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?

Thoughts and Reflections on 2009

For what it’s worth, and as far as this blog is concerned, 2009 will not go down in our books as the year of getting things documented, in spite of the many interesting happenings. It appears we’ve got the “buh” part of blog down–not so much the “log” part it. So, sorry to all of you out there who visit each day with bated breath.

This isn’t a new year’s resolution to document or opine more, since we all know what resolutions are good for, but if you’re gonna do this thing, you’ve gotta start somewhere. So here is a summing up of the year, as seen by yourses truly.

We thought we’d give it a kind of top ten, since we just love those bite-size bits. So in no particular order of rank (and thus making a top ten pointless after all), we submit for your amusement, the highlights of 2009.

10. Getting out of debt. This came as a bit of surprise, if you must know. No, we didn’t follow any kind of hardcore Dave Ramsey plan (though we love the guy, and if we were in debt again, we’d listen to his advice), but we just threw money at our debt and when we looked up, it was gone. Perhaps that is hardcore, since we went into this marriage a year and a half earlier with an over $20,000 millstone around our necks, but it’s still hard to believe. Praise God.

9. Going into debt. Well, not personally, but as a nation. Truly, we were on this road already, but the current politicians decided to blast that Nitrous Oxide tank and race us toward certain financial oblivion. People more clever and better at numbers than us can better unpack what this means for the future, but why we count this as a personal highlight is it seems this is the first time in our lives we’ve actually had to pay attention to politics for longer than the presidential race season. Someone get Dave Ramsey to Washington!

8. Leaving jobs, starting jobs. Dave left a job in January to start another in February. He took a big pay cut and now works more hours per week (how does that happen?), but it’s wholly more satisfying work than dealing with gyrating avatars (no, seriously). Liz got laid off in the Fall and is unemployed for the moment – but picking up a good bit of contract work.

7. Haiti. Yes, technically this is a 2010 thing, but it reaches back into 2009 because we decided last year to write our first script together with Haiti as a backdrop. It’s a story inspired by some Ohio friends who spent an agonizing two years in the Haitian adoption process. Of course, right now our prayers are with the whole nation, and specifically with the orphanage connected to our friends.

6. Movies. On one hand, we can’t say this was a really stand-out year for movies, on the other hand we can’t say we found ourselves in the theater all that much. Maybe those two things are related… but here were the scant few films we thought made a good mark. (with several potentials waiting in the Netflix queue): Up, The Blind Side, 500 Days of Summer, Star Trek.

5. SNOW. You know you’ve met your soulmate when they share the same penchant for cold and snowy weather as you; when they, like you, roll their eyes every time the weather person grumbles about cold temps in the winter. Living in Georgia isn’t exactly prime for this, so we got our fill in the blizzard that hit the entire eastern seaboard just before Christmas. We also happened to be on the highway in the midst of it. A 9 hour trip became 31. But our spirits were high. And did we mention our dog utterly loves snow? 3 peas in a pod, we are.

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4. Friends. It took a while for us to really settle into life here in Georgia, but it happened last year. It wasn’t as if we had a rough go of it, but getting into the groove of friends and ministry really didn’t happen for us until mid-way through 2009. Dave confesses to being reluctant to rebooting a whole new social and church life after 20 years in Ohio, but it’s coming along. We are a work in progress.

3. Act Three. The Act One organization for Christians screenwriters/filmmakers in LA has played a big role in our life together, since that’s where we met in 2002. This year, Liz was part of the flagship Act Three program with three trips to LA and countless phone conference hours, doing a mentorship with a woman who teaches at Pixar and USC. The resulting screenplay is under option. We’ll see if that makes it to a sale. She’s hit that magic tipping point of 10 feature length scripts, so she would be very, very happy to vacate the Land of Unemployment for full time writing instead of office drone.

