How Do You Measure a Year in the Life?

How about Instagram!

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Seasons of Instagram…

Every good blogger knows that a New Years Eve post is essential.  Thanks to Instagram, it is so much easier to keep track and look back on the highlights of a year.

To start off… the last moments of 2012.

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Keepin’ it classy…

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And the first moment of 2013…

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The rest shall follow in no particular order.

In 2013…

I played in snow…

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Met a baby screech owl…

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Ate my favorite frozen yogurt on my birthday…

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And adopted a penguin.

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Visited a museum.

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And took a road trip to one of my favorite cities in the world to see my sister perform in the All State Choir (for the second time).

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I found out something about myself that I already knew…

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And discovered that this cool little statue that I bought in January 2002 is actually a pencil sharpener…

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I cleaned out the back room in my parents’ house and discovered a whole mountain of 1990s treasures.

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(We still have our Furbies too…)

I got to see my sister play Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.  Of course, I wanted a picture with Audrey II…

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I also saw a pink Hummer.

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And discovered this really creepy scarecrow that lurks in the upstairs of our office at work.  I bet it comes to life when no one’s looking.

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Welcomed some new friends…

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And had a lot of fun with old friends…

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Rented a car for the first time…

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And took a great trip to the Gulf Shores!

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Visited my old camp at Lake Texoma… another one of my favorite places in the world…

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And built a new home for a wolf spider!

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My sister and I took our Dad to see Roger Creager in Concert for his 65th birthday.  We got great seats on the lawn, right in front, and afterword, we all got to meet Roger.  That was one of the coolest moments, seeing my Daddy get a “Happy Birthday” from one of his favorite country outlaws!

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He got to meet Chuck Taylor from The Range and we all got a lot of free stuff since we got there so early.

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Went Downtown to get the rights for my new company, Wind Trail Publishing.

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And of course, wrote, edited, and published my first book (with a lot of help from great friends!).  At one point, Cemetery Tours made it to #92 on the Top 100 Kindle Bestsellers List in Contemporary Fiction!

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I participated in my very first 5K…

 

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And ate the very best cake I’ve ever had in my life…

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I got to go bowling…

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And see Bon Jovi in concert… in a fancy box… for free!!!

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My poor baby car, Niles, was in a minor fender bender…

 

 

 

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But we fixed him and now he is like new!  🙂

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I read some books with my oldest friend…

 

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Including brand new books by my two favorite authors…

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I hosted my first pool party…

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And enjoyed the summer sun.

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I discovered the self-satisfaction that comes from posting a “Transformation Tuesday…”

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Around the same time that my sister was elected Prom Queen!

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I straightened my hair for Halloween…

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And took my very first trip to Lubbock.

 

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I enjoyed a fun-filled Thanksgiving full of laughter.

 

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And survived Icemageddon 2013…

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The whole family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas… with a toilet.

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And celebrated 21 Christmases with this sweet girl!

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Now… onto 2014!!!  I’m ready!

 

 

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Scary Stories

My sister and her friends love telling scary stories.  They love being afraid.  They’re like fear masochists or something.  Her friend, Emily, is just about the most demented person I’ve ever met.  Case in point, last year, she and my sister were on a school trip to New York.  They bought a teddy bear, ripped off its arms and head, stuck the bear head on a pen, stuck the pen in a water bottle, and left the “sacrifice” in the room for the poor hotel staff to find.

My sister wants me to add in this disclaimer: Emily is a good Catholic girl.  She even has her own Catholic Saint name.  But you can be a good Catholic girl and still be demented.

Anyway, last night, they were hanging out with the third musketeer of their little group, Kenzie, and, as usual, telling scary stories.  Emily told two exceptionally frightening tales, one about her friend who is haunted by a demon who takes the form of a little boy with no eyes and long, creepy fingers (that one about brought me to tears), and the other, about a teacher that one of her friends had had and one of his students, a young girl named Kimberly.

