Friday, September 30, 2016

Women, A History: Matoaka "Pocahontas" //Rebecca Rolfe - Mother of Two Nations

Matoaka"Pocahontas"//Rebecca Rolfe
Mother of Two Nations
(c. 1596-1617)

The Baptism of Pocahontas (1840) by John Gadsby Chapman
     Most people nowadays associate Pocahontas with the 1995 animated Disney film Pocahontas which is based on the actual historical figure and centers on her relationship with Captain John Smith. While many people (primarily the Christian/fundamentalist/homeschooling community) despise the film as being either historically inaccurate (no, there are no cliffs in Virginia) or promoting cultural religions such as animism (which is what the Native people would have practiced, so wouldn't that be considered accurate??), the movie launched a worldwide fascination with Pocahontas to the millennial generation. Pocahontas is one of the greatest and most beloved figures in American history who has continued to intrigue and inspire long after her death. 

      Although she has been disputed to have many names, here childhood nickname Pocahontas is what has made her legendary. Historians believe that she was given the name Matoaka by her father Powhatan, the paramount chief of the Tsenacommacah nation. Little is known about Pocahontas' early life, but that she was described as a playful child (hence her nickname which literally means "playful one") and a favorite of the tribe. She was said to be the youngest of Powhatan's children and had a multitude of brothers and sisters. As a child, Pocahontas would have learned how to garden, plant, plow, care for animals, gather wood and make her own clothes.

     Then in 1607, the English came to Virginia and settled in Jamestown. Among them was Captain John Smith who was intent on discovery and adventure and certainly found it when he was captured by Powhatan's people. As the supposed history goes, the natives were fearful of the white men and their weapons and were about to put Smith to death. However, Pocahontas (who was between the ages ten and twelve) begged her father to spare his life. Powhatan complied and set Smith free. As supposed historians say, Pocahontas and Smith were good friends, but anything beyond that is pure speculation. 

The Marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe by John Gadsby Chapman?
     Eventually, Smith had to return to England and Pocahontas herself became a a captive prisoner during a the first Anglo-Powhatan War in 1613. She was captured by the English and held prisoner there for over a year. During a standstill in the war, Pocahontas supposedly rebuked her father for choosing war over his own daughter and said she would rather stay with the English.

       Through her imprisonment she met John Rolfe, a widower from England who was the first successful planter and distributor of the tobacco plant. Overtime, Pocahontas began to adapt to the Anglo-Saxon ways of the English people, learned to read and write, started to dress like the women and converted to Christianity, taking on the name Rebecca. Eventually, John Rolfe believed himself to be in love with her and through a great deal of trial, convinced the governor of Virginia to let him marry Rebecca. They were married on April 5, 1614 and had one son, Thomas. Rebecca's feelings for Rolfe were unknown, but many said that they were a happy couple and loved their son dearly. 

     John and Rebecca's marriage helped bring temporary peace between the settlers and the natives and ended the war for a short time. In 1616, the Rolfe's traveled to England where Rebecca was considered quite a speculator sight to the English. After living in England for almost a year, John and Rebecca boarded to go back to Virginia in March of 1617, but Rebecca became ill with either smallpox or pneumonia and they had to stay in England. Rebecca died a few days later in John's arms. She was buried on March 21, 1617 in England. John and Thomas returned to Virgina and stayed there until their deaths. Pocahontas has several well known descendants, including First Ladies, Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Character Sketch: Edward Travilla

Using Allan Leech's Tom Branson for my inspiration of Edward Travilla.
     If you are unfamiliar with Edward Travilla, then here's a basic summery. 

     Edward Travilla is the husband of the beautiful and devout Christian heroine, Elsie Dinsmore, in The Elsie Dinsmore book series written by Martha Finley in the late 1860s. The Elsie Dinsmore books were the most popular children's books for decades, especially amongst Christian readers. In the early 2000s there was a revival in the series, when A Life of Faith took the original twenty-eight novels and condensed them into eight updated novels. 

