Sunday, January 21, 2018


"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, 
"I believe the nicest and sweetest days 
are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens 
but just those that bring simple little pleasures, 
following one another softly, 
like pearls slipping off a string."

-L.M. Montgomery 

Good Sunday evening.

Thankfully I rely on the Federal Government for very little & am able to continue blogging despite the shutdown. Last week I talked a lot about C.S. Lewis. We may return to Lewis at some point in the future, but I'll leave him be for tonight. At some point I do plan to discuss the specifics of how Tolkien converted Lewis; the details of it, as I understand them, are just delicious to me as a Christian, a reader, & a writer. 

In the last few weeks I've made a handful of references to a variety of things I will now attempt to address. Since the middle of December I've been able to spend more time in our house than my schedule normally permits. The bulk of this time fell during Christmas Break, though thanks to last Monday's federal holiday & then snow on Tuesday morning, I spent a good deal of last week in the house.

What inevitably happens when I spend time in the house is I notice, well, the house. Little things that I normally don't have the time or energy to think about suddenly become monstrous issues that must be dealt with immediately.

This story begins a few months ago when Trey told me he was going to buy a new television for the living room, which meant the living room television would be shifted to our bedroom. He also decided to put some sort of sound system that requires speakers in our bedroom. The moral of the story is that I told Trey if we were moving a large television into the bedroom that would eat up every inch of the television console & he planned to also add speakers that need a place to rest, we had to buy bookshelves to flank the television console. I just realized I don't have a picture of the bookshelves, but I do have a lot of other pictures to share so this story has not been a complete waste of your time.

When the bookshelves & the television were moved to the bedroom, we were left with a chair that needed a home. It's a smallish rocker (+ ottoman) I bought before Reagan was born to put in her room because I anticipated sitting in it & rocking her at all hours of the night. With nights of rocking now behind me & no obvious place for the chair, I offered it to my sister & Trey's sister, but they declined. We moved the chair into this nook in the kitchen, & there it sat for a few weeks until one day, inspiration struck.

"Inspiration struck" usually translates to "I started buying things online." I bought the rug I've mentioned, a pillow & a throw for the chair, & a side table so I have a place for my coffee. I walked around the house a few times & decided to move the floor lamp that's been in the living room for years into my cozy new reading nook. Thus, this past Tuesday morning I awoke to snow falling outside my windows & had the perfect place to sit & drink coffee & watch the glorious flakes drift to the ground.

My first cup of coffee last Tuesday morning was one of the most wonderful cups of coffee I've enjoyed in quite some time. 

I will now tell you all my secrets. The chair & lamp I already owned. I believe I bought the lamp at Burns & Newell, a local furniture store, about six years ago when we moved in the house. The chair & ottoman I found on sale at Weir's in Dallas many years ago when I was pregnant with Reagan. I ordered the rug from, which is where I buy all my rugs. I buy wool rugs made by Safavieh. I've bought several of these rugs & have been thrilled with all of them. I ordered the side table from Joss & Main. The little table is stunning in person; I love it a lot, except that the kids like to play it like a drum, & then I yell. 

Before I share more pictures of the lovely snow we enjoyed last week, I'll answer the obvious question: yes, after moving the floor lamp out of the living room I bought another floor lamp for the living room . . . then I bought a table lamp that matches the new floor lamp because I am Type A & I like continuity in my life & my living room. 

Let me tell you something that may save you some time & frustration later in life. When it comes to lamps, all roads lead to Pottery Barn. You want to wait until you have a coupon code (ideally one that includes free shipping). My typical lamp-search strategy is to see what Pottery Barn has & then see if I can find something similar that's a little less expensive & can be shipped to me at a reasonable price. After an exhaustive online search, I realized what I'd known all along: I really wanted the Pottery Barn lamps, & as luck would have it, I had a twenty percent off coupon (plus free shipping) that meant the Pottery Barn lamps were actually going to cost me less than anything else I'd found online that was comparable. 

