Thursday, September 27, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Part 2 isn’t as happy. After surviving the long trip from Arizona to Indiana (which I really wondered if she would) my cat, Duchess, died. It’s weird because Chloe, my other cat, died last year in same month. I blogged about it here.

I think Duchess’s death hit me particularly hard for several reasons. One, even though I knew she was sick and didn’t expect her to make it through the night it was still a shock to find her dead the next morning. Also it was the first time I had to deal with one of my dead pets by myself. And I just couldn’t. So Michelle’s Phil had to come bury her for me.

The kids and I went and got donuts and then we went to see Underdog. I figured Duchess would appreciate the irony. We then went to Wal-Mart and got three baby rose bushes to put in a planter out front. We also got some scrapbooking supplies to make a memory book of both Duchess and Chloe. Of course I haven’t gotten to that yet.

Duchess was the first cat I got when I was out of college and on my own sixteen years ago. She survived something like 13 moves, 8 states, and 3 days in close proximity to the dog. She represented a whole segment of my adulthood.

I have a couple of prominent memories of her. She was the most agile and acrobatic of any cat I’ve owned. She could jump to the top of a six-foot bookcase by ricocheting off the wall. In one townhome I lived in the second story railing was visible from the entry way and she loved to prance and pirouette along its two-inch width. Once when the little neighbor girl was visiting she asked me if my cat was training for the circus. I had no idea what she meant until she pointed above my head. Duchess was on the railing, leaning over looking at us, and balancing some how.

However, for all her agility she really was a scaredy cat. When I got her as a kitten, I had to drag her out from underneath the couch at the house she was at. I had to drag her out from under the car when I got home, drag her out from under my desk, my bed, the couch. When we had the big Northridge earthquake she hid so far in my closet I couldn’t find her for hours. Most people never even knew I had her because they never saw her. I knew Malia was an animal person when Duchess made an appearance for her.

I am glad Duchess didn’t suffer. She declined in just a few days and went quickly. It’s odd for me not having a cat in the house. There’s been very few times in my life when I haven’t had a cat. Charlie now has run of the house, I don’t think he’s figured out entirely why. I am glad for him though. With the kids gone at school all day, the house would feel awfully empty without some animal of some sort in it.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Since fall is here, it seems appropriate to talk about summer. Go figure that logic. There’s a small thread of it, trust me. I am excitedly waiting to experience my first fall. I’ve never lived any place that had seasons. Already the leaves are beginning to change, the corn fields are being harvested. I even changed my blog banner to reflect one of local fields I drove by the other day.

At the same time, I can’t help but reflect on the season that just ended. It seems odd to have summer ending in September. Normally, where I’ve lived we don’t get cooler weather until November. But it’s been quite a summer. And since I didn’t often have time to blog about it, bear with me while we do a little retrospective…

End of May, beginning of June

The day after Memorial Day, Michelle flew into Phoenix to drive a moving truck containing all our worldly possessions and towing my Jetta to Indiana. Jenny came with me to meet Mich at the airport and to give us hugs and prayers for the journey.

Mich and I got a late start because we had to finish packing the truck in 90 degree heat. It was probably 110 inside the truck. The Jetta had the pet supplies and an ice chest, in addition to every piece of electronic equipment and anything else that we could stuff in there. The cat was in her carrier under the truck seat, and Charlie was supposed to sit on the floor. Supposed to being the operative word. The 85-pould Lab thought he should be a lap dog instead. I had the claw marks on my thighs to prove it. In between Mich and me was a box that held Red Vines, Sun Chips, trail mix, and a small cooler of Diet Coke and water.

Finally we hit the road and made the long drive up the grade to Flagstaff. This was the slowest leg of the journey because we couldn’t make good time going up that grade. We had hoped to get to Alburquerque that night but didn’t even make it out of Arizona before crashing in the little town of Holbrook. We made about 300 miles in 8 hours. Ugh! Doesn’t this look like something that inspired Cars?

The next day was better. After we finally got Charlie to sit on the floor on his bed and look out the little wing window life was a lot more comfortable for me. We were basically doing Route 66 backwards. I tried to sing the song backwards but couldn't manage it. However, we did pass through every town mentioned in the lyrics, with the exception of Kingman, Barstow (been there lots), and San Bernardino (the town next to the one I grew up in).