2-1. Labor and the Fruits Thereof. This one is actually large enough to take over two whole bullet points, as 2009 was a very work-intensive year for our side business, Arclight Studios. Essentially that means Dave spent most of his waking hours in front of the computer from May through September, slogging away on essentially one large project. We realize this may have a connection to the sudden appearance of a social life late in 2009, but the work paid off in the end by providing a good nest egg for our next phase of family life: a house, kids, a larger, higher definition television. But lest we think it about stuff or plans, The Lord continues to bless us, so that we might give more.

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.

The Year that Was: 2007 In Review

If a blog approaches any worthwhile use, it should at least serve as a good (and cheap) version of the year-end Christmas letter many are fond of sending (or foisting) upon friends and family. Sure, one can argue you lose the tactile joy of actual paper and signed names and all that. Blogs can be so… bloggy: impersonal, detached, easy. But then, how many people are crafting Christmas letters in word-processing and/or graphics apps? So much for tradition.

So we continue veering into more innovative territory here, and instead of doing a line-by-line recap of the year, we’ve decided to give our beloved readers (all four of you) a top ten list of random highlights from the year – “His and Hers” style. Now that’s bloggy.

David’s Top Ten Observations for 2007:

1. A business is a lot like a marriage, er – without the sex of course: the demands, the sacrifices, the need to satisfy, provide for and nurture the thing. It only works if you work it.

2. A marriage is like, um… nothing else I’ve ever done in my entire god-given existence.

3. Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD, but he who finds one that shares his love of autumn, snow storms, Macs, good movies, good books, “Lost”, and sleeping in? He gets it really good.”

4. I am happy to relegate the following to the world of the “rarely partaken”: frozen pizzas, frozen beef casserole, frozen mac and cheese… basically anything that could categorized as the “bachelor section” in the grocery store.

5. Blogs are soooo 2004.  Welcome to the past.

6. There are few things so totally unnecessary for life and yet so totally sweet as hot tubs, head massagers, and iPhones.  (still working on the iPhone)

7.  I never for the life of me thought I’d ever have so many (ongoing) conversations with another person about the right and true position of the thermostat.

8. Dayton, Ohio has tons of job possibilities – tons. Unless you want to do anything other than drive a truck or be a nurse.

9. I miss having a dog… a lot

10. Witnessing the next election year vs. a 10 month long rash in the…nethers?  Which do you think?

11. Perseverance is key to…  meh.

Elizabeth’s Top Ten Moments from 2007:

1. We got married. The tornado direly predicted by Elizabeth’s family for the night before did not transpire. But the clouds were pretty dramatic. We heard a wonderful exhortation during the ceremony about what it means for two storytellers to be joined in the sight of God…and of course can recall nothing of it. (Covert audio recording, anyone?). We saw dozens of wonderful folks from our many different worlds and had an average of 9.2 seconds to talk with each of them. Oi.

2. Elizabeth traded bitter Chicago winters for fickle Dayton slush. (We are in unison on this matter: when it gets cold, it must stay cold, and justify itself by snowing. A lot. Look for next year’s Christmas post from upper New York State. Or maybe Fairbanks.)

3. David co-led (leads) a house church (under the auspices of a larger church body), and Elizabeth found a wonderful, ready-made community when she moved to Dayton.

4. We discovered and dispatched our first mouse.

5. Elizabeth spent time in Utah, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida reeling out nine drafts of a script commissioned by Art Within. (She was a little distracted on draft 9 in Florida. David was along that time.)

6. We are learning that nothing builds trust in God like combining two freelance incomes.

7. We discovered that writing a screenplay together is even more dangerous territory than balancing a budget together.

8. We’ve spent more of our short married life traveling (Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Indiana again, Pennyslvania, and Virginia!) than at home. We think we might actually put the suitcases away and unpack our toiletries for the first time in three months after New Year’s.

9. Elizabeth has failed to convince David that coffee is one of God’s best gifts to the human race. Oh, well. That’s more Starbucks Cafe Estima for her. (Finely ground, french press, extra hot, just a faint whisper of cream.)

10. Our musical tastes don’t mix 100% of the time, but can always agree on Over the Rhine. (For Elizabeth’s clan…Linford’s dad is a Mennonite pastor…)