Thursday, August 31, 2006
Kanner Lake Spirit
Bailey here with you today. All this fast action--news trucks, police, nosey visitors from neighboring counties--has left me a little unsettled. In all this excitement, Kanner Lake folks have really united to show our support of Paige. It's my personal prayer that the Good Lord will keep her safe as she goes through this tremendously stressful time.
Now let's put that subject aside and focus on . . . hold the phone. S-man is headed to the counter. Oh, he came to snag a napkin. I also got a stream of Saurian spouted in my general direction. His eyes are glazed so I know he's in that world.
Which reminds me, he got his first taste of fame the other day. I wish I could attribute this visitor to the success of my blog, but I think she's a local from a neighboring county. She said she and her hubbie got lost, but I spied a copy of our paper folded, title out, under her arm. Anyhow, when this couple walked in, S-man was spouting a stream of Saurian in a quiet mutter. The couple's eyes went huge. I explained about our budding local science fiction author and his Saurian world, and they responded by asking when the book would be done. I told them the date was undetermined and, no, he didn't have a contract. I slid them one of my business cards to help S-man expand his marketing plan. Not that he has one. I've read that the best marketing is word of mouth and I think if I tell all you fine folks about a contract, tmaybe you all could spread the word in your circles. Your help could make a huge difference when his novel does sell.
I really am glad to see the resurgence of regular business. It got a little thin after July fourth--and then the tragedy hit, and we had a whole new kind of business. Now August is nearly done. Can't believe it. Sometimes August is the only time families can get away for vacations, and sometimes it's just too hot to bother. Thing about August is, it has no holiday. Maybe we should make up a holiday for August just so it won't feel so bad. What do you think, gang? Can you think up a holiday that we could have in August? Let me know what you'd call it and how you'd celebrate.
On a side note, Wilbur's gone off the deep end again.
A nice lady on her own visiting Kanner Lake for the first time came in, and what do you think he did? Yep, showed her his scar. I've never seen anyone turn so pale in my life. Thankfully Hank was still here so he helped the poor woman to sit down. She'd only come for directions to a B&B up around the other side of the lake and wound up sipping one of my homemade mocha ices and telling us her life story. Seems her husband passed away a few years back from a heart attack. Bless that poor woman!
Seeing Wilbur's scar sent her back in time and to tears. But you know, in the end, I felt like she left knowing she had friends here. Now that's what I call Kanner Lake spirit!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Day The Ash Fell
Since Bailey started this here blog thing, a few local folks have asked me why I'm participatin'. "We thought you didn't like havin' new folks come to town." they says. Well, in case there's any of you out there wonderin' the same thing, let me answer. [Bailey here--Wilbur insisted I drop his g's, said "participating" made him sound too "high falutin'." ]
I'm doin' this to help my friend Bailey. The more people that read this, the more tourists we get in Kanner Lake. And the more tourists Kanner Lake gets, the more coffee Bailey sells. And the more coffee Bailey sells, the more likely it is she'll kick a freebie my way.
I may be a crotchety old coot, but I ain't stupid. I know a thing or two about tourists. If you've been readin' this blog, you know I know a thing or two about fishin' these parts. I'm not one to brag, but all you've read is true. Sure, local folks would hire me as a guide once in a blue moon, but a fishing guide makes his bread and butter on tourists. And when they stop comin' to a place, well, it ain't pretty. That's what happened back in 1980.
In case you don't remember, '80 was the year Mt. St. Helen's blew her top over in Washington. I'll never forget that day. I was out fishing one of the streams that dumps into the north side of Kanner Lake proper. The sun was shinin' just as pretty as you please, and the trout had my rod dancin'. Then the sky just sorta got dark, covered with a cloud like I never seen. At first I thought it was snowin'. When I realized it was ash, I knew what happened right away. I didn't smell any smoke, and that mountain had been in the news a lot lately.
I rushed home, knowing Trudy would be upset. Well, I knew the fish wouldn't be much in the mood to take a fly neither, the way the river muddied up with ash. Stop smilin' over there, Carla. I'm tellin' ya, I went home to comfort my wife.
Anyway, we turned on the national news just in time to hear a reporter--might have been that Tom Brokaw fella--announce that ash was fallin' on the Washington-Montana border. Carla, stop your yammerin'. He said it as sure as I'm sittin' here.
The ash fell in May. It went on to be the worst summer tourist season this town's ever seen. And while most folks say the ash was to blame, I'm blamin' Brokaw.
For those of you readin' this that don't know your geography, get a map. See, there's this little thing between Washington and Montana. It's about fifty miles wide. We call it the "Idaho Panhandle," and we Kanner Lake folks LIVE here. Come see for yourself. And if you don't have a map, I can show you my scar. Now that I think about it, it sort of looks like the Panhandle.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Feast . . . or Fast
Pastor Hank here, folks. As a man of faith, I believe it is important to listen to the Lord when He's telling you something to do. 'Course, sometimes it is going to cost you in ways you don't think about ahead of time.
A few years back, I was praying about some serious issues that the church was facing. I really needed to hear from Him, because He does still speak to His people today. But I was having a hard time getting the time I needed. Life gets busy, and a pastor's on call 24/7, especially in a small town like Kanner Lake.
In the midst of running around one Friday, I felt God tugging on my heart. I pulled over on Lakeside Drive and prayed right there. I've fasted before, but I can't think of a time where I really felt like I needed to fast like this time. No food, just water. Three days. "I can do this, Lord, if this is Your will." Janet was going to be back late from visiting our daughter, so it wasn't hard at all to spend the night praying rather than sitting down to dinner.
Saturday was one of "those" days. Janet and I were going to miss each other all day. I'd promised Mrs. Farris that I'd help move some firewood for her, so I was up early before it got too hot in the late summer heat. Usually I'd meet Janet for lunch and then spend the afternoon in the church office getting ready for Sunday's sermon. This Saturday she had a planning meeting with some of the ladies of church. Didn't quite remember what it was about, but I knew those ladies would have things taken care of right.
I had a good afternoon, just the Lord and me spending time together. Sure, my stomach was rumbling, but I would make it through to Monday morning. For some reason, it was quiet. Hardly any calls slowing me down. I still checked in with Janet and told her I'd miss dinner, which wasn't too unusual on a Saturday night. She said she'd had a busy day and it would help her get ready for tomorrow. I wasn't sure what she meant by that, but I was happy it worked out.
