Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Best Roommates in All the World

It's snowing in Minneapolis! 

After watching The Shining with my friends tonight, we looked out of the window to see that it was snowing! My roommates and I were so excited that we threw on our hats, gloves, and coats and went frolicking in the snow at 12:00 AM.

What happens when three girls with glasses go inside after running around in the snow for half an hour?
Foggy glasses!
And what's better after a romp in the snow than hot chocolate with candy canes?
I love these girls so so so much!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Collegiate Adventures of Abbey

I have spent all day today thinking, "I'm in college."
This may seem silly, since I have been in college since August, but it never fully hit me until I left campus this weekend to visit family that I am in college. I'm really doing it! I'm going to classes five times a week. I am living on my own (well... not exactly on my own: I have two roommates). I'm making friends! I have made friends. It hasn't even been three months yet, but I have made friends whom I love very, very much. Sometimes it is hard to remember that I have only been at school for eleven weeks. It's funny, the good that can come from being thrown together with a bunch of random people.

Last time on Updates From Abbey...

I moved into my room, met my roommates, and started my classes.

My roommates and I are still getting along swimmingly. God blessed us when he put us three together.

I have tried several new things since coming to college, including swing dancing and participating on a flag football team!

Swing dancing is fun, though I am not too good at it. The guy who taught me kept saying, "I'm not going to drop you. Don't worry." When he dipped me, the elder generation would have been proud, for I kept my posture stiff as a board. Of course, that is not really the proper posture when one is dancing.

The same guy who taught me how to swing dance also signed me (and everyone else in our brother-sister hall) up for his flag football team. Most of us showed up for the first game. Our team consisted of three people who knew how to play and four or five people who had never even heard of a football before. Our valiant captain gave us stellar instructions: "Okay, we're running that way!"
Our team of cheerleaders supported us with chants of encouragement: "A for Average! M for Mediocre! L for LOSER!"
We lost our first two games. Our team name was the "Average Joes," so we weren't setting the bar very high to begin with.
At every subsequent game we lost players until there were not enough of us to play any more, and the other team had to lend us two of their own players. We won that game.
There hasn't been mention of the "Average Joes" since then. That was over a month ago.

Another new experience was going to a haunted hayride. I was worried about being terrified to tears, but I actually had a lot of fun! The group I went with was really sassy to the actors dressed in scary costumes. I didn't get (too) scared because I spent most of the time laughing at everyone's commentary! My favorite was when a monkey jumped on the hayride and someone in the group said, "Oh, I loved your work in Planet of the Apes!"

I am a part of the Women's Chorale at school. Our first "concert" was singing the National Anthem with the Men's Chorus at the homecoming game (which we won, by the way!). It's so much fun to sing in choir! Right now, we are preparing for our winter concert, which should be very impressive.

Though the picture is slightly blurry, this is my favorite picture of my main group of friends. This was a few weeks ago when we dressed up in our Sunday best and went to St. Mary's Basilica for church. My friend (and roommate) Sarah is majoring in Intercultural Studies and must visit different denominations for projects. Since Joseph is the only one in our group with a car, he chauffeurs us around to church and to the store. I have yet to find a home church.

There is a board game store very near to school. They have a lending library of board games that you can take to a table and play, which is SO exciting! I'm so glad that my friends like to play board games, too!

I have been to more sporting matches in the past few weeks than I have in my entire life. One of my roommates is on the women's lacrosse team, so Sarah and I went to support her at her first scrimmage. Not to brag, but we burnt our opposition to a crisp.

At the beginning of October, several of us went camping at Devil's Lake in Wisconsin. What an adventure that was! It rained most of the weekend. We renamed our campsite "Swamp Eric" because it was a literal mud hole.

Our shoes at the end of the trip:

Despite the rain and the mud, I had SO much fun! We bonded through our adversity and cooked over an open fire. We shared stories (*cough cough* I'd tell you one, but you aren't a monk) and sang songs. We hiked, laughed, and didn't shower for three days.

On the way home, we stopped at a cheese shop!

