I'm at the tail end of a refinishing project, but I long for 1894 and Rose's story.
But I can't leave 2015 just yet, because I have a hard and fast deadline to get a project done for an auction.
In case you're curious, though, I am immersed in the early 1800's, working on something very similar to this: an Empire Era mahogany dining table.
Here's the table base, which is in two pieces.
Three, if you count this giant crack. But fear not! My husband will fix that.
Do you see the worn adges on the base? Those are from 100 years of shoes pressing in and wearing down the wood. We're leaving that "flaw" as it is.
I work outside, and the dust from my DeWalt random orbital sander colours the fading fall leaves.
Can you see the white stripe in the grain? In all my years of restoration projects, I've never seen a white stripe in mahogany!!
A closer look.
Along with the table, which is in 4 pieces, we have the six original chairs that came with the set.
Here you can see the before and after colours of the chairs.
Did I mention the chairs have their original black pebbled leather seats?
Those were nasty. I'll post a photo of them when the project is done.
So, for now, I'll head back to The Empire Years, but I'll leave you with a few lines from my work-in-progress...the scene is rather un-edited, but it's when they discover something very interesting about a horse thief.
him!” Jack was not going to let Black
get much farther.
Nate raised his
gun, and fired again. The man’s body jerked hard, and fell sideways. But like a
cat, this fool had nine lives. Nez could make out one bloody hand on the pommel
and one holding his hat. White foam coated Black’s neck and his mouth, his
speed had cut in half.
“Pa!” Nate rode
alongside Jack and tossed him his rifle. “I’ll jump him!”
“Be careful!” Jack
“He’s a runt!”
Nate kicked his boots from his stirrups and wrapped the reins around the
pommel. Viking rode within a few feet of Black and the thief, then Nate
launched himself like a bird of prey.
In the blink of an
eye, the thief was on the ground, under Nate. Nate rolled off him. The thief
rose to his knees and one hand. He scrambled to his feet, then fell face down
in the dirt. He rose again, only to have James rope his ankles and yank him
hard. He flailed in the dry grass, rustling up a cloud of dirt and insects.
Nate got to his feet, ran over and kicked a boot hard into the thief’s ribs.
Hard enough that Nez could hear the bones crack. “You stinking pig! I’ll hang
Wide-eyed, the young
man held up his bloody hand and covered his face.
“Stop it, Nate!”
Jack’s voice echoed off the hillside. “You’ll kill him!”
His face red with
fury, Nate kicked the silent thief again, then reached down and hauled the man
off the ground. He tore away his filthy scarf, and punched him in the jaw,
sending the thief’s hat flying and his ill-fitting, tattered coat off his
“Please stop.” A
weak voice cried out.
“Lord in Heaven!”
James’ shout hushed them all. Stilled Nate’s fist mid-punch. Knocked Jack to
his knees. Pulled mercy from thin air.
A long braid hung
down to the ground, the end of it sweeping dirt into the light brown hair.
“Please…stop hitting me.”
Nate roared. The
And hung like a
bloodied, battered rag doll from his grip.
So, in the last few years, I've completed two manuscripts, also known as "books".
And yes, I call what I've got filed in my laptop books because well, it's easier.
Until then, I'm in that season right now known as waiting.
Most days, like today, I'm content to wait on God and my agent to sort things through.
Other days, I am not.
But, one thing I'm learning in all this, is patience.
Oh, and balance.
Because I have a busy life, and while I'm blessed to have it, it is still busy.
Although, until I took up writing, let's just say it was less busy.
So, what do we call this? That existance in which a whole lot of juggling is going on.
Well, one could use the analogy of a long journey, or a game, or a road, or a life...but, really, the best one for me is adventure.
The kind where you stare down your adversary and win, but not til you've flown through a whirlwind.
For the record, *I* don't hate snakes.
Bugs, yes. But not snakes.
So, whilst listening to my iPod as I refinish an Empire mahogany dining set, I'm doing a few things at once. Let's face it, sanding isn't brain surgery. So while I graduate from 100 grit to 220, I'm also pondering the storyline for Book Three.
One of our kids had a rough go of it this past summer. He developed some growth related pain in his leg and basically, his whole body took the summer off from having a great time. He had to drop soccer and summer hockey, which was just for fun and fitness, but still. No hockey. Or much of anything. If it wasn't too bad, he'd go bike riding. Even swimming hurt. When try-outs for the more prestigious level of hockey came, he was tough. His pain levels had subsided, but not enough that he could do what he does best. Play in net. Goalies have to do what is called a "down-up". Which is go down on their knees, and pop back up. They are the gymnasts of the team and have to be flexible enough to do anything. Our son isn't Carey Price, but he's pretty good for a kid.
So, back to try-outs.
He didn't make the higher level team, because he simply could not go down on that one bad knee.
It broke his heart, and ours. But as parents, we applied the "this kills, but it's a life lesson" tactic. And he's all right with how things have turned out. He made a great team, and he isn't "playing there til things improve", he is ON that team and he'll give it all he's got.