      Edward Travilla can be placed into two categories. He is either the irresistible and noble Christian hero of the 19th century antebellum south; or a controversial fictional character whose crime was being twenty years older than his wife as well being as her father's best friend. However one may sum up Edward Travilla, he was written to be a man devoted to God, his family and the people around him, and a hero that can easily stand next to Mr. Darcy and Matthew Crawley.

     Yet, to understand Edward, you must first understand his beloved Elsie. For years, Elsie Dinsmore has been hated by both Christian and secular audiences alike because of her moral minded Christian beliefs, her inability to stand up for herself (as a child at least), and her sappy, crybaby nature. While Elsie may seem too good to be true at first, people can be a little more understanding of her dire circumstances of living with a family that hates her for her wealth and beauty, a completely incompetent father who mistreats her in the beginning and how her faith in God is her only sanity. 

     Also, most audiences view Elsie from a modern day POV and should realize that Elsie is at the mercy of the people who despise her. She has no choice but to submit to the cruelty of her family and at the times she does stand up for herself, she's is punished. Elsie is forever caught between a rock and a hard place no matter her situation, so a little mercy to this kid isn't too much of a hardship. 

      So, now we can finally get to Edward! Edward is the best friend of Horace Dinsmore and meets Horace's daughter Elsie when she is eight years old. Afterwards, Edward becomes a loving older brother figure to Elsie and overtime, falls in love with her, in spite of their twenty year age gap.* While people nowadays consider this the nature of a pedophile, then I would ask, how is Edward's relationship with Elsie any different from George Knightley's relationship with Emma Woodhouse in Jane Austen's novel "Emma"? Sixteen years age difference, good friends with her father and always looking out for her? There is really no difference at all between the two men. 

     Like Knightley, Edward is handsome, wealthy and well respected. Edward's father died when he was young and he has no brothers and sisters. So, he understands loss and loneliness from an early age and can identify with Elsie on that matter. While Edward tends to mind his own business, he is not above calling out his best friend on his mistreatment of his daughter in the first couple of books. Edward is the only person in the stories not afraid to stand up to Horace and tell him the hard truth about the heartless monster he tended to be.

     Edward never sets off to be the romantic hero, that's just who he is. As a Christian he believes in the responsibility of standing for those who cannot stand up for themselves and respecting human dignity.** On many occasions, Edward is forever coming to Elsie's rescue when she is being hurt, abused or manipulated. I know I can't be the only reader who has reread the chapter "A Friend To The Rescue" from book three, Elsie's New Life, over and over again, because Edward finally did to Elsie's uncle what no one else in the story has had the guts to do. Edward then proceeds to rescue Elsie from running away with a conman and saves her reputation (how very Mr. Darcy of him). And while Elsie is under Edward's influence, she grows and blossoms in confidence, strength and faith.

    While Edward Travilla may seem an obscure character to many modern readers, for the small Elsie Dinsmore fanbase (that are brave enough to admit that they enjoy the books), Edward is a picture of a good Christian man that like Elsie herself, may seem to perfect to be real, but still gives a decent picture of the character qualities we should strive to live for and should also strive to see in others.

* Probably one of the reason why the books haven't been made into films yet.

** Of course, this comes into questioning because Edward is a plantation owner and, until the Civil War, owned many slaves, but that was also staying true to history and Edward is described as being a very generous and kind master.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Two Tags: Music and Life

     I know I've been MIA from blogging for a few weeks. Reason being is that last month was so hectic with Writer's Camp along with Downton Abbey Week as well as my regular monthly posts, I needed a break! Back in August I was tagged with two fun tags that I've been wanting to get done!

Tag One: From Evangeline - The Music Tag

1. Do you play any instruments?
     - I know how to play the piano and the Appalachian dulcimer 

2. What is your favorite music genre?
     - There are several classical music pieces I find beautiful such as The Moonlight Sonata and Spring of the Four Seasons. I love big band from the 40's. Classic rock from the late 50's and 60's. Of course 80's rock and the music of the 90's that I grew up with (primarily Celine Dion and boyband music). And I have a soft spot from some country as well : )

3. Is there a music genre you absolutely cannot stand?
     - Rap and screamo

4. What is your favorite way to listen to music? (CD, vinyl, MP3, radio, etc.) 
     - On my MP3 primarily, but I like listening to what's new on the radio.

