Archive for March, 2007

Glory to God for All Things

Well, yes. I should have posted about this as early as Sunday. But I was offline all weekend, so spent most of yesterday catching up, and on Sunday, this was still too raw to write about:

Chris had an accident at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday.

I hasten to add that he is completely all right, other than being shaken up. This could have been so much worse.

He had been at a party in Concord, NH, about an hour away from both his home and ours, and finally left at 12:45 a.m. The weather was not good; it had been sleeting for most of the evening, and although the snow wasn’t sticking to the roads, there was, of course, ice. He was almost home — maybe about five miles away from home — when his truck hit a patch of black ice that was covered over by snow and fishtailed. He fought the skid, lost control of his truck, and it spun completely around, went into the westbound lane of the road, flipped over onto its side and righted itself, before coming to rest up against a stone wall.

We were the first people he called — he wanted us to get him a tow truck — we told him to call American Automobile Association (figuring he wasn’t thinking straight at that point, which he wasn’t!), and after we hung up, we debated whether or not he should call the cops. In a one-vehicle accident with no injuries, that’s not a requirement in this state; I thought he should, in case the insurance needed a police report, and Jim thought he shouldn’t, because the cops would automatically assume he’d been drinking. Just as I called to bring all this up to Chris (thank God for cell phones!), he told us that a cop had just passed him and was turning around to come give him a hand. Well, he didn’t even have to take a sobriety test, so I guess he was pretty sober!! (No guessing, actually — I had asked him that question, and he said he’d had a couple of beers early on, but hadn’t had anything to drink for about seven or eight hours. So what did he do for all that time?! This was a science-fiction fan club — “what do you think, Mom?!” They sat around watching episodes of Firefly, the show they are all so hooked on, and reading their fan fiction to one another!!!)

So, why “Glory to God for all things”? For a number of reasons:

First, of course, is that he is completely unhurt. Spin-outs can end up anyplace, and he said he landed not two feet away from a tree.

Second, that he was smart enough to wear his seat belt. If he hadn’t been, he could have been killed when that truck rolled over.

Third, that the thing righted itself. How, I still don’t understand, other, of course, than the “obvious to an Orthodox Christian” explanation of his patron saint and/or guardian angel — and considering that his patron saint is St. Christopher, who was by all accounts a pretty big bruiser of a guy, I’d say St. Christopher had a hand in that!

Fourth, that he was smart enough to stop drinking so early on. That’s one thing he’s always been fanatic about, drinking and driving; it stood him in good stead this time.

Fifth, that he was going under the speed limit. Considering everything that happened to that truck, the damage was surprisingly minimal; the driver’s side door is a little banged up, and a small portion of the truck bed next to the door is dented, but that’s all. I was describing the damage to our priest’s wife the next day, and she said, “That shows he wasn’t going fast.” I hadn’t thought of that, but it must be one of the things that convinced the cop that he really had spun out on black ice.

And sixth, that he had Amica insurance. You’ll never believe this: He had just cancelled his insurance policy two weeks earlier. He’d tried to keep the policy he had in PA, but was told he’d have to cancel that policy and apply for another one, and due to his hours, he hadn’t been able to apply for another one. I called Amica on Sunday morning, explained the situation to them, and asked if they couldn’t extend some kind of grace period; yesterday, Chris got a call from them asking where the truck was, so an adjuster could come out and look at it. Looks like they’re going to do that!!! (Everybody get Amica auto insurance!) 😉

Well — he’s pretty glum and morose, kicking himself for not staying put in Concord overnight, for ever going in the first place, and a variety of other things. As Jim says, that truck is his pride and joy, and this first accident was probably akin to beating your horse because he doesn’t go fast enough. But all things considered — it could have been so much worse. Glory to God for all things!

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The Fruits of My Labors

It’s been awhile since I posted about my son — almost a month — so I thought it was time for an update.

