Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Fall 2011 Homeschool Session Begins

Out with the lazy daze of summer and in with the organized determination of fall.

We rose early this morning to the first official day of classes in our house.

Here are our learning activities for today:

Math from the Center for Innovative Math Teachings.  We love this program.  Just reviewing last year a bit for now to sharpen their mental math skills.

Spelling Soup. The word for the day is Chemistry.

Assigned Reading: Alecia is plowing through The Borrowers and Zana is reading through The Best Book of Nature Stories, a Doubleday book from 1957.

To encourage having fun with math (a struggle in this household) we have been using the Cyberchase lesson plans along with a Cyberchase Episode. Today is Monkey Map.

We rotate our Science and History.  Today is Science day. This session we are doing Intro to Chemistry, so to get us started we are watching Chemistry: A Volatile History

I'll be updating eventually to post a review to our Chemistry documentary.
We're looking forward to a fresh new year!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapter 10

A clip from Brundelwain.  

Chapter 10,  Gaelochaven.
© 2011, Eleanor Raif

When the chicken had met its end and lay neatly plucked on the counter and the other foul were seen to, Aldyn carefully washed his hands and motioned for Alana to follow him. He picked up a glowing stick from the fireplace and they left the warmth of the dining area and entered the cold and unused sitting room again where Colin and Marcas were stacking up more firewood.  Aldyn picked up a few small pieces of kindling and Alana followed his broad shoulders through the door that led into the north wing of the house.
          It was cold and dark until he lit a candle on a table in the corner.  He set to work lighting the fire in the hearth, the smoke coiling up into the chimney that howled with the winter wind.
          Alana looked around at the home he had shared with his wife. She had wondered if it had remained completely unchanged. A few pots sat on a shelf, one held dried heather flowers long left to the spiders, one a collection of pussy willow branches in a similar state.  A little wooden box was displayed on a corner shelf next to a silver coil of metal which appeared to be a bracelet of sorts. There was evidence of a woman and it must have been Marion.
          “I’m sorry about the dust and cobwebs.” Aldyn muttered as he bent over the hearth. “Hopefully it will be suitable enough for you.”
          “’Tis fine.” Alana answered softly. “Ye aren’t here too often to care for it.”
          “Aye, well.  That’s not the problem, I suppose.  Blaire, she…she has offered to clean it up for me but I…I haven’t wanted her to for so long.  Things are…things are just as they were left.”  Aldyn was different now, something happened to him, stepping into this place so full of ghosts.
          Alana lit another candle she found and pushed open the door into the bedroom casting a glance back at him.  He looked up at her, then nodded, giving her permission to tread there.
          She stepped into the large bedroom and gazed in wonder at the intricate wooden bed before her.  At the head and foot were two beautiful swans, necks bowed gracefully to each other, wings raised as if they were taking flight.  She had never seen a more beautiful piece of furniture.  She ran her fingers down the neck of the one nearest her and felt the smoothness of it, it was impeccably well made.  The linens were clean it seemed, and the bed had been slept in recently. It must have been where he slept when he visited.  She turned to find a large wardrobe beautifully made as well. She opened the door and the scent of mint twigs and lavender poured out of it.  Marion’s clothes were still there, neatly placed.  She closed the door gently, with reverence, and set the candle down on the hearth.
          “What is it?” he asked, still arguing with the fireplace.
          “Did ye want to light this fire too?”
          “We’ll see if I can get this one going strong. May not need the both of them.”
          She peeked out of the shutters and saw that the snow had begun to blow.  The trees bent to the wind and flecks of white were dancing about wildly.  She shut them again, shivering.
          She returned to Aldyn and knelt next to him.  He glanced back at her and she giggled.
          “What?” he smiled.
          “Ye’ve got a smudge on your nose.” She smiled.
          “Oh,” he replied, rubbing it. “Is it there now?”
          “Aye, it is.” She smiled, then reached out a finger and rubbed it herself. “There now, that’s better anyway.”
          He sat back and drew his knees up. “I think I’ve got it started.”
          “Looks that way.” She gazed into the fire that crackled before them, eating up all of the kindling and showering the logs beneath with burning embers.
          “Thank ye for coming in here with me.  I have a hard time facing this place alone.  I thought if ye came I’d feel less…haunted.”
          She took his hand. “Of course, Aldyn.  Perhaps I could help ye tidy it?”
          “Perhaps.” He answered her quietly. 
          “The furnishings are beautiful. Wherever did ye get them?”
          “I bought them from a Norwegian nobleman.  I had seen a bed like it on my travels and I had hoped that I would find another.  Sure enough, the week before we were to be wed I met this man who was selling some things.  He had brought it here for his wife, she was a Scot. She did’na much like it.  I also bought the wardrobe from him.  They were a surprise for Marion on our wedding day. She loved them.”
          “I can see why. They are magnificent.  Ye were good to her.”
          He nodded. “Aye.”
          “She was fortunate, Aldyn, to have you.  Her life was short, and to…to be loved by someone like you, ye must have made her life something wonderful.”
          “I suppose I have never thought of it that way.”
          “Think how many people have lived and died without knowing a love like that.”
          Aldyn’s eyes met hers again. “And some of us may even be lucky enough to know it twice in a lifetime.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brundelwain Editing

