Sunday, April 27, 2014




Sir Lancelot
        These are just a few pictures of my cousin's kids. They started a website several weeks ago, which has more pictures, so you can check it out here if you want. It makes me want goatlings all the more!
        I just got back from my Tijuana missions trip, and am pretty sick. I was so sick and tired when I first got home that I literally broke down crying in the kitchen when my mom told me that my brother had slaughtered the rooster without me. Yeah, I was in pretty bad shape. I'll do an overview post on my trip soon; right now I am just so miserable that I don't feel like doing anything. Even knitting or reading, which is very out of character for me. I've been lying in bed drinking yarrow tea for a couple of days now, but I'll probably have a bit more of my energy back by tomorrow or the next day. So long!


Friday, April 18, 2014

At Long Last

        At long last, I finally have my own set of Tolkien books. I know, you're wanting to ask me how I called myself a Tolkien fan and yet didn't own the books, but I do have an excuse. I have read them all several times, and I am sure that our local library will now be relieved to not have me checking them all out every few months. My mom and I happened to stop by a thrift store the other day on the way back from my class at a junior college. My mom went in first, and I walked along the side of the store for a bit to find a garbage can to throw my apple core into. I happened to look into the window, and saw, on a small table, a complete set of The Hobbit, and the three LOTR books. I am glad there were not many people in the store, because I raced in there more quickly than I should have and, had it been busy, I might have knocked someone over in my haste. ;)
        Back to the books - they were a boxed set, and still had the plastic wrapping on. Now my thinking is, they were given as a gift to someone who liked the movies but was not a reader. So these poor books were sitting in a closet for who knows how long, and all that while being wasted. Finally, that uneducated person who knew nothing of how amazing these books are, decided to just take them with their other donations to the thrift store. And what a blessing it is that they did! For less than 45% of the suggested retail price, I now have a new and complete set of The Hobbit and LOTR books. I had really been wanting hardcover, but I will settle for these until I miraculously have enough money that I don't feel bad about spending so much as a hardcover set costs. (That was meant to be funny).

        Aren't they just gorgeous? I can't wait to read them all once more when I get back from Mexico. I actually already started The Hobbit; I couldn't help myself. They're just SO good!



        I've been watching quite a few movies lately. When I'm knitting, I don't really need my eyes for my work, so often, I put on a BBC miniseries or something of the sort while I'm working. As a family, we've also been watching movies a couple of evenings a week, so that adds up as well. I thought I'd do a short little post on it so y'all know what I'm watching.

Star Wars - These movies never get old, at least in our household. Original Trilogy, to be sure; when I watch the newer ones I just feel like I want to slap half of the characters. Everyone, actually, except Obi-Wan, Threepio, and Jar-jar. I'll just talk about the older movies, because I don't want this post to turn into a rant about how much I hate Anakin. We are in the middle of Empire right now, which is my second favorite. I like the ewoks and Endor just a tad more than snow monsters and Hoth; just watching it makes me cold. ;) Harrison Ford gets funnier every single time I watch it - he is SO funny! As we have taken to saying, "He's the man!"

Return to Cranford - I watched this while my mom and brother were fishing the other day. This was my third time watching it, but I'm not tired of it yet. I'm not sure if I like Cranford or its sequel better, because they are both so delightful, but I suppose that doesn't really matter. Miss Matty is still one of my all-time favorites, and although we don't see Sophy Hutton Harrison, Dr. Marshland, or Miss Jenkyns anymore, we still have many of the old characters and a few new ones. And yes, I do ship Mary Smith/Dr. Marshland.

        This is the only film I have seen Tom Hiddleston in - I know it's shameful. But he is just so noble and loving and *CUTE*!

        Can I just say that I hate Septimus? 'Cause I do. With a vengeance. He is a selfish pig and is not a gentleman in the least. I love Miss Galindo for really letting him have it when she found out he had tricked Harry into giving up the 15,000 pounds. Not that I really like Harry either, though.