Mich and I listened to Jeremy Camp and some other CDs, singing along. We talked about writing and God and listened to Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. We also managed to stop somewhere in every state to get souvenirs for the kids. Other than the fact that Mich had a hard time reaching the pedals and I had to keep my feet propped up on the dash because the seat was so close there was no room for my legs, it was a fun, if tiring day.

Around 11 PM we pulled into Oklahoma City to get coffee, snacks, and gas before pressing on to Tulsa to spend the night. Mich got in a “discussion” with a truck driver about how far it was to Tulsa. Mich used to be a truck driver herself, so she had some issues with the fact that the guy didn’t know miles, just time and some other things. She muttered most of the way about how wrong he was. And she was right. She showed him!

The next day was the longest, 17 hours in the truck, but the final stretch home. We crossed the Mississippi. Did I mention Mich doesn’t like bridges over water? I think the last 5 hours came close to torture for both of us as our backs were hurting from the truck seat and we were sick of the junk food we’d bought. We pulled into her yard at 3 AM. After letting the dog go pee, I fell into the sleeper sofa--fully clothed and sweaty--next to my kids, who, even in their sleep, cuddled up next to me.

I was home.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Congrats to the Misfits!

At the ACFW Genesis award banquet last night Angie, Chris, and Jenny each took second place in their respective categories. Whoo hoo! More details and a pic on the Misfit blog.

Way to go, guys. I'm so proud of you. Wish I could have been there.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

If You Love Books...

. . .then you might find these things fascinating.

First of all, Crossway is coming out with the Literary Study Bible.

I love this idea. When I was in college and learning critical theory of literature, and we studied parts of the Bible in that way, it opened up a whole new way of looking at God's Word and I was just fascinated by it. So I was thrilled to hear about this version of the Bible. Plus, it's an ESV translation, which is even cooler.

And on a whole other coolness scale is a Bible you'll never be able to own.

A scribe bends intently over a worktable in his scriptorium in Monmouth, Wales. The page before him is vellum—calfskin sanded to a velvety smoothness. His goose quill pen has been hardened in hot sand and cut with a knife to hold ink and to create a precise line. He dips the end into vermilion pigment mixed with egg yolk for luminosity and begins to shape the first capital letter of a new chapter of the Bible he is copying.

Finishing this page will take a day. If he makes a mistake, he will have to scrape the vellum and write the word or line over again. The pressure is greater because the other side has already been illuminated—biblical themes spun into a visual tapestry of brilliant colors, evocative imagery, and radiant gold.

But the scribe's hand is guided by long experience and a clear idea of the words' pattern on the page. The line length has already been worked out by computer to ensure a perfect fit. The accompanying illustrations are the result of months of e-mail messages between the scribe and those who have commissioned him, discussing theological interpretation and symbolism. Medieval artistry with a modern twist: That's the achievement and the challenge of the Saint John's Bible, the first handwritten, illuminated Bible in 500 years.

Here's a slide show of the process and some of the pages.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Over at the Misfits

Come join me over at the Misfits blog where I talk about the season of loss and how it's impacted my writing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm Still Alive

I realized that I kinda left you all hanging, mentioning I was having surgery and then not saying anything for over a week. Guess I'm a suspense writer.

The surgery went well. I felt better immediately after the surgery, which I guess means they took the right thing out. I was tempted to write on my side with Sharpie "here" and make an X. But I wasn't exactly sure where my gallbladder was and didn't want to mark my spleen or liver by mistake.

Apparently along with my gallbladder, they removed my Diet Coke taste buds. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I've admitted to an addiction to Diet Coke. Well, guess I went cold turkey. It doesn't taste good at all. Neither does another favorite, Diet Dr. Pepper. Not sure why. But anyhow, the only thing carbonated I'm drinking is Perrier.

It's taken some getting used to, not having something cold and caffeinated to grab out of the fridge and sip on throughout the day. Not sure if iced tea will give me enough caffeine. Guess we'll find out.

Later this week I'll be posting a series of blogs on what I did on my summer vacation. I'm sure you all can't wait.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Not so Wordless Wednesday

I'm up over at the Misfits blog with my Wordless Wednesday post.

Sorry things have been so thin around here lately. That will continue for a bit more as I'm having surgery on my gallbladder tomorrow. Prayers are appreciated.