Sunday, November 17, 2019

Week Fourteen Reading Notes Part B - La Fontaine

Source Story: Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks by W. T. Larned (adapted from La Fontaine), illustrated by John Rae, 1918.
The Fables of La Fontaine translated by Elizur Wright (1882).

  • "Mice"
    • Mouse, cat, rooster - a mousling sees a cat and a rooster and, by appearances, assumes the cat to be friendly and the rooster an enemy. His mother sets him straight.
    • Mouse becomes maid - a Brahmin saves an injured mouse and has her turned back into a maid from her previous life. They seek the strongest husband for her and end up choosing a rat
  • "More Mice"
    • Rats and cat - a cat kills most rats in the area, so the remaining decide they must hang a bell on his collar; of course, no one will volunteer, so nothing comes of it
    • Cat and mice - a great mousing cat plays tricks to get the mice out of hiding, but one older mouse is too wise to come out
  • "The Tortoise; The Bat"
    • Tortoise and birds - a tortoise wants to see the world, so she grabs a stick in her mouth and two birds carry each end of it into the air; she opens her mouth to brag about it and falls to her death
    • Bat and weasels - a bat saves herself from two weasels in turn by first claiming to be a bird, then a mouse
  • "Frogs"
    • Frog and rat - a frog tries to trick a rat into drowning so she can eat him, but they both end up getting caught and eaten by a bird
    • Frogs ask for a king - frogs ask for a king and are sent a log; they ask for a king that moves and are sent a bird who kills a bunch of them 
  • "The Swallow; The Eagle"
    • Swallow and hemp - a wise swallow warns other birds to eat up the seed or pull up the roots of a hemp field before its grown, but they ignore her and get caught in nets when the hemp is done
    • Eagle and beetle - an eagle eats a beetle's friend, the rabbit, so the beetle breaks her eggs every year for three years. Finally the gods essentially separate them
  • "Man and Beast"
    • Bear and gardener - a hermit bear and a lonely old man become friends, but the bear accidentally kills the man when trying to get a fly off his face
    • Man and adder - a man catches a snake and plans to kill it for being ungrateful, but the snake gets a cow, and ox, and a tree to testify to how the man is the more ungrateful of the two; the man gets angry and kills the snake
  • "The Astrologer; The Dairywoman"
    • Astrologer - an astrologer falls into a well because he is looking at the stars rather than what's in front of him (followed by much philosophical pondering)
    • Dairywoman - a woman carries a pot of milk on her head to sell at the market, but gets so caught up in fantasizing about what to do with the money that she loses her concentration and drops the pot, breaking it and losing the milk
  • "The God Mercury; Hercules"
    • Mercury and woodcutter - a woodcutter loses his axe and prays to Mercury, who shows him a gold, then a silver, then a normal axe. The woodcutter says the normal one is his, so Mercury gives him all three for his honesty. Then everyone tries to copy it, but they get hit on the head instead
    • Hercules - A man's cart gets stuck in the mud, so he calls on Hercules for help, who gives him instructions on how to help himself
  • "Sun and Wind; Belly and Members"
    • Sun and Wind - they bet on which can make a traveler take his cloak off first; the wind tries to blow it off with hurricanes and driving rain, but the sun wins out by making the man too warm to wear it
    • Belly and members - the limbs decide to mutiny against the belly for not doing any work, but it fails; metaphor for people serving a king

The sun makes the traveler take off his cloak, from Wikimedia Commons

Week Fourteen Reading Notes Part A - La Fontaine

Source Story: Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks by W. T. Larned (adapted from La Fontaine), illustrated by John Rae, 1918.
The Fables of La Fontaine translated by Elizur Wright (1882).
Web Source.

