Archive for April, 2009

Spring-Boards

April 30, 2009
The time of the lilacs is here.

The time of the lilacs is here.

Yes, the title of this post is supposed to be loaded with meaning — spring-loaded with meaning, if you will: because this post is about spring, and it’s about first lines of stories — which are the spring-boards into the tales.

Before I get into all that and before I forget, just last night I re-watched the movie Hero, starring Jet Li. This is one of those movies that I think highly enough of to endorse here, and it’s one I like enough to own. That’s my highest recommendation. It’s a movie I wanted on my shelf, so that I can periodically re-watch it. Don’t let the casting mislead you: this is no mere martial arts escapism flick. It’s a beautiful and mythic work of art from beginning to end, like a painting that moves. The musical score is haunting, and the film’s theme is epic and of consequence; it’s one of those stories that makes you reflect on how you want to live your life.

Just before rice-planting: sluice-ditches gurgle, the fields are flooded, and frogs begin to sing.

Just before rice-planting: sluice-ditches gurgle, the fields are flooded, and frogs begin to sing.

 It’s not a very long film, and it’s not hard to watch. If you feel like a foray into Chinese history and thought — and into an exploration of patriotism, loyalty, love, and the question of what defines a hero, check this one out.

A couple notes: the Emperor in this film, the King of Qin, is that same real-life historical Emperor who had all the Terra-Cotta Warriors made to be buried with him in his tomb.

In one single day and night -- with the flooding of the paddies -- the frogs appear: they gather like black cats to October, and our nights are full of frog music.

In one single day and night -- with the flooding of the paddies -- the frogs appear: they gather like black cats to October, and our nights are full of frog music.

Also, pay attention to the opening quotation on the screen. Also, the English translation of the character’s name “Broken Sword” is a bit misleading. His name is made of the kanji for “break” and the one for “sword” — so “Broken Sword” is one rendering, but it can also be understood as “Breaks the Sword” or some such. The idea is that he’s a man who has come to, as the film asserts, the warrior’s ultimate epiphany: that Peace is the best way. So this character has “surpassed” or “overcome” the sword. He has broken the sword and put it away.

Anyway, Hero, presented by Quentin Tarantino, starring Jet Li, Tony

Tulips, ready for May.

Tulips, ready for May.

Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao Ming, and Donnie Yen is an artful masterpiece. Two thumbs up.

Oh! — This is sort of explained in the movie, but when the candle flames whoosh and waver between Nameless and the Emperor, that indicates the waves of fury and hatred that are rushing out of Nameless toward his enemy.

Well, now, on to our main topic!

"I am looking at lilacs, and I see / Shapes of dreams in a ghost-light sea...."

"I am looking at lilacs, and I see / Shapes of dreams in a ghost-light sea...."

Spring is always the season when I yearn to do more reading and more writing. It’s a time of burgeoning creativity, with blazing summer just appearing in the distance, trundling down the road under a golden haze. So I thought it would be fun to roust out all the first sentences from my stories and line them up here for our mutual entertainment and especially inspiration.

"Secret sunlight and shadows near, / Unfolding, untold in the new of the year."

"Secret sunlight and shadows near, / Unfolding, untold in the new of the year."

Look at all these spring-boards into stories! Stories all begin (for readers) with a little string of words that gives us our first glimpse of the things to come. Here are mine, from nearly every one of my stories that I could remember, with a very few exceptions. They’re (almost) all here, published and unpublished.

If any of these stories catches your interest, remember that you can

 always go over to my website (http://www.fredericsdurbin.com) and see the specifics: when and where it was published, and if you click on the story title there, you can even read a little thumbnail blurb about it.

"Unwritten tales in their hollows, and me / Traveling fernwise the whispering hedge, / Finding dream paths at the shadow's edge."

"Unwritten tales in their hollows, and me / Traveling fernwise the whispering hedge, / Finding dream paths at the shadow's edge."

If a story isn’t there, that usually (but not always) means it’s not published yet. If you have any trouble, questions, etc., please feel most free to write to me personally, and we’ll talk it over. In some cases I may be able to provide you with the story or direct you to where you can find it.

Ready? Here we gooooo!

Dragonfly:

Bad things were starting to happen again in Uncle Henry’s basement.

