I broke 100,000 words today. Whew.
Brenna and I have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia together. We’re currently perhaps a quarter of the way through The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”, and last night we read the chapter where Eustace becomes a boy again. Now, I’ve always recognized the religious overtones to the series. On my last (personal) read-through of the series a few years ago, I even mapped out the specific religious themes and biblical stories that Lewis drew from (for example, “Dawn Treader” follows the theme of the seven deadly sins).
Rereading a good novel is much like reading the same scriptural passage over and over—each time you get something new out of it. As Brenna and I read about Aslan cutting deeply into Eustace and peeling away his draconic skin, it really hit me that this wasn’t just a fantastical representation of Eustace’s becoming a rather pleasant boy. It was a literal description of the process of repentance.
Eustace began the scene trying to peel away his own draconic skin. He was able, at first, to rub away a few scales. Then, with a little more effort and discomfort, he peeled away a knobbly, dead skin. It hurt, like peeling away a scab, but once it was off, it felt good. Still, he was left in yet another layer of reptilian skin. He repeated this process a further three times, each time removing another scaly layer, only to be left with yet another beneath.
Finally Aslan stepped in to help. He cut deeply (Eustace described it as down to his heart and more painful than anything he’d ever experienced) and then peeled away the thickest layer yet. Eustace was left a small, naked, skinless boy. Aslan took him in his arms, which hurt—he was yet tender, with his tiny, naked body—and then threw him into a nearby pool of soothing water. It stung for just a moment and then was utterly soothing—Eustace described it as “delicious.”
How true to the process of repentance this is. There’s only so much that we can do by ourselves. In the end, we have to rely upon Christ to excise the sin and torment—our own metaphorical draconic skins. The process will hurt. Repentance isn’t easy, and it’s awful and painful and often embarassing, but the end result is so wonderful. “Delicious” is an excellent word to describe how we feel afterward.
I’m always thankful for good literature, especially a book that can uphold good standards, teach true principles, and still be a good read. Thank goodness for authors like C. S. Lewis.
In other news, Jonas has been pretty sick recently. Kristy took him to the doctor yesterday, and it seems that he has RSV (a pretty common cold-like condition). It’s nothing serious, and there’s no real treatment—it just has to run its course.
Kristy and the kids were due to leave for Alabama today, but what is being called a “deadly” storm has swept across the Midwest, cutting off Chicago and Indianapolis, so they’ve delayed leaving until tomorrow when the weather will have cleared and roads should be better.
Finally, Twin Shadows is coming along. I’ve written almost 95,000 words of the first draft now.
My father has been going through the last of his deceased mother’s belongings this past week. Among other things, he found a stack of hand-annotated wall calendars stretching back to 1974 or so (the stack was “a foot high,” he said). Most of the entries were germane things like hair appointments and the like. However, he did find an interesting fact in the 1978 calendar.
I was born on Monday the 9th. According to my grandmother’s record, my parents brought me home from the hospital four days later on Friday–Friday the 13th. I suppose that that explains a lot.
We have a renter, complete with contract. This is a good day.
We just finished watching the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol (a very odd and strangely scary movie–I didn’t much enjoy it). Like most all renditions of the story, the movie ended with Tiny Tim making his ageless declaration: “God bless us, every one!”
Brenna laughed. “That’s so funny,” she said. “They made Tiny Tim into a real boy instead of a frog!”
It took us a moment to understand, and then we laughed as well. You see, before tonight, the only rendition of this story that Brenna had ever seen was A Muppet Christmas Carol.
Ah, the house. It’s been empty since Kristy and the kids moved up here to Wisconsin. It was on the market, for sale, for months. We dropped the price a few times, but had no bites. Other similar houses in the neighborhood were selling for $20,000 less (thank you, Atlanta housing market). Finally we took it off the market and registered through a property management company with the intent to rent out the house and at least recoup some of the money we flush down the toilet every month on the mortgage and utility bills.
Well, yesterday we approved a renter (based on her background and credit checks), and today she paid the reservation fee to the property management company. Assuming all goes well, she’ll sign papers and be an official renter as of 11:30 on Monday.
This great news, but when we purchased the house two years ago, it wasn’t our intention to become landlords. A lot happened that year that we hadn’t planned on (including me losing my job and then accepting a new position here in La Crosse, 1001 miles from Roswell, Georgia). Time will tell what happens to our “investment,” but this renter is definitely a breath of financial relief.
