Thursday, July 30, 2009

Balls

Giggles wind their way up the stairs from the basement, filling the house with their joy. Following their lilt through the den into the spare bedroom, cooler air brings respite from the summer heat. A tub of balls sits waiting, the boys balance precariosly on the footboard, poised and ready.

We play this game. Kinda like the game at the county fair, where you try to knock the moving ducks down with the bb gun. Swinging their arms wildly, they steady themselves on their perch, taunting daddy to throw the ball at them and knock them backwards into flamboyant bounces on the waiting mattress.

Dad, you can do better than that, they mock an errant throw, until the next one sends them into a flip of laughter, scambling back not to miss a minute of fun. Then its daddy's turn to be pelted, the bed groaning in displeasure as I flounce back into the cold embrace of fresh (now slightly rumpled) sheets. Laying here chuckling, I wonder if there is anything better than being thrashed by two little boys and their stuffed football.

Every once in a while the balls come a little too hard, a little too fast, a little too on target catching us in just the wrong place. Just the other day, Cole took one on the nose, crumping in a heap in the center of the bed. Coaxing him to unbury his wounded face, little tears rimmed his eyes as he fought to hold them back. Crushing his head in my chest, his little arms wrapped me tightly for reassurance...and approval to cream his brother with fastball.

Retaliation only leads to assasination, odds never evening out. Violence begets violence begets...an eternal quest for justice with little satisfaction.

I tell you what, let's just tickle him until he says he's sorry.

Sorry...sorry...I said I was sorry...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Theme Thursday:Button

Catseye colored buttons slightly muted by the layer of dust, still wink in the faint light trickling through the basement window. One is chipped from its edge to the thin thread holding it in place, a wound of love being dragged behind on some adventure. Remembering the little fingers tracing the jagged edge, as if polishing away the pain as they drifted off to sleep.

One leg dangles from the drab green metal shelf, the other resting against the cool face of a glass vase. His reflection on the surface still hints at nights spent cuddled tightly between arm and breast, as he kept watch for things creeping out of the closet, allowing his playmate to sleep soundly. White and black fur, worn to excess, carries hints of frosting and cookies and night time confessions.

His little buttons had beheld the majesty of beach vacations and mountain streams, birthday parties and asphalt fading into the horizon from his perch upon the back pack. Now the expanse of grey concrete and forgotten knick knacks, were all the world he knew, his memories keeping him barely warm. Forgotten, he sits.

Flickering lights and mumbling voices awaken his wide eyed slumber, his companion that once held him strides into the room, pausing, confronted by the gleam in the buttons of an old friend. Firm hands retrieve him from his perch, pull him close and breath deep the nostalgia.

Let me introduce you to someone Teddy.

Little hands grasp him gently, exploring stories untold wrapped in stinching. No bells, no whistles, or moveable parts, just a bear in need of a little boy's heart. Once more worthy to love and be loved, really he always was, just waiting for a time such as this. Up the stairs he trails, swinging upside down by one clutched foot, small black thread of a mouth curling into a smile, beneath his eyes made of buttons.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Supermarket

The pale glow of the lights in the parking lot reflect off the shiny silver shopping cart inhabiting the last parking space available. Hands clench the steering wheel, staring at the lone cart, cursing the human slug that was so inconsiderate as to do this to them...

Store front reflections waver in the puddles of afternoon rain, shoes scruff as they drag across the asphalt, mind lost in silent thought taking unconscious steps. Slamming like a sledgehammer into eardrums, the horn startles, bringing attention to waving hands giving salutes from behind the steering wheel. Swallowing hard, the pace quickens in frustration toward the swooshing doors of solace...

Sqweeksqweeksqweeksqweek, the caster spins freely like a dancer on the yellowing linoleum, dragging around corners, pulling the cart sideways. Tense fingers force it forward against its will down rows of canned vegetables, standing ready in anticipation of purchase. Laddened in groceries it becomes harder and harder to make headway, until the breeze of passing catches a display of boxes, beginning an avalanche...

Even breathing stopped for a moment, back straight, not wanting to look back, knowing what she would find. Turning slowly, her shoulders dipped as lips trembled, a desperate moan leaking from within. Sinking to the floor, one box found her hands and she just hugged it to her chest and cried...

Finding her there, shattered on the floor next to the disarray of the display, knowing it had little to do with boxes, carts or blaring horns. Avoiding the growing feelings of anxiety she had pushed forward, holding words on her breathe, building tension in her soul until it finally broke in all its glory on aisle four.

Kids, husband, work, cleaning, friends, teachers...in taking care of everyone else, she had forgotten to take care of herself. Give, give, give, take, take, take...leaving her emptiness filling with frustration, ruining all the moments she tried to create for others behind a manufactured lipstick smile.

Clean up on aisle four, the droning disembodied voice crackled through the speakers. How little did they know...

Monday, July 27, 2009

TSA Incident Report

On July 27, 2009, at approximately 20:21 pm, TSO responded to an incident at Lynchburg Regional Airport(LYH). A man, having passed the security check point was accosted in the atrium by two hairless primates. One assailant wrapped the man's ankles driving him to the floor, while the second assailant leaped upon his chest, wrapping spindly arms around his neck and proceeded to choke the victim.

Officers attempted to deploy tasers until a third assailant arrived on the scene dispatching the primates and giving mouth to mouth to the victim, or assaulting his face. The revived (smiling) man was once again assaulted by the primates, hobbling under their weight and that of his luggage out the entrance doors into the parking area.

