Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Love

Long slender legs push through the curtain, pulling breath from our lungs. Eyes twinkling, her lashes bat the edges of a smile, bringing traffic to a halt. So young, tender in her new found life. Relishing the attention, she posed to everyone's delight.

Dad, do you see that?

Yes, she is beautiful isn't she?

Remember to always tell her that. One day she will need a reminder, but don't wait until then.

Approach her slowly. No need to rush, you have all the time in the world. Take your time and breath every moment.

Don't be loud or you will scare her away. Never raise a voice in anger, better to walk away and come back when your ready. Speak tenderly and share your heart.

When she gets skittish, help her see that everything is okay. When she runs, chase her. Always pursue her, it makes her feel desired.

Dad, what are you talking about?

Nothing, just the newborn fawn standing there on the side of the road.

I think the cars behind us want to go.

Ok, let's get on home.

One day you will understand.

Love.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Between the Smiles

Peanuts and soda pop, aromas still clinging to our clothes, remnants of the baseball game, along with our smiles. Crack! Pop! Dreams of dusty slides into second base and dramatic come from behind hits run amok in little boys minds as we skip across the yard. Clomp! Clomp! Clomp! Wood steps ring hollow at our approach, a cool wind pours out of the mouth of our home, door swinging wide...

and the world stops...

then breaks on the living room floor...

as we see her laying prone...

Joy abounded a few weeks earlier, Kindergarten passed, Logan ready for his surprise. Great care taken in her choosing, matched only by his daily affection in the small things to make her life a reflection of what she brought to him. She watched him to bed every night, and greeted him with a smile when he awoke. Her beauty captivated his imagination, drawing forth her name..."Goldie."

Hot tears burned crimson eyes, his body shaking with sobs. But why? Arms shelter him in a hug, whispers into his hair. Gently he laid her into the medicine bottle, selecting a shaded area under the tree out front, we pulled back the covers to her resting place. What do you say?

Dearly beloved...no, that's for a wedding.

She was a good fish, much loved by the little boy whose heart she captured...

Water drained, a rainbow of pebbles drying in the sun, maybe another day. Not now, too soon for another, as his little heart heals. Maybe we will go for "coffee" soon and talk about Goldie, life and the great beyond. For now, we hug between the smiles.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Skinny dipped


Have you ever had one of those dreams where you were doing something important, maybe giving a speech, when all of a sudden you realized you were naked? No, me neither. I did go to a family picnic though.

Family picnics are like swap meets, everyone pulling someone else's dirty underwear out of their pocket to share with someone else. Did you hear about Aunt Merle? Well I heard from the hairdresser down at the beauty shop...the irony is my aunt is a hairdresser. Family picnics can be like being naked in the middle of the road when an ambulance comes screaming around the corner with it's lights and sirens going. Not that I would know anything about that, it's just that everyone knows everything about everyone.

Being naked for the world to see can be pretty scary. What if someone does not like what they see? What if they know the real me? The trauma starts after gym class in middle school. The guys that hit puberty at age 11 with full beards and...well you get the picture. Then there were those that snuck to get their  hair wet, just in case the coach checked. Naked can be scary.

The newspaper today had an article where a large group of people were organizing an attempt at the world record for the number of simultaneous skinny dippers. On July 11, people all over will immerse themselves at large gatherings, completely naked. Oh look there is Aunt Merle, you know what they said about that growth at the family picnic...just hide your eyes.

In the article, several nudist from a community in North Carolina shared their initial difficulty with being naked all the time. They shared a saying, Nude where possible, clothed where practical. (I really want this bumper sticker, so we may need to change plans for our family vacation.) I can relate to this saying. I try to be pretty transparent, sharing my faults, struggles...but there are people I know I will never be comfortable with them seeing me naked. The same ones that tell me all the dirty laundry of the people next door, they probably share my stories as well.

I have always had a select few that get close enough to know me intimately. We all need someone we can bare our souls to when times get tough, to laugh with in times of joy...that won't point and laugh when we get naked. 

For all those going for the record at 3 p.m. on July 11th...I'll be in my bath tub, just to show my support. 

Actually I thoroughly enjoyed the picnic today, I'll remember the cookies for days, I am sure.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chess


Our family loves to play games. Logan's most recent desire is to learn how to pay chess. I think this comes from the award ceremony the last day of Kindergarten. There was only one kindergartener that was in the chess club this year. Usually they don't allow them on the team, but the boy showed he could play, so they let him.

Genetically enhanced (cursed) by his father at birth, Logan shows glimpses of my competitiveness. We made flashcards to help him remember the moves and we are on a two to three game a day pace toward his rank of Grand Champion of the house. To his credit, he is getting better.

One game we are not allowed to play in the house is Monopoly. Really, I have no cosmic control over the dice, forcing my opponents to land on properties more overdeveloped than most subdivisions? Sometimes it's better to leave certain games in the box, than to try stuffing them back in like Pandora's.

When we make "winning" the whole point of existence (conversations, relationships, driving, teeth brushing), many times we find ourselves the losers. So Monoploy collects dust in the closet, while we work out the finer points of "how come this horse can't move straight."

Have a great weekend everybody!

Oh, and if I ever broke one of your dice in half, I'm sorry. Changed man, really. smiles.

Friday, June 26, 2009

in.u.window

Grubby fingers press greasy whirls on the ocean of glass, framing the circle of his forehead. Mouth wet, he pants, can I have some? Swirls of flavors dance between tub and waffled cone, pressed into hands trembling in anticipation. Lips pressed to cool embrace, a taste, a taste, on the tip of my tongue. I scream, Ice cream!

I hate saying "no." There are days when I wish I could give my family their hearts desires. Simple things, trivial things, practical things. Internet, I use the coffee shops. Computer, mine is borrowed. Television, we have a small one to watch movies on, no satellite or cable. A flag to wave to the fireworks, next week. This or that. The ice cream you see through the window.

Wants, not needs, my moments of over whelming desire, sadness at my own materialism in the face of those that have so little. We also have a budget, and no ardor to indenture ourselves to the demon of debt, shackles so enticing. Onward we save, planning our days.

Simple can be so difficult.

No today, allows yes, yes, yes tomorrow. 