Pirates - Yes, I've been watching Pirates again with my brother. The first movie is definitely my favorite; after there it kind of goes downhill until the fourth one (where it plummets into atrocity). Dead Man's Chest was good, At World's End was tolerable, and although I can't remember the name of the fourth movie, it was terrible. I would not watch it again. I think my favorite scene in The Curse Of The Black Pearl is when Jack and Will are dueling in the blacksmith shop. The whole thing, from the actual duel, to Will's master conking Jack on the head with a whiskey bottle and taking full credit for subduing him, is hilarious.

        Oh, and my mom and I have decided that my brother needs to start dressing like Will Turner; like he does in the beginning of the first movie when he's a blacksmith's apprentice. You can see what that means in the first picture. Unfortunately, my brother is not too excited about the whole thing. I mean really, I would dress like that! Although I must say, I am partial to Jack's boots ;) Okay, and I think this is one of the cutest pictures ever. I think donkeys are some of the cutest animals in the world:

Tangled - Yes, I finally watched Tangled! I LOVED IT!!! I know I'm a bit late, but it's okay because now I know how good it is and will be watching it again soon. Maximus was one of my favorites, just sayin'.

        Aaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnd, that concludes this extremely informative post. ;) I am going to be gone for a week, so won't be blogging during that time. I'm going to take comment moderation off so you can comment if you like (that's a hint). I hope you all have a lovely week - I will have a lot of up-catching to do when I return.
        So long, farewell!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Les Miserables - Regional Production

Note: I've been working on this post for a few days - it is really long and has a bunch of pictures and GIFs. Sorry it took so long!   

        Your big question - how was it? That was my big question as well (going into it), and I must say I was pretty anxious on that subject. I wanted so much for it to be wonderful and splendid and magical just as Les Mis should always be. I saw the US National Tour almost two years ago and had very high expectations of how everything should look and sound and be in general. It is hard to completely please me when it comes to my favorite musical; I think most people understand that to some extent. Am I rambling? Sorry. To the point - was it good?
        I am pleased to say that it was good; very good indeed! I enjoyed it muchly (and yes, I just made up a word). So shall we start from the beginning? Yes? Very well, then. Oh, and there will be pictures scattered throughout - all from Google and Pinterest.
        When the theater went dark and the curtain went up, I admit I got chills. Like violently shaking chills. Yeah, I'm a crazy Les Mis fan and I can't conceal it. Then the music started, and I was hyperventilating. Les Mis is an amazing experience, and this was no exception. The orchestra was pretty small, but the dozen or so musicians pulled the score off very nicely. It got me to thinking (again) how wonderful it would be to be down there, in the pit, for a musical. Phantom or Les Mis, preferably. The only problem is, I play piano, which isn't ideal. They mostly just have keyboards now that can be set to make all different sounds. Maybe I'll have to learn a new instrument.

        Valjean was very, very good. His voice was very strong, as was his acting; I'll highlight on that a bit later. Javert was good, although not perfect. His voice was a little weak at times, but more later. Overall, the prologue was very good - the ensemble singers were amazing and added a lot of benefits to the production as a whole. In that part right after Valjean is released, the actor who portrayed him did an excellent job of all that I imagined he would be feeling at that point. I was tearing up at "Drink from the pool - how clean the taste! and never forget the years, the waste. Nor forgive them for what they've done; they are the guilty, every one."
        I must say I was a bit disappointed in the Bishop of Digne. He is usually a character that I really like, but not in this production. Not to say that he was in the least unlikeable, I just wasn't especially impressed. His "I have bought your soul for God" was lovely, however. :)
        Valjean's soliloquy was gorgeous. Great singing and acting, when combined, makes for excellence. And you know that feeling you get when he tears up that piece of yellow paper and throws it into the air and the Ab-F-Eb-C strings music starts for At The End Of The Day? No words. Just no words. At The End Of The Day was good, as all of the ensemble songs were. Strong acting, and wonderful voices from all of the actors/actresses.
        And the real show-stopper, I Dreamed A Dream. I'm sorry, but it was not good - not good at all. The actress who played Fantine was a big disappointment to me, and I'm not quite sure why they cast her. Her voice wasn't spectacular, and her acting was even worse. She put no feeling into her voice, and it turned out to be a very bland performance of a usually lovely song. This pretty much sums up my reaction:

         SO, moving on. Let's just skip ahead a song, alright? I prefer to skip this one (or two if I'm listening to the CSR) because it is, well, unsavory and inappropriate. I think making it what it is was unnecessary on the part of Claude Michel-Schoenberg and Alain Boubil and I don't appreciate it in the least. Moving right along... To The Runaway Cart. The props were well done, and the acting as well. I was amazed at how real it looked when Valjean was lifting up the cart, which was filled with giant boulders. He made it look like they were hundreds of pounds instead of Styrofoam. ;) Who Am I was gorgeous! He hit every note perfectly, even though the last note on the 1 of 2-4-6-0-1 was a bit weak. "And so Javert, yous see it's true - this man bears no more guilt than you!" Oh goodness *dies*. Come To Me was just okay, considering how bad Fantine was. Confrontation was spine-chilling! Javert was very good in this song, so that combined with how good Valjean was, well, you get the picture.

        At first, I didn't like Little Cosette; I almost never do right away. Her voice wasn't 'perfect' like I always imagine it to be - in fact, it was quite strong and not very pretty at all. It did grow on me, but not a whole lot. She was very cute, though, I must say.
        Oh, the Thenardiers. Oh, the Thenardiers. Monsieur was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I am usually partial to fat Thenardiers *giggle*, but this one I think completely re-invented the character and I loved it. He was very tall, skinny, and weasely, and more like a skulking fox than the blundering oaf Thenardier usually is. He was, in effect, perfect. Madame was not quite as good as Monsieur, but close. She was sufficiently mean, yet funny at the same time. In combination, the two were excellent in The Thenardiers' Waltz Of Treachery (or, as it is sometimes called, The Bargain). My favorite parts of that song are when they try to cross themselves but don't know how and then when Monsieur keeps getting Cosette's name wrong. :)

        Fast forward now several years to 1832 (?). Look down, and see the beggars at your feet; look down, and show some mercy if you can. It is in this awesome scene that we are re-introduced to Valjean, Javert, Thenardier, Eponine, and Cosette. Only they're all much older. We also get to meet some new people, including Marius, Enjolras, Gavroche, and Thenardier's gang. Marius was very, very good. Almost excellent. You'll see below I gave him a 4.5 out of 5, and that is being very picky. :) His "I didn't see you there, forgive me" made me smile because he and Cosette were so cute together. Oh, and by the way, that is a quote I use at every single opportunity. I have to try very hard not to sing it, though.
        Stars was not especially strong, which was disappointing to me. I remember when I first saw this musical in San Fransisco, Stars made me cry 'cause it was so gorgeous, and this was not even close. The little part with Gavroche at the end was really cute, however; the little actor who played him was quite talented. Trust Gavroche, have no fear, don't you worry Auntie dear; you can always find me here! Eponine's Errand was where we get to see the characters of Marius and Eponine a little bit better. I felt like in the - what is it? like sixty seconds? - of the song these characters are formed in the audience's minds, and that is how they are viewed the rest of the show. If a production doesn't have a strong Eponine's Errand the whole love triangle thing seems kind of sappy. And trust me, it's not good to have a sappy love triangle. The girl who played Eponine reminded me of Lea Salonga, who is, in fact, my favorite Eponine ever. HER VOICE!!!... OK, back on topic. She brought out the bitter side of Eponine, whereas, say, Samantha Barks brought out the broken and desperate side. I like both, or all, I should say - there are far more than two types. Her voice, of course, wasn't as good as Lea's (no one's is), but it was still good. Oh, and if you haven't heard her sing before, go right now to YouTube and type in 'lea salonga on my own'. You'll be blown away.

        Now we can talk about the barricade boys. :) They were all good; as I said before, the ensemble was very well put together. I personally can't figure out how some men just have the most gorgeous voices. My favorite was Grantaire. I usually am not a big fan of his character (sorry guys!), but this one was very well done. He, Feuilly, and Courfeyrac were my favorites out of the bunch.

