Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas is Coming fast!

Hello, faithful followers of our blog, if there be any followers at
all. Is your Christmas shopping done? Have you baked cookies and
made fudge or divinity? Does anyone make divinity any more? I used
to love that heavenly melt-in-your-mouth flavor of...sugar. Now I'm
trying to be gluten free, sugar free, carb free, lactose free and fat
free. It's not working out very well. What IS working out, is the
third and final edit on our book. What a gift it will be if we can
turn it in before the beginning of 2013! And so none of us forget the
real GIFT of Christmas, I'll share a poem I wrote for our church
Advent booklet of meditations.

The Buoyancy of Grace

Come again to us this Advent
As You did so long ago
In Your river of forgiveness
Let Your ocean ever flow.

For in these rubber tubes we float
Held up so we don't sink
Your lavish love surrounding us
Grace enough to drink.

With never a fear of drowning
Surrounded by this ring
Protected for all Eternity
Privileged children of The King.

Blessed Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It feels good to have the second edit sent off!  Only one more to go, we trust.  Is a book ever finished?  Can it be perfect with no mistakes?  Will it offend anyone?  Inspire anyone?  Exclude anyone?  I read this quote by Oscar Wilde the other day:  "I have been correcting the proofs of my poems.  In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence.  In the afternoon I put it back again."   Does this sound like us, or what?

Remember I asked you for a suggestion of a book to read?   (I'd run out of good ones for a month or so.)  And you asked if I'd read 84 Charing Cross Road.  I asked if it was true.  I hate true, I'd rather read fiction...makes life seem not so real.   I started reading it anyway, and I love it!  Here's an entry from Helene Hanff, February 9, 1952:  I never can get interested in things that didn't happen to people who never lived.  

So, I guess lots of people will like our book, right?  And I may learn to love non-fiction after all.   Judy

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand
when things go well." John of the Cross

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ordinary into Reality

In the midst of warmy bags and quilts (I, Julie, also have a quilt in process) I have been reading from the Seattle Pacific University Lectio online series. Celeste Cranston offers this prayer that transports me, for just a moment, out of the ordinary into the reality of the (now, but not later!) unseen.

Gracious, powerful, personal God of baffling images, of incongruous melodies, of intimidating intimacy, I pray that you will free, restore, and baptize our imaginations so that we may catch a glimmer of your unlimited truth and grace, so that we may courageously offer both lament and praise, so that we may live into your Yahweh-shaped kingdom where all is good and all is right. In the name and power of Jesus, our prophet, priest, and king. Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Warmy Bags, Wonder Wallets and Quilts

Here we are in the second phase of the editing process and I feel a desperation, a panic, an urgency to accomplish more and more before time runs out!  My time, that is.  Reflecting on the fact that I'll be 70 next year may have something to do with this frenzied tizzy.  That and the fact that I was talking with my beautiful 94 year old friend, Rose, the other day.  Her sight is failing so she can't read much and her fingers don't work to crochet the hundreds of afghans she once did.   She is now the lonely shut-in she used to visit, often praying as the Psalmist did for 'wings like a dove, to fly away and be at rest'.  

So aside from editing days with Julie, I've entered a Christmas craft fair...madly making warmy bags, wonder wallets and quilts.  I'm trying to keep busy, for I know there will come a time when I may feel like Rose.  What courage it takes to age!  My elderly aunt had this written in her Bible:  Yesterday is a memory.  Tomorrow is a dream.  Today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present.  Lots to learn from these old folks.  Guess I'm an old folk, too.  Hope someone learns something from me someday.  A Journey of Letters is a good start.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicago Style

Until we received our manuscript back from the editor, I had thought Chicago Style was pizza!  The Chicago Manual of Style?  I had to look it up because I'd never heard of it.  Julie had, of course.  It says it's "essential for writers, editors and publishers".   And here we are in the editing phase of our book and I'm ignorant of such a thing?  Shame on me!  Oh, well, it's never too late to learn.  And learning we are.  