TSO officers continued to monitor situation until all parties fled the scene in a Gold Chrysler Town & Country heading northbound on 29N, singing loudly.


Yeah, the trip to Florida went great, but it's amazing to be home. Off to get the monkeys back in their cages.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gift

There is a moment of tension as the sharp edge of the blade pushes through the skin into the soft heart of the ripe, red tomato. Snapt, a soft rap on the cutting board below follows each slice. Resting in their fragrant juice, they wait patiently letting the anticipation build. Mayonnaise spreads, making a bed for them to lay on, to seal in the goodness of summer.

Laying the green plate in front of my great uncle, he smiles then pushes his gums through the sandwich and stares out the screen porch to the concrete bird bath under the old rigid bark of the walnut tree. Sometimes he talks, others he just stares into the memories. Rinsing the plate of crumbs, we retire to the old wooden shop, gasoline and sawdust on the air.

The oily grey metal pull chain dances, tinkling against the lone bulb swaying from the rafters, illuminating the scarred tables of his workbench. Strong wizened fingers push pale boards passed ancient spinning blades, before chisel and lathe take their turn. Shunkt, the wood pegs slide firmly into meticulously carved grooves, together giving form.

Rich colors blossom as oil and polish are massaged into the exposed pores of the timber, adding tang to the perfumed breeze. Hammer rings on the steel pegs, adding the finishing touch, initials LPM, to the bottom of the furniture.

A tree became a board became a small round table that stands on three legs at the base of its pedestal by the side of my couch. Running your fingers across its smooth surface, you feel the thought that went into its creation. Almost like that first bite of a tomato sandwich.

Small things forgotten in the grand scheme of a life filled with big screen televisions, sleek cars, computers, exquisit meals, designer clothes, shiny steel appliances, clean running water, soft mattresses...the list could go on, and on, and on.... I have seen greater joy in the eyes of those that have far less. Everything we have is a gift, we recieved, we can give.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Special

Light, seen blurry at a distance, like rising from the depths, coalesces into wise eyes. Wrinkles frame them, leading deep down to the handle bar mustache, twisted into a curl. A firm hand presses into my chest with authority and comfort, my mind tracing memories unknown, how did I get here?

Rough stitched material pricks at my skin as sensation returns and sleep drains from my limbs. Vision expands beyond the face to take in the crowd looking at me, an unspoken truth sits heavy among them. Nervous energy in fidgeting fingers, wringing together against their bosoms, whispering silent prayers.

Soft light emanates from the curtain of the shade wrapping the top of the cool bronze lamps, in contrast to the darkness in the window beyond. Questions wrap themselves into a conundrum, my drowsy mind struggling to rise out of the fog. Where did my bed go? Why are these people here?

Seizures. I had them, but never knew them. They haunted my young sleep, terrorizing my family, leaving me waking surrounded by crowds in the early dawns of adolescence. Something was just not firing right amid the neurons, so they say. Something else to set me apart, the glue from the electrodes they attached to my head clinging in its clumps no matter how hard you scrubbed. Then one day they were gone.

I have not thought about those early morning episodes in a long time and then I came face to face with another little boy this week, who had them and the same heavy baggage of questions that come with them. Why am I like this? It makes you feel so alone. As a kid, it can be tough, allowing our frailties to define us as weird...different...especially when others discover your uniqueness.

It becomes easy to forget just how beautiful and special you really are...and you are beautiful. Created to be the one and only you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cologne

Glittering, in light reflected off the mirrors on which they rest, glass containers of various contours, and colorful contents catch the eyes of little ones passing by. Little fingers search for just the right one, selecting the red, white and blue label, each pump hissing copious amounts of fragrance in tiny rain showers onto little boys heads. Content in his delight he turns...

Hey Logan! Guess what I smell like?

What?

I smell like America!

Cole, you don't even know what America smells like.


Uh huh, just smell me.

A slithering smile slips across my lips, as I think about what it just might smell like...smoke from a firecracker, sparkling in the night...sweat off the brow after a hard days work...fresh turned dirt in your search for earth worms...tart lemonade or a cool summer breeze with a hint of the stain off the wood of the deck...

I imagine each of our scents we attribute to be a little different, yet we'd be talking about the same thing. Our perceptions of importance, or possibly preferences color our olfactory observations.

What does your your country smell like?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Palette

There is a boy at camp that is Indian.

Oh really, so he is from India?

No, like...
(fanciful dancing, waving arms, patting his oval mouth with his hand)

He dances like that?

No, dad.

So did you talk to him?

No, I can't speak Indian.

He was speaking...Indian?

No, he was speaking like regular.

Oh...so what was the problem?

What if he started speaking Indian?

Ummm...how did you know he was an Indian?

He has long hair, down to his butt. And he told the other boys.

You know I used to have long hair.

Dad, you are not an Indian.


How boring would this mosaic, we call life, be if we were all painted in the same drab colors? Would the eerie tingle we feel in our bowels when faced with a stranger grant us a reprieve and allow us boldness to speak? Or would we continue to walk on by engrossed in our own space, eyes cast down, as we listen to the soundtrack we selected for our life on our iPod?

Are stangers really strange or is it just our insecurity over walking away with a little paint on our hands, from someone who does not look, think or act like us?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Theme Thursday: Shoes

Why did I take this turn?