“The Fool Who Fished for a King”:

Alaric, the fisherman’s nephew, was a fool.

 

 

 

 

"I am looking at lilacs, and I see / All things wild, forever, free...."

"I am looking at lilacs, and I see / All things wild, forever, free...."

“Star”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old barn sang to Timothy.

“Ren and the Shadow Imps”:

Ren clutched his vest closed at the neck and shivered, although it was a summer night.

“Murik and the Magic Sack”:

Murik trudged deep into the forest, where roots twisted like slimy stairways.

“The Guardian Tree, Part 2”:

Far beyond the city, where birds still

 

"Seasons remembered, and Eternity...."

"Seasons remembered, and Eternity...."

 

sang ancient songs, the fey folk listened.

“The Gift”:

The winding stairway had never seemed so dark.

“The Place of Roots”:

Kirith had not been meant to ride the wind: I was sure of it.

 

 

 

 

"Where I have been, / And what I must be."

"Where I have been, / And what I must be."

“The Bone Man”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was hunger that made Conlin turn off the route.

“The Star Shard”:

Cymbril sang.

Corin Booknose:

Everything changed when the Wall of our world broke; the life we had known ended with the splitting of rock.

The Fires of the Deep:

Grape hyacinths!

Grape hyacinths!

Strange, Loft thought in the years afterward, that such a day could begin with the calm voice of water, a changeless voice on the day that everything changed.

A Green and Ancient Light:

As the American frontier moved westward, new homesteads blossomed in the clearings of the forests and among the prairie grasses.

100_0330“The Enchanted Mountain: A Tale of Long-Ago Japan”:

Another landslide had struck the village of Takakura.

“A Tale of Silences”:

Jii turned the carving in his weathered hands, pursing his lips to blow away a runnel of wood.

The Threshold of Twilight:100_0332

Trees outside the white frame house filled the kitchen with a lazy glow of sunlight and dancing green shadows.

“Shadowbender”:

Aunt Estelle wasn’t as bad as Shan had dreaded; it was her house that bothered him.

100_0333“Uther”:

Faint moonlight glowed in the room, though the curtains were drawn.

“The Giant”:

Wind shrieked over the bleak rise, driving snow that swirled and stung the men’s faces.

“Witherwings”:

The courthouse in Fillmore smelled old.

“Under the Tower of Valk”:100_0334

The garrison commander nudged the pale corpse with his steel-toed boot.

“Here About to Die”:

This is the day I am to die.

“The Bones of Oron-Dha”:

Red light flickers on the basalt blocks of the walls, the ceiling, and the floor of this temple of the dread god Arhazh.

 

 

 

 

"It'll be spring soon in the Shire, Mr. Frodo. They'll be plantin' the rice in the lower paddies! Do you remember rice, Mr. Frodo?"

"It'll be spring soon in the Shire, Mr. Frodo. They'll be plantin' the rice in the lower paddies! Do you remember rice, Mr. Frodo?"

“A Fire in Shandria”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A grand and fearful thing it is to be summoned into the presence of Azanah the Queen: grand, for I am a mere sword-maiden of the Fifth Heilon, those who guard the city’s west wall, specifically the Gate of the Moon; fearful, for all know the Queen’s severity.

“The Last A’Hanti”:

Light.

 

"Um . . . no, Sam." Seriously, this is a rice-planting tractor. Little mechanical hands on the back stick each seedling down into the mud.

"Um . . . no, Sam." Seriously, this is a rice-planting tractor. Little mechanical hands on the back stick each seedling down into the mud.

“The Heir of Agondria”:

Fire sang as it surged through the wood-heap, the brilliant flames flowing, consuming, leaping high in the autumnal night air.

“Lucia’s Quest”:

‘We are here!’ called Iloni over the ringing of swords.

“Seawall”:

Drums pounded in the night, the drums of the horse-clans of Hemath.

Rice-planting in Niigata.

Rice-planting in Niigata.

Quite a whirlwind tour, huh? I hope it’s had the effect of making you want to run to your bookshelf and dive into a good story — or maybe write one — and to enjoy the gifts of this season, when the world is trembling with ancient enchantment and nascent abundance. Petals are opening out there, and tales are to be born! Nurture them! Live them! As Garrison Keillor says: “Don’t sleep. You can sleep in the winter.”

