frightens you. It's full of orcs, of goblins. Of Balrogs and flaming, all-seeing eyes. But it's also full of music and love, laughter and heroines so desperately afraid of losing a chance at valor and glory, being sat on a shelf to mind manners and rule in a position she was never meant to have.

Perhaps your story sits patiently. Perhaps it speaks to you in night dreams. Perhaps it nudges you, prods you, shoves you down stairs. Perhaps, like a lady in waiting, it sits beside you, helping you with your day to day, feeding your slowly shriveling soul. And then, in the darkness, when you wake unable to sleep because of the words dancing in your head, she takes you by the hand and leads you by candle light up the stairs to a second hand table, looks you in the eyes and says, simply, "Write".

What is your story? What is pulsing in your veins? Doesn't make sense? Doesn't have a plot? Doesn't have a direction? Doesn't matter. Put in on the page and let the words have their way.

Image found here

28 December 2009

FINALLY!!!

What a wonderful Christmas present! I got a new computer at work. Ok, so it wasn't a present per se, but it's as good as one to me! I can now email without the letters skipping and catching. I can send interoffice emails without waiting five minutes for the computer to decide it wants to do so. But most importantly, I'm back to blogging! My Internet at home is so fickle (and hates uploading pictures) that I do most if not all of my blogging at work. It's good to be back in blog-topia! I have missed you guys so very much and can't wait to see what you've all been up to.

I hope your Christmas was wonderful. Ours was. We kept it quiet, just like we like it, except when spending time with family. Things always get a little crazy when you have more than 15 people in a house!! But we were able to go home to the Manor and enjoy the peace and quiet it affords.

And now, without further ado: Monday Musings!!!

"If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

Happy, happy Monday.
Jen

20 December 2009

Internet Connectivity...

...cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

Hello dear readers! My, my it has been too long. In an effort not to jinx my ability to post, this won't be a long one. I just wanted to share with you some of what I've been up to. Christmas gift making has been in full swing at The Manor and below are some of the gifts we're giving this year.

Handmade Paper with Dried Lavender

Wrapping with Twine and Tags cut from old File Folders



Stuffed Animals from Vintage Fabric and Buttons


Hand rolled Beeswax Candles in Up-cycled Tin Cans



Handmade Paper, Mint-Lavender soap, Clay tags, and Brooch from a Vintage Pendant




The Keys to Joy...

I have also been feverishly at work on a new writing project. It came to me quite suddenly and out of the blue. I've never had a project come to me so insistent on being written. I'm still needing to edit those last fifteen chapters in my current manuscript but I'm going to put those off until after the holiday hooplah.
If we don't cross paths again before Christmas, I wish you all a very merry Christmas filled with joy and light. I hope Santa is good to you all. Enjoy the festive season in whatever way you see fit, but take a few moments, this Christmas Eve night, and pause to remember the reason for the season.
Happy Christmas,
Jen
PS: Welcome to my newest followers! I apologize profusely for not being able to wander over to your blogs. As soon as my computer is more reliable, I shall be over to thank you :) Thanks for bearing with me!

15 December 2009

Apology

Just in case you're wondering, I'm not dead! But my computer is close to being so. I apologize for the lack of posts but most importantly I apologize for the lack of reading and commenting on your wonderful blogs! Please forgive. I hope to be back to "normal" by the end of this week. Hopefully by then the computer issue will be rectified. Please don't give up on me dear friends! My once consolation is that I will have a lot of reading to catch up on! Sounds like a nice, leisurely Sunday morning to me :)

Happy week!
Jen

10 December 2009

What Do You Want Your Words to Say?

They spill from us. Pouring from our fingers as blood from an open wound. Sometimes, that too is true. Depending on what they are, where they come from, what has initiated the fall. Words are like shadows, like leaves, like rain. They hide, they creep, they sneak up on us and pounce, devouring us with their all consuming power. They float gently, from lofty branches, they sprinkle, flow steady, or drown us in deluge.

When you write, how do your words mostly come? A trickle? A downpour? A raging river, sleepy ocean, stagnate pond? If you're like me, it depends on the day, the hour, the phase of the moon. Our words are subject to our emotions. Perhaps, our emotions should be subject to our words.

What do you want your words to say? Do you want them to encourage or drive onward? Do you want them to provoke thought, stir up anger, incite action? Make someone cry, laugh, throw bricks? I've read books that have done all of that. I read "Three Cups of Tea" and wanted to build a school for girls in remote Afghanistan. I read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and laughed until milk came out of my nose. I read "The Lord of the Rings" and did all of the above and threw it against a brick wall. Twice.

Words are power. They build up. They tear down. They make us sit, be still. They beckons, they drive away. They force us to action, to dive, to fly.

What do you want your words to do? What do they ask of you? "Give me wings," they cry. "Just give me wings!"

