Remembering Sir Christopher Lee

Remembering Sir Christopher Lee
Sir Christopher Lee at Forbidden Planet New Oxford Street, signing The Two Towers in January 2008 (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sir Christopher Lee at Forbidden Planet New Oxford Street, signing The Two Towers in January 2008 (photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a sad day for the world today. Sir Christopher Lee’s passing was announced this morning. He was 93.

Sir Christopher was one of the last great Hollywood legends. For six decades he has thrilled audiences in such iconic roles as Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, Sherlock Holmes, Rochefort, Scaramanga, Ramses, Death, the Jabberwocky, Count Dooku, and the white wizard, Saruman. According to IMDB’s trivia section, his death leaves Patrick Macnee as the only actor from Sir Lawrence Olivier’s 1948 Hamlet still alive. I think the first time I heard that distinctive voice was as King Haggard, the ruler obsessed with possessing all unicorns in The Last Unicorn.

There was a lot more to the man than simply a theatrical genius. He was a soldier and a scholar, a linguist who spoke half a dozen languages fluently. He was an operatically trained singer, his great-grandparents helped to found the first opera company in Australia. Through his mother’s line he is distantly related by marriage to the Borgias. And, he has recorded a number of heavy metal songs and one or two symphonic metal albums. He even appears on the cover of Sir Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run album.

In the words of Gandalf the White at the Grey Havens: “Well, here at last…on the shores of the sea comes the end of our Fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.” R.I.P. Sir Christopher, may you come to seas of silver glass and find your dear friends waiting to share stories once more on the other side.

After the cut is a quick list of trivia facts some may or may not know about the legend and the hero that was Sir Christopher Lee and several of my favorite quotes as spoken by him.

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In Memoriam: A Visit to the Hope Chapel

In Memoriam: A Visit to the Hope Chapel
In Memoriam: A Visit to the Hope Chapel
Hope Chapel in Caledon Mayfair

Hope Chapel in Caledon Mayfair

A week or so ago I attended the in-world memorial for Amy (known as Scarlet Chandrayaan in Second Life) and a link was posted to local chat that led to the Hope Chapel in Caledon Mayfair, where a plaque was being placed for Amy. It struck me then that I had never actually visited the Chapel in all my ramblings through Caledon. So, I took myself off to see for myself.

The Chapel was originally built in 2011 for Relay for Life by the Aether Chrononauts and now stands as a permanent place to remember those lost to us through the ravages of cancer. There have been a number of those losses during the last six months or so. (Amy, Alastair Whybrow, Solieil Snook…) The thought it’s been a rough year for the communities was very present as I stepped into the quiet charm of the chapel.

I realized a couple of days ago that I have a problem talking about death in the immediate. Given time, I can say that I knew someone who died of ____________ or that I attended a funeral for so-and-so. Now, more than a week later, I can admit to having been greatly affected by the loss of Amy in our lives. But, in the moment, during those first emotional days, it’s nearly impossible for me to vocalize even the facts of what happened.

Nor is this the first time that’s happened.

But, I know I didn’t used to be this way. I know I used to be able to just say the words “I lost a friend today”.

Then I started thinking about why this is, what changed. And, I realized that it goes back ten years to the offhand callous remark a former friend made, one that I seem to have internalized without knowing it.

Searching for peace within

Searching for peace within

“Well, at least it was just a friend.”

Those were here words to me when I told her a friend of mine had passed away suddenly and I’d just gotten the news. It was just a friend. I know why she worded it the way she did. She had been to the doctor herself and discovered she had a condition she would need to watch as she got into her 40s. Plus, she had always been a bit of a hypochondriac. So, a condition she would need to be aware of, though it required no medication, dietary, or lifestyle changes, was a huge deal for her. In her mind, that was far more devastating than the death of someone she didn’t know and it wasn’t as if I had been affected seeing as I was still alive and it wasn’t family.

That incident, coupled with one more insistence from her (in that same conversation) that I should ditch my best friend if I wanted to spend time with her or have her go with me to a specific event, was actually our last conversation. Ironically, though I feel I would have been entirely justified in doing so, I was not the one to cut all contact. She was. And without warning. She simply stopped returning my calls/emails/texts/etc. To this day she glares at me whenever we see each other in the office (because, of course, we work together, too!).

I had thought I was unscathed, even laughing at the idea she might continue to think I care that she glares at me on sight.

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Fragment Friday – May 15, 2015

Fragment Friday – May 15, 2015
Fragment Friday – May 15, 2015

Fragment FridayIt’s been awhile since I did one of these. Thought I’d see if I could start it back up again.

Let’s start a new thing! Every Friday, let’s post a snippet, a fragment, a cross-section, some tiny piece of your current favorite WIP. It could be written, drawn, crafted, whatever creative project you’re working on right now that has you excited and wishing the work day were over so you could go home and work on it some more. Want to tell us a bit of what it is or what inspired you to create it? Go for it! Share time, people. Feel free to link back to this post, if you take part and leave a comment for me below so I can see your work. (For those of you viewing this on DW/LJ/IJ/etc. comments have been turned off on the crossposts so that everyone can see everyone else’s work, too.)

I’ve got some fic in the WIP stage, but today I thought I’d share some WIP photos of the the trinket box I’m altering for Mum. (Alright, it was supposed to be for Mother’s Day and I didn’t realize how involved the process would be as I’m trying some new techniques and mediums.) I’m hopeful I’ll finish it this weekend. peek

KIMG0001a

A while back (maybe 5 or 6 years ago), I’d started working on this box for another project. But, it had gotten horribly messed up and I set it aside. So, for this, I lightly sanded it because I wanted to keep the wood grain, then covered the old paint job with three coats of white gesso and two coats of a mix of DecoArts’ acrylic paint in Antique White and Espresso. The image above shows the basic layout of embellishments I plan to add to the top. I needed to get the placement so I could work on distressing them while further mediums on the box itself dried.

