Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Cold Winter Morning on the Farm

Tonight, the wind roars outside my windows.  I sit typing in my home, several hundred feet southeast of the farmhouse in which I was raised. It had horizontal lapboard siding over vertical boards--no studding and no insulation.  The windows were single pane glass that rattled on a windy night such as this.

My winter memories are abundant and vivid.  The way the stairs creaked--even when children trod on them.  And the crooked kitchen floor that listed a bit to the south.  The smell of warmth--of cherry and oak burning, and then the smell of the smoke after coal was added later, slacking it down for the night.  The hissing sound of trapped and expanding gas in heating lumps of coal-- followed by torches of flame bursting out.  And the cracking and popping of wood--sometimes sending red coals soaring out onto the cold, tile floor.

And off to bed, to the unheated upstairs.  I lay with piles of covers over me--an old hap, army green wool blankets, and quilts made of heavy, salvaged cloth.  Outside the rattling windows, the white pine--a full story taller than the house, sang a lullaby with a voice of a whispered "hush".  It was the song I had heard since infancy--its comfort at bedtime, unequaled.

I woke at dawn and looked at the most intricate designs on the windows.  The ice had formed overnight--fueled by the breath of eight children who shared the room.  It started at the bottom of each of the four panes making up the window.  And as it crawled upward, the edges were so delicate, as if the ice was tentatively reaching out- testing what lay on the glass above it.  And below that, it was thick, making it impossible to see through.

Still, there was a brightness in the room that had not been--just one day earlier. The bitter cold had been accompanied by snow.

I snuggled deeper under the blankets, against my older sister, Anna.    Stepping out into the room--into air that filled with a gray puff of mist each time I exhaled, would be bad enough.  But the thought of going  to the outhouse made me shiver.

Poor Anna; she would have to get up to go to school, along with four other, older siblings. Three of us were still too young.

As I listened for sounds telling me if anyone was moving around downstairs--and ready to make cream of wheat--or if I was really lucky, cocoa wheat, I heard a noise that sent me to my feet. Was that a baby?

It made no sense.

I headed down the stairs, indifferent to the creaking of the old wood beneath my feet.  My footfalls made little pounding noises as they landed; I was in a hurry.

I turned left when I reached the bottom landing, and then stood in the living room doorway,  looking at the hearth.  My dad was kneeling beside a wooden crate--the kind of crate in which soap powder was shipped to stores. I had seen plenty of them in the chophouse. My dad brought them home from work-- to store his tools in. And there was one out in the summer-kitchen, beneath the spring-house pump. It was full of Mission pop-bottles for making homemade root beer in the summer.

The noise was coming from the wooden box.

Not sure whether I get into trouble, I cautiously approached it.   After hearing a noise behind me, I turned to see my mom walking into the room.  She looked tired.

My attention back on the box, I looked down into it at pink skin.  The little grumblings began again.  I saw little pink legs and  faces.  I admit, I had no idea what I was looking at.  They sure weren't human.

I heard brothers and sisters coming into the room behind me.

Mom said, "Look at the little baby pigs, Aren't they cute?"

Now that I knew what they were, it made more sense.  But they sure didn't resemble those great big, hairy things covered with mud in the pigpen.  I had watched my dad and my oldest brother "slop the hogs", dumping buckets of potato and apple peels into a metal trough for them. And we dodged them in the summer while we built log houses out of the corncobs lying in the small pig pasture. There was no resemblance to what was before me.

Mom picked up a piglet and let us look at it up close.  Teeny, tiny, little hooves, just as clean and white as anything.  And their delicate little faces were actually cute, snouts included.

Dad said that their mom had them in the middle of the night and he was afraid that the bitter cold would kill them. So he had gathered them up and carried them to the house.

It was exciting, but we knew from that moment that they were not toys. We couldn't play with them like baby dolls.

As soon as the weather warmed from bitter to just plain cold, they were returned to their mom--full time.  But it had been a thrilling experience for us, to see such an incredible thing up close like that.

And all these years later, on a cold winter night with snow blowing past my window, my thoughts wandered back to that night--to the caring my parents instilled in us. 

Funny thing, where thoughts go when they have time to wonder/wander. :-)

Where have your thoughts wandered/wondered to, recently?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Reviews: Better Than a Rating System?

