Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 6 – The Bengdaro Wedding!)

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This was the bottom of their Polaroid photo-esque hanging photo booth!

This was the weekend we’d all been waiting for. For nearly two years, we eagerly cheered on Nick and Savy as they planned the wedding of their dreams!

Come along with me as I take you on this grand adventure!


Friday, October 13th

Al and I got up at 4:15 a.m., our normal weekday wake-up call. However, we quickly drank some coffee, and made sure we had everything important in my car. We left our driveway at 5:00 a.m. sharp!

Aside from one hasty bathroom break for me, we made it to the Beautiful Morning Farm (a.k.a., the Vardaro Farm) around 8:30 a.m. Al kept me awake with stories, water, and jelly beans!

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I think Savy took this on Thursday? I can’t remember. Regardless, this is our favorite niece, Mia. She was gathering greenery for the centerpieces. She turned 12 on Monday! Photo Credit: Savy Beng Vardaro

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This was the choose-your-own-adventure sign at the welcome table!

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Hand-painted by Savy! Isn’t she talented?

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The full photo booth, with the pond in the background.

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The pole barn, where the reception took place. The bounce house was awesome!

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Savy painted these epic cornhole boards for Mom and Dad V. several Christmases ago!

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Setting up the ceremony space!


Saturday, October 14th

I was impressed that I got eight hours of sleep. The farm was buzzing very early on Saturday morning – Savy’s family got up early for coffee and breakfast! Al’s mom was the perfect hostess and had plenty of coffee, plus egg casserole, donuts, and cereal on hand.

Around 10:00 a.m., everything got started. I was lucky enough to get my makeup done by an amazing make-up artist (MUA).

We had spouts of busy and crazy, but it was fairly relaxed, since the festivities didn’t truly start until 4:30 p.m.

Al took this awesome photo of Mia!

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This was Savy’s GORGEOUS bouquet. She designed it! So unique, so Savy.

Nick and Savy did a “First Look,” and Amanda had a field day with the two of them. So many amazing shots.

Then, the Red Army started off the wedding with a bang! The color red symbolizes good luck, and everyone made a ton of noise to scare off the bad juju and usher in celebration for the bride and groom. We had drummers. We shouted. We hollered. Flags were waved. There were bubble guns. Al flew his quadcopter above us!

 

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The Red Army processional! Photo Credit: Dan Harris.

The ceremony was beautiful and touching. The officiant, Christina, quoted The Princess Bride. Nick and Savy never stopped smiling. Nick wrote a special set of vows to Mia, and he gave her a beautiful necklace. I loved how they included her in the ceremony!

After the kiss and final music, the party began! We took family photos, and then Amanda whisked Nick and Savy away for more photos. The farm was the perfect setting – I can’t wait to see the official photos!

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I don’t know who took this particular photo, but it was requested that Nick and Savy, Al and I, and Crystal and Steven got photos together. Amanda was the photographer at all three weddings!

The handsome groom, Nick, and the stunningly beautiful bride, Savy!

 

My dad took this awesome photo of Al and I. It’s my new favorite.

We ate off of cafeteria trays, and head lamps were our favors. “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”

The gorgeous centerpieces. Everything was either handmade or found.

My parents!

Mia is showing the beautiful sea turtle necklace that Nick gave to her during the ceremony. All of us ugly cried.

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Photo Credit: Dan Harris.

Cornhole!

The paper cranes were beautiful!

The bounce house, with slides!

The cake table.

The cards collection was an old guitar case!

The memory table.

Two of the amazing bellydancers, Ginger and Rachel!

There was SO MUCH FOOD. The estimate was roughly three pounds of meat per person – Basically 300 pounds in all!

During the reception, we had lively music, three incredible bellydancers, Paolo the juggler and fire performer, and more food! Nick and Savy danced to “Fools Rush In,” and Nick and his mom danced to “Simple Man.”

Uncle Dan captured this incredible shot of Paolo!! Photo Credit: Dan Harris.

And then, we danced!


Sunday, October 15th

After an amazing Saturday, we wound down the weekend on Sunday. Breakfast was simple, and Al and I hung around until 2:30 p.m. We took home tons of leftovers – Pot roast, pork butt, and BBQ chicken! I won’t have to cook at all this week – Thanks, Chuck and Angie!

Al and I got home safely around 6:00 p.m., and vegged out!

Everyone came together to make this weekend absolutely spectacular for Nick and Savy. For me, personally, I gained a sister and a niece, so I’m beside myself with happiness.

