Category Archives: Life

A-Z Challenge: Cats (A Doodle)

 

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S.B. Roberts 2017

 

Did you expect the “c” to be anything else?

Ever since we adopted the cat, I’ve become a fan. At first, I would have just told you, “I like this cat.” Now, I just like cats in general.

Not long after we adopted him, I took to doodling him. Whenever my mom and I are at teaching conferences and meetings, I end up doodling this little representation of my cat in my notes. Or hers. Whichever are closer at the moment. Sometimes fellow fun-loving colleagues return to find one on their paper too.

I drew these ones in my planner during a recent Skype meeting. They’re not the best. None of my doodles are. But they’re a fun way to release some creativity, especially when it’s feeling a little stifled in a meeting.


The Little Strawberry That Could

I’ve had a vegetable garden for several years now. Some years have been better than others, and this one looks like it has promise.

There are only two plants that have survived for several years now. The first is a rosemary bush that has been there since the beginning. The second is a very stubborn strawberry plant.

Three years ago, the strawberry made itself at home on the edge of the garden. It never got particularly big and critters snagged most of the fruit before I could, so I decided not to add more in the ground the following year. However, the strawberry wasn’t ready to be done  yet.

At the end of the season, I cleaned out the dead plants, and we began preparations for the next round. The one strawberry was still alive, so I left it alone and waited to see what happened.

Since it was fruitless that season, I decided to take it out so I could give something else its spot. The roots were deeper and thicker than I anticipated (which made me feel a little bad), but enough of it came up that I thought it was gone.

I was wrong.

By halfway through the season, it had grown back. It didn’t produce anything, but it is the most determined little plant I’ve ever seen.

This year, the season is just starting and that little plant is still there. This time, there’s a little surprise.

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A tiny white flower. Hope for a harvest. A symbol of dogged determination.


Five Hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Or perhaps the more apt title is “love is letting your husband have first dibs on playing your favorite video game.”

In either case, the newest Legend of Zelda installment (and the newest Nintendo game console) are the newest additions to our household, and so far, we are enjoying both. It’s not what I was expecting.

Normally, I’m excited about any Zelda game. (Okay, for full disclosure, I really jumped on the bandwagon with Ocarina of Time. I played a little of Link to the Past before that, but even as an adult, I really struggle with top-down games. And platformers. 3D Zelda is more my pace.) As more news came out about this one, though, two things really worried me.

1. Voice Acting

In most games, it feels just fine. However, Zelda has always been more like a living fairy tale to me. Characters only communicate verbally through sighs, grunts, giggles, or in rare cases, babbling. The rest is text. There’s something charming about it. The series wouldn’t be the same if everyone actually spoke. And, as an introvert, I’m not entirely sure I want that many characters verbally talking at me since I love to start conversations with everybody.

2. Completely New Format

Ever since the groundbreaking Ocarina of Time, the games have all been fairly linear and followed a similar format. Sometimes you have options and there are plenty of sidequests, but for the most part, the story tells you where to go and what to do next. Breath of the Wild promised to be very different, with a more open world, some decidedly different dynamics, and — most daunting of all — it’s hard. Just in case I didn’t have enough trouble with those awful water temples…

By release day, I felt skeptical. Had they ruined my favorite game series?

The verdict so far: no.

Actually, far from it. The voice acting is minimal — restricted so far to a few cutscene-like moments. Otherwise, it’s the normal mix of sounds and text.

And in spite of the open world, there still is a path to follow. Sure, you could go do just about anything you wanted to, but you’re not completely left on your own to survive and figure it out. There’s even a new menu with different quests and what you’re supposed to do… something I wished there was long ago.

As for the difficulty, it’s a far more forgiving game than any of the others. Since I could fall off a cliff because I’m not used to climbing everything or could wander into a camp of moblins I’m not prepared for, the game seems to be constantly saving in the background and will respawn me not far from where I died. Even when I died five or six times trying to cross a river, the autosave was only steps from where I kept messing up, making it easy to try again. And again. And again.