He and I went furniture shopping this morning. Ever since he moved to Enfield, he’s been sleeping on an old futon mattress we had lying around in the cellar, on the off chance we ever had company that had to stay the night. (Very off chance.) We actually hadn’t planned to wait so long on the furniture purchase, but the weather wasn’t exactly conducive to shopping, so that put rather a crimp in our plans. However, today, with sunny skies and temperatures into the 40s and 50s — 10c to 15c, for my European readers — today we drove north to Ossipee, NH, to a place called Green Mountain Furniture. (I have yet to figure out why Green Mountain, since the Green Mountains are in Vermont, and this shop sits firmly established in the foothills of NH’s own White Mountains.)

And there we found it, a replacement for the futon he had to leave behind in PA. There were, actually, quite a few futons, and I would have preferred that he buy one that was a little more expensive — it was our housewarming gift to him — but he really liked one that was a little less money, with a firmer mattress. (My only problem with it is that I thought the other frame was sturdier. But it’s his furniture.) Now the only other thing he needs is some kind of easy chair for his living room, and he’s all set for furnishings — more or less — I mean, that living room is really only big enough for an easy chair and a couple of tables! But a sofa-bed, an easy chair, and a few occasional tables are hardly “furniture.” Frankly, it strikes me as an austere lifestyle.

But that’s Chris, the original “I have all I want” man (his standard response to, “What would you like for Christmas, Sweetheart?”). Once he finds a chair he likes, he will have everything he wants: A good job, a place to sleep, a place to sit, and a place to eat, since his kitchen comes equipped with a “bar” arrangement for eating. A true minimalist, and his furniture style reflects that: Craftsman. Simple, rugged, masculine, uncomplicated.

Now (whispers Mom), if only he could find a simple, uncomplicated, outdoorsy, but totally feminine girl…. 😉

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The Book Meme

I would prefer not to make such an obvious pun, but there’s no way around it: I get all my memes lately from, well, Mimi. (Sorry.) Considering that my husband and I met in a library, there’s no way I could resist this one.

1. Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Hardback, if I can afford it. I figure, at my age it’s time I had an adult-looking library. After that, mass-market paperbacks. To me, trade paperbacks are just hardback wannabes.

2. Amazon or brick and mortar? If I could find brick and mortar locally, that would be my preference. But as it is, I actually buy most of my books through Amazon.

3. Barnes & Noble or Borders? Borders isn’t anywhere close by, though my son tells me there’s one near him. Yet another excuse to visit him. 😉

4. Bookmark or dogear? I use bookmarks for where I am reading — I was taught never to fold down the corners of pages. However, if it is my book, I will do that if I’ve found something I’ll want to reference at a later date, or a passage that really “speaks” to me.

5. Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? I’d prefer to catalogue them with a modified Dewey decimal system — that’s how many books we have! I really need to go through them again and come up with some sort of system for keeping them organized. I used to be so good at that, when I was younger.

6. Keep, throw away, or sell? We keep the favorites and share them back and forth (well — I read his faves, he doesn’t read mine). If I realize that the book has “outworn its welcome,” I’ll give it to the public library.

7. Keep dust jacket or toss it? I always keep it, having discovered from personal experience how tatty hardbacks get if you toss the jacket.

8. Read with dust jacket or remove it? I always leave it on — the side flaps make useful bookmarks.

9. Short story or novel? Novel novel novel!! Can’t STAND short stories!

10. Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? See previous answer.

11. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Who???

12. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? I usually shoot for the chapter breaks, but if I’m reading at night, I’ll stop when I feel myself nodding out.

13. “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? Once upon a time.

14. Buy or Borrow? Buy, preferably. But only if I know I really like the author.

15. New or used? New, especially if it’s a paperback.

16.Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Come to think of it, probably browsing. One of my favorite authors was a chance pickup from a library table of new arrivals — I saw the jacket, wondered if that was an English village I was looking at, and checked it out, and that’s how I discovered Miss Read.

17. Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Tidy ending, preferably happy. That said — one of my own books ends with a real cliffhanger (but it’s resolved in the next book).

18. Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? My very favorite time to read is at lunch. I like to take myself out to a local (and cheap) eatery with a paperback stashed in my handbag, and read and munch at the same time.

19. Stand-alone or series? Either way. I do prefer series, but if a stand-alone book is by a favorite author, I’ll go for it.

