Those of you who read my blog know that I’m a sucker for anything Jane Austen. I happened to stuble across this — new to me — movie of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice updated to modern times. It takes place in Utah and manages to keep true to all the character with a twist here and there in the plot. The link is to the full movie on Youtube.

Pride & Prejudice — Comedy, Romance full movie

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It seems that for the last several months every weekend was taken up with chores, meetings of one type or another, running errands, or dealing with some problem or inconvenience. Anyway, this weekend we ran all our errands yesterday. So, today I’m catching up on database entry, email checking/clearing/answering/sorting by priority, and updating my next week’s To Do list.

Four days ago, our ‘new’ rescue cat, Simba, went out to get some fresh air and didn’t come back. We’d been calling for him every few hours, and getting more and more worried for him. As of this morning, we were finally admitting to one another that we probably weren’t going to see him again. Temperatures had been pretty low during the night so we hoped he’d found an emergency back-up family (as cats often do). But it’s been fairly warm the last couple of days, so if he was snoozing on someone else’s hearthrug, we figured he’d come around to see to his food bowl. So, reluctantly, we figured he was just gone. So, not expecting to see him again after four days, this afternoon, he came back. Our older cat, Emnot, isn’t too happy with Simba’s reappearance though.

Simba has a medical condition and so he’d been four days without his meds. His left eye was dripping like a faucet (his medical problem) and he was starving or so he said/indicated (you know what I mean). He seemed healthy (except for the dripping eye) and very happy to see us. Can’t help but wonder where he was while he was missing. So, the first thing we did was put the extra collar on him (he came back without one). Before you ask — yes, he’s chipped. But we get him break-away collars and the one we put on him today is his fifth. And we put collars on the grocery list to pick up a couple more spares. I’m sure he’ll be needing them.

We’re watching a Season 3 marathon of Dr. Who. We just bought Season 4 but will finish 3 first.

Today was household chores and baking day. Wash is already done, folded, and put away. We baked Chocolate Coconut Scones, and Banana Nut Muffins. For the first time in a what seems like ages, I’m warm since the oven has been on most of today. Now that we’ve got goodies to eat, I’ll have to be careful, because hubby and I are back on calorie watch. But we will be indulging in an ignore-the-calories day for Valentines.

I’ve dug out my sock in progress and need to figure out where I am on the heel and work on it once we sit to watch another episode of Dr. Who. Also, got Divergent from Netflix so need to watch that soon too.

Except for the insomnia, or was it the headache, that woke me up at 4 this morning, and having to play catching up on work stuff it’s looking like a good restful day. The crazy starts again tomorrow.

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Manga Classics: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo; Adapted by Crystal Silvermoon. Illustrated by SunNeko Lee. ISBN: 978-1927925164, Udon Entertainment (August 19, 2014). List Price $19.99 / Amazon $16.57.

I should confess that I’ve never actually read the original version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I always thought I knew the gist of it. It was about the the revolution in France in the time of Napoleon. There were two lovers. A corrupt officer of the government had a vendetta against a man somehow related to the lovers — or one of them. And a miserable time was had by all.

So, I read through this manga and was totally surprised at the details of the story. Like any modern person I turned to Wikipedia to read the summary of the story and found that it matched the Manga. Maybe now I’ll skip the movie — though I do love the music.

Basically, Napoleon Bonaparte has been defeated and the economy is crappy. People don’t have enough to eat, jobs are scarce, and the law is extremely strict. France had a guilty until proven innocent view of justice. Since it is very difficult to prove a negative, many, especially the poor, found themselves in prison.

The story follows several different people and moves forward and backward in time to bring each of them into the story and up to where the threads of their story weave into the main story line. This makes for some odd disconnects until you realize the story isn’t continuing, but going off on a tangent to come back to the point you were at later.

