Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sounds of Silence

I don't know what your life is like, but I rarely - and I mean RARELY - am alone. In my almost 13 years as a parent, I've only been completely alone a handful of times for more than a few minutes at a time.

Tonight I've had 5 hours, just me and the dog.

It's kind of strange. What do you do with 5 whole hours to yourself? Here's what I did...

  • I planted a few more seeds in the vegetable garden where nothing had sprouted.
  • I killed a few weeds and watered the flowers out front.
  • I put together the church announcement slide show for Sunday.
  • I ate 2 cookies, then went back and ate 2 more, just to make it even.
  • I updated my list of newspapers in Oregon, preparing for a big news release I need to send out tomorrow for an upcoming writers conference.
  • I watched the National Spelling Bee, the only spectator sport I enjoy, probably because it only happens once a year.
  • I picked out the book I'm going to fall asleep to.

Perhaps more telling is what I didn't do...

  • I didn't vacuum, though the living room needs it.
  • I didn't put the boxes up in the shed (I only climb ladders if there's someone around who can dial 9-1-1)
  • I didn't write. I'm actually getting a couple of quiet hours in the morning when I can create.
  • I didn't fix dinner. Imagine. Cookies and popcorn. I couldn't live on it, but it was easy and tasty.
  • I didn't put my clothes away. I'll have to clear them off my side of the bed before I sleep, but they've laid in there all night and haven't said a word.
  • I didn't call my husband... or my mom... or my friends.
  • I didn't go to a store or a movie. I thought about it, but thought that would ruin the effect of being alone.

Some of you are alone a lot. Others, never. What would you do with 5 hours all by yourself?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Change of Plans

On my way to pick up a friend's child for a play date, I was struck (quite literally) by the way unexpected events derail our plans. We go about our lives as if we're in control, but a million different events, over which we have no control at all, can change those plans in a heartbeat.

It's amazing how priorities are realigned in the midst of chaos.

By the way, I'm fine. A little stiff tonight. I'll see how I feel in the morning. The car will need major work, though - hopefully I'll get permission from insurance to get the work started tomorrow.

If you have to get rear-ended (which I don't recommend), it's nice to get hit by someone who promises to pray for you.
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Endless Summer

Officially, it's over. The 2007-2008 school year, that is. Unofficially, I still want the kids working on French a few times a week, one of the older kids has about 45 minutes worth of work to do before she's free and the younger one really shouldn't stop practicing her handwriting.

Officially, though, we're on summer vacation.

Long, hot, lazy days sprawl before us, promising relaxation and sun.

If you buy that, you don't live in America. Somehow, the summer is filling up with swimming lessons and camping trips, birthday parties, doctor appointments, and standardized testing, visits from grandparents and the promise of a new nephew. Alas, those lazy days of summer seem to be reserved in the minds of those of us with memory loss.

This summer, I want to write. I want to catch up with all my friends, clean out the pantry and the cabinet under the bathroom sink, and grow a freezer full of vegetables. I want to walk through the farmers market with the generation before me and hold a baby in my arms from the generation after.

I want to make the world a little bit better place and help my kids to do the same.

What are you doing this summer?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Drumroll, Please...

And the winners from the book drawings are...


Blindsided goes to Zack, who entered by phone.

Every Secret Thing goes to Linda. (can you send me your address?)

Greg is our only double winner with Vessel of Honor and A Promise for Ellie.

The Bible or the Axe goes to Sandi (I drew it randomly, I promise!)

Shelli won The Parting.

And the Max and Me Mysteries go to Jackie.

Ta da!

I'll try to get these in the mail on Tuesday. Congrats to all the winners and, to those who didn't win this time, keep coming back. Maybe I'll try this again some time!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 5 - Mysteries for Kids

Okay, last day of the book giveaway for this round (though I still have at least enough to do another week).

Today's books happen to be by a friend of mine, Pat Rushford. Pat's been writing mysteries for teenagers and adults for years. She's one of those people who's good at anything she tries - nurse and counselor, retreat organizer, conference director, quilter and knitter extraordinaire.

These are the first two books in her Max and Me mystery series. I'd say they're best suited to kids 10-13.

Jessie is twelve, smart, and bald. Leukemia has taken away her hair and her strength, but not her desire to be like the other kids her age. Her friend Max sees beyond her illness and drags her into all kinds of adventures.