Remember when paper manuscripts used to come back in the mail?  When desired changes were marked in red pencil?  When the editor wrote personal notes ( in my case, rejection notes) in cursive?  Imagine my amazement when we had to send our book via e-mail and back it came the same way!  Marked now in all colors of the rainbow.  Red, grey, blue, green, aqua.  Delete!  Add!  Change!  Save!  I had no idea it would be so confusing and exciting.  It's such a long process, how on earth did there get to be so many books out there?  

Ecclesiastes 12:12 NLT  But, my child, let me give you some further advice:  Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.  

Ah ha!  But I wouldn't miss this journey for the world!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spoiled Food?

Judy and I have certain hope that soon, this week in fact, we will receive concrete evidence that someone besides ourselves and friends, someone with the ominous title of editor, will push her metaphysical finger and send us back our baby manuscript.  It will be embroidered (or dirtied?) with red marks and strike-throughs and question marks, requiring our undivided attention.

Again we will be called to weep and to face our other, past, and written selves.  Will we find "our baby" like one finds forgotten spoiled food in the back of the refrigerator, or will our finding result in "ahas," laughter and determination as we work on making this piece of writing the best it can be?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Slowin' Down

Since we found out the copy editing hasn't begun quite yet, I think
we're slowing down even on the blog. Are people going to get tired of
reading our scribbles when nothing much seems to be happening? Let us
assure you, dear reader, progress is being made, so don't give up on
us! Here's what Anne Lamott says: "One of the gifts of being a
writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and
explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at
life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around." Right now, I
(Judy), am looking closely at life as my husband prepares enter the
hospital this afternoon to get blood clots dissolved. The doctor says
he's "lucky to be alive", so life again is put into perspective. But
isn't this exactly what our book is about? Peaks and valleys. Peaks
are fun, but God teaches us more in the valleys. Kind of comforting,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Next Time, Swallow the Gum

I loved the story of your foxes. It's a little terrifying that
they're right there in your back yard, though. I can't imagine going
out in the autumn sun to read a book or eat my lunch in relaxation
mode. I''m afraid I'd be constantly glancing around wondering when
they were going to make themselves visible. What if they wanted my
cheese and crackers? And where did they get a chicken in the city? I
think I'd like watching them from the safety of my kitchen window
best. Fortunately, my experience with wildlife was when raccoons
walked into our kitchen when the back screen wasn't latched. They
went directly to the cookie jar and politely took an unopened package
of Mother's Oatmeal cookies outside to the back porch and ate the
whole thing as I watched!

I showed Don the pictures we decided to use on the back cover of our
book ...the ones we took of each other in Red Feather a few years
ago? As you may recall, that's the trip I forgot my make-up case, so
I had no eye liner, no mascara and no brush or comb. My only lipstick
was dug up from the bottom of my purse and it was what I used to keep
my lips soft, but a shade you'd only put on a corpse. Kind of
brownish-grey. Nothing that brightened me up or made me look
glamorous. You can even see gum in the side of my mouth! I asked my
very objective, analytical husband what he thought. "Well," he said
after much pondering, "you're both better looking than 75% of women
over 50, and 99.9% better than women over 65!" So, what do you think
about that? Shall we get 'purddied' up and seek out a real
photographer to take our pictures? We can't believe anything an old
scientist says, can we? On second thought, let's not. We are who
we are. (But next time, tell me to swallow the gum!) Judy

Friday, September 14, 2012

There's Animals and Animals


Growing up on the farm brought us a reverse safari of animals; they came to us, wild and not-so-wild.  Skunks scented the air and once peeked in at our kitchen window.  My mother woke me late at night to see him.  Luckily he was a baby and hadn’t been to a scent seminar.  Deer wandered in the wheat fields; laid down and barely escaped going through the combine.  A few elk plodded indiscriminately, not caring if they smashed the barley.  Errant neighbor’s cattle left huge soggy imprints in my mother’s carefully tended lawn.  Horses whinnied in the pasture.  Cats appeared from nowhere and the neighbors, making me the happiest of cat aficionados.  Mice aplenty rounded out our menagerie; I remember seeing a string moving next to the refrigerator and stepping on it I heard a squeak.  My mother dispatched him with a big spoon, perhaps the same one used to encourage us to better behavior.