  • "Foolish Animals"
    • Tortoise and the Hare - the classic race
    • Donkey in a lion's skin - everyone is scared until a man realizes the truth and leads the "lion" to work in the field
    • Frog and Ox - the frog wants to be as big as the ox, but puffs himself too big and explodes
  • "More Foolish Animals"
    • The dog and his image - drops the meat in the water because of his reflection
    • City mouse and country mouse - get together for dinner but realize they prefer their own homes
    • Joko the Monkey and Mouser the cat - Mouser burns his paw to get Joko chestnuts from a fire, but doesn't get any himself
  • "Foxes"
    • Fox and grapes - wants the grapes but cannot reach them
    • Fox and stork - fox invites the stork for dinner but serves her soup on a plate so she can't eat it with her beak; she returns the invite but serves food in an urn that she can reach into with her beak, but fox cannot
  • "Birds"
    • Raven and fox - raven has a morsel that the fox wants; fox flatters him into singing and therefore dropping the food, which the fox steals
    • Raven and sheep - raven sees an eagle swoop down and catch prey, so tries it with a sheep, but ends up getting caught in the wool and then put in the shepherd's birdcage
    • Heron and fish - heron thinks he is too good to eat the fish he sees, so he ends up with only a snail for dinner
  • "Insects"
    • Grasshopper and ant - classic story
    • Dove and ant - dove saves ant from drowning, so ant saves dove from being killed for a pie
    • Lion and gnat - a gnat bites a lion and makes him scratch himself with his claws, but then the gnat gets caught in a spider's web
  • "Foolish People"
    • Hen and golden eggs - hen lays a golden egg for greedy man, who cuts off her head to see if there's more gold inside
    • Acorn and pumpkin - a country bumpkin thinks acorns should grow on the ground and pumpkins in trees, until an acorn falls from a tree onto his head
    • Man and his donkey - man, son, and donkey going to the market try to please everyone but finally decide to do what they think is best
  • "Foxes and Wolves"
    • Fox, wolf, and well - a fox sees the reflection of the moon in a well and thinks it's cheese, so he goes down in a bucket before realizing his error; he tricks a wolf into taking the bucket on the other side of the pulley to pull him up
    • Fox, wolf, and horse - a fox and wolf are sizing up a horse and ask its name, so it tells them to read the name on the bottom of its horseshoe - it ends up kicking four teeth out of the wolf's mouth
  • "Horses"
    • Horse and revenge - horse wants revenge on stag for winning a race, so horse gets human's help to hunt the stag; inevitably, horse ends up stuck as human's servant forever
    • Horse and wolf - a wolf pretends to be a doctor wanting to help a horse, but gets kicked in the mouth instead
  • "Dogs"
    • Dog and wolf - a wolf sees how well-fed a dog is and wants in on the action, until he realizes it comes at the cost of his liberty
    • Donkey and dog - a dog wants food from the basket on a donkey's back, but the donkey will not let him, so when a wolf comes to attack the donkey, the dog doesn't help him either
  • "Cats"
    • Cat becomes woman - man loves his cat so much that she turns into a human and he marries her, but she still wants to chase mice all the time
    • Cat, eagle, and sow - the three share a tree for raising their young, but the cat convinces the other two that each is trying to kill the other, so they all die of hunger and the cat gets the tree to herself
Image of a "wolf in sheep's clothing" from Max Pixel

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Week Thirteen Story: Diary of a Gossip

April 2nd:

Dear Diary,

Today my friend, Anna, and I were talking about Sarah Madden's son, Jack, and his very ugly hump. Something really must be done about it, you know; it is so very uncomely, and the little brat has a horrid personality to boot. Still, if it weren't for that hideous hump protruding from his back like a mountain, he could perhaps be relatively handsome, and as you know, he stands to inherit quite a good-sized fortune. 

So, Anna and I were thinking, if we could just figure out a way to rid him of his hunchback, perhaps he would be a suitable match for Anna's daughter, Lily. Of course, his arrogance and snobbishness aren't likely to go away with the hump, but if he could at least look halfway decent, Lily (and, by proxy, Anna) would stand to gain a great deal through the union. 

Anyway, I heard a rumor from Philippa, who told me she heard it from Emmaline, who heard from a fishmonger in the market that there was a man -- what was his name? Lester? Lustore? Something like that, anyway -- who had a hump just like that Jack's, but he somehow got rid of it! Tomorrow, Anna and I are fixing to seek him out in Carragh to see if we can find out how he managed it!

