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Archive for April, 2018

By sheer luck, I spotted an old favorite movie was going to be playing on TCM. It was one of those movies that used to air once a year as a big event. Like The Wizard of Oz used to be. I remember how my dad brought up the TV upstairs so we could see it in bed. Back then my sister and I shared a bedroom.

Then we moved to Germany and no more Wizard of Oz, but they aired annual movies too like Karl May’s Old Shatterhand and Winitou. You may not have heard of these movies, but they were/are very popular in Germany. We were glued to the TV when that series came on.

The movie TCM showed was Sissi a movie about the Empress of Austria who died young. There are three movies in the series and they showed all, but I only saw the first one because watching three in a row is a little much for me.

To tell the truth, I didn’t mean to watch the whole movie. I thought that over the years my perception of it would have changed and it’d be kind of boring. It’s happened before to other former favorite movies. But to my surprise it was just as good as before. And in color! (We had black and white TVs until well into the 1980’s). I can see why I liked it. It was funny. There was romance.

I was a bit sad I wouldn’t be watching the other movies, but I know my the third film I’d be boo-hooing because of the sad ending.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone who loves princesses. It was made in the 1950’s. And it’s in German with English subtitles so if you don’t like those, you might want to skip it. Otherwise, this is one of those movies that’s pretty much timeless.

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An internal rant began after watching the new Star Trek: Discovery. I was trying to figure out why the main character didn’t appeal to me. (There are more reasons why I don’t like the show, but I could devote an entire encyclopedia on the subject, so I won’t go there.) Why did I not like this Michael person? Why was I so ‘meh’ on the captain who was also female? Was it because I thought it a cheap jab that Michael was Spock’s adopted sister? Because I found no chemistry between her or any other character?

Or was it because the film and television industry have embraced that a strong female character in an action flick has to be able to kill five people in five seconds, march along with their foreheads furrowed, bent on destruction, and/or have total alpha personalities?

This musing brought on a internal discussion of which action female I did like. As I don’t watch a lot of TV or see a lot of movies, this took a bit. I liked Captain Janeway. She wasn’t my favorite Star Trek captain, but I did like her. Emma Peel (The Avengers, 60’s TV series) I liked as well. All the female leads in NCIS are good except maybe the new one who psychoanalyzes everyone. And that was after telling myself I won’t like that person because they replaced so-and-so. Agent Carter in Agent Carter. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Okay, she could kill five people in five seconds, but she wasn’t the aggressive, stomping around type.

I suppose where I’m heading at is that I like people who are more like those I meet in real life. Those I have admired over the years. And those are strong females. Confident at what they do. Able to see what has to be done, and does it, and if they can’t, they’ll ask for help. They’re regal even. Someone you can trust and go to if you have a problem. They can be someone older. They can be someone young, with like a ton of common sense. They are those who see a problem and work on it. They have goals and they achieve them. That is a strong woman. And that’s the kind I’d rather have in my stories.

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Fifteen-year-old Rachel is free to ride her beloved Peaches, but the move to Boston forces the spirited girl to face the 1872 reality of her life. Men rule. What Father says goes. Her future is lace, clothes, and the home.

But that’s not what Rachel wants and a fire horse, The Governor’s Girl, helps her. Even though the horse is badly burned, Rachel takes care her not expecting a fire to burn around them.

This is a very nice and infuriating insight to the year 1872 where Rachel’s dreams are threatened to be quashed by society’s norms. Girls today will find it a shock that back then girls couldn’t go to veterinary school. Others will be shocked at the state of animals medicine at the time. I was and I already knew about that era. I found the father was quite maddening with his ‘A woman’s place is in the home’ belief.

I learned quite a bit about fire fighting and about the horses that pulled the engines. Plus I learned quite a bit about Boston. Only certain families could go to certain churches? Wow.

Good story. It was a bit of a romance as well as a horse story. As I read it I wondered if there were still horse mad girls as when I was growing up. I had a friend who loved anything horses, but I can’t bring up a single name of the kids I know today who are.

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Since I’ve been doing illustrations for my Christmas stories, I’ve been working on my drawing skills, which are lacking. If I ever, make that, when I sell a picture book to a publisher, I’ll be handing over the illustrations part to them. Which is something they want anyway.

I’ve always been rather perturbed that publishers assign an illustrator to a book and sometimes the illustrator will not talk to the author. I’m sure the person who thought up the story has some definite ideas on how some of the illustrations should look. I know I fear that they won’t draw my cats correctly. What if they make Talbot more Persian like? Or they don’t put a freckle on Mietze’s nose? Or draw her white patches incorrectly. That would very much bother me. And that’s why I draw the kitties myself.

With that in mind, and with me not really liking all the drawings I did for the last book (that I never published on blurb), I thought I’d start honing my drawing skills. I decided to start with hands. Of course, cats don’t have hands, they have paws. I have a book on animation and began drawing the hands in it. Over and over again. If they didn’t look right, I traced the hand, trying to figure out where I was going wrong.

I found another place of drawings of hands, most the four fingered cartoon kind, and began drawing them. Over and over again, and yes, it got a bit boring, but after a while I could draw my own hand positions without having a model for it.

On to the next step. I now am attaching those hands to arms. What good for me to be able to draw a hand if it won’t fit to an arm? I can’t go around drawing the hands first and then drawing the rest of the body. I mean, I could, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it like that.

I’m going to be doing this for months, just keep on practicing. I’m going to improve my drawings.

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Dear Hamish

Congratulations on the grand win against the next village. Our football team is the best! I was sorry to hear you were chased by the big ram. The twins lay low for a wee bit after letting him out, and stuck close to home afterwards. The farmer was nae happy.

Pawnee Kitty decided to have a Texas style party, a ‘Party on the Patio’. Apparently her best friends in the whole world (sadly departed) indulged in them. The proceeds are to go to the Homeless Kitty & Doggie (and Lambs) Foundation for those in Houston. She will hold more fundraisers for Florida, Puerto Rico and environs, and Mexico City, as well as California where the fires were. She wishes to make sure that even after all this time, since the disasters struck, that those in need are being tended to.

This ‘Party on the Patio’ was, where else, on the patio. Many people in the colonies have patios. They are concrete squares at the rear of their crofts. Some are grand, some not so much. Like this one. But that did not dissuade Pawnee Kitty who ‘cranked’ up the ZZ Top song Party on the Patio for, yes, there is such a song. (For your interest, Aud saw two of the three members of ZZ Top at the Houston airport waiting for their luggage.)

As this was a ‘Do Not Nibble on the Other Guests’ party, a great variety showed up. They carried coins and bills in their beaks, mouths, claws, paws, and wings. Another for your interest, the local wildlife tend to have a good bit of money. They line their dens and nests with found bills and store coins up for moments when they need them, like Parties on the Patio.

I counted coins and put them away. One of the hawks was eying me and I wished not to partake in all the festivities for fear someone will forget the ‘Do Not Nibble’ rule. I am sure a squirrel went missing. Pawnee says no. For all I know she had squirrel stew that evening.

The party started at dawn and didn’t end until a little after dusk. This was so those who are active at different times of the day could participate. I now know the whole Party on the Patio song by heart and can sing it backwards. I even choreographed a Highlands dance to it I heard it so often. I can dance it in my sleep and I think I have. I wake up and me poor wee legs are tired.

Must rest now,

your friend in the colonies

Angus. McSheep.

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