When we came to live in the city I thought myself free of bothersome critters.  Not so.  Cats and dogs go unmentioned, unless a catfight interrupts my sleep or the dog next door barks at…but wait!  What could he be barking at?

Any number of animals.  Perhaps a deer family.  They are merciless, rapacious predators of roses and all things tasty.  I have seen one pawing at our big dog.  No longer do I admire their swift sleekness.  Another animal?  Perhaps a skunk.  Why does a skunk family, the grandchildren now as well, find on Google Maps that our yard is the best route to the next waterhole?  Next come the raccoons.  For years they have been my husband’s personal enemies.  It does disturb us when a group of them have vocal confabs and even fight on our roof at night.  It does disturb us that they eat the grapes the night before we plan to harvest them.  It does disturb us when the mama crawls up to the humming bird feeder and tips it over for a delicious snack for four, yes four, babies down below.  It does disturb us when they menacingly advance though we are four times as big as they are. 

The raccoons are gone now; decimated by a plague, a distemper epidemic. 

We have had bear sightings near by, and a mountain lion was caught six houses away.  We have seen coyotes lurking in the tall grass by the high school.  Are they stalking a short freshman for dinner?

                                                              Baby Fox visits us

Last spring our neighbor called excitedly.  “Come over and see our cute fox babies?!"  We grabbed our four-year-old granddaughter; we watched four dear fuzzy babies cavort, jump, roll, bite, play just like kittens on the back deck.  Our neighbor just couldn’t shoo them away.  Would I have?  I don’t know.  But knowing what I know now?  Oh my.  Those little fox kits had the nerve to become wild teenagers that stayed out late at night decorating our yard inappropriately, smashing bushes, scattering decorative bark, leaving their scent all over the driveway, leaving remains of squirrels and birds and even part of a chicken on our front porch right beside our front door, stealing garden gloves and knee pads.  We almost despaired.  But it is several months later now, and the teenagers have turned into young adults roving far and wide to fill their tummies.  We see them perhaps twice a week. We watch them disappear into their den up high in our back yard, and they love to escape the heat by laying under our summer squash or peony shade.  Mama Fox still strolls through our back yard even in the daylight.  How long do foxes live?  Are they territorial? Where will Mama’s grandchildren be born?  And perhaps even more important, who next will invade our back yard?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Advice from Madeleine

I've been reading again Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water,
Reflections on Faith and Art. I could eat that book! She died in
2007, yet her words resonate with even greater clarity today.
"The writer does want to be published; the painter urgently hopes
that someone will see the finished canvas; the composer needs his
music to be heard. Art is communication, and if there is no
communication it is as though the work had been still-born." Isn't
that why we've written this book? Isn't that why we desire comments
on our blog? Isn't this why we anxiously go to Letterscribblers each
morning, not desiring recognition, simply hoping someone else will see
our take on things and think, "Oh, isn't that the truth? I feel like
that sometimes, too."

Just thinking out loud, again, Julie, and agreeing with what Madeleine
put so wisely and well: "Yes, Madeleine, I feel that way, too!"

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I guess I haven't sewed for a long time.  When I went to the store yesterday to buy fabric for the backing of two small table toppers, I couldn't believe the price!  Two yards of the cheapest, most simple, plain colored material I could find cost $10.00!  One spool of thread was almost $3.00.  And that was just so I could finish a project that only cost me pennies to begin with.  Remember that sale we went to last winter where we could stuff a whole plastic grocery bag full of remnants for a mere $3.00?  Julie, those two beautiful quilts you're making for your two beautiful granddaughters must have cost a mint, because I know you do everything well and aren't nearly as chintzy as I am.  I've quilted now for 11 years and am beginning to wonder why I buy fabric, cut it into small pieces, only to sew it all back together again.  Oh!  Because the end product is a fantastic piece of art and I enjoy the process?  OK.  I understand now.  Just had to write-it-through so I could unravel my motives.  Isn't quilting fun?  Judy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Skitteryier Still