April 3rd:

Dear Diary,

We found him! His name is Lusmore -- what an odd thing to be called! -- and the fairies took his hump away! He told me all: he found himself drowning in misery at his own ugliness next to a marsh at night, and he heard the fairies singing "Monday, Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday" over and over again, so he just piped right in with "Wednesday," and they were so grateful to him for adding to their song that they just magicked his hump right off! He's a right handsome fellow now, diary; you couldn't tell at all that he used to be such a monster. Hopefully it'll be just the same for Jack! 

Tonight, Anna and I are going to take Jack to that marsh and see if he can lose that hump, provided he'll promise that, if he becomes handsome, he'll marry Lily. I'm sure he'll agree, but we'll need to get it in writing. Lily isn't much to look at herself, and if he really does come out as handsome as that Lusmore fellow, he might just decide to go after some gorgeous noblewoman or other instead.

Wish us luck!

April 4th:

Dear Diary,

Oh dear. It's all gone wrong. We took that horrid little Jack Madden to the marsh after he signed the contract we wrote up, but he messed the whole thing up! We told him to add "Wednesday, Thursday" to the fairy song because if they rewarded Lusmore for adding only one day, surely Jack would be even better rewarded for adding two, right? Well, apparently not. The fairies, it seems, sucked Jack down into their marsh and went on and on about how he hadn't respected their music, and he added his voice at the wrong time, and Lusmore had been so kind and intelligent, but Jack was only rude and arrogant (not that I disagree, but still! ungrateful little things!). So they took the hump that they'd kept from Lusmore's back (why anyone would keep such a thing is beyond me!) and magicked it onto Jack, so now he has two humps. 

The weight of the humps together is such that he seems fixing to die. Sarah is, of course, livid, but we were just trying to help. Ah, well. I hear there's a rich cripple over in Carragh, so maybe he'll have low enough standards to wed poor Lily.

I shall let you know when I find out more, diary!

Drawing of a hunchback from Wikimedia Commons

*Author's Note:

This story is based on "The Legend of Knockgrafton," in which a kind-hearted, intelligent man named Lusmore adds to the song of the fairies, making them so happy that they remove his hunchback and make him incredibly handsome. When word spreads, a gossip comes to Lusmore asking how he got rid of his hump, because her friend's son, who is not a very nice person, wants to get rid of his as well. Lusmore openly shares with her how it happened, but when Jack Madden, the other hunchback, goes to the fairies, he doesn't show the  appreciation and respect for their music that Lusmore did, so they put Lusmore's hump on his back, and the weight soon kills him. I wanted to write this story from the gossip's perspective, and emphasize the way that, other than Lusmore, everyone in the story looks only at the outward appearance, and not at the heart. The fairies rewarded Lusmore because he was respectful and kind, even though everyone else made fun of him and spread rumors about him. Jack Madden, though he had the same physical deformity as Lusmore, did not have a kind heart, so he was not rewarded. 

Bibliography: More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, with illustrations by John D. Batten (1895). Web source.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Week Thirteen Reading Notes Part B - More Celtic Tales

Source Story: More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, with illustrations by John D. Batten (1895). Web source.

