Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The open road was beckoning to me.
I heeded its call.
To fields of sunset-drenched wheat…
Warm summer winds blowing away my frustrations…
A Cannon Mark II camera…
Biting red ants climbing on my legs in the long grass on the roadside.
Friday, July 24, 2009
SCENE 1, INTERIOR. LATE AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The teacher is dismissing the class for the day. As the students file out they attempt to give him a ‘high five.’ This is made more challenging as the teacher is standing on a chair and his hand is approximately eight feet from the floor. The students attempt to slap his hand; if unsuccessful, the teacher provides a lower ‘high five’ for them. In a few moments, all students have left the room—save one.
JOEY: Mr. Z?
TEACHER: What’s up, Joey?
JOEY: I have an owie.
TEACHER: An owie?
[The teacher looks at the boy's finger but cannot see anything wrong with it.]
TEACHER: Do you need a band-aid?
[The boy shakes his head].
TEACHER: Well, what do you want me to do, kiss it better?
JOEY: Will it help?
TEACHER: Probably not.
[The boy holds his finger with his other hand].
JOEY: What would you do to make it better if it were you?
TEACHER: If it hurts I’d run cold water over it.
[The teacher motions to the drinking fountain at the back of the classroom].
JOEY: Could I have some ice instead?
TEACHER: You'd have to go to the office for ice, Joey.
JOEY: Don't you have any?
[The teacher glances around the room, it is obvious that he does not have any ice with him, yet the boy still stands there expectantly.].
TEACHER: Sure, here…just let me reach into my heart and get you a piece.
[The teacher pantomimes taking a piece of ice from his chest and extends his empty hand to the student who stares at the empty palm for several seconds. After a silent beat, the boy reaches out and takes the piece of invisible ‘ice.’].
JOEY: So that’s where you keep it…
TEACHER: It’s gotta be someplace it’s not gonna melt…
JOEY: Good choice, Mr. Z. [The boy pretends to put the ice on his finger and sighs long and deep]. Ah, now that’s better…
Fade to black.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I was told by blog dot com that I could only use words of five or less lette - well, you know - when I post.
They said I used up too much space.
I found that I could not write this way.
It was all flat.
My posts were awful.
My blog stunk.
As you can see, I tried it here.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I sat at the dining room table checking my email. The digital clock on the microwave read 11:56 P.M.
Outside the window the bushes ignited as if a gigantic flashbulb had gone off.
I rose from my space and ventured to the front door.
Rain came in laconic bursts.
I grabbed my iPod and moved to the front porch to watch the storm brewing in the skies above, and then realized that the brunt of it was over Lake Pend Oreille.
I snagged my camera and headed down to the water’s edge as the skies above me swirled about angerly; lightning forked and splayed, cracking the heavens in two with chasms of refulgent light.
I watched the curlicues of electricity—each one even more impressive than the last—at intervals of about a minute. However, for each image I captured, dozens far more spectacular were missed because my camera was pointed in the wrong direction.
However—the storm was raging all about me.
The lake, once gently rolling, suddenly came to life as the wind roared in my ears, ripping my headphones from place; the water was now uneven and wild as the knobby clouds raced across the vindictive sky.
Then came the rain.
Buckets of water sloshed from the heavens as I made my way to the car, shielding my camera with my body. In the protected interior of my vehicle, the windshield wipers pushed away the deluge as I drove north, the direction the storm which careened on turbulent winds.
Lightning raked through the sky above me; the flashes lighting up valleys I drove past as brightly as if it were daylight. Through the rain, the skies above me looked like a network of burnished spider webs in a clouded bottle.
The road before and behind me was empty.
The lake to my right began to slacken its waves, like the aftermath of the flood when Noah had warned the people to repent; the hills around me were carpeted with majestic pines and aspens.
I pulled my car over and switched off the headlights.
It was instantly dark.
I fumbled with my umbrella and tripod, determined to capture a few more images of this magnificent storm—but the tempest was quickly retreating over heavily wooded hills whose towering pines would assuredly block my view.