Upon further research, it turns out the Kimberly story is actually something of a legend.  It’s a story that Ed Hermanski has been telling his students for at least 15 years or so, and to this day, he claims it to be true.  The story takes a while to listen to, but every spine-chilling moment is pretty worth it.

http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/53420840/kimberlystory.mp3

There’s also a news article written about Hermanski and his famous tale.

http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2007/10/29/67157-chandler-teacher-tells-chilling-story-to-students/

Well, after listening to almost the entire thing (my sister told me that the last few minutes were nothing important… just the weird things that happened every time after Mr. Hermanski told the story), my sister and I had a long talk about demons, God, Christ, religious stuff etc.  Needless to say, we both slept with crosses next to our beds last night.

This morning, I woke up, not really thinking too much about either story.  I got up, went about my morning routine, stepped out to run a few errands, and came back home.  Not five minutes after I walked in the door, I heard a loud POP out behind our house and the power failed.  I waited, thinking it might come back on after a while, but it didn’t, so I called the power company.  They confirmed there was a power outage (shocking, I know) and assured me that the power would be back on sometime later on in the day (clearly, as I am posting this, it is back on now). After I got off the phone with them, I went out again to meet a friend for brunch.

By the time I returned home, the power was back on.  My sister was up and alert.

“Yay, the power’s back!” I said.  My sister just looked at me.

“Were we the only house that lost power?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  I know the neighbors across the street still had theirs because their porch lights were still on, but I don’t know about the ones on our side of the street.”

My sister remained silent for a brief moment before she said, “That’s what happened to that teacher after he told the Kimberly story.”

“What?”

“He lost power.  You know how I said that the rest of the recording was just a bunch of weird stuff that happened to him after he told the story?  It was that the day after he told it, his power went out.”

Now, we live in an old house.  Power outages are far from unheard of.  But today is not particularly windy or rainy or snowy.  In fact, the weather is quite pleasant.  I’m not saying that a random power outage today is impossible, but it is kind of a strange coincidence that the day after my sister brings this actually quite disturbing story home, we experience the same strange phenomenon as the man who told the tale originally.

I’m hoping that we won’t be seeing or hearing any more of Kimberly, especially since I’m spreading the story around even more so.  I like to think that, since this is a Christian household, we’re pretty protected from things that go bump in the night.  But when it all comes down to it, I guess you never really know.

*EDIT* December 28, 2013

It happened again.  The power went out AGAIN this morning.  I am so done telling this story.

So… How was YOUR Christmas?

The day after Christmas.

I only had one glass of wine yesterday, but I definitely have a Christmas hangover.  Way too much food, fun, and laughter.  Not that that’s a bad thing.

The holiday festivities began with our annual Christmas Eve trip to Santa’s Village.  Santa’s Village is a fun little thing that the Public Library does every year.  They set up a bunch of little fun houses for kids to go in and get cookies, Christmas ornaments, write letters to Santa, etc…  My sister and I have outgrown the actual houses, but it’s still fun to walk around and look at lights.

Funny story real quick… One year, my sister and I took our little cousins around.  Our oldest cousin was probably about nine or so.  Anyway, we took her and her little sister into Mrs. Claus’ house, where she was handing out Christmas cookies.  As expected, she smiled, wished us a Merry Christmas, and handed each of my cousins a sugar cookie.  Upon receiving her cookie, my cousin looks her straight in the eye and says, “Thank you.  I’m just getting over strep throat.”

I’m sure the look of sheer alarm and panic that poor Mrs. Claus sent me at that moment mirrored my own stunned expression.  It only took me about half a second to recover.  “Okay, then, thank you, Mrs. Claus!”  I said and quickly ushered my cousins out of her house.

After we met up with their father, my older cousin, he asked how it had gone and I told him the story.  He gives me this bewildered expression and goes, “No she isn’t!”

Anyway, that’s one of my favorite Santa’s Village stories.  This year’s trip wasn’t quite as eventful.