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When Gods Fall – Avengers Age of Ultron Review and Thoughts on Joss Whedon

When Gods Fall – Avengers Age of Ultron Review and Thoughts on Joss Whedon
When Gods Fall – Avengers Age of Ultron Review and Thoughts on Joss Whedon

“If you die…walk it off.” — Steve Rogers

 

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Avengerscollage

Perhaps the most memorable line from Avengers: Age of Ultron, I have to wonder if this is what the franchise will have to do, in some ways, after the release of this blockbuster movie.

This post has taken a long time for me to get written. A lot of processing and distancing has been needed in order to keep this as objective as possible. That’s a difficult thing for a fan to do, really. You want to love everything in your fandom. And when something comes along that you hate, it’s just as emotional as the geeking out when you love it. So, to set all that aside and look at it from a more balanced perspective is hard.

No, I didn’t hate this movie. But, I also didn’t love it as much as I really wanted to love it.

The saddest thing about it is that a large part of my distaste for parts of this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the movie itself and everything to do with the meta and comments that Whedon, it’s writer and director, has made during the last two or three weeks leading up to this film. Airing dirty laundry unnecessarily is never something of which I approve. But, Whedon has gone beyond that to the point where he’s taken away some of the audience’s ability to view his movie with fresh, unbiased eyes. I understand how difficult it is to have to promote a piece of your own work that’s disappointed you. No one who writes or creates anything for anyone else can say they haven’t been there. I know I have, several times, in my own job. But, to air his grievances during the press tour before the audience has a chance to make up their own minds about the work is not the way to make those grievances known.

All of that being said, there were things I enjoyed about the movie and you can read on below the cut for my full review. Warning, I get very wordy and long about things. But, I try not to rant.

And, of course, please be aware that beyond this point “Here be Spoilers”.
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Pre-Avengers Age of Ultron Thoughts and Manicure

Pre-Avengers Age of Ultron Thoughts and Manicure
Pre-Avengers Age of Ultron Thoughts and Manicure

Tony Stark: No way we all get through this…

Steve Rogers: I got no plans tomorrow night.

Age of Ultron Manicure

My Age of Ultron Manicure

And MY only plans are to assemble with other Avengers fans to see the latest outing for Marvel’s superhero team on the big screen. I’ve got my nails all done already, as you can see. (More pictures and the usual description after the cut.)

It’s going to be a slightly different experience for me. In a small quirk of fate, I was lucky enough to be among those in the very first test audience to see the movie months ago. (And, believe me, sitting on that tidbit has not been the easiest thing, especially when I’m so involved in fandom. Pretty sure my tongue has been slowly cut-off after all the times I’ve had to bite it while reading blogs/fic/tumblr theories to keep from saying something that wasn’t given away in a trailer or interview.)

It will be interesting to see what’s changed. Reportedly a good 45 minutes were cut from the version I saw. (What I saw back in the fall was a very rough first cut. The effects weren’t even complete for most scenes. There was definitely still a lot of editing needed, which is good and normal for that point in the process.)

So, contemplating what nail art to do for the Avengers Double Feature tomorrow was a much greater undertaking than what was necessary for my Captains America manicure from last year’s Captain America Double Feature. Last year it was clear the story focused on Captain America and the Winter Soldier. Two people, two hands, no problem. Even if I took the title characters from this movie for inspiration, I’d have Ultron and The Avengers. There are six Avengers.

Six Avengers doesn’t divide across ten fingers easily. I could do one nail for each Avenger, but then I have four nails left. Adding the Avengers logo to one nail on each hand only took care of half the problem. I thought about adding new characters to the mix. But, after I started listing them, I had more than ten characters. Also, not all of these characters have recognizable symbols which meant having to come up with a design that looked like it was inspired by that character as well.

In the end, I settled on showcasing the three newest additions to the Avengers: Scarlet Witch (thumbs and pinkie fingers), Quicksilver (pointer and ring fingers), and Vision (middle fingers).

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#52WPMC – Star Fairies Manicure

#52WPMC – Star Fairies Manicure
#52WPMC – Star Fairies Manicure

Purple and sparkles!

I don’t seem to be having a lot of lucky with this challenge. Seems like for every week I can manage to get the challenge, I miss two. But, I’m still hanging in here anyway because it’s fun and gives me an excuse to do my nails often.

This week’s prompt was Kid’s TV. And we all know there’s no way I could skip that one. I took me most of the week to decide on what show to use, though.

So, now I am probably about to date myself and I will not be surprised if no one else remembers this.

I settled on an homage to Star Fairies.

Go ahead. Click on the link to figure out what the heck I’m talking about. I’ll wait.

Done? Okay.

For those of you who didn’t click the link, Star Fairies was a made for TV special based around a series of adorable little dolls. It was the mid-80s. Almost all our kids’ programming was based around a toy! tease

There were six fairies: Princess Sparkle, Whisper, Jazz, Spice, Nightsong and True Love. They lived in a castle in the sky and granted the wishes of all little children who wished upon the wishing star each night, each fairy having a different specialty. The trolls were lazy and loutish and out to get a fairy’s magic wand in order to serve themselves and that’s where all the trouble originated, of course. (A mountain of pistachio ice cream? Really?) It was up to a little girl named Hillary to help the fairies get the wand back after the Trolls stole it or else no little child would ever have their wish granted again.