Only the pattering of rain on the umbrella and the occasional hint of lightning now…the storm was withdrawing far too quickly over fens and moors; over countryside which was far too difficult to traverse without established paths.
I was too late.
From somewhere up the road a large, shadowy figure crossed on the fringe of my night-vision. It was probably only a deer.
Images of Bigfoot flashed through my mind, this was—after all—the Great Northwest.
Instantly, every horror movie I’d every seen returned to memory…
It would be waiting in the bushes. It would wait for the lone man to stand there for another minute or two before going in for the kill…
I grabbed my tripod and camera and made for my car. Upon shoving these items into the vehicle I dropped the umbrella.
Leave the umbrella. This would be the part of the movie where the man would go back for it and the creature would grab him with it’s claws and maul him to death. The entire audience would be thinking, “You idiot! Why did you go back for that stupid umbrella? It only cost $10!”
I went back for it anyway—what can I say? I’m frugal.
The umbrella and I were both safe in the car; the doors locked.
It’s in the car already. At this point of the movie the music would rise fervently as the man would turn on the interior light and look into the back seat. As he did so he would see the creature there, like that guy in Jurassic Park.
I turned on the light. I was alone.
All was well.
The radio was turned on. Jars of Clay. I started my car and drove the distance back to Sandpoint.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Everyone is asleep, save me.
I gaze around my parents’ house, the familiar dimmed lamps burn through the darkness.
I sit; I look on.
As I do, I remember words penned many years ago by author Mary Downing-Hahn in her book, “Time for Andrew:”
The fire hissed and popped and sent a shower of sparks flying up the chimney. I leaned closer to my aunt. “Do you ever wonder about the people who used to live in this house?”
“What do you mean, Drew?”
“Well, so many of their belongings are here—things they touched, things they made. It just seems strange…” While I spoke I looked around the room, finding faded photographs on the mantel, a pair of china dolls sharing a child-sized rocking chair, shelves of old books. My voice trailed off. I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say.
Aunt Blythe ran one finger over the row of stitches she’d just finished. “Things last longer than people,” she said softly.
That was true, but that wasn’t what I meant. “The people, our ancestors—do you think they’re still here somehow?”
“Are we talking about ghosts?”
“Do you believe in them?”
Unlike some adults, Aunt Blythe took my question seriously. Leaning her head back, she stared into the fire and thought about her answer. “In an old house, the past is all around you,” she said slowly. “You hear sounds sometimes, even smell things. Superstitious people might call it the work of ghosts, but I think of them as echoes, little traces of the folks who once called this house home…”
It is quiet.
I listen to the echoes.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The chirp of magic markers sent up a chorus of sound in the otherwise silent family room—like an orchestra of crickets—as we each penned our individual messages of gratitude, of appreciation, and of love.
The minutes passed and still everyone wrote.
We had no idea what the others were writing.
When everyone had finished, we took our helium-filled balloons to the front yard, the yard she loved, filled with flowers and the aroma of the night breeze off of Lake Pend Oreille.
As one we sent our messages skyward, a rainbow of color against a blue canvas of sky.
We stood and watched, arms around each other as the nine balloons floated away to the east; one for each of us present—and one for Mom. We stood there watching until they had completely vanished on the distant eastern skyline—still huddled together in a small group.
Like a family.
Just like us.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I moved into the step-down family room and closed the double sets of French doors to block out the clamorous din.
I was in the inner sanctum; the safe refuge.
I was soon joined by my brother and brother-in-law.
The French doors opened: Gossip. Squeal. Blather. Gibber. Gab.
The doors immediately snapped shut as my dad entered the room; the guffaws of the catamenial hyenas were instantly muffled.
From this hallowed room poured the strains of Joe Cocker, Kenny Loggins, & The Eagles…
A few minutes later my brother stood and moved to the doors to use the bathroom. “If I’m not back in two minutes, come and save me.”
The doors opened: Snort. Chortle. Twitter. Guffaw.
The doors were closed as he braved the piercing giggles alone.
Basking in silence.
Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke.
Reminiscing of days gone by.
The door opened: Shriek. Snort. Cluck. Titter.