For fall break, I went home with fellow English Literature and Writing major Abby with No E. She was homeschooled like me, and she also does NaNoWriMo! During our break, we worked on an eight-page paper for our Literary Studies class, we planned for NaNoWriMo, and we went to the Spam Museum!


"What about schoolwork?" you may ask. "Don't you ever do homework?"
Yes. Yes, I do. But, perhaps, I shall save that for another blog post.

How are YOU? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Have you ever been to the Spam museum?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beautiful Books: October 2016 // NaNoWriMo

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~

It's almost NaNoWriMo time! That means that the Beautiful People link-up changes to Beautiful Books, with an emphasis on a person's entire novel instead of just characters.
My homework load is lighter this quad, so I am able to do NaNoWriMo. I found a friend on campus who does NaNoWriMo, too, and we have been busy brainstorming our novels together! It's so much fun to have a friend to geek out about writing with!
I'm really excited for NaNoWriMo this year because, for the first time since 2013, I'm working on a new project! For the past several years, I have been working on my unnamed fantasy/fairytale story (you can read about my progress here), so it will be really nice to start a new story.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
A few months ago I had an idea for a character, but he did not have a story to go with him. Since I was working on my unnamed fantasy/fairytale story, I put away this character to think about at a later time. I was working on the worldbuilding for my unnamed novel when I had a sudden idea: the race I was working on had a hinted-at but long-forgotten past. What if my storyless character was a part of this long-forgotten past? Before I knew it, I had a four book series planned out!

2. Describe what your novel is about!
Witches/Warlocks are living in a technologically advanced world; their technology is powered by their magic. The government is trying to find ways to harness magic more efficiently. Unfortunately, their experiments cause a massive explosion which decimates most of their kingdom and the nearby human kingdom.
3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

Finnias Flannagan: Finnias is the character that I came up with a couple months ago who didn't have a storyline to go with him. He is a Warlock living in the capitol city of his people. He is a brilliant hairdresser who is making a name for himself among the elite. He is personable and easy to get along with, but he can be obsessive compulsive about a lot of little things, like cleanliness, which is sometimes a problem between him and his three roommates. Finnias comes from a large family whom he visits often. He is medium height and sleight of figure. He has brown hair (which he always dyes other colors) and blue eyes.

Finnigan Flannagan: Finnigan is Finnias' twin brother and also one of his roommates. He is easy to get along with, like his brother, but not as OCD. He's funny and witty and loves to entertain his friends with jokes. He's very manly and spends a lot of his free time working out or helping his father and brothers with high labor projects.

Chay Deron: Chay is Finnias' second roommate. He is an endearing pessimist and can be very blunt. He's very observant and speaks up for people when they can't speak up for themselves, when he bothers to care. He tends to brood in corners.

Kelsie Jams: Finnias' third roommate is an artist. He is constantly lost in a world of his own inside his brain so he is very forgetful, helpless, and accident prone. It's a wonder he hasn't been killed by accident yet.

Aileen: Aileen is Kelsie's girlfriend. She is an ambassador to the Witches/Warlocks from the humans. She is extremely intelligent and passionate. She also has a sixth sense when it comes to Kelsie. She is, undoubtedly, the reason that he is still alive. She watches out for him and makes sure his absentmindedness doesn't get him into trouble.
5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
This year, I have been doing quite a bit of NaNoWriMo prep work. My novelling buddy has inspired me to develop my characters, world, and plot before NaNo even begins! Sometime in the next week, I hope to outline my plot.
6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I'm really looking forward to writing character interactions. I have a versatile cast who are different enough that their interactions should be entertaining to write (and read, too, hopefully!). In addition to my five major characters, I have many members of Finnias' family who will show up in the novel. I'm hoping that I can write them like J.K. Rowling did with the minor characters in Harry Potter: even though the minor characters have small roles, they are still memorable enough to stick in the reader's imagination many years later.
7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
The Witches/Warlocks live near the ocean.
The novel takes place in the capitol city.
Everything gets destroyed so there is a lot of rubble.
8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
After the city is destroyed, Finnias' goal is survival. A new leader rises from the rubble whom Finnias does not agree with, so his goal is also to find some way of saving his people from a tyrant.
9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Once his world is destroyed, Finnias must learn acceptance. He must also learn to be heroic, rather than cowardly.
10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
One of the major themes of the book is going to be the difference between right and wrong, between good and evil, and how one should react to them. Some other themes will be sticking up for what's right and what you believe in, learning to let go, dealing with grief, and dealing with betrayal.