I’m going to steal shamelessly a great concept I heard from Tandemcat

Seedlings in trays on the back of a truck, brought from the greenhouse and ready to be loaded onto the planting tractor.

Seedlings in trays on the back of a truck, brought from the greenhouse and ready to be loaded onto the planting tractor.

just now: we may write with ink on paper, but we also write in people’s lives, through our interactions with them. I like to use this quote in my classes from Tennyson’s The Princess:

“Our echoes roll from soul to soul,

And grow for ever and for ever.”

A finished field: this field is planted.

A finished field: this field is planted.

I know this is anticlimactic, but an urgent message needs to be conveyed: I continue to hear from readers who have just recently discovered the “comments” aspect of this blog. If you don’t know about the fact that you can read other readers’ comments and leave your own (if you want to — no obligation!), then I’m happy to tell you that your enjoyment of this blog can easily double or triple! At the end of every posting or entry, you’ll

Sing, frogs! Grow, rice! (This is within a block of my apartment.)

Sing, frogs! Grow, rice! (This is within a block of my apartment.)

 find the word “comments.” Click on that, and you can read what others have said. Leave your own if you feel so inclined! (If you’re doing it for the first time, your comment comes to me for approval, so there may be a slight delay before it appears.) I tell you the truth: if you’re only reading my entries, you’re missing out! You’re only sailing on the ocean’s surface, and you have all the wonders of snorkeling and SCUBA diving ahead of you! Come join us on the seamy underside of the blog. . . .

Happy May Day!

The straw "casa" hats are still used in Japan, equally efficacious against sun and rain.

The straw "casa" hats are still used in Japan, equally efficacious against sun and rain.

Rice-planting, Golden Week 2009, less than a block from my place.

Rice-planting, Golden Week 2009, less than a block from my place.

Rice-planting tractor. Niigata is famous for its pure water, delicious rice, and delicious rice wine, or "sake."

Rice-planting tractor. Niigata is famous for its pure water, delicious rice, and delicious rice wine, or "sake."

A very cool vine-covered house in my neighborhood. In the fall, these leaves turn a brilliant red.

A very cool vine-covered house in my neighborhood. In the fall, these leaves turn a brilliant red.

Advertisements

Happy Birthday to Us!

April 24, 2009
Old Oak Road, where I grew up

Old Oak Road, where I grew up

Yes, we have reached the one-year mark: the first anniversary of the launching of this blog! It’s been a year of listening to Fred talk — heartfelt thanks to those of you who are still here!

I suppose this is a good time to look back, reflect, and ask for your help in shaping the things to come. What have been your favorite kinds and elements of postings? What have you tolerated — what have you actively disliked? I’d greatly value all opinions. The blog has thus far consisted of:

reflections on the writing life

games and discussion starters

photos

reminiscences

personal updates

What would you like to see more/less of? Are there suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered?

 

Ice Storm, 2006

Ice Storm, 2006

Today in Writing:

I’m writing again, which feels very good after an unproductive stretch. 926 words yesterday, 1,486 today — not quite up to NaNoWriMo speed yet, but getting there! I think this is going to be a novelette for a teen/adult audience: I thought it was going to be a new story targeted at Cricket, but the story keeps wanting more depth, length, and complexity.

Two friends and I named our road by: 1. thinking up the name, 2. circulating a petition, and 3. taking it to the city council.

Two friends and I named our road by: 1. thinking up the name, 2. circulating a petition, and 3. taking it to the city council.

Since we’re having a birthday party here, I’m going to dissolve into levity again, as we all don our conical party hats, throw confetti around, eat too much cake (Hey, look, you guys! — A blog-shaped cake!), and dodge one another’s party horns (what do you call those things that you blow into and they shoot out like frogs’ tongues?). Awhile back, someone forwarded me one of those cyber-amusements in which there were a bunch of clever answers to the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The answers, as I recall, were mostly political . . . such as “‘It was all about change.’ — President Obama” and “‘What do you mean by ‘cross’? What do you mean by ‘road’? — President Clinton.”

I started thinking of possible answers from more literary figures and even fictional characters, and what follows are — to the best of my knowledge — my original shenanigans. This is definitely a call for reader participation. Entertain us all with your own answers! But I warn you, it’s like eating potato chips: once you start, you’ll be coming up with these all day, so you’d better go get a little notepad right now and stick it into your pocket.