Jean Valjean had been released from prison but since all his papers labeled him a convict his chances of getting work were slim. He was even refused to be allowed to purchase food or lodgings with what little money he had out of fear that being involved with him would get them in trouble with the law.

Through a series of convenient events, he manages to gain some funding to pass himself off as a wealthy man. Then to pay things forward, he sets about to do good for those who live in his community and work in his businesses.

Fantine had been dumped by her lover when she had a daughter, Cosette. And so she was unable to find work because of her loose morals. She sought work, and found people who she thought would take good care of Cosette for her while she worked. It was expensive, but she thought it was a better life for Cosette.

Javert, a police office/military-type, hated convicts and felt that they could never be reformed, and therefore must always be returned to prison, whether they did anything wrong or not. He’d once been Valjena’s jailer and when he thought he recognized him — he began to be obsessed with hunting him down and seeing he was returned to prison.

These are the major characters. Through other circumstances, Valjean promises Fantine to raise her daughter and take care of her. He and Cosette then proceed to move about, always a step ahead of Javert and doing what good works they can where ever they lived. Of course, as Cosette grows up this becomes more and more difficult as she attracts attention as does their wealth.

Will Cosette find love? Will Valjean be able to give her into another’s care? Will Javert ever give up his crusade to find and punish Valjean? Can he ever be convinced that convicts can be redeemed? Into this steps the revolutionary uprising among the students of Paris. This is actually a minor side note of the story, but one that is important to bringing all the pieces together.

The artwork is wonderfully detailed. The characters can be individually identified — which I find very important. The story unfolds smoothly — except for those flashbacks and flashforwards I noted previously.

All in all, I believe that if you’ve been interested, this is a great way to become familiar with the story and the characters. It’s well adapted and illustrated and a great way to get a taste of classic literature if you don’t want to spend the time reading the original works.

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Cover of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Story Adaptation by Stacy King. Manga: Classsic Literature. Morpheus Studios (Illustrator), Shane Law (Illustrator), Po Tse (Artist). Udon Entertainment (August 19, 2014). Price: $19.99.

Stacy King has adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a manga-reading audience with illustrations by Shane Law, Po Tse, and Morpheus Studios. Whenever a story is adapted for a different media format, choices must be made in order to use the strengths of the new media to tell the story. Overall this adaptation is beautifully done. The basic storyline is intact and the artwork is beautifully rendered as you can tell from the lovely cover image (though the interior artwork is all in grey scale).

The basic story is a love story that threads its way through horrible first impressions, misunderstandings, pride, and prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a country gentleman and his wife, is insulted when she overhears Mr. Darcy’s response to his friend, Mr. Bingley, urging Darcy to dance with her. Mr. Darcy is actually shy and uncomfortable in crowded social situations but she doesn’t know that at the time. Later Mr. Darcy realizes that she’s witty, educated, and not fawning over him; thus, he finds himself falling in love. Meanwhile, she is fed a lot of balderdash about Mr. Darcy from a man who has “all the appearance of goodness” and makes a grand impression on all he meets. There’s also a secondary love story involving Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s older sister, and Mr. Bingley. As with most love stories things work out in the end but the journey is what makes the story a classic and loved by many no matter what format it takes — book, film, and now, manga.

Still, the problem with adaptations is that choices need to be made. This time the story is told and shown to be set close to the period in which Austen originally wrote it. However, the societal mores of the time depicted in this version do not match those that existed during this time period. For example, in the version of Longbourn shown in the artwork, no member of the Bennet family would be answering their own door let alone folding the linens; there would be servants to do such work.

It was a time when the distinctions of class were kept to and there were many rules of behavior that now-a-days we’d find archaic and maybe even silly. Upper class single women could not write to an unrelated male unless she was engaged to him. She’s have to write to his mother or sister and leave it to them to pass on the information. People could not simple talk to another person — they had to be formally introduced first. In fact, public venues such as assemblies usually had a designated person who was responsible for introducing people to one another if they were not yet acquainted and wished to meet. There are many instances where modern social customs are referenced that would, in the original work, be offensive to the characters of that time period. This may bother readers who are familiar with the original Austen work and time period — new readers reading Austen for the first time would most likely not even notice these issues.