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Although, my sister almost did get run over by a reindeer.

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Afterword, we went to Midnight Mass.  It’s a beautiful service.  We sang my favorite Christmas Carol, “A Stable Lamp is Lighted.”  However, being the High Church Episcopalians that we are, we had incense that not only stinks up the entire church, but also stinks up your hair and your clothes.  Seriously, that smell sticks with you.  I also happened to be acolyting, so I had to stand right behind the thurifer (or the guy who swings the incense).  At one point, I took a deep breath because we were singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I inhaled a mouthful of that holy smoke and started choking in front of the entire church.  Fortunately, Episcopalians are really into their Christmas music, so no one noticed.

After the service, we headed home to wait for Santa.

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Midnight was excited for Santa also, even though she knows climbing up on the table might land her on the naughty list.

After about three and a half viewings of A Christmas Story (“Agggggghhhhhh I can’t put my arms down aaaaghhhh!”), we finally headed to bed to wait for Christmas morning.

We had a lot of surprises waiting for us!

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For example, I got a whole elliptical!  I love it!  I only hope it isn’t my parents’ way of telling me I need to work out more.

I also got Monsters University and Allegiant, so I’m a pretty happy camper.

My sister on the other hand…

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She told my parents that she wanted checks for Christmas.  Well, they delivered.  (She actually got some really great presents.  This photo was just too funny to pass up).

After a morning of Christmasy goodness, we headed back to our friends the Kisers’ place (In case you don’t remember them, they’re the ones we spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas with… https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/its-the-holiday-season/).  I’m not even sure how the tradition began.  We’ve all just been friends forever.  The stories I could tell… maybe one day I’ll write a book.  The Annual Kiser-Smith Holiday Shindigs.

Mr. Kiser always has a fun new holiday toy for us to play with.  Last year, it was Robot Fighter Bugs.  I named mine Horatio.

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This year, it was Robot Fighter Spiders.  Remote controlled and slightly bigger and creepier, because they actually walk on creepy little robot legs.

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Just like any good Christmas gathering, there were Christmas cookies.

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However, if you look closely, you’ll notice that someone ate the head off of one of the gingerbread men and then put him back.  Morbid.  And a little gross.

We (the “kids”) took a Christmas walk to the park.

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December Skies in Texas are actually very beautiful.

We’re all adults, so naturally, we played on the swing set.

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This is Bobby, my brother for all intents and purposes.

While we were at the park, we met the absolute cutest little boy named Keegan.  He came right up to us, with his dad looking on, and began patting our friend Ashwin on the leg and saying, “Buddy… buddy.”  Then, he walked over to Bobby’s little sister, Jenny, and said, “What a mess!”  His dad explained that he’d had a lot of health problems, and that he really liked playing with big kids.  I got a high five from him.  So, so, so cute.   I hope he had the best Christmas ever.

After that, it started getting really cold, so we scurried back to the Kiser home, where we engaged in another holiday tradition: Mario Kart.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  I’m not very good at Mario Kart, but my sister is absolutely disgraceful.  This year, however…

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She came in third place!!!  It’s actually a Christmas Miracle!

I don’t know how to bring up the highlight of our Yuletide Celebration, so I’ll just say it.  There was a toilet.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Jenny got a toilet for Christmas.  It actually wasn’t the first Christmas toilet in the family.  Bobby got one when he and I were still in high school.  Let me tell you, he was not amused.  His mom (and the rest of us) thought it was hilarious, but he was so angry.  It was just about the funniest thing.  Now that we’re older though, we know how to appreciate the value of a good Christmas toilet.

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He’s over 21, I swear.

You can use it as a wine table.

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The evening ended with a delightful chocolate cheesecake dessert.

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Good thing I got that elliptical, because I’m not letting this beauty go to waste!!!

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Dessert and more battle bugs.

I hope everyone had the most delightful and merry of Christmases!

Now onto 2014!

