Posted in Life

Kairi Cosplay!

A couple years ago, I found myself pondering, “If I get a chance to go to a con someday, what character might I want to dress up as?”

The answer came surprisingly easily. I love the Kingdom Hearts series of video games, and the character Kairi’s outfit from Kingdom Hearts 3 (new at the time, I hadn’t even played it yet) is cute and seemed like something I might be able to make.

Really, look how pretty:

Now. I don’t sew a lot. Knitting is my preferred crafting hobby. But my grandmother, who was an excellent seamstress, taught me to sew when I was a kid. And she clearly taught me well, because I found I mostly knew what I was doing as I went along. And when I didn’t, I knew how to find and understand tutorials to learn what I needed.

I would not claim any sort of expertise, but I do think it all turned out better than it had any right to considering how long it had been since I’d done something like this.

It was a long process. Since this isn’t a usual hobby, there’s nowhere in my house where I can leave the supplies set up without getting in the way of other things, so I only worked on it when I felt like doing so long enough that it seemed worth it to haul it all out and put it all away again in a day or two. Which wasn’t often.

But at last it got done*!

*I have not yet added the decorative buttons. I intended to hold off on blogging about it until I did, but it’s now been over a year since I finished it otherwise and I decided it was time.

Many many thanks to:

  • My mom, who is less of a sewer than I am but happily helped me with lots of fitting.
  • Koumori No Hime Cosplay. I started with a different pattern than she did, but her video on how she transformed a dress pattern into Kairi’s dress helped me figure out what to do.
  • Dangerous Ladies’ Cosplay Kits. They sell specialized fabric for the specific design in Kairi’s skirt and armbands. I decided it was worth the price because any way I tried to replicate the design would only leave me disappointed, and I’m glad I bought it.
  • Lemon Squeezy Home. Her free pattern provided a roomy hood in the shape I needed.

And finally, pictures!

I love this picture of myself. ^_^

Posted in College, Life

Great Books I’ve Read in 2021 – Part 1

One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? by Dave Brunn
I grew up in churches where the official opinion is that using any Bible translation other than the KJV or the NKJV makes you a sketchy liberal, with the fairly recent development that if you REALLY MUST have something more modern, the ESV can be tolerated.
Not everyone attending those churches believes that. But it’s around, and it’s an attitude I find increasingly frustrating, as a variety of factors have turned me into a Bible translations nerd who reads and uses and loves all sorts. And the biggest factor was a college class where I learned a lot about how translation actually works.
I am no expert. And certainly do not have the skillset to be in the field myself. But I now find Bible translation theory fascinating and pick up books on it periodically. This is one I think would be accessible to someone unfamiliar with the subject. Dave Bunn explains terms instead of assuming his readers already know what he’s talking about. He does include a lot of charts of how different translations render words, which could get tedious, but you can skim a few entries and get the general idea.
His premise is that functionally, word-for-word and dynamic equivalent translations aren’t as different as many claim, that even the most literal translations make the same kinds of changes dynamic equivalent translations do; the difference is more in the frequency than in the kinds of changes. He’s not out to claim any certain translation makes the right call 100% of the time, but to give people who are unfamiliar with the process some practical understanding of how it works. And to point out ways having so many translations is a huge blessing the English-speaking world should appreciate.

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Publisi
I ordered this book on the strength of the title alone for a friend’s birthday. But once it arrived I had to read it myself. I was so careful to keep it in good shape. And then, in a very Me problem, I managed to spill a glass of water all over it. Conveniently, we’re good enough friends that I decided I could explain the situation to her and ask if she wanted a fresh copy or the water-damaged one. She opted for the water damage. And after I’d given her the book and she knew what it was, we concluded that the book itself had appropriately been through some trauma.
This whole anecdote probably says a lot about our friendship.
ANYway. If you write and you want to put your characters Through Some Stuff, this is a useful resource. The authors cover all sorts of potential problems, as evidenced by the cover there. Each entry is a two-page spread listing examples, character traits that might develop from the trauma, potential paths toward healing, etc. It’s not intended to provide all the information you need, but to spark inspiration. At the beginning they also offer some general advice about how to traumatize characters well, as well as a kind reminder that some subjects might be difficult to read and write about, especially if you’ve experienced them, and to consider yourself before starting. I found that thoughtful.

