Easter: Resurrection and New Life

Last week, one of my piano students asked me why we don’t always celebrate Easter on the same date, the same way we celebrate Christmas. As she pointed out, Christmas is always December 25, no matter what day of the week on which that falls, while Easter is always observed on Sunday. Easter-Wallpaper-Background-03

I was happy to have the opportunity to explain that Easter is on Sunday because it was Christ’s resurrection day. Most Christians worship on Sundays rather than Saturdays to remember the day Christ arose. Until that time, everyone observed Saturday (the Sabbath) as their holy day of the week.

Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, the First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (although the astronomical equinox occurs on 20 March in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily on the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies from 22 March to 25 April inclusive. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar, whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, and in which therefore the celebration of Easter varies between 4 April and 8 May. Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover.

I love this time of the year. Bradford pear trees, dogwood, daffodils, jonquils, irises, and many other plants bloom, making me think of new life. The trees begin to turn a lush green, and our lawns show the first signs of needing mowing.

Sometimes, I need to stop and look around me. I need to appreciate that “all things become new” and “old things are passed away.” Spring is my favorite time of year. There is a promise in the season.

Happy Easter!

I need your help!

I had a very interesting afternoon yesterday. After posting the latest chapter of Forever Yours (Yours by Design, Book 3) on BeyondAusten.com, I taught piano lessons. Just after 6 PM, my younger daughter and I went to First Baptist Church in Lancaster to do a photo shoot for Sincerely Yours, Book 2 in the series. The Accidentally Yours (Book 1) cover emphasized the Regency Darcy’s accident by showing the woods through which he was riding when his horse threw him. For the second book, I used the same template but changed the art drastically. I used the model for my modern Elizabeth – my daughter Melanie.

Cover for Accidentally Yours (Yours by Design, Book 1)

Cover for
Accidentally Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 1)

Tentative cover for Sincerely Yours  (Yours by Design, Book 2)

Tentative cover for Sincerely Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 2)

I thought I would use the huge white columns as a stand-in for the porch at The Oaks, Will Darcy’s plantation style home just outside Atlanta, Georgia. However, when my daughter and I went back through the pictures, we both decided on a playful shot which I could have made in my own front yard. We both think it expresses the personality of the modern Elizabeth – playful, independent, and unconventional.

What do you think? I know the print on the back cover virtually disappears, but I sell mostly e-books, and the back cover doesn’t show on Amazon or other sites. I can have only one font color, and the book title and author name are more important than the blurb on the back. The present font color is lime green, but I could change it to teal (to match her sweater), and eliminate the print on the back cover.

Sincerely Yours  (Yours by Design, Book 2)  book cover with teal font color and no back blurb

Sincerely Yours
(Yours by Design, Book 2) book cover with teal font color and no back blurb

I could also use the green font and eliminate the back cover print.

Opinions, please?

An Interview with Dean Koontz

As a librarian, hundreds–nay, thousands–of books cross my desk and, invariably some of them stay a while insteWisdom-Koonz01c-1[1]ad of immediately passing on to the shelves to which they are destined. One such was Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas and I have since read each one as they appear. Now, I’m not a horror fan, at least I don’t think so, and although Koontz’s work is generally categorized as such, the Odd Thomas books are something else. They hinted at something in a way I found intriguing. Then I discovered, quite by accident, that Koontz is a believer, a Christian. Wow! If THAT didn’t set me back on my heels! Hmmm. Lots to think about. Here’s a recent interview that asks some of the questions I’d like to ask him. Wish we could sit him down over a great meal and ask him some more!  Koontz Interview Click Here

Out of the mouths of babes …

Selah Says ...

Selah Says …

My granddaughter was talking about our dog needing a bath the other day. Her mom was trying to explain that dogs, especially those who live in the country, sometimes find … droppings of wild animals and then roll in them.

She thought about it and then said, “Everybody’s got poop in their life.”

I think that sums it up nicely

Jane Austen Recants!

Jane-AustenIn a shocking revelation, it has been disclosed that one of England’s most esteemed females writers, Jane Austen, regretted a number of her literary pairings.

Several weeks ago, it was announced that J. K. Rowling lamented pairing her characters Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley in her phenomenal “Harry Potter” series.  With the mega-famous author’s disclosure and new documentation come to light, it would appear that writerly regrets are not uncommon.

Professor Edith Gernstrand, current holder of the Jane Austen Chair at the Glumly School of Romantic Regret in Detroit, Michigan stated when she saw social media’s wild response over Rowling’s admission, and that much of the reaction was negative towards Rowling, she decided it was time to seize the opportunity and let the reading public know that writers many times think better of decisions about their characters once the glow of writing the story is over.

“On her deathbed, Miss Austen reconsidered her literary pairings of Miss Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram, Miss Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth, and particularly that of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. In her last hours, Jane struggled with her conscience and finally asked that her nurse take down her thoughts on the subject.”

The document was read to academics gathered to debate a proposal that would petition the United Nations to require all writings using Austen’s characters, “be they sequels, prequels, alternative universes, zombie or monster-based, contemporary, well-written or badly mauled,” be submitted to a blue-ribbon panel of scholars (to be determined later) for approval. “We are the crème-de-la-crème and are determined that Jane’s memory be upheld with dignity and standards that guarantee the hoi-poloi not sully the perfection of her works. “I am familiar with every aspect of Jane’s works and am sure that my proficiency would impress her very much.”

When asked if Miss Austen would approve of her referring to Miss Austen as “Jane,” the Professor declined comment.

