running out

I know full well that prayer does not work on a slot machine basis. Stick the proper formula of words in the slot and ding! – out comes a neat, happy answer. But sometimes God does provide one of those quick, decisive answers that are a clear reminder prayer is far more than a healthy exercise to calm oneself and clear one’s mind.

Georgia spring doesn’t bother to stick around too long. Yesterday late afternoon, it hit the mid-80s, high humidity, sweltering sun. I was due for a run and decided to get it over with early, despite the heat. I mean…this is mid-MAY. Nina loves a good run (she would run me if I allowed it), and I’ve always taken her along on anything 5 miles and under. “Always” being since we got her last fall, after the worst of the Georgia summer heat. We got a few miles in, and she started panting pretty heavily. When I realized she was truly distressed, I dropped it to a walk, but she began dragging quickly. I had no cell phone, no water, and the park fountain wasn’t turned on yet. We were still almost two miles from home when she stopped and collapsed full length in the grass, exhausted and dehydrated. I suppose the black fur turns her into a regular thermal absorption device.

That was when I started praying, out loud, right there on the side of the road. And within two minutes, an old Buick with a white-haired gentleman and his elderly golden retriever drove past. Both smiled and waved (really, the dog did). I flagged them down and asked whether he had water or a cell phone. He didn’t, but he immediately offered a ride home. I drug Nina into the back seat and they drove us straight to our front door. I never did get the gentleman’s name, but the golden was Lionel. He kept trying to drive. I think he was attempting to impress Nina.

At any rate, Nina inhaled several bowls of water and and flopped down for a good, long nap. I was the one who nearly fell apart after it was over.

24

So we had our own version of the television show 24 from Friday through Saturday. Jack Bauer probably could have pulled the whole thing off in a spiffy 12 hours, but we’re mere mortals.

The backstory to this episode of 24 included our crazy month of preproduction on Dave’s film shoot for a promotional video in Pennsylvania – during which time I was mostly in LA and both of us were working our regular jobs as well. Last weekend Dave drove the 14 hours from Atlanta to Northeast PA, while I flew in from LA on Monday. We averaged about five hours of sleep a night during the week of shooting, but had a fantastic cast and crew. My husband-the-perfectionist is already brow-furrowing over various small details, but overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. (Down to the seven actors who willingly exposed themselves to 40 degree weather in swimwear while staging our “European resort”.)

We wrapped Thursday evening and awoke at 6 a.m. Friday morning, still exhausted, in order to fight traffic down into Philly to return gear multiple places, as well as the rental truck. Then we had a noon break visiting some of Dave’s family (thank you, Arduinos!) and hit the road again, arriving in Virginia for dinner with my family. Our final leg took us south from Harrisonburg all the way home, starting around 9:30 p.m. Fortified with the chemical goodness of gas station cappuccinos and sketchy energy drinks, we made it home and pulled in around 7 a.m.

The OCD in me forced a certain amount of unpacking before hitting the hay (yes, I realize this is an illness), but I can tell you, my own bed has never felt so good.

Coincidence?

The Dharma logo from LOST, representing a secretive and likely nefarious group that performed highly questionable research on a mysterious, unmappable island in the ’70s.

The El Capitan logo, representing the “retreat center” where I stayed this weekend, tucked into a deep canyon between two mountains, untraceable by T-Mobile cell phone signals.

Coincidence?

I think not.

reality checkpoint

To be honest, David and I haven’t really felt the economy crunching yet. Last year was our crazy year, and instead, this year has been relatively stable. But two things caught my attention this week.

I’m used to be on the gig finding side of it, but our business, Arclight, is hiring crew for a film shoot David’s doing up near Philly next month. We posted an online ad for five crew members, just hoping we could fill the roster.

The ad went up around midnight, and before I signed on the next morning, the resumes were already coming in. We’ve had well over 100 applications for a low-paying, three-day gig. I’m not even bothering to read the cover letters anymore. Either something jumps out at me, or the email gets deleted. It gives me a certain amount of sympathy for HR folks trying to pick through a flood of applications and and understanding of why good jobs usually come through personal connections.

At any rate, the economy is enough to make our small project highly attractive.

Another sign of current economic woes is, of course, the airlines’ desperate grab for income through other revenue sources than tickets. Namely: charging for checked baggage. I haven’t flown much in the past six months since they started implementing, but the results were all too predictable on my flights out to California last Thursday. In Atlanta, and again in Dallas, boarding was an excruciating process. Everyone is determined to carry on instead of checking, so the overhead bins fill up, and the line backs all the way up the jetway as passengers scavenge for bin space. In the end, a lot of carryon bags had to be checked anyway, through various logistical contortions, before everyone could settle in.

So, perhaps not the Great Depression. Merely, for the time being, the Inconveniencing Recession.

Adventures

One of the things I most appreciate about my husband is his sense of adventure. Which doesn’t necessarily mean grand trips or scaling mountains. We adventure to the grocery store. We adventure to find the right light bulb for our weirdly-sized kitchen overhead. We adventure on the castle-esque playground at the nearby church.

But at the moment, we both have bigger adventures for March. David is finishing up his last day at his current job, and starts next week creating the new position of Marketing Director for AMTC. Tricky to explain just what said entity is, but you can check out the AMTC site. In a lot of ways, you might say that they are for actors and talent what Act One is for writers.