Are any of you doing NaNoWriMo? If so, tell me about your story!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Joy At Weeping

This is an autobiographical essay that I wrote for my composition class. Enjoy!


“Whales! Whales!” Someone shouts the alert and immediately the entire campsite is on its feet. Nappers are roused from sleep; likely, the cry has saved them from burning to death inside their inferno-like tents. Disregarded books are not so lucky: their spines break as their owners abandon them. Children throw down their bikes and balls, their rocks and sticks. Camp stoves are left unattended. From all corners of San Juan Country Park, campers careen to the waterside to watch the passing killer whales. I am swept up in the stampede.
The whales are not particularly close to shore, and they are moving quickly, but I manage to take a picture with seven fins in it as the creatures surface for air. The excitement of the morning carries my friends and me through the day. I am elated. Elated, that is, until my mom returns from picking up my dad at the ferry. I can tell that something is wrong for both of my parents are solemn and do not smile as freely as usual. Soon, they pull me aside and present me with the news: Grandpa has died.
As wave after wave of differing emotions flood my brain, I hug my dad. I had not known Grandpa well. I only had two memories of him from before Alzheimer’s Disease took his mind. Now, he no longer suffered and was healed in heaven. Surely that was cause for celebration? Yet, my dad had lost his father. My grandma had lost her husband. Even if I did not remember Grandpa, they did. Surely, then, that was cause for sadness.
A new, selfish thought streams into my mind. Did Grandpa’s death mean that we would have to cut our camping trip short?
My dad tells me no; we will stay the remaining few days at the campsite and then go to Canada for the funeral. Over the next few days, I watch for whales, play Mad Libs around the campfire, and enjoy the company of my friends. Behind the fun, I feel dejected.
When we arrive in Canada, I learn that my aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered the night before to remember my grandpa. I feel badly that I missed an opportunity to get to know Grandpa.
Before the funeral, however, the family visits Grandpa’s body, which is on display at a funeral home. The funeral home wanted to put him in a casket, but that would have cost money that an economical Dutch family such as my own did not want to spend. So, Grandpa is lying on a white sheet, his head on a pillow. One of Grandma’s quilts covers his legs and torso. Grandma tells us that she did not have any pants to dress him in, so he wears only underwear under the quilt. With horror, I recognize the white quilt with the patch-worked diamonds: it is the same quilt that usually covers the guest bed where I sleep.
The family trickles by the table, touching Grandpa’s shoulder or cheek.
“It doesn’t even look like him,” says one aunt.
Of course not. The people at the care home shaved his bushy beard when he could no longer take care of it.
“His soul is in heaven. His body is just an empty shell now,” says another relative.
We stand in a circle and share a few memories. We comment on how unnatural he looks with the undertaker’s makeup on his face. We sing a hymn. Then, we go to McDonalds.
Our group of twenty takes over all of the tables except for one. A homeless man with a beard reminiscent of Grandpa’s finds himself surrounded by Stellingwerffs. He, alone, of those in the fast food joint sits in solemnity without a smile and with his head bowed over his Big Mac. I still do not know how to feel. Am I to take my cue from my family and be joyful, or am to be sad that I never knew my grandpa?
The next day is the funeral. Grandpa’s paintings and sculptures are scattered throughout the room. Friends and family from all over the United States and Canada have come to remember my grandpa. I love hearing the testimonies of those who knew him since I only have two pre-Alzheimer’s memories of him.
The first memory takes place in winter. Grandpa is pulling me through his mountainous estate on a sled. I am only three or four years old, very shy, and very attached to my parents. I wonder who this strange man is and why he is pulling me on a sled. The ride is fun, but I would rather have Daddy pulling me.
I do not know when the second memory takes place, but there is no snow on the ground, so it must not be winter anymore. Grandpa has taken us on a hike through one of the trails he’s forged in the mountains of Lumby, British Colombia. Like usual, he is far ahead of the rest of us, lost in the beauty of God’s creation.
“Grandpa, wait!” I cry, in an effort to slow him down.
The memory ends. I do not remember if he heard me or if my voice slowed him down.
My memories of Grandpa after his Alzheimer’s set in are clearer. I remember Grandma helping him to wave goodbye to us as we drove away from their townhome in Pitt Meadows, after the mountain estate became too much for them to take care of. I remember Grandpa lining up my stuffed animals on the back of an arm chair in order of size; I remember being afraid to move them in case it would upset him. I remember my cousin Luke bringing some of his stuffed animal monkeys to the care home; Grandpa latched on to one and would not let it go. He walked in his familiar way with his hands clasped behind his back, only this time he clutched a monkey in a steel grip. I remember how, near the end, he would sit with his eyes closed, unresponsive until a spoonful of food pressed against his lips.
From the eulogy I learn that Grandpa was a draft dodger far before the Vietnam War started, that he blazed the trail for fitness freaks wanting to climb Grouse Mountain instead of riding the tram to the top that he recycled before “going green” was a movement, and that he biked to work before it became mainstream. I learn that Grandpa loved to create; he loved carving, painting, and music. He enjoyed hiking, biking, and his work as an engineer. I learn that Grandpa remained stalwartly faithful to his family and to God throughout his life, even after Alzheimer’s took his memory.
I look around me and see Grandpa mirrored in the personalities, interests, and faith of my family and in me, too. David and Luke inherited Grandpa’s quiet thoughtfulness. Pete has inherited Grandpa’s artistic abilities. Harriette, Rachel, and I have inherited Grandpa’s musical talents. Nearly all of the family enjoys hiking, biking, and enjoying God’s creation.
Some of my sadness evaporates. I know more about my grandpa now than I ever had before. I come to realize that death does not always have to be sad. On the contrary, when someone has such a terrible disease and such an incredible trust in God, death is a blessing. Those left behind on earth are joyful because, rather than suffering, the sufferer is in the arms of Christ, healed of all earthly illness.
My mixed feelings are reconciled. I feel peace.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Summer Reading List: The Epic Conclusion

