Sunday, July 31, 2011

Soggy Sunday Barbecue...

A Soggy Sunday Barbecue

Few things in life are as good as the smell that lingers in the air after a summer storm. Even with the coals hissing from the falling rain, a delayed dinner is a small price to pay for an afternoon squall as it rolls over the valley and slams into the elevated peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

We planned our menu last week and decided upon today to prepare a London Broil dinner. The trusted (and ever more wobbly...) barbecue was wheeled out, the briquets were doused in lighter fluid, and flame applied. After two more applications of said fluid and a couple of rain delays and we had dinner.

While we waited the kids did a little exploring, barefoot, of course, the damp grass gently kissing their toes.

Dinner came and went. The spent charcoal disappeared as the water fell. As I took things to the car to prepare for a camping adventure, the kids all screamed in delight and we all came out to the front porch. The rainbow--and a double one at that--was a a great way to not only end the day, but the month that's passed. I hope all of you had a wonderful day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The In-Law's Yard

My mother-in-law keeps a yard, and she keeps it well. It's my father-in-law's yard also, but his involvement in the maintenance is diminished for a couple reasons, a lack of desire not being one of them...

My in-laws followed me to the town where I grew up in and they fell in love. There is a draw to our little hamlet at the base of the mountains and many have been caught in its snare. My in-laws have made their little lot blossom like a rose. It's simply beautiful.

Back Yard:

The Sides:

The Front Yard:

The little house on the corner is impressive and the thought of all that yard work is daunting, but they honor the land they've been give through their hard work and dedication. I don't know how long they'll stay at their little corner of Heaven. I do know the next owners will have a lot to live up to...

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Tale of Lawrence Stokes, Chapter 4

The Tale of Lawrence Stokes, Chapter 4

Chapter 1: Here
Chapter 2: Here
Chapter 3: Here

The kids looked tentative, not sure to join the man in his laughter. They remained quiet; they all wanted to find out what happened to Lawrence Stokes. The laughter died and the old man stared into the afternoon sky where not a cloud nor a bird interrupted an endless expanse of blue.

"So..." a timid boy said. "What" The question brought the frail man to the present, to the porch where his rocking chair sat and where he sat relaying the story of his friend. When the man looked at the children, any sparkle previously held in his grey eyes was gone and his face told a grim tale where words proved unnecessary.

"That drifter was right--right about everything. Lawrence got strong, real strong." The old man looked past those patiently listening to his story. "But, the most impressive thing that happened, Lawrence got fast."

"Lawrence wasn't a runner, per se. But after that fateful day, there wasn't anyone who could catch him. He'd run to the lower to the market, and run to and from school. At first, Lawrence used to show off, then he stopped. We asked him why he stopped and he said he couldn't do it anymore, day he pulled me aside and told me a secret."

The old man began rocking gently and continued. "Lawrence told me that he was scared. He said he was running so fast one night--faster than a man should be allowed to run. He even did a little test. He got out his dad's fastest horse and took him for a sprint. He said he ran that horse, ran him good. He held the reigns while he ran along side and at one point he dropped the reigns and the horse slowed down--he was just too tired, he told me. That's when Lawrence Stokes cursed that drifter, cursed him to hell, he did."

The strange story affected the children. They felt uneasy in their guts, but exactly what they felt, they couldn't say.

"Lawrence and I decided to go for a hike the next day. We hiked to Patsy's Mine right where that ridge comes..." The old man pointed to the mountain and instinctively each child looked to where the mine was. Every kid in town had been to the mine and the braver the kid, the deeper they had ventured into the man-made hole.

"We hiked in the early evening--it was a Sunday, I believe. On the way up the hill Lawrence would jump to show me how high and far he could go. I ain't never seen anything like it--like a deer he could jump. I wondered as I watched him if he wasn't lighter. I mean, he looked like he didn't weigh anything. I was going to say something to him, but I never did...I never did."

As if coming back to reality, the old man looked at the children, their eyes meeting, and he said, "Ever since that awful day, I wish more than anything I wish I had...just...said...something."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Janitor...

The Janitor

Everyday just after 7 a.m. the janitor enters the room full of cubicles where I work and he vacuums the nearly spotless floor. A few hours later he and, I assume, his wife dust the top of the file cabinets and even the top of the cubicle walls--that two inch gap of plastic that tops the mid-high walls that separate the workers and mark the hallowed territory we claim for ourselves 40 hours every week.

They are there everyday and they work harder than most state employees around whom they labor. I sit patiently as the janitor vacuums literally under my feet. Sometimes I pretend I need to "get something" at the other end of the room and I time it so he and I are not in the same space at the same time.

I always say hello. He and his wife/co-worker are the nicest people. Around 1 p.m. the janitor comes around and empties the small garbage can just inside my cubicle space. I always thank him and he responds with a "you're welcome, my friend." And as he carts the large garbage can down the isle I wonder exactly how I should feel as we assume our roles and play our parts every day at work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So, The Power Goes Out...

So, The Power Goes Out...

When I drive home from work (and pretty much whenever I drive...) I try and time the lights so I don't have to stop. On this afternoon's commute I came to a light in my hometown and tried to see the colors on the traffic light. I saw neither red, yellow, or green. The power was out. Before I went home I stopped by the office where I work part-time and they were on back-up power.

I continued driving in town and through two other traffic lights that lacked electricity. When I reached my house--no power. Luckily my family benefited for a couple of reasons...first, the power came back on shortly after I got home. And secondly, the house was not too warm due to the incredible wonderful fabulous amazing and nice summer weather we've been having.

Being without power made me think about how we live. It's amazing how blessed we are, but it can all come to an end so quickly. It's like a house of cards relying on the thinest of veneers to remain intact. Living in the community where we do, being prepared is not only a motto but a goal toward which to strive.