Al and I were thrilled to be a small part of it!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Book Review #50: “The Great Gatsby”

The Great Gatsby - Complex

Image Credit: Complex

I may have mentioned before that I re-read The Great Gatsby at least once every year. This Book Review attempts to express my deep love and appreciation for this novel, first published in 1925.

I was first introduced to this thrilling work of fiction in Mr. Degnan’s English class in high school. At the time, I knew bits and pieces of the eras known as “The Jazz Age” and “The Roaring Twenties,” but I hadn’t willingly picked up a work written by F. Scott Fitzgerald until this particular assignment.

Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed.

Told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, a man in his late twenties, the book catapults you head-first into the crazy world of New York City and Long Island during the summer of 1922. Nick is surrounded by a literal cast of characters, including Jay Gatsby, the owner of an extravagant, opulent mansion. Nick rents the modest bungalow next door, and is immediately awestruck by Gatsby, the incredible parties he hosts, the rumors that swirl, and the air of mystery. What follows in the coming days and months is a violent whirlwind of many parties, little work, lots of dancing, plenty of food and drink, and a time of celebration following The Great War’s end.

Nick reconnects with his cousin, Daisy Fay Buchanan. She is married to one of Nick’s college acquaintances, Tom. Jordan Baker, a beautiful amateur golfer, soon enters Nick’s life and his heart. Along the way, Nick learns that Tom has one main mistress, Myrtle Wilson, and rents an apartment in the city for other affairs.

An invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties thrusts Nick into another world. He learns the man is borderline obsessed with Daisy. Five years have passed since their chance encounter. However, Nick can see that Gatsby desperately wants to reconnect with her. Over time, he uses Nick surreptitiously to accomplish his goal.

Throughout the novel, affairs run rampant and can easily make the reader’s head spin. The dancing, music, and illegal alcohol will do that, too.

The characters’ personalities are heightened, and sometimes incredibly violent and unsettling. The fights and shouting feel real, and the hot summer day that serves as the novel’s climax makes me sweat every time.

Several of the characters suffer quite tragic consequences, and by the very end, many are bitter and disillusioned, to say the least. There’s a sense of an incredible downward spiral.

The novel is long enough to take readers on an incredible adventure set in a span of just a few months, but short enough to be thrilling, breathtaking, and entertaining without getting stale. Reading Gatsby for the first time inspired me to dive into Fitzgerald’s world and read more of his work. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Finishing the book leaves me in a slightly depressive mood, but in the end, it’s worth it. It gives me a sense of what those years were like for those who experienced it, in the cities, in modest houses, and in the ashes.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #61: “How To De-Objectify Women in Comics: A Guide”

De-Objectify

Image Credit: Renae De Liz

My good friend Michaela Leigh shared this with me several months ago!

Here’s the link to the original article:


This was a really interesting perspective on a common problem – Women and girls are objectified way too often.

Case in point: Consider the controversial dress codes that schools across the country have implemented or attempted to implement with tank tops, shorts, leggings, homecoming dresses, and prom dresses, among other things. That’s a whole other blog post to discuss, but I wanted to make that reference.

Here’s the breakdown of the above illustration, taken directly from the article:

  1. (Left) A common expression in comics. Eyes are lidded, mouth is pouty. It’s look to promote a sense of sexiness & lessens personality.
    (Right) Personality and uniqueness first. Think of distinct facial features outside the usual. Promote thought in eyes. What’s she thinking of?
  2. (Left) Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). The intent is to highlight sex appeal. It’s not realistic for a hero.
    (Right) What’s REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a different look. Consider not ALL heroes have DD’s.
  3. Arms are closer to supermodel size on the left. What best fits your hero? If she’s strong, she’ll likely very built. Give her muscles!
  4. Hands on left are set in a way to promote the sense of softness, it lessens her power. Be sure hands are set in a way to promote strength
  5. (Left) It’s common to see “the arch n’ twist” in comics. A female arched and twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.
    (Right) Twists in the body are a powerful art tool but stick to what can realistically be done, and use arches w/o intent for “boob/butt perk.”
  6. One on left feels like she’s posing. The right feels like she’s standing heroically. Make her overall pose functional vs. sexually appealing.
  7. Heels! Modern heels are generally used to amplify stance & increase visual appeal. I like them, but if I were a hero, not too realistic.  Most important is what would your character choose? It’s very difficult to hero around in stilettos. Perhaps consider low/no heels.

I don’t consider myself a good artist, especially when it comes to faces and characters. I struggle with proportions, and I’m a crazy perfectionist! I get so frustrated. So, I’m far better with landscapes!

Anyway, reading this article was eye-opening to me. I’m not trying to give comic book artists a bad rap at all – Many of them are very talented, and those who draw the famous characters typically put their own spin on the character’s original likeness.

