Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Blues?

Time traditionally goes slowly in dark, cold January but this month it's been a bit different. Not to say it hasn't been dark and cold; that, it's been. But it's been a busy month.

The pet snake I referred to earlier that Andre got at the Creation Museum turned up missing from his (we presume it's a he -- I don't even want to know how to really find out) cage just 2 days before we left on a drive to Virginia to stay with my parents for a week over Christmas. We were all set to take 'him' with us but instead he decided to go off on his own. He didn't turn up before we left so we did the trip without him, probably to the great relief of my mom since we were going to bring him along so we could feed him his weekly baby mouse and keep him watered. Sadly, my parents missed out on having a seventh house guest.

We made that trip, with the usual sightseeing around Washington, though NOT to the Air and Space Museum this time. Our Dodge Grand Caravan is showing its age and the transmission does not like to shift into the highest gear which is a problem when you drive through the mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We babied it both ways and it survived the trip but we're left with knowing that we need to replace it and probably sooner rather than later.

New Year's was in Indiana with Denise's sisters and their families and then I returned to western Illinois where I thankfully have a day job though sadly live without my family. It's an odd plan we have but I live and work there and they live in Indiana since we don't have the cash reserves to buy a new house in Illinois. We are thoroughly convinced that a cash basis for housing is just as wise as a cash basis for any other purchases. But this is why we limp along with a car with a dodgy transmission and we live in two different states. This is just one of 'those things' and we trust God to bring us through. We're where He wants us to be and that's good enough for us. He'll change it when He's ready.

So, I've been working away here in Moline but meanwhile, Stephen has been advancing his new interest in fencing. This all began last November with an opportunity to try it out and watch a tournament in the Chicago area and he's turning out to love it. And he's doing quite well for having just picked it up, too. He was in a Chicago area Junior Varsity tournament recently where he placed 10th overall out of more than 40 fencers. Not bad for a month's experience. Of course, he was older than most of the other participants, too, but they all had at least as much or more experience than he.

Last weekend was an enormous tournament at the Culver Military Academy in Indiana. I drove back for this and we all trooped down there to give Stephen our support. He didn't win many of his bouts (none, in fact) but he scored on virtually all of his opponents and though lost in the elimination round, he scored well against his opponent who went on to be in the Top 8. Many fencers participated from all around the Great Lakes area and most had years and years of experience (though all were high school age). We are very proud of him and his achievement to date and mostly that he's doing it at all and with such passion.

It turns out that, like most things, fencing has a strong subculture all its own and the community of fencers is so small, most of the high-end fencers in the Chicago area are known by name and families all know each other. It's been interesting. Not sure where it all takes him and us but we're along for the ride wherever that may be.

Meanwhile, Danielle has started up her Spring semester at Patrick Henry College via Distance Learning. She did well in her Fall semester and we're certain she'll do the same this semester. It's a lot of work for her which last semester drove her to near isolation so she's working on how to "do" college without it consuming her.

We're in the last day of what's becoming an Annual Daniel Fast where we follow the lead of Daniel from the Bible where when he was a youth, he and some friends begged off the king's rich food and lived on vegetables and water and proved that they were in better condition afterward. We've been doing this for 21 days. We allow vegetables, fruit and water but no grains (or flour), dairy, meat, nuts, or sugars (other than what occurs naturally in fruits). It's like a highly, highly restrictive Vegan diet but really it allows all kinds of great veggy foods and other good stuff (like chips!). We've discovered many Indian dishes (Aloo Gobi, for example) which have become part of our cooking repertoire. We've also rediscovered the Produce section of the grocery store. Although we do this in order to concentrate on the Lord and hopefully lead to spiritual growth, a nice side benefit is weight loss, which I dreadfully need. I plan to continue eating close to this way after today's over, just for that reason. Last year when we did this in January, I was out of work and we still belonged to a sports club in Wisconsin so we worked out every day as well. The health benefits were undeniable.

The really good news of January (so far), though, is that after being lost in the house in Indiana for over a month, Charles the pet snake showed up this past Sunday. And it was fitting that Andre found him, coiled up in the basement (of all places). We restored Charles to his more secure cage (not the one he escaped from) and tried to get him to eat but he seems tired and hasn't eaten yet. He did take a long drink of water, though, which isn't surprising since although we left little pans of water out on the floor for the past month, it's unlikely he partook of any of them, especially if he's been in the basement for a while. I had a bad feeling that if we would ever find him, he would be nothing but dessicated remains. Thankfully and as a huge answer to prayer, he was revealed to us. Our prayer now is that we can have the wisdom to be able to ensure that he is in good health.

I've also signed on to a Novel editing class online and am in the middle of learning a rewriting and editing method, not only for my most current NaNoWriMo product which is being rewritten and edited in the class, but also to be applied to all novel writing I do from now on. It's a comprehensive course compiled and given by a successful, published author (Holly Lisle) who is willing to share her novel rewriting techniques. I'm loving it so far though it's a lot of work (didn't expect it to not be). The course will run until sometime in May, I think, though the actual work of it is self-paced and could take longer. The goal is a very, very clean rewrite of the manuscript which should be ready to shop around and a technique that in the future shouldn't take a fraction of that much time. Cool.

I've got nothing else for now. We're all very grateful for the Lord maintaining our family, as dispersed as we are, and for returning Charles the snake to us alive.


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