Monday, October 31, 2016

A Story For November...

Call me crazy, but I'm going to try something I've never done--I'm participating in NaNoWriMo. For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. There's going to be things I'll be giving up in order to reach my goal of 50,000 words to be written by the end of November.

I thought one of those things was going to be this blog.

Sometimes I can crank out a blog post in just a few minutes--sometimes it takes considerably longer. I really don't want to stop posting so I came up with a plan. I'm going to take a story I wrote almost ten years ago and post a little of it at a time. By the end of the month, the entire story will be shared. And because I always include a picture with my posts, I chose this one to use. I snapped this picture in Idaho where much of my story takes place. I'm not sure if I'll use the same picture every time, but even choosing a picture for the post takes time, time that won't be used for novel writing.

The story's called, Fields of Barley.

So, if you're uninterested in reading the story (I know it's going to be rough--I haven't even looked at it or edited it in seven years...), just check in with this blog on December 1, 2016. Hopefully by then I'll also have written a novel as well.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Saying Farewell...To A Sweet Soul

I woke yesterday to the news. It's been almost two days and it still hurts. We lost an amazing person on Friday, someone who, if you've ever met him or been in a show or choir with him, you'll not soon forget, which makes his passing that much more difficult to accept.

I first met Parker during a crazy week in my life. I was asked to do a show which opened five days after another show I was in closed. Luckily, the director had faith in my abilities and it all turned out fine. That's when I first met Parker. Normally when you do a show, you get a couple of months to learn not only your lines, but blocking, harmonies (if it's a musical...), and the other cast members. I missed out on a lot of that, but in the short time I was with my cast, I got to know Parker.

How could I not?

I never saw him down. When not on stage, his smile filled a room. He always--and I mean, always--greeted me with a "hello" and a strong handshake. But when on stage is when you saw another side of Parker. He was all business. That's why I love this picture. To me, I see the serious side, the side of him that shows his commitment to making any production he was in the best possible. Even in rehearsals, he never gave less than 100%. 

Many of his friends have posted on social media of his spirit which was immense. I completely agree. They also expressed their extreme sadness at his passing and how they'll miss him deeply. I completely agree with that, too. There are some people who communicate to your soul. They transcend the mundane and see life in a way few can. I wish I could see life the way he did, see people through those eyes. What an amazing world that would be.

Sleep well, my friend. Until we meet again.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Halloween Decorating...At Work

I moved to my new building last spring. I knew many people who have worked there; I'd heard the stories. Not that they were bad--it's just I had no connection to it. That changed a few months ago. Being in a new building brings many new things. There's a feeling in a building, a spirit, a way it operates. I'm getting used to it.

But since I've not been there a full year, it still surprises me. The biggest surprise so far is the lengths the employees will go to decorate their work spaces for Halloween. There's even a decorating contest. I work upstairs and I've seen some of what was going on. Things have accelerated the last week or so. Many are taking this whole contest very seriously. Last Thursday I decided to check out all the other departments to see just how far they've done.

Turns out, pretty far.

I took a ton of pictures, but I'm only including a few so you can get a taste of what the place will look like come Halloween day.

There's bound to be more surprises as the days and weeks go by. I doubt, however, that any future surprises will be this big.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Like Buying A Convertible In Winter...

You know what it's like when you've heard about something for years, but never experienced it? Kind of like having a car with built-in seat warmers. I've never had a car with seat warmers. I've heard about them and wondered what they're like. The other day I drove my mother-in-law's new Santa Fe. Yeah, the seat warmers were nice, but I've lived for fifty years without them and my butt's been warm enough so far.

Today I picked up a new pair of glasses. My old frames were starting to get a little "iffy" quality-wise. I've taken them off and on so much, the arms are starting to give out. Part of the problem is when the sun's out, I switch between my regular glasses and my sunglasses. All that opening and closing have taken its toll.

After the eye exam I told them what I wanted. Ray-Ban Wayfarers. 

And I wanted the transitions lenses--something I've never had before.

Today they came. I was excited to experience the miracle that are transforming lenses. I put them on, walked outside, and waited for that miracle to happen. The problem was, for the rest of the day I didn't see the sunshine once. We had clouds and rain. It's like buying a convertible in the middle of winter.