By Sunday morning, I was starting to feel pretty hungry. Didn't help that Janet was already working on something that smelled mighty good. I don't think I had mentioned to her that I was fasting. I hated to tell her I couldn't eat a nice breakfast, but before I saw her the phone rang. Deacon Johanssen called to say a church toilet had overflowed. A pastor's job is never done. You can't have a faulty potty on Sunday morning. I dashed by Janet in the kitchen, blurting out my emergency. On my way out the door, I barely heard, "What about the pic..." Pick? Picture? My mind was focused on plumbing, so whatever it was didn't quite register.
Thankfully my trusty deacon had the emergency under control, so I finished my preparations for the morning. The Sunday school folk arrived, heading downstairs to their classes, while Mrs. Wujcik practiced piano for worship upstairs. I holed up in my office to pray. I felt really prepared to preach, but I was distracted by some delectable odor wafting into the room. One of the ladies must've put a candle on to cover any plumbing smells. Why did they have to pick a tasty one to light?
Church had a sweet spirit to it, and I felt the Lord's hand on me as I preached. Even so, more people than usual were checking their watches. After service, I stood at the door to greet people as they left. Usually Janet is with me, but this time she slipped downstairs.
Funny thing was, most people were heading downstairs instead of streaming to the parking lot. Not having any hands to shake, I slipped down myself to see what was happening.
About the whole congregation was slipping from the kitchen to the outside entrance, shuttling one delicious item after another outside. The annual church picnic!
Mrs. Baxter called out to me that she'd brought the cheesy potatoes I enjoyed so much last year. Sam Johanssen was hauling out a fresh watermelon for his dad. There was fresh rolls, green salads, potato salads, crock pot pork and beans, chocolate brownies, and so much more. I felt like drowning from so much saliva pumping into my mouth.
As I stood slack jawed, Wilbur slapped me on the back. "Out of the way, Preacher! These fish ain't gettin' on the grill by themselves." I turned and saw the ol' coot with a cooler full of trout. "Been fishin' every day for the past 2 weeks to get enough for the picnic. Don't worry, I'll save a big one for you," he grinned as he elbowed me while walking past. My gut let out a big rumble thinking about those trout!
The coup de grace was when I turned back to see my dear Janet pulling out the last of three fresh huckleberry pies out of the oven. My favorite. I about died right there, thinking about missing out on the yearly church feast because of my vow to fast.
Wives know when something is wrong with their husbands, so Janet slipped up to me and asked what was wrong. When I explained my dilemma, she gave me a sympathetic squeeze. "You know that you have to fulfill what you said you'd do. But don't have a long face. I think I can scoop up some of your favorites on a plate with some tinfoil for tomorrow."
The Lord gave me grace to sit and chat with people while they were busy chowing down on the spread. More than a few got a chuckle out of my timing for the fast. I can report that I made it through that day without further temptation. I feel like I received the guidance that I was praying about, and learned about putting off our desires.
'Course, the next day that huckleberry pie tasted awfully good!
Monday, August 28, 2006
The Grandkids Visit
Today I'd planned to finally explain my dear husband's part in why I'm writing this blog. But it is not to be. My grandkids are visiting me for the week and I doubt I'll be able to peck out more than a dozen coherent sentences on this newfangled laptop Carla lent me. Mine decided to give up the ghost. Again. I'm beginning to think whoever built these contraptions ought to stand trial for the robbery of the public.
One paragraph and my thirteen-year-old grandson is already leaning over my shoulder, begging to write his friends back home about the ghastly news here. Alexander insists it is to show me how to do a dozen other things on the World Wide Web, but I know better.
He groans. He can't understand why I insist on calling him Alexander instead of Alex. I've tried to explain that if his parents wanted him, Abigail, and Angela called Alex, Abby, and Aggie that's what they would have put on their birth certificates.
"But Grandma, isn't your name Beverly, not Bev?"
Sometimes he's too bright for his own good. I half-expect him to become one of these fancy trial layers. That or a surgeon or an engineer. After all, he is good with his hands, just like his grandfather.
Four-year-old Abigail, my youngest, is tugging on my sleeve. She wants to say hi to all her friends back home: Laurie, Rose, Amy, Veronica, and of course, Daddy.
So far Abigail recognizes "Daddy" and her name. She also knows all her letters. I suspect she'll be reading before kindergarten. Just goes to prove there's a brain under her golden angel curls. No dumb blondes in this family.
Poor Angela. She's sitting across the Java Joint table, trying to act so proper while I write this. At seven she already possesses more grace and manners than girls three times her age. She would make a wonderful wife of some distinguished dignitary. Or maybe she will become one herself.
She keeps sipping diligently at the "grown-up" coffee she insisted on. But I'm thinking it's time to get something a little sweeter. Bailey, I need three banana-split hot cocoas to go.
Oh, why not. Make that four.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Watch Those Magnets!
Hello Everyone. I'm sure you've been enjoying these posts. I certainly have. Of course I do know all these wonderful folks, but it's been great to read their contributions and perspectives on Kanner Lake and life here.
There's little doubt that all of you laughed along with the rest of us on the antics of Bev and Angie as they chased "Eva Longoria" down the street. Those two are quite a pair. I'm sure you figured that out by now. I can only imagine what kind of trouble Angie got herself into when she was a girl. Oh my.
And it goes without saying how moving Wilbur's story was about Diana. Hank and I didn't know her, but ask anyone who did and they'll tell you she was everything Wilbur describes. And it's truly a miracle of the heart that Wilbur is what he is today. The grace of God, for sure. We're glad to have you around, you "old crank."
On another subject.
You all may recall the melee at the July 4th Parade? Remember the story about the "Manic Mowers" led by zany Larry Cellaway? (Check back to the July 6th post.) Poor Larry. It's a good thing that guy has a great sense of humor and is such a good sport. And he finished that day on another humorous note that's worth telling.
Hank and I met Larry and his wife, Carole, before we actually moved here. Larry is on the deacon board at the church and when we came for our interview, the Cellaways took us out to dinner one evening. We connected immediately and our friendship has grown and deepened through the years.
Anyway, we had plans for Larry and Carole to come for supper following the parade. It was a given that I'd make my famous raspberry sun-tea. So while Hank was grilling, Larry and Carole and I were sitting around the patio table, chatting. Larry had come in with his sunglasses on. He has those kind that are magnetized to the eye glasses. He does wear glasses most of the time, so he simply took off the sunglass part. I had poured up the tea into my favorite "Stars and Stripes" tumblers, stuck long-handled teaspoons in each, and Larry had added a bit of sugar to his glass. He didn't take out the spoon before he went to take a drink. All of a sudden, the handle of the teaspoon jumped out of the glass--drawn by the magnet on the side of Larry's glasses! I nearly choked on my own tea.