I really wanted some ice cream too, buddy

Temptation.

Gratification delayed.

Innuendo. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

10 and 2

Please join us. If you would like coffee there is some at the bar. Coffee is essential to a good conversation. My friends Subtorp and Otin have a few questions for me. Let’s see what Subtorp has in mind…

  1. If you could be an animal( amphibian, mammal{including marsupial}, reptile ), which would you choose and why?

Why did you have to start with a tough one? So many animals to choose from. Probably a squirrel. Have you ever seen them playing in the park…so much fun! I’d be climbing trees all day…can you pass the peanuts please.
  1. You've just been cut off in traffic by an idiot on a cell phone. What do you do( as opposed to what you feel like doing)?

Probably biting my tongue and shaking my head. Remember I have two boys in the car who mimic what dad does. T keeps me pretty well in line, as well.
  1. What are the four top things you would want to plant in your garden?

I’m going to go a little bigger than your typical back yard garden. When we lived in Florida and now in Virginia we have fruit trees, which are essential for me. So the first two are a grape vine and lime tree. Our arbor is pretty loaded right now with grapes we’ll be enjoying soon. There is just something about being able to walk out your door and eat from a tree. Maybe that’s the squirrel coming out in me? I like the heat as well, so there has to be hot peppers. And sweet corn.
  1. What is your favorite musical band? I’ll give you two for the price of one…U2 would be the quintessential pick, Bono’s lyrical poetry fuses well with the music. I enjoy it and it makes me philosophical all at once. Another that has stuck with me over the years is Pearl Jam. I remember driving down the road in high school with my buddy Charlie and popping the tape into the deck…was an instant fan.
  1. Would you want to become immortal (why or why not)? Gee Subby, that is a tough one. As a young man, I would have instantly said yes, enamored with the whole immortality, all powerful Lestat from Anne Rice’s books and what not. Much like what you see today with Twilight. It appeals to our adolescent angst. As I have matured, it loses its edge. Imagine watching all those you love grow old and die, or if you had a way to pass it on, imagine spending “forever” with a wrong choice. Ouch. Maybe you could out live your mistakes. For me there is comfort in the finite, as with the infinite.

Thanks Subtorp, great questions. If you ever run into an immortal squirrel singing mysterious ways while spitting grape seeds at your window, you’ll know I have come for payback for when you cut me off on the roads. (smiles.) Need to refill my coffee real quick and I’ll be right with you Otin

  1. Do you have a favorite author?
yes, several. N. T. Wright for his theological perspective. Colson Whitehead has captured my attention recently with his vivid descriptors. James Paterson for the way he keeps his stories going with such short chapters. I read a ton, so it’s hard to narrow them down.
  1. Do you feel that it is ok to spank a child with your hand, if he or she is being unruly?
Trust me, I am not avoiding this, just opinionated. When it comes to discipline, the first line of defense is having firm and clear expectations with predetermined acceptable consequences. This way there is not surprises. I think playing with your kids and conversing with them when there is nothing wrong goes a long way as well to handling the tough times. Yes I would spank, but would not use the hand.  (Thanks Otin, gonna get some hate mail on this one)
  1. Where is one place that you would love to go, but probably will never get the opportunity?
Africa – I would love to go…the beauty, but also to help the people. My heart hears their song and weeps. Maybe one day…
  1. Do you believe that there is other life in the universe?
I believe there is the possibility. You know they just found evidence there was a lake on Mars. My theory is they over commercialized, the lake was made into a resort community that only the affluent could afford, which ultimately resulted in a bloody civil war, thus the red dust and all…I read way too much science fiction as a kid.
  1. Which US President intrigues you the most?
Jefferson, always has. History remembers his in so many differing ways. You have the pioneer of liberty, founding father forging the way. Managing foreign wars. He was the scholar, who became controversial with his love of a slave. His adventurous heart led to Lewis & Clark cutting a swath across country.

Thanks for the fun (and getting me in trouble) Otin. Great questions. Just drop your coffee cups in the sink on the way out. Or stay a while and have another cup, and let the conversation continue…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Theme Thursday: Summer

Black, disturbed only by the tracks traced by beads of sweat in the sweltering heat. Particles thicken the air, giving it taste, confined in the big box of the factory. Hissing hydraulics coupled with the sucking pop of release as the tires fall in line on the conveyor. Callouses burned through gloves, painted onyx by encrusted rubber, we stack the pallets. Humming forklifts whisk them into trailers, baked by the sun. Old timers wheeze smoke through cigarettes, catching relief in the wind at the dockside doors. Scrub as we might, we are black for the summer.

College help gets line duty, tires still simmering marching down the belt to placed in just the right spot. Between whistle bells signaling the next batch, we doze our backs against beams, dreaming of ice and shade. At the busiest moments, we zing the doughnuts down the line to each other, conserving precious steps costing energy.

My eye lids dip once more under the weight of dust and heat, seeking chilled respite. Hairs prickle in warning, eyes snapping open at attention. Quick hands catch the spear of rebar, dragging furrows of red skin across my chest, flat palm finds his forehead, with force. Crouching lions, eyes warily survey intentions, explanations drowning in clamor.

An errant tire caught the back of his legs, unintended offense causing already hot heads to boil over onto the hard concrete floor. Weighty tension threatens to suffocate our already strained lungs, when whistling bells call us back to the line, our labor to provide feet for vehicles carrying others into summer.
__________

Summers in the hot house of the tire factory were always interesting. Heat causing grown men to act like school house boys on the play ground. Mental fatigue leading to injury or worse, emotions tainted crimson by the environment. In fevered moments, inhibitions flee with wisdom, where cooler heads would prevail.
Time clock expired, breakfast bridged the expanse between us, stirring a breeze with our words. Friends once more, staring out at the summer sun descending.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Intruder

Whispers floated through the window out of the inky blackness beyond, our only warning that they were upon us. Cracking of paint crusted windows pried forcibly open, echoed up the stairwell. Shadows played in the alley between the houses, hushed huddled bodies peering into our home.

