Bugged

Once upon a time, I liked crickets.

I remember this distinctly. I had read a book about them–whether for school or because I was a scientifically-minded ten-year-old, I remember not–and I was subsequently fascinated with the creatures. I remember catching them and putting them in a big bucket with the neighbor kids. Then I would spout random scientifical facts I had learned from my book. Yes, I was that kid.

While I’m still that kid in the sense that I will spout whatever random facts I know at any given time, I have no idea what happened to the cricket-catching kid. The only explanation I can think of now is that I was under a spell. Because this Betsy hates. all. bugs.

Period.

Growing up, grasshoppers were my greatest fear. Any time Mom sent me out to the garden, I walked in mortal terror that one of them might jump on me. I could NOT think of a worse fate.

After my family moved, cave crickets became my new Enemy. Yes, with a capital E. I am still solemnly convinced that they are the locusts of Revelation 9. If they don’t originate in the Pit, I don’t know what does.

Man, I hate those things.

Luckily for me . . . I’ve moved again! And now I have an obliging husband who will get of bugs for me. Normally, this plays out like so:

Me: Can you please get rid of that spider?
Husband: It’s a daddy long legs. It’s not hurting anyone.
Me: But I don’t like it.
Husband: Whatever. [removes spider and releases it outdoors]
Me: Husband!!!
Husband: I got rid of it.
Me: Well, when it comes back into the house . . . I want it DEAD.

It’s not that I hate or even fear daddy long legs. I just don’t like sweeping cobwebs all. the stinking. time. However, I can deal with daddy long legs and cobwebs. In fact, I can even kill them myself when Logan’s at work. (But don’t tell him that. I need him to think he’s the only one who can handle them.)

Other things, however, are different.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, calmly minding my own business, looking for a job, when some sort of creepy thing was in my peripheral vision. I didn’t know what it was because my cat-like reflexes took over and I flailed helplessly until it was gone.

It came back later, not too close to my face this time, and I was able to calmly squish it with a nail polish bottle. BUT IT APPARENTLY DIDN’T DIE. Because I saw it again after supper. At which point husband was home and able to kill it for me. ❤

Husband: I wonder if that’s a termite.
Me: No.
Husband: I don’t know . . . it kind of looks like one.
Me: NO.

Immediately, I had visions of our landlord having to replace all the floors and boards in this house, forcing us to camp in my in-laws’ basement for an indefinite period of time. (I could visualize this easily because Logan’s brother & sister-in-law literally just went through that.)

But I got over it. We played a calm game of gin rummy. We got ready for bed. I went to lock the door.

Me: Logan. Logan. LOGAN! KILL IT!
Husband: What is it?
Me: SOMETHING NOT GOOD!

The huge black thing quickly scurried under the edge of the couch, narrowly avoiding my husband’s shoe. I had a little meltdown.

Me: Was that a roach? I don’t want roaches! I don’t want termites! I DON’T WANT BUGS!
Husband: I’m sorry, sweetie. I guess I forgot to mention that the south has a lot of critters.
Me: [slowly calming down] Can I get a little consolation prize at least?
Husband: Sure.
Me: Will you please kill that spider??????????

And all was well.

Until this morning . . . when I found ants in my kitchen.

Please pray for my husband. It’s been an emotional time for him.

Book Review: Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (and other things)

Dearest Interwebs;

Congratulations! You are again being treated to one of those “Betsy just doesn’t feel like editing before publishing” posts, which I know you absolutely adore because they make you feel better about your rationality.

Anyhow, I’m writing this en route back to Wild & Wonderful West Virginia. Thanksgiving break was delightful–with the obvious exception of the persistently terrifying cave crickets, which fortunately didn’t consume too much of my soul this trip–and now it’s back for the final two-and-a-half-week rush. This first week I’m affectionately referring to as “Death Week,” and the second I’ll term “Lesser Death Week.” This week includes the Christmas concert at the far end–for which I am a chorale member, Jubilate member, orchestra member, piano accompanist, prelude-player, and student conductor, because I make poor life choices sometimes–and the music theory final project at the near end–for which I keep staring at a partially-written piece of music blankly, muttering things like “rounded binary” and “leading tone resolution” and “passing 6-4 progression” and “dominant of the dominant” fruitlessly, hoping that such highbrow musical terms will inspire me. (So far, they haven’t much.)

“Now Betsy,” I hear you sweetly interjecting. “If this week is actually as deadly as you make out and you’re not just exaggerating again, why in the name of Sweet Bojangle’s aren’t you working on these things?”