My wife's words mull through my thick head, even as she sits there cringing with each shudder of the failing transmission. The exit, a dark hole in the side of the road beckons, the car sighing its last breath. Drifting deep into the walls of scrub surrounding the asphalt, all moonlight drains the world to black. Our dim lights flicker, then dash it to utterly.

The sharp skritch of gravel under woven leather shoes, polished to a shine even in the shadows, causes me to spin from my laborious rocking coercion of the behemoth up the incline, watching his olive suit emerge from the morass.

Get in your car, you will die out here. This is not your place. Guide the car into the streetlight at the top. Lock your doors, call for help and don't open them until it gets here.

The seriousness in his eyes, evaporates the questions on my lips, finding the secure thump of the car door to their liking. With ease, he propels us through the curtain of night, coming to rest in an island of soft light, under the stained wooded pole riddled with stapled fliers. Not so much as a goodbye, his steps retreat hollow back into the gloom, alone.

We will be there soon. Just lock your doors.

Reassurance that help is on its way drains from our weary breasts when the shadows begin to move. Pink bunny slippers, now ratted, their fur mottled with greasy grey splotches peek into the light, followed by leg bones draped in skin. Shuffling slowly, her gaunt skins powdery complexion is broken only by listless eyes and glistening tracks of tears to match the ones on her arms.

No sound escapes the baby held loosely, pressed against her distended belly by skeletal fingers, as her other hand extends to knock on the window before me. Knock. Knock. Knock. No words, just knocking. A signal it seems for her coven to follow her out of their rest, they rise from the refuse littering the lot of the condemned gas station. Frantic fingers find the ignition, torquing the key to click, click, click, a crickets chirp in the lonely night.

Yellow flashing lights, barely precede the arrival of the speeding tow truck swinging in beside us, a silent screech issuing from our assailants, as they fade out of existence. The hard clump of workman's boots ratchets like a shotgun, pursuing them to the recesses.

Get in the truck. We will be out of here soon. I will get you hooked up.

Our hearts thud in harmony, beating a rhythm into the spring loaded seats as we wait. They say you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes that they wear. We may never walk a mile in their shoes, but maybe there is some understanding to be gained from the steps taken in them, to carry them to this point in time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

5 hours

Today.
I sit in the aisle,
between the rows of beautiful thoughts
in a crowded bookstore
defeated.

Tight weave green carpet
pushes roots into
the soft flesh of my posterior,
pulling me further into itself.
Metal shelves,
cooled by the conditioned air,
massage my neck and back
with rigid fingers.

My head rests against
other people's wisdom,
hoping osmosis
will bring relief.

I want not to care.

Events of the day
play back like a bass drum
between my temples,
tension rising like hot steam,
twinkling under
yellow florescence.

Anger wrapped in exasperation
needles its twisting way
out constricted pores
in silent epiphanies.

One of those days.

There are questions
I can not answer.
There are things
I can not change.
There is help
I can not give.
There is pain
I can not bear.

Until I realise,
I don't have to.

I find joy in breathing,
for a moment,
before rising,
striding out the door
to face the day again
because I do.
Care.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Glue

Blue, magenta, yellow and orange, snips of a rainbow cascade in a shower, finding their place under the mahogany bench. His little hands meticulous in their purpose, finding just the right pieces to dab into the wet copious puddles of white glue. Eyes scrunched in concentration, barely rising in mention of dinner, driven to achieve just the right artistic message.

Carefully laying aside his labor in a growing pile, he finds the pulls fresh canvas from the ream of paper, his mind working feverishly several steps ahead, the picture already gaining clarity. Black letters break the stark glare of emptiness, forming illegible script to the naked eye. His pink tongue pokes out the corner of his screwed up lips, taking a peek at his progress.

Puffed air blows out his lungs, signaling the end of his marathon. Wandering eyes survey the landscape of his imagination, finding form in mish mash abstraction. He declares them ready, placing them in our laps, unique to each of us.

The more glue, the more love, he says, as rivulets find their way to the linoleum below.

Smiling at that which binds us together, a tear creeps across my eye into a warm embrace. Yes, I think glue is good, even in it's mess.

There is no remedy for love but to love more. ~H. D. Thoreau

Sunday, July 19, 2009

High fashion



On display in all her splendor, the audience of her peers gapes at her latest fashion designs scrawled out on brown sandwich paper. Emblazoned in red across the shirt...Lust. Do it...like a neon sign flashing in the front of the children's room at church, illuminated by the grin of it's six year old artisan. Pushing fuzz between the toes of my shoes, I debate the best way to explain this to her mother when she is picked up after service....

Well ma'am I don't know how to explain it. I was at least twelve before I started having lustful thoughts. No, I'm not condemning your daughter, maybe she is just advanced. Do you keep any magazines laying around...or watch Hannah Montana...

No, no. maybe the direct approach is better, if she knows the word, maybe she will understand...

These thoughts only degrade the beauty that you have been given, cheapening the intimacy you will feel with the one you finally decide to give your heart. Your desire to be known fully without ridicule replaced by a few minutes of...these decisions will haunt you for the rest of your life...leading to comparisons and dissatisfaction... stop now and save yourself the heartache.

Already feeling the awkwardness of those statements, she skips across the room in her flowing pastel dress and shiny shoes, confronting me in my indecision.

You like it?

Err....

Like his shirt.