Fingers wrapped tightly around the base of the bat, my sword to fend off encroaching goblins. Bare toes find purchase in the long hairs of carpet on the steps, as lances of light pierced the open air of the living room marking my progress. The sucking slide of swelled wood as the window slid open, hastened my steps. Slipping silently through an adjoining room, the blinds began to shiver with movement.

Hot breath fetid with alcohol wafted like a dense fog, as hands scrambled for purchase on the windowsill. Emerging from the morass, the menacing head poked through, casting yellowed eyes to and fro, greedily searching for prey. Eyes met at arms length, lips curled in a warning snarl. Pupils dilated wildly in alarm as "Louisville" etched across their forehead,sending the intruder pin wheeling into the arms of his cohorts. 

Howls receded as they dragged him limp between them, disappearing in the evening mist.

What makes a man so desperate as to break into another home? Leaving any sense of safety and solace violated on the floor amid the debris left behind? We respond with shock and dismay at the brazenness of thieves, rifling through others lives, taking that which can never be replaced.

Sometimes I feel this way with the kids I counsel. Their lives ransacked with words spoke in carelessness, they crawl back into themselves looking once more for that place of safety. Worthless. Little. Baby. Won't you ever learn. How Dumb are you. Why can't you do it right for once. Their hope for happiness, traded for the satisfaction of just being numb. 

Words become burglars, when used to steal lives.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Any day


Why aren't we catching any fish?

It probably has nothing to do with your brother jousting the water...I don't know maybe they are not hungry.

But I see them and they look hungry.

Pondering for a second, Maybe if we cast out deeper...

Arm swings back in perfect javelin form, eyes focused mid-lake, snapping back with timed release. The trail of line arches through the clouds and lands with a loud splash along with the top half of the pole.

Did you mean to do that?

Yeah, figured if we could not hook them at least we could spear them. No, I did not mean to do that...

Sometimes things don't go like you plan. You try your best only to find your pole floating away from you, as fish share a laugh at your expense. They steal your bait and leave your hook barren, tease you and taunt you to frustration. Even when they are hungry they turn their nose up at your offer, afraid of the barbs that come with it. Sometimes you wait and wait for the moment that the stars align, only to find naught.

You will want not to try. Give up. Go home. Throw your tackle into the closet to gather dust, smiling at you every time you open the door. These days will make you forget you ever thought about what you could accomplish. You'll tell lies to friends on how everything is fine or how big the fish was, to hide your pain. Don't. We all have those days. Today will soon be gone, erased by plenty of tomorrows, if you let it.

The best part anyway is we did it together.

Bad days become better, when we face them together, any day.

________

Originally I wrote this for friends of mine that are facing marriage struggles, but as I was reading my blog roll today I happened upon a very special post by a good friend. Her words struck me, and seemed apropo. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Logan

Thank you for joining us today, we have the distinct privilege of interviewing Logan Miller, 6 year old son of Brian Miller, author of waystationone. Logan, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to give us the inside scoop on your dad for Father's Day. Ready to get started?

Sure.

Describe your dad for us.

My dad is really tall and weighs 1600 pounds. He has green eyes and his hair is wacko.

I see. Sounds kind of scary. What is your favorite thing to do with your dad?

That's easy....wrestle. My best move is karate chop. Cole's is to jump on you when you aren't looking. Dad cheats, he tickles.

Smiles. If your dad was stuck on an island, what would he want to have with him?

The rest of our family.

But what about food?

We would eat coconuts and drink the milk. I have never tried it, but we would make it.

Ok, let's go the other extreme, if your dad had a million dollars what would he buy?

Toys! Lot's of toys!

Your dad likes toys? Sounds like maybe you want the toys.

He likes toys. I would let him play with a few. I would buy him books as well. He really likes to read.

Final question Logan. As you know, today is Father's Day. Is there anything you want to say to your dad, that you really want him to know?

Yeah, I want him to be quiet.

Err...not "i love you?"

Nope, be quiet and wrestle!

Oooff! See you next time folks...gotta go take care of...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sandcastles

Warm sand presses between his toes, plodding along under weighty burdens. Laden buckets of wet sand sloosh into formation, steady hands smoothing the gaps between. Castles reach for indigo skies, parapets splayed like fingers. Determination squints in the builders eyes, surveying his masterpiece against the green mountains, he smiles.

Chattering children dash by, ripples of their passing lash wet tongues upon the foundation, as it all begins to slip. Memories remain in piles between his knees, head dipping momentarily in silent repose. Grasping his tools, the architect turns once more to the surf, to begin again.

Building sand castles, an experience every father knows in the lives of their children. Days standing tall like bastions of lore, other falling to the lapping waves in each of their lives. Ever watching them grow into the shape of a man or woman. Hoping to hold them together, careful fingers etching each mark in the sand, knowing one day they will build sandcastles of their own. 

Every thing I have to give my boys, came from the man who made me. Pressing me when needed, when castles fell he never gave up. Love you dad! Happy fathers day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

300


Chrome swans left silver trails down sleek hoods, chased by cougars and horses. One hundred cars with names as powerful as the engines that pulled them down the parkway. Studebaker. Packard. Mustang. Thunderbird. Victoria. Fairlane. Galaxie. The parade of names rolled by, each caressed to a shine by the loved ones they carried through the mountains. Special.

What better way to celebrate 300 than to introduce you to a few special people that got me to this point. Please don't blame them for what you find in the padded cell here, but they helped me along the way.

Today I received two marvelous awards:

The wonderful Colette Amelia granted me the first. One of my friends from Theme Thursday, who writes as beautifully as the pictures that adorn each post and asks the tough questions this world needs. I am to pass it on and "continue your passion in writing because your hard work will always be appreciated."

Mrsupole - whose Opal Nation posts always leave me wanting more, and whose comments always leave me feeling warm.

Poetikat - whose way with words make me strive for a pale comparison

Willow - who needs little introduction, just stop by the manor once and you may never leave

Lola - whose mix of recipes and stories will entice you to seconds and thirds

The things we carried - such stories, just read, you will understand


Travel & Dive Girl bequeathed the second. Hard to believe I just met her a few weeks back on World Oceans Day. Her words are real, which make them a treat to read. This award is bestowed on blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggradizement. Please give more attention to these writers.