While I appreciate your kindness (and your masterful use of idioms), this has a rather simple answer: a while back I volunteered to be an influencer reader for Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s lastest work, Golden Daughter, which I as to have done by November 30th. Which is, coincidentally, today! Why didn’t I review it over break? Because I was too busy taking naps. Worth it.

Anyhow, without further delay, on to the review.

golden daughter[That picture looks like I’m posting it with a terrible resolution, but I’m hoping it’s my screen.]

Golden Daughter

BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

As, I’ve mentioned before, I’m a pretty big fan of Ms. Stengl’s “Tales of Goldstone Wood” series. (Should that title be underlined? Italicized? Quotation-marked? Left alone?) Anyhow, that series–I like it. Golden Daughter was an absolutely fabulous addition, staying true to the series while still introducing something completely new.

One of the “new” things Golden Daughter introduces is the setting; while Heartless began in a fairly traditionally-flavored European-esque fairytale scene, Ms. Stengl hasn’t limited herself to that in following books. This particular book explores the Empire of Noorhitam, previously mentioned mostly in passing. (Well, I can’t say that for certain: the novella Goddess Tithe, so I hear, goes along with this work, but as I have yet to acquire Goddess Tithe, my knowledge is rather limited.) Noorhitam has a distinctly Asain flavor. Do you know how much fun it is to read fairytales that aren’t European-based? It’s not only fun, but it helps to keep the series fresh and unique.

While it’s different in its cultural setting, however, Golden Daughter ties in quite beautifully with the rest of the series. It’s rather incredible to me, actually, how Ms. Stengl can take a theme from one book and make it into a whole ‘nother story… Honestly, most of the connections fly completely over my head. One of the main characters, Sunan, appears as a rather insignificant (I thought) ship captain all the way back in book two, Veiled Rose…but I wouldn’t have remembered that if someone else hadn’t pointed it out. And all the references to the “goldstone” and the night of moonblood and the temple of Ay-Ibunda and Una’s ring…details which I wouldn’t have connected somehow come together. Actually, reading Golden Daughter made me want more to re-read all the other Goldstone Woods books, because I am completely sure I would catch a lot more subtleties now. Someday when music theory isn’t calling. Until then, if someone else cares to make some sort of index or glossary or timeline or something, that would be fantastic.

There’s a lot more I could say–about the characters (I loved Sairu, and Eanrin’s back, being chased by a fluffy lion dog names Rice Cake, no less!), about the plot (Mysterious? Check. Complicated? Check. Engaging? Check.), about the development of Ms. Stengl’s writing (I found Golden Daughter to be adult-ier than the beginning novels, if that makes sense…not that the others were juvenile…you know what I mean…I hope), about the length (deliciously long!!)–but this is already getting pretty lengthy.  A few random thoughts, and then the summary:

  • I wouldn’t recommend starting the series with this book. While you technically could–each book is written in a fairly stand-alone style–I still think Heartless is the best starting point.
  • As I mentioned, I found this book “adultier,” even a little bit darker at a point or two. Ms. Stengl has always been good at writing realistically, dealing with both the good and the bad, both the beautiful and the blighted, but it’s getting deeper. Not uncomfortably so, but so nonetheless. Evil exists, and she doesn’t shy away from portraying that.
  • I wasn’t as crazy about the allegory in this book as I was in some of the others. Heartless was a fairly straightforward Gospel allegory, and the subsequent books have delved into other themes. Golden Daughter has a Joseph theme, which , to my great chagrin, I didn’t pick up on until it was pointed out to me. I did, however, notice a fairly strong Revelation likeness, which I just wasn’t quite as comfortable with…probably because Revelation is already pretty debated about, and allegorizing an already-debated book just sits wrong on my dispensational upbringing, you know? However, I don’t think expounding on eschatology was Ms. Stengl’s purpose here.

In summary, I really liked Golden Daughter (though Starflower still has the most feels for me). One of my favorite things about the series is Ms. Stengl’s ability to create realistic characters is non-realistic settings. While I don’t expect to ever go dream walking, witness an attack on the Lady Moon, or discover a temple made of voices, I can see myself in the characters that did. They had weaknesses and temptations and failures like me, and sometimes they had strengths and victories like me, and that is what I love about these stories. Without departing from her previous books, Ms. Stengl has created an epic that’s fresh and surprising and ancient and familiar and believably unbelievable and heartbreaking and joyously glad. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Now. Music theory time!!

xoxoxoxoxoxo (just in case I don’t make it),
Betsy

disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.

