Monday, April 11, 2016

For the love of you

A short story based on a true story!
I don't normally write shorts, but I had a lot of inspiration for this one. I just typed this up and didn't go over it again, so please excuse any errors.

I'm not sure why I left my property. I'm normally very good about not trespassing. But tonight my feet are restless and adventure is in the wind.

I'm in no hurry and mosey away from my modest accommodations. That's what Dad calls them anyway. I would call our home a hovel. He says I should be grateful. That a lot of people don't even have a roof over their head. So I guess the fact that we just have a roof and no walls means I should be appreciative.

Yeah. Whatever Dad.

Tonight though I don't want to think about my "home" or the people that own our land--rotters seem to think letting us squat in their wall-less shed is sufficient payment for the work we do.

I pick up the pace to escape my thoughts. Across the empty field and into the small line of trees that border our property. Brush catches at me and I try not to think of the damage it's causing. No way Dad won't notice I've been out when he sees the state I return in.

The trees end and I stare up at the night sky. The moon is out and the sky is cloudless. It's the perfect night for sneaking. My feet hit the soft dirt driveway and I can almost hear them sigh in relief.

I walk up the driveway, keeping silent so as not to arouse the people who live in the tall white house. Just as I pass the curve in the driveway, a breeze hits my face, bringing with it a smell of--Woah-hoh!! WHO IS THAT??!

Oh my gosh! Has he seen me? I drop to the ground and peer through grass. There, on the porch bathed in radiant moonlight is the most regal man I've ever seen. His orange hair looks so soft as the breeze tickles it. I must get closer.

All of Dad's warnings about strange boys goes right out of my head. This boy is different. He's . . . he's . . . perfect.

On my belly, I inch my way up to the house. I get to the foot of the porch steps and stare. This close he's even more amazing. More handsome, more regal, more everything. I can't help myself, I forget stealth and rise to my feet and climb the steps.

My love is so close. No. Wait. Please, don't!

He's backing away from me like I'm plagued. I continue towards him, trying to look as beautiful as one can when they live in a wall-less barn and just trampled through a woods. Foul words that I dare not repeat come from his mouth. I start crying, trying not to let the hatefulness hurt me.

He yells louder and the porch light comes on. I hear feet inside and terror grips me. I flee.

As I cross the yard, I hear the door open and more yelling in my direction. The crazy looking woman hugs my love and assures him that he's safe. Of course he was safe! I would never hurt him!

The trees swallow me up and I slow down, shaking. I call myself every sort of fool and as I climb into the hay in our barn, I cry myself to sleep.

The next night I go back. I can't help it. My love's halo of orange fills my every waking moment and I must see him again.

He's on the porch again. I try to talk to him. Try to show him I mean no harm. He cusses at me and the crazy lady comes out again, though this time I refuse to leave until she comes out on the porch and screams at me while waving a broom.

I've never been so scared in my life. I try to leave, but she's blocked off the stairs. Idiot. How does she expect me to leave. I suppose you can't expect crazy people to be rational. In desperation, I climb over the railing and jump to the ground. I managed to bump my head on a post in my hurry, but at least I'm safe.

I go back again. And again. And again.

Eventually my love yells less and stops insulting my mother, and the psycho lady starts telling him that I'm not doing anything and to stop being whiny. I hate her for calling him whiny, but at least she FINALLY figured out that I'm not out to get him.

I start visiting during the day. I follow my love everywhere. I prefer to stay outside where it's quiet and no one bothers us. My love's sister comes out occasionally but I have no interest in her. She certainly didn't get my love's good looks or his regal bearing.

Dad notices something different about me, but can see how happy I am, so he doesn't push me.

One day I race over to my love's house and he's not outside. I look everywhere. All of our favorite places are empty. Something must be wrong. He's missing and must be sick. No dying! I gasp. No please don't let him be dead.

I start crying on the porch steps, unable to stop my miserable thoughts.

The door opens and Crazy Lady pokes her head out. "His girlfriend is back. Told you she really liked him." I'm not sure who she's talking to, but then, she's crazy. Probably talking to herself.