Theme Thursday - check out Mr. Linky for all the amazing people or join us one Thursday and have  little fun. Ever one has their own voice, which is a joy to read each week.

A few other special people that deserve the recognition and you should check out, right now...


Really, this list could go on and on and on....if you are reading this, you probably deserve an award. Thanks for all the comments and encouragement, I cherish each one. Looking forward to sharing the next 300 posts with all of you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crash

There is that moment that comes right before a crash, when all the world comes into clarity. Small details loom large, as if your eyes are grasping for things to hold onto in case this is the end, and time bends its weary back into s l o w m o t i o n. Hands immobile, though muscles scream, incapable of stopping the slide towards...

Crash! The rubber band snaps back, the second hand sweeping forward making up for previous abatement, fiercely skipping moments. Gravity is defied as debris take flight, air bags disburse like lead balloons. Spinning its way to the eerie...

Stop! Balanced precariously, the tower of books in his left hand weaved its way across the parking lot. Cellphone attached to his ear in the right, yack yack yack, his head snaked for emphasis. Eyes hidden behind onyx lenses rolled at the errant reply as his voice gained intensity...

Boom! Shrapnel littered the sidewalk, books lay pell mell, open to favored passages. Small voices begged understanding out of the abandoned cell that lay at the base of a plant. Bruised and swollen, the man and his pride cartwheeled a return visit to the parking lot. My mouth just gaped as he started to get...

Up! Vile rivers leaked through snarling lips at that which had so offended him. Poking thick fingers marked exclamation points at the end of each sentence. With a sickening thud his fist rained blows, echoing into the library, every eye turning to stare at the man assaulting the...

Door. Standing ever resolute in the face of his barrage, the same as it had when he walked into it. Steering my glance once again toward my car, a knowing smile graced my lips. The things we will do to avoid liability for our own ignorance.

Crash.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Theme Thursday: Roof

Summer sun casts rainbows through sticky sweat dripping on fresh shingles. The pounding of hammers echoes in the small valley beneath the hill, chased by the slap of lumber on lumber. The addition will add much needed space to the one bedroom home of the four person family. This was our mission.

The roof, a small island, the last place to be when...pop, pop, pop...cracks like gunfire begin. Scanning the surrounding hills, heads of three snipers smile back as the barrage continues. Between the rain of card board and paper, mingled with the smell of gun powder, a glimpse of kids tossing fire crackers from their perch over head. 

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop...minutes stretch as the attack continues.

Climbing to the train tracks that carved through the base of the hill between us, I call out for them to come down and face my wrath. Excuse in hand to invade, their shoes gleefully trace trails down to our work site. Smiles shine bright driving away any shadow of frustration.

My hammer and nails are were no good for work any more, as their weapons of mass distraction are traded for tools and some spare blocks of wood. Hearts emaciated, they hunger for attention. We sat by the rusty old swing set talking and playing the rest of the afternoon, beneath the stern gaze of the other workers.

Each day the kids join us at sunrise when we returned to our labor. Slowly other missionaries came around to play as well, trading off so I can work. Nails hammered by the kids into a block of wood create steel crosses and find a home in the crook of a nearby tree. Friendships are born, and love begins. 

Late in the week, our time drawing to a close, a neighboring pastor drops by...

I have seen those kids before, sad story. At home they don't get love. They are beaten and abused...physically, emotionally, sexually. We have tried, but...

The sound of my heart ripping churns hot bile in my stomach. Puddles form around my feet from the tracks of my tears. The rest of his words are lost in the cacophony of cluttering thoughts. I walk aimless down lonely streets, until I can breath.

The week goes by too fast and farewells seem too short. Quivering smiles press pictures into my calloused hands, which still reside between pages in the book by my bed. Every once in a while, thoughts drift back to my young friends and wonder if they still walk passed the block of wood in the crook of the tree on the way back to their house...and remember that love is.

In building a roof, we must never forget the people that live beneath them. They truly are most important.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swim


I am going to drown.

Arms flail as water invades airways, pushing  ribbons of bubbles toward the surface. Sunlight pales above the waves as the depths claw his feet pulling him ever down into their gullet. Fingers seek slippery purchase, grasping for the surface. Fear twists his inner most parts as gray fog moves in at the corners of his vision.

Tap. Tap. Raps upon his head...is this how it ends?

Logan, stand up. The water is only up to your knees.

Do you remember learning how to swim? Maybe it came easy for you. I have a vague recollection of life before the freedom found in trimming through the water. Once we overcome our fears, they become faint echoes of a past life. Up to that point they are living nightmares, reenacted every time we come face to face with them.

I remember standing on a 250 foot cliff, secure in my rope and harness and hearing those words...Step off. They were in my head, because my belay was a deaf mute, which did wonders for my confidence. What was I going to do? Take my hands off the rope and sign him to pull me up? They say never look down, I was just looking for the softest rock below. 

My journey down the 250 foot cliff, began at 30 feet. Our guides started us small. As we mastered those, we built momentum toward what was to come. About half way down, I began to believe in myself. Pushing off farther, traveling further down the rope with each bound. I found freedom.

Usually, opportunity starts as an impossible dream. Our irrational fears keep us buoyed, comfortable in our water wings, settling for small tastes of what we could experience when we are finally willing to take the risk.

In his eyes, desire is building. Soon the fear of missing out will overcome the fear of drowning and Logan will swim. Life will never be the same. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bounce

Crumpled in a pile, little hands holding head together, as rivulets of blood seaped through. Wailing for absolution from the pain.

We are at the hospital. Logan fell off the stairs. There was so much blood, I did not know what to do. Get here when you can.

These moments bring a clarity of focus that passes understanding. How it happened seems lost in the desire to see him alive and healthy. It is only much later after scans, rays and stitches that we begin to wonder...

I accidentally fell off the stairs and went bounce, bounce on the big rubber container and then just flew into the post [of the stair railing].

Accidentally...bounce, bounce...hmmm....after two years, the scar stands in remembrance.

Just the other day, laying in their bedroom watching a video. Brother sick in his bed drifting in and out of conciousness, anxious squirmings overcame Logan. Peering over the precipice between his bed and floor, he leaned as much of his body as he could, belayed by my shirt tail. Gravity gripped him as his legs slid ever closer to the edge, caught short by my quick grab.