Larry, nut that he is, calmly set the glass down, picked up a spare teaspoon, and attached it to the other side of his glasses. He looked like something from another planet! We laughed until I thought we'd be sick. Naturally I took a picture so I could put it in my scrapbook. (To tell you the truth, I have an entire section dedicated to Larry Cellaway.)
He took it all in great stride and laughed at himself. Typical Larry! Carole took it all in with a roll of her eyes and her usual good-natured humor. She's SO used to his antics.
We did manage to get our dinner finished in fine fashion and had a great night with them. It's never boring with Larry and Carole!
Blessings to all,
-- Janet Detcher
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Love Those Earrings!
Hi, folks, Sarah Wray here again. I sure got a lot of razzing about my new outfit the last time I posted. Jake Tremaine laughed his fool head off 'cause he said I should have told you all about the earrings that went with the outfit.
Well, I'm here to tell you those earrings are the height of fashion in San Francisco.
They're described as haute couture in on online store. That's high fashion to us normal folks here in Kanner Lake. They hang down about three inches from my ear. Each earring starts out with a little silver chain about an inch long that has a half inch hoop hanging from it. Then from the bottom of the hoop there is another little length of shiny silver chain that ends in another hoop. The top hoop has a hot pink ball in it. The second hoop has a lime green ball in it. They are just as cute as punch. And they match my outfit to a tee!
I wore the outfit to a party at Darla Bloom's house and 'ol Wilbur like to fall of Darla's couch laughing. He even had to grab on to his chest and hold his scar. The rest of the men started kidding me about letting him use the earrings as lures to catch that 'ol catfish that he and Jake Tremaine are fighting over.
Now isn't that the silliest thing? I mean them fighting over a fish, that neither of them can seem to catch. Give that fish a few more years in that slough and it's gonna' get so big it'll grow legs and walk out on its own.
The other ladies, Paige included, have told me they like my earrings, so I'm keepin' them, and that settles it.
Speaking of online stores, I'm fixing up my own web site. I've got some of the local teen girls helping me upload pictures and such. It's like designing my real store. Everything has its own little cubby hole. These girls are a whiz at this. I got Paige to help me for a few hours. When it's all ready, maybe Bailey will put a link to it up on this blog.
By the way, Paige is doing okay, and that's all I'm going to say about that. I love that girl, and I'm standing by her and praying for the best.
Bye until next time.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Lookers But No Takers
Before you think this is an anti-tourist rant, it's not. It's tourists, not just us townspeople, who make Kanner Lake an awesome place to live. But I had one of those days recently--full of lookers but no takers.
It started like this:
Our female tourist in a show-me-everything-in-your-listings mood squealed as she entered the office. The squeal should have tipped me off. The other agent disappeared into the break room "to take a call," she told me in a stage whisper.
Female tourist, or FT, stopped at my desk. Her hat flopped on her head like a dying bird as she gushed: "Oh, I just love Kanner Lake. Such darling shops, away from the bustle of urban life. If I can get a place here, maybe the doctor will take me off my blood pressure pills. You simply must show me some properties. The sweet woman at the coffee shop said I should come here."
So off we went in my car to the first of several listings. With what's happened lately in Kanner Lake, I wanted to kiss the woman's feet. That, and give Bailey a hug for sending me a potential customer.
We got to the first house.
FT: "I don't like this tile in the kitchen. And those boring rustic beams in the great room need painting. Or pickling, at least. They look positively looming and oppressive. But my Henry would break his neck trying to paint those rafters."
My mental response: If you're well enough off to buy this place, your Henry could hire someone to paint it for you.
My audible response: "Kanner Lake has several wonderful contractors who do excellent work, even minor touchups like painting." I thought of offering Wilbur paint services, but he might run her off. His showing off the scar thing is getting pretty old. Maybe if I bought him coffee for a week, he'd give up that annoying fetish. Long enough for me to close the deal, anyway.
FT ignored my suggestion and headed back to the kitchen with its deplorable tile and continued: "Is that a convection oven over the range? How clean is the inside? I'd hate to replace that a month after moving in."
The last straw and final pain was when I broke a fingernail down to the quick as I opened the oven door too fast. When we women say, Ow, I broke a nail, sometimes it really hurts. This one did.
Next house--more complaints on her part. Same with the third house, and the fourth. In fact, her complaints only got worse.
Sometimes it's hard to keep smiling.Result after an entire afternoon spent with this women: no money earned. In fact, money would be spent fixing my nail.
Where, oh where, are nice, single, normal, stable men looking to buy real estate? At least maybe I'd get a shot at dinner and conversation. As it is, I'll pop by Java Joint and give up my last five bucks for a decent shot of caffeine.
Like the song says, it's nice to be in a place "where everybody knows your name."
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Howdy, folks. Yep, it's my turn again. Jake Tremaine.
With this retirement gig I've had lots of time to think about what I want to post. You see, my mind is buzzing with so many ideas, it's like I upset a beehive the last time I went bear slapping. Hmm, maybe I should do that this Saturday. Give me a chance to get out in God's great forests.
Anyway, my wife tells me I'm digressing. Today I thought I'd tell you more about Big Jonah. That's the fish I almost caught. I ain't never seen anything like this before.
There I am standing on the bank with my buddy Jeb (we don't let a little thing like an altercation come between us) and Chief Vince Edwards. Water's crystal clear, sun's shining. It's enough to make a man doze off. Just as my eyes are closing, there's this great splashing in the water. The crystal clearness is replaced by mud being churned up in this thrashing right there by the edge of the bank.
Next thing Jeb and I see is this huge fish with its mouth wrapped around my grandson's basketball. The dumb thing thought it was some kind of food. Can you believe that? Of course its mouth was wrapped so tightly around the ball, it couldn't spit it out.
I thump Jeb on the back so hard he almost coughed his dentures up. "Tell me I ain't seeing what my poor eyes think they're seeing."
He slaps back so hard I almost fly into the water. "You, idgit. Of course you are. Where's my digital camera?"
Now you tell me who takes a camera fishing, especially one of those new fangled digital thingamajiggers. That's the perfect way to ruin a piece of good equipment. Besides, it's a cardinal rule of great fishermen that all photos are taken on the pier. After you've caught the fish.
Anyway, Jeb searched through his cargo pockets but couldn't find his camera. Instead, Chief Edwards ran to his squad car to get his, and then clicked away.
You can say whatever you want, but this time I've got hard evidence to prove my fish story. Don't believe me? Check out my personal blog and see the pictures for yourself.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Saurian World--Part 2
Shnakvorum Rikoyoch. (Greetings, friends.)