Tomorrow, here's hoping the sun will come out. And if so, experiencing changing eyewear will be right up there with a warm backside.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Mom's Birthday Pumpkin...A Family Tradition

The last two years I've had busy Octobers. My son and I worked Frightmares, our local amusement park Halloween celebration. And last year as well as this, I'm in a Christmas play. It doesn't give me a lot of time for extras.

Ever since I can remember I've carved a pumpkin for my mother's birthday. Today is that day. Nine years ago was the first time I was unable to give her birthday pumpkin to her in person. She passed away a few months before. For the past nine years I've carved a pumpkin and placed it on her grave. I might have missed a year--I'll have to check my journal. But if I did miss a year, I know it's something I wanted to do.

Since last year and this year were busy, I ended up carving my mom's pumpkin not at my home, but at different locations. Last year I took my pumpkin down to Frightmares and carved it between shows. I'm sure I took a picture and posted it here. I'll have to check my blog. This year I took a pumpkin to my writing group and as we discussed each other's writing selections, I cut the top off the pumpkin, took out all the innards, and wrote my mom a message, something I would have told her had she been here.

I can't really remember exactly when I started this family tradition, but it's probably been twenty-five or thirty years. When I was away on my mission and when I was in school, I'm sure I failed to deliver a Happy Birthday pumpkin, as well as a few times since being married. I'll try and do better in the future. But for the last two years at least, I know I've done it.

Today marks my mom's eighty-fifth birthday. I'm glad I'm continuing this tradition. It allows me to remember just what a special lady she was. Happy B-Day Mom!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Which Pic Of The Day Picture To Use? Here's Today's Choices...

It doesn't happen very often but sometimes I have a hard time choosing only one photo for my Pic Of The Day. This happens when I take a couple of pictures that will work, but today I actually had four pictures I wanted to use and I wasn't sure which one to go with.

If I chose one, then the others might never be seen (not that they're all such great pictures...). Tonight I had a tough time deciding. This morning at work, before anyone else arrived, I took a panorama shot of part of our office. The Halloween decorations have been kicked into overdrive. There are some hallways where one can literally not walk down without bending over and hunching. Good thing Halloween's less than a week away--we'd all have back problems. I thought that was an interesting picture.

Tonight I had scouts and I snapped a picture of my assistant cub master. I took this picture because I was so thankful he ran tonight's meeting--and he did it with three of his kids in tow. It was an heroic gesture and he did a great job. I can write a whole blog post about him--maybe one day I will.

I took another picture at tonight's pack meeting. The scouts came in costume and they were adorable. You could see their personalities in the photo. I love capturing that. Photographers live for those moments.

And the last picture I considered was a sunset. After leaving the pack meeting and while heading to tonight's rehearsal, I saw some amazing colors hovering over the rooftops and through the trees. I pulled my car over, got out my camera, and snapped away. The actual colors failed to transfer digitally, but I still liked how it turned out.

So which one to use? I ended up using the picture of the scouts. The way the boy's personalities shown through is what did it for me. That's one cool thing about posting a daily picture--you never know what you're going to use and you never know what you'll find out there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Send Me Your Bio...(The Smily Emoticon Means "PLEASE")

Anyone who's ever been in a theatrical production of any kind knows the gargantuan efforts that go on behind the scenes in order for the magic to happen on stage. There's costuming, set building, hours and hours of rehearsals. Literally thousands of decisions must be made between that first decision to actually do a show to it's final curtain call.

One of those many details is for the cast members to write and provide a short performer bio to print in the program. Not all shows do this, but if they print a program for the show, there's a good chance those who attned would like to know a little bit about the people they're watching on stage.

At least, that's what we performers and those who put on the show believe.

In our state (and culture...) there's a lot of shows being produced, a lot of community theater out there. Because there's so much, you usually get an eclectic group of people wanting to be on stage. There's kids--sometimes barely old enough to walk, Jr high and high school students who love performing, college kids--usually theater majors, parents, grandparents--it runs the gamut. And those differences can sometimes be seen in the bios they write and submit.

Those who are making theater their livelihood tend to include certain things, like their favorite roles, the shows they've done, and if they're attending college, they many times include that, too.

Some write short bios, some are funny, some serious. There's not a lot of space (usually...) to put in everything so you can't include everything. Many thank their friends, they thank those who chose them to be in the show, and especially their significant others.