She looks to me. "Sorry missy. He's not coming back." The door shuts.

Not coming back? What does that mean? Why!! Why isn't he coming back? At least she didn't say he was dead. I must remain calm.

I walk around to the other side of the house and climb up on the deck. The big glass door gives me a good view inside. My love sprawls on the couch, sleeping in peaceful bliss. I cry for him, but he doesn't wake. I press my face to the window and wait, but he just stretches and continues sleeping.

Darkness falls and my love awakes and walks into the kitchen without glancing at the window. I call for him, but he must not hear me. I return home.

For days I return to my love's house and call for him, peering in the windows. Dad notices my depression and finally forces me to talk. I tell him everything and after I shed more tears, he declares the only thing to be done is a feud.

Clearly, he says, the crazy lady is holding your love hostage and we must make her release him.

He leads the way across the property line, I follow reluctantly. It's hopeless. I just know my love is gone forever.

We stake out the driveway so no one can leave without going through us. It starts raining and we're soon soaked and shivering. Still no one leaves the house.

In a fit of tempter, Dad craps on the driveway just to spite the people holding my love captive. I'm dreadfully embarrassed. I know he's trying to help, but COME ON DAD!!! That's so GROSS!

It doesn't matter. Still no one leaves the house.

Eventually we return home.

I go back the next afternoon and sit by the big glass door. This time there's something different. A new girl is sitting in the room. She's younger than me, skinnier, and I can tell she's got that kind of hair people are just DYING to run their fingers through. I hate her. She's too pretty and she's in my love's house.

I can't stand it. I leave.

The next day she's there again. Only this time she's cuddling with my love. How dare she! Witch! Harlot! Boyfriend thief! I call her all sorts of foul names through the window as I pace.

They both hear me and stare at me like they have no clue why I'm upset, then go back to cuddling.

What sorcery is this? What has she done to him? He'd never betray me like this, not willingly.

Again I can't stand watching and leave.

In the days that follow I return, but only catch glimpses of "new girl". One of those times she comes right up to the window and smirks at me. I've ceased venting my rage and return her smirks with glares. I wish a thousand painful deaths on her.

Eventually I give up altogether. My cries fall on deaf ears. My feet weep from the endless pacing. Dad says I need to get on with my life. He says I'll forget "that boy" soon enough, that there are plenty of nice boys out there for me to meet.

I'm sure he's wrong. The love we had was unmatched. A candle in a dark universe.

I crawl into my bed of hay. Alone. I'll never forget his face or his name. Such a sweet name. Mer--Mer . . . well it's Mer something. Well, I'll never forget his face then. He looks like . . . like . . .

I whip my tail back and forth in agitation. So I can't remember his face either. But one can't expect a cat to recall things when she's CLEARLY depressed!

Dad pads in and plops next to me. He starts talking about some cute tom down the street, but I'm not interested and tune him out until I fall asleep.

The End!

Dedicated to the cat next door who inspired the crazy lady to write her story!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Genetics (Eyes)

A friend of mine recently brought up ancestry and asked if anyone had interest in studying their genealogy.

It got me to thinking about my family history, which I only know a little of, and how certain things effect us or might've effected us. Who knows what choices our ancestors made that had a key role in effecting our life today.

Genetics though is one thing that isn't a choice(sadly in some cases), but is an easily discernible link a lot of times.

It's interesting how some siblings can look so much alike and others not at all. Or a kid that resembles a grandparent or an uncle when they were that age.

I wish I could have the little genetic details from relatives of my past to see what they have that got passed down to me.

Since I can only work with what I have, I decided to put together a fun little post about my family's genetic traits. I didn't shy away from the strange factors, so hopefully things like toes and such don't gross you out. As I really dove into this project, I realized it needed to be spread into a series as there was so much content building up.

I started with eye color, since that's an easy one. I found out how difficult it is to get decent lighting for eye pictures. So some of these may be a bit dark or have a light glare on them. I'll try and take some better ones before the post goes up. Add in squirmy kids and it's a real treat!