99107Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
I don’t remember ever reading this book in my childhood. This was an oversight. But it meant I got to experience it now. It is a Delight. I love the humor. I love the Capitalized Important Words. I love the setup of a dad telling stories to his small son. It’s all lovely.
I did watch Winnie-the-Pooh shows as a kid, and I was surprised by how many stories and direct quotes I recognized from those. Props to how well they adapted stuff.
So yeah, if you also never read Winnie-the-Pooh in your childhood, I recommend picking it up. It lives up to the hype.

53236939. sx318 Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon
In this picture book, a wolf sets out to win the trust of a flock of sheep in order to eat them. He makes himself a sheep costume and thinks he’s all sneaky as he eats with the sheep and works with them and plays with them, but they are clearly aware of what’s going on and frightened – at first. But then! The wolf accidentally makes friends.
He flees in horror. Goes home and reads books about vegetarianism (and pork).
Then there’s a knock at the door. And the sheep have all shown up in wolf costumes to bring him back.
It’s so cute! And a lot of fun. I love the wolf’s wagging tail in the illustrations.

20327961The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic by J.R.R. Tolkien, adapted by Chuck Dixon, illustrated by David Wenzel
This graphic novel version of The Hobbit was a Christmas present from a friend. It’s great! The illustrations capture the atmosphere and the characters well. The landscapes are beautiful. The story is not rewritten at all; the words all come directly from The Hobbit, just somewhat abridged in places to fit the different format. But minimally abridged; my only real complaint is that since there’s so much story, the text is quite small. If you enjoy graphic novels, this is a good one to pick up.

For more book recommendations, click here.

Posted in Christianity, College, Life

Poems

Happy National Poetry Month! Here are readings of a few poems I love.

The Orange by Wendy Cope
I came across this one at a time when I happened to be especially stressed, and it’s just lovely and encouraging.

Love III by George Herbert
One professor I had for several classes in college had a powerpoint collection of prayers and poems, and he read one at the beginning of each class. I can still hear his voice reading this, and I wish I had a recording of him doing it.

Mary’s Song by Blair Linne
This poem, which imagines Mary’s reflections on finding out she will be Jesus’ mother, is performed by the author, and she brings such wonderful life to it.

Posted in Christianity, Life

Presence

Wednesday night, my little Bible class student was unhappy. Very unhappy.

It’s not unusual for her to show up to class a little fussy. It’s the end of the day, the middle of the week, sometimes she has fallen asleep in the car… But usually I can coax her into participating a little and then she cheers up.

But nothing worked that day. Not stickers. Not hugs. Not the promise of crafts and games. Not much-beloved Lambie.

I was stumped. If I tried to teach her anything, I would only be talking to myself and frustrating both of us, and she wouldn’t learn anything.

So I decided trying to make her feel loved was more important than forcing us through a lesson. I pulled extra coloring pages out of my folder and set out the nice markers. I found a playlist of worship songs on Youtube. And I sat beside her and colored and sang.

She begrudgingly started coloring, too.

It took about thirty of our allotted forty minutes, and most of my spare coloring pages. Then she finally agreed to put a sticker on her attendance chart and started talking a little. In the end she left class happy.

I still don’t know what caused it all.

In retrospect, the whole scene made me think of God’s multitude of promises to be present. He never denies how upsetting life can be, but over and over and over and over he assures his people he will be with them. His presence is safety and comfort and love. Kind and fatherly and motherly. Reassuring. Helpful. He’s there.

Human relationships shape our perception of God in so many ways, some accurate, some inaccurate. Will my little student remember this incident? Probably not. But I hope I’ve contributed well to her developing picture of what it’s like for God to be always present, even through the most upsetting of days.

But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
so I can tell about all you do.
– Psalm 73:28

Posted in Life

Llama, Llama, Blanket

Hi, I’m back! It was very odd to not be writing blog posts on Tuesdays. I’m going to start back up with a post I can finally do because I have given the recipient the gift.

Back in September or October, I stumbled across this on Pinterest:

Immediately I decided my friend Maria needed one. The problem: It’s a crochet pattern. I only know how to knit. I didn’t think I could develop sufficient crochet skills to whip it up by Christmas.