Disclaimer:  This post pertains to fiction ebooks. Names of books and authors have not been included--thereby protecting the innocent (and the guilty).  And, since I am not yet published,  I write this wearing a reader's hat. Okay, it has a matching writer's scarf.  I do love the craft...

I start this post with a heavy sigh, even while knowing you will be tempted to click the back button on your browser.  But, questions that seem unanswerable do tend to make me sigh.Where to begin? Where to begin...

While spending a great deal of time alone today at work, I did a lot of thinking.  My job is often like that--solitary.  And as they often do, my thoughts drifted in and out of the writing world. Today, it was not so much my own little writing corner, but more about the writing world at large.

Let me back up and tell you what started my thought train. I downloaded an eBook yesterday evening and immediately started to read it. Wow! I was turning those digital pages as quickly as I could read the words. As I was being reeled in by the action and the terror of this dystopian world, it occurred to me that the author was changing point of view quite often.

Hmm...it was a self-published book. Is this part of the crap that I so often read about on writer's blogs? Nah...not a book this engaging.  Today, out of curiosity, I went back to Amazon to double-check the reviews before I wrote this post. Over 200-- and standing at four and a half stars.  Nobody has THAT many friends and relatives ready to put up a shill review.

It was just the tip of the iceberg for me in this whole, enormous, reading/writing/publishing journey I have undertaken.

And, I must confess, just when I start to think I know something about this r/w/p world, I realize I know next to nothing.  I could go on confessing...there again, nah. Perhaps another day :-)

During the last year, my writing journey has intensified greatly.  It was one year ago that I entered ABNA for the first time. I didn't enter this year, because this year I understand that I really have nothing ready to go.  Last year, I was too ignorant of good writing to realize it.  And now, it is painfully obvious to me when a writer publishes their work--at a quality level of which they are too ignorant to comprehend--just like me a long year ago.

But, no regrets...ABNA was a wonderful experience that propelled me forward into the online writing community. And it nudged me to explore the writing world at large.

I began reading blogs--even created my own, and put myself in sponge mode--to absorb every little drop of meaningful advice that was offered.  The writing community is a generous one.  And there was not a better time to have begun to spread my wings, readying to fly with my writing.  But I had to fly fast--like everyone else who was trying to keep up with the near-daily changes. The landscape is shifting so quickly in the publishing industry that no one is sure where we all will be when the dust settles.

In my travels from blog to blog, when I read a post, I also read the comments that follow.  And there has been a recurring question asked, and then opined upon...over and over again.  "What to do about the crap that is being self-published?  The stuff that is clogging up Amazon and other sites that sell ebooks?  The real writers can't find their way out to stand at the top--to be noticed."

I understand what they are saying; I have read excerpts that made me feel bad for the authors. Have they no idea?  Then I remind myself that everyone has a story--some of them (us) have many that they (we) just can't help but share. :-)

But, I am not here to pick arguments, and I am not here to take sides.  And on some blogs I have visited, it is apparent that sides are forming.

I have read suggestions that there be some type of rating body, or a system that books are rated on, bearing some sort of mark of quality.  Hmm?  Are we trying to put up another gate to replace the one that the big six have had for years and years? The one through which only a minute number of writers ever made it?

I don't mean to diminish the enormity of their success--just making it through was magnificent--and a testament to their work, their dedication, their expertise...their education...

But, is there something more?  How do we define good and bad writing?  How do we define what is good and what is crap?  How do we define a person's sense of story?

It seems there is a huge disconnect between readers-- and the writers who cross every "t" and dot every "i".  It appears that understanding the correct way--the taught way to write, is not as important to many readers as it is to the writers who are clamoring for a way to rate books.  A system that will allow the stellar to stand in front of the not so stellar.

But, to be fair, there are storytellers among us who just don't know very much about grammar and punctuation.  There are people who are passionate about their stories--but the last English class they sat in was in high school. There are people typing away (right now, I bet), who have never once sat in a creative writing class.  Maybe they have never read The Elements of Style, never heard of The Chicago Manual of Style .  Maybe they hated English, but love to read--and their mind can't stop creating stories.

And it is prudent to consider the written standard--that nearly everything has.  It is the reference, the thing we come back to when we need to analyze, to double-check, to see if we are slipping away from the right way to do things. I understand the importance of a written standard.