French doors snapped shut.
My brother had returned, breathing hard…as if just escaped from drowning
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I sat down and let the words spill onto the screen.
As rain poured in torrents outside the large picture window, the words—the obituary—materialized into something a bit more; no longer was it simply a death notice.
It had become a tribute.
A blog post.
I share it with you here.
* Consequently, the two errors in the obituary are not mine, they were made afterward by the paper...I mean really, who would hyphenate 'California' for heaven's sake?
Monday, July 13, 2009
The lemony-pine scent wafted over the pews of the silent chapel, and the wood radiated with a golden sheen in the incandescent lights from the ceiling.
The silence of that chapel was brazen—almost ominous.
I gazed wordlessly for a few moments at the box constructed of pine lath before me, and found myself having a conversation with Mom. I was wondering if she would be comfortable when she would be placed in it tomorrow morning—two days before the funeral was to take place.
I slid the lid open
The interior was carefully lined with a patterned, white blanket; velvety to the touch. A cushion had been placed at the underside of the casket; I felt along the base, relishing the softness.
I removed my shoes and—very carefully—climbed inside.
I eased my head back against the pillow and gazed at the ceiling. The lining was cozy, comfortable, and it felt warm and secure. It would have been a bit hard on the rear after a prolonged period I decided, but overall it was—nice.
I closed my eyes.
A moment later I heard the curtain being whipped back. I jerked my head up to see the junior director standing in the doorway.
The look of dumfounded stupor on his face said it all, for he was devoid of speech.
I arose slightly and rested my arms on the sides of the casket. “Just checking,” I said in an offhanded tone.
“Checking?” He asked.
“To make sure it’s comfortable,” I said, regarding him in return. “This must look a little odd…”
The man shook his head, “Well, I’ve never seen it before—or heard of it either,” he gave an uncertain chuckle. “But to each his own.”
“I just wanted to be sure,” I said. “I’ll be done in just a minute.”
The man nodded. “Well, I just wanted to let you know that your dad is meeting with the director now…that is, if you wanted to join them.”
He stood in the doorway for another silent beat, and then the curtain was sharply drawn back where it had been.
I eased back into place.
Yes, the coffin was comfortable.
Mom would have approved.
I climbed out of the casket and slipped my shoes back on, gathering up the wood polishing supplies as I did so.
On my way out I saw the junior director sitting in a side room with a fellow employee.
They both looked up as I passed, and smiled.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Don’t we all from time to time to take our minds off of what is going on in our various lives?
I am glad that my respite came in the form of my friend, Laura, and her two great kids. We were able to spend a few hours traipsing the downtown area of Spokane seeing what images we were able to capture together.
Her son, He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, made me laugh…a lot.
These are just a few of my favorites.
And she made brownies, too.
It was a heinous night, one more so than usual; I just had to be not here.
I slipped from the house and soon I found myself walking along the railroad tracks down at Lake Pend Oreille.
The rails stretched across the shadowy waters, glinting in the moonlight and vanishing into the pine trees nearly a mile off on the distant shoreline.
I began to walk the ties of the bridge, the smell of creosote filling my nostrils along with the thick sultriness of humidity in the air.
The angry lake crashed and splayed below me, as the choppy wind buffeted me from time to time.
My head was a flurry of thought, much like that wind as it carried me along with it.
There were so many questions.
Overhead the orange harvest moon moved slowly from behind the clouds; we gazed at each other across that vast space which separated us.
The distance seemed like a million miles; maybe more.
To be honest, I’d been feeling that same distance with God, too. He and I seemed to be worlds apart, neither one of us seeming to understand the other.
As I walked, I thought longingly of my headphones back at my car, I wished that I had them; had them to drown out the turbulent sounds which continued to moil through me like that tempestuous blast.
I wanted to play what had unofficially become the soundtrack of my life as of late, their lyrics tumbling about my head even as I traversed footfall after footfall.
“…the long fall back to earth is the hardest part...”