Didn't you know you would fall?

I had ahold of you. I knew you would catch me.

How quickly we forget lessons learned in our falls, that sometimes we are not caught. Sometimes we are left to our own folly, not because we are not loved, but because we are.

It would be nice if someone was there to make every decision for us, then we would have an easy target to blame. Looking for grace from our poor decisions, not for them...we still have to own the outcomes.

Bounce.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hopeless Romantic Manifesto


Wrinkles around his eyes, like chasms filled with memories, the old man reached under the the linoleum counter top of his movie rental store. I have something for you. Cover worn soft as leather, pages dog eared and soiled from repetitive reading, he placed the book in my hand. Read it, then give it to someone. The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks. As the moon reached his zenith that evening, the book lay on my bedside table, crumbs left on the plate after its devouring. To have that passion, to stand by the one you love, even after they have forgotten.

I am a Hopeless Romantic.

Credits having long since disappeared beyond the edge of the curtain, windows fogged with the humidity of our tears. My Life, the story of a man dying of cancer leaving a video for his son about how to be a man, and ultimately how to love. In his dying, a new life was born and I realized I never wanted to live without her. On my knee, all thoughts of a carefully orchestrated romantic moment love forgotten, we began with yes.

I am a Hopeless Romantic.

I believe in a world where bullets and bombs are replaced my warm hugs and sloppy wet kisses. Where pain and disease find their end and children's stomachs are not distended from hunger. Where people and trash aren't carelessly mislaid like worn out tires the side of the road. Where crippled walk and blind see, playing in the street together. Where the hue of your skin, the price on your clothes, the pounds of your flesh, male, female, age, disability, national origin, religion, orientation, occupation, don't determine the quality of your life. I believe in a world where happily ever after is possible and love wins.

Maybe I am just a Hopeful Romantic.

On the street corner where passion and determination collide, opportunity resides.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Empty...also

Hazy sheets of heat rose from spans of concrete, the bridge before her car. Surrounded by strangers traveling her direction, and not, watching wind push water far below. Tired hands gripped the steering wheel for support.

Why did he call me now?

Fifteen years. Hard, long, after she moved out. Never wondering if it was the right thing to do. Her bags packed themselves. Did she dare, yes she did.

How did he find me?

Absently she twists a tuft of hair, fallen in the breeze through the window. Gulls float lazily over breaking waves. A few cards received along the years, he did not know she had kids of her own now. No note to open, she never wrote back. Better that he never know.

What does he need now?

His job had always kept his busy, surprised he has time for me now. Attitudes, actions, those last few years together, always alone. Only his rule, oppressive weight encumbers her shoulders. He better not start. She knows him and how he is.

Why am I even going?

Fingers drum, considering the turn signal and the next exit. Come again, or never. Too many missed years and memories, laid out before her for the world to see. Wishing her mind was far away.

He will only hurt me again.

Run, escape, avoid. Thoughts run rampant, thrashing like a bear caught in a trap. Go home to her family, where he doesn't have to be right. Resigned she parks outside the coffee shop. Open the door, get out, get it over with.

He will cry real tears, ask for forgiveness. All he ever wanted to be was a daddy, to love her, but he didn't know how. Try as he might, he only pushed her away, as he ran off to another meeting. Trying to keep home simple, so he could work, away from empty houses, vacant lives. He now knows different and only wants a second chance.

And so did she.

[The Beginning? After fifteen years, they talked all afternoon. Her failed first marriage, her happy second and their four kids. His job at the coffee shop after workforce reduction. The road ahead was as long as the road behind, but it was a beginning, of something new. A silly grin greets his face every time he tells me this story. Redemption.]

Empty

[I should warn you, there is no redemption here, only stubborn hearts holding onto their own selfish realities...]


Tendrils of steam puffed out of chimneys on top of coffee cups, well manicured hands wrapped tight, clinging to the warmth. His eyes cried dry tears, lost in thought.

I don't know how it came to this.

Thirteen. Young, innocent, until he found the note laying on the floor by her bed. Had it fallen there. Had she left it. Should he read it. Does he dare, he does.

Why would she do this to me?

He straightens his shirt, fingers fiddling with his tie. If he had a cigarette he would smoke, but his solace comes in another drag of coffee. He shouldn't have read it, better off not knowing.

Why that boy?

Actions and attitudes, his own adolescence, thrust themselves upon him, sending involuntary shivers down his well aged back. Perspiration springs on furrowed brow, his napkin dabbing furiously. He knows the boys father and how he is.

I have always been there for her. I took her to mall just last week to be with friends.

Sliding into pressed pockets, hands retrieve his life line, new emails, missed calls...placing it on the table within view. Something to take his mind far from here, again.

She'll never go out alone again.

Contain, defend, offend. Pieces move around the battlefield of his life, rearranging like synchronized swimmers. Take that hill solider. Mandate, dictate, deny. Resigned he rises, physician healing thyself, on the way to the office.

She will never forgive him. All she ever wanted was a daddy, someone to love her, to realize she existed. Words never spoken, conversations never had led to empty houses, vacant lives, forcing her to find it elsewhere.


And so she did.


[The End? Will they find what they are looking for? Redemption held at arms length by validation, he for his position, she for her existence, ever elusive. All for want of a Father.]

Friday, June 12, 2009

Manatees, Japanese, Writing and Lightning


Clams were crabby while the crabs were blue, at least until he found true love. Vibrant jellyfish danced under the lights of the ocean, to a reggae band led by clown fish. All the while a lost manatee searched for home, with the help of her companions the gull and the loggerhead. Crazy fishermen and sand sharks threatened, but a heroic dolphin saved the day. 

Our family watched "The Amazing Adventures of Chessie the Manatee" put on at our local science museum today. Free Family Fun in efforts to revitalize downtown. The puppeteers from Rainbow Puppets performed bunraku, a Japanese style puppetry where visible performers manipulate large puppets. I watched my boys, who were captured for the 46 minutes of the performance, and came up with a few thoughts:

1: You could tell the performers loved what they were doing. They had fun, which made everyone in the auditorium want to join the party. Puppets and their performers came off the stage and into the crowd and engaged the audience in the story. Even pausing for a few brief seconds for a pat on the head by some anxious kids.