Yet, in visual art, we can be taught a certain way to do things, a "method".  But our finished product is much less often judged on, and defined by, the written standard from which the artist was taught.  There is an acceptance for crude expression form.

And music.  I smile--there are some pretty successful artists out there producing something which I cringe to call music.  And I am awfully sure that those artists never sat in a music theory class.  But their work sells.  And it sells because it entertains someone.

I don't know what the answer is, but it worries me that anyone would presume a design for standardized rating of books-- based upon content quality, could be done in a fair manner. Such arbitrary judgement begs the question... who among us is worthy to judge?  Who among us is worthy to set the specs--the standards that must be met to earn a certain rating?  Who will provide the screening of the books' quality?  Who will pay for it all?

Having said all that, I am sensitive to the frustrations of  the many who are mired in a sea of ebook mediocrity. And there is mediocrity in abundance--along with  worse. And how can authors with exceptional books be noticed in an already over-saturated ebook market?

That last question exists for all ebook authors, too.  Even the ones who write "crap", yearn to be read.

The book I began to read last night (and will return to as soon as I post this blog) is a fine example of someone who did not follow the rules. Yet, I say without reservation, even if they don't know the term or the definition for it--are quite capable of motivating people to "suspend their disbelief".

I have read traditionally published books that, although, every letter and symbol was exactly where it should have been,  put me to sleep. I have, for years, read traditionally published books written by authors who I think might have been resting on their laurels.  Where was the story? 

What to do? As long as there is a buck to be made, companies will provide a means for writers to self-publish.  Demanding anything more or less--to me, smacks of censorship. "Just sayin..."

And I think that ultimately, any type of rating has to come from the reviews--from the people who read the books--or start to read them--then don't finish.

I don't know about you guys, but I read the reviews before I buy a book.  And if they aren't shining reviews, I probably won't buy it.  But, in all honesty...if I read a review that told me the story was excellent but the grammar or punctuation needed some work, I'd likely still read the excerpt to see if it was actually distracting. If it wasn't? For a good story, I'd still buy the book.

As  a writer, I encourage others, rather than discourage.  And I hope that my honest criticisms of their work would serve to motivate them to improve...to reach for a higher place.

In the same line of thinking, I add that just tonight, my son's girlfriend and I were talking about books. We recommend good reads to each other, and warn each other away from bad ones. I told her about the book I started reading last night. Then she told me that she has found so many bad ebooks, it makes her mad to waste her time.  She had just read the beginning of another one and was disgusted--and will not continue reading it.

I asked her if she wrote a review.  And then, as a good member of the writing community, <smile> told her that there are guidlines available online for writing a review--since she has never written one and seemed sort of shy. Ha! I act like the grand master of reviews. I have written four--but will write many more now that the importance has become tantamount to how to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Then I talked a little bit about writing reviews, being your own person and sharing your honest opinion, not insulting other reviewers when you disagree with them,  explaining why you liked or didn't like the book.  And the big one: never get personal about the author. <big smile>

Any thoughts out there?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Learning Problem Solving (from a four-year-old :-)

Problem solving.

I am not referring to math problems.  I mean everyday problems...situations that pop up unexpectedly.  Sometimes when we get older, we get into a pattern-- more of a holding pattern, when it comes to problems.  You'd think that age and practice would have taught us to look at things from different angles.  But all too often we become frustrated and then fail to use our creativity to our greatest advantage.

Maybe part of it is because we get so serious about problem solving. We get tense, and that shuts down our creative natures.  Maybe we are in too much of a hurry--trying to force an immediate solution.

And maybe we have learned a non-productive way to approach problem-solving.  The way we think does affect everything. One time I even started to read a self-help book that taught people how to think differently.  It appears there is a market for it--so there is probably a need?

And then, maybe...just maybe, it is a little bit of all of that.

Nattie Friday is my favorite day of the week. We like to have little projects. Sometimes we bake, sometimes we do a craft...but this past week, we dumped out a box of  Cheez-its brand crackers--the Scrabble ones.  And then we proceeded to spell words.

Nattie is a bright girl, and can name most of the letters when she sees them. Recently empowered by her preschool lesson on the letter "A", which somehow made it official that she did know what the "A" was, Nattie went in search of letters familiar to her, naming each as she found them. A great orange heap of letters, facing this way and that, and upside down, slowed her progress.

