Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mona Lisa and American Gothic (Part 2)

It’s the Friday of a three day weekend and I’m getting ready to grade. Sound like a good time? Go ahead and laugh…I’m 12 days away from having 10 weeks off and damn near losing track of time…hehehe!
In all seriousness, I had to stop grading and give a shout out to my class. I’m reading their Mona Lisa stories and I AM IMPRESSED! They all worked tremendously hard on this project and it shows. Their work is creative, witty, dynamic, and engaging! In all honesty, the end result is why I do what I do. I thoroughly enjoyed this project and look forward to many more like it in the very near future!
To inspire the kids, I wrote a story for them with a different picture, American Gothic (you know the one with the old man, holding a pitchfork and standing in front of a farmhouse with his daughter). It’s aptly titled American Gothic. Sadly, that’s the best working title I’ve got at the moment, but I’m open to suggestions! (To access previous blog, click here: American Gothic Blog: Part 1)
Without further adieu here is the second installment of my portion of the picture/story, language arts/art, 4th grade collaborative project.
Middle: Use points of action to construct your plot or storyline. Make sure one thing leads to the next.
Maude hummed a happy tune as she ground up the last of the eye of newt before she dropped it into the boiling black steel cauldron. In fact, she was so relaxed she let her wrinkles show. At this point in the cycle it took so much effort to show her younger face. She was old. There was no denying that; Maude had already had a long life. She placed the lid on the potion simmered on the stove, when she heard it again.
“Mommy, please help me. What have I done wrong? I promise I won’t do it again.” The little voice cried.
Maude shook her head tried to push the sad childish voice away. Then walked to the window to think about her life.
She had been born at least a century before. She wasn’t exactly sure when or where. There had been so much magic in the early years, it was sometimes hard for her to differentiate between what was real and what had just been a magical illusion. Something tugged at the back of her mind. Something she felt very close to understanding. Just when she was on the cusp of figuring it out a cloud of dust off in the distance distracted her. With the full corn fields, she had no idea what to expect.
“He’s coming for you! We told you he would!” Bonnie shouted from the painting.
Maude shot a menacing look through the large spacious farmhouse to the painting. She snarled and narrowed her eyes, sending a small red flare into the painting above the fireplace. The gray barn in the background went up in flames.
But Bonnie, only laughed as the fire quickly went out. “You can’t hurt us anymore, old woman.”
“That’s right, Maude. It’s you who put us here.” Clyde said stiffly.
“Oh, SHUT UP!”Maude yelled. Her old gray hair fell around her head, and she seemed more wrinkled than ever. Her blue eyes shifted from bright and lively to dead and black. Catching a glimpse of herself in the reflection of the window, she gasped in horror at what she saw: a monster.
As the car approached the home, Maude could tell it was a sedan, and it had a siren on top. Frantic, she had no idea what to do. The car stopped and a man jumped out. He was young and he was handsome. His sunglasses and business suit alarmed Maude even more. He took the steps two at a time with ease, and wrapped on the door as he called out.
“Maude. Maude Clemins. Ma’am, are you home?” The man  paced to the front windows and peaked in before he banged on the front door. When no one answered, he began to pace around the porch, which wrapped around the house. With every step he got closer and closer to the back kitchen window, to seeing the real Maude Clemins. The evil witch, who would do just about anything to stay young, including banishing her husband and daughter into a painting. She neared the point of desperation when, the timer buzzed.
For an ancient woman of 100+ years, she had the grace of the youth of a ballerina, as she bounded over to the simmering pot, grab a large ladle and took a gulp of her potion. She moaned with relief and the pain of old age left her body. Her soft golden hair returned, along with her ocean blue eyes and her smooth skin.
“Just a moment. I was in the shower.” Maude cupped her hand around her mouth and hollered projecting a melodic voice through the house, then she snapped her fingers, turning her hair wet and a fresh pair of shorts with a new black tank top.
The footsteps on the porch stopped, paused and turned toward the front door.
Grinning her herself, she walked toward the door with a swagger, stopping only to pull the American Gothic painting off the wall. This was not the time to have her husband or daughter yapping in her ear about her choices. “I’ll deal with you two later,” she muttered as she shoved the painting into the closet.
With a flickity flick of her wrist, a copy of Van Gogh’s ‘A Starry Night’ filled the void over the fireplace. Maude took the last step to the door and pulled it open flashing her gorgeous grin. “Hi there, can I help you?”
The handsome man took off his sunglasses, revealing his emerald green eyes. A friendly smiled covered his critical eye, “Why, hello, ma’am. Are you Maude Clemins?”
The young blond tossed her head back and giggled a bit, “Goodness, no. That was my grandmother. She passed on a few years ago. I’m Lilia, Lilia Hawkins, so nice to meet you.” She held out her hand and smiled kindly.
The young man smiled and shook her hand before he spoke. “Nice to meet you, Lilia. My name is Agent Clark McClint and I’m with the FBI.”