In THIS post, I shared with you my summer reading list and the likelihood that I would finish each book. I had lofty goals—fourteen books. I finished... (wait for it... wait for it...) ...three books.
Three books from my list, that is. I actually finished sixteen books between May and the end of August. So, even though I didn't complete my reading list, I would still count myself successful.
Let's recap, shall we?


Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

2/5 stars.
A human mining operation on a faraway planet is attacked, but several ships escape before it's Too Late. Unfortunately, they are plagued with a biological weapon and are chased by the bad guys. Can teenage lovers Kady and Ezra hack into the computer and save everyone??

The format of this book is fantastic, as it is told through transcripted conversations, transcripted surveillance videos, instant messages, and ships logs.
That was, however, the only thing I enjoyed about the book. The plot was okay, I suppose, but the characters were all the same smart-mouthed, crass person. Would not recommend.

The Adventure of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

4/5 stars.
The Bastable children try to solve their family's financial troubles by coming up with several ludicrous schemes to earn money.

This is exactly what you would expect an E. Nesbit book to be like... fun, sweet, and slightly adventurous. I would recommend her books as before-bed reading for the whole family.


The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (audiobook)

4/5 stars.
Demon-in-training Wormwood and his Uncle Screwtape converse via correspondence on how to corrupt human souls.

A fantastic book, though I missed parts of it because I listened to it on my way to work. I want to read it so that I can soak in every word. Once I do that, I'm sure the book will become 5/5 stars, rather than 4/5 stars. I would recommend The Screwtape Letters to Christians who enjoy being challenged in their faith and who enjoy satirical storytelling.

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

5/5 stars.
The history of Middle Earth.