For several years now I’ve hosted a number of role-playing wikis on kuglerworld.com, one for each of the campaigns that I’ve run. Back when I started, I ended up choosing pmwiki, a non-database-driven wiki that met my needs. It was clunky in places and highly propriatory, but it worked.
Last weekend I installed a local copy of MediaWiki (the wiki platform that Wikipedia runs) on my website. Over the last week I’ve migrated the entire content of my existing wikis over to the new wiki, which sports a cleaner interface, better cross-linking, a true database-driven backend, and some nice bells and whistles, like the ability to export groups of pages as pdfs. I think I’m done with the legacy wikis and can delete them, and I’ve updated the role-playing link on kuglerworld.com to point to the new wiki. The impetus for this was the beginning of a new D&D campaign that we started last Saturday. I’m running our gaming group through the War of the Burning Sky adventure path, which should be a lot of fun.
Last night we flipped through our on-demand Netflix catalog and ended up watching Dragon Hunters during dinner. Neither Kristy nor I had ever heard of it, but Brenna wanted to watch it, so we did. It was a predictably bland plot (not bad, but nothing great either, which is a kiss of death in these media-saturated days), but the world-building–wow! The movie took place in a very stylized medieval world filled with floating landmasses, not unlike much of the Super Mario Galaxy games. What really cemented it to me was how evocative it was: the movie started out with green fields and plants, but swiftly transitioned into this deteriorating world of massive stone structures, crumbling and tumbling away toward the void-like end of the world.
The environmental art design was astoundingly evocative and reminded me of Minas Tirith in Jackon’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, or perhaps the PS2 game Shadow of the Colossus. I’d highly recommend watching the movie just for the background visuals–I think a role-playing campaign set in a dying, sterile world like that could be a lot of fun.
Last night was our usual biweekly writing group. As usual, I’d submitted a chapter from the low-fantasy historical fiction novel I’m working on. I received some really good feedback, but clearly I need to work on my fantasy (or anti-fantasy, as it were) diction, as the readers were left thinking that one Punjabi character was a vampire and that my protagonist had the magical ability to slow down time. I can only laugh; they seem to be reading a much cooler novel than the one that I thought I was writing. Darn you, Phillip Hale, and your severe lack of superpowers.
Now I just need to surreptitiously insert more instances of “the cat flew across the room” to really confuse people…
It’s been far too long since I’ve posted. We drove the 860 or so miles to Alabama for Christmas with Kristy’s family and then made it back safely, arriving home just in time for dinner on New Year’s Eve. The kids had a blast with their cousins (though Jonas and Wesley were on-again-off-again best friends and mortal enemies). Jonas received a massive train table (Kristy posted a picture of it a few days ago), which now resides in our basement–he really does love all things train-related (he’s been sleeping wearing an engineer’s hat the past two nights).
Not all has been well, though. Brenna and I both came down with a nasty stomach bug while at Kristy’s parents’ house, and Brenna threw up more again this morning (here’s to hoping it’s just an isolated thing). I was rear-ended yesterday, though no one was hurt and the damage to the car was minimal.
I suppose the real news is that two different families are very interested in renting our house in Georgia. One has negotiated the price down somewhat, while the other has two large Labradors (the rental agency wanted to know if it was all right to ask for a pet addendum to the contract and then charge an additional security deposit). Currently both applicants are moving through the credit and background checks with the rental agency, after which we’ll be able to choose who gets the house. We’re excited for this up-coming blessing; we’ve been praying for renters for many months now.
Finally, it’s only two weeks until my one-year mark here with Kaplan Professional Education (which, as of Monday, became the Kaplan University School of Continuing and Professional Education). I suppose that means I’m technically now an employee of a university. It’s a good feeling to keep plugging along with the work here, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey here in La Crosse. Well, most of the time I am–I rather dislike it here on the really cold days.
After yesterday morning’s get-out-of-the-parking-lot fracas, I was quite pleased to come home last night to a neatly plowed parking lot. That meant that pulling out this morning was just a matter of not slipping on the ice, which really wasn’t too difficult. The real trick came right before that, when I was scraping the frost from my windshield.
I scraped, and then scraped some more. I didn’t seem to even be making a dent. Indeed, as I ran the scraper across the windshield, I encountered not the rough sheet of frosty ice that I expected, but instead a smooth, unbroken expanse of glass.
And then it hit me: the ice was inside the car. It was so cold last night that a layer of solid ice had formed on the inner surface of both the windshield and the rear window. I was not amused.