Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joyous Christmas Mess- Theme Thursday

The thrill of anticipation...

...And the mess...

Blessed mess. It's Theme Thursday: Mess! Cari is a riot.  

A Merry, merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Momo: Dreaming Theme Thursday

It's Theme Thursday with Clan Donaldson, Dreaming!

In the early morning hours Momo crept into our bed, scared out of her own by a bad dream. I asked her what it was all about and it turns out her personality is just as cute in her nightmares.

I took these of her waking up this morning, much happier:

Me: What was your bad dream about?

Momo: Monsters. Sometimes there are bad unicorns that act nice but they are really mean. They don't give you any wishes. They are black unicorns.

Me: What do you wish for?

Momo: I wish for a mansion that is twelve stories that is a house where I would live. And I wish for no more monsters. 

Me: What does he do when you tell him your wish?

Momo: He just laughs and goes away and then I wake up.

...And that's when she comes in our bed. To flee the horrible black unicorn that listens to your wishes and laughs in your face. I have to admit I'm glad he didn't grant her the twelve story mansion. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jane Eyre Nightmare: WWRW

Did I just dream all that or did I just read two contemporary takes on Jane Eyre that completely sucked all the metaphorical oxygen out of the literary air that is my "me time" and left me croaking an insane maniacal sob a la Bertha Mason?

No, that was no nightmare. Peter listened to an audio version of Jane Eyre for his summer reading and although I've read it several times I couldn't help but stop sweeping up the endless sand that is our home and listen in to the good parts. Which got me feeling all nostalgic, so while browsing through Kindle titles I happened upon these two and hit purchase:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I couldn't say it better myself, so stolen from the Amazon page of this title:

Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream.

My first taste of what is called "alternate history," this Britain of 1985 is far different from our own. The major historical difference being that the Crimean War which in our world lasted from 1853-1856, is still very much in full swing. Thursday Next (yes, that is her name) is a veteran of that war and is sorting out her war memories and love life as she works as a Literary Detective. Meaning she is part of an enormous government run program that that investigates all sorts of crimes against literature. The excitement comes when one of the many wacky inventions available at that time, a device capable of slinging real humans into the actual world of works of literature, gets into the wrong hands. The bad guy, named Acheron Hades (how would we know HE was a bad guy???) enters Jane Eyre and threatens to alter the course of the novel if his demands are not met. It's Thursday's job to stop him, but does she?

I give this book props for the excellent writing, the clever story line, the peppering of literary references and debates, and the respect with which it treated Charlotte Bronte's great work. 

Unfortunately, I didn't actually like it. This is the first of a series for Jasper Fforde, following Thursday Next on what I assume are her many literary adventures. But there were far too many silly names (Braxton Hicks! NO!) mythical creatures like vampires and werewolves, endless gadgets, car chases, time travel, on and on, to be of interest to me. Just not my cup of tea. It honestly was like reading a grown up version of Artemis Fowl, although Thursday is not quite as repulsive a character as he. 

So I will think none the less of you if you read and enjoy this book, probably more fun if you are a more fun person, and most importantly, it won't ruin Jane Eyre for you.  

On the other hand...

Jane by April Lindner is horrible from top to bottom. And that is all my review really has to say. 

Okay, I'll go on.

Author April Lindner teaches literature at the university level  and Jane Eyre has always been a favorite of hers to read and to teach. So I just can't understand why she would choose to massacre it in this way. Her story, Jane, is a modern day retelling, nearly detail to detail of Jane Eyre. Only without all the beautiful and engaging prose, the ability to win over centuries of readers with her character portrayals, or absolutely any insight into human existence.

Lindner's Jane loses her parents (who never loved or cared for her anyway) to a car accident during college, is cheated out of an inheritance by her evil siblings, and is forced to leave school and work as a nanny to support herself, where of course she meets her Mr. Rochester blah blah blah. 

