“Spinning Straws”

“Spinning Straws”

Afraid my Here’s just a pile of straw,
The flimsiest place of all to hide,
And I see a wolf pacing outside
With dollar-sign eyes and a gaping maw.

Just here spinning dreams of gold,
But can’t know what is real
Or let fears start to heal,
Til the man says one dream’s taken hold.

I entered this space to win more,
Yet what I own is depleted,
And I feel defeated,
So many wisps scatter over the floor.

Maybe I promised my future away,
For what I can’t guess
And now I feel less,
Grasping straws at a name I can’t say.

What name will finally fit?
It seems I have tried-
I know I have sighed,
But still I have failed to find it.

Have I been spinning false gold?
Tossing in my straw bed,
May be losing my head,
I’m not sure I want to be told.

Perhaps there is a one who knows,
Who wants my labors to bear fruit,
And sees the future’s my strong suit,
Where my gold dream is so real it glows…

I’m trying to spin this straw to gold,
As the wolf paces to inspire dread,
And my mind races to ask what’s ahead,
Which name will describe what I hold-

Straw?….Or is it gold?

Bring Me….a Fairy Tale Shrubbery!

So, I was thinking about fairy tales, as you do, and something occurred to me: on a surface, practical level, the lesson of an awful lot of them seems to be that the better gardener will win. Check this out:

1. Beauty and the Beast-The Beast gets the girl because he has the garden with the best roses. If Beauty’s family were better at gardening, she wouldn’t have had to ask for a rose and they wouldn’t have found themselves in that problem in the first place.
beautybeastrose

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses-The gardener just is the one who gets the princess, because she would rather marry a gardener.
kn_12dancing

3. Rapunzel-If the young couple could have just grown their own garden, they never would have had to deal with the witch.

4. Red Riding Hood-If her family had a pretty flower garden, she wouldn’t have needed to wander about the woods for a bouquet or admiring the floral scenery and the wolf’s trick wouldn’t have worked.
Little-Red-Riding-Hood-Final_small_hr

5. Cinderella-how did she manage to get to the ball so quickly and snazzily, AND run away in time for the prince not to see her transformation back to rags while wearing just one flimsy glass shoe? They had a thriving pumpkin patch.

6. Snow White-If the dwarves or Snow White could grow their own fruit they wouldn’t bother with apple-sellers, would they? (Clothing items like combs and ribbons are a different matter of course, but then those were absurdly easy to undo in any case.)

7. The Princess and the Frog-The only positive thing about the princess in most portrayals is that her family had a wonderful garden for the prince-turned-frog to live in, and that is clearly the underlying reason why she manages to marry well. Also, when you’re a frog beautiful gardens are clearly what you look for when you need a princess to kiss you, so that garden lies at the base of the happiness of both title characters.

8. The Juniper Tree-A well-kept tree can even resurrect the dead, in this one!

9. The Wild Swans-If the sister could just have maintained a royal garden once she was queen, she could have slipped some nettles in and not needed to go running around graveyards, getting accused of witchcraft and all the shirts might have been finished!
plucked-nettles-hans-andersens-fairy-tales

10. The Firebird-With no well-grown cherry orchards, this magical creature would not have shown up.

11. Jack and the Beanstalk-If those giants had simply been attentive gardeners, they could have weeded out troublesome beanstalks and kept all their own treasure, at least before a third visit!

As a matter of fact, a lot of fairy tales seem to show that problems arise when people use being in the woods as an excuse not to do their own gardening. It leaves them open to wildflower delays and poisoned fruit. Clearly, we all need to grow our own gardens instead of just hiding behind trees, which is actually quite disappointing since even as a young girl I wanted a yard full of blossoming flowers so I could have that beauty without having to really garden. Yet, look at the evidence! Witches win when they grow thorns. Beautiful gardens attract firebirds, princes, and insightful beauties. Gardening well can get even “villains” new children or keep them out. Maybe I should get one…

Any other fairy tale gardening/shrubberies you can think of? Bring it here and place it here beside this shrubbery, only slightly lower in the comments, so we get the two-level effect…

Holiday Shopping Spot!