2: They did not have a whole lot of bells and whistles. Sure they had a lot of puppets but as you can tell from the picture, the scenery was limited. They used what they had and created an environment that was engaging. Instead of describing it for the kids, they helped them imagine it for themselves. If you would have asked any kid in there, they would tell you exactly what the scenery looked like, even though they never saw it. 

3: Throughout the story, a news caster fish would educate us on the bay and the environment, it was learning, but it was fun, so it did not really feel like learning. Catchy songs that layered the learning opportunities reinforced the message. They knew their audience and created an experience just for them. The language, type of music, their whole methodology pointed toward kids learning about the animals of the bay, the environment and challenges they endure.

As a student of communication, it was fun to watch the performers masterfully use their skills and take away a few things I can keep in mind when I speak or write. The boys just thought it was cool, then wanted to go back to the lightning machine to shock mom and dad again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hazard

Botetourt County is about as close to Hazard as it gets, at least it used to be before a higher class of red necks moved in with their Latte's and Wine shops. Winn-Dixie is no longer the only grocery store, and there is not an Esso fillin' station in sight, but in it's day it was a place of front porches and family get togethers on Sunday. It's where I grew up. On Friday nights, boys learned how to be...well, boys.

Engine whining, wheels gripped wet asphalt, propelling us toward manhood, around the next corner. Built up railroad tracks enticed and gave opportunity to play Duke in this Hazard. We had always wondered if it would work. Could we bend the laws of physics and fly, for even a brief moment?

Pinned to the floor, the accellerator begged for mercy, but received little from Charlie. Vibrations, horses straining against their restraint, found their way up through my passenger seat. My cousin cheering us ever faster from the back. Hesitation, ever puckering, as the front wheels raced up the incline, clawing for purchase in empty air...

This is the part in The Dukes of Hazard where the Narrator would cut in with some witty comment like "Those Duke boys were so busy fooling old Roscoe, they did not notice the ladies from the Hazard County Crochet and Knitting Club letting out of their party. Looks like they are about to get all sewed up." Only in this case, he would probably be saying something about the green van coming up the other side of the railroad crossing...

False teeth dropped from gaping jaws, mingling with fast food wrappers littering the black rubber mats of the floorboard. Saucer like eyes met three pair staring down from the streaking silver missile. Orange sparks flared as metal scraped furrows in the road, and tail lights escaped into the night.

We flew. Charlie's car never really ran the same after that. The county evened out the railroad tracks after reports of a "silver UFO looking thang." Charlie sells debt consolidations. Mike writes songs. Me, I just try to keep my boys entertained with better things to do on Fridays, and give a little more sense than I had.

Have a great weekend ya'll!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Theme Thursday: Swing

A simple little swing. A round board on a long thick rope dangles from the tree. A boy climbs aboard.

Daddy push me faster.

At its apex, he can almost touch the leaves and he is...swinging through trees on vines, he reaches for the next, racing monkeys to the watering hole. Trumpeting triumphantly at their approach, a family of elephants pauses in their march. Primal bellows echo from his chest as he clears the last tree, diving for the lake below.

Daddy do a blast off. 

Firm hand push him forward, extending to their zenith, before letting him go. Plunging backward, caught at the last minute by the swing he is...rocketing through the atmosphere on his way to discover new worlds. Stars wink as they flash by and he loops passed Saturn's rings. Chasing comets he woops with joy.

Daddy make me go higher.

Open air rushes passed and he is...an eagle, wings outstretched catching an updraft. Circling round and round, high above tall trees and snow covered mountains. Surveying the horizon, the world looks so small compared to the heights of his play ground.

Children look at the simple and see untapped potential and opportunity. Their eyes see beyond the veneer or dust and see what could be, not what is. A simple swing becomes the gateway to adventure. Simple people become their friends. Why can't life stay so simple?

Swing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

mens die

cole asked

why do mens die?

how do you answer the little boys cry? i remembered...

uniforms standing at attention, next to ladder trucks, blocking roads. driving passed, little fingers gripping window sills in the back seat. brothers carrying a casket to it's final resting place. broken earth, framed by faces looking down at what was once my grandfather. their fire chief. her husband. his dad.

asking questions...

why do mens die?

how do you answer the little boys cry? i remembered...

little girls peering at a body, resting on silk pillows, tears spilling on their frilly dresses. surrounded by flowers, small hands clasped, they uttered "she looks like sleeping beauty." their grandmother. her mom, his wife.

asking questions...

why do mens die?

and i thought he was going to ask me a tough question, like...

why do some mens never live?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Villains

Having the right archnemesis seems to make or break the hero, or at least bring meaning to wearing this lemon lime spandex. Without the Joker who would Batman be? What am I saying, he has garnered a pantheon of wonderful villians. If you were relegated to fighting Calendar Boy with his inate holiday crime sprees, how would you feel? Almost driving you to create more holidays just to get some action, spending hours in the serpentine line at the employment office hoping to pull someone with a little more charisma.

Mine left his skin on my doorstep today. Opening the door, it rather shocked me, his brash retort at lacing his sanctum with moth balls, hoping he would relocate. Crisp and scaley, a three foot reminder that our snake is still there. Was he watching, smiling as we disposed of his calling card, laughing at his torment. Fist raised to the heavens, my anguish squeezed out, "You will rue the day! This is your last hiss!"

Have you ever met someone defined by their villians? When they talk about their weekend it is more about what went wrong and less about the good things? If you listed out all that you knew about them, it would be bereft of who they actually are and spilling over with what has happened to them. One episode after another in all the torrid detail, your left wondering how it ever made it to syndication. What they stand for is bound and gagged, held ransom by what they are against. Hopeless they swing from rooftop to rooftop, looking for infinite crisis to help them feel alive, because peace brings closer their final issue.

Sometimes we need little reminders that there is more to life than the next big battle. Anxiously waiting, we miss what happens in the days between stories. Or maybe thats just me. What is it that defines, brings meaning, to your life?

