Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Today marks the death of one of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy authors I've ever read, Anne McCaffrey. She started me on the path of wanting to read and write fantasy.

I just thought I'd write some of the memories I have of her books and how they impacted my life. We'll see how much of this I can actually write without sniffling into the keyboard.

I first remember Anne McCaffrey books by Dragonflight, the first of the Dragonriders of Pern series that I read. Dad first recommended the book when I was 10 or so. I was too young to really understand it. Unfamiliar words and the fantasy ideas were not known to me. I couldn't keep all the people straight, but I loved the idea of being on a dragon. I'm pretty sure her books are what really started me on my obsession with dragons when I was a teen. In any case, after I read Dragonflight I found I really liked fantasy books, even if I lost a lot in that first reading from sheer confusion.

Her writing convinced me to go to the local library and get out of the teen section for real and look at adult fiction. I read as much as I could until I felt confident to re-read Dragonflight and understand it. I was nervous with that second reading. I wanted to understand the book so much I read it carefully. I normally speed through books, but I know I read this one slowly.

After that, I read the rest of the Dragonflight trilogy and loved The White Dragon. I quickly found her teen series, the Harper Hall series. By that time I was hooked.

(To be honest, the only Dragonriders of Pern book I have never finished was Moreta. Someday I really need to sit down and read it.)

The next really clear memory I have of her books is for her sci-fi book, The Rowan. I remember being over at a friend's house and her dad had the book laying out. I picked it up and started reading it, which looking back on it was probably pretty rude. I asked if I could borrow the book, but my friend's father wouldn't let me, the material was too mature, he said. I was in 6th grade. So I reserved the book at the library and got it when it came in next. I read that book incredibly quickly and read Damia, the second in the series. I never finished that series, I wasn't into sci-fi when I learned about the rest of the series, but I know my sister liked them.

Over the years I've read almost every Dragonriders of Pern book out there. Masterharper of Pern is by far my favorite, followed closely by Dolphins of Pern. Of course the Harper Hall trilogy is close to my heart, I always wanted to have my own fire-lizards, I even made a painting of it in high school. I loved that painting, of a small dragon curled around my fingers, but sadly I haven't been able to find it. No one in my family has it. I'm missing a whole slew of high school art projects but I don't know where any of them are, but it's the fire lizard painting I miss the most.

I thank Anne McCaffrey for giving me a love of the fantasy book, the quintessential novels that defined me as a teenager, her books helped me get through the worst of the teenage years when I just felt like I should do like Menolly and run away to my own secluded beach. My husband quickly realized how much I love her work, and over the past few years I have collected her Dragonriders books and a lot of her other books.

I even made her recipe for bubbly pies and tried to make klah (the Pern equivalent to coffee). The bubbly pies were tasty, but I will have to try the klah again, only use actual milk and sugar to sweeten it. I didn't know how bitter coffee was the time I made it. Heh. The recipes are in Dragonlovers Guide to Pern.

I want to thank her for being such a humble and amazing person. Her interviews always made me respect her. When asked about religion on Pern once, I remember she was told there had to be religion on Pern. No society could grow without one, she was told. Anne McCaffrey replied that it was her story and she could do with it what she wanted. This made me realize that books are whatever the author wants them to be, and I think that helped me want to be a writer. To make a world of your own design, how awesome is that?

I always loved reading her bio: "My hair is silver, my eyes are green and I still freckle: the rest is subject to change without notice."

Thank you Anne McCaffrey, you will be missed. I hope you're riding your own golden queen dragon in heaven.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Seagull

It's time again for a Flash Fiction Challenge by Terrible Minds. This week it's a 100 word challenge using the words Frog, Powder, Seagull, Tower or Scissors. I choose seagull.  Enjoy!

Beth hadn't asked for a seagull for Christmas, but she got one. Her insane mother always gave the strangest gifts and liked to stab things with chopsticks. Well, at least Beth had free fowl for dinner. Except neither knew the seagull killed by chopsticks to the heart had been a vampire in daylight flight form. So when Beth was found December 26th with her blood drained, no one could blame her mother. Beth ate a vampire seagull for Christmas dinner and she became dinner herself. Her mother got her revenge by doing what she liked best, stabbing more things with chopsticks. And eating a lot of seagulls.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Journal Post about Great Grandma

This is an excerpt from my own journal (the terrible spelling has been corrected) soon after my Great Grandma died. I found the journal and remembered I wrote this. I think it's appropriate to post this. After November's writing craziness I'll post the second diary I have of Great Grandma. 

January 13, 2002 - J-term sophomore year, 6:30 AM

Great Grandma Redfearn, my hero, the model of woman I want to be when I'm old, died two days ago of a heart attack. I don't know much more about how or why she died, save old age. I'm going to miss her terribly. She was someone I so greatly admired, she became my hero. She was living alone at 96 years old, able to tell stories of how she gave a pumpkin pie to the construction workers and knew how many great great great grandchildren she had. She was such an amazing person, but I know she had to die, old age was starting to wear on her and I'm sure she wanted to be with her friends and family in the afterlife... Still I miss her.

I know she didn't want people to mourn her loss but celebrate her life, so I'll try. To remember her life. Like the honeysuckles outside her home and how she wanted plants and a bird feeder outside her bedroom window. Her tall and hard bed, the 3-D pictographs and old toys. Her bony and firm hugs. How she loved to cook with her old wood burning stove and cooked the absolute best mashed potatoes and gravy... All the shells she had, yet she'd never seen the ocean. Her white hair, all the jokes she made. She was so amazing... She was one of the coolest people I think I'll ever know. God I miss her, and I wish her a good and happy afterlife. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Diary of my Great Grandma Part 3

The following is written by my Great Grandmother Irene Redfearn. You can find all the posts I will make about her here. She was an amazing woman and the below is what she wrote at the request of her family. I will post the entire letter in intervals as it is quite long.  This is the last of the first set of letters I have put onto the computer, the rest will follow as I get them typed!

The twins were born on the 80 acres. They were three months premature. They weighed 3 lbs. apiece. The doctor didn’t expect them to live. They were born on the farm, no water in the house, a cook stove in the kitchen and a wood and coal heater in the living room. The twins never cried till 2 months old and never opened their eyes till 2 months old. I milked a few drops of milk into their mouths and heated the water bottles every 3 hours and kept the wood and coal in the stove every four hours. But they survived the 1st of December. They didn’t have no toenails of fingernails and had to be washed in olive oil only. Their skin wasn’t or couldn’t be washed with soap. I could put both of them into a man’s shoe box. I never went anywhere till 6 months. In June I took them to his folk’s home for the first time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Diary of my Great Grandma Part 2

The following is written by my Great Grandmother Irene Redfearn. You can find all the posts I will make about her here. She was an amazing woman and the below is what she wrote at the request of her family. I will post the entire letter in intervals as it is quite long. When I refer to Grandma, it is my Grandma Collum, one of Irene's children and it is usually information she filled in for me. Enjoy!

I met my husband in Gladbrook one afternoon, he was with one of his friends and I met him in Lincoln different times when I was at John’s. We met at Lincoln, IA and I went with him off and on for two years. And I got married March 27, 1923. I had met his parents before when I was at brother John’s.

Harry Redfern was in the service in Mexico and Texas for two years. (note from Grandma, Irene bought Harry out of the army so he wouldn’t get hurt before he joined the war.) Then we worked for farmers as hired hands. Then we went through 1929 depression days. We worked for people just so we had a house to live in.