Cheers,
Jen

07 December 2009

Monday Musings

"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all."
~ Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

03 December 2009

Back to Business

Hello dear friends! I'm back to (somewhat) normal posting, though a day off. The holiday really threw me for a loop! Not to mention the hours I spent rambling around Narnia trying to find a lost fur and avoid the wrath of an evil White Witch :)

I got so many lovely comments on my musing that was posted Monday. I fell in love with that particular quote m'self. "You must stay drunk on writing..." The phrase conjured up an image of a lovely Victorian lass sitting at a small desk, scribbling away with ink stained fingers by candlelight. I saw myself there, hair askew, dress smudged, fingers black around the nails, desperately trying to say what is in my heart, avoiding the rising sun. I have always worked better at night. Blame my Celtic ancestors, but I much prefer the rain than the sun and when the moon rises over the trees I come alive! A pity I have to get up early during the week. I'd stay up 'til 2 creating if it were up to me, sleep until 9 and do it all over again. Funny thing is, I am quite worthless between the hours of 10 am and dark. It's as if my creativity goes on holiday. Then, around 9:30, I'm fired up, ready to go! Cruelty I tell you...

To drink in our words, to stay drunk on writing, to need pen and paper, to be willing to do anything to come by just one more moment of uninhibited writing...is it possible? Is it possible to, even in the midst of daily obligations, of "reality", stay absorbed in our work? It's a tricky case of balance, but I think it can be done. If we're willing to step out of our comfort zone and take the risk of seeming, well...different.

I can remember a few times when all day I moved within the grey area between dreams and reality. I was completely aware of what I was doing, where I was, what needed to be done. But a part of me was lost in story, creating, drinking in the mist shrouded trees that called to my soul, beckoning me to ride the dark steed of wonder into the forest to discover the secrets that lay within. It's not something that has happened often. It's a tricky thing, too, but it is possible. I think it's a matter of allowing the muse freedom to do what it will alongside our day to day. This, dear friends, is a matter of letting go, of trust.

I'm guilty of fear. Fear of what others will think if I abandon preconceived notions and be, unashamedly, who God has made me to be. The Great Creator knew what he was doing when he put this gift of words in our hearts. Unfortunately, it's not something easily understood by those who aren't writers or creative spirits in general. I'm guilty of allowing compromise to slip in, whispering, "Oh, just keep quiet! No one will understand. No one wants to hear." Perhaps not, but how will you know if you don't speak? It's not an easy thing to do, wear our words on our sleeves. But to mingle creative with reality, to join them together in the matrimony God intended in our day to day, we have to be willing to speak out loud in our actions, our voices, our song.

Walk alongside your muse today. Hold her hand, let him put his arm around your shoulders. Share your experiences with her. Perhaps you don't know your muse. Perhaps you're waiting for them to appear. Well, take a moment today and just sit, inviting them to arrive. Don't try to hold him back, but don't allow him Puckish abandon either. Balance, and a willingness to obey. Reality, dreaming...could it be they are one in the same?

"What is real?" said the Unicorn to Charles Wallace.

What is real, indeed.

Happy Thursday,
Jen

01 December 2009

Mr. Toast's Christmas Tea (Part Two)

Finally! I made it. And with only a bit of time to spare. I apologize profusely, Mr. Toast and all you distinguished guests! But when you hear my tale, I'm certain you'll understand just why I'm so late.

Oh good, I see Mr. Darcy arrived! I'm glad. ...Yes, yes, I'm fine dear friend. Your concern is appreciated. ...What? Send out the cavalry? No, no there was no need. I was in good hands..er..paws. ...Oh, well, yes, that does require some telling. But first a hot drink would be much appreciated...Earl Grey please, and make it a double!

I was in my room, when last we spoke, searching for my beloved (faux) fur when I stumbled upon a small chamber which adjoined to my room. I grabbed my bag thinking I'd pop in, find my fur, and be off. In the room was a large wardrobe of the most beautiful quality I've ever seen! The wood was like nothing I'd seen before. Perhaps my fur had been put in there by the man who brought up our bags. I opened the door and peered in ...

I saw many coats, but not my fur. I did, however, see something white in the very back of the wardrobe. Could that be my fur? I crept in on hands and knees and reached for it. Imagine my surprise when I found that the wardrobe just kept going. Further and further back I went until I felt something very cold and very wet on my hands. No! Impossible! There was snow in the wardrobe! I crept out and found myself in a forest. A snow covered forest, completely silent. Not a bird sang, not an animal scampered by. Just trees, silent snow, and a lamp post burning brightly up ahead.

It is impossible to describe my confusion! I had to touch the lamp post to convince myself I was not dreaming. I looked around, thinking if there was a lamp there must be a road nearby. A road I did not see, but I began to hear a strange sound, like silver bells tinkling in the distance. A sleigh appeared, elegant and icy, pulled by reindeer. Could it be, I thought, Saint Nick? But no, it was not Father Christmas at all but a tall, dangerous looking woman dressed in blue and crowned with icicles.