Down the end of her pointing finger, a little boy in black, white writing...Just do it. Ah, this I can handle, a misspelling, the J reversed...whew. I thought for a minute there...wonder if her mom felt the same chill run up her spine when she unfolded the paper at home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

close shave

Drab vinyl tile meets sterile white walls with a kiss under pale fluorescence. Studying the flecks of brown that break the ocean of white, where my hard blue plastic chair rests, my mind devised hidden pictures in time with the metronome beeping of the heart monitors. Legs numb from waiting and lost circulation, much like the hands of the clock that move slow and without feeling. Time crawls across the floor and back again between seconds, begging and answer to all the questions in my head.

One day I will teach the boys to shave, not today. If they started shaving now that's another decade of tediousness. Can't wait too long though, Barry taught me that in the forth grade. Taking matters, and a razor, in his own hands, he lathered his head and was left without eyebrows, for months. Painted on caterpillars only reminded him of the lagging delay, with each passing mirror.

Wait too long and the answers have already cemented themselves in place, old gum stuck to the bottom of desk, left by well meaning friends. Or exploded in their faces, like gasoline in a pop bottle and a t-shirt fuse, through experimentation. Better they figure it out on their own, tongue in the cheeks of our responsibility evading minds. Institutionalizing them, our saving grace comes in the form of the gym teacher in a trailer scratching Cincinnati Been -gals in white across the green dusty board, a fine education in the fairer sex.

Incompetency, like so many layers of paint, to cover incompetency. To be a man, you must first be a boy. You learn, you play, you question. Never a stupid question, only answers of my own stupidity along the journey to manhood. Do as I do, not as I did. Say "I love you" and mean it. Cry as you need, as we talk it through. Smell the flowers, preferably before you rip them out by their roots. Keep the flames low, cook the steak all the way through, leaving it pink and tender inside. Rinse the blade between strokes, to keep the shave close. If it cuts, we can always repair.

One day you will be a man, for now enjoy the waiting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

typical

it was a typical day.

rising, greeted by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, sweet in its bitterness. dressed and out the door early we traveled two hours away to the through towns with names like Red Oak, Drake, Cullen and Evergreen. long expanses between populations were filled with crops waiting to be tended in their lush greens and yellows. the boys napped and played, while we talked and looked.

arriving in Clarksville, colorful rides sat dormant among covered booths, only whispers remained of the festival we were hoping to catch. the evening would breath new life into the fair grounds, but having only the day we were left in the middle of nowhere, with no one and no plans. next time we will call ahead instead of trusting the internet, i believe. or maybe not.

we ambled down Main Street, through curious little shops, hiding among the crafts, pop gun in hand taking aim at the little boy commandos sneaking up on me. we made the feathered puppets dance in the aisles and smelled gel candles in wine flutes, comparing flavors. reaching the foot of the bridge at the end of the street we watched the waves in the lake, telling stories of walnut fights as kids, the precursor to paint ball with their yellow stains. unhurried.

our route home wound a new way through different small towns, a vicious storm having blown through, ripping trees by their roots leaving them in pieces in yards, on houses and such. strange, it had never darkened our day, only leaving signs of its passing in our absence. there was a peace in the air, amid the chaos.

the crunch of gravel signaled our arrival home, the sun on its downward passage into darkness. our day was much different than what we had planned, instead we got what we needed. refreshed once again.

it was a typical day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rites of Passage

We are going to a special place today, just you and me.

Roads lost lines and width, winding back toward the mountain. Where are we going, the song of choice, his fingers peeking out the window to play in the wind. As asphalt becomes gravel, turning ever more to dirt, a quizzical smile dances across his face. Wheat waves lazily on the breeze, surrounding our departure from the vehicle, picking our way down a rough etched path through the leaves. Pits break the smooth polished rock outcropping, leftover sand from a beach long forgotten. eroded into the river.

Our first cast watches the bobber dance then disappear, his glee complete in his first catch, ever. All two inches flop in his outstretched hands, giving high fives between tail and fingers, before sliding back beneath the cool surface. Two more, gaining size in centimeters follow quickly, the hand crank spinning in his grasp.

One more and it is time to go.

The bend in his pole threatens to pluck him from his perch, dragging his heels toward a wet embrace. Scrambling, my hands wrap his as we wrestle the full weight of the mighty behemoth into the light. The long red gash of a mouth, framed by whiskers, gives way to hollow black eyes inset in soft green flesh and his scream pierces the calm...

Throw it back! Don't pull it up!

Hysterical fear drips from his voice until the large catfish flops back to the murky depths from which we had pulled it. Done, he is ready to head back to the car to follow the winding roads back to the safety of home.

Cole caught four fish today. The first was his first, the last may be his last. Achieving what he desired, he realised it was not what he wanted. This time he got to throw it back, though that's not always the case.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Theme Thursday: Stage


Darkness envelopes us here behind the curtain, her soft caress upon my shoulder. Rich and tangy, the sweat and talc in the air. We watch as soldiers march through their paces, saluting and stepping high, extending into flight. Faster and faster they spin, blurring into red and black swirls, our gaze transfixed. A pose struck and quick bow, they rush off stage chased by the thunder of applause.

Our cue, she rises gracefully in my arms, taking her place above my head as we step into the light. Slow and regal, our procession to center stage. Sliding down my form, she pauses as I retreat to the shadows, her silent guardian once more.

