Warning! Spoilers ahead! Last night we watched the last two episodes of Merlin (BBC series, season 5). I was so sad to have it end. I admit it, I cried when Arthur died. The last scenes between Arthur and Merlin were really touching. I liked that last twist at the end about Merlin too. I’d really come to love the characters in this story. My favorite character in the story was Merlin, but I came to love Arthur too. Guinevere and Gaius were favorites too, except when Gwen was enchanted and tried to kill the king. Hats off to the writers and the amazing acting in this series. Everyone was so believable. I loved the sense of humor in the story. We had a lot of fun watching the whole series. Our favorite saying was, “The security in this place is sadly lacking!” because just about anybody could sneak in or out of the castle. Morgana was deliciously wicked, and I will never look at a crow the same way again!
As I read a series of books about the same character, I often find myself wondering what happens in between the crises that they find themselves in. I mean, I know that to make a book exciting, your main character has to be confronted with a problem, and the story is about how they solve the problem and become a better person. But sometimes I feel sorry for them. They never seem to have any time to be ordinary people. They never get any time to prop their feet up on the coffee table and watch the game, or putter around in the garden, or just hang out with their family. They’re always off to the next big problem. Don’t they get any time off? I guess I’m unusual. I want to read the scene that doesn’t move the plot forward, the one that just shows the character living life.
For example, Tania (the main character in my book, The Sixth Power) has a lot of fun teaching her dog, Peter, tricks. Because of the enhanced connection between them, she can communicate telepathically with him. She is able to teach him things no ordinary dog would know, like watching the traffic lights so he can safely cross the street. She spends a lot of time on finding things, getting specific things from cupboards or the fridge, answering questions (one bark for yes, two barks for no), tracking, and watching TV. She also teaches him hand signals for commands. She even begins to teach him how to read (although that one may be beyond even Peter’s capabilities). When Tania is with her friends, she shows off what latest trick Peter has learned, and they are all amazed at how smart her dog is. And how does Peter feel about all this? Peter is very happy, because he is having fun with the person he loves most in the world. Very little of this training is shown in the actual book because there isn’t time to present it if the story is to arc properly. Perhaps that’s why some DVD movies include deleted scenes or added material. There is something in us that wants to know more. We connect with the character. We’ve become friends over the course of the story, and we want to continue that relationship into ordinary life. Most of the time, however, we are left to read between the lines.
My family and I have really enjoyed watching Merlin, a very entertaining and imaginative BBC show about Merlin and all his trials as he strives to keep King Arthur alive through another onslaught of evil magic. Merlin’s overriding goal in life is to help Arthur become the great king he can be, so that the land can become a place of peace and tolerance. Merlin is funny, smart, kind-hearted, and very talented in magic, but he must hide it. He pretends to be a bumbling servant. He’s the Clark Kent of the Medieval world who is always there to save the day.
I have enjoyed watching the growth of Arthur’s character. He definitely has his faults. He is stubborn, arrogant, and narrow-minded. He never listens when Merlin gives him advice. But Arthur has a a good heart. He is courageous, loves his people, and he tries to do what is right.
In one episode, he is given a strange coin and told that his kingdom will fail. He rides out (with Merlin at his side) to face the three oracles who have pronounced this doom upon him. Arthur is told that unless he will embrace the old religion and worship the pagan goddesses, he will fall, and all he has worked for will fall too. Arthur spends all night thinking and wrestling with what he should do. Merlin too agonizes over how he should advise the king. All they have worked for is about to crumble.
Morning comes, and again Arthur faces the oracles. With great calmness, he lifts his head and says he cannot. At that moment, I loved Arthur. For all the mistakes he makes, he is true to himself. He is true to the inner light that guides him. He shines in his greatness. There are many legends about King Arthur and Merlin. According to most, Arthur dies in battle and his kingdom does fall. He is also known as the once and future king, the greatest king that ever lived, the king that will someday come and save England. To me, Arthur was a great king because he was true to what he knew was right. As Shakespeare once said, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
alarm, Books, Dragonhaven, dreams, ghosts, insomnia, King Arthur, meaning of dreams, Merlin, milk, mindful breathing, night sounds, nightlight, Ovaltine, reading, Robin McKinley, sleep, sleep deprivation, symbols
Sometimes I sleep just fine. Other times I just can’t seem to get comfortable, or I can’t find my brain’s off switch. Some nights I drop off quickly, but then I wake up at three a.m. after a disturbing dream. Instead of dismissing it, rolling over, and drifting back to sleep, I start wondering what the dream meant, and I analyze each item or person. Hmmm. Was that toilet in the dream a symbol that I need to get up and use the bathroom, or perhaps it has some deeper, more disturbing meaning? Perhaps it is an omen. Is my life about to go down the toilet? Anxiety rises. Stop! None of this is helping me to go back to sleep. After a quick trip to the bathroom, I lie down again. I glance over at my husband, envious of his oblivion. Lucky guy. Should I wake him up for a back rub? Nah. One of us needs to be able to work in the morning.