  • "The Farmer of Liddesdale"
    • A farmer whose family has all died and whose ploughman has deserted him hires a traveling ploughman as a last resort. The man agrees to take one burden-withe of corn in return for the work, and though he does the work differently than everyone else, he does a good job. When the harvest is in, he brings an enormous burden-withe and takes almost all the corn. The farmer makes an appeal to higher powers, and the mysterious ploughman disappears into clouds, leaving all the corn behind.
  • "The Legend of Knockgrafton"
    • A man named Lusmore with a hump on his back is looked down upon by everyone, and one night he hears fairies singing the words "Monday, Tuesday" over and over again. He adds in "Wednesday" to their song, and they are so amazed by his musical genius that they fix his hump and make him new clothes. Everyone barely believes it's the same man.
  • "The Legend of Knockgrafton (cont.)"
    • A woman comes to ask Lusmore how he got rid of his hump, so that she can help her friend's son, named Jack Madden, get rid of his. They take the son and tell him to do the same as Lusmore. He adds "Wednesday, Thursday" to the song, but he doesn't respect the fairies' music and doesn't pay attention to the rhythm/timing, so the fairies, angered, take Lusmore's old lump and put it on Jack Madden. He dies soon afterwards.
  • "Elidore"
    • A boy is tired of getting beaten for his laziness in the monastery, so he goes into the woods and finds some miniature men, who take him to their own land through a secret tunnel. He stays there happily for awhile, splitting his time between his mother and the land of the little people. His mother convinces him to try stealing a yellow ball from the little people, because she thinks it must be gold. He fails to do this, and because of his attempt he is never able to return to that land again.
  • "How Cormac Mac Art Went to Faery"
    • King Cormac trades his family for a fairy branch that has the power to make people happy. Later, he follows the direction that the fairy youth took his family, and ends up seeing a number of strange sights which turn out to have moral lessons. He meets a couple who turn out to be the fairy king (who was also the fairy youth from earlier) and queen, and they return his family to him, along with several magical gifts.
  • "The Ridere of Riddles"
    • A king's second wife attempts to murder his son from his first wife with poison, but the new wife's son tells his step-brother and they run away together, taking the poison with them. In a series of events, the poison ends up killing a number of people and animals, and the brothers take their story to the Knight of Riddles in the form of a riddle, hoping to win his daughter's hand in marriage.
  • "The Ridere of Riddles (cont.)"
    • The princess's handmaidens go to the younger brother to convince him to tell them the answer, but he "takes their plaids" and doesn't tell them. The princess comes to the older brother, who takes her plaid and tells her. Then the king "guesses" the answer to the riddle, but the older brother shows that he knows the king cheated, so he gets to marry the princess, and the younger brother goes home and becomes king. Years later, they meet again and wrestle for awhile before recognizing each other, then the younger brother discovers he has twelve sons.
Image of a plaid tablecloth from piqsels

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Week Thirteen Reading Notes Part A - More Celtic Tales

Source Story: More Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, with illustrations by John D. Batten (1895). Web source.

  • "The Fate of the Children of Lir"
    • King Lir is angry because the council elects King Dearg to be the head king instead of him, so Dearg offers him the choice of three beautiful sisters for a wife as a peace offering. Lir marries the eldes, Ove, and they have four beautiful children before Ove dies. At her death, Dearg gives Lir Ove's sister, Oifa, who becomes jealous of the children and turns them into swans, banishing them to the waves. Lir realizes Oifa has done wrong by his children.
  • "The Fate of the Children of Lir (cont.)"
    • King Lir discovers that the children are now swans, and they tell him in their human voices that his wife has cursed them thusly until a certain man from the north marries a certain woman from the south. Lir tells Dearg, who turns Oifa into an air-demon forever. The children sing for the people for a long time, then fly away. They get separated by a storm, but they find each other again afterwards.
  • "The Fate of the Children of Lir (end)"
    • The swans fly back to their father's land after a long while, only to find it deserted completely. Saint Patrick finds them and takes them in, and connects them to each other with chains. The man and woman whose wedding is to mark the end of the curse are finally set to wed, and they try to get the swans from Saint Patrick, but when they try to take them, the swans turn back into the children of Lir, only now they are extremely old. Patrick baptises them and then they die.
  • "The Vision of MacConglinney"
    • King Cathal was a good king, but then a monster came to live in his belly that made him eat the land out of house and home. A scholar named MacConglinney decides to help, and ends up tying the king up and eating lots of food in front of him, then telling him about a vision he had about a house made of food
  • "The Vision of MacConglinney (cont.)"
    • MacConglinney tells more of his vision, where he sails on a food boat across a milk pond and meets a Wizard Doctor. Then he holds food in front of King Cathal, and the monster in Cathal's stomach comes up through his mouth, then jumps out to get the food. The monster disappears and the king is cured, and MacConglinney gets a rich reward.
  • "Dream of Owen O'Mulready"
    • Owen O'Mulready has never had a dream, but really wants to. He follows his master's instructions to have one, but it's a nightmare. He never wants to dream again.
  • "The Story of the McAndrew Family"
    • A rich man has seven stupid sons, and when he gives them all some cows, they get tricked into selling them for almost nothing, then waste the little bit they do get. When the father dies, the oldest son goes into town to waste his inheritance and gets tricked into buying a "mare's egg," which is really a painted barrel.
  • "The Story of the McAndrew Family (cont.)"
    • The brothers roll the "mare's egg" down a hill, and it frightens a rabbit out of hiding, which they assume is the foal but cannot catch. By and by, their neighbors trick them out of all their land, fields, and house, and they become homeless beggars.
Image of a swan from Wikipedia