Today, I have a very proud announcement to make. My enterprising nieces and crafty nephew have opened a small business on Facebook called the Sonshine Smiles Shop! Find it here: https://www.facebook.com/SonshineSmilesShop

The holidays are coming and this is a wonderfully cheap way to get some lovely gifts-I’m their loving aunt and some of these things are even more gorgeous and special than I even expected! So, if you know of anyone who would love to trick-or-treat in a beautiful Snow Queen dress…

Niephews_snowqueen

Or a baby in need of a fancy pink princess/birthday/holiday dress….

Niephews_pinkdress

Or some young ones who could use some sweet-smelling play-doh with jewels to find and decorate with…

Niephews_playdoh

Or anyone in need of special Mama Necklaces, organic wool dryer balls, toddler-safe Jedi light sabers, or $4 aromatherapy bath salts, please stop by https://www.facebook.com/SonshineSmilesShop today! And they take special orders, too! Tell your friends!

Niephews_facebook

Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Cinderella”

I saw this ballet version of Cinderella recently and I have some thoughts:

1. It’s good to know that the “British humour” advertized for this performance equates to cross-dressing stepsisters.
2. This fairy godmother calls on the fairies of the seasons to help her out, each of which appear with pages holding seasonal items. These pages are played by young boys and the autumn page holding a sheaf of wheat looked so numb and “whatever-I’m holding a sheaf of wheat, symbol of plenty, and yet I am hungry”-It was hilarious.
3. These seasonal fairies and the star fairies, also called upon to help Cinderella, all enter the ball with the heroine. Yet, everyone at court takes this as totally normal.
4. None of the other girls, not even the stepsisters, have any interest in the prince in this show. I found this very odd and have decided that these things mean that in this country the royal family has an ongoing arrangement with the fairy godmother to find the worthiest girl in all the land to wed each prince when he comes of age. Courtiers are absolutely off-limits as that would mess up the internal power dynamics of the country and pit the various aristocrats against one another and therefore, all the rich ladies at the ball already know the prince can’t marry them, he’s going to marry whatever girl shows up with fairies. As for the stepsisters, they were just distracted by…
5. THE FACT THAT NAPOLEON AND THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON ATTENDED THE BALL!
6. They must just like men in uniform.
7. I assume the country where this Cinderella takes place must be Andorra.
8. Both of these men are surprisingly good sports for that night.
9. That court jester, who wasn’t even the ordinary ballet dancer playing the jester on the night I saw it, was amazing! He jumped So High and had great chemistry with his jester head stick.
10. Whereas every other version of Cinderella I’ve seen has led me to believe that Cinderella’s slippers failed to disappear at midnight because the fairy godmother cared about her happiness, this rendition felt different. This time it seemed that the fairy allowed Cinderella to believe all would be lost, or remain as a memory in a slipper, primarily so that Cinderella would appreciate the prince more. After all, worthy or not, that doesn’t mean a girl will automatically fall in love with a guy, even if he’s a prince who everyone pushes you toward at the ball. The whole midnight/slipper ploy seems like this fairy’s way to cement the love connection on Cinderella’s side just as much as on the prince’s.
11. It was a lovely night!

“Aurora’s Year”

The swell of newness
Fills like a new dawn
And spirals out and away as life stretches through each day

New rises like an Aurora,
Who may sleep through her dreams
Or puncture them,
Or even face the cold stone face of death,
But even in these fates there is beauty and there may be magic.

Bright and sharp as a briar rose,
The dawn shows ways to care
And ensures us surprises, both royal and small.

For life congregates like a ball, every so often,
And others come together round you, from far and wide
And all we may do is smile or pass the time dreaming,
But we know these friends as we don’t know our fates,
And we taste these magics of games, lights, and fun,
As the colors and shapes of our wishes keep changing.

These storied times when newness meets old,
Keep us spinning round and get our stories told.
We’re free to walk in dreams and know futures that may or may not come to pass,
To put old cares to sleep and reunite our true loves,
To replace the steps and trod no more spindles,
But spin us the wheel and breathe in the life it kindles.

So christen this day, with its precious gift
And let no one deny you any change you can lift,
For any dance in this year can bring you to joy, so long as you step into the dawn and you try.

Serenity and good energy go with you in 2014.

Disney Family Time

As many people will be reuniting with family members soon for the holidays, let’s take a look at how these reunions could be just like a Disney fairy tale. Disney movies offer a lot of advice about this topic, but it may or may not be worth anything.