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A Day to Catch Up

For the first time in about two weeks, I am finally having a day to myself to read, write, and FINALLY start making some progress on getting Cemetery Tours on other eReaders, like Nook!  And watch some classic Christmas music like White Christmas and The Grinch.  

So… updates.

I successfully uploaded Cemetery Tours to NookPress.  It should be available within the next 72 hours.  I hope it looks okay.  I’m not very tech-savvy as I know I’ve mentioned before, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!  I don’t have a Nook, so I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to look like, but I’m hoping that it will suffice.  I plan on uploading it to iBook also, but apparently, the iTunes store won’t be open to any new material until December 28.  

I’m still waiting for the book from my new author friend in the UK.  She sent it two weeks ago, but it is the busiest time of the year for the postal service, so I’m not too surprised that it’s not here yet.  I really hope I get it soon, though!      

I checked BarnesAndNoble.com this afternoon and saw that Cemetery Tours is no longer available through the site.  I have a few theories as to why this is.  The first and foremost being that I recently updated the book itself, so it might take a while for it to make it back to B&N.  Another, less likely scenario, is that it sold out and Barnes and Noble is waiting to stock back up.  I think it might be the first one, though.  Hopefully B&N didn’t just decide to drop the title.  I don’t think they did.  I think I just kind of screwed it up by updating the book itself.  If it’s not back up soon, I will contact them and find out what’s going on.  In the meantime, you can still find Cemetery Tours at Amazo.com and Books-A-Million.com, and I think eBay also.  

Watching White Christmas and I still hate miscommunications as plot devices.  TALK, Rosemary Clooney!  Just TALK to Bing!  He’s a good guy, I promise!  

Anyway, I’m going to go work a little bit more on the sequel!  Hoping I’ll still have the manuscript at least close to finished by the end of the year, but with everything going on with the holidays, friends, and family, that might be a bit of a lofty goal.  It will be done SOON though!  

Merry Christmas!    

Remembrances, Reunions, Goodbyes

I spent my first fifteen years of education in small private schools.  My middle school and high school were one in the same, with 300 students in six grades.  My class was the largest, at around 68 students when we graduated in 2006.  Since walking the stage, I’ve only seen a handful of my former classmates, though of course, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to at least see what everyone has been up to.  We have a little Class of 2006 group where we all share updates on our lives.   We were the kind of class who didn’t have bullies or cliques.  Yeah, we all had our own little groups within the group, but truthfully, for a small class of private schoolers, we got along really well and we still support each other.

Last week, one of those classmates was killed in a tragic accident.  I hadn’t seen Ross since our graduation day, nor had I really stayed in contact with him, but it was still a huge shock.  You read stories about young deaths online, and you think, “Oh, how sad.”  But deep down, you never think that it will happen to a family you actually know.  It doesn’t quite register that it’s a real death, a real loss.  Even tragedies like the Newtown shooting, while horrific and heartbreaking, seem more like something you’d read in a sad book than experience in reality.  I can’t imagine what that kind of pain feels like, and to be totally honest, I don’t want to.

This morning, I, along with several of our classmates and band mates (of which we were both members), attended his funeral.  I’ve never been to a funeral for a young person, which is a little strange, especially considering my first book is about ghosts and tragic deaths.  The thing is it’s really easy to write about tragedy and loss when it’s fiction and no one is actually hurting.  Experiencing it first hand is a completely different, and heartbreaking, experience.

Walking into the church was surreal.  At first, it appeared splendid and beautiful, decked out in wreathes of red, green, and gold, Advent candles, and a tall and beautiful Chrismon tree; a glorious temple waiting in joyful anticipation to celebrate the birth of our Lord.  It was so joyous that for a split second, I forgot that I was supposed to be at a funeral.  Then I noticed the simple brown casket, outlined in white satin, facing the alter, and looking terribly out of place in such a festive setting.

