Wearing shorts while putting up Christmas decorations is just about one of the weirdest things ever. Seriously, it’s just wrong. I hung snowflakes on our Christmas tree with cut-off denim shorts riding my hips. August Burns Red’s Christmas album had an extra harmony backing its guitars: our air conditioner. Our Nativity scene is sharing the hearth with a flourishing cactus garden. What is up with the weather, man? My inner child is seriously confused. She sees a Christmas tree and wants hot chocolate and cozy sweaters, and she’s not getting them yet. But who doesn’t love an Indian summer, a chance to go on long walks and enjoy the fall colors without having numb fingers and icicle ears at its end? So, my inner child will just have to compartmentalize for the moment, to be able to enjoy our Christmas lights with chocolate ice cream instead of its warmer counterpart. I’m sure the weather will change soon; this is Louisiana, after all. But I’ll enjoy the extended warmth, even if it makes the bundled-up penguin hanging on my door look a bit out of place. Because no matter what the weather, ’tis the season.
Waking up next to my best friend in a soft, warm bed. Shuffling into the kitchen of our beautiful home and opening the cabinets, knowing that I’ll find plenty of food within them. Going on a walk, enjoying the nature around me and the dogs that amuse me and the health that has improved enough for me to do so. Visiting my parents and brother and grandparents, knowing that my aunt and cousin will be home soon and that most of my loved one live on the same land I’ve loved all my life, land that I get to share with my favorite people. Coming back to a house full of books and instruments and love. Having access to the hundreds or possibly thousands of worlds that reside on my bookshelves, and the education needed to visit them. Washing our bounty of clothes in a washing machine instead of a stream. Having the freedom to stay home and the knowledge that I can hop in my car and drive away whenever I choose. Writing without fear, encouraged by the people who love me. Playing guitar and singing my heart out. Tickling my husband and laughing at his exasperation. Resting my head on his shoulder as he holds me in his arms. Seeing my brother just as happy as I am, with a woman that I’ll happily call my sister. Attending a church where I’m loved and accepted, where my gifts are nurtured and applauded, where fellowship and discipleship are of equal importance. Having instant access to God’s Word. Knowing the One who penned it. Feeling secure in God’s provision, even when the future is uncertain. Knowing that, even in this occupational interlude, we will never miss a bill or a meal because He’s got this. These are the things that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are things that I’ve forgotten, which is another reason to be thankful; my blessings are beyond measure.
Errol Stone has been the village drunk for years, and he’s only eighteen years old. His life has sucked since he was fourteen, so he tries to drown himself in ale anytime he can afford it. To support his habit, he gathers herbs for the local herbwomen and runs messages to the hermit priest living out in the middle of nowhere. One day, Errol is presented with an opportunity to make enough coin on one run to keep him drunk for at least a week, and he jumps at the chance. He soon wishes he had never taken that job…
A Cast of Stones, the first book in Patrick W. Carr’s The Staff & The Sword trilogy, was an absolutely fabulous read. I’ve accomplished almost nothing over the past two days, devouring the entire 432 page tome in less than 36 hours. Luckily, the weather the past couple of days has sucked, so I don’t feel too terrible about getting sucked in to Carr’s well-crafted fantasy realm of Illustra.
Errol Stone begins his story as a harmless, alcohol-soaked nobody. His personality is almost completely hidden beneath his addiction. But circumstances change him, though he doesn’t so much rise to the occasion as he grudgingly goes along with those who assert their authority over him. They mean well, but Errol doesn’t truly begin to blossom until he is separated from the rest of party. Away from those who have watched him drown his memories, Errol flourishes, confronting his demons with the help of a friend and conquering his addiction. He gains some impressive skills once he has kicked his habit, but he never seemed too-good-to-be-true.
Carr did a great job crafting his secondary characters, as well. I cared about Luis and Martin and Cruk, about Liam and Rale and Rohka, and even Naaman Ru. And there were characters that I absolutely despised, but I’ll let you meet them for yourself. Carr’s settings easy to visualize, but he never bogged his reader down in details. A Cast of Stones is a Christian fantasy, but it was never preachy. It was excellent not just for a Christian fantasy, but compared to just about any fantasy series I’ve read. I’d give it 5/5 stars.