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Story Lab Week Twelve

For this week's story lab, I spent some time browsing through Jon Winokur's "Advice to Writers" website, looking for some of the best advice to share here. I decided to select my pieces of advice from the "Daily Quotes" section of the website, which are from a multitude of different people and cover a broad range of topics. So, here is a list of the five best pieces of advice I found, according to me:

  1. "There's No Ideal Literary Style" (advice from Iris Murdoch) - This advice is good because it reminds us that even though, as Murdoch says, there is "good and bad writing," there is no perfect style that we must conform to. Writing is an art form and is therefore highly individualized, and the style we choose should be one which complements the content well.
  2. "We Must Not Be Defeated" (advice from Maya Angelou) - Maya Angelou reminds us that we will certainly face many defeats, and that perhaps we should face many defeats, because they will help us to grow and improve. But, we must not allow ourselves to be defeated. Even when we fail, the most important thing is to get ourselves back up again and keep going.
  3. "The Characters Arrive First" (advice from William Gibson) - According to Gibson, when he writes, it is the characters who first show up in his imagination and make themselves known, and then he must figure out where they are, what they are doing, etc. This, for me, lines up well with something my Fiction Writing professor really drove home in her class last year: what we strive for as literary authors is to create work that is driven by the characters - the people, who we can relate to and feel through and live through - rather than the plot. For me, interesting, fully formed, and multi-faceted characters are integral to a good read, so I like the idea of starting with them and then just trying to figure out everything else in relation to them.
  4. "Keep Dialogue in Character" (advice from Paddy Chayefsky) - This is a great piece of advice, in my opinion, because even though it seems so obvious, I feel like I see a lot of people who struggle with this one, and I know dialogue isn't my own strong suit, either. Sometimes when we write, I think there's a tendency to think, "I know I need to include all of this information in their speech," and then forget to make sure we get that information across in a way that reflects the character well. It's important to remember to keep you characters in character, especially when they're speaking!
  5. "Writing Is Not A Serious Business" (advice from Ray Bradbury) - I'm a big Bradbury fan, so I of course gravitated to his quote. He talks about how writing should be fun, a celebration, enjoyable, rather than serious or life-sucking. This particularly meaningful considering the seriousness of the content he is known for!

Image of a writer from pixabay

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Week Twelve Reading Notes Part A - Celtic Tales

Source Story: Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, with illustrations by John D. Batten (1892). Web Source.