Below, the floor lamp in its natural habitat. The shade for the table lamp is on backorder, so stay tuned for a pic of that in the coming weeks. 

So, the snow. Reagan remembers the snow we got in early 2015, & thus every winter we get no snow is an epic disappointment for her. She got her wish this year, as did her mommy, who was so hoping to spend a day at home with her coffee in her cozy new reading nook. 

Henry doesn't remember the snow of 2015, so his face when he emerged from his bedroom Tuesday morning was something to behold. 

After my long, lazy, wonderful cup of coffee, we dressed & ventured outdoors. 

I had everything ready for a substitute Wednesday at school because we were scheduled to travel to see the endocrinologist. I never dreamed we'd get two whole snow days, but we did. Trey & I decided we were going to keep the appointment, though I had mixed feelings about it. I don't enjoy crossing the Mississippi River in a car at any time, but particularly not when schools for miles around are closed due to icy roads. However, I really, really wanted to learn Reagan's most recent A1C. You may recall her last A1C was too high for my liking. In fact, it sent me into a bit of an emotional tailspin that I shared with you fine people.

We talked with the doctor's office on Tuesday. They called to say they would be open Wednesday, & should we choose not to come, it would be April before we could get in to see the doctor. Admittedly I can take Reagan somewhere locally & have her A1C run, but for the last four years it's become routine for me to sit & talk with the endocrinologist every three months, & I am a creature of habit. Long story long, her A1C was a 7.2.  

I was highly pleased. The A1C news was, I think, worth the trek over the Mississippi & back. I was so excited about lunch at Cantina Laredo & the A1C that I didn't take many pics (also it was so, so cold), but here's what I have:

Yes, there is a Cantina Laredo in Jackson now. It's somewhat new; we ate there last September, I believe, & it had been open maybe a week. Click here for their website. 

When I sat down to write this I realized I had nothing specific in mind, yet a host of things kind of bubbling inside me that I wanted to share. I've had a lot of pleasant days lately. The A1C news does wonders for me. Sure, a new place to sit & drink coffee is always wonderful, & new lamps from Pottery Barn are always welcome, but I think I am in the middle of an unwinding that has been desperately needed for some time now. Contributing to this unwinding are a host of factors, all of which I cannot, for purposes of time, discuss tonight, but I know I am relaxing a little because last week, for the first time since last July, I wrote something. I returned to a manuscript I have a fondness for but have had to walk away from time after time. I gave my protagonist a last name, a hometown, a handsome male friend who's adorable & witty, & a chronic illness. More on this momentarily. 

I think it's not so much the new lamps or the new rug, but rather finally feeling I've addressed issues in the house that is contributing to my unwinding. Oh, I almost forgot. On Tuesday, after we had exhausted ourselves in the snow & couldn't stand the cold anymore, we came inside & drank hot chocolate. The kids & Trey retreated to their various little corners with their toy of choice, & I, snug in my semi-quiet house blanketed in snow, finally hung some things in the hallway that has stood empty for six years. 

Nervous about all the nails I was about to put in the pristine wall, I arranged & rearranged everything several times until I was satisfied. Then I got the hammer & quickly went to work before Trey came inquiring about all the noise. 

Now when I pass it in the hall or catch a glimpse of it from the kitchen, I am reminded of the gift we were given, the day we expected to once again rush off to work & school but instead spent all day at home enjoying coffee, snow, & each other. 

Anyway, I was discussing my unwinding. The A1C news definitely snapped something in me that's been wound pretty tightly since last September's A1C. Spending time in my house with my kids without feeling we've got to finish math homework or quickly pack lunches is greatly beneficial to my mental health. Finding time to read all of the month's book club book is a plus. Henry & I have a standing date every Thursday afternoon while we wait for Reagan's dance class to conclude. I really enjoy the time with him. A few weeks ago we went to Chili's because he wanted one of their "mountain desserts." Who am I to deny him this? 