So: Why did the chicken cross the road?

“Because the road was there.” — Sir Edmund Hillary

“Because the road crossed him first. It wasn’t personal, it was business.” — Michael Corleone

“Let us first eliminate the reasons the chicken did not cross the road, and I believe our answer will present itself.” — Sherlock Holmes

“Don’t ask that question. You’re too close. I’m telling you, back off.” — The Smoking Man from The X Files

“Sorry, no spoilers. You’ll have to wait and see.” — J.K. Rowling

“Probably for the same reasons I do. Someday I will meet this chicken in the field.” — Alexander the Great

“Well, if the chicken wanted to, that’s . . . okay. If we start pointing fingers at the chicken, that’s three fingers pointing back at us, and a thumb pointing . . . up at God, I guess. Or something.” — Stuart Smalley

“Ambhthmgybm  anmh bhyxlhmnb! Heh, heh!” — David Bowie

“Why? Why?! Why . . . wouldachicken . . . crossaroad?! Spock — Bones — I want ANSWERS!” — Captain James T. Kirk

“That’s no chicken. If you’ll take a look through the glasses, you’ll see it is, in fact, a gray-throated warbler finch.” — John James Audubon

Okay, have fun! Thanks for coming. I’m going back for more cake. . . .

Sakura

April 17, 2009

Sakura is the Japanese word for “cherry” as in cherry blossoms, those

Cherry blossoms, 2009

Cherry blossoms, 2009

otherworldly white-pink flowering boughs that are one symbol of Japan — and a national craze at this time of year. I remember being bewildered by the profound mystery of cherry blossoms when I first saw them: how they can be both pink and white at the same time. You see a cherry tree from a distance, and it is a gentle pink haze. You approach it and examine the flowers at close range, and they’re as white as white can be. Then you back off, and sure enough, the tree is pink again.

I also wanted to point out the living presence of ancient folklore in

Kappa asking visitors to keep Toyano Lagoon free of trash

Kappa asking visitors to keep Toyano Lagoon free of trash

 modern times: one of these photos shows a sign asking people to help keep the area around Toyano Lagoon free of trash. The creatures making the plea are kappa, the water-goblins of many an old tale. Since the lagoon is their home, they have a vested interest in the neatness of tourists who come to see the cherry blossoms along the waterside.

Cherries at Toyano Lagoon

Cherries at Toyano Lagoon

This, by the way, is my favorite place in Niigata City for cherry viewing. The trees along the lagoon’s near side are quite old, their trunks gnarled and wizened with the elements and time’s passage. In another decade or two, these trees will no longer bloom so well, and the annual traffic of sakurophiles will shift to the lagoon’s far side and to other areas in the city with younger trees. And so the cycle goes on. . . .

Cherry blossoms at Toyano Lagoon

Cherry blossoms at Toyano Lagoon

The fascination with sakura in Japan includes the awareness of brevity. Full bloom lasts for a couple days — perhaps three, four at best, certainly less than a week. Then the long-anticipated petals fall in a pink rain, the new green leaves burst forth, and the blossoms are over for another year. I recall at least one old Japanese ghost story in which human youth is linked to the sakura tree. We humans, too, blossom and flourish for one white-pink moment in the sun, and then the wheel of time rolls on. (As some famous writer said: “You’re young for a moment, and then you’re old for a very long time.”) But the blossoming

Booth selling poppoyaki, a soft bread stick made with molasses/brown sugar

Booth selling poppoyaki, a soft bread stick made with molasses/brown sugar

— it’s all the more spectacular because it’s so brief. It is a Japanese ideal to savor every single instant, to perceive and experience the life in every breath.

Anyway (grroinnk!), “The Star Shard” is now complete in its Cricket run. Any day now, my corner of the Web site will be deactivated, and I’ll be passing the baton to the next featured writer. What a blessing it’s been to be a part of it all this past year! I hope I’ve savored every instant and experienced the life in every breath.

Toyano Lagoon

Toyano Lagoon

Another batch of hard-copy reader letters arrived from Cricket today; and the winners and honorable mentions are all up on the site now for the contest in February about writing a song that the Urrmsh might sing. I’m not ashamed to admit that reading through these entries brought tears to my eyes.