I'm continuing my story of how I came to write Starfire, my sci-fi novel about Sauria. The last time I posted, I left off with my lying in a hospital bed with a broken leg, staring at a kid's drawing of a dinosaur named Pike on my cast. Wondering if I was going insane . . .
So there I was, slowly going mad from wondering who Pike the Pogo-stick riding dinosaur was. After wracking my brain for the entire day, I finally got a nurse to get me a pen and a pad of paper. I figured that the only way I was going to get the questions out of my head was to answer them.
It seemed that no sooner than ink bled on the page that the words came gushing out, as if someone had severed an artery of thought.
Pike Dryo is a young Herian who stands up against a group of Karnian bullies along with his friends. They live on Dino Island . . .
Over the next few weeks, as I was unable to work and trapped in the confines of my apartment, the world that Pike inhabited became more clear and matured. I poured myself into the writing. I discovered animals, plants, cultures and languages. The history of the world unfolded before me.
And then one day it hit me. I had always loved to read, but I had never seriously considered becoming a writer. But as I looked at the pages and pages of this world that had gushed out of my fingers, I suddenly realized the gift that I had been given. I wasn't going insane, I was turning into an author!
I just needed the right story to start with. As much as Pike and his friends had done in creating the world, their story wasn't the right one to introduce the world to Sauria.
I searched through my notes on the history of Sauria and looked for the right tale. Could it be the founding of the Karn Empire? Perhaps the Moon Wars, or the Chaos Wars that followed. Or the rise of the Jerkrenak. But nothing seemed right.
Then another image of a Saurian came to me. A young Karnian warrior, a savage fighter with a noble, yet scarred heart. Rathe of Yanguch, the Saurn who would come to have the weight of the world and more laid upon his shoulders . . .
And thus Starfire was born.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Writing for Scenes and Beans sure isn't like writing in my office at the newspaper. There I have some PRIVACY (a little hint for Wilbur, who's leaning over my shoulder and treating me to a good whiff of his egg-y breath.) At the paper, no one sees it till I'm good and ready for them to.
In my first post, I told you about my first newspaper, the one I made in second grade, and how I learned to be careful about what I report. I've learned plenty since then. One particularly important lesson I've learned is to pay attention to my wife's intuition.
I remember our first year of marriage. I was an up and coming reporter, full of vim and vinegar like young Leslie is now. When my wife told me that something fishy was going on at our new neighbor's house, I told her she had an overactive imagination. We'd only owned our little ranch-style house for a year, but our neighbor Vesta had made us feel right at home--inviting Becky for tea, bringing us baked goods, and sharing her sweet garden tomatoes. When a middle-aged single woman moved in next to us, Becky wanted to return the favor. She whipped up some Rice Krispie treats (the only thing she knew how to make in those days), and took them over.
Several minutes later she returned, her cute little forehead wrinkled in puzzlement. "I know the woman is home. I saw her walk out and fetch her mail fifteen minutes ago, and her car is in the driveway, but she didn't answer the door. I left the treats on the stoop."
I told her not to take it personally, that the poor woman was probably just in the bathroom or something. As it turned out, we never did get to actually talk to the new neighbor. She'd always slip between her house and car like a salamander darting from underneath one log to another. Becky took to watching the woman (Darlene Martin was her name) from behind our drapes and reporting anything to me she thought to be suspicious. "Honey, Vesta says Darlene is from Florida. Why would she move to Idaho, anyway?" "Look at all those grocery bags! No single woman buys that many groceries. Something's fishy over there."
I just rolled my eyes and started calling her Gladys Cravitz for being such a voyeur.
Six months later, Darlene was arrested. Becky was right about the grocery bags. They weren't full of groceries, but rather alligator hides sent up from Darlene's cohorts down in Florida. Apparently, Darlene had a little workshop in her basement, where she'd make purses and belts out of the illegally-gotten hides collected by poachers.
From then on, I listened to my wife better. Not that her intuition is full-proof. There was a time not too long ago, when she went out for dinner at a little Italian place on the outskirts of town with her girlfriends. Partway through their dinner, she excused herself, ran to the ladies' room and called me on her cell phone. "Jared, you've got to get down here. Someone is planning a murder!" She'd overheard two men talking in the next booth. She couldn't see them over the high-backed seats and was too afraid to look.
I rushed on down to investigate, my mouth watering over the great story (and the garlic bread I figured I'd pick up while I was there). Unfortunately, all I got out the deal was the garlic bread. The two men in the booth were S-man and a friend, discussing the death of a character in one of his sci-fi novels over spaghetti.
Still, Becky's right more often than she's wrong, so I never hesitate to check it out when she thinks she smells a story. After all, Gladys was right about Samantha, wasn't she?
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Dinner With a Friend
If it weren't for the fact that there have been a lot of rumors flying around town, I would be writing a whole different post today. As it is, I think everyone in town is aware that David Clanton and I went out to dinner the other night at a restaurant over in Coeur d'Alene. (David's an old friend I've known for years.) I would have thought the restaurant was far enough away that none of the locals would have been there. Wrong. Turned out to be more like a Kanner Lake convention.
First of all, Pastor Hank and Janet stopped by our table on their way out of the restaurant. They wanted to say hello to David since they hadn't seen him in awhile, but Janet kept giving me this strange look and nodding. I couldn't figure out if I needed to go refresh my lipstick or what?
Then Becky and Jared came up to table, and said hello, and seemed to be waiting for us to say something. Talk about pregnant silences. Finally they left.
Last, but not least, came Bev and her husband. Bev is still pretty upset with me about our little actress pursuit, and this appears to have been her opportunity to get even. David and I were chatting away when Bev walked up and said, "My, I didn't know you two were an item."
Well, you could have painted a fire truck with our faces. Here we are, two old friends who used to spend a lot of time together with our families and late spouses, and here comes Bev, suggesting that we're dating! I haven't dated anyone since I met Frank, and ditto for David with Capi. It was just more embarrassing than I could handle.
"Beverly Trexel," I replied, "What are you talking about?"
"Well," she said, "You two are sitting here all cozy, and after that remark David left about you in the blog the other day, well I just put two and two together."
"Can't two old friends enjoy a dinner and some memories in peace without the whole town butting in?" I huffed.
Now poor David was looking back and forth at both of us, and must have sensed that my temper was starting to get a little riled. He started to speak when Bev cut him off. "Oh Angie, don't get all tied up in a knot. You two make a really nice couple."
By this time I was so incensed I was starting to see as much red as was on my face. I couldn't imagine what had gotten into Bev. Why was she embarrassing me so? At this point David, fine diplomat that he is, finally got a word in edgewise. "Bev, thank you for the compliment. I think Angie is a beautiful woman, inside and out, but tonight we're just two old friends reminiscing. However, we just might keep you guessing."