It was short and sweet and absolutely adorable. The dolls themselves were the cutest little things with sweetest faces ever to grace a doll. I had almost all of them, including the castle and the winged unicorn-drawn carriage. (Actually, I still do. No one is ever getting me to get rid of those!)

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Tuesday Tunes – March 10, 2015

Tuesday Tunes – March 10, 2015

My first glimpse of the spirit haunting Birchwood House. I spend an awful lot of time listening to music and streaming YouTube videos in the background while I’m working at the office. Sometimes they’re old favorites, sometimes they’re new-to-me artists, sometimes they’re fanvids for my various fandoms/ships. But, there’s only so many I can share on social media before it annoys people.

So, I’m thinking I might start sharing a few videos a week here on the blog in order to offset some of that.

note

This week’s picks are given after the cut in no particular order.

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A Family Affair – Chris O’Donnel Gets a Star

A Family Affair – Chris O’Donnel Gets a Star
A Family Affair – Chris O’Donnel Gets a Star
Chris O'Donnell greets LL Cool J

Chris O’Donnell greets LL Cool J

It’s taken me long enough, but I’ve finally got a chance to sit down and write about this.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to see a Walk of Fame star ceremony from ground level. Honestly, I’ve always had this opportunity as my office is right. there. But, I’ve never cared enough to take it before. While there are many deserving names from historical Hollywood there, I know too much about the process by which they are awarded (and, in  many cases bought) to put too much stock in them as anything other than good publicity for the celebrity involved.

Thursday, however, was different. Thursday’s honoree was a man whose work I’ve enjoyed since I was fifteen years old, a person who I respect and admire (from afar, alas) outside of his work, someone I believe does not get half the credit he deserves for either one.

Thursday’s honoree was Chris O’Donnell.

I’ve been a fan of Chris O’Donnell since Three Musketeers when I developed a high school girl’s crush on those baby blues. (The almost forty-year-old woman thinks they’re still pretty awesome, now.) I’ve seen the good work and the bad and the just-gotta-pay-the-bills work. Some I’ve enjoyed, some I’ve only sat through because it was Chris O’Donnell. (Really, I don’t think anyone else could have gotten me into a theatre for a Batman movie of any kind.)

And, of course, anyone who knows me knows that NCIS:LA is my current favorite television show. I started watching it for Chris O’Donnell long before I ever started watching the parent series. giggle I still believe that, while Betrayal (episode 3.9) was an episode mostly about Sam, some of the best acting was done by Chris without saying a single word.

One of the things that has always struck me about Chris O’Donnell, however, is how much of a family man he seems to be. A glance at his social media will show a number of references to his kids, his wife, his siblings, his NCIS:LA family. He comes across as very humble and down-to earth.

The ceremony was no different.

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The Jungle Under the Bridge

The Jungle Under the Bridge

Banner - B&W Traffic

Welcome to the jungle. We take it day by day.
If you want it, you’re gonna bleed. But. it’s the price to pay…
~~ “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘N’ Roses

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my friends in other countries, states, and cities, it’s that there really is no place like Los Angeles. Sure, there are the hallmarks of urban living that can be found in pretty much any major city anywhere. And, I’m sure every other city could have the same said of it. But, you set foot in Los Angeles and there’s just a spirit to the city that you can’t find anywhere else.

People talk about East Coast/West Coast bias or rivalries and I’ve had conversations with people from outside the U.S. who just can’t seem to understand that there are very different ways of life between the two. It’s not just a fiction or something for comedians to poke fun at when they need something other than race or gender or class to fall back on. There are very definitely things we do and think on the West Coast that sound insane to people from the East Coast and vice versa. Having run a number of RPG scenarios in which the characters were from L.A. or in L.A., I’ve had more than one occasion to explain the way Angelenos think to people who’ve never been here or only visited the main tourist areas, which are as much the “real” Los Angeles as Times Square is the “real” New York City. It’s always an interesting conversation.

I drive on her streets, ’cause she’s my companion.
I walk through her hills, ’cause she knows who I am.
She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy…
~~ “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

So, it always amuses me when I read stories and descriptions of Los Angeles written by people from other cities. Sometimes, they’re way off the mark, like the one NCIS: Los Angeles fanfic I read a couple of years ago that talked about Callen driving so fast Hetty would have his head and speeding past most of the other drivers on the freeway…then gave his speed as 70mph. Average speed limit on L.A. freeways is 65mph and if you do less than 70mph when there’s no real traffic, stay in the slow lane because most people consider the speed limit to be the minimum, not the maximum, regardless of legalities. So, unless Hetty’s a stuffy old bat (unlikely, given her own driving habits and the vehicles she owns), she’s not going to bat an eye at Callen’s speed. Well, unless it’s to tease him for driving like an old fogey!

Still, sometimes the writer gets it dead on and I’m left nodding my head and saying that’s exactly what it’s like. Read the rest of this entry

Meme – Have You Ever SecondLifed

Meme – Have You Ever SecondLifed
Meme – Have You Ever SecondLifed
Getting some blogging done

Getting some blogging done

Each week Strawberry Singh posts a meme on Mondays and encourages the Second Life blogging community to participate.

And each week, I usually tell myself I’ll fill it out once I get home.

Then, each week i fail to do so and the meme goes unremarked upon by me.

So, this week, I’m writing it now while I think about it. Her questions and my answers below the cut.

If you’d like to play along, you can find the original post on Strawberry’s blog.