Here's a picture of Fra Fee as Courfeyrac because he's a cutie.
        Red And Black, which happens to be my brother's favorite song out of the whole musical, was perfect. So was Do You Hear The People Sing. Chillses. ;)
        In My Life was beautiful. Cosette's voice had feeling (hooray!), and I loved seeing the amazing acting between her and Valjean. In my life, I'm no longer a child and I yearn for the truth that you know, of the years, year ago. Not to mention she had gorgeous hair. She looked pretty much like a brunette Katie Hall, and sounded similar as well. (That is a good thing).

         Marius and Eponine's part of the song was quite pretty as well. In my life, she has burst like the music of angels, the light of the sun. And my life seems to stop as if something is over and something has scarcely begun! I have to show you a picture of the amazing Samantha Barks because she is gorgeous and is a great actor. Just look at the tears in her eyes!

In my life, there's been no one like him anywhere, anywhere, where he is... If he asked, I'd be his.

        A Heart Full Of Love. The song that some people find to be incredibly cheesy, and others find to be the most romantic collision of words and music notes in history. I happen to be in the letter group, and no, I am not ashamed of it. I feel like this, although it is Phantom and All I Ask Of You, applies to Les Miserables and A Heart Full Of Love as well. :)

           Yesss, precious. All right, but it does bear mentioning that when Marius was climbing over the wall into the garden, the wall looked about ready to fall right over - it was very wobbly and creaky. I kind of held my breath because I was worried it was all going to come crashing down, even though I have climbed rickety fences myself too many times to count. I think it distracted from that terribly romantic moment quite a bit, but I suppose it could not be avoided.

       One Day More. The most epic, most amazing, most powerful, most bestest greatest awesomest song in THE WHOLE WORLD. No joke, I'm completely serious. I am not going to try to describe it because there are simply no words. YouTube, y'all. You won't regret it. It incorporates every single theme from the whole musical and several tunes from different songs into one, well, I won't try to describe it again. Fantine isn't in it, but we do hear I Dreamed A Dream sung by Marius, Cosette, and Eponine; with different lyrics, of course.

         Now we move on to lots of feels and sobs the barricade boys. Oh, why did they have to die? My favorite all time cast was the one from the 2012 movie, but I sincerely love all of the castings. Ever.

        Ooh, the feels! I already talked about which ones I particularly loved in the production I just saw, so we can talk about the actual barricade scenes. Well, this regional theater pulled it off pretty well. This is one set you can mess up relatively easily, but they didn't. This pleased a certain fan in the front row muchly (yes, I like my new word a lot). One bone I do have to pick is that they didn't use real guns, and I like real guns. Fake guns are just useless and they irritate me. 
        I'm going to group On My Own and A Little Fall Of Rain together because I don't want to have too many paragraphs. They are the two main Eponine songs and are some of my favorites in the musical - go figure, I'm a teenage girl. ;) A bitter Eponine (as I talked about before) demands a strong voice. Well, this girl had one. Her The world is full of happiness that I have never known! was fantastic, although she didn't put quite as much emotion into the song as I would have liked. I did really like the first half of the song especially well, so I must give her a lot of credit for that. A Little Fall Of Rain is pretty near the top of my favorite songs list (although I can say that for pretty much every song in the musical). Eponine is a character that there is a lot of debate between fans on. Some think she is a wimpy thief who never deserved Marius, and some are rabid radical supporters and shippers of Eponine/Marius. I am neither. I definitely think Marius and Cosette should have ended up together, yet I am a big fan of Eponine. Goodness, I named my goat after her! Now, I'm not going to go into as much detail as I want to and could because this post is already far to long, but I do have a few things to say. First off, Eponine was a thief. She was a part of her father's gang, and took part in all of their crime. Secondly, she gives a perfect display of true, unconditional love. She has loved Marius for who knows how long, and when he falls in love with Cosette, she agrees to help him find her and eventually deliver a letter to her that ends up saving Marius. She does all this knowing that Marius will never love her; she does it simply because the loves him and wants him to be happy. And, as we all know, she dies trying to return to the barricade to be with him once more. She dies, at last, in his arms, and we in the audience are one big puddle of tears. Their duet is gorgeous.

