Ah, It’s a Book!

When my younger two children were growing up, our entire family loved books.  We waited in anticipation at birthdays and holidays for the packages that arrived from my brother and sister-in-law; Phd Book-lovers who frequented the best bookstores. Whether delivered by UPS or US Mail, we sighed in contentment when the box was opened and we could tell by the unmistakable shape of the package inside, “Ah, it’s a book!”

 You will understand my delight last fall, when a representative of WaterBrook Press contacted me via facebook.  In return for my mailing address, she promised to send me a book. I was happy to make the trade.  I trust Waterbrook. I know the propensity of publishers to move out overstock of good, but less popular, authors via giving promo books away.

When the book arrived at my Colorado home of record, I was in transition to the Northwest, living in one room at my cousin’s home in Shoreline, WA.  Having in my possession only such essentials as I could fit into a 1994 Subaru Legacy, my daily pilgrimage became the Richmond Beach Library two blocks away. There I conducted my internet errands and became a regular on the waiting lists for the best books.

 My mother dutifully contacted me when she received the package from WaterBrook Press.  Since I am an aspiring writer, she treats packets from publishers as priorities.  “Open it,” I directed, “I think it is a book that I won.  If so, go ahead and read it and keep it there in storage.  I’ll pick it up later with the rest of my belongings.”

 Ah, it was a book! It would have to wait until I retrieved my belongings from storage.

 Life is short: re-read only the best books

 The best books are books you re-read over and over again.  I adopted this description of a good book from Sheldon Vanauken, acquaintance of C.S. Lewis, after reading his book, A Severe Mercy.

 I have a handful of books that I re-read often, for various reasons:

1) Laughter, entertainment, a well-turned phrase

2) Daily recreation and restoration, encouragement

3) Knowledge and instruction, clarity

4) Insight into human nature, understanding

5) Vicarious adventure, travel, history

One box of such books came with me in the over laden Subaru.  The box was marked, “Essentials,” and it included all my books by C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Tolkien; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Blue Like Jazz; The Shack,  and five DVDs that have marked my life (also for the reasons listed above). The book I return to over and over again for comfort and clarity is George MacDonald’s, The Marquis’ Secret.  In it I find a portrait of courage, confidence and assurance of destiny, which I aim to emulate.

I have a relationship with a book

Susan Meissner’s latest book, “Lady in Waiting,” moved to my essential, must re-read, list at precisely page 96. That was the page at which I reached for a pen to underline a descriptive phrase and remembered just in time that my book belonged to the library. I didn’t want to return the book.  I wanted to have a relationship with that book.  Although I am a fast reader and the book is a page turner, I kept it for the full three weeks; re-reading chapters every night. My need was so great, it never occurred to me to return it quickly for the benefit of those other readers on the waiting list (I waited three months for my turn).

I deposited Lady in Waiting in the library drop box while in route to my new apartment with my first load of belongings. Since I commute to a full time job five days a week, it took several days for me to settle in.  As my second weekend approached, I began to long for a reliably good book.  Several times I headed to my computer to place an online order; an order for a book I could read and underline and have a relationship with.   Repeatedly, I was distracted by some other detail to attend to in preparation for my parents’ short notice arrival that weekend. 

After a weekend full of relatives, when my parents had gone to their lodging for the night on Sunday, I was in need of re-centering and refreshment for the upcoming week. I once again cast about for just the right thing to read, regretting that I had not visited a bookstore or carried through with my online ordering.

 My eyes fell on the basket of collected miscellaneous mail Mom brought with her.  Tucked between the junk mail and magazines that I had not asked for was a padded envelope from WaterBrook Press. “It’s a book,” I thought with joy.

Imagine my, more wonderful than fiction, amazement and gratitude when the book that slid from the packet was Susan Meissner’s Lady in Waiting.

Thank you, Susan; and thank you, WaterBrook; for facilitating this reminder that God cares about the very little details of my life; that we always have choices; that God gives the desire of our hearts.

Flat Stanley Visits Grandma Cherry

Have you met Flat Stanley?  He’s a world traveler.  Recently, he came to visit me and see the greater Seattle area.  Travel arrangements made and paid for by the Kindergarten classes of Caprock Academy, my Son and DIL, and Grandma Cherry (that’s me). Today, he joins me for a pictorial tour of my doings of late.

I picked Stanley up at my cousin’s house in the Richmond Beach neighborhood of Shoreline, Washington on February 17, 2011.  Stanley had traveled 1120 miles to visit me. We drove another three miles to my other cousin’s where I had been house-sitting while the owners traveled to Egypt.  Besides loving to travel to other countries, my cousin (Virginia) also collects teapots.  She has over 300 in her house.  She is also an award winning quilter.

My immediate concern was to find Stanley some warm clothes as it is cold in the Seattle area in February and we would be catching the commuter bus to work the next morning.  At first, I was unable to find Stanley a winter coat, so he traveled snugly in my lunch bag.

The weather was frosty at the bus stop and 20 commuters were lined up in their wool coats and work clothes waiting for the 301.  Finally, our bus arrived.  Stanley and I caught the 358 downtown which runs North and South on Aurora Avenue, also named Pacific Highway 99.  When I boarded the bus, I tapped the back side of my purse against the bus fare scanner to pay for our ride.  My Orca Card – to pay the bus fare-is tucked in the side pocket.  An Orca Card is one of the benefits provided by my employer to encourage us to save natural resources by riding mass transit.

Stanley and I pulled the stop-requested cord at 105th Street just after we passed the Krispy Kreme, a Jack-In-The-Box, and another Starbucks.  Right when we saw the Home Depot up ahead, we stood up and started walking to the front of the bus, holding on to the bars and rails to keep from falling over as the bus came to a stop.  We got off at 115th Street and walked East five blocks to Northwest Hospital, where I work on the second floor. The sun was just coming up, so it was a beautiful walk.  

Once on the second floor, I hung my coat on the back of a cubicle, put my purse in a file drawer, and released Stanley from my lunch bag. The other women in the office were smitten with Stanley immediately.   I had taken time to outfit him for work with a blue lab coat the evening before, and to choose a colorful tie. Robin, the grossing tech and PA, made sure he had a name tag.  Nicki colored Stanley’s hair and insisted he needed some lab gloves, which she also provided. I was glad Flat Stanley arrived in slacks, shirt and tie as all the male pathologists at my workplace wear a dress shirt and tie every day. One of the women who was there to train me in anatomy plans to download Flat Stanley from the internet, so she can send him to a friend in Iraq.

On Saturday morning, I tried not to wake Stanley as I made my tea, ate oatmeal and took a shower.  Stanley did not need tea, oatmeal, or a shower; but, I knew he needed his rest if he was to have energy for all that was planned for the weekend.  The list of activities for Saturday included: Take a long walk on the beach, house hunt in Edmonds, go to the grocery store, and wrap up the evening with a community swing dance at Third Place Books in Lake Forrest Park.

Stanley thought he was too short to be my dance partner, so he stayed in the car.  I did snap several pictures of him earlier in the day at the Kingston Ferry in Edmonds, the Amtrak and Sounder train station in Edmonds, and on Edmonds beach as well as Salt Water Park in Richmond Beach, Shoreline. Stanley also went to church with me in Lake Forest Park on Sunday morning.

Stanley visited me for 10 days after which it was time to put him aboard The Envelope for a ride back to Grand Junction. Good Bye, Stanley!  I hope you enjoyed learning about life in the big city next to the sea!