I have had so much fun editing my book lately.  My mind has been changed about it, at least the way I feel about sharing it.  It was so personal before, and it still is, but now I guess the change has been within. Being okay with those things that are personal to me, and sharing them.  Unafraid of judgement because I know that it will still be mine and personal afterward.  I began writing this book when I was still in my twenties, I guess it has been nearly four years ago. It has been on and off the shelf for me. I've put it away at times. Changed it.  Destroyed pieces of it. Reassembled it. Now I am just ready to move on and look forward to writing more stories.  I've more stories than this one in me, this one is just very special to me. I am sure every author feels that way about their first big piece, and I am no different.

I am working with Authonomy.com right now. It has been a big help to me to have others read my work and review it. Authors and history buffs, readers and critics.  All reviews have been pretty good, though I would like to see more as the story progresses.

Its my next book that has pushed me to get this one out there. I think after a run on authonomy for awhile I will move on with self-publishing. It is so easy to get your stuff out there nowadays, in the world of one click publishing.  I am inspired by others while at the same time, I really just want to write.  Sharing that story with others is just an added bonus.  Unlike my other forms of expression, this is one I feel that I truly ought to share.  My art has been a tool for recovery, my music a tool for self-soothing. Writing - it has been a tool for expression. There have been times in my life that it was a release, that it was merely meant to put feelings into a collection of words. Now, it is to unravel a story that took its shape in my mind, with characters that came from some hidden place within.

I have just uploaded Chapter 9: Wolf's Teeth. 
In Ch.9, Alana recovers from her sudden illness.  She finds things greatly changed between herself and the commander.  She also struggles with the deep fears she has over the Lord of Breadalbane, to whom she is to marry in a few months time.  Dark tales are told by one of Duncan's minstrels, tales of the night, tales of wolf's teeth.

Excerpt from Brundelwain, Chapter 9. Liam tells a winter's tale.

"As I said, it was up north and it was a chilling wind out. I’ll be damned, though, if a woman had not wandered up to our camp…and I swear to ye, she was stark naked.  She hadn’t seemed to care, either. Donald and I kept offerin’ to give her our cloaks but she refused, only stared at us with these wild eyes and kept askin’ for somethin’ to drink. Well, I put a kettle to the fire, tryin’ not to stare at her, with her breasts all bare and…sorry, lass…” he looked to Alana, who smiled back, “well anyway, it was a might bit distractin’ for a man.  So, I gave her the last bit o’ the spirits we had, wonderin’ what we would do with a drunken naked lass on our hands, but I swear to ye, she took one sip and she started to changin’!  I swear to ye, she turned into a wolf right in front o' my eyes."