After months of only writing "H" & then some indecipherable scribble when instructed to write his name, Henry has had a breakthrough. He showed off his new skills on his Chili's menu while we waited for our mountain. 

I think the above quote from Ms. Montgomery is excellent. It relaxes me to read it. Once your kids are in school & everyone's using the toilet most of the time, you want & can usually reasonably expect days that follow one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string. Is that not the most wonderful image, the most wonderful thought. You want to juggle only your routine & are absolutely fine if there are no surprises like vomit, birthday parties, etc. 

Since school began last August I've been a bit of a mess most of the time. I am only now realizing the toil last summer took on me; I was readying my book for publication & trying to pass an online graduate course that was over my head. It all seemed doable at the time, but throw in two young children, a small dog, & my attempt to keep up with book club reading &, you know, enjoy the summer, & things got ugly. Daily I had a few small tasks I needed to tend to, but typically I'd sit down to begin them around midnight. When I think of last summer, what I remember is exhaustion & a lot of coffee & La Croix. I took a trip to the beach with my mom & the kids, yet I barely recall it.

Anyway, enough of that. My point was to share with you Ms. Montgomery's lovely sentiment & say how exquisite it feels to relate to it right now. Ironically, I feel no pressure to write or edit anything at the moment, & thus that is likely why I opened a document last week that I last closed months ago.

I don't know if I'll ever finish another book, much less have one published. Last week we returned to school on Thursday. That day, a young lady told me her mother read Dear Miss Moreau in two days, & she loved it. I was obviously happy to hear that, & I thought, "That's it. That's all I want." That is actually far above & beyond what I wanted when I started writing it. I just wanted to read it. I wrote it for myself. That others have read it & enjoyed it is icing on the cake, an overused expression that might bring to mind a certain chapter in the book if you've read it. That is, by the way, one of my favorite chapters. 

What I am toying with now is not for me; it is for Reagan. I hope she loves to read when she's older, & I'd like her to be able to pick up a book featuring a protagonist with whom she can truly identify. Here's a snippet of what I wrote last week:

Derek Keller has taught biology and coached football at Rockport High for six years. At the end of my first day on the job, he came by my room to say hi and inquire about the day. He found me slumped over my desk. After a few bumbling and awkward moments, he understood I needed to check my blood sugar, which my meter revealed was forty. He watched me suck on a few glucose tablets before he left me to sprint to the lounge and pour me a giant glass of apple juice. He tilted my chin back and slowly poured the juice in my mouth as a crowd of students who’d not yet left the premises for the day slowly gathered outside my door.
 Yes, hi, my name is Margaret Bowen and I am a type one diabetic.
Derek chased the curious students away and closed my door. He sat with me for an hour, shoving peanut butter crackers in my hand until my blood sugar climbed to over one hundred and showed no signs of plummeting. I suppose with the slamming of my classroom door that day both our friendship and the rumors that continue to follow us were cemented.

I introduced you to Margaret a few months ago. Had I had a second daughter, I'd have lobbied for her name to be Margaret (yes, as in Thatcher). Since the Lord saw fit to give me my sweet Henry, I am finding creative ways to incorporate a Margaret into my life. I know what you're thinking: who is Derek? The Margaret you met before was a teenager smitten with an older cop named Daniel Dean. Do not worry; Officer Dean is still in the picture. I've been working out Margaret's plot in my head for a good while despite never having time to sit & write. Not only is she a diabetic, she may end up in a love triangle. 

What tends to happen when my life settles down is I create fictional people whose lives just fall completely apart. You should try it; it is quite the rush of power. Watch out, students; I may seem chill in class but some of you are being fictionally skewered. One of the many things I have learned the last year or so is that there is a lot of drama in high school, & so I will absolutely make use of this drama-rich environment in my writing. 

I hope you have a wonderful week. Unless there is weather on the way about which I am unaware, we're going to have to go to school for five whole days this week, which is truly torturous after a two-day week. I predict copious amounts of coffee will be consumed in the new reading nook. 


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