Most of the books on my review shelf look like they've never been read.

These don't.

They're still in good shape, but two young people snatched these up and read them before I had a chance.

They gave the thumbs up.

I do, too.

Write a comment if you'd like to have them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 4 - Into Africa and Out Again

Vessel of Honor by Melvin J. Cobb is a fictionalized account of what happened to the Ethiopian chamberlain of Acts 8 after his return to his homeland. He feels the need to rectify old relationships, right past wrongs, and turn his back on the ruthless ways of his past. How will his changes affect those who depend on him?

I love the idea of this book and I'm excited about the line it comes from, the Institute for Black and Family Development. This imprint, in association with Moody Publishers, is reaching out to the African-American Community with stories and books that shed light on their culture and their history.

Another book by the same imprint is The Bible or the Axe. This is the true story of William Ochan Levi, a Christian who grew up as a refugee in Uganda. When he returned to his homeland of Sudan, he faced persectution, arrest and torture. This is the story of his escape from his jihadist captors and his war-torn country. It raises the question of how we should fight, with the worldly weapons or the word of God.

Leave a comment if you want a chance at these books.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 3 - Prairie Duet

I got hooked on Christian fiction reading the prairie romances of Janette Oke and the sweet, simple stories of Grace Livingston Hill. Though the genre has grown to include thrillers and contemporary stories, literary fiction and mysteries, the backbone of the market belong to historical fiction.

Lauraine Snelling, with her Red River of the North Series, has put the town of Blessing on the map.


Her North Dakota stories are so popular and have brought so many people to the area looking for the town of Blessing, that the town of Drayton's city council proclaimed it's town the official site of the settlement of Blessing.

A Promise for Ellie is the first book in the Daughters of Blessing series, the continuing story of the next generation in the Red River Valley.

Beverly Lewis has made a name for herself writing novels about the Pennsylvania Amish. Her books, based on real life events, tell the stories of simpler times. But not as simple as we like to think. The Parting is the first book in the Courtship of Nellie Fisher series. It tells the story of one young woman in a community at its breaking point.

Do you wish you had these books in your library? Leave a comment, they could be yours!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 2 - Every Secret Thing

Every Secret Thing by Ann Tatlock is the story of a teacher who returns to her own high school to teach. The place and the people stir up memories and bring up old questions. She opens her heart to new people and, in helping them work through their problems, finds she must deal with her own.
Every Secret Thing tells its story in a more layered, a more pattered way, than I've come to expect from Christian fiction. I found it to be a good read.
If you'd like a copy of this book, leave a comment and I'll pick a name at random at the end of the week.

Monday, May 19, 2008

5 Day Give-Away

One blessing of doing book reviews is that I have new books show up in my mailbox from time to time. Some I ask for, others I don't. And while most of them get read, very few fit my criteria for review.

So, for this week, I'm going to pass a bit of the blessing on to you. Each day I'll post a different book, with a little blurb about it. If you'd be interested in a free copy of the book, leave a comment and I'll choose at random who gets each one. I've read some of these books, but not others.
Today's pick is Blindsided by Calvin Miller, published by BH Publishing Group in September 2007.
"The only one who saw it coming was the one who could not see."
Calvin Miller, best known for his book The Singer, presents a modern thriller. In this tale, a blind priest and pet wolf hold the key to breaking up a Muslim terrorist group in Seattle.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Winner Is?


There seems to be a bit of discrepancy in the counter. The 15,000th visitor could have been from Juneau or from Yelm.

The Yelmer will get something for being the probable 15,000th visitor. And the Juneau-ite might just get a prize for effort!

Thanks for playing. I'm cooking up something a little different for next week. ("Different?" you say. "I didn't know there was a theme for this blog.")

Just wait and see!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

True Love

The old oven fizzled and sparked,
Electrical blue currents arched.
With a pop and sput,
microwave went kaput,
And they saw that it no longer warked.

He stayed up until midnight and past,
To put in the new one, right fast.
Cuz' he knew in the morn,
She'd be awfully torn
'Tween the ov'n and skillet, ir'n cast.