Interestingly enough, he's also an affiliate with one of the teams in that league he didn't make. The coach of one of the teams has coached our son before, and knows what he can do. So, he asked him to "affiliate", which means he practices with them on occasion, and if they have a goalie down, the our son will suit up and be ready if they need him.
SOME people would call an affiliate a player who was "almost good enough".
I do not. No matter who he or she is, an affiliate is solid back-up and the team knows it.
So, I went to where he'd be practicing with this team. I knew many of the parents because our son had been on teams with the same kids. He'd been in that league for two years, so yeah, we knew lots of people.
I entered the player's entrance and spotted a woman and asked where the kids were, as our son wasn't where he was supposed to be. She asked me why I was looking for him.
I smiled and said "he's a goalie affiliating with Coach Bob this year."
As soon as I said The Dreaded A Word, her face flinched and up went her eyebrows. It was subtle, but not subtle enough.
image courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Ohhhh, honey. How snobby are you?
I mean, ALL I wanted to say was "do you KNOW who he IS??"
But I didn't.
I let her poof her value up as the sole human alive whose child excelled at anything ever in the history of the world.
I am thankful I don't have to spend much time with her. Because I would not do well.
And I'm sad that she interpreted my son's value with such disdain.
Sad for whom?
A little. But he'd just laugh it off and shake his head.
Sad for me?
Sure. She insulted my child.
I'm mostly sad for her.
Because she equates value with position. A rotten thing to teach 12 and 13 year old kids.
I should have said, "Honey? A sneer is a fake smile with a punch thrown in. Go wipe it off before you let the children see what kind of person you are. And do be careful not to talk down to people, because someday, someone will do the same to you and I only hope your friends hold you up when those words sting right through you."
Or burst out laughing.
I did actually laugh once I got away from her, and shook my head at her attitude. Snooty delusion is humourous.
But in all seriousness, Momming is hard, girls. We're in this together.
First, after 2 weeks in Ontario with family, I came home and did this.
Awesome. Just AWESOME.
No. I have NO IDEA how it happened. But the x-rays showed NOTHING. So the doc said, "it's either a stress fracture, or aggressive arthritis."
Because I needed that.
Now, normally, I'd just rest it.
But I had to prepare for...wait for it...
...a 3 1/2 week trek from Vancouver (to see my parents) then to Dallas.
I must say, the fromage et crackeres selection on the flight from San Francisco to Dallas was rathath lovely...or was it Seattle to San Francisco?
Okay, whatever...the cheese was good!
I did have to force the chocolate down...
In Dallas, I attended the annual American Christian Fiction Writer's conference known as ACFW 2015.
There was a "zone breakfast" where people in the different ACFW zones could meet, greet and eat. The lovely Rose Dee from Australia brought all of us "Beyond the Borders" peeps this gorgeous flower arrangement!
Ahhhh, the joy of hanging out with friends who understand the writer's mind and crazy world!!
Gabrielle and Lisa...
Some...uhhh...random people who spontaneously broke into bad chorus line work...and some who stayed all mature-y and stuff.
Things were, exciting, stressful, full-out and finally, on the last night?
Things got POSH.
Like, SUPER ULTRA POSH!!!
I wore a GOWN!
There's moi, with my absolutely adorable and fabulous room mate, Shelli Littleton.
Isn't she a stunner?
Once the non-stop ACFW was over, sniff, Shelli drove me to Love Field and I hopped on a Southwest flight to Albuquerque, where I met up with my partner in crime, Robyn Peters, and then after a night of SLEEP, we headed out to Jamestown, New Mexico.
Remember that ball gown?
Here's me in my pajamas, shorts, a hoodie, in awe of the sunrise.
Hey, Robyn? Care to go on a wee hike?
Here we are, loopy after surviving the Canyon de Chelly White House Ruins hike.
The Navajo homeland.
Then, when it all got to be 'too much fun', as my niece used to say...
...at night, we'd watch the sky...wow. Just, wow.
For 5 wonderful days, our hosts Ted and Evie Charles took us hither and yon across New Mexico and Arizona.
We even met royalty!!
Miss Navajo Nation 2015, Alyson Shirley.
THAT? Is the view from their deck on the only two story hogan in all of New Mexico.
And this place? Robyn and I christened it Canyon de Charles. WOW. And it's in their backyard!!!
On our last night, Robyn, Ted, Evie and I enjoyed a cook out!!
Now? Ted and Evie are in their big hogan, probably enjoying the peace and quiet. ;)
Robyn is back in California.
All the ACFW friends are home, too.
I'm back in Albuquerque. Alone in a hotel room, catching up on work, then off to see some friends.
Tomorrow it's Santa Fe and a few museums.
Tuesday, friends and maybe another museum, and edits!
Wednesday, back to Dallas, and then more research!
Oh my, I should remember to enjoy the heat, since Fall has his hit from whence I came.