  • "Connla and the Fairy Maiden"
    • A prince, named Connla, sees a fairy maiden who invites him to come and live with her in a land without sin or death. He is the only one who can see her, but his father hears her voice and gets his Druid to cast a spell and get rid of her. Before she disappear, she throws an apple to Connla, who eats only that for a month because it replenishes when he eats it. He falls in love with her during this time, but when she reappears his father again tries to call for his Druid to dispatch her. But before the Druid comes, Connla runs away with her on a glass canoe off to sea.
  • "The Field of Boliauns"
    • A man named Tom Fitzpatrick meets a leprechaun working on a holiday. He follows the leprechaun for awhile, and then begins to threaten the leprechaun, wanting to know where he's hidden his gold. He grabs the leprechaun, spilling his beer, and makes the leprechaun take him to the hiding place, which is under a boliaun in a field full of boliauns. He doesn't have a shovel with him, so he ties his red garter to the boliaun and makes the leprechaun swear not to move it, then goes home to get his shovel. When he returns, the leprechaun is gone and so is the garter, so he never gets his gold.
  • "The Horned Women"
    • A rich woman's house is taken over by weaving witches with horns on their heads. They tell her to make them a cake while they weave, so she goes outside to get some water. The Spirit of the Well tells her how to get rid of the witches, and once they leave, how to perform a series of rituals to keep them from coming back. She follows the instructions, and when the witches return, they cannot get back into her house, so they leave.
  • "The Shepherd of Myddvai"
    • A shepherd sees three beautiful maidens come out of a lake, and through trial and error and a lot of bread, he convinces one of them to marry him. She tells him she will be his wife, but if he strikes her three times without cause she will leave him. Twice he taps her on the shoulder and she counts it, and finally, when she bursts out laughing at a funeral, he grabs her shoulder roughly, so she leaves him and takes all the animals she brought with her back to the lake. She returns one final time later to give her sons gifts when they become men.
  • "The Sprightly Tailor"
    • A laird named Macdonald tells a sprightly tailor that he'll pay him handsomely if the tailor will sew him some trews at night in a haunted church. The tailor agrees and goes to sew them that night. A monster starts to rise out of the ground, and keeps asking the tailor if he sees the monster's great head/neck/arms/etc. The tailor just responds "I see that, but I'll sew this!" each time, and finishes the trews just as the monster fully emerges. The monster chases him, but the tailor is nimble and escapes, then receives a rich reward from the laird.
  • "Munachar and Manachar"
    • Munachar and Manachar went to gather raspberries, but Manachar eats all the raspberries that Munachar picks, so Munachar decides to hang him. He goes looking for a rod, who says he must first find an axe, who says he must first find a flag, and so on until he gets to a miller who tells him to bring a sieve filled with water. A crow cries "daub, daub," so Munachar daubs clay in the sieve so the water doesn't run out. After going through all the lengthy process to get the supplies to hang Manachar, he returns to find that Manachar has burst from eating all the raspberries, and is already dead.
  • "Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree"
    • An evil queen is mad because a fish says her daughter is prettier than her, so she tries to kill her daughter. She makes several attempts to murder the daughter, and is successful one time, but each time she thinks the daughter is dead, she is either mistaken, or the daughter comes back to life. So when she returns to the fish, expecting to be considered the prettiest, the fish always tells her that her daughter is prettier. In the end, the daughter's sister-wife helps trick the queen into killing herself. The daughter and her sister-wife live happily ever after with their shared husband, who is a rich prince.
Image of the fish who kept calling the queen ugly, probably.
(Image of a trout from Flickr)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Famous Last Words: A Difficult Week

Hello again! This is only my second time doing "Famous Last Words," so I'll reiterate the basic idea: the following will be a reflection on how my week has gone, along with what I anticipate for the upcoming week.

This week was a difficult one for me in a lot of ways. My great-grandfather was placed on hospice care following a medical emergency, and he unfortunately passed away on Friday night. Emotionally, of course, it's been difficult for me -- not only managing the grief, but also the fact that I live so far from my family, so I was unable to be with them during this difficult time. I am hoping to be able to go home for the funeral this upcoming week, but I do have an exam on the same day and at the same time, so I am hoping my professor will allow me to take it early or make it up later. The drive home is about twelve hours, so it will be a fairly stressful week, as I'll need to drive home Wednesday and drive back to Oklahoma either Friday or Saturday, in addition to two exams, at least one quiz, and a paper, among other things.

Still, despite the sadness of losing my grandfather and the stress of everything else, I do feel a sense of peace. Like me, my grandfather was a Christian, and I am confident that he is now reunited with Jesus, with my great grandmother, and with other loved ones. In fact, over the last few weeks/months, he told both my grandmother and my aunt that he felt ready to go whenever God called him, despite then being in excellent health. Since his wife died several years ago, he actually had gotten a girlfriend at his retirement community, who was a wonderful woman. She had dementia, and she had been relying on his care for some time. In completely unrelated circumstances, she passed away the day he went to the hospital, about a week before he did. I believe that was a blessing from God, calling them home together, so that neither had to deal with the grief of losing the other.

Anyways, I know this post was a bit of a downer, but I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on how grateful I am for the people I've been blessed to have in my life. I'll miss my grandfather dearly, but my life is better for having had him in it.

Sunrise over Wainui Beach, from pxhere