A sharp gasp cuts the air, as in her first furtive movements, she unfolds the full beauty of her flower, masked in gold. Tantalizing whispers through sheer fabric, her arms play a slow enchanting rhythm on the air. Writhing movements begin and end in mystery , on bated breath. A beautiful frenzy at its crescendo, stirs a hurricane within my chest.

Under my watchful eyes, she delights the audience, with a dance I dream is for me. Lost in her enchantment, time slips by, en pointe. Her eyes never meet mine until the last throes lay her panting, wrapped in my waiting arms, lifting her among the stars from whence she fell. We blend back into the recesses of the night.

Abruptly we part, a quick peck, as she withdrawls to prepare for her next piece to appease the covetous assembly. My heart waits backstage, for the day she will leave the stage only to dance for me.

She danced for eighteen years, married for thirteen since.

Love and sacrifice take a bow, together.

Stage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

crush

Balancing precarious at the tipping point, the machine rests heavily on the tailgate of the truck. The wheel of the dolly froze on the lip, as I strain to overcome lost inertia. Infinite wisdom cascades into a push by my another dock boy, propelling the machine from it's perch. Pinwheeling backward, my heel finds the wheel well,my knee the wall of the truck bed and the world becomes a blur or color as it passes.

Warm asphalt eats into my shoulder blades, driving air from my lungs. Gravity does the rest and the machine tumbles after, seeking cushion from the fall. My legs deflate like pierced balloons under the mass of metal, the vacuum filling my lungs, to scream.

Fingers grip furrows, adrenaline coursing through veins, allowing me to toss the appliance like a small toy. I am ok, I am ok, to the surrounding crowd as I rise. One step, two, three...searching for the door holding back the refreshing air condition. Just need to sit d...o...w...n. The world goes black as I follow that thought to the ground.

Laying there with my legs elevated I wonder if I appreciate more what I had before losing them that day at work in high school. Only temporary, all muscle damage, no bones broken, amazingly, luckily. There is so much we take for granted in our every day rising, walking, talking, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, working, playing, loving world. Moving so fast, we forget their significance, until they are gone.

Over at Baino's today, I was reminded of all we have to be thankful for. In times of pain, in times of struggle, our lives can begin to be defined by all that we don't have, as what we do have is pushed into the shadows of the corner. A reminder I need often.

In our losing, we gain something more important. Perspective.

Crush.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pop Pop

This morning the boys introduced me to the wonderful new game they created, pop pop. Played in the living room of course, so it can only be played when T is at the grocery or otherwise occupied, so as not to defend her curio cabinet. We needed a second base, what can I say. First base was the kitchen table, the blue chair was third. Home was the couch of course, which led to dramatic belly flop slides. As the game went along I discovered the rules of pop pop...

1. A member of Team A throws the ball and runs the bases, while Team B retrieves the ball and tries to tag the runner.

2. You must touch all bases. Bases may randomly change without prior notice, at the whim of the umpire.

3. If a member of the opposing team tries to tag you with the ball, you can steal it from them and carry it with you as you continue to run the bases.

4. The umpire may randomly yell "pause". Everyone should freeze unless the umpire tells you specifically you can still move. This will generally only happen if the team the umpire is rooting for is losing.

5. These rules can and will be modified regularly through out the game, when it is believed that you have actually figured out how to play the game.

6. If your name is Cole you automatically get 9 turns at plate before you can get out. The umpire will then bat for your team. (conspiracy, definitely.)

Sometimes life feels exactly like a game of pop pop. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you are running from first to second and realise the base is not even in the direction you are heading. There are times life leaves you scratching your head, searching for the directions.

Things don't always go the way we think they should. Change happens. Bad things happen to good people. Life is not fair, at least where everyone gets the same opportunities or resources. Cliches we hate to acknowledge, as our attempts to maintain control slip through our fingers like a sieve. More often than not, on the other side of unexpected changes, I am glad they didn't go the way I thought they should.

Nothing is random, unless of course you play with my boys. Personally, I think my boys have been reading the credit card offers that come in the junk mail again. These rules sound amazingly familiar.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thermometer

Both boys were sick today, which made for a pretty lazy day, for them. They lounged around, sucked on chips of ice, napped and watched cartoons, while we waited on them hand and foot. We had an open house at our place, so we ventured to my parent's house, since they were out of town.

The boys have inherited my ability to run a temperature when ill that allows you to fry fish on your forehead. Somewhere around mid-day the battery died on our digital thermometer, so we raided gramma's medicine cabinet, finding her old glass thermometer we grew up using. The boys thought this was pretty cool, so Cole jumped to the head of the line, popping it quickly into his mouth.

I hope that was not gramma's old rectal thermometer. [T]

What does rectal mean mom? [L]

Cole gets a quizzical look on his face.

For your bottom.

In the butt! Why would gramma have a thermometer that goes in your butt?

Cole's look goes from quizzical to terror, to nausea.

Well, sometimes you take babies temperature in their bottoms.

Did you do that to me as a baby?!? (pushing the record button on his mental tape recorder)

Cole's eyes, big as saucers, plead for someone to rescue him.

This was my cue to walk away, fighting the grin spreading across my face. No matter what was said next, it was not going to end pretty.

For the record, it was the regular thermometer, but I am afraid Logan is in the other room calling a lawyer to make sure this is legal.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Guerrilla Spirituality

Exploding inward, splinters of the sanctuary doors pepper the congregation. Footprints smudge into the weave of the red carpet, in the wake of gruff men touting machine guns. Paisley dresses scream, fearful of their wicked intent, pews squeaking as the masses huddle together making smaller targets in their ignorance. Through cigar clenching teeth orders are given, under watchful squinting eyes.