With that said, I found myself nodding my head with most of her points. Female superheroes should be showcased for their talents and abilities, not because they are female. But, at the same time, I can see how sex appeal has been ingrained for years. I’m sure the artists (and the publishers) want / wanted to maintain a certain audience with comic books and other media, so certain standards / techniques were established in terms of female superheroes.

However, there’s also a delicate balance. Sure, you want to keep the guys interested in the comic books, but you want to appeal to the girls, too. I think objectification has been a years-long issue, and comic books and female superheroes are just one part of the complicated jumble. There’s no simple solution, unfortunately.

The author brought up some interesting points. Here’s my thoughts.

If I were a superheroine, I would want the best sports bra or support available, because I certainly wouldn’t want my boobs to get in the way of saving someone’s life, fighting a monster, or saving the Earth from a gigantic threat.

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be portrayed as someone who is strong, courageous, determined, and brave. For me, I wouldn’t want a face full of makeup while on superheroine duty. I want to look put together, but not look like a clown. I want to look strong and active – Not necessarily super buff, but enough to be convincing. A six-pack would be nice! My hair should be up and out of my face, not in the way!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be functional in my costume / outfit. I mean, I’m trying to save people’s lives, much less the entire Earth, among other things! I don’t think I would be comfortable in something leather, skin-tight, and anything with heels! I struggle in heels in my everyday life – Give me comfortable / functional boots!

If I were a superheroine, I would want to be recognized as a female, but lauded for my accomplishments instead of my looks! Sex appeal is great for photography, romantic movies, and a few other things, but not superheroines!


I admire several superheroines.

Jessica Jones

Jessica_Jones_by_Mike_Mayhew

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I was first introduced to Jessica Jones with the Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She’s a private investigator in Hell’s Kitchen, but she’s also a bad-ass. Plus, Krysten Ritter was an awesome casting choice.

Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t know much about Stargirl until Tidewater Comicon in 2015. Granted, I first saw a “bombshell” figurine rendition of her, but I actually prefer her original costume. I love how her personality was based on one of the creator’s sisters, also named Courtney, who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion in 1996. She’s young and strong!

Wonder Woman

Wonder_Woman

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always admired Wonder Woman. Now, I have a renewed interest and fascination since Gal Gadot debuted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She’s strong, courageous, and her outfit (at least in the most recent movies) is somewhat modest. She fights in boots, not heels!

I’m excited to see how she is portrayed in the upcoming Justice League movie, as well as the planned sequel to the box office smash Wonder Woman. Until then, I’ve greatly enjoyed researching how Lynda Carter portrayed her on TV, and others.


What about you? Do you have any favorite superheroines?

What are your thoughts on objectifying women, girls, and superheroines?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #79: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 41)

Week #41: Hobbies.

I absolutely love reading. Books give me so much joy! I love the fact that I’m able to read almost every night before I go to sleep. I have quite a personal library that runs from my childhood to the present, but I also love libraries!

Writing is another hobby. I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old. I do regret throwing away a lot of my old journals. However, I did keep the blue binder, covered in stickers from doctor’s offices and gifts. Those have both handwritten and typed stories from fifth grade through high school. Who knows, you may see some of them here on the blog.

Last year, I restarted my hobby of American Girl dolls and books. It took off like wildfire. I have more dolls, clothes, shoes, and accessories now more than ever. Al is helping me design and build a custom doll cabinet for my office.

Those three are my main hobbies. But, I also love traveling, photography, cooking, playing computer games, riding my bike, playing softball, trivia, and spending time in nature. I love using my camera, and I’m learning how to take better photos with mu phone. I would love to be on a softball team again. Eventually, I would love to have the Carmen Sandiego games, and the Roller Coaster Tycoon games on my computer – So many awesome memories! I also enjoy watching game shows – Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! will always be my favorites.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #89: Fourth TBR Recap

Matilda Book Quote

Image Credit: Pinterest

Welcome back!