And a fun side note: So far, my husband and I have had two very different experiences so far. I’ve encountered things he hasn’t seen (like keeses) and tried things he didn’t do (like hunting). So even when I do watch him play for a little while, I don’t feel like I’m cheating myself for later, and he doesn’t get bored watching me follow because there’s something new to see.

So even though I’m only five hours in (and waiting patiently for my next turn on), I like it. In spite of my fears, I think they may just have created the newest revolution in the Zelda series. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game holds.

Do you play The Legend of Zelda games? What do you think of Breath of the Wild so far?


Rip It, Write It, Draw It: Remember

Sometime in my early teens, I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. While I can’t recite all of the habits by heart anymore, I do remember one thing I did in conjunction with the book. (Whether it was in the book or not, I can’t remember anymore.)

I wrote down five quotes that essentially became my motto. They helped me remember what was most important and focus on that.

This Rip It, Write It, Draw It page reminded me of that.

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Thinking about what I would want to hear from myself in 10 years is a little crazy, but I imagine some of them are the same things that I would want to hear now. So that’s what I wrote. Words of encouragement that I think will last a lifetime.

What words of encouragement would you want to read from yourself in 10 years?


Happy Birthday, Robert Burns!

We celebrate plenty of random authors’ birthdays, and Robert Burns’ birthday is one of my favorites. It’s a great day to celebrate my Scottish heritage with Scottish food and Scottish poetry (if you’ve never read “To a Louse,” you haven’t lived). Unfortunately, we don’t have a caber out back, but if we did, we’d celebrate by tossing it.

Years ago, I wanted to learn highland dancing. In the days before Internet, it was hard to do from a book. Fortunately, though, it looks like the t-rexes have it covered.

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So here’s to a great poet who everyone knows but probably doesn’t realize they know. Next time you hear “Auld Lang Syne,” remember that he’s the one who wrote it.


Rainbow

It started during a long drive home. Golden sunlight reflected gently on a gray cloud more friendly than its deep, stormy companions further east. A touch of azure sky still framed it, holding out against the impending storm.

Then it blazed to life. A hint of red, punchy yellow, a tinge of green and violet. Like a knowing wink, it made me smile.

 

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S.B. Roberts 2017

 

The garage door opened, and I pulled the car inside. The cat rubbed my legs, hungry for attention and food. After giving him enough of both, I returned to the window, wondering if that little wink of color was still there.

The whole sky had grown golden with the light drizzle and the lowering sun. The splash of color had begun to spread across the sky. I hurried outside, not minding misting. Within seconds, it had encompassed everything above me in one perfectly curved line.

I stood there a moment, in awe. I made it home just in time for this. This beautiful moment.

Then the beauty became extravagance. It mirrored itself, transforming everything into a magnificent array of colors.

 

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S.B. Roberts 2017

The sun sank further, and the spectacle began to fade. Being bathed with that much beauty for too long would be too much for any mortal. But as it faded, I felt revived. A wink from above. A promise remembered.

 


Happy Birthday, Tolkien! #TolkienBirthdayToast

Today is Tolkien’s 125th birthday, which means British food, plenty of tea, and all things Middle-earth are on tap for today. Okay, amid getting ready for the spring semester to begin.

It’s also a great day to share an interesting tidbit of Anglo-Saxon history. While Tolkien is best known for writing about Middle-earth, he had many interests, including Anglo-Saxon history. With that in mind, I came across something fascinating while making cookies and watching Secrets of Great British Castles via Netflix.

Evidently, there was once a Norman monk known as Gundulf of Rochester. King William I noticed that he had a knack for architecture so he helped build none other than the White Tower, which is now part of the Tower of London. Could this Gundulf have somehow inspired the Gandalf we all know and love today? Or did the White Tower influence Minis Tirith or The Two Towers itself? No one may know now, but a historian on the show presented the theory, and it’s certainly one I’d never heard before.

Tonight at 9pm local time is the Tolkien Society’s annual toast to the Professor. I’ll likely have my customary Taylor’s of Harrogate afternoon Darjeeling (because afternoon Darjeeling is good at any time of day). A good cup of tea just seems appropriate.

So here’s to another year of celebrating the Professor, his many accomplishments, and his lasting influence.