One young reader, Aashima, included sheet music with her song text! She composed a melody to go with the words! To read all the song lyrics, please visit Cricket‘s site at http://www.cricketmagkids.com. I can’t reprint the songs here, but I can say a heartfelt thank you to all these young readers/writers, who wrote beautiful song texts, most centered on the sadness but necessity of Cymbril’s leaving the Rake and saying goodbye to the Urrmsh:

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Emily/Sparks, NV; Hope/Lake Oswego, OR; Sarah/Andover, MA; Jack/Great Meadows, NJ; Sasha/Berkeley, CA; Isabel/Brooklyn, NY; Kayla/Cape May Court House, NJ; Isabel/Houston, TX; Sumayyah/West Babylon, NY; Jessie/Brentwood Bay, B.C., Canada; Kendra/Seattle, WA; Frances/Salt Lake City, UT; Aashima/Dallas, TX; Sam/Dallas, TX; Emma/Omaha, NE; Madeline/Valencia, CA; Max/New Hampton, NH; Mia/New Hampton, NH; Peyton/Dallas, TX; Phoebe/Dallas, TX; and

Strings of lanterns through the trees for nightly illumination

Strings of lanterns through the trees for nightly illumination

Miranda/Skokie, IL. And thanks also to the magnificent fan artists: Anhtho/Seattle, WA; Dylann/Vista, CA; Aria/PA; Irisa/NY; Maya/NY; Andrew/NY; Aloise/Baltimore, MA; Eddie/Bandon, OR; Samantha/Northport, NY; Olivia/Belmont, MS; Laura/Anchorage, AK; Ethan/PA; Natalie/Wilton, CT; and Ivy/Costa Mesa, CA.

Soli Deo gloria! That the story has had this much life of its own beyond

the tabletop where I wrote it is a blessing beyond words, beyond imagining. If I were to die tomorrow, I would have no regrets as a writer — as a writer, I could have more success in volume and magnitude — but in kind, in experience, what more could one hope for? This is the best of all worlds, and I’m thankful to have seen it up this close.

Finally (groink! — that’s the sound of changing the subject with a

The Anastasia ("Resurrection"): tour boat on the Shinano River

The Anastasia ("Resurrection"): tour boat on the Shinano River

monkey wrench, for anyone who came in late), remember how a while back we were talking about misconceptions of words we had as kids? I remembered another one: for a time, I thought a “Valkyrie” was something we sang in church, related to the “Kyrie” in the liturgy. I thought a Valkyrie was higher or stronger than a simple Kyrie, just as an archangel is of higher rank than an angel. (Tom Cruise’s film Valkyrie is playing here now; that’s what reminded me.)

 

The "Big Swan" stadium, built for the World Cup soccer games

The "Big Swan" stadium, built for the World Cup soccer games

Finally, I had some breakthroughs in thinking today about a story that’s teetering on the edge between being targeted for middle-grade and for teenagers. I guess I’ll know better when I get into the writing. (I’m hoping to get a shorter piece written before some publisher bites on The Star Shard [Lord willing] and I have to do another overhaul of that manuscript.) But also the dreaded last big chunk of the Japanese grammar dictionary I’m helping to edit arrived today, so I can blame my ineptitude and procrastination on having this dictionary job. . . . It’s good to have your writerly excuses in order. Keep them polished.

Setback

April 10, 2009

There’s disappointing news about The Star Shard. At the very last stage before acceptance, it was rejected by the people who control the purse strings.

As many of you know, the book was under very serious consideration at a large, first-rate publishing house. I had heavily revised the book with the help of an editor there who believed in it enough to invest a significant amount of his time in pro bono work, making careful notes for me on changes he’d like to see. Last fall and winter, I did an overhaul of the story following his suggestions, and we all felt the book became much better.

Then my agent made a long list of detailed notes for recommended improvements, and I did yet another draft. With this invaluable help from two industry professionals, The Star Shard reached its best shape yet, and everyone was excited about it.

The editor at [Big Publisher] loved what I’d done with the project. He quickly gained the enthusiasm of the editorial director there. There was whole-hearted support from the editors. But then on Wednesday, the sales and marketing people overruled them.

