Uncle Book and the Jalapeño Overdrive

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It’s not every day that one of your oldest friends puts out an album. It’s been a lot of fun to watch Uncle Book/Tim Worley develop his music over the years, create a YouTube channel, teach children how to play, collaborate with others, and now he has an album to his name.

Uncle Book and the Jalapeno Overdrive is a wonderful ‘everyman’ album about the simple things in life, both good and bad. You won’t find any high-minded pretension here, or overly sexualized lyrics. Like most people who sing the blues or folk music, the themes are common to us all: holes in our shoes, taxes are due, but also the joy of summer time and watching a Ranger game.

Snake Eyes (a fun, get you moving song with a 70’s feel) starts out the album and grabs you right away. The throaty Whiskey Woman stands out as one of the best songs on the album. Nichole is beautifully soothing, a soft love song about sharing life. This album is a great easy listening album that changes things up with each song. One of the neatest elements of the album is the way Tim brought many different artist (over 22), from all over the world together. He not only applied his own musical talents to it, but brought different singers, instruments, and gifts into the mix. This provides a unique element to the album as a whole. I must admit, I chuckled out loud in the car, by myself, over the last track.

As many of you know, my own particular music taste doesn’t lean towards the blues. I’m a heavy metal, Irish Punk, Christmas music sort of person. But, I’m not going to not listen to an album my friend put out. Uncle Book expanded my music horizons! J I find the blues compliment much of the Irish Punk in theme: that earthy troubles feel. The use of so many different musicians, singers, and instruments kept things fresh. Each song on this album is different.

I look forward to seeing where Tim takes his collaborative talent over the years and for the next album.

If you enjoy blues, and down to earth stories, and supporting independent musicians, pick this album up. You can get it on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.

Happy Birthday Rachel and Lauren!

Happy birthday to two of the most beautiful, awesome, adventurous, fun girls I know.

Thank you for making me an aunt when toy came into the world! I have treasured every minute with you and loved our movie dates, family days, and fun on Instagram.  I pray the Lord will grow you both in wisdom and grace.

Love you both so so much!

Happy Birthday!

A Book and a Video Game

I want to talk about a two random things that have nothing to do with one another, other than they are dear to me and I have enjoyed them.

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First, before he went to be with the Lord, Ron Baines gave me a copy of The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-1757. He gave me two copies, “For his literary girls”, with the promise that I would give the other copy to my dear Stephanie Florentino. He then proceeded to read me a passage from it and explain that he thought I would enjoy the book because Esther sounds a bit like someone from Pride and Prejudice.

As always, Ron was right. I did enjoy the book very much. The Introduction is exactly what you would expect two modern feministic women to say about intimate letters written by two Christian women. Where they see chafing against male leadership, I saw sanctification. Where they see the trappings of a society that put women down, I see Christian women trusting the Lord.

I tend to be focused on fiction, books on doctrine, and military history. This book was my first venture into non-military biographies since I was a kid. It is a collection of the letters written by Esther to her best friend as she moves with her husband, deals with health issues, brings two children into the world, worries about her extended family, and tends to her hearth and home.

Because of her letters, I was able to live with her through fear for her parents from the Indians and French, through fear of sickness, through her struggles with trusting the life and death of her children to the Lord, and all the other things two women would correspond about.

The sense of loss which filled me when I came to the end of Esther’s letters surprised me. I had become attached to this woman. Knowing the book ended because she passed away, and not just because we lost the rest of her letters, saddened me greatly. But how different that sadness is when your reading about real people compared to fictional ones. I love Sam, Harry, Hazel and so many other characters, but they are temporary and all dust in the end. Not so with Esther. I will actually get to meet this dear saint who went to be with the Lord shortly after her husband and left her children behind. Ron is now with Esther in heaven. What a glorious hopeful thought.

I highly recommend this book. It is funny, dull, beautiful, hopeful, sad, and everything normal life is. I’m very thankful Ron gave it to me, and I will treasure it for as long as the Lord gives me.

 

Second, the game Price and I have been waiting for for a very long time finally came out this Fall: Final Fantasy XV.final_fantasy_xv_wallpaper__whit_new_prompto_by_realzeles-d9fy76x

After the huge disappointment of Metal Gear Solid V, we tried to go into this game with low expectations. That proved difficult after going to see Kingsglaive late one night like we were 20 again, and after the four anime shorts released on YouTube about the four main characters, and the free pre-game that included an adorable fox-like creature named Carbuncle. Just you try to stay calm.

In November, we got our copy and started to play. Right away this game was perfect. The story was perfect, the build-up was perfect, this game was perfect.

Before FFXV, Red Dead Redemption, Brothers, and StarCraft all proved to be moving stories that brought me to tears. Final Fantasy XV has replaced all of them except Red Dead Redemption.ffxv_key-art_tgs2014-noscale-1920x817

This story is a brotherhood story written from a man’s perspective. It is a very masculine game, which is refreshing when so many games and stories have lead females and are told from a feminine perspective. This game isn’t a romance story. There is love in it, but the focus is on the relationship between the four young men. Not their relationship with any girls. Its smart remarks, food, fishing, adventure, and battle.