Amid giggles, we discussed what the letters "said". That was my word from my early school days in the mid 1960s.  Now we all know that letters don't really "say" anything. :-)

First up was her name.

Next up, of course, was her mom's name, which was a breeze--even with three of the magical "A"s she had just learned.  Next? Her dad's name. Then we searched and searched, but somehow, the letter "H" was not in the box! It had become impossible to spell her father's name!
Natalie said, very matter-of-factly (I know-- "matter-of-factly" is a rather questionable use of artistic word license ;-) "We should spell daddy, because that is what I call him...because...he IS my daddy."  Great suggestion! We had "Daddy" sorted out and arranged in a couple of minutes. Then we went in search of m-o-m-m-y.      Uh oh!  In that big stack, Nattie and I could not find 3 "M"s...only two.  While sorting through them, Nattie stopped and said, "Grammie, we can turn a "W" upside down."   :-) Yep, the second "M" in "Mommy" is a "W" turned upside down. 
I am not only impressed with how quickly she solved those problems, but am fascinated at watching human development blossom in front of me. She is just past turning four years old. This problem solving was not taught to Nattie; it was likely, innate.

I never finished reading the self-help book, by the way.  It seems that humans arrive in this world with some ability to solve problems, and then lose it along the way while we are being taught the way to solve problems.

And, to add just a bit more fun to the day, and since the crackers were stale (I found them in the back of the cupboard) Nattie was allowed to toss some of them to the dogs--who, as made obvious in the photo, adore her.  And when she is pitching food to them, she is a god among humans. :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Really? Reply Delete

Oh my! Too funny!  Please, someone tell me that after each comment, the opportunity to replay or delete has just been added. Please?

Lolol...really, laughed out loud.  For almost a year I have been replying to comments at the end of the comment thread-not immediately following each comment.  And as I replied to comments tonight, thought about what a great feature they have added.  Now people won't have to scroll down the page to check for replies to individual comments.

Hmmm...then it occurred to me that I have not seen any announcments about rollouts of new features.

And then I thought again about what I do for a living--and have done for a couple decades.  I am a paid observer of sorts.


Have they really been there all along? <blush>

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

One of my kindred writing/blogging spirits, Tanya Reimer posted  "Celebrating a Year!" on her blog "Life's Like That". It was her blog's first birthday...and for the party, she gave out gifts of blog awards to other bloggers--and I was one of the recipients. Yay for Tanya! Yay for me!  Thank you Tanya for thinking of me when deciding which blogs were "sweet".

All the recipient is supposed to do is thank the giver, post seven things about him/herself, and pass the award on to seven other bloggers.  I know it takes some time, and we are busy, so...I sure won't hold it against you if you don't pass it on.  In that case, just accept it in the spirit in which it was given.  I like your blog--I like you, I think that your blog is "sweet".

First, seven things about me.  <brevity here, Teresa. Brevity...>
1. I can't walk through a cornfield once the stalks are taller than me. I blame this on the movie "The Day of the Triffids".

2. When I am really stressed, I bake cookies, bread or cake--to calm me down.

3. When my sister, Betty, and I were really little, if we got thirsty while we were out playing, we used to lay down on our bellies and drink water right out of the creek. There was a cow pasture upstream. Yuck. :-)

4.I think mold is the most fascinating thing on the planet, right after humans, of course.

5.I believe there is other intelligent life out among the stars. (I know...sometimes the life here doesn't seem very intelligent)

6.I am deeply disturbed while in the the Primate house/habitat at the zoo. Weird, huh? It becomes extremely uncomfortable for me if one of them looks me in the eye.

7.I am a weather junkie, a weatherbug nerd, a weather.com geek.


Please, try to look at me the same you did before you read that list of seven. ;-)

Moving on...  Sweet, huh?  Irresistibly sweet, in fact. Okay, off the top of my head,

1. Deb Previte has several blogs, and I cannot pick a "sweetest" one, so am forced to post a link to her profile--and if you have time to look them over, let you decide.  I am partial to "A Bookish Libraria" because I like her book reviews. The kindness comes through. She is genuine. 