At the quarter mark of the bridge I stopped. Here was a spot to stand and look over the lake. I found myself sitting against the handrail as the waves lapped hungrily at the trestle supports some thirty feet below. Out across the water I watched the distant headlights of cars on the long bridge as they came and went in a flurry of tail lights—each headed to destinations unknown.
In the moment I petitioned the heavens, like I had so many times before.
There were so many questions.
The trestle started to vibrate slightly; in looking back at the direction of the city, I saw one bright light hastening toward me.
It was a train.
There was nowhere to go. There was nowhere to run.
Was I afraid?
I was terrified.
I sat at my perch above the water, four feet from the tracks as the thundering locomotive drew nearer. Moments later it was upon me, screaming as it passed in a flurry of whatever heavy cargo it carried. The sound was deafening. The wind buffeted me. I stood, letting the fear consume—let it fill me to overflowing—terror bristling through every tendon and nerve.
Let it be gone.
As suddenly as the fear had overtaken me, it ebbed away.
For several minutes the boxcars kept coming, sparking and groaning on their silver wheels until there was nothing.
The train had passed, the shaking of the long bridge ceased, and the night took on its usual stillness...the last sounds of the locomotive vanishing into distant obscurity.
The wind blew, the waves lapped, I stood.
The moon was swallowed behind a cloud.
I walked back the way I had come, my head still a storm of questions.
I had no answers.
But I wasn’t afraid.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I sit alone in Mom’s room.
I keep waiting for the feeling; waiting to feel her ghost—her spirit.
As I look into the vacant space where her bed used to lay, I feel the emptiness which has taken its place. It is this same void which fills me, this type of nullity which has been left behind that nobody else can understand—at least so it would strike as being.
My dad and I canvassed the room earlier today for mom’s framed pieces, tucked away in shadowed corners, several of which she created—cross-stitchings which she fashioned long ago during cozy nights with the aroma of scented candles burning in mixtures of amber and vanilla. As I gazed at these works wrought at her hands I felt that a piece of her yet remained, though her essence had gone; fled away to some far-away and distant place where the rest of us could not follow.
The sunlight dances on the other side of the window as my eyes fall on one of the stitcheries Mom made years before; its words burn themselves into my retina like an after-image of staring at the sun:
As I read over this quote I think of Mom’s crimson nails, filed and painted to perfection—a simple yet sublime act of love.
I remember sitting at the table.
It was a difficult time yet again; Mom’s breathing came in belabored gasps and haphazard moments of coherentness. My two younger sisters and brother-in-law had come to help; we were all taking shifts with sitting with Mom. This was good as it was keeping anyone from getting completely burned out.
I remember being slumped at the dining room table, resting my head on one arm when my dad made the pronouncement; he was going to have Mom’s manicurist come out to the house.
He fumbled with his phone and dialed the number. He spoke with the woman on the other end and set up the paltry details. He wanted the works—and price was no option.
Only the best.
I remember at first wondering what he was doing. Just why was he going to do this? Mom was in such a sick and weakened condition, what difference would this really make?
I had no idea.
The manicurist arrived. When Mom was told she was to have her nails done, her frail fingers outstretched—it was a sight to bring tears to one’s eyes. The job—no small one to be sure—took in the zone of 4 ½ hours to complete.
My dad had arranged this out of pure, simple love.
Mom knew. It completely exhausted her. She couldn’t speak, but she knew.
For the next several days, every time I saw Mom’s fingers or her carefully-painted toes, I found myself smiling. This was not merely a manicure and pedicure; this was an act of adoration of a man for the woman he treasured—the woman he knew delighted in this—the woman who was slowly ebbing away. He was giving her something which she couldn’t do for herself, something she loved; something which made her feel beautiful and appreciated.
The sunlight shifts and I find myself back in my Mom’s empty room. Though I find tears aplenty as I sit here alone, I discover that the room is no longer empty; it is filled with lessons, lessons of the heart and memories of love.
It is true…time truly cannot erase the memories which are created by love.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I was playing hide-and-seek; odd that I’d dream about childhood games, isn’t it?
I was playing with a large group of people from various periods and places in my life—we all dashed and hid when it came time for the game to be set into motion. Sometimes there were those of us who chose to hide together—sometimes apart.