September 3rd seems almost as much a time of reflection as January 1st.  This past eventful summer, full of heat, fires and drought, travel, out of town guests and weddings, has worn me out.  Could I actually be anticipating fall and winter with joy?  I have never looked forward to winter in Colorado before, even though I'm a native.   I'm not a skier, though I've tried.   Cold chills me to the bone and I don't warm up until June.  And I'd rather do anything than drive in the snow.  Because this summer was one of the hottest on record and we have no air conditioning,  I feel I've accomplished nothing.  I can't think when it's hot!  I can't quilt or paint or knit.  Or even write, which is what I love most.  No ideas cross my mind, no clever phrases brush my brain, not a single light bulb moment.  

So today my desire was to at least clean up the files on my iPad, I came across this picture from our trip to Moab in May.  It's The Three Gossips in Arches National Park.  They look like I've felt...unmoving, unknowing, turned at last to stone.  Then I looked down at the first entry at the bottom of the message column and the date is 12/31/69.  What?  We didn't have a computer in '69, let alone an iPad that hadn't been invented.  My son would have been 7 days old and now he's 42.  After the date, it reads:  No Sender, No Subject, No Content.  Ahhhh.  Just as I've felt this summer, but where did that message come from?  I wanted to show it to my husband when he came upstairs, and it was gone!  Where did it go?  I don't make these things up, I'm not smart enough for that.  A total mystery.

Well, Julie, the point of my 'skittery' message is that I'm still scattered.  And possibly losing my mind, since the message from no one, that had no subject or content is gone.   I can only pray that the cooler weather that surely will come soon will once more melt my mind of stone, and words will flow as once they did.  (At least, I have more hope than The Gossips!)  Judy

Monday, September 3, 2012

A skittery mind

                                                       Harvest time near Dusty, WA
My mind has been extremely skittery these days, perhaps like the fly that escaped from the closed-in window space.  I could write about my 17-year-old granddaughter, who last night wowed the high school audience as the lead in “Becky’s New Car.”  (How did she get to be so grown-up?)  Or I could write about the peaches we were given, and the pie my husband loves; or another granddaughter’s quilt top that I finally finished this week.  Or I could write about the farm, where we were again this summer.  I will not give any particulars about this last because our book is full of them, probably ad nauseum. 

It is indeed a vivid, so satisfying experience to be on the combine with my nephew or my brother, looking at the header slurping up the wheat, checking the level of grain in the bulk tank, watching the hilly skyline shimmering in the heat, and then seeing the wheat dump plenteously from the combine auger into the truck.  And still strange and beautiful, to know this particular ground is mine and Darrel’s, given by my father, representing many years of his hard work, and his love for his children.  I have done nothing to deserve it.  I now understand a bit better the great gift our God has given us.  At least I can explore the same feelings of having done nothing to deserve the gift, except to receive it.  What if I had been stupid enough to say no, I won’t take this land as mine.  I would not get any money from it, nor be a part of the family enterprise.  I think it would be the same, in microcosm, as saying, “No, God, I don’t want to be your child, don’t want your love, don’t want your riches, don’t want to an heir in your kingdom.  I’ll just go on without you.”  It would be a terrible chance to take, wouldn’t it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Waiting to edit a book is a scary proposition.  Waiting to edit a first book is more terrifying still.  And here we are, Judy and Julie, in this precarious position.  As for our part, we have dotted every i and crossed every t, and we're not very good at criticism, yet here we wait for the other shoe to fall.  What if no one picks up the shoe?  (the book)  Would anyone want to read it? Can the lives of two ordinary women catch the fancy of other ordinary women?  Wait, no one is ordinary. 

There is no murder in this book,  but plenty of deaths, no mayhem, but many left turns, no mystery, but wait.  Perhaps there is.

Can you wait until next March?