  1. Have you ever owned a sim in Second Life? – Technically, no. I rented a homestead sim in Caledon for a time. But, that’s as close as I’ve come.
  2. Have you ever created content in Second Life? – I made some simple little lanterns to light my rezday party one year. But, in general, I don’t create much.
  3. Have you ever driven a vehicle in Second Life? – Yes! I have a cute little steampunk motorboat that I occasionally tool around the Caledon coast in. And I found a vintage bicycle in my inventory during a recent clean-up that I’m looking to try out soon.
  4. Have you ever gone sky diving in Second Life? – Not officially. LOL I’m sure falling 1200 feet from my skybox does not count.
  5. Have you ever played a sport in Second Life? – Nope
  6. Have you ever gone clubbing in Second Life? – A little bit. But, I have the world’s worst internet connection for Second Life and clubs tend to be too crowded for me to stay for long. It’s hard enough getting to the special event balls in the various realms where I spend most of my time.
  7. Have you ever fangirled/fanboyed someone in Second Life? – Nope
  8. Have you ever taken a picture of your avatar in water in Second Life? – Can’t say that I have. At least, none that I recall.
  9. Have you ever taken a picture of a sunset in Second Life? – At sunset, yes. Of the sunset specifically, no.
  10. Have you ever taken a nude picture of your avatar in Second Life? – Nope. Hasn’t actually ever crossed my mind to do so.
  11. Have you ever dated in Second Life? – Again, nope.
  12. Have you ever had or attended a wedding in Second Life? – Nope.
  13. Have you ever drank, smoked or taken drugs in Second Life? – Again, has never even crossed my mind as something to do.
  14. Have you ever engaged in sexual activity in Second Life? – Nope.
  15. Have you ever been to Bukkake Bliss in Second Life? – Nope. Not even sure what that is. LOL

NaBloPoMo February 2015

NaBloPoMo – Making Dinner Happen

NaBloPoMo – Making Dinner Happen
NaBloPoMo – Making Dinner Happen

NaBloPoMo Feb. 2015It seems I spoke too soon last week when I said I was thankful I wasn’t any sicker than I was at the time. Literally that same night I got home from work and crashed for two days with the worst cold I’ve had in a long time. Took two days off work and I’m still dealing with exhausting coughing fits. Of course, that’s put me behind on several things as I play catch-up, including my NaBloPoMo posts.

I’m going to combine a couple of the prompts for this post as they are along the same theme and I might do this for other prompts, as well, since I’ve missed so many posts. The prompts I’m addressing today, however, are:

What is your favourite thing to make for dinner?

Tell us about a dish you attempted to make that ended in disaster. Have you ever re-attempted the meal?

Have you ever made up your own recipe? Tell us about it.

To be honest, I’d say 85% of what I cook is essentially my own made up recipe. My style of cooking is usually to open the refrigerator and see what’s in there. Then, I usually just throw things together that sound good…or interesting.

Friends who have known me since high school will recognize the technique.

Pasta Experiment Fridays.

Yep. I’m pretty sure that’s where this style originated…or at least where I honed the process (and my palette).

During my later years of high school and first year of college, I would have a bunch of friends over to the house all the time. I don’t even remember how it started, but I eventually fell into a habit I called Pasta Experiment Fridays. It might have originated from a conversation about the fact that I would toss literally anything into a bowl of pasta because pasta is generally so forgiving as flavors go. However it began, the general gist of things was that I would have any friends who wanted to join us come over on Friday afternoons and I would cook pasta. The catch was that the pasta could be part of anything. I might throw spaghetti sauce on it or I might empty the spice cupboard into a vinaigrette for it. I might throw in crumbled ground beef and tomatoes, or chop up whatever veggies and cheese I could find.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it worked. really well.

And sometimes if failed in a big way. Read the rest of this entry

For My RezDay, Yesterday

For My RezDay, Yesterday
For My RezDay, Yesterday
My 2015-self wearing the clothes and hair I bought on my first day in world.

My 2015-self wearing the clothes and hair I bought on my first day in world.

On February 14, 2008, I discovered Second Life, this quirky little game that wasn’t really a game. I’d been laid up, sick in bed, for a while. I was bored and intrigued. Now, I had a very different first experience than the average user did back then, even than many do today, I’m sure. I had a friend from the Harry Potter RPG I was playing at the time who very graciously took the time to show me around. She generously gave me some Linden dollars to get started and then took me to Evie’s Closet and Panache, where I purchased some clothes and hair to make a better avatar than the usual newbie avatar of 2008. Then she took me to the sim she and her wife were putting together and we talked about the creative possibilities in world.

I still have those outfits and hair. Still wear them, too.

In my early days of Second Life, I was very enthusiastic about all those creative opportunities. I want to build and texture and sell my creations and form a community and…then my first life changed. I switched jobs, though not companies. I started toying with the idea of writing fiction for profit. Mostly I simply didn’t have the time and,while I had some friends at the start who were just as enthusiastic, eventually they all moved on to other things and left second life as well.

In the fall of 2008, I ventured back in world and that was when I discovered my home away from home in the Steamlands.

For the next year and a half, I lived on my little island of Caledon Westmoreland and managed the Westmoreland Nature Preserve. Then I had to leave again due to financial issues that wouldn’t let me keep my little duchy. While I kept in touch with a few people through other social media and blogs, eventually, when I had the finances again, I had to come back because I missed the community I’d found here.

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#52WPMC – Purple Hearts

#52WPMC – Purple Hearts
#52WPMC – Purple Hearts
Not entirely happy with how this came out, but it's still pretty and sparkly, which was what I wanted.

Not entirely happy with how this came out, but it’s still pretty and sparkly, which was what I wanted.