My maternal grandmother has light blue eyes and my maternal grandfather had bright blue eyes. Sadly I am not able to get a photo of my grandpa's eyes as he passed away over 20 years ago and it's truly amazing how much photography has changed since then. I was able to take a picture of a picture that's a copy of a picture. (haha, follow that.) Basically we have an amazing photo of him and my mom made a copy of it for me and I was able to take a picture of that. So the quality isn't the greatest and I can't get all the detail and closeness that I'd like, but they're a close match for my mother's which you should be able to tell.

My mother has the prettiest eyes I've ever seen. We always described them as "husky blue" and I wish I'd inherited them. It's just not right. You'll also notice in my familiy our eyelashes run on the "thin" side. It's harder to tell for my sister's where they have mascara on, but we all have very minuscule lashes.

I don't have a picture of my father's eyes, but I did find a picture that closely matched. (yellow/green)

My youngest sister's eyes come the closest to matching my mothers. Hers fall more in a sea-blue spectrum. She has just enough of that green color to add an interesting hue that makes her color a solid blue that looks unique from both parents and siblings.

I was unable to get a picture of my middle sister's eyes, so I'm not sure what shade they are. 

My brother and my oldest(of my three younger sisters) sister have similar eye color. 

My sister was out to get the perfect eye picture, so hopefully if she ever reads this she'll be okay with the one I chose since my computer has a bazillion pictures of her eye now!

My sister's came out clearer, but you should be able to see that both are primarily blue with a random patch(or patches in my brother's case) of yellow/green. Almost like the two colors had a custody battle. "Okay so blue gets 3/4 of the iris and the yellow/green gets 1/4."

In a stroke of bad luck, I got a blended hybrid of both. Don't ask me what color they are. The answer is "weird". They look like some weird green, blue, yellow color on the outside is eating the blue color. I imagine they're at war and the blue around the pupil is losing to the invading mass of weirdness.

Though my eyes are different than my sister's, it's easy to see the connection when looking back a generation. My husband brought a new color to the mix: a really dark, solid brown. The other genetic trait is his eyelashes. Let's talk about how much I hate that he has the perfect eyelashes! (hate as in I want them.)

Our kids started out with the "baby blue/grey" eyes. Here's a dark picture of Elaina's eye. It's hard to tell, but if you look to the right of the pupil you can see where it's starting to turn brown. She also seems to be developing the "Kooistra lashes". (and I did try and take another picture, but it still didn't come out that well.)
At first I thought Cheyenne and Luke's eyes were perfect matches for their father's. Recently I noticed that the brown is not as solid or as dark.

Cheyenne's eyes are a chocolately brown that dominates most of the iris. But on the very edge, around the rim, you can see there's some weird color that resembles my weird color. You can also see that she got her daddy's lashes(lucky!).

Luke's eyes are about half-and-half. He's got brown centers which unless you're looking closely make his eyes seem completely brown. The outsides are the "weird" color. He also has those gorgeous lashes. *sigh* Now, I could not get him to sit still and look at me for ANYTHING. So this horrible glare-y picture is all I can get.
Eyes are so unique and fascinating. There's also the shape of eyes to consider. My husband's aunt and mother(pictured below) have a very similar eye shape that closely resembles their father's.

Eyes are just the beginning, and it's easy to find connections through the generations. Some things stand out more in some family's than others. Ears, hands, feet, noses.

I'm hoping to make some more posts like this. Right now my kids are fighting off the flu! So I'm not sure what my blogging will look like for next week.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Reading Challenge

After reading some blog posts that discussed reading challenges, I got to thinking about them and found the idea intriguing.

I never needed to be challenged to read. Not as a child, not now(even when finding the time to read is more difficult).

So at first I blew off the idea as not for me. Besides not needing to be challenged, I found the idea of reading something you know in advance you won't like all because it's part of the challenge silly. To some degree I still feel that way. I have so many books on my to-read list and there are so many more books in the world that I don't see the point in reading something I don't like.