I’m starting the second installment, The Hero’s Lot, as soon as I finish typing this. What kind of trouble are you in now, Errol?
What is my problem? Writing is what I want to do with my life, and I want it desperately. I yearn for it. But here I am, at almost 10:30 at night, exhausted before my fingers ever pressed a single key. It’s so frustrating how wrapped up I get in the menial. I have over 85 pages written of a book. An actual book! And I’m so proud of myself for getting that far, but I’ve barely touched it in the past three weeks.
I’ve had great excuses. My husband got laid off and moved back home from Michigan, and we had to get him resettled in Louisiana. That was a crapload of happiness and stress mixed in a cocktail that left us buzzed for a week. I wrote short stories for competitions during the last week of October, and I feel like the deadlines I met really helped me hone my skill. And then I got sick. I feel like I’ve been sick forever, although thankfully I’m finally coming out of it. But it felt impossible to connect with the creative region of my mind when I had to swim through mental mucus just to function. How could I work on crafting my fictional world when I was having such a hard time being present in my own?
Tomorrow is going to be a crazy-busy day in town. I have appointments everywhere. Seriously. My to-do list is longer than my leg. But I’m promising myself now that I will set aside some time to visit the world that I’ve been working so hard to build, time to visit my characters and help them move forward in their story. Because it’s important enough to demand my time.
My left ear has been ringing for eight hours. HOURS. Straight. Without stopping for even a second. It sounds like a pixie set up a construction site right next to my ear drum and forgot to turn off his minute circular saw before he left for the day. Do fairies have hitmen? Where would I hire one if they did? My only contacts in the realm of miniature mythical beings are Hobbits and the Keebler Elves. Louisiana is nowhere near Middle Earth, and I ran as far away as I could from the Keebler Elves when I started counting calories. So I guess taking out a hit on my saw-wielding pixie squatter is a no-go. Dang it.
But really, what is causing this incessant high-pitched droning? Is it from having to blow my nose so much? Crazy side effect from that steroid shot that almost made me pass out from fear when it came at me yesterday? The beginning stages of some psychosis I wasn’t aware I had? Whatever the cause, be it mental or medical or mythical, I just want it to STOP. Please, for the love of all that is holy, at least switch ears for a few minutes!
If you don’t hear anything from me tomorrow, assume the worst. I hunted down the Keebler Elves and made a deal.
Today was a first for me. It was the first time I’ve ever had to go to the doctor without insurance. I was pretty freaked out about it, to be perfectly honest. I mean, how much was the visit going to be? And what about injections or prescriptions? If I had just been drowning in congestion for five days, I probably wouldn’t have gone. But I haven’t been about to talk above a whisper since Saturday, and anyone who knows me understands what a problem that is. Because when I can’t talk, I can’t sing. And when I can’t burst into song, it makes me sad. Which isn’t good for anybody. So today I put on my big girl panties and went to the walk in clinic. The force of my adulthood was strong, because I was a lot more worried about the price of the visit than I was about the steroid shot I knew would soon be stabbing into my hip. As I’ve been completely terrified of needles since I was but a wee lass, that was a big deal for me.
The visit didn’t cost as much as I feared, and neither did the meds I was prescribed. By my math, I feel at least sixteen times better than I did before I stepped into the hyper-sterilized office. But I almost didn’t go because I was afraid of the cost. I should have known better. God has gotten Chris and me through way worse situations than the one we’re in now. No, we don’t have insurance right now, but we’re both healthier than we’ve been in years. No, neither of us are employed at the moment, but we have savings and Chris has prospects. And we’re getting to spend more time together than we have in over a year and a half. This layoff brought him home, and maybe he’ll be able to find a job closer to home, something he wouldn’t have even looked for when he was still securely employed in Michigan. The thought of getting to see my husband more often is well worth some financial strain; I really missed his face.
We’ve had longer periods of unemployment when we didn’t have as much saved, when we weren’t as healthy and didn’t have the leads we do now. But we never missed a meal, and every single one of our bills was paid on time. God knows what He’s doing, just like He knew then. He’s always taken care of us. I just need to remember that, and trust Him. And in the mean time, I’ll take my antibiotics and cuddle on the couch with the husband I no longer have to miss.