However, if you read this version and enjoy it, you may want to read the original Austen novel on which it is based because the actual story is one that transcends the time in which Austen wrote. It’s universal appeal is why her works live on. Not only have her novels been adapted for film, manga, and classic comics, but they have, by other authors, been updated to modern times and still they resonate with readers.

Overall, this is a wonderful adaptation and a great way to interest new readers in classic literature.

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Of course it would happen. The minute I post that I’ll be getting this blog up and running again the world — my world — conspires to see that it doesn’t happen. I’ve been so busy lately. First, there was getting the magazines up and live on time. Then there was gearing up for Capclave, attending Capclave, and decompressing from Capclave. Then getting back in the groove to get the next issues of SFRevu and Gumshoe set to go live on November 1st. But, wait there’s more — I’m doing at-con registration for this year’s World Fantasy Convention in DC so there’s been meetings, planning, working with the pre-con reg people and programming people and others to be sure nothing gets forgotten in the registration packets and we don’t duplicate effort. Luckily, the chairs of the convention this year are great people and keeping us all on track.

Meanwhile, there’s been the headaches — they’re baaaack. Mostly they’ve been related to the weird changes in the weather. Luckily, none have yet reached migraine status — that hardly every happens now that I see an acupuncturist fairly regularly and have started to meditate (or my version of meditation anyway).

I’ve been losing weight and exercising. The weight loss has helped with the arthritis and the exercise is supposed to help with losing weight and with my fibromyalgia. Some days it’s all I can do to make my steps for the day. I swear some days there’s just not enough spoons in my world but I force myself to push on — one step at a time. Paul got me a mp3 player (Sansa) and that has really helped with the walking — I’ve been listening to NPR Ted Talks and audiobooks. Love the Ted Talk compilations and find them really entertaining as well as informative. For audiobooks — I’ve downloaded from Librivox so they’re mostly public domain. I’ve listened to “The Man Who Was Thursday”, “Emma”, and “The Letters of Jane Austen” (finishing this one tomorrow I believe). I started “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” but it kept referring to maps and while I’m pretty good at geography I was having a hard time picturing the terrain in my head so put it aside for awhile. Then I started “The Federalist Papers” and so far have listened to 1 to 6. I end up playing each paper two or three or more times to be sure I really get it all. Honestly, if I didn’t know they were written so long ago, I’d swear they were about what’s happening in politics today. So, my long walk everyday takes up a chunk of time but it does stimulate the brain and keep me going. I will have to come up with some way to stay warm once it gets colder and after walking in a misting rain the other day, I’ve got to get better walking shoes so my feet don’t get so wet. (It’s wonderful to come in to a hot cup of tea and dry thick wool socks though and a 1/2 hour of sitting with the cat and reading.)

I’ve got so many plans and so little time. I need more days in a month and more hours in a day to get everything I need to do done. To top it all off, I’m all set to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Sometimes, I just can’t square the hours in a day with the stuff I want to do. So far I have a lot of scenes and partial chapters from previous years so I’m trying to get an outline done for this year so I know where I’m going or I’ll end up with more scenes, character studies, and interesting settings again. Not that they don’t occasionally come in handy.

I’ve also finally got around to unearthing my knitting projects. Several pairs of socks on the needles in various stages of done-ness. Got one pair all done except for weaving in the ends of the cut yarn. I did pick up the stitches for the first sleeve on the top-down sweater I started in August — really need to watch a movie or two and that would be all done, but squeezing out the time is an issue at the moment.

I’ve got six books read so far this month but I need to finish the reviews for the zines and then post the ones for Amazon Vine, and for here on the blog. I should be posting the review of the Manga Classic version of Pride and Prejudice soon.