20. Favorite series? Miss Read. Her books have either “Thrush Green” or “Village” in the title.

21. Favorite children’s book? Oh, another series! Graham Greene’s “The Church Mice” series! The only children’s books I’ve ever read that don’t wear thin by the hundredth reading, mostly because of the clever artwork and the hilarious puns. Who could resist, “J. Dowdy, Clothiers,” or “Fleece and Guyle, Solicitors”?! (Edit note: Do I feel stupid. The author of the Church Mice books was Graham OAKLEY, not Graham Greene!)

22. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? My own?? I don’t read too many books of which no one else has heard. Oh, wait a minute: There was a series by Evelyn Anthony about 20 years ago. The first title was, “The Defector,” and there were three more books after that. I just recently re-read the entire series, and it was as enthralling now as it was back before the Soviet Union collapsed.

23. Favorite books read last year? The Mountain of Silence, by Kyriacos C. Markides.

24. Favorite books of all time? That’s cruel. You can only list a few, and there are so, so many!
1. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
2. Father Arseny, translated by Vera Bouteneff
3. The Brother Cadfael series, by Ellis Peters
4. The Thrush Green and Village series, both by Miss Read
5. Anything by Agatha Christie

Personally, I think that was a very clever way to work in lots and lots and lots of books. 😉

25. Least favorite book you finished last year? There wasn’t really one last year, but this year, I just bought a book, “The Friday Night Knitting Club,” and I’m already regretting it. Bor-ing.

26. What are you reading right now? As noted, “The Friday Night Knitting Club.” “Gifts of the Desert,” by Kyriacos C. Markides. “An Unorthodox Spy” and “Unorthodox Truths,” by yours truly. Of course I read my own stuff!!

27. What are you reading next? Depends on where my tastes take me. I hope I will get on with my series, but who knows — last time the desire to write hit, was 15 years ago. I thought it had disappeared forever, and suddenly, WHAM — here I am, at it again.

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I Am a Snapdragon

Cribbed from Mimi’s blog:

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

“Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh.”

Hm! While I like snapdragons very much, I would never have seen myself as a prankster! However, I do love to make other people laugh. Oh, well.

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Not demonic. I hope. This past week, I was bitten rather badly by the writing bug.

About 15 years ago, I wrote two books, back to back, about a KGB officer who became an Orthodox Christian. I haven’t especially tried to market them, because I sensed that I really didn’t know enough about Orthodoxy to be sure my information was accurate; and it’s a good thing I kept them to myself, because as it turned out, my characters decided to take a completely different tack from what I had envisioned then, and I’ve had to revise both books rather extensively.

Over the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve been trying to write about that different tack, but something has always stopped me. I figured my muse had deserted me, and frankly, that was fine with me — writing is a difficult business. (More later.) Then, just this past week, I got bitten again, in the form of a possible direction to go in that would clear up the cliffhanger ending I had in the second book. I knew it was right to go with this one, and since then, I’ve been writing at my old speed.

It isn’t the writing itself that’s difficult. It’s the physical reaction that you have between when an idea bites, and when you can actually put pen to paper. (I still write longhand, since I can take my notebook with me anywhere.) I’m serious. I can feel my pulse pounding, my head fills up with fluid of some kind, and my nerves are strung out taut until I can start writing, getting all this stuff, whatever it is, out of my system. Then I settle down, till the next day’s work.

And there’s the possession factor. Your characters take you over. You cannot tell your characters what to do, what to say, or where to go. They tell you, and the infamous “writer’s block” is what occurs when a writer tries to dictate to his characters. They just shut down, and leave you with the pounding pulse and the head full of fluid and the strung-out nerves, until you back down and let them tell their story. Once you have it all on paper, then you can start the revision process on the computer or the typewriter, but while the thing is in rough form, it’s rough in all senses of the word.

And my writing is so dark. I don’t know where that comes from, either, unless it’s a perception that a world that functions around the KGB is bound to be dark, and the only thing that can bring it light is Orthodox Christianity. But I don’t like the dark part.

Pray for me.

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