CYOA #4

IV

Water sloshed around frozen feet, making my shoes slippery. Maybe the water would cause "it" to lose my trail. Spotting the moonlight glimmer on the small creek when I stopped for a breath, I had leaped down the small bank.

Clawing at earth I tried in vain to climb the walls that seemed so much smaller from above. Roots pulled loose in clumps, my wet shoes slipping once more. There has to be a way out. Panting now, muddy hands pressed to my head, the rain began.

Lightning flashed, the world shaking with its thunderous boom, unveiling the shadowy form menacing overhead.

Running blindly along moss covered rocks, falling, skinning my knees, I clambered forward and then the ground beneath me feet disappeared and all I felt was air rushing incredibly fast as I plummeted....

{Ok, so one take over from here. If you want to see earlier installments to this "choose your own adventure", go here.}

Sunday, June 7, 2009

World Oceans Day

Living in Florida has it's advantages. Beautiful weather. Spring Training baseball. Amazing seafood. An endless supply of lizards for my cat to chase. And of course the ocean. During the two years we spent in Tampa, we would often find our Saturdays spent at Ft. DeSoto Beach. This was one of those Saturdays...

Glee filled smiles curl at his lips, as Logan's little fist beat against his yellow inflatable seat. Only six months old and already a captain of his own ship and loving the ocean. White clouds, threatening the every afternoon shower, cool the air, a beautiful day to ride the waves with mom and...

The surface erupts from within, dad rising like the leviathan from the deep. What treasures has he found today? Live sand dollars with their prickly red hairs, shimmering as they dance in the sun. Sea slugs emerging from their shell to leave sticky trails across little fingers, enticing chortles from the baby. So many wonders to behold...

Muscles clench as fins break the surface a mere ten feet from the family. Hearts jack hammer against breastbones and minds race calculating the distance to the shore, too far. Cries unheard the beach nearly empty. Stench of fear reeking from pores drawing the inevitable ever closer...

Noses break the surface...dolphins come to play, swimming circles around before disappearing into the deep. Nervous laughter as pulse rates return to normal, Logan oblivious except to their beauty. Time to get out of the water, maybe we will play another day. Today the wild oceans have earned our respect.

It might be fun to play in some else's back yard, but remember they will still be there when we leave and have to put up with what you leave behind. One ocean. One climate. One future.

If you want to check out more World Oceans Day posts visit here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Symphony

Have a seat, don't mind the dirt on the bank, it wipes off pretty easy. Glad you could join me, the show is about to begin.

Silence, nothing is happening and still nothing more. Air pulling in and leaving my chest is loud and then it is gone. Ears relax and catch a the first inkling of a tune. Burbles of the creek, the opening stanza. Silver flashes as fish surface amid the dancing dragonflies that have joined the stage. Their wings, green and purple oily swirls, swing as they pirouette.

Rustling leaves announce an otter sliding down the bank, flouncing into the still waters, sending cascading ripples across the expanse. Acrobatic insects put on an aerial delight, spinning in loops around each other. Still others stir among the trees, a doe pokes her head out to see what all the commotion is about. Even ancient timbers speak, groaning out the bass line.

Slowly a tear drips down smiling cheeks, the beauty, the peace, found by the edge of the creek. bravo! bravo! my silent adoration so as not to break the revelry.

Sabbath. A time to listen, reflect on voices not our own, if only we are silent long enough to hear.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sno-cone


Today was Logan's last full day of kindergarten. Sure there are three half days next week, but for intents and purposes, he is done. To celebrate we had a cookout at the school complete with things kids love...hot dogs, chips, fruit, brownies, chewy fruit flavored processed gelatin shaped somewhat like real fruit (you get the point) and juice pouches. It rained, so we had to move inside, but it was beach day so everyone spread out their towels and made a big time of it.

Knowing my oratory talent, I figured they would ask me to speak, so I prepared a few thoughts on graduating Kindergarten...

Today is the last day of the rest of your lives. When you next grace the halls of this school you will be in a grade. This means lots of scary things like homework, changing rooms for different classes, colored pencils instead of crayons. While these may seem terrifying to you, I want to reassure you that you have learned the most important things about life this past year. They will help you succeed in all that you accomplish in the coming years.

Balance - Work, play, art, naps, singing, dancing. Each are an important part of life, yet as you get older you tend to forget.

Stick together - When you travel through life, stay together. While it may be funny to run around the corner ahead of the group, you never know who or what you will run into. There are more frightening things than the Principal.

Read - When the year first started you couldn't. Now the world has been unlocked for you. Vast discoveries await, don't ever take it for granted.

Share - Remember that day you did not have a glue stick, but someone at your table shared with you. Remember that next time a friend is hungry or in need.

Don't pee on the playground - Soiling the common areas in life only leads to heartache. And where are you going to wash your hands, a mud puddle?

Diversity - So many different groups sit here before me together. We played together, we cried together, we worked together and today we graduate together.

I'm sure there are other things you learned along the way, but keep these few in mind when you face the tough challenges in the coming years and you will go far.

Alas, when tasks were doled out, instead of imparting wisdom, I was asked to run the sno-cone machine. They will probably remember that better than the words. Out of spite, I added extra pumps of flavoring to each and walked, smiling, past the little kid writing his name in urine on the corner of the breezeway, amidst the sugar induced chaos.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meteor

Sun passing through the window, casts shadows of light across the living room. A blue chair wraps me in a cocoon of solace where I can enjoy lunch, a brief respite in an otherwise hectic day. In contrast to the white plate, fingers of chicken and a red sauce, ketchup and tobasco. A soda to cool the refreshing burn.

Without warning, an orange meteor streaks through my atmosphere, gravity pulling it toward my meal. Tremors upon impact, a steaming crater left in its wake. Ejecta of hot fowl and sauce leave red streaks in its wake. My shirt, pants, chair, couch, walls, carpet bear witness of it's passing. Waves of tension force their way from throat, Aarrggh!

Following the trajectory back along it's course, a little boy stands. His lip trembles, eyes wide at the havoc his ball has caused. For brief seconds he stands froze, for him an eternity, then he runs to his room.

Breathe.