        Please note that I am talking about the musical Eponine and not the book or movie character, A few things were different, such as Eponine dying climbing back over the barricade as opposed to her taking a bullet for Marius, to name one. Not all of the things I said apply to the book, the musical, and the movie.
        Bring Him Home was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop in the audience before we all erupted into massive applause. The singing was not strained, as it so often is *cough* *Hugh Jackman* *cough*. I love how Valjean, when he realizes his daughter loves someone else, immediately forsakes all of his own plans and goes directly to save the life of a man he's never met, nor seen. That is what you call devotion and love.
        *GINORMOUS SOBS* The barricade boys all die. Every last one of them (except Marius - he doesn't count). When Enjo stood up and started waving that red flag, I was sobbing. And then, ohhhhhhhhhhh the feels!

        *Interlude where we have some lovely Bring Him Home music and then Thenardier sings a gross song in the sewers*. I must say, I was impressed with Valjean carrying Marius through the sewers. This Marius was not *ahem* light, and Valjean was pretty small. But when he hoisted him up onto his back and started walking, I was like, "Oh, you are Jean Valjean!"
        Javert's Suicide is one of my favorite songs. I'm sorry, but it is. It's right up there with I Dreamed A Dream and A Little Fall Of Rain. I think it is powerful and no one can do Philip Quast justice. Especially Russel Crowe. Oh I'm sorry, did I just say that out loud? It is true, though - very true. I enjoy every version of it regardless of who sings it, however.
        There really is nothing special about Turning, except that we find out that we are not the only ones sad about the barricade boys all dying. Empty Chairs At Empty tables is my Gramps' favorite song. I have to admit, I didn't like it a whole lot at first, but it's growing on me. It's just SOOO sad! Marius cared for his friends, now they're deeeeaaaaaad and goooooooone, and he is alone in the world. Or he would be but for Cosette. But wait, if it weren't for Cosette, he would be dead too. So it would have worked out either way. :)
        They wedding was cute - but the guests' dresses were horrid. See more on that below. Go away, Thenardier! Do you think I don't know who you are? I personally love the part where Marius slaps Thenardier, too. AND, we're closing soon, here comes the Finale.

        This song has a lot of feels too. You get to see Valjean, who has come on such a long journey, from dishonesty and thievery to mercy and love, finally get to rest; fulfilled and content. We get to see Fantine again, and the way she looks at Cosette melts my heart. The line You will live, Papa you're going to live! It's too soon, too soon to say goodbye! makes me sob every time, in case you were wondering. Especially Amanda Seyfried in the movie. And Eponine comes out and the way she looks at Marius melts my heart as well, and then... And then... The whole ensemble comes out and they reprise Do You Hear The People Sing? with different lyrics. Just listening to this on my soundtrack makes me at least tear up. They fought for a new world, one free of pain, of oppression, of poverty, and they died. They died trying to free the people. Now I know their motives weren't entirely correct - there is a lot about that in the book - but just look at these lyrics and compare them to the first DYHTPS.

Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night,
It is the music of a people  who are rising to the light,
For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies,
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise,

Will you join in our crusade? Will you be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing? Say can you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes!

        Isn't it beautiful? The trumpets are so gorgeous and the violins are so lovely - they all lead up to:


        As soon as you know it, it's over. You've just gone on a long and emotional journey - for three hours you've been crying almost continually and your eyes are red and swollen. You realize that the people who didn't wear makeup were the smart ones when you peek in the small mirror you carry in your purse. You are shaken, shaky, but the thrills are still running through your body and you feel both exhilarated and sad at the same time. You just watched Les Miserables.


Scale - 5 being excellent, 4 being good, 3 being tolerable, 2 being not so great, and 1 being terrible. Note: A high rating does not *necessarily* indicate I like the character, simply how well I think the actor portrayed him/her.