I don’t really want to go into details, because in the end, the details don’t really matter.  A young man lost his life, a mother lost her son, a sister lost her older brother, a young girl lost her soul mate.  And all so close to what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

After the service, we all gathered for a small reception and to pay our condolences.  It was touching to see how many teachers and students from our high school had made the time to attend.  As I said, several of us hadn’t spoken in years, but to be honest, it felt like no time had passed at all.  We all still had that bond, that mutual sense of camaraderie, respect, and friendship.  It’s amazing how close we all still are, not only to each other, but to our teachers as well.  I’ve always known I was lucky to have had the high school experience that I did, where we all genuinely cared for one another, and the teachers all treated us like we were their own, but it’s also easy to take the good things in life for granted.  It’s moments like these, the really tough ones, that remind me what true teachers, and true friends, really are.  We might not be as close as we once were, but I know if I ever needed anything, I could call on any one of those teachers or former classmates, and they would be there for me, as I would for them.

Near the end of the reception, Ross’s mother bravely stood in front of the room, thanked us for our prayers and outpouring of love, and implored us to remember the true meaning of Christmas; the love of God, our Savior, family, friends, and spending time together.  You won’t find Christmas at a mall or wrapped up beneath a tree.  You find Christmas in the love of those around you, in the moments you cherish, in laughter and joyful conversation, in driving around with friends drinking hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights.

Remember to love, to embrace, and to be thankful this Christmas.  And, if you would, say a prayer for those who suffer, those who are lonely or sick, and for those whose holiday will be spent missing a beloved son, brother, and friend, whose young life ended far too soon.

Christmastime is Here

The holidays are busy.  But a good kind of busy!  I’ve spent a lot of time with my friends and sister, been to several different malls (to enjoy the Christmasy atmosphere… too poor to shop!), and eaten a LOT of Christmasy treats (fudge is my favorite).  I haven’t had a whole lot of time to read or to write or to update the old blog, though.  So, until I have the time to write out a long and heartfelt entry, I thought I’d share some Yuletide photographs that I’ve taken around town.  Merry Christmas!

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Dear Joyce

Dear Joyce, 

Over the weekend, my sister and I decided to go Christmas shopping at the local antique mall.  I was looking for presents for my friends, but I knew I’d be tempted to buy something for myself.  I’ve always loved shopping at antique malls.  There are so many interesting treasures, all with real and unique histories.  My sister and I both agree that if we had a lot of money, antique stores would get a lot of our business.

Happily, I ended up finding presents for my friends, and even a little something for my mom.  I was very close to leaving without purchasing anything for me.  After all, Christmas is only a week away.  It’s not at all the time to be buying myself presents.  However, as I rounded a corner, a shelf full of beautiful antique books came into view.  As an author, I have a huge soft spot for books, and I particularly love antique books.  We have a decent collection of antique books in our family, but I am always looking to expand upon that collection.  But I remained steadfast, reminding myself that I was buying for loved ones, not for me.

I really thought I would be able to resist until I saw the crimson binding and the elegant script reading, Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

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You may not know this, but I love Fairy Tales.  Probably a lot more than an almost-26-year-old woman should.  Then again, Albert Einstein did say, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”  So I guess by Einstein’s standards, I’m a downright genius.  I actually have another old classic fairy tale book that once belonged to my mom.  I used to read it all the time as a kid.  But there was something about this book.  Without a second thought, I added it to my shopping basket.  

It’s a really beautiful book.  

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Joyce Peterson and Randy Peterson.  

I’ve shopped at Half Price Books before, so buying books that once belonged to someone else isn’t anything new.  But in your signature at the top of the inner cover, I saw the same childlike love and pride that I felt for my favorite books.  I’ve penned my name in every single one of my books, even my most recent purchases.  

I thought I had an idea of how much this book meant to you until I turned the page.. 

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If this book should chance to roam, please wrap it up and send it home – to: Miss Joyce Peterson.  Crown Point, Indiana.