In case you’re interested, here are the links to my previous TBR posts:


This is what I’ve read since my last update in July:

  1. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  2. The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space, Tamara Dietrich, Mark St. John Erickson, and Mike Holtzclaw
  3. The Runaway: A Maryellen Mystery, Alison Hart
  4. The Lady’s Slipper: A Melody Mystery, Emma Carlson Berne
  5. The End of Everything, Megan Abbott
  6. Love and Loyalty: A Felicity Classic 1, Valerie Tripp
  7. A Stand for Independence: A Felicity Classic 2, Valerie Tripp
  8. Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey with Felicity, Kathleen Ernst
  9. Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake, Frank W. Abagnale, and Stan Redding
  10. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  11. The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, A World War II Soldier, Walter Dean Myers
  12. Growing Up with Aloha: A Nanea Classic 1, Kirby Larson
  13. Hula on the Home Front: A Nanea Classic 2, Kirby Larson
  14. Prints in the Sand: My Journey with Nanea, Erin Falligant

And, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of October 2017:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  6. New Boy, Julian Houston
  7. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  8. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  10. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  11. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  12. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  14. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  15. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  16. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  17. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  18. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  19. Dare Me, Megan Abbott
  20. The Fever: A Novel, Megan Abbott
  21. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  22. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  23. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  24. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  25. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  26. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  27. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  28. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  29. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  30. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  31. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  32. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  33. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  34. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  35. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  36. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  37. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  38. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  39. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  40. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  41. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
  42. Caraval, Stephanie Garber
  43. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  44. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  45. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  46. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  47. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp
  48. Autumn Street, Lois Lowry
  49. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  50. Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
  51. Messenger, Lois Lowry
  52. Son, Lois Lowry
  53. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  54. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  55. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  56. Emma, Jane Austen
  57. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  58. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  59. The List, Patricia Forde
  60. Hello Me, It’s You, Anonymous; edited by Hannah Todd
  61. Use The Force: A Jedi’s Guide to the Law of Attraction, Joshua P. Warren
  62. Digital Fortress: A Thriller, Dan Brown
  63. Deception Point, Dan Brown
  64. Inferno, Dan Brown
  65. Origin: A Novel, Dan Brown
  66. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  67. Camino Island, John Grisham
  68. The Rooster Bar, John Grisham
  69. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, Manoush Zomorodi
  70. Lost Laysen, Margaret Mitchell
  71. Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell; edited by Jane Eskridge
  72. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane
  73. Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
  74. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
  75. Pretties, Scott Westerfeld
  76. Specials, Scott Westerfeld
  77. Extras, Scott Westerfeld
  78. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, Robert Kolker
  79. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), Francine Prose
  80. Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert, Ruth Ann McKinney
  81. Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
  82. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
  83. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O’Brien
  84. July, July, Tim O’Brien
  85. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
  86. P.S. I Still Love You, Jenny Han
  87. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han
  88. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
  89. Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
  90. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  91. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
  92. The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls
  93. Half Broke Horses, Jeanette Walls
  94. The Silver Star, Jeanette Walls
  95. Because You Exist (Light in the Dark Series) (Volume 1), Tiffany Truitt
  96. Among The Hidden (Shadow Children #1), Margaret Peterson Haddix
  97. The Goldfish Boy, Lisa Thompson
  98. Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fisher
  99. Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher
  100. Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher
  101. The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher
  102. Trell, Dick Lehr
  103. In A Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
  104. The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
  105. We Can Be Mended, Veronica Roth
  106. Carve The Mark, Veronica Roth
  107. Sing, Vivi Greene
  108. West End Quartet, Ariadne Apostolou
  109. Defining Sexism in the U.S. (Sexism in the United States) (Volume 1), Elizabeth Hall Magill
  110. Sexism and U.S. History (Sexism in the United States) (Volume 2), Elizabeth Hall Magill
  111. What Yo Mama Said, Elizabeth Hall Magill
  112. Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy, Seymour Reit
  113. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace
  114. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
  115. The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli
  116. Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley
  117. Turtles All the Way Down, John Green
  118. Lea Dives In, Lisa Yee
  119. Lea Leads the Way, Lisa Yee
  120. Lea and Camila, Lisa Yee & Kellen Hertz
  121. Mary Jane’s Ghost: The Legacy of a Murder in Small Town America, Ted Gregory
  122. The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey

That’s all, for now!

I’ll publish my next TBR update / recap in January!

What have you read recently?

Happy reading!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #32: Fall Activities Book Tag

Fabulous-Autumn-Quotes

Image Credit: Parryz.com

The lovely ladies at Thrice Read did this awesome seasonal book tag! It doesn’t quite feel like fall right now here in Virginia, but the leaves are starting to change, we’re decorating for Halloween, and planning for so many amazing things!

Here’s the link to the original post:


Apple Picking:
A book on your TBR that looks so great you can’t wait to get into it.

The Hate U Give

Image Credit: Amazon

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas.

I can’t tell you how many people have recommended this book, in blogs, in book reviews, and a few personal recommendations, too. This is the next one I’m getting from the library!

Corn Maze:
A book to get lost in.

The Last Song

The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks.

I love most of Nicholas Sparks’s books. I remember eagerly awaiting for this book to be available from the library. I got it just in time to take it on a long trip to Florida, and the hours flew by in the car with this book. The movie actually wasn’t so bad, either.