But I started to think that reading challenges aren't that simple. People take different ones for different reasons. A sense of accomplishment, expanding their horizons, just for fun, and probably sometimes because they do need to be challenged.

I can't say I've never participated in a reading challenge, but I also wouldn't say I have. To clarify I did participate in book-it when I was younger. For those who don't know what that is you can click here for details. I have no idea what the program does now, but if you have young readers I'd recommend checking it out.

When I was a kid it pretty much meant I got free pizza for doing something I already did.

I also participated in the annual reading contest my local library held for years(until I was too old). That was another case of getting rewarded for something I already did. I won something every year and the prizes they offered were amazing.

My favorite was a gift card to a mall and perhaps it'll explain how much that meant to me when I say my mall bought items until I was 20(maybe even older, I know I've done a little more mall shopping after that age) consisted of a hairagami (Haha, they still make those apparently!) and a Little Mermaid nightdress from the Disney store(no picture of that).

So that gift card was AMAZING! I bought myself a pair of jeans(my height always made jean shopping interesting) that I wore until I realized they were getting to the end of their life and I loved them so much I wanted to keep them forever.

I was going to pull them out for a picture but they're lingering somewhere in the basement in a box where I stash all my "memory clothing". Yes, I have a box with clothing that is there just because it's special. Actually, bit of a side track, but I have a LOT of boxes in my basement that are full of memory stuff. I have issues with boxes . . . and notebooks . . . and keeping notebooks in boxes.

I really just have a sentimental streak about stuff and I keep a lot of things. I wish I'd kept more things, I wish my mom had kept her childhood things, and her parents, and their parents. Occasionally my siblings will call me and be like, "By any chance do you have my old blah blah blah?" Apparently I'm the(here I am so proud of myself for not starting half my sentences with so and I'm abusing adverbs instead) family hoarder and they think I have their special goodies they didn't think to keep!

Back to the subject, or rather my previous rabbit trail that's closer to the subject. I do have a picture of the famous jeans, but it's not a current once since I'm too lazy to go digging around for them and I wouldn't fit into them(oh I wish) anyway. I might go scrounge for them before this goes up, so who knows, but as of right now I have one of my favorite pictures of me ever.

Aww, look at little me. Those are the jeans and this the only picture I know off the top of my head that I have of them(plus it's already on my computer). But yes, I actually like that picture because it's one of the only pictures I have that I don't look at and think about how awful I look. That's my pretty picture(so sad I've yet to top that.)

It doesn't help when I see things most people probably miss. Like with my blog picture. Every time I see it I think, "Oh my gosh! Why am I hunched like that?! Pull your shoulders back!"

See, now you'll probably notice and you'll never see it the same way and I've now made that picture look bad for everyone.

Focus, Kristen, focus.

So there's my jeans that I won. Moving on.

Last year I joined the Goodreads reading challenge, beat my goal, reset it, and beat it again.

Yay me!

Again, I got credit for something I was already doing. But I did learn some fun things about my reading habits. For example: I don't start reading until late spring. Which is why my goal was so low to start. I set it at the beginning of the year when I wasn't getting any reading done.

Realizing that I have a busy start to the year, but that it doesn't kill my overall book consumption for the year encouraged me to set a higher goal this year. I'll admit, I'm still a bit like "ahhhh, I'm not going to make it!" because the little counter thing tells me I'm behind by a lot. I have to keep telling myself that my goal this year is lower than my amount read last year and though I haven't finished a book yet this year, last year I didn't finish one until May(I think).

Though I'm enjoying keeping track of what I read, reviewing also, I still feel like I'm getting a pat on the back for accomplishing something I would do anyway.

So what is the point of this post!

Well, I decided since I have no real interest in the challenges my friends are participating in(or have participated in) because I really don't want to set myself up to read things I don't want to, I decided to do a personal reading challenge for educational purposes.

