The Gentle Art of Love Making

In previous posts I’ve mentioned my passion for collecting photos and images that represent bits of days gone by. Postcards are a favorite collectible for me, because:

  • They don’t take up much room,
  • Like old photos, they’re easy to sort and save in boxes,
  • And they’re easy to scan and share.

Just about any topic you can think of has been memorialized on a postcard at some point in time, from old recipes to historic landmarks to fashion styles.

A couple years ago I came across a set of postcards titled “The Gentle Art of Love Making.” Each card in the set illustrates a phase in the courtship process; judging from the clothing depicted, the cards were meant to represent courtship during the late 1860s to 1870s.

The first phase of courtship: A man and a woman get acquainted by going for a walk together:

Phase 2: He gives her a flower. In a very Disney touch, a little bird witnesses the gesture.

Phase 3: She takes the liberty of trimming his hat with roses—a very romantic gesture, don’t you think?

Next, the couple dances together.

Then, they share their first kiss:

AndVoila! — they’re a couple!

Just like real life, right? Actually, the cards are more true to life than they might initially appear.

When Prince Charming and I first met, we sort of followed the same sequence of events; but instead of going for walks, we went for drives in his beat-up old Volvo.

And instead of dancing, we sat together in church. We learned to study God’s Word together and make decisions based on prayer and the lessons Christ taught us.

Another similarity: he gave me flowers. Nothing extravagant, because we couldn’t afford it, but his bouquet of dyed carnations meant more to me than a dozen long-stemmed roses, because I knew they were given in love.

So after I thought about these postcards in that context, I realized they really were a nice representation of the phases of courtship and the “gentle art” of falling in love.

I’d love to know what you think: Do these postcards capture the phases of falling in love? Does your own experience with romance follow the pattern set here?

The Stanley and The Shining

When you think of Colorado, what words come to mind?

Snow?

Mountains?

Hiking trails?

How about “horror?”

For me, horror in Colorado means I forgot to put my gloves on before going outside in below-freezing weather.

For a lot of other people, though, horror in Colorado means The Shining.

The Shining is a 1977 novel by Stephen King. Director Stanley Kubrick made it into an over-the-top movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duval. It hit theaters in 1980.

Jack Nicholson in a famous scene from the movie version of “The Shining.”

Coloradans have a bit of a love affair with the book and the movie, because our own Stanley Hotel served as the inspiration for Stephen King when he wrote the novel.

The Stanley is a beautiful hotel nestled against the foothills of Estes Park, Colorado.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado.

Guests and visitors are encouraged to wander about the hotel, take in its history and ambiance, and explore the grounds (which you can do on your own or with a guided tour). You can even wander through the hotel’s hedge maze (installed in tribute to a scene from the film).

And since Estes Park is one of my favorite places on Earth, as well as the most beautiful (in my humble opinion), I kind of click with The Stanley’s connection to all things Stephen King.

Last month production closed on a new movie called “Doctor Sleep.” This movie is also based on a Stephen King book by the same name, published in 2013.

And guess what? King wrote Doctor Sleep as a sequel to The Shining.

In the past I’ve enjoyed watching the movie adaptation of The Shining. The film is more campy and fun than scary and horrifying.

But the new movie adaptation of Doctor Sleep is going to be an entirely different animal. The director expects the movie will earn an “R” rating; and since the story involves vampires, I anticipate there will be plenty of graphic scenes involving blood and body parts. Not my cup of tea. But then, I’m a wimp about those kinds of things.

If you’re a Stephen King fan and want to learn more about the movie adaptation of Doctor Sleep, here’s a link.

What about you? Do you like horror movies? How graphic do you like your movies to be?

My Movie Count-down to Christmas

Christmas is now less than a week away and I’m happily in the full spirit of Christmas. Like many, many (many!) people, Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

My house is decorated, the weather has taken on a nice nip of cold air, and I just finished the last of my holiday shopping.

I’ve deposited toys, cash, and canned goods in the appropriate donation bins and red kettles around town.

My Christmas tree is glowing with ornaments and lights, my gifts to others are wrapped and arranged under said tree, and my crèche is lovingly positioned in a place of honor in the living room.

Everything’s in order for Christmas day. There’s just one more task left . . . and it’s one of my family’s favorite traditions.

In the last days before Christmas, we gather every evening to make popcorn, arrange bowls of chips and dips, brew tea, and pour hot cocoa, all in preparation for watching our favorite Christmas movies together as a family.

And not just any Christmas movies. In my house, it’s all about tradition, and there’s an order to it all.

