Monday, December 27, 2010

You'll Be Happy To Know

Especially those of you buried in snow out on the east coast, but also those of us in the wet, windy west, will be happy to know...

The mail today confirmed that winter is almost over.

Nevermind that the groundhog won't peek his head out for weeks. Nevermind that the solstice was mere days ago. Nevermind that the sun hasn't been seen in days.

Land's End is having their Winter's End Sale!

Henry Fields and Guernsey seeds are announcing the advent of spring.

Well, who am I to believe? Obviously, we can't trust the weather or the calendar any more. The advertisers must be right. The fact that they're the same types who put out Christmas items in August might clue us in to a trend, but I'm choosing to believe them this time.

I'm on their team. But tell me, by agreeing that spring is here, can I make it so?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Return to the Scene

My hubby of 23 years took me out of town for the weekend. He wouldn't tell me where we were going. He brought me somewhere I never thought I'd go again, the little motel where we started our honeymoon.

The Camelot Room, to be exact. It just shows how tastes change over the years. The room looks exactly the same--the coat of arms and armor on the wall, King Richard the Lionhearted's banners hanging from the ceiling. Best of all, the Pacific Ocean still washes up underneath the private balcony and the Yaquina Lighthouse is visible from where I sit.

So much has changed in our years together. We've had 9 cars, moved 11 times, had 3 children together. We've earned degrees and learned languages. Last time we were here, we didn't carry computers or cell phones or ereaders or digital cameras. Now we have them all.

Some things haven't changed, though. I'm still madly in love with the man I married and happy to have him to myself for a few hours.

Happy Anniversary!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Broken Record

We fed 18 around the dinner table last night, thanks to a generous donation of several salmon from some Alaska friends. It truly was an all-you-can-eat meal straight out of the Copper River.

When two more friends dropped by, we broke the record for how many people can fit in the house at once - 20 people, 3 dogs, and a bird crowded into living room and kitchen of our 1200 square foot house. When 8 of them left and only 10 remained, it seemed so quiet!

Good times, great blessings, wishing the same for you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Old Dog, Same Old Trick

When we got Missy 5 years ago, she introduced herself to our family by gorging on 2 pounds of chocolate. That's when we met our vet. And cleaned our carpets.

You'd think she'd never want to eat chocolate again after that traumatic introduction to it, but no such luck. It's her mission in life to sniff out and devour whatever chocolate she can find. We've been very careful to keep it out of her reach ever since.

Until yesterday. She got her teeth around a small dark chocolate bar and downed it before I could get it away from her. I spent most of the night awake with her. If you've never seen a hyper geriatric basset hound, it's actually quite entertaining.

Not that we want to see it again. She's feeling better tonight and has been allowed back in the house to sleep.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Rejection Day

The first manuscript I sent to an agent, I waited anxiously by the mailbox waiting for the acceptance letter and the tumbling words of praise for my work.

Not so much any more. First of all, I get all my rejections by email these days. I've had enough of them that I don't take them personally at all.

This morning, I got my 4th rejection on a mystery series set in Alaska that I've written for 4th-6th graders. It's my first time to send something to a "New York" agent--meaning one who works in the general market of book publishing, not in the Christian market. After all the stories about how rough it is out in general market land, I've been pleasantly surprised by the nice, personalized rejection letters I've received. Of the 3 New York agents I've heard from, every one of them read at least a portion of my manuscript and every one of them wished me the best of luck in finding an agent or publisher.

It's not personal, it's business. That's a mantra I should repeat to remind myself not to take things personally. The agents, after all, are looking for work that fits what they want to work with.

On the other hand, when these agents treat me as a person instead of an annoyance, it feels pretty good. Even in business, people should be treated like people.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Under the Bridge

It's cold tonight in Bridge City--not quite freezing, but close. The wind whips its way along the Willamette, stirring scraps of paper, dried autumn leaves, and dust in its path.

A long line forms outside the Portland Rescue Mission, a hundred or more souls looking for a warm place to sleep.

A bus parks under the Burnside Bridge and disgorges its passengers, a mob of eager youth. Tables go up, coffee comes out, clothes are placed on plastic tables, free for the taking.

A mother wanders by with her two grown children and all three dig into the piles pulling out shoes and hats and coats and blankets. They cart away a bag full of stuff--I don't see where it's stashed--and mosey back over for more.

Four or five men warm their hands around paper cups of fresh coffee. They're joined by more.

"Are the clothes free for everyone?" Sharon asks. She approaches the tables tentatively, unsure if she's allowed to touch.

"Help yourself," I say. "And have something to drink, too."

"I just need the clothes."

She does, too. Her thin jacket and jeans won't protect her from a night like this. We rummage through the gloves together and find a fingerless pair with a mitten flap that will keep her fingers warm.

"How can I pray for you?" I ask. It's been so long since I asked a stranger that question.

She doesn't even hesitate. "Strength," she says. "I'm 33 days clean and sober and I need strength."

"You've got it." I reach a hand for her shoulder, but Sharon's not shy about pulling me in for a full hug while I pray for her.

A woman wobbles up on her bike, its red strobe flashing in unison with the strobe on her dog's collar. The black pit bull waits patiently on the curb while his owner finds a sweater and a blanket. I hold the dog until his owner balances her goods on her handlebars, then she and the dog continue down the sidewalk. Some men pray over Matthew and some others, I didn't catch their names.

It's not much we offer--a small meal, warm hands, a little conversation--before we pile back into our vans and buses and head back to the comfortable suburbs. Just a blink of an eye for us, but for Sharon and the others, the cold persists, the struggle continues.

My heart grows jaded sometimes toward human suffering. I witness a drug deal and don't know what to say. My youngest child buckles her seatbelt and tells the truth, "Homeless people are nice."

They are and they aren't. Just like me.