Arms splayed, I leap from the balcony, grasping the twinkling chandelier, riding it downward as wires rip from the ceiling. Feet plant firmly in the chest of the lead guerrilla, driving him unconscious into the ground. Diving behind the pulpit as bullets chew at it's girth, I roll to the choir loft, grasping the flag, brandishing it's golden point as a spear...

I wake from my day dream as the alter call is given, wondering if I should go forward, guilty again of my adolescent wandering mind. I don't know how many times I replayed the same siege as a tween, passing away the minutes until the benediction. What would I do if...but the mercenaries never came. Instead I fiddled with my universal translator trying to get it to explain all the grown up words...sanctification, eschatology, atonement, doxology...searching for salvation.

There was a reason the youth sat in the balcony.

Tonight, Logan is sprinkling cinnamon into the egg mixture, preparing to dip the bread for the french toast. He and T are cooking breakfast for the volunteers tomorrow morning that will serve in environments designed just for each age group. Where the words used are easily understood by little minds.

At 6 AM, he will run into our room and ask if it is time...not to open Christmas or Birthday presents, but to serve. It warms my heart that at a young age, my kids realise it is not about them. I hope it continues.

Rest assured, if the roving band of militant guerrillas bust in the door, I have a plan.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eavesdropping

***decode text***


ParentEye Satellite feed
07/09/09 11:12:53
Chrysler T&C XXX-XXXX
501-S/ Lburg/ VA

Subject (6 year old Caucasian male) and cousin (6 year old Caucasian female) engaged in conversation, while strapped into backseat of said vehicle, traveling southbound, en route to BP gas station #XXXX.

[begin transcript]

[Natalie] Did you hear about Michael Jackson dying?

[Logan] He did? Why did he have to die?

[N] I think is was drugs?

[L] What's that?

[N] Like when your parents only let you take so much medicine.

[L] Oh...or maybe he sacrificed himself then went to Heaven.

[N] I think you are right! Oh goody! He'll get to meet Granny!

[L] I bet they are singing together right now.

[N] Oh, you know how much she loved him!

[end transcript]

Extended Debrief: I really don't know whether to laugh or cry at the thought of T's mom doing the Thriller or moon walking while singing Billie Jean in Heaven. I wonder if she even knew him outside of the passing reference in the news. Alas, kids have an amazing perspective which only gives me hope for the future.


Special Note: In no way am I attempting to make light of death, imply wrong doing on any one's part, either alive or dead or jump on the MJ blog post band wagon. My only attempt is to gain perspective through the eyes of a child, in our attempts to make sense of the world around us.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ski

Freezing breath of winter nights needle exposed skin, sanding away layers to nip at the nerve endings. Exhilarating, pulse quickening with each swoosh, skis slice through fresh powdery snow. Winding downhill through shadows of trees, I dream of James Bond fleeing the goons of SPECTRE.

Halfway down, a swift cut back leads to the precipice, a field of moguls on a deep decline into the darkness. Digging edges, dragging momentum to a stand still I peer into a pregnant pause.

Whispers cut through the limbs of the silent watchers, doubts on the wind. Heedless, I plummet. Knees like shock absorbers, zig, zag, hop, pop. For a few brief moments I soar on eagles wings, before grinding to a halt on my face.

Shovels of ice and snow avalanche from mouth and nose, as I lay gazing into the clear night sky. Crisp air cuts sharp into the recesses of my lungs. Each star twinkles in delight, a sun in someone else's sky.

Sometimes I think grace is found, not in being saved from the fall, but laying prone at the bottom and still being able to enjoy the view.

Are you alright?

Yeah, just appreciating the beauty...

So you hit your head?

Hands under arms lift me to my feet once again and I kamikaze down the last slope to the lift, sit in the swing and head back for more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Theme Thursday: Ghost

Disembodied heads glow in the dark. I learned this at a pretty young age, not that I spent time with many of them. Only a few. Growing up on a hill surrounded by family, both alive and dead, will do that to you.

Piercing the recesses of my sleep, his stare pulled me back from restful bliss. Awakening, all air was sucked from my lungs, no sound to draw it near. The thin sheath of cloth pulled under my nose became my shield as shivers ran down my spine. Atop my bureau, the glowing head just stared.

My young imagination pulled back fearful memories...

Laying prone in the shadow of the well house, we schemed our ways to slip passed the hunter to base. Inky blackness under the crescent moon, drew cousins to our yard for Midnight in the Graveyard, a variation of Hide and Seek. No one ever really hid in the family graveyard, not since a friend fell in an open grave at my birthday party. Crying under the freezing spectre of death until rescued, we steered clear now. Especially in the dark. Never know what you might find, or what might find you.

About to dash for base, our solemn revelry shattered as the ghostly figure floated between the stones, ambling he paused at the foot of a plot. Hearts seized, strangling our voices, our eyes froze in frame. Long moments, so brief, before he disappeared into the earth. Wildly we ran for the comforting tag of "it", games having reached their end, for the evening.

Was this thing atop my bookshelf what the apparition had been seeking, any minute to burst through my door to reclaim it's crown. Deep within my bowels, forcing it's way past tongue and throat, a scream erupted...Dad!

Rushing feet could not come quick enough as I buried myself in the covers expecting my doom. Instant white light, the flick of the switch, I peered out...to see my brother's Halloween mask propped neatly against the knick knacks upon the dresser.

