The Fall Files

Autumn is hands down (and thumbs up?) our favorite season of the year. Especially in Georgia, where summer seems to set in by the end of April and squeeze us in a humid death grip through September.

Fall is when our fuzzy dog doesn’t go through insta-wilt every time we step outside.

Fall is when when my pyro-husband can exercise his fire-making skills.

Fall is our anniversary.

And this, year — year 5! — we wanted to savor our fall with every possible chance.

CASE FILE 1: In Which We Climb a Mountain, Are Rained Upon, and Nearly Lose a Dog in the Adirondacks

New England fall color is legendary. And as we’d never been to Boston in the fall (a la the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything), well, we didn’t go to Boston. But we did drive all the way up into the Adirondacks, visiting Dave’s family in Pennsylvania on the way. That’s twenty hours, folks. Each way. And we were still married at the end of it! Though it rained on us almost our entire time there, the color was indeed breathtaking…

Low clouds, mist and all…

…None of which stopped us from climbing Whiteface. A mountain. A Very Tall mountain.

My husband claims he does not photograph well. My husband is wrong.

Four miles of near vertical scramble…

Our crazy dog.

A short time before she disappeared into the wilds of the mountain.

Two thousand miles from home.

With no one else around.

Just as the downpour started.

For thirty Very Long minutes.

Detailed elsewhere

She returned, guilt plastered all over her face.

We recovered.

She stayed home the next day.

While we went in search of maple syrup…

Tea (for Dave) and coffee (for me) overlooking Lake Placid. We are a mixed marriage.

Lake Placid in the mist. There are mountains back there somewhere…

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CASE FILE 2: In Which We Go Camping with Bears

Dave and I love to hike — but we also aren’t hard-core, climb-Kilimanjaro enthusiasts. So while we have basic camping gear, we’d only been camping a few times. We fall somewhere in the gap between state campgrounds where tents and RVs are on top of each other and canvas doesn’t mask the late-night party next door… and back country camping where everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink gets lugged in on your back in one trip.

Our friends Josh and Mandy discovered the perfect, happy medium. Bear Creek Campground is well out in the midst of nowhere with a small gravel lot and (happily) natural toilets, back several miles of twisting gravel road. Once there, you cross a creek and can spread out in unmarked campsites that cover a half a mile along the creek. We had company, but mostly out of sight, and set up camp in the curve of a creek that caught the drifting fall leaves and swept them downstream.

Josh and Mandy went up a day early and captured our spot. The Davises joined us later in the evening.

For fire.

Which is one of the key reasons for camping.

Camp cookery at its finest.

Vera taught us all the necessary sign language for “leaf” and “tent”. Good stuff.

Dave and Vera hung out.

Nina is not impressed.

If you think you’ve seen anything more adorable than a sleeping bag for a one-year old, you need another think.

We all did a spot of hiking the next day…

…and crossed paths with the tallest tree in Georgia: the Gennett Poplar.

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CASE FILE 3: In Which We Hike In to the Hike Inn

Back in early September, Dave and I hiked the trails at Amicalola Fall and discovered a small sign at the top pointing the way to the Hike Inn. A handy internet search (because what would one do on a hike without one’s iPhone?) revealed that this fascinating inn can be accessed only via a five-mile hike into the back country. However, at the end of the trek, home-cooked meals, hot showers, and comfy beds await. Really, how much more perfect can you get? We called the next day and reserved a night for what we hoped would be peak leaf time.

In actuality, we missed North Georgia peak time by about a week. But we sacrificed color for some incredible views.

Please forward all mail to our new place of residence…

Waiting for sunrise: good.

Waiting for sunrise with coffee: better.

I don’t do puzzles. Seriously. They irritate my OCD tendencies. But Dave conned me into this one, and I actually enjoyed myself.

Until…

Horrors!

Missing piece.

What in the blazes?

Trees have biceps, too.

The Inn lived up to all expectations and I will now be haunting the interwebs for off-season discounts…

Anyone want to join us?

random thoughts

On the true value of a husband:

When I stepped into the shower this morning, I glanced up to discover a nasty spider creeping across the ceiling above me. A sort of shimmering bronze critter that looked as though it could leap should it so desire.

A year ago, I would have calmly dealt with the creature myself. This time I merely shrieked and let my husband come in and squelch it.

Highly satisfactory.

On health food:

There’s a hole-in-the-wall with windows and a dirty awning at the end of our street where less-than-fine dining establishments come and go. The latest calls itself Tony’s, and appears to sell a random assortment of fairground food from an actual building instead of trailers.