2. Harleena Singh over at Aha- Now! A complete family blog. has set a wonderful mood on the homepage.  When I visit her blog, it feels as though I am sitting and having a warm chat with a dear person.  She delivers tips, advice, observations and musings on family, health, and general well-being.  always responds and, like Deb above, her kindness comes through.

3. Gigi and Dianna, at Momma Wears Boots are grandma and great aunt to two little boys--adorable little boys. The blog was set up to keep their mother in touch with her babies while she is deployed.  They don't post often, but when they do, it is sweet to watch and read, and I always wipe tears after I leave my comment.  No matter where you are on political/military issues, it strikes a chord.  It is hard to be away from family, and the world over, people in the military suffer the separation of parent/child child/parent.

4.Melissa Ann Goodwin, author of The Christmas Village,  blogs at Writer on the Road.  Okay, She is not so sweet today. I read her latest post and she has a gripe. :-)  But as a rule, her blog is very sweet, enthusiastic, and enjoying life. They have sold their things, bought an RV, and are going to become full-time RV-ers. <envy...much envy> I will enjoy reading about their adventures as they find their way around the country.

5. Michelle Miller of The True Book Addict has a blog called The Christmas Spirit.  Not that the True Book Addict is not a wonderful blog, but The Christmas Spirit is full of sugarplums and such. <wink>  It is a fun place to rest a spell and take in the mood.  Lots of Christmas ideas, Christmas reading suggestions, contest, giveaways...  Very sweet,  indeed.

6. Alison Deluca, author of  The Night Watchman Express writes at Fresh Pot of Tea where she hands out writing tips, reviews books, shares links with other writers and muses on life, at times sharing stories about her own sweet family.

7. Debbie's  My Life. One Story at a Time is surely a sweet blog.  She posts reviews, and is a generous supporter of the writing community.  Oh my!The badges, the links...to wonderful connections all.  And I think I even saw a blog about sweet tea :-)

The disclaimer:  I have not reviewed these sites specifically searching for this award.  I would not be surprised to discover that some of these blogs have already been given this, several times over.

There were so many others that I wanted to include...

Happy blogging all!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Communication: Writing on Walls

As a writer, being a keen observer is helpful.  We learn from what we see…we learn from what we feel, what we experience.  As someone who delves into the world of written communication, it is very beneficial to be an observer.

Written communication…humans have a need to do it–from earliest man– telling his stories on cave walls, to the author of Gilgamesh using clay tablets to share one of the earliest works of literature… And let us not leave out the people of recent ancient-history; they found their walls too.

On Daniela Renelt’s blog Idiots and Earthquakes  , on the right side, there is a quote taken from the translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

And along with humans’ need to share their news, their opinions, their stories…conveniently, some type of wall has existed.  And walls have always been a pretty darned convenient place to do it.

Back in a more recent ancient-history than the days of Gilgamesh–my youthful years I allude to, people communicated on walls.

Public walls.

I could go to the closest department store and head to the ladies’ room to catch up on the news.  Who loved whom. Who was going to love someone ’4ever’.  Which girls hated which other girls–and even the details of why, were often included; they usually mentioned a boy as the reason.
Sometimes, there was even poetry left behind by persons who, regardless of attempt, succeeded in displaying far more silliness than talent.

Cat fights?  You  bet. They made their way to walls of infamy.  Phone numbers?  Phone numbers adorned them–and I might add that those were landline numbers to the only phone in a house, one that a mom or dad might answer.

I was not much on the news, but did check them to make sure that my name or number was not listed among them.  I never wanted to be written about on those walls.

But the words failed to live on beyond their authors–unlike the translated words shared on Daniela’s blog.  Each time the foulest of the foul news was shared, the department store sent a hapless employee to paint the bathroom a new color.

Having said all that, I am going to share an observation I recently made. I make no claim that it will hold true in your part of the world, and no claim that I am the first to make this observation…but I found it interesting.  And I wonder if others are noticing it in their necks of the woods.

Today, we still have a penchant for communicating–and for writing on walls.  But I don’t see it on public walls anymore.  I even see far less artwork graffiti. (I liked the artwork graffiti by the way-the impromptu art scattered in out of the way–and often unexpected, places).

Have humans found a new wall? I think that might be the case.  Cellphone texts (and forwards), Twitter, facebook, and other Social Networking Sites.  The communications have moved beyond tangible walls, to those in the untouchable world of near-magic digital display.