What Lindner failed to realize is that the reader falls in absolute love and sympathy and emotional investment with dear Jane Eyre throughout her unfortunate childhood as she retains and develops a brilliantly soft, engaging personality that always wins over good people in her path. By the time she reaches adulthood, we sympathize with and love her, caring what happens to her. Lindner somehow used all her creative literary skill to make her Jane completely devoid of absolutely any traces of personality or ability to evoke emotion in the reader. Really. Her childhood was horrible because her middle class parents didn't find her interesting enough and ignored her. Her siblings were natural born jerks who treated her badly for no reason. Jane herself picked up no friends or adults willing to take her under their wings along the way, and at college managed to make a total of one friend whose name I don't even remember being mentioned. Why did no one like her? From what I can tell, probably because she is the most one dimensional character ever to walk the pages of a published work.

Read not this book. 


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wanna See the Beach House Part III: Come on In!

Obi and I both love homes. Houses, mansions, cabins, cottages, shacks, whatever, we love discovering their personality and the stories they have to tell. 

Little Yellow Beach House
The Beach House has been quite a character, I must say. Built in 1932, the Gulf of Mexico originally went right up to its steps, and over the years has slowly backed off, leaving a beautiful, though sand-spur filled field of sea grass and sea oats in front of it. 

Looking in from the front landing

Front door closed on the inside

 This tiled area, that takes the entire front portion of the home facing the beach, was originally a front porch before the major renovation of We Don't Know When. Sadly, a real front porch is the major feature the Beach House is lacking. But obviously this has added quite a bit more interior space and retained all the beautiful Gulf views. 

Inside the foyer

Work and school desk, completely inconveniently
located in the foyer area, but necessary

Our wonderful wall of crap
(now I didn't have to show you,
but you know you would be wondering where it was!)

We have tried to gather as much info on the life of this house as we could from the people here, but there is so little information. Most homes here are vacation rentals, and the few permanent residents only know stories told to them, rumors. One rumor we enjoy hearing is that at one point, the Beach House was owned by the Catholic Church across the way, as the bird flies only about a tenth of a mile away (Yes! We hear the bells three times a day!). It is said that the priests or brothers lived here before housing was built for them at the little mission Parish. I choose to believe this.

Here, you can see this green ceiling was once the porch roof. So pretty. The wall in the picture below, with the Sacred art, was built by Obi to form the fourth bedroom for Peter and Jude, featured in Part I of this series. 

Front sitting area

 Peter is a couch sitter. Does all his everything, reading, homework, texting, on that small couch, it is his domain. I guess it's a throwback to his homeschool days when he did all his work with his feet up on the couch.
Bad artsy shot, but I wanted to show you the
beach view from these coaches
The beach looks far away in the pictures, but it isn't in person. We see pelicans snatching their meals, dolphins jumping, tourists taking sunset selfies from right here on these couches.

This shot gives you a view of that front area from the back of the house, where the kitchen is. Meaning I am standing in the kitchen as I take this. (Gosh it was hard to take photos here, very tight spaces, and big transitions in small square footage.)

 The beautiful pinewood rafters would not have been originally exposed. They were left as architectural details when the house was redone, converting it from a flat to a slanted roof. I love them, made from the same gorgeous wood as the floor, a soft pine native to this area. 

So these above and below are taken from that front area. Yes, it just goes living, dining, kitchen, with my tiny office where I am now typing in that back left corner, in front of the blue curtains.

The girls' little kitchen Obi built them has seen better days. And probably doesn't deserve to live directly underneath his architectural blueprint art of bartending.

Our Advent wreath has also seen better days!
I think I will need to spring for some clearance
fake evergreens after the New Year.

View from the kitchen

This was built to be an incredibly simple two bedroom, one bath beach cottage. This interior would have been divided up into separated kitchen, formal living, formal dining, entry. All that is gone.
My office

Behind the blue curtains are actually a set of french doors added when the home was redone to make access easier from the driveway. We needed more storage space for the kitchen (only the tiny white cabinets and no pantry!) and I also wanted to limit the entries to One and Only One to keep sand at a minimum. So we closed this area off with the curtains and put up a couple of utility shelves. It has worked wonderfully.