That was all I could handle. I burst into tears. I'm still not sure why. I can't remember what Bev said, but she made a hasty retreat. Then David got out this silly handkerchief with Larry the Cucumber all over it so I could dry my tears, and I started giggling and couldn't stop. We must have laughed the rest of the night.
I'm not sure if I'm ever going to speak to Bev again, but for now Kanner Lake, you can just keep on guessing about that, too.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
In Quieter Days
Here's a story about my reporting life--before all the events of last month. (Things have changed considerably since then, as you know.)
So I'm sitting in the Times office one Monday drinking one of my biggie lattes from Java Joint. In walks Wilbur. Yes, the one and only Mr. Hucks, who never misses an opportunity to show his scar to people. I assumed Wilbur was on a social call, but he wasted no time dropping a bombshell: Marty's, a popular little lunches-only restaurant between here and Spirit Lake, had suddenly closed, and no one knew why.
I jotted down what Wilbur knew, then hustled over to the site. The employees were standing in the parking lot, shaking their heads and looking quite upset and confused. They all wanted to talk to me at once. Eventually, I was able to sort out the tale. The locks on the doors had been changed, and a glance through the window revealed an empty shell of a store: no chairs or tables, no kitchen equipment, no inside signage--nothing!
I tracked down the only locksmith in town (Bobby Carter) and fired questions at him. Turns out he'd received a call from the owner the night before, offering double the usual fee to get the store's locks changed before morning.Believe me, I asked Bobby why he went along with such a request. Poor guy needed the money to pay for his daughter's wedding next year, so there was no way I'd paint him in a bad light in my article.
Took me two days to catch up with the owner, Marty Cochrane. My deadline loomed, and I had written half the story while I waited to hear the other side. I finally struck gold after a bazillion "I don't know where he is now" comments and blasted Marty with some hard-hitting queries.
Here's the sum-up, which I concluded after forty-five minutes of Cochrane talking around the issue. He'd been running low on money, but didn't want to say anything to his employees. He kept thinking he could pull through. But that fateful Saturday two things happened. A huge bill landed on his desk, and he knew he'd have to close immediately. Plus he got a phone call saying his mother had suffered a heart attack down in Pullman. Marty had to do numerous things at once. He managed to find someone in a hurry to buy all his equipment and arranged to have everything moved out on Sunday--the one day of the week the restaurant was usually closed. And he left for Pullman.
Well, okay, but really--to not tell your employees?
I wrote my story, not only telling all the hard news, but including the drama in the lives of the suddenly unemployed and the owner (whose mother recovered). My fellow Kanner Lake citizens talked about the story for days after that. Everyone still misses that little restaurant. But they're still mad at Marty for the way he handled things.
Trust me, people don't forget easily in a small town like Kanner Lake!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
How I "Fell" For John
Hello, everyone, it's Bailey. Hope you are enjoying all the posts here.
I want to tell you how my husband, John, and I got together when we were teenagers. It's been almost forty years now. (Hard to believe.) It was just after the Fourth of July parade (this was before the Manic Mowers, by the way), and we were having the community picnic down around the lake. I love fireworks, and Kanner Lake puts on a mighty show of them every year. The way they shimmer off the water, well, there's nothing quite like it.
As darkness fell and the fireworks were about ready to begin, I scooted away from Mom and Dad's watchful eyes and climbed up a little hill at the edge of the lake for a better view. Some boys were tossing a football on the flat top of that hill, but I didn't pay them much mind.
So there I stood, minding my own business, anticipating the beginning of the show, when suddenly I found myself tumbling down the hill and into the lake.
I came up sputtering, trying to wipe my eyes and see who was villainous enough to push me. I spotted a boy that used to go my school, looking horrified. I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, and I sure didn't remember him being quite so handsome. His name was John Truitt.
It made me realize how awful I must look, and I wanted to cry--half because of that and half because I was mad at being pushed. I would have like to look my best and instead I looked my worst.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to back into you!" John scrambled down the slippery slope and extended his hand to help me out.
"Watch out!" a voice cried from above. Someone had sent the football on a wild throw, and it pegged John square in the back of the head. He pitched right into the lake with me.
We helped one another climb out of there, both of us wet, muddy messes. John apologized profusely and tried to help me clean up. He only made matters worse and pretty soon we were laughing so hard we could barely stand.
Our first "date" was the following night. My parents let us go down to the city beach and watch the sunset. We laughed all over again about what had happened. I fell in love with John that night. To this day one of my favorite sounds is the sound of his voice, especially his laughter.
That's why looking over Kanner Lake always makes me happy. It brings back wonderful memories of how John and I got together, and the life we've shared here.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Cooking With Wilbur
Last week my darling Trudy had the flu. First time since we've been hitched if I recall right.
So I set about in the kitchen, trying to cook some homemade soup for the poor gal. I was looking for this and that, pulling out drawers, and here one comes poppin' out onto the floor. I'm tellin ya I didn't do it. Thing just had a mind of its own. All the noise caused my girl concern. She yells out from the bedroom (more like croaks), "What's going on out there?"
"Everything's under control, Sweet Pea!" I hollered. (Hey S-man, what's Sweet Pea in Saurian? I ought to try that on Trudy some time.) I did what any good husband would. I scooped everything off the floor and threw it back in.
Making soup for my love dove couldn't be that hard, could it? I pulled out a big pot (picked it by going eeny, meeny, miny, mo) and put it on the stove. Started singing an old silly song from my childhood--"Oh, the big hog down the rooooad . . ." Anybody out there in blog land remember that one? Next I rummaged through the fridge looking for ingredients. Good soup has meat, vegetables and plenty of flavor, right? I found some ham and lettuce, and a little bit of ketchup. Threw 'em in with a bunch of water, but that soup looked mighty thin. So I set about for something to give it some thickness. I found some rice and oats in the pantry. Perfect! I tossed 'em in.
Then I remembered that cooking show on TV my Sweet Pea watches. Martha Somebody. So I flipped on the tube. Turned out the Martha gal was making soup that very day. She had a big pot on the stove just like I did. I did my best to listen, but that gal talked so fast, I only got every other sentence. I did hear about butter and flour for thickening, but I missed how much. "Oh, help me," I said to myself, "I didn't use either of those things." The Martha gal kept talkin' while I sliced off a half stick of butter, grabbed a measuring cup (not sure what size), dragged it through the flour, and dumped the white stuff in. By this time my soup was boiling away.