Much of the same type news-sharing goes on.  The bullying continues. And I have have even witnessed cat-fights between forty-something-year-olds.  And I feel much the same way now when I read it as when I did back in more recent ancient-times.

But now…the news may very well outlive the authors who wrote it.  Granted, so much “news” is compiled on digital walls, that juicy and embarrassing tidbits will likely never emerge to embarrass a grandchild.  But, the possibility exists.

There is something to be said for those digital walls, though. How about the love posts?  I do see great poetry, kind posts, and humans lifting other humans out of dark places–all on those walls…

Some things never really change. Humans' need to communicate and a way to make it happen…

You know, I think I am going to my Twitter and facebook walls right now, and I am going to post Dave+Teresa 4ever…

What do you think?  Have you noticed a decrease in graffiti in your neck of the woods?

Could what we write on social network sites be replacing it?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years and Writing: Rituals

New year's eve brings to a close one of the most celebrated times in the western world--the "holiday season" full of festivities and our ritualistic ways of celebrating them.

As I sit here in the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree,  my thoughts wonder over rituals in writing.  I mentally review books that I have read-- and find rituals in nearly every one of them.

I once participated in a Q&A forum.  Having gone there to dispense my modest knowledge of plants and gardening, I was quickly drawn away to the discussions of humanity, behavior, and just what makes us so very human.

A favorite participant, Angel Wakes, asked, "How important is ritual?" I don't recall the replies, but the question that Angel asked has never left me; I often muse on the subject. 

Since I have delved much deeper beyond the mechanics of writing--into the components of story, many of my musings have been about infusing ritual into the lives of my fictional characters. Making it even more important to exploring rituals in writing has been my affinity toward writing fantasy with a touch of scifi. It not only involves world-building, but involves other-world-building. And rituals adds a rich dimension to the story.

When writing non-earth, world-building, ritual takes on a whole new element.

First, lets define ritual--as used in this post (and in my frequent musings)    M.W.--"a ceremonial act or action"  "an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner"  "ritual observance; specifically : a system of rites".

Though my characters are rarely set on earth, they tend to be very human in nature.  And since I don't write hard-core Scifi, they often behave very much like people (earthlings) behave.  One of the things that most humans do is participate in some type of ritual. 

The subject is huge--I know...ritual.  Ritual, as in rites, often associated with religion or some type of belief system. Ritual as in a cultural event, the passage into manhood, marriage, the birth celebration of a child, etc. And the holidays that humans love to celebrate, just to name a few.

Ritual adds layer upon layer of interest, intrigue, joy, sorrow, and question to a culture.  On one level, we each understand the place of ritual in our lives.  We each know the pleasures of rituals, the pride, and sometimes even, the frustration and anger that accompany rituals.  Because it is in our (humans) very nature to project ourselves onto the people we meet--whether they are new co-workers, strangers via established friends, or they are fictional characters in a book. We use our own experiences to define their actions. And we judge them by our own parameters of behavior types.

Yet we are intrigued and fascinated by rituals foreign to our own.

We are most familiar with rituals practiced in our country, culture, within our local religious groups, even within our very local geographical area.  And an amazing thing is that we don't have to go very far away from home for rituals to change an incredible amount. I live just north of the Mason-Dixon line in the USA, and just south of it, the New Years choice of food one must eat to have good luck in the new year is very different.  The world over, the numbers and types of rituals are as varied as the people who practice them.  Imagine that...on one world, such variety.  Now, step across the galaxy...or even through time.

I add now to my earlier statement about my characters behaving much as humans do.  Even when confronted by a fascinating or frightening foreign (alien) ritual--my characters can't help but react in a very human manner--and that is important. After all, human beings are the target audience. It is important that they develop a feeling one way or the other toward what is going on in the story. That reaction can add another dimension.

An interesting observation-- a  theme most often seen in scifi or dystopian stories is one that involves suppression of rituals...even the suppression of emotions as a means of control.

There is a very strong connection between emotions and rituals.

Well, that is all for now.  I will get back to my New Year's ritual.  But, before I go I will leave you these words, "Happy New Year.  May you have many blessings-- and experience all the joys and happiness that the rituals you practice in 2012 bring."