I try deep breathing. In. Out. In. Out…
Wait. What was that noise? Is there a burglar in the house? Oh, it’s just the wind blowing and the house creaking in protest. But what if it’s a ghost? Oh, no. I should never have watched that TV show about the ghost haunting King Arthur’s castle! (Merlin, season 5, in case you’re wondering) Okay, back to deep breathing. In. Out. In. Out. This isn’t working. All that oxygen is making me hungry. Perhaps a piece of toast and a mug of hot milk with Ovaltine…
Ten minutes later, I’m back in bed. Now I’m really awake. Sigh. I might as well read. I click on my nightlight, pick up a well-read book and start reading. The theory is that since I’ve already read the book, and I know what happens in the end, that my brain will turn off, and I’ll wake up in the morning with my lamp still shining and my face imprinted with page edges. The book is Dragonhaven, by Robin McKinley. I love this book and have read it many times. I know what will happen. Surely I will be able to go to sleep now… But somehow I get caught up into the story of Jake and his dragonlet.
Oh, no. Is that my alarm ringing? Yawn. Oh, well. Good morning, everyone. Next time I’ll try reading a textbook.
Congratulations to Marissa Aldana, who won the giveaway for my Blog Tour for The Sixth Power. I have been browsing through her website, and I am enjoying it. Happy Reading, Marissa!
Yesterday while driving south, I watched a hawk soaring on the wind that likes to roar down from the canyons. My heart leaped at its beauty, and I thought of Gerad Manley Hopkins’ poem, The Windhover.
I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
Rain, smatters of snow, fierce winds, biting temperatures — Blah. You’d think it was winter. I feel sorry for the birds who sit shivering in the trees, wondering what happened to spring. Needless to say, I still haven’t got outside to dig up the garden. I tried to go for a walk, but my face felt as if it was going to freeze and fall off. I think I only did a mile before I gave up and went home. I think I’ll just stay inside, go through my email, and work on my next book.
My second dog came to me while teaching school on the Canadian prairie. One night during the winter, when temperatures were so low they were dangerous to man and beast, I heard a scratching on my front door. No one should have been at my door. After all, there was a blizzard going on outside. It was also very late at night. I crept to the door and listened. Again came the scratching. Living alone does things to one’s imagination. I made a mental note to buy a baseball bat and a can of mace. Too late for that now. Cautiously I cracked open the door and peeked out. On my front step was a shivering black and tan pup with white hairs throughout her coat… and no collar. She looked so beseechingly at me that my heart melted. I coaxed her inside, where she wagged, wriggled, and licked her way into staying for good. Oh, I asked around. I put up notices at the local grocery store. But secretly I hoped the owner would stay lost.
After some research I found that my new dog was a Queensland Heeler. Lady, as I named her, had her faults. She had strong herding instincts: she nipped at the heels of everyone she met. She barked when left home in the fenced yard I’d provided for her, even though she had water, toys and chew bones. She ended up pregnant and bore four pups that I had to find homes for. Notwithstanding all my troubles as I learned how to be a responsible dog owner, Lady was a loving companion. I used to sneak her into the school at night while I did my lesson plans and marked papers, and she’d sleep under my desk and keep my feet warm.
On one such night the power went out. I grabbed my coat, purse, and Lady’s leash. Then I felt my way along the walls of the hallway. Somehow I made my way to the front door of the school. Once outside, I was dismayed to find that the power for the whole town was out. Inky blackness greeted me, along with the biting, lonely prairie wind. The only light was from the faint stars in the sky. I couldn’t even see my hands. So I wrapped the leash around one hand and told her, “Go home, Lady, Go home.” Lady eagerly set out with me hanging on, hoping she really knew the way home. At first we headed straight west and my feet thudded on the sidewalk. Suddenly she veered left, sniffing madly at something irresistible. “Lady, go home!” I yelled, wincing and yelping as branches slapped my face. I stumbled over something and fell, scraping my hands. Thankfully I still had a firm grasp of the leash. Lady continued to lead me as she left messages for other dogs and wound her way around the bushes along the way. This was definitely not the fastest way home. “Home, Lady!” I hung on desperately as I strained to see anything that would tell me where we were headed. I had a whole new appreciation for well trained seeing eye dogs and the faith their companions put in them. Finally, we stumbled up the steps of my duplex. With frozen hands I fumbled in my pocket for the key. Once inside, I searched for a candle and matches in the frigid kitchen. Light greeted me. Lady pranced around the room, proud of her accomplishment. I left on my coat and hat, added two more pairs of socks to my feet, and huddled in bed. Lady burrowed in with me, warming my side. In the flickering light, I scratched her behind the ears and praised her. “Lady, you’ll never make a seeing eye dog, but I’m glad you got me home.” She licked my face and thumped her tail. I was never so grateful for a canine friend as that night.
Well, we got to enjoy a wonderful, sunny day yesterday, but today it’s back to clouds and rain. Oh, well. Rain is better than snow, plus it makes all the plants grow. I especially “like to look for rainbows when ever there is rain, and ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.” (song by Nita Dale Milner) Funny things, rainbows. Have you ever tried to figure out where the end of the rainbow is, so that you can find that elusive pot of gold? The thing is, every time we move, the rainbow’s end moves too. It reminds me that life is to be lived in the moment, and we should seize the opportunities that come that day, enjoy the beauty around us, and love the people we are with right now. The end of the rainbow is here, now.
Yeah! It’s a beautiful spring day, with blue skies and warm sun, the kind of day you want to spend outside digging in the garden or going for a walk. But if you do happen to be on the computer today, check out these websites for my blog tour for The Sixth Power. Open Book Society and Michelle both did some wonderful book reviews, which I really appreciate. Have a great day, everyone! I hope you’re getting some sun where you live.