As I looked at the other players, I realized that there were all ages represented; I even spotted a student who was to be in my class this next school year. As the game went on, new players joined in from time to time, and the activity just got better and better.
It wasn’t long before I noticed players leaving the game—not to return. These players were called away by parents because of the lateness of the hour. These players had varied reactions to being taken from the activity; some of them would laugh and run to greet their parents to be taken home, while others would be upset that it was time to go and beg for a few more minutes.
However, when the remaining players were accounted for, the game would continue on as if there had been no interruption.
I awoke from my dream sometime this morning, not certain if I’d really been dreaming or not. It had all been so vivid, so real. I lay there silently as the early morning light danced on the other side of my eyelids, tempted to remain in the moment but then arose from my bed.
For some of us, the game goes on.
Monday, July 6, 2009
It never changes.
I got a phone call from my mom in Washington, Kathy. She told me about the Summit Valley School Centennial. It was Summit Valley was where I’d attended first through sixth grades a score of years ago; they were celebrating the building’s 100 years of existence. I found myself reluctant; I said I probably wouldn’t be in attendance. It was too short of notice, plus the fact that I was needed here made it all the more difficult to allow myself to go.
I hung up the phone.
The next morning I awoke to morning sunlight dancing in patterns through my window as well as to the welcoming aroma of sausages and eggs. I stumbled from my makeshift room to find my dad making breakfast, the role I’d been fulfilling many of the days I’d been here. I sat at the kitchen table to a plate of steaming fare, my dad and I ate. As we did, I told him about the phone call from the night before, and the celebration in Summit Valley—which had actually begun about an hour previous to our breakfasting.
Dad laid his fork aside and looked intently at me across the kitchen table. “Go,” he insisted. “The school only has a centennial celebration once every 100 years. You’re not going to be around for the next one.”
“It’ll probably be lame,” I protested, smearing my toast around my plate to gather up the remnants of egg yolk.
Dad was adamant. “So, it’ll be lame around here, too. At least it’ll be a change of scenery—go. In fact, I don’t want you around here today.”
With this aphoristic ‘kicking out’ I found myself driving the distance through the pined Selkirk Mountains. As I drove, a sparklingly fresh wind seemed to catch in my lungs and remind me of a passage from the book, “The Watsons go to Birmingham—1963,” by Christopher Paul Curtis; In the story, Kenny’s father talks about the freshness in the air that the family is unaccustomed to, and talks about how they’ve become ‘tangled up in God’s beard.’
As the road wound up higher and higher, the air became more brisk and bracing, drenched with the aroma of pine. I thought a lot about that passage and wriggled my fingers through the crispness.
It.was.wondrous; Like breathing the air of heaven itself.
Soon I reached the pinnacle of the ridges and mountains, and spilled over them, taking that long fall down the other side; down into a land and a time far distant. Miles passed before me like vacant mailboxes on the roadside of life.
All too soon the rooftops of a little town I’d once known came into view over the trees. I found myself slipping back into another existence, a different place, another person I’d long-since left behind…decades ago where the ghosts of my past came back to haunt me –or rather, I’d come to let them. I could only blame myself.
I drove these strangely-familiar streets I’d once strolled with middle-school friends in a car registered in another state—a whole other life; it felt peculiar.
I picked up my mom and we moved along the memory roads I’d passed over so long ago—and still knew all too well. The familiar curves of the highways, the well-known landmarks, the homes of friends long-since gone.
As we came closer to the school where I’d spent my formative years, I felt a twinge of ‘homesickness’ for lack of a better word. I would not want to return to those days, but a visit for a few hours to a simpler time would have been a welcome reprieve.
I suddenly didn’t want to be here, yet wanted to at the same time. It felt strange.
There were more people there than I thought would be, and most of them I did not recognize.
But a few I did.
There were a few I had not seen since third or fourth grade; but they all still remembered my name.
I looked through the dog-eared photos; listening to the reminiscences of the veteran homesteaders, gathered in small bunches here and there—talking about the ‘good old days’ and times which were long before those which were mine.