This book has roamed a long way, all the way to North Texas.  I’m not sure how it got here, or if you still remember it.  I’m not sure this letter will ever reach you, but if it does and you’d like your beloved book back, just let me know.  If not, I wanted you to know that it is in good hands and will be cherished like the treasure that it is.  

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Wherever you are, Joyce, I hope you are well and blessed.  Merry Christmas.  And thank you.    

Love,

Jackie   

Forgot to Mention…

That there is STILL ice on the ground.  Not on the roads, thankfully, but it’s still in the grass and on buildings.  

Yesterday, my dad and I flew out to Lubbock, and as usual, I was looking out the window, because for some reason, I’m convinced that the plane can’t crash as long as I’m watching.  Anyway, I noticed a lot of white stuff scattered around on the ground, and my first thought was, “Woah.  Was there a giant sand storm?”  

That’s right.  When you live in Texas, you see white on the ground and you automatically assume it’s sand.  You never stop to think that it could be ice, even though you’ve just been through Icemageddon a week earlier.  It was a strange phenomenon.  

That’s all.  Good night! 

My Second Trip to Lubbock

Alright, I’m home again.  This last trip was at least a little less glitchy than the first one.  It was a quick, two-day trip, but I got absolutely no work done, so I’m very happy to be home.  Not only am I awaiting a book from a new author friend in the UK (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19396808-the-sugary-sherburts-and-the-stone-witch), I also won a new book on a Facebook giveaway (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18628472-the-darkness-of-light?from_search=true), which is really exciting, because I never win anything, and I’m reading/proofreading a book for a friend!  So yeah, busy, busy, busy!

However, I really want to get on to tell you about the TWO movies I saw yesterday.  Yep.  TWO.  In one day.  Double Movie Day is sort of a new holiday tradition that my sister and I started last year.

The first movie was Disney’s Frozen.

I loved it.  It was everything a good Disney movie should be; beautiful, funny, and full of GREAT music performed by several Broadway stars.  My sister was really geeking out over that, especially Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff.  It also managed to surprise me and keep me guessing, which I’ve always thought of as kind of a rare thing for a Disney film.  They’re always enjoyable, but it’s usually pretty easy to predict what’s going to happen and I don’t remember the last time a Disney movie really shocked me.  Frozen did it.  It also made me laugh out loud and my sister already has the soundtrack memorized (“Let it Go,” performed by Idina Menzel, is not only my favorite song, but also my favorite part of the movie).

My other favorite part is Olaf!

“I don’t have a skull… Or bones.”

Needless to say, Olaf the Snowman is the best character in Frozen.  My sister and I have pretty much been quoting him non-stop since we stepped out of the theater yesterday afternoon.  When I first saw the previews, I thought he was going to be weird and a little creepy, but it is impossible to not love Olaf.  “I’ll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!”  So.  Stinking.  Cute.

The second movie was, you guessed it, the midnight premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, so I knew I was going to love Peter Jackson’s take on The Hobbit as well.  I fell absolutely in love with An Unexpected Journey.  Seriously, I loved everything about it.  I loved the new characters, the story, the music, Martin Freeman, everything.

I loved the Desolation of Smaug also, but I didn’t love everything about it.

NOTE: If you haven’t seen it yet, there are a few spoilerish things here, so stop reading if you don’t want to know.

First, what I loved:

1) SMAUG.  Oh my gosh, I love dragons anyway, but Smaug is AWESOME.  The fact that he’s voiced and brought to life by Benedict Cumberbatch might have a little something to do with that, but I think I would have enjoyed his scenes no matter what.  Seeing this great literary monstrosity brought to life was a thrill, and I actually shivered the first time he emerged from the heaping mountains of gold.  His last lines of the film were equally chilling.  “I am Fire.  I am Death.”  Way to go, Benny.  You’re the best.

Oh, I also laughed when Smaug looked at Bilbo and said, “You are familiar with me…” because as we all know, Bilbo and Smaug have met before… at 221B Baker Street!

