Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas book lovers!

I stole this from Amy's blog and though it's a time suck to load up, it's a great tool. See my widget lower left though I've only just begun to add books. The process made even more enjoyable as I scan by listening to new downloads by Angela Desveaux, Summer Hymns, Joseph Arthur, The Be Good Tanyas, Ray LaMontagne, A Girl Called Eddy, the Weepies, Sufjan Stephens, and the Decemberists. Merry Christmas from Merry Rocheport! See you next year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Same curtain, different peek

I suppose I am allowed to quote an excerpt from an essay of mine, “Double or Nothing” appearing in the current Gettysburg Review (and hopefully you’ll order one and read the rest):

--I began to feel a distinct deja vu. Suddenly I was transported back to Boston where I lived fifteen years or so earlier. At that time in my life, I practiced a fervent faith that led to serendipitous encounters on a regular basis. God sometimes seemed to lift a curtain on His infinite, overlapping plot lines and let me in on the act. It kept life lively and expectations of the unexpected high. Uncanny occurrences, or “divine appointments,”, as the group I was associated with called them, served to increase the belief that we were participating in a grand tale on a cosmic scale. The “supernatural” intersected the “natural,” which was a totally reasonable occurrence to people in thrall to God.--

A week ago, someone named Stacy posted a comment to my blog. She had just read the above mentioned essay and took the time to google me, find my blog and post her reaction. Nothing pleases a writer more, or this writer anyway, than having someone other than your husband, mother or best friend not only read but give feedback on something you’ve written (not to diminish the responses of spouses, parents and friends but they’re liable to be just a wee bit biased.)

Anyway, that night Anthony (my good friend from my Houston writing group and the one who pioneered our moves to Columbia) and his wife Dyan were over. Anthony had been one of the first readers and critiquers of that essay so I mentioned Stacy’s comments. Come to find out, he knew Stacy. He’d not only met her at the Calvin Conference in Michigan last April but he’d bought her new book there and she’d signed it! Stacy and I have been emailing back and forth ever since.

Then, this morning, I got a new post from Amy, a long lost friend of mine from my Boston days (which are the context for much of my essay). Amy had been at a blog, seen a link to Stacy’s site and gone to check it out. The current post at Stacy’s site linked her to my blog! Amy’s subsequent post was entitled, “Divine Connections or Coincidences...” which, unbeknownst to her, was the subject of my essay. Did you follow all that?

December 21, 1996 (posted a day early)

If you waited a long time, if you waited all your life for the love of your life to come along, then December 21st, being the longest night of the year, is the best possible date to marry the one you love. So I did and I did and I do.

Happy 10th Anniversary, my one and only double you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh, Santa, one more update

moon sand
gift srtifercit
candy baskit
stuff animal
two gowld fishes
mayc up cit
a wener dog with clos (real)

Oldest ______ West of the Mississippi

A refrain we've heard repeated almost everywhere we've stopped in Missouri. Seems every little town in this state has its claim on something being the oldest of its kind "west of the Mississippi," whether it's the oldest "continously running" hotel, bar, plank road, school, or restaurant (which leaves you wondering where the oldest non-continously running versions are scattered and what the heck all the other western states were doing in the meantime besides watching now extinct prairie grasses grow). On Friday morning, in anticipation of our upcoming tenth anniversary, I shoved a cup of the freshest coffee west of the Mississippi under my husband's sleeping nose and shouted, "Pack yer bags! We're off to the oldest town west of the Mississippi!"

And so we rambled down the road to St. Louis where we took a hard right and ended up in St. Gennevieve which was, by US of A standards west of the Mississippi, very old (1740's). Almost a hundred years older than our own little old Rocheport. We stayed in the cozy and romantic carriage house of the Inn St. Gemme Beauvais (circa 1848) and from there wandered historic streets settled by the French. Although the town was/is? French, the restaurant offerings were reminiscent of Boston diners I've declined so we resorted to bread, cheese and fruit in front the glow of our little fireplace and, as the town shut down at 5, an assortment of videos from the authentically antique front desk.

The shops (apart from the lovely one pictured above) held more promise, mostly "antique" shops that we poked and scavenged for usable junk. I have started a collection of what I've learned are "Frozen Charlottes" which I picked up for 2 to 10 bucks when I was lucky. I passed on them in other places that charged 15 or 20.

Also of interest was the museum, where all information was hand written or hand typed and attributed to this citizen or that, so that the articles described felt like they had actually been used by real people as opposed to having been made for museum exhibits. One of the things I found strangely fascinating were the intricate "hair wreaths" and "hair jewelry", (yes, items made from human hair though you would not guess it) which are now, sadly, a lost art form. The town was surprisingly devoid of Christmas (or any, for that matter) shoppers which made for pleasant browsing and strolling about.

On our way back to Rocheport, we spent another day in St. Charles (left of St. Louis) which was settled by the British and is also old, but not as old, and tres charming. There were plently of shops here and we walked the brick streets till I got shin splints. It was all lit for Christmas, carollers strolled, costumed Christmas characters (the Town Crier, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Father Christmas, etc.) spread good cheer. A lovely winter weekend away, west of the Mississippi.

Monday, December 04, 2006

These are their Those Were The Days

My neighbor (her child is in the middle) took this on Thursday before our foot of snow accumulated. With a day off school, how could anxious kids with a new sleds wait any longer? I hope you lived somewhere that offered you this thrill as a kid. Memories of my own childhood winters in New Jersey before we moved to Texas were part of the reason I wanted to move somewhere that had seasons. Enjoy, my lovelies!

Friday, December 01, 2006