The Lord of the Rings has so much more meaning now that I know the history of the world it takes place in! I loved The Silmarillion, even though I had to wade through the prose at times (I think one of my shoes is still lost in the mire). Recommended to passionate Lord of the Rings fans.

Heap House by Edward Carey

4/5 stars.
Every Iremonger is given an object when they are born. Clod Iremonger is the only one who can hear the birth objects whispering, though. When a new serving girl starts working at Heap House, the objects whisper nervously and even start to move on their own. Are the two events somehow connected?

Heap House is, without a doubt, the most unique story I have EVER read. It's so unique that I don't know how to describe it, so I will say: go read it if you are looking for a distinctive plot!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (audiobook)

5/5 stars.
A mysterious boy appears at the house next door. The four March sisters befriend him and, together, all five of them have many adventures and grow into strong adults under the tutelage of Marmy.

I'm so sad that I never read Little Women before this summer! I enjoyed it immensely and I can't wait to read it again in the future. I recommend this classic for anyone who enjoys friendship stories about people being people.

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

2/5 stars.
Princess Una has come of age and has suitors from many different lands vying for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, she has also gained the attention of an evil being called The Dragon.

After hearing many bloggers rave about the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, I read the first book. I didn't enjoy it, and I feel terrible for it, because I know that it is a well-loved series. I disliked it for two major reasons: 1) I felt that the pacing didn't work, for the first half of the book focuses on Una and her suitors and nothing really happens... Then, the story takes a drastic turn from romance to allegory and action. 2) The plot doesn't work without the allegory. This may be a personal preference, but I think that if an author writes an allegory, the plot should still make sense if you take out the allegory.
I did enjoy Ms. Stengl's prose, and her world-building seemed well-fleshed out; the world seems much bigger than we read about on the page, which leaves plenty of opportunity for exploring in the sequels.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (audiobook)

I listened to the entire Narnia series on audiobook this summer. My least favorite Narnia book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because I'm so familiar with the plot. I also know Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader very well. I was happy to read the other books in the series as it has been a long, long time and I had forgotten a lot.


Into the Vast by D.J. Edwardson

5/5 stars.
Adan awakes in the Institute with no memories. When he is broken out of the Institute by Will, he must learn about the world around him and he must decide whether or not he wants to help Will destroy the technological superpower of the city of Oasis.

To quote from my Goodreads review, "Into the Vast is everything I enjoy in a novel: great setting, wonderful prose (my favorite chapter was Chapter 35: On the Threshold), characters that you can feel for, adventure and action, and all with a slight sci-fi undertone (even if the novel is supposed to be more of a dystopian)." If you enjoy that kind of book, check out Into the Vast!


Hidden Pearls by Hayden Wand

3/5 stars.
Constance, one out of six girl cousins raised by their grandparents, is called across the Atlantic ocean to visit her ailing, aging great-aunt. Along the way, she faces storms and privateers and learns many a lesson.

Again, a book that I had high hopes for, but it ultimately disappointed me. My biggest complaint about this book are the romances. There were five couples in this book and they all seemed to fall into their relationships too easily. I found them cliché and they overwhelmed the plot.
I did love the author's humor, though. She's very funny and has many a clever sentence. I also enjoyed the quotes she included at the beginning of each chapter.

And there you have my summer reading list of 2016! Right now, I'm reading Frankenstein for school, the sequel to Into the Vast, and an Edgar Allen Poe short story here and there. I think I will start The Fellowship of the Ring tonight. I miss reading Tolkien.

What have YOU been reading lately?

Friday, September 2, 2016

An Update from Beyond

It's been just over two weeks since I first arrived at school, so I thought it was time for an update post!

Me with most of my stuff the night before leaving home.
The advice:
-Get involved.
-Go to football games.
-Cry if I need to.
-If a boy comes up to me claiming that God told him to marry me, run away. Far away.
-Put studies first and fun second.
-Don't go on walks with boys, for that leads to marriage. (So far, so good! No boys have gone walking with me alone.)