As I wandered amongst the strangers gathered—all sharing a common bonding experience—the school, I felt somewhat at home.
It was at this point I noticed that nobody was taking pictures. Well, haphazard shots taken with disposable cameras and point and shoots taking place in random forms.
This would not do.
I remember something my grandfather had said many years ago, something he subscribed to…a motto of sorts. He had the firm belief that if you had a nice camera and walked around a place—just about any place—acting like you owned it and acting as if you were supposed to be there, nobody would challenge you.
He was right.
I took out my camera and let the shutter fly in a burst of rapid-succession clicks. People found this intimidating and moved aside, putting down their cameras when I would do so.
It made me smile.
I took photos of the room I’d spent 3 years of my childhood in; I took photos of complete strangers, listening as my childhood friend’s father was honored by having the new ball field named after him for his commitment to sports, and helping so many youth to achieve throughout the years. I took photos of childhood friends now grown.
Quite simply—I captured moments.
Nobody stopped me.
I gave the photos—all of them—to the technology guru at the school so as to have them shared with whoever would like them.
The pinnacle event was the ringing voices of those present singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the old schoolhouse, and then the balloons being launched to the heavens; the resounding voices of those present floated on the winds and carried through the valley, rising and with just as much buoyancy as the colorful helium orbs to the clouds.
However, the moment which was most moving of all to me was when they rang the old schoolbell, the bell that had called me in for recess—the one which had hung in the belfry year after year. I remembered ringing that bell myself, too; the force of the backswing able to yank some of the kids off the ground as they clutched to the well-worn rope.
Words cannot describe what it felt like. A whole lifetime of memories rushed into me. Secret rendezvous with friends, early-morning snowball fights, knapweed forts and games of childhood all rushed into me like a gust of fresh air after being submerged.
I reconnected with a few old friends, I was…home.
My mom and I drove the familiar road to the Columbia River to Cloverleaf Beach where we had traveled to so many times and swam summer after summer. As I drove, I fumbled with my iPod, and soon the sounds of Kenny Loggins flooded through the speakers and out the open windows, just like he had so many years ago. The road had not changed, only I had. I was a little bit older, that was all.
I stood at the water’s edge and listened. The years seemed to compress and stretch until this moment and the moment I’d been here as a child seemed to meld together. Echoes seemed to play in the recesses of my mind—laughter which was faded and worn like a much-loved pair of shoes.
We drove to the ferry and rode across to Inchelium, passing through the Indian graveyard there and riding the long stretches of highway where the crystalline blue waters sparkled iridescently in the sunlight.
We stopped and had a late lunch at Barney’s Junction up near Kettle Falls, and saw the small performing theatre where I’d starred in a number of smalltown plays a lifetime ago. Ice creams were in order, so we stopped off at Sandy’s where I immediately noted a few spelling mistakes on the menu sign—my class would most certainly have fun finding the errors in that come this August.
As we drove nearer to Colville, a marquee rose up on the right hand side of the road I’d long since forgotten about—the old drive-in theatre. At this point, I turned the car around. I had to see the place again. I remember going here with my family and seeing movies. I’d gone here with my friends.
It was just as old and nasty as I remembered.
The ground was littered with gopher holes and the screen was peeled and dilapidated—in pitiable need of repair.
I had to get out and walk around.
It wasn’t much to look at, but nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Great Northwest, it was more than enough.
As we drove into Colville, we passed the fabric store—oh, an entire blog post could be written on this hellacious place of child torture—and one day will; therefore, I will forbear at this time to write anything further of it. Just know…
However, next door the business had burned down. I don’t remember what used to be there. This remains unimportant. Nevertheless, the building was gone.
An alley had been created with its absence, and there was a cracked mural on one of the brick walls.
However, without a model—something to draw your eye—it wasn’t nearly as impressive as it could be for a photograph. Nevertheless, while taking a few shots, I noticed a local Hispanic boy from the Mexican restaurant next door; he was milling about and soon approached me, wanting to know what I was doing. Why was I taking pictures of a wall?