What have you been doing?

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Today my husband and I planned a date. We would go out to eat, and then to a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy). The new theater has very comfortable recliner-type seats and the trailers of the movie were outrageously funny. We even had to turn down a couple of invitations because of our plans to spend some quality time together. But like all plans, they seldom stand up to circumstances.

The circumstance this time was that … well, I have to start back a bit. We’ve been doing a lot of yard work this year to make up for the several years of neglect from various problems of health and time. Time is always a problem and we’ve (hubby and I) always had difficulty saying no when we really want to do something and so often find ourselves over committed and burning the candle at both ends to be sure to meet all our commitments. Anyway, we’ve been doing yard work — lots and lots of it. From clearing out the old garden area, refreshing the soil, planting a garden (doing well of this, by the way, this year) and reclaiming a walking path around the perimeter of the property that has become overgrown — so clearing brush.

The upshot is that I’ve had poison ivy treated three times so far this year. The doctor wants me to be very careful and stay with antihistamines and use steroid cream. That had been working, until hubby finally got a case of poison ivy that didn’t go away in a couple of days as it usually had. Instead it just hangs on, and as one area seems to heal, it breaks out in another. And, I’ve been picking it up from him — again treating an area and having it get better but popping up somewhere else. So far I’m holding my own in the fight but it’s taking its toll.

This morning he had some new patches and so did I. He finally gave in and went to the clinic — we hoped he could get in and see someone get the steroid pills and we’d go to the next showing. Well, best laid plans and all that. The place was crowded. By the time he was registered in, seen, got the Rx, filled it and we got out. It was mid-afternoon.

We still hadn’t had breakfast yet. I hadn’t had coffee yet. And, if you read this blog you know how dangerous that is. So we decided to eat first so hubby could take his first dose.

By the time we got to the restaurant, ordered, ate, and paid it was late afternoon and we needed to get the weekly shopping done and back home. The pills had Paul nearly asleep on his feet, so I had to drive, not to mention that he’d have fallen asleep in the film by then.

So, we decided to do the shopping. I’d drive. Tomorrow we’ll try for the movie — again. This time no real date plans, nothing special going on just two people going to the movies — and we’ll see how messed up things can get. (That’s rhetorical… really.)

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Well, I say not much going on because things are only now beginning to show. I’ve been working a lot — A LOT — in the garden area. For the last several years health problems have kept us from doing much in the yard area of our home ground.

I’ll post pictures later but so far we’ve weeded and cleared out all the brush from the fruit orchard. A couple of the trees have died but most survived and seemed to have flowered and are starting to grow actual fruit. We’ve never really got any but that’s mostly because with the deer, the squirrels, and the birds, there’s usually not anything for us to pick if it lasts to ripen on the tree. But the worst of the mess is cleared out. We’ve got the areas around each tree cleared of all brush and crap and most now have a mulch mat around them. We’ve ordered some for the larger trees and we’ll get them down when they arrive.

The side yard, where our square foot gardens (2 of them) and the herb garden are located, is now cleared and the gardens have been planted with broccoli, pumpkin, radishes, carrots, nasturtiums, onion, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce (3 separate planters so we could stagger the crops), potato and tomatoes. The herb garden is mostly perennials. We’ve planted the annual herbs, and the ones that are invasive, in pots.

The quarter of the herb garden we’d planted with strawberries, we are now working on clearing out, since wild fake strawberries invaded and we never got any real strawberries. We figure we’ll clear it out and retry next year with a netting over the area. By then we should have a chance to see if we got all of the invaders. Meanwhile, we put strawberries in one of those deck planter things were you put 12 plants in one big pot. We’re getting lots of flowers and even some berries, but they seem to disappear during the night before they ripen fully. We’re suspecting the squirrels because they’re sneaky and sly but it could be the birds or even the raccoons we’ve chased off the deck (if you can call waddling away when we open the door being chased).