Only one photo of this week’s challenge manicure. The light in my office was very anti-sparkle the day I took them and I had to do some clean-up on this one just to make it viable. I suppose, if I was going to be a serious nail blogger, I would get together a better photography set-up. But, I’m not that dedicated and it’s unlikely I ever dedicate this blog to one single topic. I have too much to say on too many things. 😉

Anyway, this week’s themes were Hearts and Purple. I’ve opted to do both and combine them into one manicure this round. Mostly, I was just thrilled for an excuse to use this new Pixie Dust polish from Zoya. I just got it and I’m in love!

This is Zoya Pixie Dust in Thea, from the winter 2014 collection. I just got it as part of a special deal Zoya offered on their website last month that offered three free polishes if you bought three. With standard shipping, the polish only arrived a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure the other colors I purchased, as well as the three free ones, will show up in future challenge posts.

While most of the polishes I used for this happened to be Zoya shades, the rest are old ones that have appeared in other manicures.

For the accent nails, I used a base of Zoya’s Jamie, a lovely romantic pale pink shade that I really just had to have because it’s my name. LOL It takes me two to three coats to get this level of opacity with Jamie because it’s a lovely sheer. I then put a coat of Zoya’s Sparkle Gloss for just a hint of sparkle that doesn’t really show up well in this image. Then I used Model’s Own Artstix in Silver to draw on the hearts. The silver color didn’t really pop enough against the pale pink, though. So, I dry brushed a bit of Queen of Evil from Sincerely Polish over it. I do really like the texture effect that created, even if I think I could have done better if it wasn’t a fix-it.

The real lesson, however, was that drawing hearts with my left hand was HARD. <a href="http://esoteric-renaissance.com/52wpmc-purple-hearts/#more-6923” class=”more-link”>Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Matters – February 02, 2015

Monday Matters – February 02, 2015
Monday Matters – February 02, 2015

NaBloPoMo Feb. 2015Okay, so the first thing to remember when signing up for something like NaBloPoMo? Check when the start date is! LOL If it’s on a day when you know there’s an event that is going to take your entire focus, prewrite a post and schedule it to go up while you’re painting your nails and hanging out on social media to cheer on your team!

Yes, I got so wrapped up in Super Bowl that I forgot yesterday was the start of February. (Super Bowl Sunday needs no official date! LOL)

The theme for NaBloPoMo this month is ‘Make’ and there will be future posts from me that are on theme.

But, as I’m playing catch-up , today you get a new Monday Matters after the cut.

For those who may be new to the blog, Monday Matters is my weekly run through of positive things in my life. It’s inspired by the old (and now defunct) Participation Positives from ten or twelve years ago.

Okay, so what are the positive things in my head today?

  •  Let’s start with my boys. My team. My Pats! Super Bowl champions! The game may have started out slow and uneventful. But, that second half? That fourth quarter? THOSE LAST TWO AND A HALF MINUTES?! Simply amazing.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier valentines. Yes, the cheap little cards kids take to school for their class. I’m not passing them out, but they’ll make an amusing decorating theme for my cubicle. Don’t judge me. I know I’m insane. ;-P
  • I can still talk. My sinuses started acting up yesterday and this morning I woke up with the sore throat from Hell. So, I’m really glad that it seems to be mostly cleared up right now. Soup and oranges for dinner tonight, I think, though. Early to bed. I really don’t want to use sick time so early in the year.
  • And, lastly, this Winter Soldier fanart makes me very happy.
Patriots Pride and Team Evans support in one manicure

Patriots Pride and Team Evans support in one manicure

Finally, in honor of the Super Bowl, with my Patriots playing, I did a quickie manicure to show some pride. The #TeamEvans hashtag is included along with some obvious Captain America inspiration to show support for the bet between Chris Evans and Chris Pratt, otherwise known as#Twitterbowl.

For those who are unaware, the two Marvel stars made a bet on the game, each forfeiting a visit to the children’s charity of the other’s choice…in costume and bearing the colors of the opposing team. Chris Pratt set the stakes that Evans would make an appearance at Seattle Children’s Hospital dressed as Cap and bearing the 12th Man flag of the Seattle Seahawks should the Seahawks win. For his part, Chris Evans determined that, should the Patriots win, Pratt would make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven in Boston, dressed as Starlord wearing a Tom Brady jersey. Read the rest of this entry

#52WPMC – Candy Fishtail Braid Manicure

#52WPMC – Candy Fishtail Braid Manicure
#52WPMC – Candy Fishtail Braid Manicure

So, since I made mention of the prompt for this week’s #52WPMC, let me share that with you.

The design challenge for this week is ‘Fishtail’. Basically, it’s a pattern that looks like a fishtail braid painted on your nail. I’ve never done one of these before. But, it turned out to be pretty easy to do. It’s really just a series of alternating diagonal stripes down the length of the nail.

I call this the Candy Fishtail because the colors I used come across as rather candy-colored, especially with the holos.

This was also a good excuse for me to use some colors I bought back in October and haven’t had a chance to get to, yet. All three colors come from Glam Polish as part of the Welcome to Storeybrooke Collection.

The collection was inspired by the television series Once Upon a Time (OUAT). I’m a huge fan of Jefferson, the Mad Hatter (played by Sebastian Stan), as anyone who’s ever talked to me about the show will know. I miss the character, but I’m SO GLAD they didn’t recast the role for the spin-off or OUAT itself. He nailed it. But, given that, it was pretty much a guarantee that I would be getting Hat Trick from the collection, which is this great duotone holo that shifts between violet and umber shades.

While buying Hat Trick for my birthday gift to myself, I also fell in love with A Land Without Magic, a bright turquoise holo, and Red Handed, a hot pink holo named for Red Riding Hood.