In those moments, when we know our mistakes have caught us, we run. Fleeing certain doom for an uncertain future. Hiding away, hoping that it will just go away. Or maybe if we act like it never happened, it really didn't and no one will notice. Heavy guilt remains shackling us to our shame. Or maybe it was daddy's fault for eating in the living room, if only he hadn't...then I wouldn't...we run from responsibility as well.

Exhale.

Its was just a mistake. You did not do it on purpose. Daddy is sorry for yelling out. Words whispered into hair, his body pressed into a hug. We all make mistakes, it's what we do with them that makes all the difference in the world. I love you. Sorry dad.

(Thanks mommy for cleaning it up.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Theme Thursday: Clock

The humming of cold florescent lights provided the background music to the tempo of boxes finding shelves. Oblivious, the stock boy, iPod in his ears, wore a path into the warehouse from the trailer. Turning to look across a sea of brown cardboard at the large oppressive clock, just enough time. Pushing through the gap between trailer and bay, he dropped to the parking lot. A faint glow broke the drab morning grayness as he lit his cigarette. Eyes involuntarily pinched as the sun poked its head above the horizon. Inhale, hard exhale. Boss would be here soon, he absently flicked the dregs of his vice onto the damp ground. A barely audible hiss and thin tendril of smoke, foot steps receded.

ticktockticktocktick...

Pouring himself into a chair too small for his girth, the man thumbed the power switch on his computer. Time waits for no man, especially management. Reports to be done before the district woke. The stock boy better not be smoking out back again, a passing thought. The massage of his temples with thick fingers interrupted when he spied the lonely time card in its metal sheath above the time clock. She better not be late again. This would be the last time. If she wasn't going to take this seriously she could go else where.

ticktockticktock...

Flat shoes sucked to the smoldering asphalt, making their way to the store. Cold red numbers on the digital clock had condemned her before she ever left. Late, a feeble mental chuckle. For one she would be fired, for the other, unknown. The EPT stick sat smugly on the precipice of the sink for her boyfriend to find. Dizzying thoughts brought another bought of nausea as she entered the cool confines of destiny.

ticktocktick...

"How long does it take to run a few items over a scanner?", thoughts leaked through her crimson lipstick. The housekeepers vacation subjecting her to this prattle. The gilded bauble painted on her wrist marked the disappearing time until her tennis appointment. Rolling eyes, flashing platinum plastic, "Can you be any slower?" Snatching bags, her heels clicked on polish floors through swishing doors to her waiting Lexus

ticktock...

Gasp...city...dispose...refuse... Distant loud voice. Firmament caked eyes cracked capturing dark silhouettes in the burning brightness of the sun. Peeling his face from the gum encrusted concrete, leaving flecks embedded. Dirty fingers picked at his cheeks, probing gaps through flesh where teeth once resided. Shadows became a fleeing oppressor retreating to her fancy golden car. Time? No bother for a watch, every day the same. Only important in making the line for the shelter he had missed last night. Escaping from his chrysalis of bags, he ambled behind the building in search of butts left by the stock boy.

tick...

Each life a clock ticking toward its final moments. Unable to wrestle the hands backward, or wind it beyond its time. Each moment a choice made, never regained. Many of us push the hands forward, ever faster, toward looming events. Monuments marking the passage of life. Minute hands begin to sweep like seconds. Today becomes tomorrow, until we find ourselves wondering where did all the time go?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Operation: Golden Zoo-lu

Accelerating around the circle in front of the school, at the required 10 mph, the van screeched to a halt. Jump door flung open, I barrel rolled across the cool, rough concrete sidewalk...rising nonchalantly to blend with the crowd of one open mouth janitor. "Official Business, nothing to see here", tossing in a Jedi mind trick wave of the hand to further throw him off.

Confidently striding into the main office, as if I belonged there, I hacked into the main computer to print out VISITOR credentials that would get me passed the guards of this educational prison. A stray though ran through my mind, the dangers if I got caught; the sentence would be "I will not break my son out of school early", one hundred times on a grammar tablet.

Attaching the identification to my camouflaged T-shirt, Batman providing the perfect disguise, shadow to shadow I progressed toward cell block K(indergarten). Ducking into the bathroom to slip out my weapon if needed, I brandished the eraser and I stepped into his room. "Give me my son or I'll wipe everything off the chalkboard."

Cringing in fear, or maybe that was doubled over in laughter, the "teacher" released the color page math worksheet shackles. Fleeing down the corridor, hand in hand, Logan stopped me. "I have to go back", he had left vital intelligence, his lunch box. Absconding the materials, snack still intact, and finally free we leaped into the escape vehicle with the rest of the extraction unit and unveiled our plan..."Wanna go to the zoo?"




Truancy officers are still patrolling the neighborhood, but we rest assured knowing this was a parental sanctioned operation. Summer break days away, a little taste of freedom to make them pass that much quicker. Sometimes we all need a break from the norm, to keep us focused on the important things. 

Disclaimer: No teachers were hurt in the making of this epic and we really do appreciate all that you do for our children. As much as we would have loved to extract the animals, they were rescued and being cared for.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Red Umbrella

Streetlights danced, reflecting in the watery glass drizzling into puddles underfoot, paled only in comparison to the twinkle in their gaze. Their red umbrella shared, set them apart from the drab grays of the day. Warm smiles, she pulled herself closer into the shelter of his arm, their banter jovial. Pausing on the corner, their lips folded into each other. Two became one, as they pressed into each other.

Like a stream bending around immovable rocks, passer-bys flowed around them. Whispered words passed between them, inaudible as he drew close to her ear, and thunder echoed off the walls of the city.

The stars dimmed, their flames snuffed and her eyes added their salt to the hard, wet curb. Horns blared as she dashed into their slow stampede, escaping to farther shores, losing herself in the crowded sea of faces.

Stoic statue, he watches her flee, then turns, retreating, his red umbrella bobbing along into the blackest of nights. His eyes, the only dry land in an otherwise dreary scene.

What were the words that made their world turn? What tension tore them apart rather than face it together?

Honesty creates opportunity for intimacy, but only when we are ready to hear.

Coffee warms me. Another sip, a touch on the hand, breaks the spell of the scene out the storefront window. Hands clasp, the look in her smile. Small blessings, sheltered inside, away from the storm.