The grease is a palpable cloud as you walk by. The menu is garishly emblazoned across both windows and awnings:

Loaded spiral fries

Funnel cakes

Fried pickles (and Twinkies. and Oreos)

Hand-dipped onion rings

Cotton candy

Chili cheese dogs

And at the very bottom, the piece de resistance:

Salads.

I’ll have mine fried, thanks.

Getting Lucky

Frankly, I don’t believe in luck.

I believe in a God who orchestrates all the details of my life down to who I run into at the grocery store and the fact that my car currently needs a brake job (while somehow still allowing room for my full freedom of choice).

At any rate, I’ve received a spate of calls and emails regarding writing jobs of late. It’s not luck, so to speak, but it does involve getting Lucky. While a number of these writing gigs have panned to nothing (as is common in the arts world!), I’ve landed my first real professional credit: a rewrite on a kids feature film that’s going into production this summer–titled “Lucky and Plumpton.”

Lucky is a kid whose life decidedly contradicts his name–until he discovers a magical recipe book with the personality and charm of a seemingly sweet Siamese kitty that’s up to no good. Plumpton…well, I’m still figuring him out.

I’ll be living with Lucky and his world for the next six weeks or so. And if I manage to draw him out well enough, you might just see him on the big screen.

Pray for my creativity and sanity.
Lucky & Plumpton

All things are lawful…

Paul can be a hard guy to decipher. Especially when he gets up on his “I, not the Lord” horse. –Because what’s that supposed to say to those of us who believe him when he tells Timothy all Scripture is breathed out by God?

But that’s another post.

I’ve run up against some difficult choices in my life: grad school, marriage, moving. Places where two roads diverged sharply. In every case I can recall, either one choice was obviously wrong, or both choices were good and morally acceptable — as if God was holding out two equal options and allowing me to pick.

Last week, we hit gray. After months of brick walls, job searching, and vocational frustrations for both of us, I was offered a great editorial job with a publishing company in Cincinnati. It was nearly a one of a kind position — one of the few places in the country I could do what I was doing at Willow. Even a step up to leading a team, which would be a good stretch. It was clearly an answer to prayer.

Just as I was prepared to accept, I received an email from the director of the group that gave me a writing fellowship last year. Would I be interested in a full-time screenwriting/script development job with them?

A full-time, salaried writing job? Are you kidding?

Even in the face of a great offer already on the table, it was a no brainer for me…and David was on board, too.

The catch? Funding for the position isn’t firmed up. While we hoped to know for sure last week, it may be another month until anything is concrete.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to be starting another job within days.

On one hand, a solid, even exciting, guaranteed career job. On the other hand, my dream writing job, not guaranteed, and requiring an out-of-state move.

We were counseled by several Christian friends–for whom I have great respect–that good business sense, biblical shrewdness even, means taking what’s set before you until the next door opens. So: take the publishing job and quit if you get another firm offer.

My head agreed, but I couldn’t seem to come to terms with the idea of accepting a job and allowing a company to invest in me for several months–while knowing there was a 80% chance I’d walk out on them during their busiest season.

That’s when one of Paul’s more enigmatic bits of wisdom started coming clear:

“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbors.” (I Corinthians 10:23-24)

Would it have been ethically wrong for me to take the publishing job?

I don’t know. Maybe not.

But I do know that hard as it was to call and “quit” a job I was scheduled to start in a few days, it would have been exponentially more difficult doing it in two months.

My supervisor probably would never have known I was almost certain of quitting from the first.

But I would have known.

So we’re out on a limb right now, waiting for funding, waiting for confirmation on other writing jobs and freelance work.

The breeze up here is kind of nice.

Striking Thoughts

The writers are striking!

As many of you know, film and television writers are one month into a rabid strike, trying to negotiate with the studios. Though I’m of the firm belief it’s one’s individual responsibility to make oneself valuable in order to be paid well, the writers have some valid points of concern: namely regarding payment for DVD sales and internet downloads. Still, all the squabbling and offers and counter-offers appear to be just so much smoke and mirrors.

I saw the strike coming from nearly a year out when the rumors began circulating last winter. But I assumed the whole thing would pass me by. Neither Dave nor I are WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) members as of yet. And I hardly see a picket line marching out from L.A. to stand between me and my Mac.

In spite of this, the strike has managed to worm its way into our business. I may not be Guild yet, but my manager can’t take any of my finished scripts to the studios. Art Within, the group I just finished a commissioned script for, is stuck sitting with the ninth draft on their laptops, unable to send it anywhere. Plus, Art Within can’t commission anything new, even though there’s some interest in an idea Dave and I have been hashing out together.

Oh, and then…there are rumors that this season of Lost may be canceled if the strike doesn’t resolve soon.

Horrors.

So, the strike must end. There are plenty of suggestions circulating on blogs and You Tube, but the best I’ve heard comes straight from The Ninja…