Loose Ends

Soon–so very, very soon–I’ll be back in the midst of the Appalachian mountains. Also in the midst of homework.

However, I am in neither of those positions quite yet. Instead, I’m mainly packing and/or procrastinating on packing.

Guys. Packing. Not as bad as cave crickets, but on a scale of brownies to cave crickets, “packing” is definitely toward the cave cricket end. I feel like I’m doing pretty well consolidating, and then I see how full the van is already getting. And then I remember the 1001 “little things” that I just need to “shove in somewhere quick before we go” and then I feel sad about my life. And then I argue with myself about if I really need all this with me or if I can get by until November just fine. And then I remember that I’m going to be an RA so I really need to do a bunch of Pinterest crafts quick so my room is super cute so all my girls love me. And then Mom reminds me that I don’t have time to do that, so my room will look something less than super cute, which is just fine because I don’t have room for all that stuff anyhow. And then I remember that I’m still procrastinating on the whole packing deal and I should probably get to it.

But instead I read “just one chapter” of North and South, which I picked up at the Half-Price Books trip Ben and I took the other week. It was great fun just hanging out together and reading Lost States in the middle of the aisle because we were too cheap to actually buy it and take it home, even though it looked amazing. However, I just read the Amazon reviews and it actually looks like it wasn’t worth our money after all, so we made a good choice. North and South, however, was definitely worth the $2.99. And the brother-sister time was priceless.

Speaking of quality time, Ruth and I also got to visit our very own beloved Kathleen this week! I’m pretty sure she’s responsible for almost everything I know about library work, and no matter how much I love my job, employer, and coworkers at ABC…Kathleen and the BBI library cataloging project will probably always be my favorite library experience. If you’re reading this, thanks again. 🙂

Other loose ends wrapped up this week…

  • DQ! My manager told me I can still work over breaks, so I may be back…we’ll see. it was a great experience, even though I didn’t always lovelovelove it. Daddy-o took us out for celebratory Blizzards the other night (yay employee discounts!), and I designed my own: Cappuccino Double Fudge Cookie Dough. It was quite as fantastic as it sounds.
  • Mending. I had a box of things I’ve needed to mend for quite a while and I finally did…it’s like getting a resurrected wardrobe! And sewing is fun. I miss it during the school year.
  • Shopping… Thrift stores are my biggest weakness. On the bright side, I feel fabulous. And I have a super fluffy pillow that’s sort of ugly because I never got around to pinteresting it into an owl or anything, but it’s so fluffy I don’t really care. If I ever feel like crying it will hold all my tears.
  • Church partying. The couple in our church who usually throws the Valentine’s party had a 6 lb. 8. oz., 21″ long reason that they couldn’t do so in February…but now that those 6 lbs. are grown somewhat (it’s a baby, guys, in case I’m being too obscure here. And I have no idea how much it weighed. That just sounded like good dimensions for describing a newborn), it’s the perfect time for a party, complete with top-your-own spaghetti and charades. Our very own Levi welded himself an imitation fencing sword last night in order for his Dread Pirate Roberts costume to look authentic. That’s dedication, folks. I simply safety-pinned a piece of notebook paper to my back. In all fairness, I was in the middle of packing up almost every item I own and creating elaborate costumes was a little low on my priority list. However, no one was put out by my lack of effort, and a fabulous time was had by all. I’m going to miss my EBC family very, very much!
  • Family time-ing. All nine of us got to do special music in church together last Sunday and visit the shut-ins, and all nine of us got to eat our traditional Saturday morning waffles today. It’s been quite a while since we could get everyone together, and it will probably be a while before it happens again, so it was pretty fantastic. Also Lilly and Ruth and I had a tea party which was actually a chocolate milk party. And we played some final rounds of telephone pictionary in which the phrase “my hair goes up” turned into Ruthie dancing with a variety of breads. My family is pretty much my favorite thing ever, and as excited as I am to get back to school…I’ll probably cry just a little when we’re separated again.

In other news, my mumsie and popsicles celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary today! Mom and Dad, wishing you happy anniversary was actually most of the reason I started this post. It took me a while to get to that point, but I made it eventually. Your wonderful example of godly love and faithfulness has set the standard pretty stinkin’ high! Thanks for providing such a reliable home for us all these years; if there’s one thing I’ve always been sure of (besides, you know, God Himself), it’s been your love for and commitment to both each other and our family. If I ever have a relationship with anyone besides a cat, I fervently pray that it will be as solid and successful as yours. (If I ever have a cat, I won’t look to you for advice probably, because Mom will want me to send it to a barn.)