So here’s the countdown of Christmas movies my family and I will be watching for the next few nights:

Die HardDecember 20: Die Hard

Oh, yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, a gift for the guys in your family. It has plenty of alpha-male shoot-em-up action, a healthy dose of humor, and a few ho-ho-ho’s.

An added bonus: it puts my guys in the right mood to handle the sentimentality of the remaining movies we’ll be watching.

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Meet Me in St LouisDecember 21: Meet Me in St. Louis

Now we’re heading down the more traditional Christmas movie track. Meet Me in St. Louis stars Judy Garland as a young woman growing up at the turn of the 20th Century. It’s a beautiful movie, from sets to costumes to characters, and the singing . . . well, I did use the magic words, “Judy Garland.” I tear up every year watching her sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her little sister, played by Margaret O’Brien.

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June Allyson_Little WomenDecember 22: Little Women

I’ve read this beloved book many times since I first read it as a child. From the opening line—“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents”—the story chronicles the lives and loves of the four March sisters, and their devotion to each other through hardship and joy.

This year we’re watching the 1949 version starring June Allyson as Jo March, which is one of my favorites. The other version I love is the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder in the same role. We’ll watch that version next year (we alternate each year between the two) and I’ll have a big box of Kleenex by my side.

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Holiday InnDecember 23: Holiday Inn

This 1942 holiday classic used to run on television every year on Christmas Eve. My entire family sat down to watch it because it was just so much fun. It was my first introduction at a young age to the magic of a Fred Astaire’s dancing . The firecracker scene is one of his best and most entertaining dance sequences ever.

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Miracle on 34th StreetDecember 24: Miracle on 34th Street

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about some fancy-shmancy color version. I’m talking about the classic, black-and-white version of Miracle on 34th Street that originally hit theaters in 1947. This movie doesn’t need to be updated or colorized; it’s perfect just as it is.

My recommendation: don’t watch this movie on television with commercial breaks; they cut too much of the movie out to fit the broadcast time slot. Find a digitized, black-and-white version on DVD, pop it in your player, sit back with a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy this story about believing in the magic of Christmas and the hopefulness of the human spirit.

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White Christmas 1954December 25: White Christmas

For me White Christmas is the best of the best Christmas movies, so it’s no wonder our family gives it the place of honor: a viewing on Christmas night. Since its release in 1954, four generations of my family have viewed and enjoyed this fun, inspiring, and charming movie. After a busy day of attending church services, opening presents, and visiting friends and family, it’s nice to gather in the evening, wearing the new jammies Santa brought, and cuddling under the comfy new throws we received as gifts, to watch White Christmas. Every year we look forward to seeing the “Sisters” routine—we know it by heart, of course, but we laugh each year as if we were seeing it for the first time. I’m sure this year will be no exception.

So there you have it. Now you know how my family and I will be spending the remaining evenings leading up to Christmas.

What about you? Do you have Christmas traditions you and your family enjoy in the days leading up to Christmas? Leave a comment below to share!

 

Sometimes, Life Is . . .

Thank goodness it’s Wednesday!

I don’t say that often, but it’s been a crazy week so far; and knowing it’s Wednesday means I’m that much closer to the weekend.

The pace at work always picks up at this time of year; there’s a crunch of projects and tasks that must be done before the end of the year. Add to that the fact that a lot of my coworkers plan to take time off next week for Thanksgiving, and I have a recipe for long days and a lot of work.

There are a lot of things I planned to get done this week, but because of my work schedule, they’re now on hold.

Sometimes, life just isn’t one of these:

But the good thing is, I’m working through it! And as I come up for air from the pile of work that’s on my desk, I’m reminded that there’s still much to be thankful for:

I have a job I love, and coworkers I truly like and admire.

And I’m especially grateful that it’s Wednesday, and a quiet, restful weekend is only two days away!

Does Every Treat Have a Trick?

I’m going to tell you a true-life story. I hope you can relate to it.

About ten years ago, Prince Charming and I took a long-anticipated trip. We were both in high-stress jobs at the time, so this getaway was very important to us.

We planned every detail in advance, because we wanted to start our vacation stress-free, with no last-minute rushing about. We had a list of items to pack, which we dutifully checked off, one by one, as we put things in our suitcases.

We had a list of things to do, like holding our mail with the post office, and notifying our home security company of our trip, so they’d make extra rounds while we were away.

We even had a time table for the morning of our departure, starting with the time we wanted our alarm to go off, all the way up to the moment we checked our bags and entered the lines at airport security.

We had everything planned out, anticipated every problem, accounted for every contingency.

The big day arrived. When the alarm went off, we got up, dressed, and headed to the airport, right on time. We were happy. We were stress-free.

And we were proud of ourselves because all that pre-planning was paying off.