Haunted Houses:
A book that scared you.

Catalyst

Image Credit:

Catalyst, Laurie Halse Anderson.

I remember being shaken when I finished one. Anderson is an immensely talented writer, and I’ve read all of her books. It wasn’t a horror novel by any means, but it scared me in a real-life kind of way. I identified with the main character, Kate, in several ways, and I felt myself changing several things in my own life after reading this.

Pumpkin Patch:
The latest book you picked up / purchased.

Camino Island

Image Credit: Amazon

Camino Island, John Grisham.

John Grisham is one of just a few select authors where I strive to own every book that he will ever publish!

 

Scenic Drives:
A book that is lyrically beautiful.

Tuck Everlasting

Image Credit: Goodreads

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt.

I was assigned to read this book in middle school, and we later saw the movie in theaters. I haven’t read it in years, bur I remember the impression it made on me.

Pumpkin Carving:
A book you didn’t like and wouldn’t mind cutting up.

allegiant_novel_cover

Allegiant, Veronica Roth.

I don’t think I need to elaborate my disgust for this book!

Drinking Apple Cider:
A sweet book to curl up with.

The Vacationers

 

The Vacationers, Emma Straub.

Although it took me a good long while to finish it, I ended up loving this book, and Straub’s writing style. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Jumping in a Leaf Pile:
A book that reminds you of your childhood.

images (2)

Image Credit: Pinterest

The Baby-Sitters Little Sister series, Ann M. Martin.

I loved checking these out from the library, and I owned quite a few of them. I think I eventually read all of them!

Scary Movie Night:
Your favorite spooky read.

The Lovely Bones

Image Credit: Goodreads

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold.

Just thinking of this book gives me goosebumps.

Costume Party:
A book with an eclectic cast of characters.

The Help

Image Credit: Goodreads

The Help, Kathryn Stockett.

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. I wanted to read it as soon as it was announced. I laughed so hard while reading it – It’s so funny, during a tough time in the American South. There are several generations represented, and the whole cast of characters makes for a great read. The movie was excellent, too.


I loved this tag!

What’s your favorite fall activity?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #60: “This American Town Was Left to Die, and Suddenly Economists Care”

South Boston

South Boston Historic Downtown – South Boston, Virginia. Image Credit: Virginia Is For Lovers

Back in August, one of my friends shared this article on Facebook. Immediately intrigued, I clicked on it, curious about what context the headline gave.

Within seconds, I couldn’t believe which town they were referencing.

South Boston, Virginia, is just a few miles away from where my in-laws have their farm. It’s a beautiful town, formerly Boyd’s Ferry, first established in 1796. There are multiple places in the town that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the link to the original article:


I’m definitely not an expert in economics, although I did take ECON 111 at Longwood and got quite an education during that semester. However, I’ve always admired small-town America, and I find myself researching different towns, counties, and rural areas, particularly in Virginia. I wrote several research papers on Appalachia between high school and college, and have always been fascinated with the tragedies and triumphs of the vast region.

South Boston is one of the towns in Halifax County. Like many small towns, there’s been what referred to as a rolling recession in the town since the 1990s. The town has about 8,000 residents, and the workforce has decreased by about 25 percent in the last two decades. This particular article discussed the effects of free trade on the U.S.

Two particular movements devastated Halifax County and its workforce: The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, and then when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). While the unemployment rate in the U.S. was trending toward historic lows, the unemployment rate in Halifax County surged. The highest rate recorded in the county was 13.9 percent.

Many towns like South Boston experience a domino effect. Once manufacturing jobs dry up or leave, other businesses, seemingly unrelated or connected, also start to fade away. The dominoes keep falling, until something happens to make them stop. In South Boston, there are shells of car dealerships, empty downtown storefronts, and other evidence.

Fortunately, in South Boston, conditions have improved. The unemployment rate has held steady around five percent, far better than nearly 14 percent. A few manufacturers call South Boston home, not textiles or tobacco, but sports cars, robotics, power, and heavy electrical equipment.

Sprawling brick buildings that were once tobacco warehouses are now apartments. Two of them are now the home of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where students can become certified in a number of disciplines, thanks to schools such as Longwood University, Old Dominion University, Danville Community College, and Southside Virginia Community College.

IT certificate holders have been hired at Microsoft’s data center in a neighboring county. Other certifications include nursing and welding. The massive investment is paying off.

I’m glad that South Boston is becoming a success story. However, I think of many areas of Appalachia where coal mining jobs, among others, have been automated, and there aren’t enough jobs in the area to make up the difference.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