One good turn another deserves,
So she cranked out some meals and preserves.
25, if you please,
Some for now, some to freeze,
"Love you, too," she did say with hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, May 12, 2008

tunnel vision

When I was doing my student teaching at the School for the Deaf, there was a middle school girl (deaf, of course) who had just found out she was losing her vision. Her eyesight was expected to grow narrower and narrower over the coming months until the last blurry spot of light finally blinked out. Her brother suffered the same disease and had committed suicide.

I think about that girl from time to time. I wonder how she's doing, if she ever adjusted to the darkness. The silence, she was already used to. She was one of the brightest stars in the signing club, dancing and signing the words to "High Cotton" and "Wind Beneath My Wings."

I think about her on days like today when I am jolted out of my little world to be reminded that people in Oklahoma and Missouri spent Mother's Day in the path of tornadoes, that the people of Myanmar still don't have the basic help they need, that the mothers of central China are digging for the children in the rubble left by an earthquake.

Every person is the center of his or her own universe. Everyone interprets the world through his or her own set of eyes. Today was a reminder to me to open my eyes a little wider, to fight against my own narrow view of life.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Just Like Me

1. She's short... or, in the words of Wilbur, low to the ground.

2. She's serious most of the time, with bursts of energy and enthusiasm.

3. She likes to sleep in the sun.

4. She enjoys a good cuddle as long as it's gentle.

5. She doesn't have much to say.

6. She loves the smell of a nice, juicy steak.

7. She'd overdose on chocolate if she could.

8. She naps before bedtime.

9. She appreciates a little recognition once in a while.

10. She loves her family.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Out Standing in Her Field

It's been a year since I blogged about some women I know who were facing breast cancer treatments. Jane had a tough time with chemo and surgery. I prayed for her lots and missed hearing her talk about her cherries and strawberries and all the other fruits she loves to can.

I stopped by to pick some rhubarb at Jane's today and it was so good to see her back out in her garden. It's where she belongs.

I guess I'm getting to the age when I'm always going to know someone with cancer. Anita's on my prayer list now. Her search for 3 good things in every day and her view of cancer as an opportunity have elevated her to hero status for me. I love the attitude that took her to the hills to offer her thinning hair to the birds for their nests.

Jane and Pam, Carol and Larry and Allen. Anita and sweet Linda. There's a strength and beauty that is born through their suffering.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chances Are...

My blog visitor counter should roll over to 15,000 some time in the next week or so. If you are visitor #15,000, post a comment and I'll send you something. (Knowing me, probably a book)

I'll try to say something worth reading between now and then so you have a reason other than a MAJOR PRIZE for stopping by.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Little Guy

We have some new neighbors in the garden, a pair of chickadees who have chosen to nest in a birdhouse one of the kids made years ago. I thought I was going to have to call this picture "evicted" as a couple of bossy sparrows tried to kick the chickadees out. Lucky for the chickadees, the sparrows were too heavy, broke off the little perch, and had to move to a place with a sturdier front porch.

So, the little guy triumphs.

Have you heard of The Rebelution? It's a teen-led movement encouraging teens to rebel against the low expectations of the world. The idea that we can set out own goals and reach for them shouldn't be earthshaking, but it is. We've been programmed to reach for the lowest common denominator and we've succeeded spectacularly.
And then there's the chickadee.
Do you have any stories to share about great things being accomplished by the little guy? (No Napoleon jokes, please.) Any kids who have done spectacular things?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Unfinished Business

Leonardo da Vinci took years, sometimes decades, to finish a painting. He was such a perfectionist, he would work on a picture for a time, then set it aside to work on it later. Some of his most famous paintings remained unfinished after his death. He couldn't bear to let his creations go until they were exactly how he wanted them.

I might be related to da Vinci. Or at least my father is. He has a series of paintings he's working on which may never see the light of day as he adjusts, tweaks, repaints, and corrects.

I know the feeling.

I got another rejection back on my book proposal yesterday. It's the 3rd of three that said, "I really like this idea, but it needs some MAJOR work to make it shine."

My first reaction was to throw up my hands and say, "I quit. I'm just not a writer." My second reaction, though, is to say, "I really believe in this story. I want to make it work." What I don't want to do is chase after the market. I've tried that and it's a lot of work for a very unsatisfying result.

So, now my question is, do I leave the manuscript in the archives while I pursue something else or do I take it out and give it another go?