5. Top three favorite bands/singers?

Celine Dion
Sarah Brightman
Josh Groban
6. What are your three favorite chords?
     - Wouldn't know....

7. Is there any instrument you cannot stand in a song?
     - No, not that I can think of.

8. Erin's Question: If you had to pick one song to sum up your entire life, your very essence, the core of your being, which song would you pick?

   Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. The writer in me told me to pick it.

9. Evangeline's Question: What's your guilty pleasure artist/song?
     - I've never kept it a secret that I'm a One Direction fan and I love a lot of their music! Yet, this song has got to be one of the most beautiful songs they've ever done. 
You and I by One Direction

     Thank you Evangeline!!!

Tag Two: From Ruth - The Life's Questions Tag

1. How many brothers and sisters do you have? 
     - Eight.

2. Are you the eldest of the children? If no, what number are you then?
     - I'm the middle of nine, number five. The family order goes girl, girl, boy, boy, girl (me), boy, boy, girl, girl.

3. Do you collect/save stuff?
I have a clear glass bowl full of these!
They look Easter eggs and I love them!
4. Do you have a job? Permanent or not, doesn't matter. (you don't have to answer the question if you don't want to)
     - I work at a church nursery two times a week and I'm a supplementary instructor for the English department at the community college I attended.

5. How do you celebrate your birthday?
    - Because my birthday is so close to Thanksgiving, I've never really have been able to celebrate it the way I want. And I'm at that age where my family doesn't really bother with birthdays anyways.

6. Do you have an own bedroom or do you share it? With whom?
     - I shared a bedroom with my sisters up until I was 19 or 20 and then I finally got my own room!

7. How late do you go to bed(latest, normal, and earliest)?
     - I'm a night owl, but I usually roll into bed between midnight and 1 AM.

8. Do you study a language(except for your birth language)?
     - No, but I've always wanted to!

9. Do you play any instruments?
     - Not anymore.

10. How often do you drink tea?
     - This all American Girl has never been a tea fan.

11. Do you have a large garden?
     - Nope.

12. What do you like better, Jane Austen movies or Downton Abbey?
    - Always Downton Abbey!

13. Can you read a book in one hour?
     - Probably not. I'm a little ADD with reading. I have to take a break every few chapters and think, "That was good, but I would have done it this way..." and then, the next thing I know, I'm coming up with my own story. 

14. Do you ever feel like visiting great places?
     - At times yes. 

15. Do you like drawing and/or painting?
     - Sadly I've never had the talent for drawing, but I've always wanted to paint.

     Thank you Ruth!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Little Things #14

1.) Dalaric scenes: They were my favorite friendship in The Vampire Diaries!

2.) Having money to spend: Who doesn't love that??

3.) Fairy tales: Preferably the traditional, rather adult, versions. 

4.) Finishing a good book: And trying to get over the grief that it's over!

5.) Watching Disney classics: I'm all business until The Lion King or Robin Hood gets brought out.

6.) When your hair cooperates with you: Especially on Sunday morning.

Writer's Camp: Days Twelve and Thirteen

     So...I'm a little late with this post, but I'm doing it now. Day Twelve is on "Conquering Writer's Block" and Day Thirteen in "Finding Inspiration," and the two meld quite easily into each other! Writer's block is not fun to deal with at all! You feel like your well of inspiration is completely dried up and you're just waiting for the rains to come again. There is no general way for me to conquer writer's block, but I have three methods that have worked quite well before.

1.) Change the story -- If the story is dry and mundane then change things around. Do the unexpected. Don't just kill someone off though. Send them away and leave the reader guessing and then bring in a new character. Give a backstory on a character or multiple characters and have them all interweave somehow. It's not a crime to change from you're original idea; it's your story!

2.) Read other books -- This isn't plagiarism. You can get a great amount of ideas from reading other people's works. Sometimes a sentence can completely overload with ideas.

3.) Take a break/Work on another project -- Normally I only write one story at a time, but usually I have five or six stories going on in my head. If I've hit writer's block, then going on to another story helps me get fresh and new ideas.