Anyhow, all that to say, happy anniversary Dad and Mom! May you have many more years together.

Also, I realize it’s pretty late so you won’t even see this until the day after your technical anniversary, but adjust for leap years and time zones and stuff and it will probably be like spot on.

In Lieu of Chocolate

How do you even spell “lieu”? Is that right? Spellcheck, help me out. Ok, spellcheck isn’t underlining “lieu” but it is underlining “spellcheck” three times, as well as “ok,” as well as the misspelled “underlinding” that I just corrected. Therefore I’m assuming “lieu” is indeed correct, and I am proceeding from the title on to the actual post.

Just kidding. I’m not assuming anything. Hold for a moment while I go double-check that word.

Yeah, it’s right. Now we can proceed.

Actually, I don’t really have a lot to proceed with. I’m in mourning right now. I want chocolate to sooth my grief. However, as it isn’t readily available, and as it isn’t exactly healthy to drown one’s sorrow with food, I’m blogging instead.

“Awwwww, Betsy!” I hear you solicit with deep concern. “Why so down? Is your cucumber crop poor this year? Did you break your wrist, setting you months behind in your journey toward your senior recital? Did your sewing machine give up the ghost?”

Firstly, I thank you deeply for your angst on my behalf. Rest assured that the cucumber crop was remarkably fruitful this year (my diligent mother has a kitchen full of freshly processed pickles of the bread-and-butter variety as we speak–err, type?); both of my wrists are in fine form, enabling me to plod on toward the not-so-far-off senior recital; and my sewing machine, last I checked, still purrs quite merrily.

No, no. My sorrows spring from quite another source. Continue reading

I think this makes me a real blogger.

In order to become a real blogger, one must have a blog. Second, one must write things on that blog. Third, people must read those things. Fourth, other bloggers must nominate one for blog awards. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes.

I have a blog. (This is it.) I write things on it. (This is one.) Some people read these things. (You are one, and my mother is also one. So that makes two at least.) And, last, the lovely Emma just passed on a “Sunflower Award” to me. I took a logic course in highschool, so I’m pretty sure that it’s logical to state that I am now a real blogger.

sunflower

From what I can tell, this “Sunflower Award” entails giving y’all 11 facts about myself, answering 11 questions from Emma, and then passing it on to as many other bloggers as I choose. Let us commence. Continue reading

Thankful for Thanksgiving Break … or the End of It

Pros

  • Being with my favorite people in the world, namely my parents and 2/3 of my siblings.
  • Spending Sunday with my church family at EBC. (On this note, potluck!)
  • Playing games with my family: I wasn’t the Clue Serial Killer this time. Thank goodness.
  • Baking pie and cookies with my baby sister!! Finally, I made something I would be proud to have other people eat. The shameful muffins are but a distant memory.
  • On that note, also eating pie and cookies. Especially cookies. I like cookies.
  • Butchering three deer because I’m a warrior. Ok, ok. I didn’t exactly butcher all three single-handedly. In fact, it took me like half an hour to stop making little whimpery noises every time I touched the…the…gross dead meat carcass thing, which coincidentally was constantly. But still. I helped. Right?
  • Singing with Mom and Ruth. Sometimes off key on purpose, sometimes off key by accident. It really doesn’t matter.
  • Introducing the little siblings to this song.
  • Having internet after midnight.
  • Sleeping for as long as I wanted every morning.
  • Acquiring a hula hoop. Thanks Grandma!
  • Eating my mom’s food. It’s the best.
  • Getting all caught up on Once. Ohmyword. If someone tried to make an accurate family tree, it would be the most crooked tree in the world.
  • Introducing my family to Elf Yourself. My little brothers make good elves.
  • Watching all the Coffee House videos with the little siblings.
  • Talking for hours with Mom and Ruth. About everything.

I definitely just want to stay here and never go back to school like ever.

Cons

  • SPIDERMONKEYS. Err, cave crickets. Whatever their technical name is. IN MY ROOM AND MY BATHROOM AND MY HOUSE AND MY STATE.  THESE CREATURES. EWW. 99% SURE EISIN DAIMONIA.

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Off to have nightmares.

I can’t wait to go back to school.