What we fear in the dark loses it's power when brought into the light.

Sleep did not find me again that evening, not in the shadow of the tombstones.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Premonitions

Oppressive waves crash on shoulders, pushing them down into an already roiling stomach. Small explosions follow each tears descent from pools ringing crimson eyes. The barren desk, spread out before me, enforces the solitude of my heart, as bile burns caustic fumes with each breath.

Something is wrong. I don't know what. I need to go home and figure it out.

Cold air washes out of the air condition vents, my pores soak drink deeply it's cooling embrace. Released from work, my vacant stare surveys the black expanse of the parking lot, searching for answers to questions I don't know to ask. Absent fingers find the radio, to drive away the silence.

There has been a shooting in Blacksburg this morning, on the campus of Virginia Tech. We are awaiting the details...

Clangering vibrations of the phone break my meditation, words trickle out giving clarity to my inner turmoil. A direction, a purpose, pulls me down the highway toward flashing lights and shell shocked wanderers. Under trees, sitting on curbs, crying with candles littering the drill field; we find them. Offering pizza, an ear, a shoulder, a hug.

Why are you here? Because I am supposed to be.

Peace and strength return, amid the surreality of life. The next several days after the attack, strangers and survivors walk down sidewalks between the lamp posts. Sitting on the drill field, around a guitar, we sing, not knowing what else to do. Just being, together, as we face tomorrow.

Was it their pain that drew me here before I even knew that morning in April?

Disaster has a way of bringing out the compassion in all of us, awakening in our hearts a love for our fellow man. A mosaic of people, helping people. Why wait for the next one?

Monday, July 6, 2009

time too...

Soft waking music wafted on the breeze down the hall to the living room. Warm coffee begged one more sip, before taking its place next to my book on the table. Creeping quietly to their room, my shadow drives Cole back onto his bed, feigning sleep with a smile. Arms push out of the cocoon of warm fuzzy covers, as Logan stretches the sleep out of his chest with a bellow.

What time is it?

7:30

Where's mom?

The grocery. She'll be back soon.

Tackled from behind, Cole pushes me into the warm crevice created by his brothers waking. We lounge in hugs, watching a deer cross the yard, wet with morning dew. A new day has come, being chased by the sun across the sky.

If I stretch, I am almost as tall as you.

Well, I reach up to here.

Hands reach for shoulders, showing their age. How quickly they grow, wanting to be as big as daddy, still looming large in their eyes. At what age does that stop, having passed into adulthood, looking down the hill of the roller coaster to tomorrow.

Days slip through our fingers in those brief moments, childhood giving way to rebellious adolescents. Before you wipe the sleep from your eyes, you walk down the aisle to a new family. A blink and you are cuddling a baby in your arms, tracing lines with your finger through pudgy cheeks. Lines on the door jam, mark their march through the ages.

For now I think I understand why the days are evil. Maliciously they slide ever more into oblivion, faster and faster the sands pile up at the base of the hourglass. All the more reason to careful how we live, making the most of every opportunity.

Let's go it's time to play, time to live...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Silence


A crunchy fur of grass softens our recline in the cool evening air, my lap and chest covered in boy, huddling close for warmth. Just as the lights dimmed, the first fountain of color erupts from the mountaintops, far in the distance. Brilliant red flowers bloom amid a silver shower of sparkles. Blues, Greens, Yellows dashed upon the canvas of the sky, quickly erased, replaced by another, reflecting in our irises.

Most striking is the sheer lack of noise, created by the distance across the valley. No boom, no sizzle, we are left like a silent film, to fill in the gaps in between. Writing our own dialogue, under a sky of vanishing rainbows.

This morning, when asked where his aunt was, Logan replied Writing a note to her boyfriend...

Inconceivable as my brother was just in the next room, yet someone at the picnic yesterday had been talking about the difference between their wife and their girlfriend. Through the lens of recent marital troubles of other aunts and uncles, Logan created his own dialogue to help him understand...all married couples must have boyfriends and girlfriends.

Sad the reality of families these days, it's no wonder our young ones are so confused about intimacy and marriage. Little eyes watch the fireworks, then create the stories that help them make sense of all the messages. When we allow society to teach our children, we should not be surprised when they end up mirroring their values. It also should not surprise us when their relationships end up just like ours.

Silence is not an option in raising your children.

Every so often we take Logan out for "coffee", to talk about the important things, to give him space to ask questions. [And he enjoys the hot chocolate.] Our way of intentionally engaging him with the tough questions. We have to do the same in our marriage to keep it healthy.

How do you break the

Silence?

Queen

It seems I have gained the status of Queen for the day, which gives me really weird feelings. Ah, but it is an award and who doesn't love getting recognized. The wonderful Candie has be-queen-ed me with the Awesomest Award. Just drop by her place and you will understand how she got the award in the first place. Her eloquent musings and such.

My ascendancy to royalty would not be complete without and acceptance speech and of course there are rules to go along with what should be said..

1/list 7 things that make you awesome

2/Pass the award to 7 bloggers that I love

3/Tag those bloggers to let them know there are now Queens too and link back the Queen who tagged you.

Things that make me awesome:

1. My Family - My blog would be rather empty if we took away all the zany stories that my family has provided. They know just how to treat their royalty as well. While innocently dozing the other night, they tried to provide some inspiration by dressing me for the beach. I get the bag, sun glasses, book, drink...but what's the deal with the first aid kit in my lap?