      As for inspiration I find inspiration for stories all around me! Usually, it's from watching movies, listening to music, sleepless nights, driving, taking care of kids, the list is endless. Everyone is different in their writing and how to pursue it and quite frankly, four years in college almost killed my love of writing. I was writing because I had to, not because I wanted to. However, the love is back and I'm enjoying writing my first fiction

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Writer's Camp: Days Nine, Ten & Eleven

     Days Nine & Ten - I'm suppose to talk about what I'm writing on Day Nine and on Day Ten give a sample of my writing. These two days are pretty simple considering the fact that I'm already writing a blog fiction right now! So, to check out my fiction writing and the latest chapters, you can go here.

     Day Eleven - Would you rather?

From Bella: Today we are going to send one of your characters on an adventure! Take a character from one of your stories and give us a brief summary of who he is. Then answer the questions below. This game will help you think like your character, making choices he would make as apposed to ones you would. It might help you understand and know your character better too. Plus, it's fun. 8-D

Lady Marguerite le Bastone. 13 years old. Lives in Vezelay, France with her mother, sister and stepsister. From "The Phoenix: A Medieval Cinderella Story."

1.) Would You Rather Be Hot or Cold?
     - Well, it's always quite cold here at the estate, so probably hot. The summer days are rather nice.

2.) Would you rather work at night or during the day? 
      - I don't work, exactly. I mean I don't do chores, well a lot of chores. My step-sister, Marcella does all that. I do some sewing and that's normally done during the day.

3.) Someone knocks on your door. What now?
      - I'm not suppose to answer the door. Only my mother and Marcella can answer.

4.) Would you rather go without food or water for a day?
      - I don't think I could go without neither!

5.) Someone tells you your life is a lie. What now?
      - That might be the best news I've ever received!!

6.) Would you rather be settled or have the open road?
     - Oh! I've always wanted to travel! Especially to the Middle East, only not now, during the war.

7.) Would you rather lose sight or hearing? 
      - What type is question is that? Maybe my hearing.

8.)  Would you rather have a dog or cat?
      - A dog! My mother hates animals though.

9.) How do you respond to betrayal, pain, loss?
      - I tend to cry. My older sister, Constance, says that crying is for infants, but I can't help it. Or I talk to my step-sister, Marcella. She's wonderful and she's been through a great deal of loss in her life. I would never betray her, either.

10.) Do you like music?
      - Very much!

11.) Do you like reading?
     - I can't read. I've wanted to learn and Marcella knows how to read, but I feel she's too busy to take time and instruct me. Maybe if I helped more with the chores, we can strike a deal.

12.) Would you rather face a lion or a bear?
      - I don't believe we have lions in France, but I have heard of bears sighted in some of the forests. However, I would probably face a bear. They seem to be more good nature than lions.

13.) What is something that scares you? 
     - Being left alone or Marcella leaving.

14.) Would you rather be in a crowd or alone?
     - I'm usually alone anyways, but I do enjoy socializing with people.

15.) You're family is threatened. What now?
     - Depends on what they're threatened with.

16.) Do you put a lot of importance on family? (Answer honestly.)
     - Yes, well, I use to. We're not really a family anymore. We're just four women living underneath one roof. Marcella is more of a sister and mother to me than my own sister and mother and all of her family is gone.

17.) Do you believe in God/heaven/angels, or something of the like?
     - I know I should, but it can be difficult. God is a very big...deity? And for someone like me, he is very far away.

18.) Would you rather have coffee or tea?
      - What are those? I normally drink water, milk or a little at supper.

19.) Would you rather take a long walk in the forest, or a bike ride down a parkway?
      - I'm not sure I know what a bike is. I like riding my horse. And I do like taking a long walk in the forest, until I soil my dress. So I guess riding my horse would be the better answer.

20.) Do you like snow?
      - Yes! Marcella and I have a great deal enjoyment in the snow!

21.) Do you like rain?
      - At times. It tends to rain here a lot.

22.) What is your favorite thing to do?
      - Sewing and making dresses! There is news of an upcoming ball held given by Lord Arpetian and Mother may let me attend! So, I'm working on a special dress!