This gal Martha shows her soup--how nice and smooth it is. She's stirring it round and round. My soup wasn't smooth, let me tell you. In fact it was lumpy as a [Bailey--I'm deleting his explanation, but I think you get the picture]. The flour gobbed up in little balls and rolled all around, and the oats and ham looked pasty. I stuck in a spoon for a taste, got a whiff of the smell and thought better of it.
The phone rang. It was Pastor Hank, wanting to know how Trudy was. We talked a few minutes about when we were goin' fishing, and then I started hearing this awful sizzle-hiss coming from the stove. I turned around, and that pot was overflowing like nobody's business. All over the stove and onto the floor. I hollered into the phone, "Gotto go" and dropped it quick. I smacked off the burner, but the stuff just kept on boiling. It was kind of a sickly green-brown.
I let loose with a few choice words and shoved the pot off the burner. Must have shoved too hard or something, 'cause the whole cotton-pickin' mess went over the edge onto the floor. Caused the biggest clatter you ever heard.
Next thing I know, Trudy's in the kitchen, all red-nosed and white-faced, seeing what all the commotion's about. She took one look at the mess and turned green. I just stood there feeling like a complete idiot. "I was trying to make you some--"
Trudy held up one of her lovely little hands. I'm telling you, after livin' with the gal for so many years, that hand is all it takes to shut me up. Without a word she shuffled to the cupboard and pulled out a big can of soup. Had meat and vegetables in it. She pushed the thing at me and said, "Think you can heat this up without burning down my kitchen?"
I felt red behind the ears. "It wasn't my fault. That gal on TV's the worst cook I ever saw in my life. Look what she made me do!"
"Wilbur, just heat the soup. And can you clean up the floor, please?"
Well, far from me to say no to my love dove when she's so sick. She stumbled on back to bed while I heated the soup. I put it in the biggest pot I could find in that entire kitchen so it wouldn't boil over. And I watched it like a hawk. The minute it started to steam, I took it off the stove. Fixed it all in a bowl right nice and took it on a tray into my Sweet Pea.
The mess on the floor took awhile to clean up. The dog helped. I think he licked up enough to fill his belly for a couple days.
I think I should write to that TV station and tell them to take that Martha gal off there. She's probably causing messes in a million kitchens across the country. Who in tarnation hired that girl?
P.S. Trudy's all better now. I think the sight of me cookin' in her kitchen had a lot to do with it.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Sometimes I wish I'd just hold my tongue.
It shouldn't be that hard. Just bite it, nod politely, and go on with life. But my agreement to write this blog for Bailey has awakened old habits, and the floodgates have opened.
Take for example this past Monday.
Angie, being in a shopping mood, decided to drag me into every shop in Kanner Lake and the surrounding area. Hardware, grocery, gift--the shop type didn't matter. Goodness. I didn't know we had so many. I was ready to relieve my feet at Java Joint two blocks into Angie's crusade.
But no. If the shop was there, we went into it. She bought at most of them too. Only heaven knows what she'll do with it all.
Anyway, it wasn't long before we reached Marge's Flowers--a brand new shop in town. Angie decided on a whim--as usual--to buy some flowers for her husband's grave. Soon she was in a dither over Marge's broad selection--which is excellent for a town the size of Kanner Lake, by the way. So Angie asked for a recommendation.
Do you know what Marge offered her? A mix of red and white roses. Can you believe that? Only dark crimson roses would do for a grave!
I know Marge has a good heart and well-meaning intentions. But how you can run a flower shop and not know floriography--the language of flowers--is beyond me. So since I once studied flowers myself in my younger years, I could not help but volunteer to come in a couple afternoons a week to teach her what I know and give her a chance to study color combinations and do flower arrangements while I tend the shop. I guess it's the teacher in me.
Thus far it hasn't been too bad. Marge is eager and diligent, everything a teacher dreams for in a student. It's also been an interesting challenge to work in an area so unrelated to English.
Consider the last day I worked when a young man and his daughter came into the store. The daughter couldn't have been much more than four and had the most angelic gold curls, just like my own granddaughter, Abigail.
Since Marge was in the back studying, I stepped offered my services, asking what the occasion was. The father refused to reply and stalked to a back corner to study the prearranged flower bouquets. The nerve of him!
But the girl tugged on my sleeve and whispered that "mommy and daddy" had a fight. Of course, I knew just the thing and put my skills to use.
An hour later, the girl entered the store again, without either parent and asked if I'd seen them. I hadn't, but I was plenty outraged, I'll tell you. It's scandalous how parents neglect children these days.
So since I was ready to leave for the day, I told the child to wait for me and I would help her look. After retrieving my purse from the back and bidding Marge goodbye, I returned to the storefront. The girl was gone.
With the recent morbid events . . . well, I just didn't like it. Funny how differently I look at things these days because of all that has happened.
I do hope the flowers worked for that little girl's parents. It was a lovely arrangement.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
This 'n' That From Janet
Hi, all, it's Janet Detcher. Nice to visit with you again.
I popped into Sarah's store, Simple Pleasures, recently. My oldest daughter's birthday is next month and I wanted to find something special. I can always count Sarah to have just what I'm looking for--even if I don't know what I'm looking for! (But maybe one of those fabulous oil lamp candles!?)
When you make it to Kanner Lake, you'll have to stop by Simple Pleasures. Sarah will have the perfect memento for you to take home as a reminder of your time here.
Hank had a busy week last week. He went fishing with Wilbur on Wednesday, had a funeral at church on Thursday, coached two KL Cougars games on Friday (our local Little League baseball team). Then he spent a couple hours Saturday morning putting the finishing touches on his message for Sunday. Sometimes we are like ships passing in the night! Such is the life of the pastor.
I talked to Nancy Edwards the other day. She is the wife of our esteemed Chief of Police, Vince. She related a story to me from her daughter, Heather. Heather and her husband have a little girl, Christy--four years old. They live in Liberty Lake, not too far from Kanner Lake.
Nancy told me that last Sunday evening at church, Christy was having a hard time sitting still in church. (They attend a very small church and there is no organized child care in the evening services). So, apparently after several attempts by Heather to get Christy to settle down, she got up and proceeded to carry her out of the sanctuary. But in spite of all Heather's efforts to be discreet, Christy wailed, "Pray for me, people!"
The congregation cracked up. How in the world could you not laugh? Their pastor, who Hank and I know well, is such a good natured guy. He just stopped mid-sentence and said, "Christy, I tell you what. You go outside and quiet down, and we'll pray for you all you want."
Yesterday, I ran into Jared, our trusted newspaper man. After I read his first post here, I had to tell him how much I enjoyed reading a bit of his history. I didn't know the details about his grandfather's vision for the news, so it's been great to find out a little more about Jared's family. It's a wonder Jared is still here. I know he could have moved on to a bigger city and newspaper long ago. But he stayed with us and continues to be a great servant to our community. Now he's training Leslie, and, well, you all have seen what that little lady can do.