I also do not like reading for educational purposes LOL, I read for enjoyment, adventure, and a thrilling ride where I get to end it snug in my bed. Someone else gets all the pain, the crazy emotions, the tense scenes, the near death experiences, the death, the getting attacked by snakes and crazy brothers. In short, I don't get put out in any way. My mom doesn't have to die, my house doesn't have to burn down, I don't find out I've got some secret destiny to follow or that I'm living in a dystopian society.

But since I'm a writer, I want to study methods and how authors approach the various elements of storytelling. I could do this with any books, but I chose to do this with classics.

I chose classics because there's a huge variety that falls under that banner and though some people will hate certain books in that category, there's enough love for each of them that I think they're worth studying.

I was open to reading new novels or ones I'd already read. I figured I hadn't studied storytelling aspects from a writer's perspective on any books, so I'll hopefully gain some good insight on old or new stories.

To get a list together, I approached my writing group with the question "What five classics would you recommend." I took the answers I got and tried to narrow it down to a reasonable number to make sure I don't take on too much.

There's a chance I won't get through all of these this year, but here's my reading challenge for the year on top of my Goodreads challenge.

1. The Hobbit.

I've never actually read The Hobbit. My mother read it to me as a child, so I do know the story and have fond memories of her reading it to me. My reason for never reading it to myself is a fear that I won't enjoy it as much as I did then and it'll somehow lessen that memory. Choosing this book is a safe choice for me in the sense that I'm sure I'll enjoy it, but it's also a brave choice for the reason stated above. LOTR was also recommended to me, but from experience I know if I'm not in the mood for it, I won't get very far.

2. The Count of Monte Cristo

This one falls into the "have read" category. I wouldn't say I love this book, but that mostly is due to emotional engagement. I always get so frustrated when reading this story. BECAUSE IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!!! BURN THEM ALL!! I hate being agitated for a majority of a story, but clearly it does it's job with engaging me and I'm currently reading through a book(which like so many modern books) where the main character lets people get away with crap and I could use a good book where a person takes sweet revenge!! 

3. Little Women

I waffled on this choice because I've read it so many times(a personal favorite) that I wasn't sure if I'd gain much from it besides crying over Beth AGAIN. But I do love it, so gosh darn it I'm going to read it. Also, I have four siblings and it used to be fun seeing them in the sisters. Now as adults, it's interesting to see the things we still have in common with them(though not everything). 

4. Jane Eyre

I knew as soon as I saw this on the list of suggestions that it would make the cut. I've never read this book, but I've heard so many references to it and have read books where people talk about how that story had qualities similar to Jane Eyre. Well, now I'll actually know what people mean when they do that.

5. Pride and Prejudice

I'm somewhat ashamed to say I've never read this. And that's because I absolutely LOVE the tv series. And if I love something that much, I really should've read the book by now. 

I couldn't say which I've watched more: Pride and Prejudice or Star Wars(originals). I love it so much that if I ever heard that a local theatre was putting on P&P, my husband would be taking the kids to work with him so that I could be a part of it. (I'd play the mother. I love roles that make people laugh.)

Gushing aside, I've heard that the tv series was so close to the book that it makes more sense to watch it than read it and I've never felt the need to read the book.

6. The Grapes of Wrath

This is another one I've never read, but I did grow up knowing the name. The problem lies in word association. When I hear Grapes of Wrath I either think "Oh that boring movie we watched when I was a kid."


And I'm pretty sure veggietales grapes and their story are not an accurate representation of the book. So I chose this book because it's about time I got the right image in my head.

7. The Little Prince

I'd never heard of this book until it was suggested for this challenge. It is the most translated book in the French language and is supposed to be chock full of deeper meaning than most children's books. It's the only children's book to make my list and I'm interested to see what it has to offer.

8. Wuthering Heights.

As I was getting my last 3 choices together, I was getting less certain. It was getting harder to pick and I won't be able to give as many "insightful" thoughts on these choices. So Wuthering Heights I chose because I have an aversion to reading it. I hate being told to do things, such as what I should read. Wuthering Heights is one of those books that I see getting thrown around a lot as "you should read this" and there's nothing that'll make me NOT do something as fast as telling me I SHOULD do it.