As I drove home each car at the traffic lights came to a complete stop (as we've all been taught to do...) before proceeding through the intersections. I wonder how we'd do (or will do...) if and/or when the power goes out not just for an hour or two, but for days, weeks, or completely. One day we may just find out...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preparing For Camp

The scout leader gathered the troops (and a couple of parents) to lay out next week's schedule. "Any questions?" Scout Master Jeff said. I asked if there would be internet access. They all laughed. I was, however, serious.

My 12-year old son is of scouting age and due to the season, thoughts of scout camp surround boys, their leaders, and an occasional parent or two... If I can get off work next week, I'll be accompanying the kids for at least a couple of days.

Tonight's meeting brought back so many memories. The inspired leaders of my youth took a group of green campers to the base of Devil's Mountain in Wyoming (now, that's what the leaders told us the large peak above our campsite was named and we believed them...) and we camped. There were no permanent structures built, no warm showers, no "organized" latrines...we just camped and it was a blast (except when the scout leaders told us--not ghost stories--but stories of devil worshipers who would sacrifice animals at the base of Devil's scared the dinner out of us).

I think the boys had some reservations about going. They question the unknown. Maybe they wonder if the other boys will give them a hard time, at least that's what I remember thinking at times when I was younger. Of course, I doubt Scout Master Jeff will tell stories to my son and the others that animals (and possibly other living things...) were sacrificed at the exact spot where the scouts now camped. Seriously, I was never as scared in my life as I was on that scout camp trip those many years ago.

Monday, July 25, 2011

So, Who's This Edwin Guy?

For the past few years I've been involved in a project called "Edwin." Some friends asked me to help them write a screenplay for a feature film. Halfway through the screenwriting process, I asked them if they minded if I wrote a novel to accompany the story. They didn't mind.

I'm editing the novel now and I ran across a couple of excerpts I though might be fun to share. So, without further ado, here's Edwin...

Edwin looked around. The family meeting between the adults continued. The men from the funeral home waited by the cars. Edwin saw one of the men smoking a cigarette, the smoke from his exhaled breath raced from his head as a gust of wind hit the grimaced-faced figure. Not a soul saw Edwin pick up a corner of the floral arrangement and place the drawing under the flowers so the wind would not rob his grandfather of his precious gift. Through the green stems and brilliant colored petals of the flowers Edwin saw the faces of an elderly man and a young innocent boy, the two figures in the drawing fighting to see the sky.

“Edwin, honey. We’re going, so say your goodbyes,” Susan said to her son. She knew the special bond that her son and father-in-law shared and the knowledge that this bond would not mature and grow like it should pained an already grieving woman.

A moment came then went, and Edwin turned to go. The wind whipped around the gravesite, a corner of the drawing unburdened by the weight of the flowers gently rose up and down. Edwin joined his family as the small meeting of remaining family elders ended and each person climbed aboard the car that brought them to this sad place.

In the corner of his eye Edwin saw it, a stick came flying from behind his neighbors hedge and flew directly at the boy. The thrower must have had some talent because he timed the stick perfectly to reach the oncoming cyclist. Whether or not the one throwing the stick intended on what happened next was doubtful, for the chances of the throw being so perfect were slim. The stick sailed through the air and lodged through the spokes of the boy’s front tire. As the tire rotated the held stick hit the bike’s front forks, the boy’s weight (and more importantly, the weight of the newspapers) continued forward and the momentum carried boy, bike, and cargo to spill on the warming pavement of the road. Luckily, the boy acrobatically sprung from the bike and rolled in front of the pile of newspapers. The horror of what Edwin saw turned to admiration of the boy’s skills. It was almost as if he had done that particular move before, perfecting it with repetition.

The boy quickly jumped up and checked to see if he had suffered any serious damage. Edwin instinctively began walking toward the fallen rider hoping to help if help were needed. He had only taken a few steps when he heard laughing—the sounds coming from the spot the stick first took flight. It was then Edwin saw the two figures rise from their hiding spot behind the hedge. Even though Edwin had never seen these boys before, Edwin instantly disliked the two.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Choir Room

The Choir Room

From our house you drive south, turn right, go down a short hill, turn left then drive a block. At the end of that block lies a pioneer home and in that home is a room--the choir room.

We have in our neighborhood a kindly couple who have offered our humble choir a place to practice on Sunday mornings, and we thank Betty and Woody (yes, that's their names...) for allowing us into their home.

And what a home it is! If I had the time, I would be able to photograph so many things just in their front room. Books, nicknacks, photos of family members who've gone before. It's an amazing room and I hope we do the room justice with our music. Maybe, we're even entertaining some of Betty's and/or Woody's kindred spirits (or any other spirits who just might happen to be hanging around the house...) with our combined voices. It might be happening--none have complained so far...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cul-de-sac Fireworks

"Hey," yelled my neighbor Bryce from his deck at his house across the street. "How long have you had those fireworks?"

It was a fair question. Our "starters" were not so impressive (as with any fireworks display, it's got to build...). You see, entire classes of fireworks are legal this year that were previously illegal in our conservative state. We--true to form--did not purchase these fireworks, for several reasons--the possibility of engulfing the entire mountain in flames being one of them.

So, we picked up our stash from friends selling the pyrotechnics to raise money for their school and after a great dinner (and ice cream, Bryers...yum...), we all rambled outside when it became dark enough.

While what sounded like bombs burst around us, we lit our little fireworks (and some of them were exceptionally little...). I wonder when my kids move out and begin families of their own, will they go to the local grocery store parking lot, plop down a couple of Alexander Hamiltons and illuminate the neighborhood--if only for the briefest of moments--all in an attempt to bring joy into their lives? And if they do, will they remember the days when they were little and their parents did the same for them? I wonder...