And now I have chatted enough. Have a wonderful day, all!
Oh. Do tell me any cute kids-in-church stories you might have. I may write them all up some day.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The Camping Life--Not
Hi, it's Leslie. Everybody, I'm okay. I've gotten lots of emails from folks who saw me on TV. Things are kind of settling back to normal here. At least I'm working on that. Thanks to everyone for your concern.
So meanwhile, it's summertime here in Kanner Lake, which to some of my friends means "camping season." They love to go out for a weekend and sleep in a tent, far away from showers, flush toilets and, most importantly, the lattes at Java Joint.
Are they insane?
Crazy me, I actually tried joining them once last year. Bad idea. Terrible, in fact. Have you seen how many bugs live in those out-of-the-way campgrounds? I covered myself with repellent and still they buzzed around me like I was the choicest meal in the entire world.
And that wasn't the only problem: Three girls in one tent, and we all packed so much into our backpacks that there was hardly room for us to sleep at night. I was squished into a corner for six hours straight. Then it gets light so early, and the guys woke us up by banging pots and pans together. At five a.m. that sound goes right through your head.
And let's get this straight--I can't stand fish! Each guy caught a few, and one of the gals got her lucky beginner catch as well. The smell of those things in the cooler was bad enough, but then one guy decided it would be cool to wave the slimiest one in my face. I swear I couldn't get the smell off me for a week.
Then there was the raccoon that decided to pay a friendly visit the second night. You'd think the guys would know the rule regarding food and garbage, but no. They left out scraps of both, and we found it spread everywhere by morning. Like we'd gone to sleep in a dump, I swear. We must have walked an entire mile picking up scraps so the next campers wouldn't have the same problem.
We're just lucky a bear didn't smell the stuff.
Okay, I'll admit it was cool to see a moose at the other side of the lake, and the osprey circling for their next meal. I even saw a red fox run by. I'd never seen one up close before.
All the same, this summer it's town life for me. I've had enough trauma to last awhile, anyway. I'm staying by the lake, sunbathing and writing my articles. Most of all, drinking my biggie lattes from Java Joint. In fact, it's time to go get one now. Catch you all later!
By the way, if you've had a camping experience of your own, I'd love to hear about it. Promise not to say you're crazy if you liked it. (Even though you are.)
-- Leslie Brymes
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Pastor Hank Strikes Out
Pastor Hank is up to bat again. I'm going to talk about "The Cougars," Kanner Lake's Little League Baseball Team. I am the team's coach, bus driver and all-around-encourager. I got involved with the Little League about ten years ago when Jake Tremaine asked me to help out with the umpiring stuff. Guess he thought that my job qualified me to call balls and strikes. I was pretty intimidated when I started. Having two daughters, I had never really participated in the Little League.
This new umpiring gig had a bit of a rocky start. George Cooper helped to make my first afternoon behind home plate quite a memorable one. Seems that George didn't like the way I was calling balls and strikes when his Cougars (he was the coach back then) were up to bat. The Cougars were playing the Hillside Lions and were behind by one run in the sixth inning (Little League's last inning) when George's son Albert came up to bat with two outs on the scoreboard and the bases loaded with our hometown Cougars. Albert's first and second swings connected with the ball but went into foul territory. Tension was rising.
The game was on the line.
I felt the pressure as the next ball came toward home plate. Ball one. The pitch was in the dirt. The next pitch came and Albert didn't swing. It looked good to me. "Strike three!" I yelled.
The Cougars had lost.
Well, the game might have been over for me but not for George. I first caught on to this the next day as I stood greeting members of my church after my Sunday sermon. George walked by extending his hand for a handshake but not making eye contact as he did. I blew it off and thought that George was just stewing a bit after his team's loss. Over the next week I ran into George a few times around town and he still acted cold towards me. On Friday I saw him and tried a bit of chitchat. George wasn't biting. So I barreled ahead and started to talk about the game and the Cougar's loss.
Seems that George wasn't upset about the loss. He was upset about a comment that I made in passing: "I don’t know why everyone is so upset. It's only a game.'" George went on to tell me that "his boys" had been training hard all week for the game with the Lions. The game was important to them. I felt bad about how my words discouraged these young boys and trivialized their week of hard work. I apologized to George and got a chance to talk to the team at their practice the next week. After apologizing I took the opportunity to talk to the team about how words can hurt people even when you don't want them to hurt.
I learned something that week about the Little League and about myself. The good book is right on when it says (in James 3:5--the Message translation) that "A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire."
Guess I started my own fire that week, and I needed to put it out.
Monday, August 07, 2006
This Heart of Mine
Hello, Blog People. It's me, Wilbur.
So. A lot's been happening around here, as you well noticed. By now the reporters have gone, and things are trying to get back to normal. But Bailey'll get her knickers in a snit if I keep talking about it. She's already giving me the Eye as she types my words. The Scenes and Beans bloggers ain't supposed to talk about the elephant in the living room, see. Fine, then, I'll talk around it. But I'm gonna tell you why the murder and Paige Williams' trouble and all affected me so much.
First I got to back up a bit. I was as surprised as most folks 'round here that when I went in for a triple-bypass they found a heart beating inside me. Thought to St. Pete I had lost that thing back when my daughter died in '75. Took it out, locked it in a box, tossed the box up in the attic with the rest of the foolishness of bygone years, and mailed the key to a dead letter office in Albuquerque. But all these years later the docs told me there really was a heart in there, pumping as well as could be expected for all the gunk in my arteries. Imagine that.
Then after I got out of the hospital--it happened. I saw my daughter, Diana, again. The first day I was able to walk down Main Street, there she was. Young woman was working in Sarah Wray's Simple Pleasures shop, across the street from Java Joint. Girl was adjusting some nonsense they have in the shop window. (Bailey's just shot me a look. It's not nonsense if you like soft and frilly things, or candles and whatnot; I just got no use for it.)
Back to my story. I got a good look at the girl's eyes and criminently if they weren't the same aquamarine as Di's. Hadn't never seen that color eyes anywhere outside my baby's face and there it was. The girl's face was even framed by raven's-wing black hair cut short--like Diana's looked when it grew in after the chemo. If I'd still had all that gunk in my arteries, my ticker would've quit for sure. As it was I barely made it to my stool at Java Joint, and another ten minutes 'til I could tell Bailey I'd seen a ghost.