Better pictures are after the cut.

Read the rest of this entry

Tuesday Tidbits

Tuesday Tidbits
Tuesday Tidbits

Daron's Guitar ChroniclesI make a lot of plans to write things, I have a list of blog post ideas that I want to write.  But, do you see me writing anything? NOPE! So, if the next few posts are short and seeming nonsense, it’s because I’m trying to at least get back into the habit of writing and then I can start writing some more thoughtful posts as I get back in the habit.

That’s really the theme for me this year. I need to get organized, find a way to manage time better, and get things done instead of just talking about them. So, a lot of things may seem even crazier as I find what works for me. (Because we all know how much I truly suck at these things outside of the office.)

In any case, if you’re interested in some rambling thoughts, feel free to click through the cut for more.

First things, for those of you who are still unaware, my Second Life blog has been integrated with this one and the old domain (livingoutsidethelines.net) no longer works.

It’s actually been awhile since I’ve been in world. I got in quite a bit during the holidays when I was feeling crappy and had no energy to do much of anything. But, since going back to work, I haven’t gotten in much. I should try and do that soon. Spring will be coming to Caledon and I need to take down some holiday things.

Yep, pretty sure I only get in world when I want to redecorate. lol

I’ve totally failed at #52WPNMC. Even when I’ve done them, I haven’t had time to take photos of the manicures or put them up. I think I’ll start up a photo gallery to put them all in and everyone can catch up there. I actually did this week’s challenge: Fishtail braid. Even gave me a chance to use three of my untrieds that I haven’t touched since buying them for my birthday. But, I did it over my lunch hour and need to clean up the edges before taking pictures. So, we’ll see if that one gets up, either. LOL

Last year I kicked in some money for a kickstarter campaign [info]ravenna-c-tan was running to get some of her original work published. Just before the holidays, I got my copies of the first two omnibus editions of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles in the mail. I’ve nearly finished it, now, after picking up the first one up a couple weeks ago (finally!). Talk about flashbacks. So many thoughts getting dug up in my head about the people I knew in high school and music and taking even the small exposure I’ve had to that world into my life now.

Wasn’t expecting that.

Should have. Read the rest of this entry

Farewell to Middle Earth

Farewell to Middle Earth
Farewell to Middle Earth

The Hobbit - The Battle of Five Armies - Official Poster

It’s been ten years since I was an active Ringer. But, with the release of the last movie today, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, I’m getting very reflective.

I’d read all five books (Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Silmarillion) multiple times by the time the first movie came out in 2001. Tolkien, Lewis, Montgomery, MacDonald, Weiss & Hickman, Springer, Kurtz…these were the names of the creators of worlds that have shaped my imagination for almost four decades. Despite any other interests or fandoms, these are the main ones who have been a constant through all the years. Come Yule this weekend, I’ll embark on a journey through Middle Earth once again. How ironic was it that the films first were released at the same time of year I always reread the books?

But, the original trilogy of movies captured me in a way nothing really has since. Not Potter. Not NCIS. Not Marvel. Although, Captain America and Winter Soldier, perhaps, come the closest. The Narnia movies were close, but I knew they’d never continue once the stories became more allegorical. Too many people find it impossible to enjoy a story for itself and leave the allegory to those who appreciate it and Christianity has been very unpopular in recent years (says the pagan witch whose religion most people still don’t think is a real one! LOL)

Lord of the Rings, though?

Well, anyone who’s read the early days of my LiveJournal knows how ensnared I was by Peter Jackson’s interpretation of that world. Whether it was age, the state of the world, the circumstances of life, all three coming together in a unique conjunction of influences, those movies sparked a well of creativity inside myself that I have sorely missed.

Though I have not gotten back into the fandom with the release of the Hobbit trilogy, I can feel a more subtle variant of that same spark struggling to reawaken. The nail art, a recent bout of Christmas card making, the baking spats, I wonder if all of these are my subconscious reaction to the lack of that spark?

Not that I haven’t been creating. But, I have done little of the visual work in collage and crafting that has always balanced my written works.

Then I saw this video for the song Billy Boyd will perform, I assume over the credits, for this last movie and my heart broke a little bit.

It’s the end of an era. By the time the Deathly Hallows movies came around, I was happy to be well shot of that world, disappointment in the last two books weighing heavily on my enjoyment of the films. Though I’ve seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier multiple times in the theatre, it still doesn’t even come close to the least amount of times I’ve seen one of the original three movies, let alone all three.

But, this is the last farewell. There will be no more. And this time, I’m not ready to let go.

Savo ‘lass a lalaith. Novaer na lû e-govaned vîn.

 

Spirit of Birchwood Revealed

Spirit of Birchwood Revealed
Spirit of Birchwood Revealed

Ancient legends speak of two opposing forces: light and dark, often represented in the faerie courts of old. The seelie court, court of light and order, rules over the land through the brightest parts of the year. But, as summer wanes and the harvest times come to an end, then the unseelie court rises, the court of darkness and chaos. It is at Samhain, the end of the old year, as the world settles in to winter and remembering, that the veil between this world and the next is at it’s thinnest.

Is this why the spirits have become active at Birchwood House? I can only guess. But, the investigations continue.

As these first images show, the strange phenomena has increased throughout the house. Objects have been moved, or are seen to be floating in midair as if in the possession of invisible hands.

I have come to believe there are at least two entities about the house. One is a man whose voice can be heard most distinctly in the upstairs study. Whisperings and bumps can be heard at all times of the day. But, futher contact has been elusive. The second spirit, however, has made herself known quite dramatically as the weeks have rolled on steadily.