23.) Would you rather spend the day indoors or outdoors?
     - Depends on the weather. Preferably outdoors so I'm away from my mother and sister, but when I'm inside, I stay close to Marcella.

24. Do you like summer days?
     - Yes! They are the most wonderful of days!

25.) If there was one person you would drop everything for in their time of need, who would it be?
     - Marcella. She deserves to be happy and I would do anything to make sure she gets the happy life she wants.

The Outsiders

     This had originally not been on my 1980's movie list, but I found it in the $3.00 bin at Wal-Mart and saw that it had Patrick Swayze in it, so, having no idea what it was about, I picked it up. This is also another 80's film (along with The Lost Boys, Dirty Dancing, Red Dawn and Young Guns) that has had a great cult following behind it and for two primary reasons. One, the book (written by a seventeen year old student in 1967) caused a great deal of controversy throughout America because it gave a look into the lives of greaser gangs from the other side of the tracks and therefore dealt with violence, fighting and killing. Two, the movie was an unexpected platform for young, unknown actors who would eventually become some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

     In 1966, Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youth are divided into two categories. The Southside Socs' (as is social), the rich kids, and the Northside Greasers', the poor kids from the rough part of town who are known for their trouble making. Ponyboy Curtis is a 14 year old greaser whose whole life seems to be crumbling around him. After his parents were killed in a car accident, he and his two older brothers, Darryl and Sodapop, are under heavy watch from the state. One wrong move from any of them and the state will take Pony and and Soda away from Darryl, and put them in a boys home. This causes a great deal of strife between Ponyboy and his oldest brother who can never see eye to eye on anything.

     Life as a greaser is not easy, however the greasers in Ponyboy's neighborhood are a tight group and see themselves as a family. They look out for each other, defend one another and would even kill for one another. And that's exactly what happens one night when Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny are attacked by a group of Socs'. In an effort to save his friend, Johnny kills the leader of the Soc gang and then he and Ponyboy must make a run for it, with the help of Dallas Winston, a tough New Yorker (more delinquent than greaser) with a police record and the skills to survive. 

     Afterwards, Ponyboy's already complicated life gets an even bigger shake-up and Johnny's actions soon set off a chain of events in the worlds of both greasers and socs.' And in which no one will ever be the same again. 

     My dad said this was one of his favorite books in school because he could relate so well to the greasers and how S.E. Hinton made theses characters so real and understandable. In the story, there is a great deal of fairness on both sides. No one is entirely bad, but no one is entirely good. This is brought up by Sherry or "Cherry" Valance, a beautiful, kind, but strong willed Soc who takes an immediate liking to Ponyboy and tells him that life is tough on all sides, rich or poor, soc or greaser. And she was right. It's not easy to live under a stereotype and just to be grouped with everyone else and every person in this story knows that.

 (See my movie review for Rebel Without a Cause which looks at life from the Socs' POV and the difficulty the rich kids had in their own private lives).

     What I also found interesting is that this story takes place a year after America enters into Vietnam. So, in a couple of years, these boys are probably going to end up drafted into service. Suddenly the lines between greasers and socs disappears and all of these boys who fought for 'their neighborhood territory' are going to wear the same uniform and fight together for their country. You begin to realize how pointless and petty their teenage rivalry was and how it was just a waste of time and young life. 

     I really love the movie! It was simple, but spoke a powerful message of how stereotyping and making quick judgement calls can be detrimental to anyone. Growing up in a violent neighborhood myself, I saw from an early age that not everyone was the same, even though we lived on the same street. So, I could really relate to this film in many ways . It was also great seeing all of these young unknown actors at the time getting their first start in the film industry! A simple film with a good message that was powerful in its storytelling of the wars we make for ourselves, but also of the unexpected goodness that can come from sacrifice and compassion. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Eight - Happily Ever After

      Now I get to write about my favorite endings in books/movies! I think everyone enjoys happy endings, but oftentimes, that's not real life. The level just under 'happily ever after' is what I call 'hopeful endings.' Everything hasn't gone the way we want to and not all the loose ends are tied up and we are left with more questions than answers, but in the end there is still hope for something infinitely better. 

      Being a movie reviewer, I'll just give a list of my favorite 'happy ending movies' and a list of my 'hopeful ending' movies.

