As long as I can remember I dreamed about a forest that seems real but completely unfamiliar. The ground is spongy, damp and smells like the usual Washington forests but with a wetness to it that is at once familiar and strange at the same time. The trees have what can almost be described as beards. There are so many different mosses and ferns on every single tree. The air is slightly damp and there seems to be a light mist. The sky is bright but overcast and light grey with small patches of blue sneaking through in patches. I am young again and I skip through a tunnel of branches and trees into the dark depths of the forest not caring what is further up the trail. There are streams, rocks and every possible green kind of vegetation I can remember and some I don’t know. There are slugs including huge ones that are oozing down a branch.
For the majority of my life I really thought this forest only existed in my dreams. I occasionally attempted to discover where it could possibly be but could never find any photos or descriptions that really fit what I saw in my dream. In June of 2013 Devin and I went to the Olympic National Park for a week. One of the many places we visited was the Hoh Rainforest.
We went on a short hike and when we rounded a bend it was the forest I dreamed about.
At first glance this picture of my Mother’s day present might be a bit odd. However this is the music corner in our bedroom. My husband bought the violin and guitar hangers for the wall and installed them as my present. Now my violins as well as his guitar can be out and easily picked up to play at any time. The green music stand was a present from my family for my birthday a year or so ago.
What I didn’t talk about is why I started playing the violin. I played briefly as a child and adored the instrument but in the busy and full home I grew up in continuing to play was just not working out. For many years it was one of my biggest regrets. It was such a longing of mine that my husband bought me an electric violin as a Christmas present. The electric was a much quieter instrument as practicing can be painful at times for everyone else. However I was struggling with the teach yourself stuff so for my 38th birthday I bought myself violin lessons with a local teacher. I have been playing now for over 3 years. The satisfaction and enjoyment I get from fulfilling that long held dream and longing are immeasurable. This past year I upped my ability and bought myself a wonderful standard violin that has a fantastic sound. I love playing it and currently am taking way too long of a summer break.
One of the inspirations for deciding that I was not to old to learn an instrument was a friend who started piano lessons when she was 70. I decided if she could do it so could I. I have no illusions that I will ever be a professional but since I really only ever want to play for myself I just don’t care. The joy I get in being able to teach myself a new hymn or other song is beyond description.
Her first book in the Graceling Realm series was called Graceling.
I love the “graces” or skills that allow them to be better than average at just one thing. They usually have odd colored eyes of two different colors. Unfortunately being “graced” makes you immediately enslaved as in most of the 7 kingdoms the “graced” are the property of the King or Ruler. A “graced” fighter or an archer would be better at that skill than any number of regular people. There are people “graced” with all sorts of skills from cooking to fighting. The heroine of the story, Katsa, is reluctant to be the heroine and yet still does everything just to protect someone who is weaker than herself. Katsa is actually one of the things I liked best; she learned to believe in herself and her own power and use it to better her entire world. I just enjoyed an adult heroine who learns to balance her skills and the needs of the world with her own personal needs.
Fire is in the same world as Graceling but on the other side of the continent.
Seriously this one amazed me as I could just see the colors and images of the main character and the odd animals in this world. The descriptions were amazing and very rich. The heroine has the most amazing hair description I have ever read. It takes place in the same world yet before the events of the first story. This one has more “monsters” than Graceling but it is interesting to see how the “graced” and the monsters interact.
I just discovered that there is a new book in the series that I have yet to read. Bitterblue which takes place about 8 years after the events in Graceling.
I am immediately adding this to my reading list and hope you do too.
One of the interesting things I have been discovering since we moved last September is the joy of deciding that I am no longer interested in something. As we were moving there were quite a few projects that I decided I no longer wanted to work on. Yet I also found more than a few projects I actually wanted to finish. I even finished a few of those.
Yesterday after starting these I don’t know how long ago I finally completed these earrings:
Yes those are beaded kite earrings. Saw this design over a year ago probably two yet just yesterday completed these. After they were completed I realized they wouldn’t work for me so am putting them aside as a present.
However at the same time I finished the earrings I dismantled at least 4 other things as I realized they should never see the light of day.
Dismantling and deciding against finishing something is a very freeing decision. Not everything needs to be completed, sometimes you make the attempt and decide the attempt was enough. It is OK to not do something.
This series made me laugh out loud more than a few times if only for the very odd Victorian England names. The author, Gail Carriger, does a fantastic job of having a heroine that is able to work with all the men around her to better her world and save it in multiple small and large ways. All while getting her own life under control and learning who she is. The author described the world as what would Victorian England have been like if Vampires and Werewolves existed and were part of society. Very interesting viewpoint and I love how she has balanced the powers of the world. Even to describing what kind of people can become those powerful creatures. She even discusses the consequences of long life and immortality. It is a major plot point of more than one part of the story.