Disney Family Reunion Tips:

1. Bring a sword.
2. Get a private train car.
3. It’s okay to argue over pets.
4. It’s totally okay to ignore your family for a guy.
5. Don’t bring up any legal matters, like contracts.
6. Don’t try to sell anybody on anything.
7. Bring your own cup.
8. Realize there’s probably a long distance between you and parental approval.
9. Don’t get stuck in bottles of alcohol.
10. It’s helpful to build a fire.

(20 points for every reference.)

Here’s hoping your holidays need no such advice.

Frozen Movie CLIP – ‘Let It Go’ Song 2013

Frozen Movie CLIP – 'Let It Go' Song 2013 – Disney Princess Movie HD – YouTube.

This in itself is gorgeous. I can’t wait to see “Frozen”! Watch it!

Ironskin

 

Ironskin

By: Tina Connolly

(http://tinaconnolly.com/)

Published by: Tor (2012)

A young adult steampunk fantasy review

 

Ironskin-cover

 

The Great War blasted Jane Eliot’s life apart, just as the fey blasted her cheek with their curse.  Now she is ironskin, forced to cover her face with an iron mask to keep others safe.  When Mr. Rochart advertises for a governess to care for a girl in a “delicate situation,” Jane knows she can help this fellow victim.  Yet, a lot more greets Jane at her new position than a difficult child.  Jane finds there are more curses than she knows, and learns about masks more burdensome than iron.

The framework of Jane Eyre brings this novel a natural sinking point for the reader to dive in and let themselves go.  We already know the basis for this romance, for these main characters’ traits, so we are free to splash through the vivid colors of the war with the fey, the steampunk world details, and the new barriers that this Jane faces right away.  Knowing the strengths to expect from this Jane could have been disastrous if she didn’t match up, but the fact that she so resoundingly does makes the story of what this Jane remembers and how she chooses that much more endearing than if she’d had no one to live up to.  Similarly, knowing we will eventually reach certain turning points in the story makes the building parts more purely intriguing rather than tense.  Jane’s charge, Dorie, plays a much larger role in this book and we learn a lot through interacting with her.  Jane’s dynamic with Mr. Rochart leans heavily on audience foreknowledge for the romance, but he allows us to see new angles of this Jane and how she sees herself.  Jane Eliot’s identity rests between visions of herself where she has various levels of opportunity, personal connections, and beauty.  Exploring the ties between these things among all her characters, Connolly pulls on chords familiar to us all while grounding her fantastic society.

The new details and mysteries swirling through this world keep the pace swift as we long to know not just what will happen next but what has already happened.  Each character in here is Connolly’s own and indelibly set within this strange world, so even those who can’t bear the thought of an impure Jane Eyre should be able to read it without flinching.  The prose engages and surrounds with firm moments and beautiful imagery.  The only issue I had was that the ending is rushed.  After such lovely delving and swooping through this gothic tale I was suddenly crashed right through the center of things, with no opportunity to get my bearings or start to breathe again.  It lacks that last chapter, where loose ends are tied up and you can feel the satisfaction of knowing how things have turned out.  I still have some questions that I doubt the sequel, from Helen’s point of view, will answer.  Basically, I needed more!  And I still do, so I’m relieved there is a sequel.  I loved reading Ironskin.

 

Questions I Still Have (BEWARE SPOILERS):

-So, where WAS all Rochart’s money going??  I mean, it’s implied that he’s paying off his ex-wife’s father, but the guy’s a village shop owner and no one is saying he’s living it up, so he can hardly be using up all of Edward’s vast fees.  What happened to the rest of it?  Is Poule sending a bundle back to her clan?

-Wait, so if the curses and things are all parts of actual fey being punished by separation, then if whoever takes charge over the fey next decides to pull their forces together or end some punishments, or time just runs out, people’s FACES could just FLY OFF??  I do not think people are concerned enough about this possibility.

-Why were blue tendrils trying to keep Rochart in the forest that time if the queen’s plan was for him to keep coming back and giving people fey faces, anyway?

-So, if Dorie can see people she cares about through walls, does that mean that all the fey can just see through anything but iron?

-If it was Edward’s fey gift that meant he could remove people’s faces, then how can he reverse the procedure now it’s gone?  Is Jane going to make Dorie do it?