David created the “Be the Light” video on the home page, and they’ve been chasing him down to work for them every since.

And speaking of Act One, I discovered last week that I’ll be jaunting out to L.A. for several weeks next month for the start of an intensive mentorship program through Act One (where David and I originally met!). This round is called, appropriately, Act Three.

More on both ventures soon!

Massacre of the Bowls

When we registered for wedding gifts, we had a terrible time finding silverware. We checked all the usual suspects, and then started elaborate online searches – finally locating the perfect set at a store that doesn’t even exist in the midwest. Dave’s folks kindly bought them for us, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed their exactly-right aesthetic: simple, with just a subtle touch of curve and shaping, substantial without being bulky or awkward. Understated elegance.

Our dishes…well, we couldn’t find anything that fit our undefinable aesthetic. So we decided that we were just fine with a classy set of stoneware from our local IKEA for a mere $30. (After all, who doesn’t need an excuse to stop by for some Swedish meatballs with ligonberry sauce?)

And now, I am unutterably grateful we did not register for fine china.

Our current cabinets sport those handy little pegs to adjust shelf height. But said pegs don’t lodge tightly in their assigned holes, and invariably a front one slips out without our knowledge. The next one starts working itself free, and then I happen to exhale while setting dishes on the shelf, and the whole thing falls apart. Yesterday, I set a stack of three bowls just a millimeter off on an already full shelf – and the entire thing collapsed in a hail of stoneware dishes.

I screamed, the dog panicked, and the final body count was something like five bowls beyond all hope of return to this life.

Time for some Swedish meatballs.

piggie hoggie

I transcribe this wonderful note verbatim from my Grandmother. (She would be the “J” – Janet. The “M” appears to be my Grandfather Morris, and the “H”, his sister, my Great Aunt Helena.)

“Several of the nieces of Helena and Morris have recently heard of the Famous Yoder Family Game known for 75 years as PIGGIE HOGGIE and they want to know how to play it. Helena still has the original home-made game and no other cards can carry the nostalgic thrilling excitement of their childhood! (I must admit I thought it sounded pretty stupid until I tried it and it is fun! — Aunt J.)

PIGGIE HOGGIE, played by 3 or more players

BOOK, a set of four cards with the same number on them.  Have one book for each player.

TOKEN, buttons or small objects.  Have one less than the number of players.

To Play:
MIX and deal four cards to each player. Place tokens in middle of the table equally accessible by each player.

OBJECT of the game:  Trade cards in hand, one or two at a time, with other players until you have a book. Then you may pick up a token.  When one token is removed all players are free to  grab another one and the player left without a token adds one letter of PIGGIE HOGGIE to his name on the score sheet.  The first person receiving all twelve letters is in disgrace!

To trade cards, each player offers a trade of one or two cards at any time to any other player.  This becomes a free-for-all so that the first player with a complete book tries to remove a token from the table without being noticed. (Maybe still asking for trades).  As each player grabs a token which is left one player is left without and gets a letter added to his score.

Morris thinks the one with the least letters is the winner.

Helena says, “No one wins!”

“A simple game made by simple people”  –M.

“The more the merrier”  –H.

May you all enjoy it as the original Yoder children did!–J”

sponsor a child

We thought it was remarkably cute when we trained Nina to pick up her little metal food scoop and bring it to us when it was time for dinner. When it became slightly less cute, we put that up between meals – so she resorted to bringing around the frisbee David occasionally feeds her in. That had to go away too.

This evening, her active doggie brain came up with a first rate solution. She managed to get her jaws around her food dish – which is larger than her head and quite heavy. She’s been carting it all over the house, her large liquid eyes pleading for an end to this cruel famine.

Clearly, we are unfit parents, unable to provide our pup with the barest of necessities to fill her little belly. Anyone want to step into the gap and sponsor a child?

still

I live on a mental agenda. It’s not something I intend or anticipate. My brain simply processes all the possible options of things-to-be-done and slots them up in time frames. And if something throws my agenda…well, ask my husband what that looks like.

Which is why I was keenly struck by this piece. I have no idea who Annie Keary is (aha. Nineteeth century English novelist. Thanks, Google), but she knows me.

“I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work. Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work – one’s work for God – consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day – the part one can best offer to God. After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.”

nightwords

This month, I’ve been grappling with one screenplay during work hours and yet another in the evening. For the past two nights, I’ve been doing it in my sleep, too.

Seriously. In my dreams, I’ve been writing action lines and bits of dialogue, deleting and reworking to get the words just right. It’s all in the correct font, too.

Last night, I even dreamed the story first, and then sat down to base a screenplay on the preceding events. I can’t relate all the details to you at present, but there was a trip down to Ecuador involved, from whence I commuted one day per week by ship to a small country in Africa (Sengala, for the made up country on the show 24 – but even in my dream, I knew it was a false name and kept trying to google a map to figure out what it really was) to do missionary work.

Once the events of the dream concluded (with much fanfare and adventure), I began my toil of typing just the right action lines and beats to capture the story. There was much replotting and rewriting…and by the time I woke up, I was just plum wore out.

I need a vacation.