I guess I’m not supposed to get into particular reasons in this public forum. In short, it’s a reflection of the corporate world and probably the economic times we live in. It’s just incredibly frustrating that the book got so far as completely winning over the editors, who ought to be the decision-makers.

I just want to commend the work of my agent and the selflessness of that stellar editor at [Big Publisher]: the latter gave of his time and expertise to make a book better, without compensation, and you see the “respect” these people get from their marketing departments. This is a guy who loves the stories and the storytellers, and does what he can to prosper them, beyond the bounds of salary and job description.

Anyway, Lord willing, this is just a temporary setback. We still have the same book to send around–the book that lots of good people have helped to make better, and the story that many Cricket readers have responded to with enthusiasm. My agent already knows where the book is going next.

It’s “about the tenth hour” (4:00 p.m.) on Good Friday as I’m writing this. In our journey toward Easter, the Lord has finished His work for us. Now come the closed book, the dark emptiness, and the tomb.

But Easter is ahead.

“When That April. . . .”

April 7, 2009

Here we are again in the month that, according to Chaucer, makes people want to go on pilgrimages! A friend over there in the States was just commenting today on how appropriate it is that, at this time of year when we finally begin to see and feel the sun again, when new life is bursting out all over, that we’re also in Holy Week. We’re about to celebrate again the Resurrection. In the words of the hymn:

“I know that my Redeemer lives.

What comfort this sweet sentence gives!”

Anyway, for me here, it’s been a week of getting organized for the new

My new file cabinet

My new file cabinet

 school year, which gets underway next week. I’d always wanted a file cabinet, and I finally found a store here that specializes in used office furniture. They had file cabinets in all shapes and sizes, and I finally decided on this one.

So I’ve just spent several days sorting things, labeling the hanging folders, and filling it up with stuff that used to be in cardboard boxes and drawers. It now holds:

1. All my important correspondence since 1997, in order and filed by year;

2. My writing projects and some works-in-progress of writer friends;

3. My teaching materials — years and years of handouts and ideas, gleaned from here and there or my own originals — all categorized for easy location now in folders with such labels as “reading homework,” “listening,” “pronunciation,” “grammar,” “games,” etc. This should make class preparation easier.

My apartment in Niigata

My apartment in Niigata

Oh — here’s also a picture of my apartment. That’s my place on the ground floor: my little verandah where I hang out my laundry — my office is right inside there — and my tatami-mat sleeping room on the left, behind the paper shouji window — the one that shows my silhouette to the neighborhood if I’m not careful. The building was sparsely-populated last year, but it’s completely filled up in the last couple weeks. This is the time of year when people move around, when the fiscal year begins.

What’s the universal writerly application of this posting? Am I skirting dangerously close to a “what-I-had-for-breakfast” posting here? Far be it from me! The universal application is: I commend to you spring organization, spring cleaning, and the opening of windows. It’s the time of year to sweep up the dust, clean off the tables, cast out the piles of paper you’ll never ever need again — and begin something new. Go on a pilgrimage! Tell tales with your fellow travelers, and be glad for their company.

Know that your Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the Earth; and that though worms destroy these bodies, yet in our flesh we shall see God!

Oh — semi-groink! — Issue #13 of Black Gate came in yesterday’s mail. And I see by the enclosed ad for what’s coming soon that my story “World’s End” is slated to appear sometime during the next four issues. That’s the first Agondria story — not the first one written, but the first in the intended order — and editor John O’Neill also bought my cousin Steve’s illustration for it. Don’t start holding your breath yet: we may be celebrating Easter two or three more times before the story finally appears, because BG comes out on an irregular schedule — Mr. O’Neill gives quality the priority over speed. When issues do come out, they are, for all practical purpose, high-quality books, like big, soft-cover trade paperbacks, slick and glossy and thick. But anyway, that story is coming eventually, and I was thrilled to see my name on a list of what people “won’t want to miss, so don’t let your subscription run out”!

As to the header of this blog: yes, I thought I’d put away the skeletons for awhile — how could I have skeletons up for Easter? — but they’re not gone, they’re just in the closet. What you see there are the first cherry blossoms of this year in Niigata, the photo just taken today. By the weekend, the city will probably be in full bloom!

May your projects and your work and your life bloom, too, to the glory of God!