She appeared nice enough and asked casually for my name and where I was headed. I told her I was on my way to tea but misplaced my fur and fell, quite literally, into the forest. "Could you, I asked, perhaps guide me back to the wardrobe? Or perhaps you know Mr. Toast and could direct me to the tea?"
Her eyes narrowed and she told me crisply that she knew of no tea and had no toast. The only wardrobes were encased in ice in her castle and the only fur she knew of was her own, warm creation sitting in her lap. Then she began asking me many questions about my family, how many brothers and sisters I had, things of that nature.
Suddenly, a frightening roar came from the forest and the ice queen jumped! She spun around to the trees and her eyes widened in terror! There, emerging from the trees, was the largest polar bear one could imagine! I'd never seen a polar bear before, but this one had to be a giant compared to his already large brethren. Oddly enough, he was dressed in armor.
The bear snarled and the queen whipped her reindeer into action. They sped off at a whirlwind pace, disappearing behind the trees and leaving me to confront the giant bear alone. He grinned as she went, and gave me a little bow. He said he heard my story and could indeed guide me to the tea. There was a road, and if I needed to be somewhere, anywhere, the road could take me there. Up on his back I climbed and away we went!



On and on we trudged through snow and up hill, no sign of the lodge (or my fur) in site. The bear began to wonder out loud if the road had been enchanted to lead us off course. "By the White Witch", he said. I did not need him to tell me he was referring to the woman I had just met. It soon became apparent that we'd been wandering aimlessly, with no destination in sight. Furthermore, we had no way of knowing the way back. The bear's paw prints had been covered by snow flakes, large, drifting ones the size of dinner plates.
We needed directions but who to ask? I told the bear if he could just get me back to the lamppost that I could go back through the wardrobe and take a more traditional route to the tea. He admitted, embarrassed, that he knew not the way.
It was then I noticed we were being watched! Someone was peeking out at us from behind a large tree. He seemed to be carrying a red umbrella. I called out to him, told him not to be afraid, not thinking how ridiculous that sounded seeing that I was riding atop a huge, armored bear! The man came around and *gasp* he wasn't a man at all but a faun! Oh delightful! A faun! And a handsome faun at that ;) After convincing him the bear would not eat him, we asked his assistance in finding the lamppost.
"It's simple," he said, indicating with his red umbrella and shifting the parcels he had in his hands under one arm, "Just head that way, stray straight, and you can not miss it!"

I thanked the dear faun and away we went. No more than a half hour later, we were standing beneath the burning lamppost. "I guess this is goodbye," I said as I hugged my armored friend. "I would love for you to join me, but I'm afraid you wouldn't fit through the wardrobe!"
"Don't worry," he said smiling (if a bear can smile), "I would frighten the guests and I'd hate to ruin such a splendid occasion as a Christmas tea."
Away I went, thanking him for his help. I crawled back through the wardrobe, never once seeing my fur, scampered down the hallway and just in time to hail a passing sleigh!
And now, dear friends, I must go. There are foods to try and teas to taste and guests with which to mingle. My story is unbelievable but I assure you, it is all quite true. I'll just check my lipstick...

...and be off! Amazing that this dress managed to emerge from that bag in such fine condition! Oh, and I did manage to bring a bit of something along with me. When the White Witch was frightened off, she left the loveliest silver container behind her. I picked it up and decided it would make a truly gorgeous host gift. I do hope you like Turkish Delight, dear Mr. Toast!

And now...dessert!




Mr. Toast's Christmas Tea

For those of you who don't know, Mr. Toast is hosting a delightful Christmas this afternoon/evening. Check out my side bar for the link (or click HERE to pop over. Just remember to sign the RSVP if you decide to attend...)

My date and I arrived in Aspen late last night thanks to a broken down Rolls and a late flight out of Nova Scotia. Mr. Toast's wonderful driver was there, patiently awaiting our arrival, and whisked us away to the rather regal inn we reserved for that evening. We'll be staying at the lodge tonight.

Oh, who am I with? Awesome Photographer Husband is out on assignment for National Geographic and insisted that I not go alone. Who am I to argue? I asked our dear friend here if he'd accompany me and he was more than delighted:

And he even agreed to dress in full "Mr. Darcy" duds for the occasion :) What a dear! Fear not, dear friends! We are rooming separately. That's Matthew's room there. My room is every bit as elegant. In fact, I need to go see if he's ready. We were going to leave soon and join Mr. Toast for a bite of lunch before the festivities.



It seems I have misplaced my fur, faux of course, but needed nonetheless. It's quite chilly out and the snow is a sparkling wonderland just begging to be romped in. I hated to hold up dear Matthew so I send Mr. Macfadyen on ahead. My apologies, Mr. Toast, but I simply *must* find that fur! It was a gift to me from Bogart and I'll never forgive myself if I've misplaced it.

My gown is packed (as delicately as they can be) as I wish to dress once I arrive. It's much to cold to be gallivanting via sleigh in a sleeveless gown. Especially if I can't find my fur! O wait a sec...there's a wardrobe in the small, adjoining room. Strange, dusty place for a wardrobe. Why on earth would they fashion a room simply to put in one piece of furniture? Perhaps the young man who brought up our bags put it in there. I may be able to catch the next sleigh out!

Now why on earth would someone put such a gorgeous wardrobe in a room all by itself?

...To be continued...