The books in the Parasol Protectorate are Soulless, Changless. Blameless, and Heartless :
I don’t want to spoil any of the story for anyone but this is worth the time to read and are fairly quick reads. I even got my husband to read some of her young adult books of the same world Finishing School. The author is still writing more short stories and other novels set in the same world so well worth reading.
For more information check out the author’s website www.gailcarriger.com
After reading all the odd things that some people said about Vibram Five Fingers I was a bit concerned about the reactions I would get from others. However after doing research and exercises to strengthen my feet, mainly so I could get through Karate easier, I determined that switching to these would continue to make my feet stronger.
Spring of 2013 I finally had feet strong enough o be able to walk around barefoot without hurting. I could do a lot of the exercises for my feet very easily without pain. I decided to start shopping for some Vibrams that would be within my budget. After looking online and getting sized at REI, I finally found some within my budget. My first pair was my favorite color even GREEN!
I started off slow and only wore them around the house it took about 6 months to fully transition to this style of shoes. Gradually all of the rest of my shoes began to irritate me. So I bought another pair.
These particularly crack me up as they make it look like I am not wearing any shoes at all. I usually have people think I am barefoot at first!
Of course once I started walking more in them and was wearing them all the time I had to wash them more regularly. I needed another pair for when the other pair was drying.
I actually kind of like taking photos of my shoes when we are on adventures.
The above photo is my favorite of every single picture of my shoes I have. It was taken at the Kubota Japanese Garden in Seattle.
So yes I hike, walk, sprint, and live in these on a daily basis. I do have a pair of salt water sandals and a pair of minimalist flats that I wear as well. I even have a pair of hiking boots, snow boots, and trail shoes for when I need something sturdier. Most of the time I can wear my Vibrams there are a few occasions I cannot. I even use these while at my standing desk and they work fine. The transition takes a while but I have found the my health has improved for the better since I did.
This modern setting fantasy was very interesting especially for its mix of Nordic theology with an American Midwest setting. I really enjoyed the personal growth of the main character in the first book Stork and how she discovered how to fit into the small town her mother was from.
The second book Frost was fantastic for me mainly because the heroine rescues her boyfriend from the clutches of evil. I like it when the roles are reversed and the female is the rescuer.
The third book Flock deals with consequences from both of the other books and neatly wraps things up in such a way that with a group of people our heroine is able to rescue the world from evil but with a serious drawback of giving up a lot of the very things that made her unique.
For more about the author Wendy DelsolWendy Delsol you can visit her site.
All book cover photos were stolen from Amazon.
One of the lovely places we discovered a few years ago was the Kubota Japanese Garden in South Seattle. It is an absolutely amazing garden created by one man who emigrated to Seattle from Japan in 1907. He had established a gardening company and in 1927 purchased 5 acres in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. Fujitaro Kubota wanted to showcase the beauty of the Pacific North West in a Japanese manner. Several other public examples of his work include the Seattle University campus as well as Bloedel reserve Japanese garden on Bainbridge Island. Fujitaro Kubota was awarded in 1972 with rare honor from his native Japan of the Fifth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure, “for his achievements in his adopted country, for introducing and building respect for Japanese Gardening in this area.” He died the following year at age 94. It took until 1987 for the City of Seattle to acquire the historical landmark as a park.
The Kubota Foundation has much of the history above on there website as well as current park information.
And now some photos from my last visit to the park.
There are five books in this series, also referred to as the “Faery Series” on the author’s homepage. I eagerly waited and devoured them all upon their release. The series tells the story of four siblings from Faery who inhabit the four seasons realm and their parents. It deals with an ancient enemy of faery and how each sibling find their partner and help with the defeat of the enemy. I love how all are equal and that the females are just as likely to be the heroines and save people as the males.
These were just very satisfying reads and I have read them several times now. They actually take up bookshelf space as they are worth reading more than once.
Each book title is a link to the cover page and foreword from the author’s website.
I must confess that upon finishing this book I actually wrote a fan email to the author. This time I received an answer and found out that I had apparently written to him on his birthday. I adore faery tales of all kinds but East of the Sun and West of the Moon was always my favorite growing up. Dennis’s retelling is an expanded but faithful rendition of the story.
To learn more about the author and see a list of his other books might I suggest either his wikipedia page:
or his author page and more about his other high fantasy setting Mithgar
Small confession that all cover pictures were copied from Amazon.