I explained that I was a photographer and I asked if he’d like to be in a few photos. I’d then be willing to give these photos to his parents—for free. He readily agreed and the following images were born.
Mom and I had a wonderful conversation throughout our little adventure of which I’ll not expound as this post as already reached epic proportions. In fact, while typing this I see that I have now reached page 5 in Microsoft Word. This tells me that it is time to close.
With the sun beginning to dip beyond the distant westerly hills it was time for me to be returning to Sandpoint. I began the ascending climb back to the home of my dad and my ‘other mother’ for the remainder of the day; I made my way yet again through God’s beard. This time, when I reached the breath of heaven summit, the Great Northwest smiled at me—and I smiled back.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
School would be out, the heat was nearly always sweltering, and trips were usually in order to the Columbia River so as to go swimming with the strains of Kenny Loggins on the radio.
I remember the 4th of July.
It was a time of celebration.
Standing at the fireworks stand on the side of the road with those few hard-earned dollars clutched my hand, the excitement; the anticipation of what I was going to purchase as row upon row of pyrotechnics were splayed out before me like sweets in Willy Wonka’s candy shop.
I remember blowing up cowpies with firecrackers. This was—by far—one of the greatest and little-known of pastimes for me and my longtime friend, Jess. We’d see how close we could get to the bovine pastry and still not get hit by shrapnel when the crater was blown from the varied meadow tarts we encountered. The fresher the better, and juicy was all about splatter.
Oh, those simple, carefree days of youth when the biggest worries were usually about who would get the grape popsicle and who had to have the orange one.
Happy Fourth, from Teachinfourth.
Sadly, I did not take any of these photos, they may all be viewed at their sources:
Thursday, July 2, 2009
It was a hardish day.
I use the term ‘ish’ rather loosely because there have been others that have been far worse over the past week or two; today was not the chart-topper, but would most certainly rate amongst the top ten.
Have you ever felt like you could literally eat your way through the walls which surround you? Have you ever before felt that terrible sensation...a kind of horribleness which seems to grow, spreading like the tendrils of a noxious, wild plant—threatening to strangle you? Have you ever been in a store and wanted to start grabbing objects off of the shelves and start hurtling them across the room?
That’s exactly how I was starting to feel today. It was relentless and eating away at my insides, like that scene in “Alien” when the creature is lodged in the man’s chest and rips its way out…
I know. Gross.
Mom and I sat alone in the deafening silence of the hushed-up house for a couple of hours today. After a while, I finally had to have some type of background noise—it was far too silent: a movie, music, something.
I’d been very selective with my dad lately when it came to movies, and knew I had to be careful.
“Put in a movie,” he’d say. As I’d thumb through the collection I’d brought, I’d discard options immediately.
Mr. Deeds…No, cancer references.
Moulin Rouge?…No, death.
Pay it Forward?...No, death.
The Bucket List? Most definitely not.
So instead of a movie playing in the background, I opted for some music; instrumental strains to lift and fill. I adjusted my iPod to Jon Schmidt and then began the arduous task of being.
I was fine, until this song began to play.
I won’t go into detail of what I felt as the music played, but I felt it; I could have switched it off…I probably should have, but I didn’t. I allowed it to overpower me, to consume me, to envelop me in a vesicle of anguish.
It was later that my dad arrived back home and around 8:00 this evening I found myself down on the elevated railroad tracks which traverse over
I sat there for a long time as the sun set over the mountains, and eventually sat down on the rocks at the water’s edge, staring.
I felt the urge to jump.
But no, I’d brought no swimming trunks, and wasn’t prepared to swim.
Suddenly, I didn’t care. Giving way to impulse, I stripped away my shoes and leapt into the placid waters. I soared through the air for a moment and then was enveloped in a saturated deluge. As the water closed over me, I felt something come away, like a layer of gloom
It was like I’d been revitalized, refilled, reanimated yet again. A smile came to my face as I felt the coolness of the water flowing about me and I clambered onto the shoreline rocks.
The summer wind blew my hair as the water dripped from my clothes.
I jumped in again.
Yes, I had finally found the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, I’d found what I’d been looking for all along.
At least for today.