Our little town in Maryland straddles several major state highways–descendants, I’m sure, of old cow and cart paths that were eventually hacked and paved into the hillsides and given official state designations. That means that most of us who live on the older, main thoroughfares around here have our houses facing two-lane state highway. It’s not as bad as it sounds; this isn’t the two-lane highway on which speeding trucks thundered dangerously by in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Instead, it’s wooded, somewhat meandering blacktop that curves through the surrounding farms and dairies and only gets really busy on Sundays when they’re plugged with church traffic.
Anyway, one of the quirks that’s evolved around here over the last half-century or so is that because so many of us face two-lane blacktop, no one uses their front doors. Instead, driveways stretch to the back of each house, and when you step out of the car, you take a quick trip up the back steps or through a patio or up across a raised deck and you knock at the back door. When we expect company, we turn on the back porch lights. Our mailbox sits at the back gate, too. Life revolves around the back door.
But when packages get delivered by UPS or FedEx . . . well, for some reason both deliverymen tend to back up their trucks off the state highway, leave the engine running, sprint from the truck across the rock path leading to the front porch, drop their packages at the front door—usually in the space between the storm door and the big wooden main door–then dash back to the delivery truck and escape without us ever knowing they were there. Sometimes a package has even been known to sit a day or two before one of us finally opened the front door and stumbled upon it.
That didn’t happen today, but only because this morning, my editor sent me a cryptic e-mail reading, “Says it’s delivered and at front door. It arrive?” I opened the heavy front door, and sure enough there was a package. And inside that package? The galley proofs for Jim Henson, suitable for proofreading and final copyediting:
As it’s been typeset and laid out, it now runs just a hair over 570 pages–and I’ve got a little more than twenty days (fewer than that, actually, since I’ll be at the BIO conference for four of them) to re-read, review, edit and proof all of them.
Off I go, then — and we’re still on track for you to have it in your hands on September 24, Jim’s 77th birthday.