Where the Web Log magic happens

Just some priceless d'objets d'art

On into our bedroom!

The rooms that make up the master, its large bath, and its large walk-in closet were once part of those formal spaces, including a formal entry with mudroom. No longer. But it works for us.

The framed fabric above the bed is actually a sliding glass door
we needed to conceal. We have actually liked the effect and
it has helped this room to feel more warm, we are
not knick-knack collectors, and we have
very few "things."

More than anything else, I will miss this beautiful window,
right next to my pillow. This will go down in
Rebekah History as being one of the
most soothing and happy places I have ever gazed:
beach breeze, warm sun, all.

Obi's vintage drafting table now sadly used as a tv stand.
I don't know why that dining chair is there, random.
This leather chair is where Obi does all his work at night (sigh).
Yes, I know the valance is crooked, please
write me for a house tour refund.

 Off our dining area is a small hallway that leads to what were the two original bedrooms and the bathroom.  Our girls room was most likely the master. 

The largest of the three windows above would have looked straight onto the beach. Now it looks straight into Peter and Jude's bunk bed. Gross.  

Below are the beautiful white built ins: desk,drawers, shelves. So pretty.

I swear this was in focus when I took it

The girls' Ikea hack bunk is still going strong!  We had so many pretty projects planned for this room: converting the defunct window to an art wall, curtains, who knows, but alas, time ran out too soon. Lovely anyway.

I won't show you the other bedroom, Joseph's and Isaac's, cause I'm too lazy to even minimally clean it for you, but it's there. Behind where Isaac is practicing on the pull-up bar, one of the Family Es's prized possessions. Seriously, back off.

Just notice the slim built in cabinets on the left. Why doesn't every hallway have one of these? Love them!

And well, I guess that's all folks. We live a simple life, all eight of us. This house has been a grand adventure and enriched all of our experience here on this earth. A true gift. So sad to think that most likely someday soon this place won't exist. It is owned by investors in Germany who are only holding onto it until it can be sold for much more. Anyone willing to spend the millions the land is worth won't want to live in this simple cottage. It will be flattened like the one two doors down, to make room for a gargantuan, soaring display piece.  So glad the Family Es was able to call it home for this short time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Outtakes-Christmas Card Edition

Dear Web Log,

Has it been seasonal around here! And by that, yes, I mean crazy. So many things keeping me away from recording our lives in these silly posts, "creating material for the Web Log," that's how I categorize the slots of time that are too full of life to have time to stop and muse about it. 

Shopping, list making, Advent praying, soul searching, you know, buying a house, stuff like that. 

So, yes, that means a sad, sand-filled goodbye to the beloved Beach House days. Won't miss the sand. In our beds. In our toothbrushes. In our, you get the picture. 

We close on the new house in just a couple weeks, making the Christmas busy-ness all the more busy. We have been so very blessed to have the life that we had on the beach here, and certainly didn't expect to find a permanent home so soon. Being the gypsies we are, we are only excited to move on to the next new thing...what's wrong with us!!!  

But fully expect the upcoming posts to be very beach filled, including, I am so hoping, tomorrow to bring the Web Log the conclusion of my Wanna See the Beach House series. Inside!

Anyway, blabber blabber, what I really wanted to show off are the outtakes of our beloved Christmas card. We love our yearly Christmas card, always. Brings us so much happiness to create and share. 

And tears, it brings us lots and lots of tears. And that, Dear Web Log, is what I bring you today:

Gosh, Joseph, thanks! Almost a perfect picture on the FIRST TAKE!
Wouldn't want to pose for a perfect picture so soon and
miss out on the ensuing chaos!

Why don't we bring the dog into the mix, that always
makes things easier.

One of the more treasured moments.
Wouldn't want to be Joseph.

Practicing for the perfect smile.

That's better.

Um, Isaac?

Total loss of parental control.
Nice pants, Peter.
Nice diaper, Isaac.

I want to be left alone!
No more paparazzi! 

...And you'll have to stay tuned to find out if we got One. Good. Shot. Merry Christmas Card!