I need to get mine written and submit it. It shouldn't take long. As I'm waiting to rehearse my scene and between memorizing my lines, I really ought to write it up and submit it. And if you come see our show this Christmas season, you'll see what decisions I ended up making.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Freestyle Gargoyles 4...2016 Halloween Special

If you access this link: HERE, you can check out a unique experience. Authors, musicians, friends, and neighbors gathered in the upstairs studio of Gangrene Productions located above a small-town main street on a busy Friday night.

We gathered for many reasons, some to support loved ones, some to share their talents, but all to feel the music and hear the words of six authors, six different stories perfect for Halloween.

The authors, (in order of appearance...) James Wymore, myself, Eric Wincentsen, Patrick Murphy, Nathan Shumate, and David West, read an original story. The musicians, Craig Nybo, Keith Moon, Dan Nobles, Lary Nybo, Oz-Aaron Ozminski, Rick Nef, Brandon Tucker, and conductor Rob Griffin, backed us up, creating a musical tapestry the surrounded our words, taken them to destinations the audible voice could not alone reach.

I haven't listened to all the readers--the YouTube video just dropped today, but I look forward to hearing each story, appreciating the musicality of the players, and re-living what an amazing time I had that night just a few weeks ago. My story begins at 16 minutes in and ends just after the 28 minute mark, but I'd recommend you hear all the stories. There's some great stuff there.

Even though I'm relatively new to the writing world, I've already had some amazing experiences--being on conference writing panels at Salt Lake Comic Con, LUTE, and Salt City Steamfest, having people come up and buy something I wrote at these events and other places. But participating in the Freestyle Gargoyles event, that was definitely a highlight for me.

If you'd like something new for this Halloween, click on the link: HERE. I'm sure you'll see and hear something new.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Beginning A New Book Is Great...Knowing The Author Makes It Even Better

I began a new book today. It's a book I've been meaning to start for some time. Turns out, today was that day.

Because of other crazy stuff going on in my life, I'm not going through books like I used to. Back in the day I was finishing an audiobook or two every week, and reading a non-digital book about every week or two. But with re-learning the job I have now, plus the other job and the play, my reading has suffered.

I miss it. I miss the stories. I miss the characters. I miss allowing my mind to become lost in another world. There's an excitement that comes with beginning a new book--a chance to experience all those things that only a new book can provide.

And in addition to the joy of a new book, there's something that makes it even better and that is reading a book written by someone you know. Somehow, each word, each sentence means more. I notice differently the phrasing, the choices made.

I'll be writing a review of my friend's book as soon as I finish it. I love reviewing my friend's books. Thankfully, I've gotten to know so many authors, I may never finish them all. I'm a very lucky fellow.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Seven Years Ago...

On this day, seven years ago I posted something on Facebook. Today, I was reminded (thanks Facebook...) about it. I haven't thought about that little item since then, but when I saw it again, it reminded me of why I posted it in the first place.

It got me thinking, a lot has happened in seven years. Seven years ago, my oldest was fourteen, his next oldest sibling was almost eleven, their daughter was nine, and the youngest of our four was five. The reason I thought about my kids was because of the message contained in the little clip I shared.

It's the story of a man and his son and a memory they had years before. If you want to watch it, click: HERE. It's in Greek, but it has English subtitles. It's a really beautiful message, one that means more to me as time flies like the little sparrow. I can identify with both the son and the father.

I wonder if my then five-year old son remembers things we did seven years ago. I wonder if I do. I have the advantage of having a journal entry for every day since 1985 so I can look and see what we did. It's so easy to forget when we're wrapped up in our own lives, we forget those that mean the most. Click on the link--the film's only a couple of minutes long. It just might touch you as it did me.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Something I'll Probably Never Do...

The attraction's been on the park since 1995 and I've never even been tempted to try it. It's called the Sky Coaster and it looks terrifying.

At the beginning of my shift, I have to fetch water to clean the stage. Right next to the water source is the Sky Coaster and I can watch as those brave souls are lifted 150 feet in the air then dropped. They fall so quickly, you can actually hear them swoosh through the air--you can especially hear the swoosh if the fliers aren't screaming their lungs out.

I know many people love that ride. I'm not one of them. I have respect for those who do. And if you feel you're one of those brave souls, it will be in operation during Frightmares, which ends next weekend.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Voting...Already Done

I got my official ballot for this year's election in the mail earlier this week. Yesterday I filled it out and put it in the mail.

I voted.