     Happy Endings: 

     North & South 

     Ever After (of course!)

     Amazing Grace


     Dirty Dancing

     Hopeful Endings:

     Becoming Jane

     Dracula Untold

     The Help

      As for books, my absolute favorite happy ending is really A Series of Unfortunate Events! This book series about the misfortune Baudelaire orphans is one zany adventure after another. Just when you think things can't get any worse...they get 10x worse. Lemony Snicket is such an enviable author with his ability to take the mundane and make it hysterical. By the time you get to the last book, you are just craving for these kids to get away from their evil caretaker and find some peace and thankfully they do. Maybe not in the mos orthodox of ways, but in a way only Lemony Snicket could write. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Writer's Camp: Day Seven - Love/Family

     I know I am really behind! However, this day is based on love and family relationships. Sometimes the best stories are the stories of families or of someone's search for a family. Of course, love and romance novels have been popular for years in both the Christian and secular community. I, myself, enjoy stories about love, family and friendships, because it's what I'm around all the time, but I also enjoy reading about someone else POV on love and relationships. No two person's ideas are the same. So, I'll just do an overview of one book series on love/family and one on love/friendship.

Love Comes Softly series
by Janette Oak

       I love anything by Janette Oak and these books have been favorites of mine for as long as I can remember. Love Comes Softly (which inspired the the movie series of the same name) starts with 19 year old Marty Claridge and her husband, Clem, who move out west to start a new life together. However, Clem is killed in an accident and Marty is now alone and pregnant with no family or friends and winter on the horizon. Then Clark Davies, a handsome widower with a one year old daughter, offers Marty a 'marriage of convenience.' Marty and Clark will legally marry to allow Marty to stay with him and his daughter (Missie) until the wagon train comes through in the spring. Left with no choice, Marty begrudgingly agrees. 

     After a rocky start (with some hysterical chapters!), Marty begins to find a happy life with Clark and Missy and is befriended by wise and comforting Sarah Graham whose own marriage to her husband Ben was also one of convenience. Marty also witnesses with the incredible power of faith when she sees Clark's godliness in his life as a man, father, and a friend. and soon begins to question her own life and if God has had a plan for her all along. When faced with the choice to stay or go, Marty remains with Clark, Missie and her new son.

      Marty's decision to stay sets of a chain of personal stories of young women and their families that spans three generations. Love Comes Softly goes beyond romance in the west, but it's not preachy or over-Christianized in any way. It's wonderful blend of drama, romance and comedy that deals with love, loss, grief, joy, happiness, hope and above all family. The roles of wife and motherhood are most heavily emphasized in this series, which what I also enjoyed.

Harry Potter
by J.K. Rowling

      While Harry Potter can be used for a plethora of writing inspirations, the series greatest attributes is the unending theme of friendship. Harry Potter has been alone his whole life and so when he finds out that he's going to Hogwarts, he's excited, even a little scared. Upon meeting Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry's world is expanded in ways he never thought possible. With Ron, Hermione, Harry has a sense of belonging and acceptance that he has never had before. While they tend to get into trouble constantly, the trio usually have their hearts in the right place.

     As they grow older, Harry and his friends (including other students) go through their own personal trials where their boundaries and loyalties are frequently tested. This is especially seen with Ron Weasley who tends to live in the shadow of his best friend. While Ron never betrays or hurts Harry, he does conform to jealousy from time to time. Yet, when the time calls, Ron is there for Harry no matter the situation. Ron and Harry's loyal, but at times, rocky friendship is one of the best relationships in the whole story! While Hermione never falters in her faithfulness to Harry, Ron gives a realistic look as to what it's like to be friends with the popular kid, especially when you yourself are not popular. I've always been able to relate to Ron as the kid from a big family who never seemed to find their place.  

     Harry Potter deals with love in almost every form from romantic love, sacrificial love, selfish love, platonic love, long distant love, family love, secret love, unrequited love, triangular love...yeah just about every definition of love you can find somewhere in a Harry Potter book! Yet, Harry's whole existence (and survival) is based on love; and that love from his parents is what guides him through every trial and obstacle he is made to face. 

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