Valjean - 5                                                               
Javert -3
Fantine - 1
Cosette - 4
Marius - 4.5
Eponine - 4
Enjolras - 4
Thenardier - 5
Mdme. Thenardier -4
Young Cosette - 3
Gavroche - 4

Set - It was very good, for just a regional production. They made use of a bunch of props in several different ways, and it turned out very well. The computer projection on the back screen was a bit slow, but other than that I give them a good job with that. :)
Costumes - Re-using my 1-5 scale for the sake of being simple, I give the costumes a 2. I wasn't expecting much more, so it didn't really affect my opinion of the production in general, but I still have a bit to say about this. For one, there wasn't enough dirt. There were tatters and unfinished hems, but to be honest, that's not enough. You need some real grime and discoloration to make it not look fake. And then, the time periods were a bit off. What can you expect, though? And for the clothes that were not supposed to look old and raggedy, they just looked fake. You know that look that the kids' costumes for Halloween have? That polyester glue gun look? Yeah, these costumes were bordering on that, especially at the wedding. The mens costumes were pretty bad. Well, the barricade boys were tolerable, but Valjean was in-tolerable. His vest and coat were all baggy and looked like they were far too thick. Most characters wore boots, however, much like my riding boots, which I liked.The only costume I really loved was Thenardier's. Oh, and one thing more, ENJOLRAS HAD NO RED VEST OF POWER!!!!!! UGH! It was a big disappointment.

        Props - As I said before, the re-use of many of the props was done very well. For instance, the cart that was used when Jean Valjean rescues Fauchlevant was used again in Look Down, and once more at the barricade. Tables and chairs appeared in  multiple scenes as well. One BIG thing they missed, though, was the candlesticks. They are given by the Bishop to Valjean in the Prologue, and then are supposed to appear again in the Finale. Well, they didn't. I was sad. :(

        I think that this post is long enough, so I'll sign off here. I greatly enjoyed this production, and left feeling like I just watched Les Mis (oh wait, I did). My advice to you is, if it happens to come to your are, go see it. Do not miss the opportunity - you'll regret it later. Les Miserables is beyond explanation.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nigerian Dwarf Mohair

        Have you ever looked at your goats' coats (ehehehe!) and wished you could make some nice, soft, fuzzy yarn out of it? You wish you had fiber goats, but no, unfortunately, they are a dairy breed and have relatively short fur. Well, if they happen to have an undercoat, it is still possible to get mohair from them. Our neighbors' goat Lily sleeps inside so doesn't have much down, but since Eponine had a ton, a decided I needed to make use of it. It is getting pretty hot, and I could tell she was avoiding the sun during the afternoons. SO I rescued her. :)
        See that fuzz?

        I used an old flea comb we had for the cats, and just combed through her fur. In the beginning, i had to stop every few strokes to pull the down off.

         This is how much I got, after a thorough combing all over:

        I'm not sure if I'm going to try to drop spin it - it might be kind of hard because the fibers are so long - or if I should fix up my spinning wheel. I am really looking forward to using this fiber, and then the yarn!


Friday, April 11, 2014


        I mentioned in my stalking turkeys post that my brother had gotten his hunting license and was planning to take advantage of it this spring. Well, a week ago, he did. I know, it's pretty shameful that it has been so long and I haven't posted about it yet, but better late than never. As I mentioned before, my dear friend Kayla was visiting, and after we went walking (up on the very turkey hunting hill, actually), we came home and went up to my bedroom to chat. All of a sudden, I hear my mom call up the stairs, "Do you want to come see the turkey?" I can't tell you just how quickly I came tearing down those stairs and out the door to the truck. You probably don't want to know. This is what I saw when I hopped up on the tire and peeked over the edge into the bed:

        Since my mom didn't really want to have anything to do with it, or even see it before it was ready to go in the brine, we took it down to the neighbors' house to prepare it. It was actually the first time I had had a part in processing any sort of animal - please don't think I'm insane when I say that I had simply too much fun helping my brother with it. I'm only mostly partially crazy. I'll spare you most of the details, because I'm guessing some won't really appreciate it if I show you all of the pictures Kayla and I took on my camera.

         It was a good thing we had Kayla here, because my brother couldn't find the lungs. Kayla ended up sticking her arm in the turkey and pulling them out. ;)

        When we brought it inside, my brother found a sack inside the bird that was filled with berries. And you see that think draped over the edge of the sink? Yeah, that's a lizard. It was also inside.

         Turkey in the brine:

        Done cooking! The dark meat was very tough, but the white meat was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I'm thinking I can stew up the legs with some taters and onions and they'll be tasty, though.

        We can get two more turkeys this spring season - I'm looking forward to it!