Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Community Coffee Snob

I think it's finally happened—I've turned into a coffee snob.

No, not the coffee of the green symbol with the lady's face on it.

But the coffee of my youth.

The coffee that created a bond between granddaughter and grandfather.

The coffee that I now have to order online because it's not available in Northern Colorado.

But worth it.

Because every morning's cup gives more than a caffeinated morning jolt. It takes me home.

Just the smell of Community's coffee and chicory brews the most delicious memories. Images of my late grandfather, who lived across the street, rising early to hand drip his coffee come to mind, and with the memory comes a smile.

I'd quickly dress for school then dash over to Paw Paw's house to have a cup of coffee and a couple of the small biscuits he cooked every morning.

Orange and brown curtains covering the old oak door's window were parted as a signal. The rousing aroma of strong coffee and steaming hot biscuits filled the air along with the Cajun French, chanky-chank music from the portable radio. And sometimes, the lingering scent of menthol. Evidence of an aging idol. The scene conveyed warmth, goodness, heritage.

He'd speak French and I'd answer in English. Both understanding the other, but comfortable speaking our own language. Two generations bridging the gap. A twelve year-old feeling grown-up, special. He'd "pass" a wink as he filled the demitasse that held my portion. More milk than coffee.

During the rare times when cold air crept into the South Louisiana swamps, those mornings have special meaning. Two pine rockers hugged the small gas heater in the kitchen/living room combination. Their worn wooden slats warmed and waiting for two different generations to share the space, to share the difference in experience and education and language. But to also share the same love of good coffee and hot biscuits. The music? Well, there are some things that younger generations don't appreciate until later...

He's been gone for almost ten years and our conversations wiggle through my brain as though they occurred just this morning. His voice and the way his prickly thin mustache moved when he spoke, continue to fill my thoughts with clear images.

Ones, I love.

Ones, I want to hold on to for as long as I can.

They comfort.

And when I think of the things I missed because I grew up in the southern most regions of Louisiana, I quickly remember those mornings with Paw Paw and nothing I missed really matters.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Housing Update

The unusal amounts of snowfall have stalled the house-building arena. Trying to pour cement for deck pilings and a driveway and sidewalks--well, let's just say--A major challenge.

Looking out the bedroom door...
The plumbing and electrical work starts this week so some progress continues.

We picked out cabinets this weekend, doors, and did a walk-through with the plumber and electrician. This helped pull me out of the doldrums. It's nice to see some forward progess and feel that there will be a day when we'll actually live in this house!

Your prayers for smooth building, protection for all the workers, and workable weather are so appreciated!!

Here are the latest inside pictures and a few outside ones. (although, the outside hasn't changed much!)

The loft - my future office.

Looking down on the great room from the loft. Yes, the white stuff is snow!

Facing west and the entry door into the kitchen. The framing on the right is the pantry and the left, a half-bath.

The stairs going up from the basement.

I'll have more pictures as developments happen.

Until then, we're enjoying the winter, staying warm, and wishing you could enjoy this winter with us!
Drop me a line and let me know what's happening with you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Interview with Sharon K. Souza


Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift

1 . Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is releasing this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?

DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.
Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

2. What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?
I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds? In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

3. You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?

The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

4. Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?

It's exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That's not to say there aren't serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

5. What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?

There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I'm not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don't find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

6. What are your feelings about a couple's decision to intentionally not have children?

Again, that wasn't my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren't equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don't' believe it's a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it's wise. That's not to say a person's feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it's up to the couple to make the choice that's right for them.

7. What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I've experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: ". . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That's been the case in my life over and over.
8. Do you base any of your characters on real people?

The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer's. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes--almost like a caricature--in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.
9. If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?

I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real "home town" of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There's some debate about whether or not "our" Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, "Stuck in Lodi." Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.
10. What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?

I've had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write "the truth." Two answers come to mind. First, that "burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn't deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven't yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Sharon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just Write It!

It's official - I've just launched my new writer program: Just Write It!

Are you a writer who

has set goals for the new year, but struggling to get started.

hasn't set goals and seems to be "stuck" in a rut.

is writing, but struggling to get words on the page.

is Blocked!

just wants to make new friends in the writing world.

just wants someone to be accountable to.

If any of these describe you, then check out Just Write It! on my website.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Snowfall on Sage

Okay, it doesn't sound as intriguing as Snowfall on Cedars, but it certainly describes our last winter storm. Usually the Sage brush peeks through the snowfall, not this time. They're covered!

Over a foot overnight and our little town is back into it's covering of snow. Our recent heat wave, two days of above freezing weather had changed the pristine white to a mucky, brown slush. Not nearly as appealing. But now it's back.

On the housing front—

The builder is progressing. Most all the inside framing is complete. YAY! It's so nice to see where rooms and closets will be. Most of the roof is covered. The area where the porches tie-in are still exposed and the window openings. But I believe he'll be working on the windows sometime this week. It's exciting to see the house begin to resemble a real house! I'll have pictures on my next post.

On the writing front—

My first manuscript, Legacy of Grace, is being shopped by my agent. And while waiting for word on that one, I'm working diligently on my second novel, The Moon Has No Light. I'm close to finishing the first draft. About 10K words. Then the editing begins!

I'll leave you with a few photos from Meeker after the last snowfall.

Our backyard and the "infamous" utility trailer!

Our front porch.

Radar up?

"If only my legs were longer, my belly wouldn't be so cold!"

Blessing to you for a great day!