To be continued…

Friday, May 2, 2014

Latest Reads: Spring 2014

Latest Reads: Spring 2014
Happy May…er…Spring! I don’t even know where to go from here…seriously…where does the time go??? This started off as a ‘March/April Latest Reads’ and now it’s turned into a ‘Spring’ edition, because it’s MAY! I don’t even know what to say, except…’it’s beyond me’! Honestly, I’m baffled! I mean, I knew time flew faster when you got older, but this is out of control! Time goes too damn fast!
So what happens when one actually has time???
Sadly, not as much as one would hope! Lots of school work and minimal writing, which is LAME! But the REAL world demands certain expectations. Regardless, I dig what gets thrown at me (for the most part), so I’m always looking for new adventures/opportunities! AND thankfully…no matter what comes my way, there is ALWAYS a good book to inspire/entertain/distract me! Without further adieu, please enjoy my thoughts on some of my latest great books!
JHappy ReadingJ
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
I LOVED this book! It was well written and engaging the entire time. In this story, we meet a variety of people whose lives will all intertwine quite dramatically. I’ll be honest, I had ‘the husband’s secret’ figured out early, but I was not deterred in the slightest. In fact, the author lets the readers in on ‘the secret’ about halfway through the story. Then the reader must learn how exactly that secret with effect the lives of all the characters. And I saw the ending coming a mile away, so I was ready to give it four stars…until the prologue! At the very end the author outlines all of the different scenarios that could (or could not) have happened, along with other other secrets that may (or may not) have been kept. Let’s face it, we all have secrets and some are definitely better left buried.
Final thought: All in all, it was a great read!

Burned by Ellen Hopkins
In this story, we follow a young, Mormon, teenage girl. She leads a sheltered life complete with an alcoholic abusive father and a submissive mother. As the eldest, she is responsible for caring for her younger sisters, but her body begins to change and hormones begin to rage. Suddenly family, responsibility and religion aren't her top priorities any more. In fact, she begins to question everything in life, while making some very grown-up choices, which of course come with a bevy of consequences. I couldn’t put this book down, until the end, which I HATED!
Final thought: I gave this book four stars because of the ending. I hope the author has something better planned for the sequel!

Lone Survivor by Marcus Lutrell and
I loved this one as well. This is the story of the Navy SEAL team that went into Afghanistan and only one came out, hence the name. It is a long story, and it took me months to read. (Not because I had trouble keeping interest, but because it has very long chapters, and I read by chapters. Very rarely do I have 45-60 minutes to sit down and read). However, I recently took a trip and I was able to finish it in 6 hours of travel…all I needed was time! This story story whirled and twirled me through a bevy of emotions. In fact, it got out of control. At one point, I was sobbing like an infant on the plane and the flight attendant had to ask me if I was OK. In this story, we follow Marcus through SEAL training, then on his mission to Afghanistan, where he details every event that took place. There are times when I was VERY angry at people and cultures. AND there were also time when my faith in humanity was restored. An incredible read!
Final thought: I look forward to seeing if Mark Wahlberg can do Marcus Lutrell justice on the big screen.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling)
I should probably start this with…I LOVE HARRY POTTER! I have fond memories of lying in bed or on the couch reading many HP books cover to cover...just amazingly well written! BUT I went into 'Cuckoo' with a full understanding that this was NOT ‘Harry Potter’. It is not even remotely close to fantasy. It is realistic fiction/mystery to the nth degree. I have the utmost respect for J.K. Rowling. She is my idol and I aspire to be like her one day, but this story fell short for me. I had the killer pegged early on. AND…I’ll be honest…it really pissed me off I had to wait until the middle of the book to understand the significance of the ‘Cuckoo’! Don’t get me wrong…there were GREAT parts! I LOVE the private eye, Corman Strike, and his secretary (I’ve already put the next book on my wish list!), but there were also many other parts that fell short for me.
Final thought: Will I continue to read her books? YES! She’s an icon and she has an incredible talent. I admire her for getting out of her comfort zone!

So far on the next on the 'Latest Reads' list:
Dances with Dragons by George R.R. Martin: The LAST published Game of Thrones book. In all honestly, Martin had better hurry up with the rest! So far, I hate to put this one down!
Reinfection by Cynthia Hickey: The 4th zombie novella in a series, written by a friend of mine, is keeping me VERY intrigued!
THEN: I’m not sure….I have a ton downloaded that I must choose from…I will NOT download any new books! I will NOT download any new books! I will NOT download any new books! 
Be sure to check back to see what comes next (and whether or not I can restrain myself from uncontrollable downloads)!
Until then….