-Can all fey just feel everyone’s feelings and where they are if they care about them?

-Shouldn’t it matter that Jane’s current face came from a mask with a forehead chip?  Is it just going to look like there’s a birthmark up there or what?

 

Please tell me if you’ve ideas about these!

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Similar Posts:

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-horns-of-ruin/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bitterblue/

‘Luka and the Fire of Life’ review

Luka and the Fire of Life

By: Salman Rushdie

(http://www.salman-rushdie.com/)

Random House 2010

A middle grade fantasy review

 

 

In this sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/167/) Luka, the second son of famous storyteller Rashid Khalifa, undertakes a magical adventure, just as he’s always longed to do.  Sadly, he finds his way to the magical lands because his father is trapped in an unshakable sleep.  If Luka cannot maneuver his way through the videogame-like obstacles of Rashid’s tales and bring back the Fire of Life, that sleep will fade into death.  Luka finds his way filled with beings from his father’s stories, including all the gods and goddesses of classical pantheons, a country of insulters, and the chilling guardians of time.  Luckily, Luka is not alone-his party includes a dancing bear (named Dog), a singing dog (named Bear), and a ghostly version of his father.  Plus, Luka’s garnered a few hundred lives to spare in this game…

Luka’s fragility and determination make him a very likeable hero.  It’s easy to root for a boy who faces off against everything with the same awareness and stubbornness, in spite of any bizarreness or trauma.  Rushdie’s turns of phrase paint delightful pictures of the World of Magic and supporting characters, also.  Unfortunately, this sequel lacks the creative fire of Haroun and the Sea of Stories.  Luka’s quest is overshadowed by Rushdie’s attempt to explicitly connect it to the modern world, increasingly bogged down with incessant references rather than original creations, and lacking the enchantment that accompanied its predecessor.  While both books begin with a serious problem and end in its sudden cure, it is far more jarring this time around.  Haroun’s tale had the zest and fairy-tale spirit to carry it off, whereas Luka’s simulation is too obviously a self-aware, coping mechanism, as well as needing an additional forced plotpoint to carry it off.  Moreover, Haroun’s quest had plenty of other new things to discover that the final ending felt simple and right.  Luka’s mission is always totally focused on one thing instead of finding another purpose and feels more like an episodic resume of Rushdie’s mythical thoughts than a whole story that flows on its own.

In short, I feel like Luka and the Fire of Life was Rushdie writing as the learned Rashid Khalifa, rather than the actual hero or the readers.  Perhaps Rashid, with his onstage presence and magical voice could have given this tale that spark of life, without that there’s a disconnect.  This book still has a lot to enjoy.  But basically, Rushdie can do better.

May Queen poem 2013

“Darling May”

 

Wendy Darling, bud of May,

Shake your future and past away.

Offer the world a nurturing hand,

May brings change to even Neverland.

 

But change is cruel and often rough,

with winds too full and not enough,

Full of riches, seeds, and nature’s joy

to plant over the dreams of a boy.

 

No more pixie dust or flying air,

now there’s lilacs and growing roots there.

Reality turns beautiful with its May Queen,

but it never comes close to memories I’ve seen.

 

Phantoms of those who are now lost,

the peace of time frozen within a frost,

the comfort of seeing life where I can believe,

All this, Darling May forces to leave.

 

It’s a story Mother Earth always tells,

We live to miss others, as savage as hells,

Yet we’re told that Spring is for smiles,

As May brings time’s green, like snapping crocodiles.

 

It’s time to grow past, really give them up,

The Queen’s stories call you to drink from her cup.

Come home to beauty, the world, and to you-

With all the dead shadows and souls that flew.

 

May’s strong magic isn’t happy or nice,

She bewitches even as she rules sacrifice.

In the land shook up with what’s Darling and grows,

We give into our nevers and what our heart knows:

 

That nothing’s the same as our springs’ bud,

Magic dust churns with change into spring’s mud.

 

Now, darling, you’re alone with a life to lead,

but to those who are lost, there’s no May Queen to heed.

No winds can shake them, and time, never-

So only they can keep, and stay forever.

 

This is the second year I’ve decided to make a well-known literary heroine a May Queen figure.  It’s surprisingly easy to see the lore of the May Queen figure in others, when you look.  For last yea’rs Katniss poem, go here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/modern-may-queen/

 

 

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