Friday, October 20, 2017

Pulitzers - Great, Good & Terrible

As I continue to make progress on my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, I've recently completed a great book, a good book, and a terrible book!


The 1986 winner, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, is 945 pages long and a fantastic story about two former Rangers, Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call, who leave Lonesome Dove, Texas, and drive a herd of cattle to Montana to establish the first cattle ranch in that territory.

The book is divided into three parts and includes lots of characters: Jake Spoon, a former Ranger with McCrae and Call who returns to Texas after accidentally killing a man in Arkansas; Lorena, the whore from Lonesome Dove who ends up on the cattle drive and endures tremendous hardships after being stolen by Blue Duck, an Indian bandit; Deets, a black scout who has been with McCrae and Call since the Ranger days; July Johnson, the sheriff from Arkansas who sets off to find Jake but ends up having to search for his wife Ellie who ran off looking for her previous lover; and Clara, Gus's old love who lives in Ogallala, Nebraska. Then there are the cowhands hired for the cattle drive, the two Irishmen the crew pick up while stealing cattle in Mexico, the cooks who keep the boys fed during the drive, the two pigs who walk all the way to Montana, and a host of other characters whose paths they cross along the way.

Of course, there are some not-so-savory parts to this story set in the 1870s - saloons & whores & drinking & killing & outlaws & hangings. Yet, the story would be unrealistic without all these components. This story draws the reader in and the characters are so well developed that it's hard not to feel a huge loss when several characters are suddenly scalped by Blue Duck mid-way through the novel. In fact, many (many!) characters die in the rough wilderness setting. The ending of the book is pretty good, although I discovered there are a couple of prequels and a couple of sequels to this story.

This book is extremely well-written, well-paced, and believable (despite the fact that everyone eventually converges at Clara's house). After I put this book in Robbie's to-read pile, we watched the four-part mini-series, which is a great adaptation of the book!

Empire Falls by Richard Russo is the 2002 winner. This is another long book (although not as long as Lonesome Dove!), however it is a good book, easy to read and well-paced. The story is set in a small town in Main and follows Miles Roby, who has run the Empire Grill for the past twenty years. He is currently getting a divorce and worries about his daughter, who he affectionately calls Tick. Along with the divorce, Miles has to deal with his dad who is a essentially a bum and eventually runs off to Florida with a senile old priest and his soon-to-be ex-wife's boyfriend who insists on hanging out at the Empire Grill every day.

The host of characters are well-developed and there are several story lines in this book, some shrouded in mystery. I did figured out quite a few of the "mysteries" early on - like who the man was that Miles' mother met at Martha's Vineyard when he was a little boy and who ran over Cindy Whiting, the crippled daughter of Francine Whiting (a rich woman who owns practically everything in the town of Empire Falls). This was a good read, although the story was not so compelling that it couldn't be put down easily.

I really don't have much to say about A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, the 1981 winner. This terrible book that's set in New Orleans is full of debauchery and stupidity and makes fun of everybody. There is not one group of people portrayed in a good light, and I can't think of a single positive thing to say about it.

Have you read any of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

English Subtitles

Last year, I attended my very first Japanese movie with English subtitles when we ventured out on a Thursday evening to see Shin Godzilla at a local Cinemark. I snapped a photo of us outside the theater and used it along with our ticket printout on a layout for our 2016 chronological album.

Journaling reads: I didn't realize (although Robbie knew) that this limited release movie was all in Japanese!

I have to admit that I enjoyed the movie, although it took me a while to get in the groove of reading quickly and trying to watch the action, too!

Have you seen any movies with English subtitles recently?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Church Doors Art Journal Page

I haven't done much art journaling this year, however, I recently tore a page from a magazine because I liked the photo of a church door. We've been searching for a new church home after a couple of years of being inconsistent with our church attendance, so this image really jumped out at me.

I cut out the image & created a page in one of my art journals. I stenciled in some random numbers, then added journaling around the edge of the door image.

This was a FUN, quick page!

Have you done any art journaling lately?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Musings - Faith Can Move Mountains

Faith - a simple, five-letter word that holds so much meaning and potential in our lives. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." So, we must have hope and we must believe in things we cannot see to realize the full potential our faith!

Faith has so much power that in Matthew 17:20 Jesus says, "for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you."

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Just hope and believe the Lord for things that can't be seen. Just a little bit of faith, the size of a mustard seed will be enough to move mountains. And, yet, it's almost incomprehensible for us to imagine telling a mountain to move from one place to another.

However, we face many "mountains" in our lives, and it's faith that will help us move them! Are you facing any seemingly insurmountable mountains? Have faith - hope in the Lord and believe in the answer you cannot yet see - and watch as that mountain moves out of your way!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday's Mail Memo - Travel Planning

Airline tickets have been purchased, hotels have been books, and these exciting pocket guides showed up in the mail today!

So excited to be planning an upcoming vacation! Please share your tips and not-to-be missed attractions, eateries, and/or activities for these three locations in the comments.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Musings - Step Boldly Into God's Plan

In Joshua, chapter 3, we read about the Israelites crossing over the Jordan river. It was during the time of harvest, and the river was overflowing its banks. Yet, they walked across on dry land!

God outlined the plan to Joshua, which began with Joshua commanding the priests who carried the ark of the covenant saying, "When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan." Then "the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap." And, finally, all the people would cross over the Jordan on dry ground.

It's important to note here that the waters would not be cut off (or stop flowing or be backed up in a heap) until after the priests stood in the Jordan! The priests had to walk boldly into the water FIRST - then, and only then, would God stop the waters.

Because the priests followed Joshua's instructions from the Lord, they witnessed a mighty miracle. I wonder what would have happened if they had not stepped into the water? I know God would have still fulfilled His promise to the Israelites. They would have still been given the promised land, yet it might have been that they had to wander in the desert a little longer.

This is a lesson that we can each apply. When God instructs us to move forward, do we step out boldly? Or do we wait for God to perform a miracle first? Would we wait for the waters to stop flowing before we stepped into a river at flood stage? Or would we boldly put our feet in the water, confident that He would bring us to the other side?

Oh, Lord, help me to step boldly in the direction You have for my life, that I may see Your miracles manifested!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Happy World Card Making Day!

I haven't had time to make any cards to celebrate World Card Making Day today, however I have a few cards I created earlier this year to share for INSPIRATION. These first two were created using paper scraps, washi tape, and a stamped sentiment.

These next cards were created during a class on using watercolors for card making. The cat and dogs were all stamped images that I painted with distress inks or watercolors (and sometimes finished with colored pencils).

I used Authentique papers and a sentiment cut from the barcode strip of one of the papers for this final card.

Did you make any cards to celebrate World Card Making Day?