What began as glimpses of shadows and myst-like shapes out of the corner of my eye, or within the camera’s film, have turned into physical manifestations of a frightening apparition. Read the rest of this entry

The Haunting of Birchwood House

The Haunting of Birchwood House
The Haunting of Birchwood House

It started small at first: a door left open that I thought was closed, a bath fully drawn when no one was home. Occasionally I would hear footsteps in the house when I was alone, phantom voices speaking while I worked. As the frequency of these occurrences increased, I could only come to one conclusion:

Birchwood House is haunted.

The spectral residents of the house have made their presence known, but not their identity.

During the month of June, I endeavored to capture some evidence of their spectral presence on film. Being possessed — isn’t that an odd choice of phrase? — of only one camera, I was forced to relocate periodically to capture record of most of the activity. Still, by spending an hour or two a night in each post, I was able to gather some evidence in each of the most active parts of the house: the upper hallway, the dining room, and the kitchen.

Despite my efforts to identify these spirits, they have remained ever elusive. In the last few weeks, however, activity has picked up once again, to a level that the spiritual mists are now visible to the naked eye during the daytime. Read the rest of this entry

Autumn Renewal

Autumn Renewal
Autumn Renewal

It’s in the air. A subtle shift on the wind, a teasing scent that says Summer’s over. The green leaves of July have turned into a riotous inferno of reds and oranges and golds. Even the sky itself seem a little more gilded, bringing a crisp edge to the soft breeze. It’s a time of reflection and renewal, the world preparing for it’s annual sleep, to rise again in beauty come spring.

And the weary traveler returns home…

Taking in the view from my backyard

Taking in the view from my backyard

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote here. It’s not even that I haven’t been in world, but I just haven’t done much that seemed to merit writing. I’m feeling the urge again, however.

So, what have I been doing? Just sort of exploring a bit. About this time last year I got in touch with Des about returning to Caledon. I waited for a few months after my return just to make sure I wasn’t going to end up disappearing again. But, of all the things I’d missed in Second Life since 2010, it was the community in Caledon.

Some things have changed, of course. Hard for them not to. Some people have come and gone, borders have changed. But, at it’s core, there’s still the same essence.

I’m living in Oxbridge Village now, a full Duchy being slightly out of my price range these days. But, in a way, I think I like living among people instead of on my solitary little island as I did at Westmoreland. At any given time, there are people moving around the neighborhood, I’ve had some pleasant conversations with some of the new residents coming out of Oxbridge proper to explore. And it’s still a quiet spot to simply be when I need to be.

I think, this time, I’m listening to what the universe is trying to tell me. When I first found Caledon it was in October. When I was drawn back again, it was October. Now, this October I’m feeling that urge to get out more and explore, share.

So, I guess that’s what I’m doing. :)

Monday Matters – October 13, 2014

Monday Matters – October 13, 2014
Monday Matters – October 13, 2014

Banner - Dark Power LinesBeen a while since I’ve done one of these. Been a while since I wrote regularly, too. lol Still working on finding the time to do that again. Need to get more organized about things in general, I think. Or get some rest! heh. Haven’t had a real break from things since…December?

Anyway, starting the week on a positive note:

  • Seaside Highland Games this past weekend. Beautiful weather, lovely music, old friends. Just a great time all around, despite the migraine that came with me.
  • While at the Games, met a lovely woman who was selling her first book. Picked up a copy to read on the bus (of course!), but really was charmed by the author, whether I end up ultimately liking the book or not. It was just nice to meet such a pleasant, caring woman.
  • VACATION! My usual vacation for my birthday and Halloween is coming up in ten days. I have a few things to do, but mostly, I just want to chill as much as I can.
  • Getting myself a new phone. It’s not a total positive, since it’s now literally impossible to get a smart phone with a hard keyboard without a contract for a price I can afford. But, it’s still an upgrade and my current phone has outgrown my needs (also, I’m pretty sure I’ve semi-bricked it. oops).

#52WPMC – 3-Color Gradient

#52WPMC – 3-Color Gradient
#52WPMC – 3-Color Gradient
Pay no attention to that band-aid behind the curtain.

Pay no attention to that band-aid behind the curtain.

For starters, I’m just going to go out on a limb and suggest that Facebook is annoying. I applied to join the Facebook group for this challenge awhile back and never got a notice from Facebook when the request was approved. So, I totally missed out on the first week’s prompts. *pouts* I may try and get to them later. But, I haven’t even had time to touch my nails for a month before now. So, I won’t hold my breath. LOL

Anyway, the way the challenge works is each week there’s a pattern prompt and a color prompt and you can choose to do one or both or put them together. I’m likely to only get to one manicure a week, per usual. But, I wanted to try something that would make me stretch my skills a bit, since I’m still learning some of the more advanced tricks.

This week’s pattern challenge was a three-color gradient. And, since I had a handful of fall colors just sitting around waiting to be tried, it was a good time to go with a fall theme. :-)

I actually took the pictures a couple days ago, but this is my first chance getting to post them. It was funny because my coworker looked at me and said “Oh! Your nails look like candy corn! Did you do that on purpose?” LOL Nope, totally random…uh, not.

The colors I used were Zoya’s Purity for the white, Cheeky Chops by Butter London for the yellow, and finishing with Motivated by Formula X for Sephora as the orange. Motivated didn’t want to blend quite as nicely as the other two, so there’s a sort of stippling effect. Read the rest of this entry

WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part Two

WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part Two
WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part Two

Planes of Fame Restroom SignContinuing my report from the June symposium at the Planes of Fame Museum featuring six veteran fighter pilots who had flown the P-47 Thunderbolt during the World War II: five who fought in the European Theatre and one who was in the Pacific Theatre. The stories of all the men were entertaining, educational, and enlightening. After listening to these men speak, it became clearer why theirs is known as the greatest generation.