Have you ever wanted to change your name to Job and just give up?
Just turf it all and go live in a box and be left alone because, well, life has sucked you dry and what's the point anyway?
All the hurt just keeps piling on and along the way, life just changed the definition of "all" to "some with more on the way".
And where is God? Where is a respite? Where is a moment of mercy when the sky is falling, the earth is crumbling, and there seems to be no hope in sight? While my life is not like that, I know that some of my friends do live in that Job-zone.
Job was a man who loved God. If you know your Bible, God allowed the enemy to destroy Job's world. I do not understand WHY or HOW this happened, but through it all, Job stayed faithful.
Lately, while my life has been great, a few things have nudged me too hard.
And then over the weekend, my left ankle started to HURT.
I went to the ER last night.
They did x-rays.
Apparently, there's either a stress fracture, or a bout of "agitated arthritis" in there. Whatever it is, it HURTS.
I have a 3 week trip coming up and it includes a very important conference and a research trip to New Mexico, and then one in Texas.
But, umm, Lord? I'm in pain down here...
This morning, I read the very last verse of Job. I read the verses before then end, but this is what it said at the
"And then he died, an old man who lived a long life."
Not "he was bitter to the end" or "he did curse God and die, and what a buzzkill" or even "Job died alone and miserable".
It tells us that he lived a long life. That his family was important to him. He even left an inheritance to his daughters. Which, yeah, was a huge deal in those days.
But, despite all that happened to him, he lived.
Not, crawled to the edge and jumped off.
With what God restored to him, Job lived.
I need to remember to live through this minor bout of nothing serious, and not dwell on the ways to endure the drama. To count my blessings, which are many. To be a good steward of what God has given me and not dwell on what I don't have. To be thankful, to live thankfully. To live!!
So, I've talked about why I write and what I write.
Now, I'd like to talk about how I write.
Or, more specifically, how I came about actively pursuing the dream of writing.
I've always been an avid reader, and I read rather quickly, with excellent retention.
Which makes book buying expensive when one factors in the amount of time it takes me to read a book.
Let's go back to 1990, when I was pregnant with the first of our four children. All was fine up until late October, when I got very tired. I wasn't due til December 22nd, which means I had about 8 weeks to go.
I went to my check-up, and was stunned to find out my blood pressure was WAY up.
The doctor hmm'ed and said. "Go home. Rest. NO sodium."
I rested, went back a few days later. And it was worse.
"Go home. Rest. Stay in bed."
"Stay in bed?"
"Yes, you're now officially on bed rest. I sure hope you like reading, watching TV and reading. Oh, and by the way, you cannot be alone. Not for one minute. Don't even lock the bathroom door."
I had toxemia. And I had it bad.
Well, there went all the fun plans.
So, on certain days of the work week, my husband John would drop me off at my parent's house. While there, they and my Mom's Hearing Ear Dog, a white poodle named Lambchop, would take care of me.
The other days, my best friend Robyn Peters would arrive before John left for work, and would take care of me until he came home.
Yes, I did A LOT of reading. And talking. And napping.
Robyn helped with my Christmas baking. Ha! "Helped". She did it all.
I did the sprinkles.
John and I would share the books I'd gotten from the church library.
He'd say "you could write better than that."
I love him, but he was nuts. He said that a lot.
Not that he was nuts, but that I could write.
Fast forward to December, 2011.
I had come to the Rubicon of my deeply hidden dream. I decided if I was to ever take the leap to write, it was going to have to be soon. I was 48, and not getting any younger. Also, my days of Momming littles was over.
So, I began.
It was Christmas holidays, all the kids were off school. Which meant they all slept in. So, beginning on the 26th, I stayed up late into the wee hours, writing.
A few nights after I started, I tiptoed into our room at about 2:30am.
It was pitch dark. John was asleep.
Since I was still in jeans and a sweater, I needed to get into my pajamas and slip into bed without waking him up...
I closed the door as quiet as a mouse.
I took a step.
I took another.
One more step.
"Do you mind telling me WHAT you're doing on Facebook in the middle of the night?"
He was furious.
Not slightly annoyed.
Not kind of mad.
He was seething.
I could hear how his anger shaped the fury of his...his...not his question, but...his inquisition.
Pain was already involved.
What was his wife doing online late at night?
"I'm...uhh...not on Facebook..."
My heart was about to burst.
"Oh really? Then what exactly are you doing?"
It was pitch black in that room.
And that was just his voice.
Jennifer, you are so stupid...
I heard him take a breath.
"WELL, IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! WAY TO GO, HONEY!!!"
Have you ever had a moment when you could just about feel that most important someone set your wings into your back, and tell you it's time to fly?
When I get tired of what it actually takes to write a book, and the feathers fall and I need encouragement? There he is, my husband of 26 years, smiling up at me. "Fly. Just fly. You can do this."
In my second book, I ask a question about love. The question was gifted to me by my dear friend and Navajo mentor, Theodore Charles.