I picked up the phone the other day to call my dad, and got a busy signal. That took me aback – when was the last time I’d heard one of those?! It occurred to me then that busy signals also belong on my list of things that are obsolete nowadays. Thankfully, because they’re annoying. I tried calling back again and again, only to get that same ingratiating tone – one that is slightly less unpleasant than a buzzing alarm clock before the sun has come up. With cell phones, you don’t have this problem. The phone rings even if the person you’re calling is on the line, and either goes to voicemail, or the other person can pick up thanks to call waiting. I love the efficiency in that whole process.
As irritating as the busy signal was (it took twenty minutes of repeated attempts to finally get through), at least I knew what it was. A few weeks ago, Rusty had to call my parents for something, so I handed him my phone. He dialed the number, waited a few seconds, then gave it back to me.
“There’s something wrong with the phone,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“There’s a weird buzzing sound, and nobody is picking up.”
I snatched the phone from his hands, dialed it myself…and laughed. My son had no idea what a busy signal was! I was incredulous at first, but then realized that he probably had never heard one before. That’s either sad or incredibly funny. Maybe both.
My parents have a cell phone – they just never use it. Hell, not only do they have a landline, but the phone in the living room is a rotary dial. You should have seen the looks on my kids’ faces when they saw that for the first time. My parents aren’t exactly “early adopters.” I remember in the early 90s trying to convince them they should invest in an answering machine, and up until last year they still used a VCR to record shows. Thankfully, they converted to a DVR (which, naturally, they love).
Something tells me their cell phone is always going to be nothing more than a $30 a month paperweight, though.
Nature’s Air Conditioning was on Full Blast
Yesterday, my dad asked if I’d be interested in driving into the mountains for a nice little summer hike and an exploration of Ape Cave. I took him up on his offer, but insisted on driving because his car does not have air conditioning (see what I mean about not being “early adopters”?) and we would surely need it since it was, after all, the middle of summer.
We stopped for a picnic lunch at Beaver Bay, a nice little spot situated on the banks of Yale Lake. The sky was overcast, a stiff breeze was blowing off the lake, and we shivered beneath sweatshirts and jackets while eating our sandwiches. This may yet go down as The Summer That Wasn’t, I’m telling you. “It’s just the wind on the lake,” I told him optimistically, but when we arrived at the trailhead – 2700 feet in elevation – the air was every bit as cold. My dad said it felt like we were hiking in an air-conditioned room, and that was a pretty accurate description. The sky remained gray with clouds obscuring the tops of the trees, and the temperature couldn’t have been warmer than about 58. Regardless, it was beautiful, even if the hike to June Lake is all uphill and gains 700 feet. I have hiked many times when it was sunny and 85, and I would much rather have a cool, cloudy hike.
Ape Cave was just a few miles away, so we hit that next. This nearly 3-mile long lava tube was formed 1,900 years ago when hot molten lava from Mount St. Helens poured down the volcano’s southern flank and entered a stream channel. The surface of the lava cooled, forming a hard crust, and insulated the lava flowing beneath, which was able to travel a great distance.
I had never been to Ape Cave before, despite living here for nearly seventeen years! My parents have gone many times, and even my kids have visited. It was nice to finally get out there and explore it. Caves are fascinating, and this one was fun.
On the drive back, I did turn the A/C on, just so I wouldn’t feel like I had driven my car all that way for nothing.
We didn’t really need it, though. The high in Portland was 69.
Good Things Come in Cardboard Boxes
Later in the evening, I stepped outside to check the mail, and found a package resting against my door. It was a book-shaped cardboard box, and I knew what it contained without even opening it. An advance copy of my novel was due to arrive any day from the printer, and so I tore into it eagerly. I cannot tell you the jubilation I felt when holding my book in my hands for the very first time.
I stared at it. Flipped through the pages, read the back cover, the introduction. It is indistinguishable from any book you would pull off the shelf in your local bookstore. In other words, it looks “real.” It IS real, of course. I do not believe there is any stigma left in self-publishing these days. Not when the finished product turns out looking so professional.
In just a few more days, it will be available for sale!
I crawled into bed last night and, as I so often do, curled up with a book. Only this was my book, and I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt to be reading it. I’ve only ever seen it in manuscript form before, double-spaced on 8.5″ x 11″ paper, and even though I know how the story ends, it is so incredibly cool to be reading it as if it were a book I’d just purchased at Powell’s. I read the first three chapters and can’t wait to dive in again.