So I decided to figure out a knitted version.

Not that I got it quite finished by Christmas…

Anyway. I learned a variety of new skills putting it together. I did not know the loop stitch existed. I found a new way of joining yarn. And I don’t recall ever making tassels before.

Here it is in its baby days:

I made a tribble when I trimmed off all the strings:

And the finished product!

I am very pleased. Maria is very pleased. It was a worthwhile project. ^_^

Posted in Life

A Break and Something Cute

I am here to say that I am going to take a month off blogging. I’m feeling like I need a break from everything, and this is one thing I can actually take a break from.

I intend to be back April 13. See you then! In the meantime, I shall leave you with this cute video of a man playing the piano for an elephant.

Posted in Life

A Bright Spot

The library where I work has been understaffed in one way or another since the beginning of October. First someone was out for weeks taking care of a relative with health problems. About when she started coming in a little again, our manager switched to managing a different branch and someone else retired. For a little while we were down two people at once – out of a max of six. I feel like I’ve been doing at least two people’s jobs for the past five months, and I’ve gotten pretty weary.

One thing I picked up in the wake of the person who retired was filling out the monthly supply order. While reading over the list in January, I discovered that we could order a pony.

I didn’t know what that meant. Neither did my coworkers. I figured it must be some office supply that I would understand if it was something I used. I was tempted to order one just to find out, but I decided that seemed wasteful and made myself move on.

But come February’s supply order, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I emailed the lady who’s in charge of this stuff and asked. She literally told me, “Why don’t you order one and find out?”

So I did.

And on Friday, we got our pony:

I’m glad my curiosity got the better of me.

Posted in Life

I Did That?

Last summer, for my birthday, I bought myself a copy of the Final Fantasy VII Remake.

I have played and loved the original video game, and I did a fair amount of geeking out just over the cover art.

And that was before I even opened the package.

Then I spent months geeking out as I played. (Props to my friend GG who has never touched either game in her life and kindly listened to all the commentary I had to share with someone.) It’s beautiful. Oh man, is it beautiful. The graphics are just. breathtaking. There are so many scenes and bits of dialogue drawn straight from the original game. Many of the gaming mechanics are the same. But it didn’t feel like just a wooden recreation. There is enough added character development that I came out of it caring about the main character even more than I already did, and I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that possible.

Also, it turns out that at some point I’ve gotten better at this video gaming thing. I got through the final boss and wasn’t ready to be finished and ended up deciding, “Well, I could try hard mode.” That’s not something I’ve ever* bothered with in a game (*I made a brief try once, on a veeeeeeeeery short game, and gave up), but I gave it a shot and found it surprisingly doable? I mean, I died a lot. And did a fair amount of Googling for advice. But I did it.

AND LOOK AT THIS

AND THIS

I COMPLETED ALL OF THE THINGS. ALL OF THEM.

(Yes, these are photos of the TV taken with my phone. I assume there is a way to get nice screenshots, but it’s actually my brother’s PS4 and I don’t know the logistics of that.)

I’ve also never successfully completed everything in a game before. I’m pretty delighted with my accomplishment.

This remake is merely a part one, barely covering the beginning of the original game’s excessively long story. I expect it will be quite a wait for more. But they’re doing good work, and I would rather they take their time and continue to do it well than rush it. But I am eager for part two.

In the meantime, I recently picked up a copy of Final Fantasy VIII from eBay, and that’s the game I want to try out next.

Posted in Christianity

Some Verses I Think Complement Each Other Well

Psalm 69:1-3

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

2 Samuel 22:7-20

In my distress I called upon the Lord
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of heaven quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness canopies around Him,
Dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
From the brightness before Him
Coals of fire were kindled.

The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice.
He sent out arrows and scattered them;
Lightning bolts, and he vanquished them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
At the rebuke of the Lord,
At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.

He sent from above, He took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because he delighted in me.

Posted in Life

Repairs

I’ve been experimenting more with knitting lately. I had a pair of socks I made a long time ago that were on the verge of developing holes, and I decided I wanted to try darning them, just to see if I could. So one night last week, I sat down and gave it a go.

It took a few hours, but it wasn’t too difficult once I got going. And as far as I can tell, it worked.

I am wearing them today.