The dorm:

One of my secret desires as a kid was to have a vaulted bed with a desk underneath. Now, that desire has been fulfilled! I love my "cave." I love that all of my stuff is contained in one corner rather than spread out across the room. I love that I can organize everything I own to my own preferences.
The rest of the dorm is really nice, too. Since this building used to be a hotel, it is the only dorm on campus that has a pool and hot tub.

The food:
The one thing I didn't think to buy before school is food. The food here is delicious, but it is a fifteen minute walk from my dorm to the dining hall and sometimes I don't want to make that journey. It's good to have food in the room just in case.
I've managed to stay away from sugar, for the most part! I've been eating a lot of natural sugar in fruit, but I haven't had a single cookie or candy bar since I got here. They're very tempting, but I'm determined not to gain the Freshman Fifteen pounds.

The friends:
God has blessed me with two amazing roommates. We get along really well. We three have been hanging out with the other freshman in our hall (and our "brother hall" downstairs) a lot. It's nice to have a group to do things with. I've also started developing friendships with some of the girls in my classes, too. I have to keep reminding myself that friendships don't form in a week, though. The hardest part of transitioning from "person" to "college person" has been the relational part. It's difficult to be 1,500 miles away from all of the people who know me best. I am very thankful for my roommates who are very encouraging and loving and for the close connection we have, even though it has only been a little over two weeks.

The classes:
I am taking four classes right now and I love them SO MUCH! Spiritual Formation is interesting because I am learning about developing my relationship with God and how that affects other areas in my life. Composition is fantastic because I am learning about editing grammar mistakes and that is what I am here for in the first place—learning the skills to become an editor! Call me crazy, but correct comma usage excites me.
My other two classes are tied for my favorite. One of them is Gothic Literature. So far, we have learned about the context and history of Gothic Literature, we have learned the story components found in most Gothic fiction, we have discussed how as Christians we should approach the horrors of Gothic fiction, and we have read and discussed several Gothic short stories. So far, my favorite short stories have been written by Edgar Allen Poe. Soon, we will move on to the main text of the class: The Phantom of the Opera. Gothic Literature is so fascinating! This class has given me several short story ideas.
My other favorite class is Literary Studies. Much of the enjoyment for this class comes from the teacher. He is so charismatic! And he is very passionate about literature. Also, his specialty is Shakespeare and I love Shakespeare. I hope to take some of his Shakespeare classes someday.
We read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight last week and when we got to class on Thursday, he had us act out Part I! I got to play Gawain and it was so much fun! I couldn't stop grinning all the way to chapel.
I'm so happy to be learning again!

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I appreciate them. I don't know how often I will be able to blog, but I hope to be able to get at least one or two posts out a month!

Now, tell me, what have you been up to? I feel like I've been severed from the virtual world. What have I missed in your lives?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beautiful People: August 2016 // Finn

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~

This month's questions are based around appearance.

1. Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)
Here is Finn's description from his character profile: 6’. Shoulder-length, wavy, pale golden hair and very pale complexion. Green eyes. Rectangular face. Quite thin from being on a prison diet, but strong and muscular.