Today, we put the ladder up to the carport and climbed up to rake and sweep a couple of years of storm accumulation off. We still need to do our shed and the higher part of the house roof. I already did the lower section of the house roof, but still need to go over all the rain gutters.

We’ve been clearing some of the brush out of the woods around the house and thinning the trees a bit. We have five acres and hope to put in some walking paths (once we settle on a way to make them look natural, and with minimal upkeep). We also want to put some nice seating areas here and there for the peace and quiet and views of nature. — We’re really dreaming but it’s nice because our property backs onto other wooded acreages so it’s nice out here in the woods but with people just a few 100 yards away (in the right direction).

A side effect of all this working in the woods in making sure we do tick checks after every session of yard work. And, yes, we usually find them on us but, now that we’ve cleared the areas we’re mostly working in, not so much.

I’ve also been having a poison ivy adventure. I’m on my third course of prednisone and I’m really hoping that this is the last time. This time it is paired with a strong antihistamine and steroid cream. The blotches from the first and second poison ivy assaults seem to be clearing up as well as this last time. I see the doc tomorrow mid-course to check that maybe we’ve beaten it back. This last time, I wasn’t even out where the poison ivy was and it was popping up in areas that didn’t even get exposure — so systemic. I’m so done now with this that I won’t even touch something with shiny leave no matter how many leave they have or anything with three leave even if they aren’t shiny. I’m from Maine and I haven’t seen anything here that even actually looks like the poison ivy plants I’m used to from my childhood. I will learn to recognize it at some point hopefully before too much longer — we’ve got it down to between 4 different plants (all of which I’m now avoiding touching or even going near).

I figured it was about time I updated this blog regularly. I’m going to try for once a week for a while to get back into the groove of posting. I’ll add pictures to this entry once I can find the cord to download the photos from my camera to the laptop.

How are your gardens growing or do you even have one?

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The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Giving Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel by Jennifer Chiaverini. Dutton (October 30, 2012), ISBN: 978-0525953609.

The Giving Quilt is part of the Elm Creek Quilts series of books. One of the greatest joys when reading a book in a series is that you, as a reader, get to visit again with characters you’ve come to know and care about. In this case the continuing characters are the instructors and workers at Elm Creek. The stories never get stale because ever book there’s a new group of people who have arrived to take class or teach a class. Each of these new characters bring with them their own set of problems and concerns — the plots and story lines flow naturally from the events or lives of participants before they arrived at the seminar and their interactions at Elm Creek.

In The Giving Quilt, the theme is Thanksgiving and all of the emotional turmoil that can arise when family, jobs, or life situation isn’t what you want it to be but you feel that you have no control over what is going on. The women that come to Elm Creek all want to make a difference for others. They are all giving of their time, energy, and quilting stashes to make quilts for others. But they also have lives outside of this event and like all our lives they have problems they are dealing with and in one degree or another are feeling stretched and bereft of hope for the holiday season.

Each of them have a problem or problems that we’ve all at one time or another dealt with and can relate to as we’re reading. Chiaverini’s writing pulls you into the story and while reading you feel more like an invisible member of the group listening in on the lives of these women. There’s joys, sadness, loss, growth, and friendships forged between these women who happen to meet and share a passion for quilts.

I don’t want to give details because that would take away from your chance to meet these women and become part of their group while learning about their lives before they arrived for the session and following them as they return to their homes and the lives they put aside to attend this event..

Good strong character development coupled with writing with heart and interesting story lines keep me coming back to the quilters of Elm Creek. I hope you also find that when you close the covers after the last page, that you’re ready to face the ups and downs of your own life with a lighter heart knowing that other people also have problems and somehow manage to move forward, solve the puzzle, deal with the job, or whatever. Never preachy just solid stories that don’t sugar coat the problems or solutions but somehow leave the reader with renewed hope and a less jaundiced view of life and the world we inhabit.

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