I do try to temper that stubbornness with some realization that I am being obstinate and in this case I decided to add this to my list because I want to prove that I'm not that stubborn. (I am. Don't let this fool you.)

9. We.

First off, what kind of a name is that for a book? That's a terrible title. Who would pick that up? This is a novel I'd never heard of. I was presented with quite a few dystopian novels and I more or less selected one at random. This was the winner. :D

10. Dracula

This was by far the hardest choice. Not just because it was my last pick, but because I don't think I'll like it. Firstly, I hate vampires. As in I HATE vampires. All vampires, any kind of vampires, every stinking vampire ever imagined. Second, I don't like horror. (repeats above emphasis on how much I hate horror).

So why? Why would I put a book on my list that I know right from the start I'm going to hate? Because I had too many of my friends(thanks, friends! jerks) recommend it and if I was going to pick one more book it made sense to pick the most recommended one.

There's my personal reading challenge of 10 classics. As I read them(and any other books that'll go towards my goodreads challenge), I will write reviews here for those who are interested. (I might not be original, but I'll be entertaining.)

Are you participating in any challenges this year? Have you in the past?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Half Fin . . .

I've had a lot of fun ideas over the past week on what to blog about. Now that it's time to write a post, I find I don't really want to do any of them. Not that I've lost interest in those ideas, but gosh darn it I don't want to have another half finished project!!!

Part of my current funk is tied into things like: Smokey agitating my allergies, It's SNOWING, and little annoyances like that. MOST of my issue, and I know this is true, is the lack of sleep. I can handle most anything, but if I don't get enough sleep my ability to handle thing goes waaaaay down.

If only getting enough sleep was as simple as laying down and sleeping. Unfortunately life isn't that simple for me.

To start I have kids that require attention all day and when there is a slight chance of having a span of time that I could sleep I risk waking up to total destruction.

Which leads me to explain my nights. First, I usually get most of my "me" time in after everyone goes to bed. Me time is a combination of doing things I want to do, should do, or have to do. I've been skipping that lately in order to go to bed earlier. This not only takes away my de-stress time, but it isn't working.

Elaina is an awesome baby and she's a cuddler, which I love. But she refuses to go to sleep without cuddles. Most of the time I enjoy it, but sometimes I'm like "I really want to get x done!" and I have to stop what I'm doing to sit down and cuddle her for however long.

Lately she hasn't been wanting to go to sleep . . . EVER. Yesterday she slept for about 30 minutes during the afternoon and 5 minutes in the car. Then she slept for an hour for my husband while I was out with Cheyenne. She flatly refused to sleep last night after multiple attempts and by the time we got her to sleep, I was strung out.

This is followed by Luke having some oddball hours where he gets up at 2-3 in the morning and runs around his room playing for an hour. His room is right over ours so the noise wakes me up. Then Elaina sleeps lightly and I keep thinking she'll wake up and throw a fit and the best time to calm her down is before she loses her marbles, so every time she stirs or makes a noise I wake up and I'm all tense . . . waiting . . .

Then Luke gets up early and Elaina wakes up shortly after. Frankly my nights are just a lot of light sleeping and periods of laying there awake.

As I said, my ability to deal with things gets low. I've been off my diet for 5 days now because eating is my best "this doesn't negatively effect anyone but me" coping mechanism. Of course as soon as I get done eating I then wallow in guilt and self-pity, but it's better than snapping at people.

How's this lead back to half-finished projects? Well with my limited amount of time I haven't been finishing anything. I've got half-finished everything. Half-finished laundry, half-finished cleaning, 3 half-finished sewing projects, and really partially finished is more accurate, but half sounds better. Half is 50%.

And then there's the partially finished book I'm reading and the partially read proof I'm working through.

It's getting really annoying. So here's a post about my frustration with all my partially done stuff to avoid writing a post that I don't have the material to finish right now.