Usually I wait until election day, but this year I decided to mail it in for two reasons. There's a practical reason for me to vote early. Since I'm doing the play, as opening night gets closer, we're pretty much needed at the theater every weeknight. I'm sure it will be tough to vote and get to the theater on time.

Like I said, that's the practical reason. There's another reason I voted early and it has to do with this particular election. Basically, I want it to be over as soon as possible. I know sending in my ballot early won't reduce the time between now and election night. But it might help slightly in the way I think about the election. For me, it's over. I can't change my vote. I've exercised my civic duty and made my choices. 

So much has been said about this election. If you're like me, you're not only sick of the presidential candidates, but all the endless words and opinions as well. I know it's important. I know I should respect the process. I still do, but...well, you know.

Yes, I've voted. I'm done. I just wish the election were done, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Back At The Library...I Miss That Place

This afternoon my wife asked if I could pick up my daughter from her dance class. I had planned just heading home, but since I would be driving right by the dance studio, I thought I'd pick her up. But I had a half-hour to kill first.

I decided to visit a place I love--the library where I used to work.

It was strange parking the car and not using the employee entrance. It was stranger still to enter and not have the responsibilities of shelving books, retrieving holds, or putting away DVDs. I entered the building for the first time since I left months ago. Today was the first time I'd been back.

Everything looked the same, though it seemed busier than I remember Wednesday afternoons to be. Of course, I worked during the summer when kids were out of school. I saw a lot of kids there today. I also saw many of my former co-workers, great people who are still doing a job I loved but was unable to continue to do.

When I left I was sure I'd be back again and again, but it hasn't worked out that way. And if my wife hadn't called and asked if I'd stop and pick up my daughter, I wouldn't have gone in today. Who knows when I would step through those doors? It may have been many more months or even years.

I thought when I went back I'd feel the same as I did when I was an employee, but it wasn't the case. I felt like an outsider, even though I shouldn't have.

Once inside, it felt like home.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Our Lego Engineer...And His Latest Creation

Last night our youngest brought in and showed me his latest Lego creation. It was pretty cool.

People sometimes bemoan being the youngest siblings. They get hand-me-down clothes, always a place at the "kid's table" when family gathers for dinner, but there is one way in which being the youngest sibling can be far more advantageous than being the first.

And it has to do with Legos.

Our Lego collection began humbly. We bought a couple of sets, but didn't go all out. After time, that little collection has grown. We now have so many Legos it could cover the floors of several homes to cause multiple outbursts of cursing from several parents as they cross those floors in the dark. Most of the sets we've acquired lately have been purchased by the kids themselves. For the parents, that's definitely a win-win!

My son explained to me all the amazing things his newest conglomeration was able to do. I thought about trying to explain it here, but I thought it would be best if he did it himself.

With an active imagination, sufficient Legos, and the skill of a Lego master, who knows what he'll come up with next?

Monday, October 17, 2016

It's Good To Be Busy...But To Be This Busy?

I am tired.

It's my fault, really. Each time something comes up, I've said I'd do it, I'd volunteer, I'd say yes.

And so I did.

And so I'm tired.

Don't get me wrong--I like being busy. I've been doing it for some time. Back when I got my undergraduate degree, I constantly had several jobs at once while a full-time student. I got married and have been fortunate enough to be employed almost the entire twenty-four years since.

Around the turn of the century, I started doing shows, community theater. Luckily, my kids liked doing the shows with me and it made for a fantastic parent/child experience (at least, for the parent--they kids have said they've enjoyed it too...). But doing a show takes time--a lot of time. You rehearse almost every day, except Sunday, for two months, then the show runs for another month. Once the show begins, that's when you actually get a break--you're only needed every other night. Still, I've made life-long friends and wonderful experiences from these shows. I'd hate to think of turning them down just because I was busy.

Then around ten or twelve years ago, I started writing. I'd always dabbled, but I thought I'd take the craft to a more serious level. Now, being a writer means you're always "busy." You're never not busy because either you're writing, or you feel you should be writing--both can be somewhat stressful. But the rewards can be amazing!

To improve my skills I decided to return to college after fifteen years and get my masters degree. In a couple of years I donned a black robe and was given my diploma. I did this while I worked full-time, kept writing, and even doing shows.

Crazy, right?


Since I graduated I've still kept writing (not as much as I want...), worked full-time, and done several part-time jobs. The part-time jobs are for fun and because it was needed. And the shows--there always seems to be another show out there.