2. My Commenters - I love to hear from you and many times the comments add so much to the conversation, it makes my post look good. Thank you for sharing!

3. My Tongue - Yeah...it's pretty awesome...long enough to touch the end of my nose, nimble enough to tie cherry stems in knots. Talented.

4. My Love of People - My heart is for others. I don't get caught up in the labels and would love nothing more than to hear your story.

5. My Hands - Born with two, I try to give them away as much as I can. If you need help, let me know.

6. My Imagination - Blessed with a mind that plays with word to create images of what it sees. I also try to look beyond the first layer at what is really going on. So, vivid descriptions and a kernel of wisdom, that's what you will get when you drop by.

7. My Faith - Gives me strength, and hope that there are better days ahead.

Ok, now that the uncomfortable part is done, I get to pass some awesumeness along to people I love...

Made for Aid - Lettuce, among others, is doing a great job using their talents to help others. Love the heart, love the ambition

Life in the Second Half - Nancy does such an incredible job of capturing our attention with relevant topics and making us think...

Return to Zero - Daniel is always a constant encourager for me, he's a great writer as well with an incredible sense of humor.

Momentary Cloudiness - Marianna always leaves such great comments, which lead me over to her place to be dazzled with her words and stories.

Val's Ramblings - Valerie is another great encourager, not only in her comments but in her amazing ability to twist a tale. Really, you should drop by and read her new piece of suspense...

Half Moose with a Twist - Tom mixes words and doodles that will blow your mind...no really!

Crystal Jigsaw - A relatively new blog for me, but pulls at my inmost desire to be on the farm and experience that way of life.

Tried to mix it up a bit in my selections. If you are a guy, you can be a king...whatever. Know I appreciate every word you type in your posts and in comments.

Have a great Sunday everyone! Be back with a story this evening!

Friday, July 3, 2009

ordinary Independence


Today you will wake up in an ordinary bed, in an ordinary home to the smell of ordinary coffee. Your ordinary dog will probably have chewed on the ordinary paper, unless you have an ordinary cat instead, who is warming in the ordinary sunshine coming through a rather ordinary window. You will eat an ordinary breakfast, and ordinary lunch, preceding an ordinary nap.

If you have ordinary kids, call Guinness Book, because I have never met one. But they are probably going to ride their ordinary bike, or ordinary skateboard or play some ordinary Wii while you prepare an ordinary barbecue and ordinary sides before your ordinary family comes over, unless they ordinarily won't. You will have an ordinary day, with ordinary watermelon seeds spitting out your ordinary mouth, before ordinary fireworks explode across the ordinary skyline.

At the end of your ordinary day you will lay in your ordinary bed with your ordinary husband, or ordinary wife, your ordinary lover, and do what ordinarily you would do, then get some ordinary sleep on ordinary pillows and have ordinary dreams...bought with the lives of some ordinary people who did some extraordinary things to give us that freedom.

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Play Ball

Empty bleachers shout adoration for their hero as he steps into the chalk lined box. Eyes squint to the field, surveying opportunities. Toes grind turf, searching for purchase, as arms torque in readiness. Every breath halts, except that spinning off the speedy white orb.

Crack.

Dust devils chase the retreating ball, leaving trails across the infield. Head down Cole sprints toward first, rounding wildly in search of second. A canyon of a smile matches the twinkle in his eye, legs pumping like pistons.

Tag. You're out!

Unhindered, he runs on. Bewildered, the short stop fires the ball to third, a resounding smack of leather on leather. Arm pendulums to contact.

Tag. You're out!

A wave of new energy crashes through tired muscles as he turns for home, tracing white lines to destiny. Catapulting through the air, legs flung out before him reaching for the plate. A cloud erupts as he screams....home run!

No, really you are out. Twice, at least.

Cole does not understand why each hit is not a home run, a highlight fit for Sportcenter. Dangerous what we expect of ourselves, the weight many times greater than that put upon us by others. Getting on base is not good enough, we have to be the hero.

Sometimes a single will change the face of a game as much as a homerun. Sometimes striking out is not a bad thing, if we learn from it the next time we come to the plate. Very few batters have ever hit .400, that's only four out of ten.


So why do we expect to hit a home run every time?

Maybe it's hereditary.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Theme Thursday: Funky!

Funky.

Aftershave, the scent of rotten oranges doused in day old beer greets us at the corner. Propped on his cardboard sofa, doubling as a bed, his scarred and tattered boots grind into asphalt for grip. He rises from beneath the shade of his black straw hat.

Haven't seen you in a while.

His arm snakes a firm grip, pressing aroma into my pores, the texture of sweet syrup and sand. A gap tooth smile whistles in delight, his presence acknowledged among the sea of people flowing passed on sidewalks, begging away eye contact.

Hey Cowboy! How's life?

Stories of streets, his nation, flow over lips starved for attention. Colorful between the Crack. Silly prostitutes, leaving kids "at home" alone, waiting for the party to be over. Of time spent pondering life all but forgotten. A few brief moments shared between eternities of the loud silent city.

Bought a spare burger, you want it?

Patiently tucked away, not to offend his guests by eating alone. Inhaling fresh urban air infused with exhaust, we admire gulls off the bay, swooping between buildings. Time short, we part...

See you soon.

Take care Cowboy.

Funky.

A man in a suit, talking with the man without.