Yesterday I wrote about Lieutenant Colonel Robert Friend, who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen using all 6,000 feet of runway they were given; Lieutenant Colonel Sandy Ross, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in saving the life of his squadron leader during a dogfight; and Lieutenant Martin Engler who crash landed into the middle of a tank battle.

Today, I’ll begin with the fourth man to speak: Lieutenant Joe Preston.

Lt. Preston never saw a German fighter plane in all of his 47 missions as his missions generally consisted of bombing and strafing runs. During these missions, he was shot down two times. Both times he was hit in the oil cooler.

The first time, oil got underneath and into the turbo, started smoking, then caught fire. Checking his landing, the ground below Lt. Preston was full of German soldiers. So, he flew around until he saw a bit of land near a forest. There was a cow on the path near where he wanted to land and just said “Cow don’t move! Stay where you’re at!”

Jumping out of the plane, he saw a hill, tress, and a town. When he went to look over the hill, however, he saw a German convoy. “Not the place to hide, I thought.”

Lt. Preston went back toward his plane and got next to a river to check the map they were all supposed to be given in their escape kit. But, before he could, he heard someone speaking French behind him. Turning, he saw a guy wearing a Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (FFI) armband and holding a shotgun. Without a word, he gave Lt. Preston the shotgun and walked him to the town.

In the town, the people cheered and took Lt. Preston to the bar where they gave him a cognac. On the house.

“Here I am, the first American in this town,” he thought. “Pretty soon a bunch of GIs are gonna drink everything in sight I should get some stuff now for later.”

But, every time he tried to negotiate for a few bottles of something, the barkeep just gave him another cognac on the house.

Trying something new, he said he was hungry.

They gave him a fried egg.

On the house. Read the rest of this entry

WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part One

WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part One
WWII Fighter Pilots Speak at Planes of Fame Museum – Part One

“God almighty, in a few short hours we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid. We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if You will, use us as Your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.” — Part of the prayer reportedly given by Lt. Col. Robert L. Wolverton, commanding officer of 3rd battalion, 506th PIR, prior to the beginning of the D-Day attacks

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the monthly symposium at the Planes of Fame Museum. There are two locations as part of the organization, one here in Chino, CA and one in Valle, AZ, and between them they house over 150 historic planes, including a number of military planes from both World Wars, the Korean War, and Vietnam. I first heard of them last March at the first L.A. County Air Show. We were there to see Blue Angels perform and a team from the museum did a combat reenactment from the Korean War.

Once a month, they hold a symposium on different topics pertinent to aviation history. With the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion last Friday, June’s symposium was on the P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the primary fighter planes used by the US Army Air Forces during the war. Speaking at the event were six veteran fighter pilots who had flown the Thunderbolt during the war: five who fought in the European Theatre and one who was in the Pacific Theatre.

Banner - P-47D Thunderbolt

Each of the six men stood up to speak and I was able to get a few photos and took extensive notes on the stories they shared. That being said, here are a few of my impressions. I’ve written them as narratives based on my notes and will post one speaker each night this week.The first speaker was Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend of the Tuskegee Airmen. Unfortunately, I did not get any notes for this presentation as we were standing up waiting for chairs to be brought over and his presentation was short. Although, I do recall him commenting they “had 6,000 feet of runway and we used all of it!”

Following Lt. Col. Friend was Lieutenant Colonel Sandy Ross, who began by telling of a time when the steering had been blown out and he was told to out. His response? “No! It’s my first plane and I lover her!” A Fighter Pilot who was leaving theatre liked him and gave him his plane because he didn’t have one of his own. He had been using whatever planes were available. Read the rest of this entry

July NaBlogPoMo – Day 2

July NaBlogPoMo – Day 2
July NaBlogPoMo – Day 2

Banner - Laugh AngelI’ve decided to go ahead and try the NaBloPoMo. No guarantees I get a post up every day. But, I’ve got some scheduled ahead. So, we’ll see how it goes. I signed up today, which means I missed the first. But, I did post yesterday and I can’t find anything that says you have to write on the prompt every day. So…that works? lol

The prompt for today is:

Do you think of a decade as a short or long period of time? (Is the century a 10th full or a 10th empty!)

I know they tell you time feels shorter the older you get. But, I’m going to assume they mean when you’re truly old…like 90+. I’m in my mid-thirties and it still feels like forty is forever in the future, attractive men in their mid-twenties are still too far back for the age gap not to matter. (Note, I don’t feel this way about men in their fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties!) The summer seems to stretch on interminably ahead of me. (Although, to be honest, that might just be the weather. Time always seems to slow when it gets hot.)

And a decade?

Well, that does seem like forever.

A decade ago, I was barely to a point of considering myself a real adult. Out of school, working, truly single and without even a boyfriend for the first time since I was a junior in high school. I go back and read some of the things I wrote back then and it feels so long ago.

I had different groups of friends back then, too. Many of which would be gone in the next year as lives changed and people went in different directions, made different priorities. It’s funny, but with the advent of Facebook a few years later, I’m actually more involved in the lives of people I knew in high school and college than the people I was closest to ten years ago. I’ve also found new friendships online as I’ve sought out more like-minded people across different interest-based communities. It seems like I’ve known many of these people forever, but reality says it’s been less than five years for some. I can’t imagine the time when I wasn’t talking to some of these friends every day.

But, ten years ago?

We hadn’t even met.