2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Before stepping out of the cage, he tucked in his shirt and pulled on the jacket he had been wearing five years ago when he had first been thrown in his cell. He pulled a hand through his long, curly-blond hair. He bent down and spat on his boot, hoping to shine it a bit. He was going to see the king, after all.
“All right, I’m ready to see the king,” he said, running a hand through his hair again. 
“It’s the other way around,” grunted a guard. “The king is seeing you. You are merely reporting as ordered.”
3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?
Finn is extremely pale, but his eyes are green, so people are often struck with the contrast between his complexion and his eye color.
4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)
Probably his pale complexion.
5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)
As stated in his description, Finn is six foot tall and thin, yet muscular. At the beginning of the story, he is in the king's dungeon and has been there for five years, but he works out in his cell just in case he ever escapes and needs to fight someone.
6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?
Despite being in a dungeon for the past five years, Finn has great posture. He always carries himself well: shoulders back, back straight, and head held high like an invisible string is pulling the nape of his neck toward the sky. He carries a lot of tension in his neck and shoulders, so he can sometimes appear rigid.
7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?
Finn would probably wear loose, comfortable clothes made by the finest tailor in his homeland. Perhaps he would look more relaxed than normal, even going so far as to relax his rigid posture.
8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?
The only accessory that Finn wears is a locket with a portrait of his twin sister Raya inside of it. He also carries his sword and bow and arrows with him. His sword has an ivory handle and is inlaid with emeralds.
9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!
Yes. Finn's race can't grow hair, but since Finn is half human, he and his twin sister did grow hair. To fit in with the rest of their race, they would shave their heads, arms, and legs every morning. Yet, they were still teased for the fluff that they occasionally missed.
10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?
Finn hated how he looked when he was younger because he didn't fit in with the rest of his race. When he left home, however, he stopped worrying about shaving his hair and let it grow long. His hair has since become a feature of pride to him, rather than shame.
If Finn could change one thing about his appearance, he would make his skin darker so that it doesn't burn so easily in the sun.

In my next blog post, I will talk about Finn's race, whom I have been busy creating. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

San Juan Island 2016

Every year, my friends and I (and our respective families, though mine declined to come this year) make an Epic Pilgrimage on the Washington State Ferries to San Juan Island where we laugh, relax, and watch whales. This year's San Juan trip came at the perfect time: right in the midst of preparing to leave for college. Though I had one or two days of anxiety about all the things on my to-do-before-college list, I was able to remove myself from all responsibility except Camping Responsibilities and enjoy the time spent with my friends.

Here's the squad:

And here are some of our adventures:

Lime Kiln lighthouse. During the summer, a team of volunteers tracks our resident Orca Whale pods (J, K, and L) and gives informational talks about the whales.
Abbey and her Best Friend the Black Box saving the ocean one giant piece of Styrofoam at a time. We used our ingenuity to fish it out of the sea and drag it up onto shore (and before breakfast, too!)

Deer invade the campsite! In past years, raccoons and bees have been a problem. This year, the deer were a problem. They ate the bananas off of our picnic table as we watched from a few feet away (and took selfies, because, well, isn't that what my generation is supposed to do???).
Throwing the dummy for The Dog.
As usual, we visited the used bookstore in Friday Harbor and I found a book by Richard Adams! I didn't know he wrote anything besides Watership Down. I didn't buy it, but I took a picture so that I would remember to look it up later.
My camp chair found love!
Eagle watching at Brigg's Lake.
Watching the moon.

Looking for bats at English camp.
Reading in the wind and sun.

Beautiful sunsets.
Camping isn't camping without glow sticks!
Watching for whales.
They came SO. CLOSE! Probably within twenty or thirty feet of where we were sitting on the rocks next to the lighthouse. This was a special viewing not only because they were close, but also because these whales were from K-pod, which hasn't been seen since June. Because there isn't enough salmon in the water, the whales go elsewhere to find food.
The picture above is a snapshot from a video that my friend's mom took. My camera died shortly before K-pod came close, but my other friend's mom let me use her super nice camera to take pictures so that she could videotape the whales!
As a special treat to end the trip, I broke my sugar fast and ordered a raspberry-chai tea milkshake at The Hungry Clam. If you ever go to San Juan Island, make sure to stop by The Hungry Clam (conveniently located right next to the used bookstore) and order one of their milkshakes. They are the best in the whole world, and you can mix practically any combination of flavors for your Ultimate Milkshake of Destiny.  

Now I'm back home buying last-minute items and packing away my life in boxes. In less than a week I will move into my dorm! If you think of it, you could pray for me... specifically that 1) I would transition easily from being a formerly homeschooled and only child to a college student living 1,600 miles away from both parents and friends, and 2) that I would be confident in who I am. Sometimes, I chameleon into whoever I'm hanging out with and lose my true identity trying to fit in. I want people's first impressions of me at school to be of the Authentic Abbey: a geek saved by Christ trying to live according to God's values, not the world's.

I've been camping for ten days. What did I miss? What have you been up to?