The document in question was found in a box of letters in a second-hand shop in Arlington, Texas. “All this crap come to me from an estate sale. All the good stuff was gone, so I bid on the last of it hopin’ to find somethin’ worth my time,” said Tom Waterford, a junk dealer. Waterford’s daughter read all the letters and was intrigued by this one in particular. After contacting several documents experts, it was determined that the paper and ink were indeed contemporary to Miss Austen. “Now whether or not this rubbish is really what Jane Austen thought, I leave that to the nattering academics,” an unidentified source was quoted.

Is this really how Jane Austen felt? We may never know, but following is from the testament that threatens to shake the Austen world:

Random pic of Penelope Keith who will portray Lady Catherine in the upcoming adaptation of, "Death Comes to Pemberley."“I hope to find peace by having my thoughts written down. I am half agony, half hope that my soul will find rest afterwards. Lady Catherine was right. The idea that Miss Bennet would be suitable for Darcy and not a blight on the family is preposterous! What was I thinking? Not only them, but the idea that dashing Captain Wentworth would think another thought about an Anne Elliot after escaping the clutches of her family is foolish and a crime against romantic sensibilities. And saddling poor Fanny Price with Edmund Bertram! Hadn’t I punished her enough? None of these couples is suited the least. The ridiculous ideas I have put in the heads of others of my sex is unconscionable. My fondest hope is that my work disappears on my death. I wish so much that …” Miss Austen’s words ended at her death.

April Fools’ Eve, a short history of the holiday

What does your family do on the eve of a holiday? In my family, Christmas Eve is spent at church, reflecting on the meaning of Christmas. Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) is now a time for fall festivals, but in past years, we took our children trick-or-treating at the homes of friends and relatives. New Year’s Eve, we usually go bowling with a large group of friends, and we watch a bowl game at the bowling alley. (For the uninitiated, bowl games are football games pitting the best college teams from across the country against other teams which are in different leagues.)

Most of the time, we are planning for the actual holiday or talking about the meaning of the day. Do you know the origin of April Fools’ (Fools, Fool’s – all depending on the source) Day? I know you’re dying to find out, so I slaved for hours researching the subject for you. (Actually I Googled it.)

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held on March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, celebrated by playing pranks in Spanish-speaking countries, on December 28.

An April Fools' Day prank with a purported new design of an (alleged) city bus, from an April 1926 issue of the company newspaper "Echo Continental", published by the Continental Rubber Works Hannover AG company

An April Fools’ Day prank with a purported new design of an (alleged) city bus, from an April 1926 issue of the company newspaper “Echo Continental”, published by the Continental Rubber Works Hannover AG company

In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest Tale” is set thirty-two days after April, or on May 2. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean March 32, or April 1. In the tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox. Was that an April Fools’ joke?

Literary allusions to April Fool’s Day abound.  In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1.In 1686, in the first British reference to the day, John Aubrey referred to it as “Fooles holy day.” On 1 April 1698, a trickster convinced several people into going to washing of the lions at The Tower of London. There are many, many (yawn), many other examples.

On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Different countries celebrate the day in various ways. April Fools’ Day is traditionally called Hunt-the-Gowk Day in Scotland. It’s a sort of chain letter in which the sender asks the receiver for help in hunting gawk (foolish person). The letter is sent along until someone is dumb enough to fall for it. I like it – humiliating with nothing to clean up afterward. That’s my kind of practical joke. In Iran, it’s the thirteenth day of the Persian new year, celebrated as far back as 536 B.C. What does that have to do with April Fools’ Day? I have no clue, but Iran gets the prize for the oldest tradition linked to the holiday.

In Italy, France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, the April 1 tradition is often known as “April fish” (poisson d’avril in French or pesce d’aprile in Italian). Jokesters try to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. I like that.

I’ll think I’ll spend this evening thinking about fools I’ve known and loved, and cutting out fish. Watch your back tomorrow.

Trying Something New

WORDAfter bellyaching last week about Microsoft Word and its annoying tendencies, I’m back this week trying a software for blogging called Live Writer.

In a nutshell, Live Writer allows me to write and format blog post for JSI offline and then load them remotely.

We’ll see how it goes. Depending on the part of the world you live in, if you hear a scream of despair, that might be me if Live Writer turns out to have its software cousin’s tendencies.

UPDATE: So far, so good. I’m skeptible.

What does your dog say?

Bad News: It appears that nobody really knows what the fox says. He could be spouting verses from the Satanic bible or quoting great literature. He could also be thinking, “Don’t release the hounds!”

Good News (sort of): We may soon know what our dogs say. Swedish researchers, inspired by the movie Up (“Squirrel!”) are working on a machine which would translate your dog’s sounds into words by use of EEG sensoring, micro-computing, and brain-computer interface software. The machine is called “No More Woof” and will allow your dog to freely express aloud such thoughts as, “I’m hungry — but I don’t like this!” and “Who is that woman; she looks nice!” They also want to produce a more uncensored version to allow your dog to express his inappropriate thoughts as well. (And you were embarrassed when your dog was “overly friendly” with house guests during mating season. Soon, Fido will have the ability to actually say what he’s thinking in those unguarded moments. Ah, technology!)

I could probably tell you most of what our elder statesman, Toby, is thinking, but hearing Chloe’s thoughts would probably cause my brain to explode through my ears. She’s blonde in every sense of the word.

Not really Chloe, but it looks (and sounds) like her.

Not really Chloe, but it looks (and sounds) like her.

This is SO Toby when he hears Larry's car coming up the driveway.

This is SO Toby when he hears Larry’s car coming up the driveway.

Why People HATE Word

WORDThere are many reasons why people hate Microsoft Word.

My reason today: its tendency to change your settings unbidden, and then refuse to change them back.

As I was approaching the end of my 500 word writing routine, Word decided it needed to start putting 8 points of space after each paragraph when I had foolishly set it for none.

No amount of changing to 0pt will change it.

It’s the little things that make us crazy.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!