So, why am I tired now? Right now, along with my job, I have a part-time job on the weekends. My son and I work at a Halloween show at Lagoon, the amusement park by our house. I'm also in a play we'll put on in December--I'm playing three characters and need to memorize my lines. And each day I need to find something worthy of a blog post as well as post a daily picture, which means also finding something interesting to photograph.

And this is only October. November's going to be nuts!

In November I've decided to write a novel--I'll need to write about 2000 words a day while working, getting ready and starting the Christmas show, and blogging everyday. Thankfully, the part-time job will be done so I should have good writing opportunities on Friday and Saturday.

Again, I'm not complaining even though it sounds like I am. I know I've been busier, but I've never been this busy and a half century old before. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gathering In The Harvest...

I took our dog out this morning and noticed a few apples we missed on our apple tree. I picked them and brought them in. Behold--our harvest! There were actually a few more apples that were picked earlier, but in general, we did not get a lot of apples this year.

We have a couple of fruit trees, some apple, an apricot, nectarine, plum, and cherry trees. They're not big so we don't get a lot of fruit--except the nectarine tree. That thing almost comes down each season for having too much fruit on its branches.

We did have apples on our tree, but due to certain circumstances, many were inedible. The first problem was we didn't spray our fruit. We usually don't. There were so many apples with worm holes on the tree, we just left them there. I suppose if we were hungry enough, we could pick all the apples and just eat the non-wormed parts.

And we have animals that descend from the mountain and do a little--or a lot--of nibbling. Yes, deer have come down and eaten many an apple. Hard to win a battle between animals that invade your crop in the middle of the night and will eat the goods even before they're ripe. Yup, I'm losing that battle every time.

So, here's to the harvest of 2016. Here's hoping next year will be even better!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Lure Of A Photograph...

* can cause a lot of problems.

Case in point--an innocent-enough-looking Instagram account called @oldvwbug that shows photos of some of the most beautiful cars I've ever seen. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I happen to love cars originating from Germany beginning a few years after WWII and continuing today. Yes, I love those old classic Volkswagen cars and vans. To me, they're stunning.

So how can pictures of classic German cars cause problems? 

Good question.

Currently in our home we have two teenagers. These teenagers are not driving teenagers, but they both somewhat aspire to be so. And a couple of new drivers means the possibility of buying another car. So, why not pick up a beautiful old VW? I could let the kids drive my car and I'd get something air-cooled and old.

Oh, those cars on that Instagram account are amazing! Before I got married, all I drove were VWs. I had several bugs--some good, some crap...Okay, all had an amount of crap, but I loved them. And the thought of possibly getting one again made me smile.

That is, until I did some more thinking about the idea. Yes, VW Bugs are cool--especially in the winter. In fact, they're downright freezing. The temperatures around here are cooling in preparation for the cold and snow, and the thought of starting a bug in the middle of winter and having absolutely no heat in the thing was something I definitely do not miss. Nor do I miss windows that cannot be defrosted. There are a lot of things that I do not miss, a lot of things my current car does quite well. 

So why did I want a bug? All I can say is that lure of the beautiful pictures is pretty overwhelming. It was those darn pictures. They somewhat seduced me. They made me want something that I really do't want, or might want in the future when I can drive a VW say, in the summer and have a place to park it in a garage--two things I can't do right now.

Yes, pictures can evoke strong emotional responses and be effective motivators. I guess we need to be careful about what it is we're looking at.

* Photo used without permissiom from the OldVWBug Instagram account

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm A Freestyle Gargoyle...At Last!

I did it!

I've never done anything like it before, and tonight I read something I wrote in front of an audience. It's a first for me. It was a blast!

Freestyle Gargoyles is, I believe, the brainchild of the incredibly talented Craig Nybo. The advertiser, author, musician, and comedian created the event. Basically, authors read a short story (1500 - 2000 words...) while his band backs them up. They create a free-form soundtrack to the words being spoken--completely made-up on the fly. As they announced at the beginning, sometimes it's magic, sometimes not so much. But each creation is completely new, completely never before heard.

Here's some pictures of the event. It's hard to capture the feeling in the room with just pictures. I believe our stories are put on YouTube at sometime down the road. When they are, I'll blog about it.

Thanks Craig and the band for an amazing time!

I did it!

It was great!