Then it happened. We were in the car, on the freeway, almost at the airport for our early-morning flight, when Prince turned to me and asked, “Did you remember to turn the coffee pot off before we left the house?”

So much for stress-free travel.

No, of course I could not remember turning it off, and my stress level immediately went from 2 on the scale to Red Alert level.

In those days, our coffee maker didn’t have an automatic turn-off mechanism. And since I couldn’t remember turning off the burner under the pot—and, incidentally, neither could Prince Charming, which was kind-a why he asked the question—I had an immediate vision in my head of the coffee maker melting down from its own heat and catching the house on fire. Prince had the same vision.

We immediately abandoned our beautifully orchestrated timetable and returned to the house. Prince kept the motor running, while I ran in, only to find one of us had turned the burner off under the pot, after all. So, it turned out, there was no need to rush; there was no reason to panic; there was no cause for worry.

We just had to get back on track and finish what we set out to do, and get that vacation started.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because I had a coffee pot moment not long ago; but this time, the thing that got off track wasn’t a vacation. It was a book.

Back in January I set a goal for myself to finish a novel I’d been working on. And guess what?

I did it!

I finished the novel and sent it off to a couple of beta readers and a proofreader.

Confident, I had a cover designed, wrote a book blurb, and set a date to publish my book in print and e-book formats.

And then I heard back from my readers. They all liked the overall story, loved the hero, and Miss Proofreader spotted only a couple of typos.

But they all agreed there was a problem with one of the subplots. And I had to admit, once they brought it to my attention, I saw the problem, too. But why had I not seen it before?

I was so busy concentrating on writing “The End” on the last page of my manuscript, and reveling in the feeling of having accomplished a major goal, that I didn’t see a hole in my plot.

And now I have to do some revisions throughout the story so that plot hole can be fixed.

So, the good news is, I did achieve one of my goals for the year. I finished writing my book. But the bad news (if you can call it that) is I still have some more work to do to on it.

So I’ve re-calibrated my timetable, and I’m now busy with rewrites.

And while I do that, I want to give a shout out to beta readers and proofreaders all over world.

Thank you! You help make dreams come true.

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Talked to Death

Am I the only one who wishes there were no such thing as political ads? They’re everywhere; I can’t escape them, but I dearly wish I could!

I think this 1873 Currier and Ives print sums up my feelings pretty well:

I’ve decided that until election day, my only form of entertainment will be reading.

No TV (unless I’ve recorded the program and can fast-forward through the commercials), no more radio. Just books.

Having made that decision, I now know why I have a To-Be-Read pile that’s taller than I am (times three); it’s for emergencies such as this.

So, a few minutes ago, I covered my eyes with one hand and poked the fingers of my other hand into my TBR shelf; here’s the book I randomly selected:

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe

Doesn’t this look like  a fun book? It’s my first time reading this author and I’m looking forward to losing myself in her cowgirl world. And when I’ve finished this book, I’m going to select another; then another.

So good-bye horrible, screeching, misleading political ads. I’ll see you again in 2020.

Updates and My New WIP

It’s been a busy 2018 so far.

The good news is that all that busy-ness has produced some real results! Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few months:

Isabella Alden Blog

I manage a website dedicated to sharing the life and written works of Christian author Isabella Alden. With weekly blog posts and daily updates on Facebook, it keeps me pretty busy!

But this year we (my techie friend Susan and I) made a few changes to the website we’re pretty proud of:

  1. We made Isabella’s website ad-free. No more distracting ads for heaven-knows-what kinds of products!
  2. We added a Privacy Policy page to the website, so visitors will know exactly how we do or do not collect or use their data when they explore the site.
  3. We arranged to publish Isabella’s Free Reads through BookFunnel. This is a big development for us. Every month we publish one of Isabella’s novels or short stories for free on the site; but in the past, we published those Free Reads only in Adobe PDF format. We now publish them in PDF, mobi, and e-pub formats, and distribute them through BookFunnel. It took a lot of work hours to get to this point, but we think it was worth it!

My WIP

I’ve been hard at work on my own novel, too!

Back in January I shared my “word of the year” with you . . .

Finish

. . . and pledged to finish at least one writing project of my own.

I’m pleased to report that it looks like I’m going to meet my goal!

My current work-in-progress is coming along nicely. So far, I’ve written

77,739 words!

That’s almost a complete book! Of course, I still have plenty of work to do to complete my novel, but I’m happy with my progress so far.

In my next post I’ll share my novel’s title and cover, so stay tuned!

All-in-all, 2018 is turning out to be a very productive year, and I couldn’t be happier.

How’s your year going so far?