This story follows four friends on a road trip. They are Noctis, the prince, his bodyguard Gladiolus, valet/cook/driver Ignis, and friend Prompto. Noctis is on his way to marry the beautiful Lunafreya, but taking his time to get there with no shortage of teasing from his three friends. While they’re having a good time on their road trip, their country is attacked. Noctis’ father, the king, is murdered, Luna is whispered to be dead, Gladio’s father is dead, and their capital city is destroyed. Darkness begins to encroach and deamons fill the land.

The rest of the game follows Noctis, now King, as he seeks to gain the favor and power of the gods so he can reclaim his kingdom. Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto follow faithfully after him, protecting him, encouraging him, and keeping him focused. Lunafreya, not dead, goes before him to prepare for each meeting with the gods.FINAL FANTASY XV EPISODE DUSCAE_20150317222557

Or, that’s what you think the rest of the game is going to be about. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

In an epic battle, which has split the four friends up in defense of a city, Noctis is injured and Lunafreya is murdered while he watches. This sends Noctis into a tail spin of emotional gloom for weeks. Ignis lost his sight in the battle, but Noctis doesn’t seem to care. The four friends begin to fight as Gladio is torn between frustration with Noctis, who won’t shoulder his kingly responsibilities, and Ignis, who needs constant help. The game play became very interesting here, and emotionally painful. Through the first 2/3 of the game, you are literally tripping over your friends. They are always right there with one. With Noctis and Gladio fighting, and Ignis’ loss of sight, they are now always behind you. The fun joking turns into demands that you slow down and think of someone beyond yourself. As the player, you feel alone and isolated.

(At this point, I went to bed. I couldn’t handle the characters fighting. It was so painful. It made me realize that I would rather kill off a character than have friendships fall apart.)

Eventually, through several trials, Noctis becomes who he is supposed to be. Ignis demands Gladio and Noctis heal their relationship. And, Ignis learns to fight by sound instead of sight. Prompto is captured by the enemy, and they go to rescue him and find the crystal which will heal their land.

As the player, you’ve acclimated to Noctis being out front with his party behind, and are really happy everyone is friends again. Then, you have to abandon your three friends in a battle against the deamons to reach the crystal. Noctis’ only hope is that by reaching the crystal he can save his friends. Instead, Noctis disappears inside crystal he thought would rid his kingdom of darkness and deamons. Noctis is lost and his friends must carry on without him.

While inside the crystal, Noctis is told by the gods that the only way for him to save everyone is to die. He must sacrifice himself to bring light and peace.

When he returns, ten years have passed. There is no light. But, his friends are waiting. They are waiting for the King to come back. They believe and have always believed Noctis would return. (Seeing this Christian theme played out brought me to tears. They waited on their friend. They waited for the King.)

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There are many more sub-plots, side quests, unique monsters, and even a whole other villain I haven’t talked about who is behind all the evil and treachery. This is a dense game with a very ‘living world’ feel. The ending fights and scenes, with characters 10 years older than before, are very moving. Noctis willingly gives himself to save his land. The last campfire scene where he tells Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto how much he loves them hurts with its beauty.

Uniquely, Luna’s entire role is to help Noctis. She goes before him to demand the gods help him, which is her role as Oracle. She could have gone down a different path, but instead she chose to help her intended husband become the man he needed to be. How rare is it to see this feminine virtue praised and shown as honorable in any modern media?

This is an excellent game for young men to play, because it honors the relationships between men without turning them into any weird homosexual thing. It shows warriors fighting for their home, setting aside boyish things to take on responsibility, and standing together against darkness. It shows a King taking on his burden, and it shows the men around him helping him. This is a beautiful game about masculine friendship.

I loved everything about this game. I loved the story, the characters, the brotherhood, the music, the setting, the gameplay. I always enjoy any story which focuses on masculine friendship and the strength found there. FFXV did just that.

Rated PG-13: There is a bit of mild language in the game, but this rating is mostly for the handful of scantily clad women. The girl who runs the garage and one of the summon spells are far from modest. This would be the main issue for me in recommending the game for young men. It’s probably nothing worse than what you see in most movies, like Star Wars, but I still wanted to give a heads up about it.

I just couldn't resist this perfect picture. lol

I just couldn’t resist this perfect picture. lol

Happy Birthday Bruce!

Happy birthday Bruce! I love you so much, bug guts! 

I love it when you come over to watch movies with me, or video games with Uncle Price. I love to make up new and revolting insults with you. I love going on adventures. I hope you enjoy being six! 

I hope you have a great year at school learning new things, and I pray the Lord shows you great grace. 

Happy birthday to a boy full of life, hater of hugs, and lover of nature! 

The Life and Times of Abby Jones

 

Cruises make the best pictures.

I think, as it is the new year, I should post something about what our family has been up to recently. Consider this the Jones 2016 Christmas Letter.

My blog has gone a bit by the wayside lately, as I’ve been working on some faery stories and finishing Book 2 of The Artists Return Trilogy. For various and sundry reasons, I’m hoping to get back in the groove of blogging. You’ll see why a little later.

