How I Survived the Big Deluge

You know I’m not one to complain. I mean, I’m the World’s Greatest Optimist! I love everybody! I dance a furry jig whenever my humans come home. Even if they’ve only been gone ten minutes. It’s just so exciting to have them back!

But seriously. Someone needs to talk to the Big Dog in the Sky about this weather. I know the Pacific Northwest is wet. Dad emptied the rain gauge yesterday. “Nearly five inches in less than 48 hours!” he said. “On top of the five-plus inches we had the last coupla days before that!”

I’m not quite sure what it means. Except fewer walks. Less time outside. More running stairs and playing tug ‘o war or ball indoors with my peeps.

But you know me. I’m not one to complain.

Besides. I guess it’s better than being cooped up inside all day with nothing to do.

But when is spring going to show up???

Okay. Had to get that out. Let’s see. Where was I?

Oh yeah.

I guess buckets of rain aren’t all bad. Mom turns on the fireplace – I still haven’t figured that one out – and lets me on to her lap while she reads. I’m good as long as don’t knock over the lamp or try to steal her “hot apple cider.”

I’ve also learned a “reading” thing or two during the daily deluges. (“Deluge.” Isn’t that a great read? I learned it from Mom. Like, “Another deluge? Ugh!”)

Have you heard about the Survivor book series by Erin Hunter? Stories about a pack of Leashed Dogs trying to survive after their Longpaws vanish in the Big Growl.

Their reluctant leader is a big golden dog, Lucky. He’s a City Dog. Lucky escaped a city Trap House. He lives by his wits in the wild. He’s a Loner. But these Leashed Dogs don’t know anything about living on their own, without their Longpaws. I mean, who’s gonna play fetch with them? Who’ll fill their food bowls?

These Leashed Dogs get into all sorts of trouble! Especially when they cross into Pack Dog territory.

I’m liking these books! Especially that black and white herder farm dog, Mickey. He’s one sharp doggie. (Probably a cousin.) I figure, if these dogs can survive the Big Growl, I can survive the Big Deluge.

Like I said. I’m still keeping an eye out for spring. Wait. I think it’s starting to let up!

Later!

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Thirty Years & a Tassel Toss: What One Non-Writing Prof Taught Me About Writing

Biola Sign 4

“I can’t believe it’s been over three decades!” she quipped, blue eyes dancing. “Didn’t we just graduate last year?”

Looking backwards quick enough to generate dual whiplash, my friend and I peeled back thirty+ years in a single bound, recalling cafeteria food, favorite chapels, best profs, dumbest assignments (yes, I confess), a championship basketball team, dorm life, concerts, and The Dreaded Finals Week like they were… well… last week.

Later, I thought about all the people I met during my college career. Those years generated countless friendships, fond memories and shining moments as well as a few “speed bumps” and disappointments. Funny, isn’t it, how the down times seem to fade into irrelevance and the good times loom large as time marches on?

Another Recollection

“You won’t remember much from the academic part of this class” I recall Dr. George Nishida, Sociology Prof Extraordinaire, saying one bright fall morning. “You won’t remember today’s lecture or this week’s assignment or Friday’s exam after you’re graduated and gone,” he smiled, adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses. “What you’ll remember is the people. The best part about your college career will be the people you shared it with. What matters is the relationships.”

Only People Can Do That

This was before the Internet. Before Facebook. Smart phones. Or email. (I know, I know. I’m a dinosaur.)

But you know what? Technology can’t offer the kind of insight Dr. George did. The Internet doesn’t connect those dots. Social media can’t take the place of lunch in the cafeteria. Cramming with a classmate to pass Dr. Mitchell’s Old Testament 1 final. Or stringing popcorn garlands and sipping hot chocolate with “Dr. George” and his family at their annual Christmas open house.

Only people can do that.

Let Me Ask

So let me ask: if your web site, blog and social media accounts gave up the ghost tomorrow, would it matter? A fair amount of pulled-out hair would doubtless ensue, but would a technology crash – like a computer crash – totally destroy all of your relationships?

My blog and other outlets have given me the chance to meet and interact with some really cool people. I’ve gotten to know and learn from some awesome fellow travelers. I’ve grown to appreciate each one, especially those who are generous enough to leave a quick comment or respond with a sentence or two in response to my latest post.

But here’s the thing: although it may have helped establish those relationships, technology isn’t at the heart of those relationships. People are.

Bottom line: If you’re Facebooking or tweeting or blogging to ignite that kind of connection, great. Just don’t stop there. Kick it up a notch or two. Likewise, if you’re using social media just to boost your numbers, increase your stats or as a head trip, you’re pretty much missing the point.

Not Exactly

Long-term isolation isn’t exactly a writer’s best friend. You can’t spend all day, every day staring at a computer screen, checking your email every five minutes or logging status updates ten times a day and expect to develop as a writer. To do that, you need people. Other writers. Their creativity, energy, and yes, productive critiques and “utches.”

I get some of my best ideas by bouncing them off other people. I’m inspired, encouraged, challenged and uplifted by connecting with other writers. By “connecting” I mean face-to-face if possible. Grabbing a latte, a book review, writer’s group or a luscious slice of raspberry white chocolate anything together. When distance or other factors makes this impossible, how ’bout a personal phone call, card, letter or email – as opposed to the blanket list-y stuff?

Only Another Person

Technology is a great tool. But it will never take the place of a living, breathing human being. Because you can’t have a “relationship” with an electronic gadget. Only another person can offer that.

Dr. George’s words still ring true. I have no idea what the answer to question #10 was on my final exam for his class. But some thirty years down the road, I’m still in touch with many with whom I once shared a college campus. Shared experiences can become shared lives. And sometimes shared lives become lifetimes, lasting far beyond – and meaning much more – than final exams and a tassel toss.

***

Books to Grow By

NARADA FALLS RAINBOW RESIZE

Books to Grow By:

Have you seen the list of Books Everyone Should Read that floated around Facebook awhile back? I read that list. IMHO, several of the titles were questionable and many books that should’ve been included weren’t. So I came up with my own list: Books to Grow By.

Classic, contemporary, and just for fun titles are included, plus some surprises. (Note: With apologies to high school English teachers everywhere, I simply cannot abide ‘stream of consciousness’ prose a la Faulkner, which is one reason The Sound and the Fury isn’t included. Ditto Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby.) You’ll also find evidence of my conviction that some of the finest literature ever written can be found in the Children’s Section. Selections appear in alpha order by title.

How many of these have you read? What are YOUR favorites?

Click here for the list. 🙂