2) THRANDUIL.  Oh my gosh.  I mean, I already knew I loved Lee Pace, but I kind of wish Peter Jackson would just make an entire movie about Thranduil.  He’s such a bad-a.  Seriously.  I loved him (even if he is kind of a jerk).

3) The Gimli Reference.

4) Every time Richard Armitage spoke.  Or moved.  Or blinked.

I’m not creepy, I swear.

5) Seeing Legolas again.

6) Beorn.

7) Stephen Fry.  I hated his character, but you have to love Stephen Fry no matter what role he plays.

8) Bombur!  Oh my goodness, I laughed out loud whenever that fat dwarf waddled onto the screen.

9) The Ring’s growing influence over Bilbo.  Oh, and STING!  Martin Freeman is just a flawless Hobbit.

10) The way everyone in the theater yelled, “NO!” when the movie ended.

Now for the things I did not love.  Just my opinion.  I hope I don’t offend.

1) There was no singing!  What the heck?  That was one of my favorite things about the first movie.  I loved all the songs, even the deleted ones.  There was one point where I actually thought Smaug was going to burst into song.  That would have been odd, but at least it would have been something!  But no.  The only song I got was the one by Ed Sheeran at the end, and I don’t like that one nearly as much as I like “The Song of the Lonely Mountain.”

2) So.  Many.  Orcs.  WHY?  I mean, one orc battle would have been understandable, two would have been tolerable, but seriously, orcs were shooting and being slaughtered almost every other scene!  They seemed to play a bigger role in this movie than the dwarves!  I understand that Peter Jackson is using this as a prequel/lead up to Lord of the Rings, which it is, but Tolkien’s story was a story about a journey, an adventure.  I don’t think he didn’t even know the significance of the Ring when he wrote the book.  He was just writing a kid’s story.  Too.  Many.  Orcs.  Go.  Away.

3)  Along with all these orcs, we got like, a million scenes of Legolas and Tauriel slaughtering these orcs.  Yeah, we get it.  They’re warriors.  This is not supposed to be a movie about elves killing orcs!  This is supposed to be about Thorin and the dwarves’ quest to take back Erebor.  Again, I feel like Legolas and Taurel played a bigger role in this movie than the dwarves and even Bilbo did!  My guess is that since Legolas was such a popular character from the original series, Peter Jackson wanted to use him as much as he could.  Tauriel, on the other hand, is a Peter Jackson creation.  I think he knew audiences, especially Tolkien purists, would be wary of a new, non-cannon character, so he tried as hard as he could to make people like her.  Unfortunately, in doing so, I feel like he sort of forced her on us.  She was a little too perfect, a little too compassionate, and not at all like a Mirkwood elf would be in Tolkien’s universe.  Evangeline Lilly is lovely and did a wonderful job, but I really did not care for the character.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s a Mary Sue, but I didn’t feel she added anything to the plot.  Other than a useless love triangle, which I will tackle in point 4.

(If anything, we should have had more THRANDUIL).

4) The love triangle.  Seriously, is it so difficult to create a female character and NOT have her be anyone’s love interest?  I’m not trying to be anti-feminist or anything.  I just don’t understand the whole, every-movie-needs-romance thing.  If I want romance, I’ll watch a Nicholas Sparks movie.  But I watch Tolkien for the adventure and the journey and the story.

5) This wasn’t necessarily something I didn’t like, but I couldn’t help but notice that Bard looked exactly like Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean.

6) The SPIDERS!  Oh my GOSH.  I am not arachnophobic, but I was about to faint during that entire scene.  It was even worse than the Acromantula scene in the second Harry Potter movie!!!  And that was pretty bad!  (Note… I put this under things I didn’t like about the movie, but it was actually an effective and fantastic scene.  The fact that I put it under things I disliked is a good thing!)

Bottom line: I liked a lot more things about The Desolation of Smaug than I disliked, and I know I will see it again.

Okay, I’ve been typing at this post for over an hour now.  Time for food.