Pretty much my new favorite line.

2016 was a doozy.
My health started to improve in May, which was a blessing because about that time my extra Dad ended up in the hospital. I know it’s not quite accurate, but it feels like we spent the whole summer in and out of the hospital. As far as my health goes, it seems that most of my issues stem from an inability to produce vitamin B. I can’t make it, or get it from the food I’m eating. Now, I take a B supplement every night before bed. I think this vitamin deficiency, combined with years and years of running on adrenaline while we owned the boutiques, and while I tried to do all the things, is what caused the Abby Collapse of 2015. I still have to watch how many things I commit to and listen to my body when it’s tired, but I’m much better.

About the time my extra Dad’s health was leveling out, our dear friend Ron Baines passed away right before we went on vacation. As soon as we returned, we found out our Pastor Jarrett has Parkinson. Changes will have to be made as he deals with this life altering disease. Next, our church hosted the Founders Conference SW. At this point in time, it is the end of September. I’m not sure what happened in October. That month is a big blank in my mind.

Halloween was in October!

November saw big changes in our family. The final decision for Price to go back to school was made along with the decision for me to look for a part time job.
Did I say doozy?

I started my job search in November, hoping to get picked up for holiday help, prove my worth, and stay on afterwards. I anticipated finding a job would take weeks if not most of the rest of the year. Nope. It took less than a week. Nordstrom hired me right away. I was flattered, but also slightly terrified. Starting a new job just as the holidays rolled in was enough to turn any woman’s hair gray.

On top of the college paper work, Christmas, a new job, Price teaching at church, and all that, we decided to revamp our home accounting. New home project right in the middle of the craziness! Yay! This has been a challenge, but also something we can work on together, so it’s been fun. As fun as accounting can be.

Just before all this craziness started, Emily Shiflet and  I had a Band of Brothers party. We watched all ten episodes in two days. Emily said she now understood what it was like to be in my head much of the time. 🙂 It was a much needed weekend of snacks, drinks, fellowship, and my favorite TV show. (See, the year wasn’t all bad.)

Christmas 2016 has been titled The Christmas that Wasn’t.
Sister Baking Day didn’t happen. Everyone’s lives were crazy. Jason only got to join us for a few hours on Christmas Eve. Remi was sick. Liz was enjoying her first trimester. Mom got sick on Christmas Eve and had to hide in her room all day. It was hot. Things were just off.

Christmas with the Joneses went a little more smoothly. We had a wonderful afternoon after church, spending time together.

Just when you thought life couldn’t get crazier, Price and I decided it was time to venture into the world of self-publishing. I have many stories sitting around. It’s time to see if they can survive out in the world and bring in an income.
First step: Panic.

Second step: Find an illustrator.

Third step: Everything else.

Thankfully, the Lord has already started to provide in this area. One of the girls at church, who is an amazing artist, wants to break into illustrating. We are going to combine our ignorance and collaborate on my first book, Sanctuary. We hope to keep learning together and put out 2-4 books this year and next. Please pray for us. I have several online friends who are letting me pick their brains and cry on their shoulders. God is good.

In addition to this, Pastor Jarrett approached me this Fall with the idea for a children’s allegorical story based on the Beatitudes in Luke 6. He’s been preaching through them and hopes to publish a small book based on his sermons. He wants a children’s story to go with it. This was a huge huge huge moment for me. Not only did it show me that my writing has grown enough for him to want to use it, but Jarrett has inspired several points in my stories. I am honored, excited, and horrified all at the same time. The name Lewis, and even Sproul, have been thrown around. That’s auspicious company to find yourself in.

Between all the faery stories, I’m still working on my Trilogy. Book 1 is simmering. Book 2 is going through the first round of edits, and Book 3 is percolating in my head. I’m also writing each of the kids a story for their birthday. I hope to collect these into one book to publish at the end of the year.

I have had to set aside almost all of the beta reading I was doing for different writers. This is something I hope to put back in my normal rotation, but I haven’t found time yet.

January has now rolled around. Price has started classes. He is working full time, taking two classes, and teaching almost every Sunday. I hope to see my husband in a few months. Lord willing, he will graduate with a BS in May. I am working part time, managing the cleaning, eating, secretarial work, and accounting, and odds and ends, and walking down the publishing path.

Niece or Nephew number 10 on the Vincent side is on the way. Price’s nieces turn 14 this year, and are both taller than me. They are beautiful and amazing and I love them. Vacations are being planned.
2017 promises to be very interesting. (Isn’t that an old Irish curse?)

How is your year shaping up?

 

 

Quote of the Weekend 

​Fugue (2013)

[last lines]

DC Endeavour Morse: How do you do it? Leave it at the front door? 

DI Fred Thursday: ‘Cause I have to. Case like this will tear a heart right out of a man. Find something worth defending. 

DC Endeavour Morse: I thought I had! Found something. 

DI Fred Thursday: Music? I suppose music is as good as anything. Go home. Put your best record on. Loud as it’ll play. And with every note, you remember: That’s something the darkness couldn’t take from you. 

When I fell in love with the show.