The girl, Paige Williams, came into Java Joint a few days later and all I could do is gawp at my Diana. Carla Radling told me later the girl must've thought I was a decrepit old sex fiend the way I was staring, but I think that was mostly so Carla could call me decrepit and old.
When I first saw Paige's eyes--that was the first day since Diana died that I really wanted to be alive. Not that I was suicidal before then, but I could take or leave life, made no difference to me. My scar became a trophy, a badge of honor. My heart was still beating and I had something to show for it.
Now Blog People, I'm not gonna get all gooshy here and tell you to carpe your diem and all that, because that's not me. And if you're readjusting your life based on advice from an ol' geezer on the Internet then you're a bigger fool than I am. But I will say this: I've shown my scar to every man, woman, child, and four-legged friend in town a dozen times and more. They've groused and they've groaned and they're tired of it, I know. But they all--without saying it--are as glad to see it as I am to show it. (Bailey's giving me another look. Maybe I'm exaggerating about their enthusiasm.) What I mean is the folks 'round here understand and appreciate that I'm alive. That there's a heart under that fishbelly seam, not the bag of sawdust we all along suspected I had.
Blog People, if you don't want to visit a place where folks give a rip about the simple fact you're alive, then maybe you need to try one of those blood pressure machines at the pharmacy and check for a pulse of your own.
Anyway, this is why I'm rootin' for Paige. You all read the papers; you know what I'm talkin' about. (Bailey's givin' me her Eye again.)
So now that it's a mite quieter around here, come visit Kanner Lake. Stop by Java Joint and say hi. (Before you get on back home.) Just remember like I told you last time--stay off the first stool at the counter. It's mine.
Friday, August 04, 2006
A Clock for a Special Time
Hello, it's me again, Sarah Wray. First, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have been thinking about me. It's true, Simple Pleasures was struck pretty hard with all the horrible events that happened a few weeks ago. But we are making it. Thank you for your prayers.
I suppose I'm like Jake was yesterday. Feeling a little bit more serious today, due to all that's happened recently. So today I want to tell you about a special clock I have for sale in my store.
I just love clocks with personality. We have one on the wall in Simple Pleasures that makes me smile every time I see it. It's the French Sugar clock.
The little blond girl on the front of it reminds me of a picture I have of my mother when she was that age. My mother was sitting on a simple board and rope swing that hung from a tree behind the little shack of a house they lived in. Her hair was pulled up into a big bow on top just like the girl on the clock. The picture is black and white, but my mother insisted when she gave me the picture that the bow was blue.
My mother was young when I was born. She taught me to read before the other little girls could. She taught me to add when others my age were still learning to count. She seemed so energetic, always wanting to do more than there was time for. I'm sure my mom had plans that never happened. Most of us do.
We come from sturdy stock, so it surprised me when my mother became ill. The family gathered around to help keep the house running at first, but I spent as much time with her as I could. I tried to cheer her up by giving her silly gifts that I'd made. When my aunt saw my wildflowers on the nightstand by my mother's bed, she threw out the "weeds." I cried. But not in front of my mother. I had a special place behind the house for doing that.
I was at my special place when my dad came to get me one afternoon. He picked me up in his strong arms and carried me out to the woods behind the house. He walked a long time before he set me down. We sat under a tree and talked while I listened to the birds' noises above me. Then my dad began telling me how much my mother loved me. He used words like "she was" and "she used to." I saw the tears in his eyes. He reached a great big hand out to me. I climbed up to hug my dad. He couldn't say it, but I knew what had happened.
The evening after we buried my mother, everyone stayed for dinner at my house to fill me with stories about her. We laughed about the good old days and funny things she'd done. I guess they wanted to save the crying for after they left.
Most of my elders died at a ripe old age. Some of them made me wonder if they'd ever die. But not so with my mom.
This is why I smile--kind of sadly--at that clock in my store. I have plenty of good memories of my mother.
My mother--with a bright blue bow in her hair.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
After all the events around here, I guess I'm feeling a mite philosophical. Truth is I'm four months into retirement and ain't sure if I like it or not. I sure been hanging out a lot at Java Joint. Getting to know people can be downright interesting. Sure, I knew most of 'em before I retired, but I'll tell ya, working in a saw mill for a living burns a lot of daylight. I'd get up close to three in the morning and the only place I could get coffee was in my own kitchen. Bailey's brew is a heck of a lot better than anything my old Mr. Coffee has ever brewed. So when I was working, I couldn't always be around the Java Joint. Now I can come here when she opens for the good stuff.
I still get up at three. (Old habits die hard.) I piddle around the house, feed Cracker (that's my old blue heeler) and watch the weather. Most mornings lately, I go out back to my tree stand and watch the sun come up. Yesterday as I waited for it to rise, I was thinking about transition. It was so dark out there I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. That's how I felt right before my big day of retirement came. The day I didn't have to send my old tired bones to the mill. My chest had been heavy for about a month before that day. I'd get excited and then I'd get downright spooked. I've been in that mill more than I've been out of it. Least that's how it feels. My whole world felt dark.
I remember getting that feeling on my wedding day, too. Probably not a great thing to admit. But the unknown has always put a fear in me. I decided I couldn't have Lily know I was feeling all scared. I was a man. Couldn't be scared. No sir. So I walked to the tree in the forest that Lily and I used to sit under, and I took off my boots and I nailed 'em to the tree. I figured that as long as the Lord let me live, I'd be able to go back there every time I got scared and think of my beautiful Lily's smile and that'd make the dark go away. And I was right.
"There," I told myself. "A change in life deserves for the old to be hung up and the new a chance to get worn in."
The next time I took Lily to the tree I had some explainin' to do when she saw my boots. She laughed and took off her own shoes and asked me for my hammer and nails. She said she was scared, too.
Since then that tree's seen a lot of pairs of shoes nailed to it from lots of folks. I guess I started something.
Four months ago, I nailed my old work boots to that tree. These new ones still ain't broke in. But I'm sure with some time they'll stretch out and I'll like 'em just fine.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Angie's Chase--Part 3
So there we were, Bev, Eva Longoria, and I, sprawled on the sidewalk. Red-faced and nearly beside myself with fluster, I managed to shove my hefty body to my feet. I held out my hand to Eva (Bev could manage to get up on her own). "Oh, I'm so sorry! Oh, oh! Are you hurt?"
Eva untangled herself from Bev, assuring me she was fine. Bev said the same. I pulled Eva up, and Bev tottered to her feet, glaring at me with the darkness of a tempest storm. Boy, I did not look forward to being alone with her. We brushed the dirt off our slacks. My elbow smarted something terrible.
Next thing I knew, a blond-haired man was standing beside us, eyes wide. "Amanda!" He was looking at Eva. "What happened? I've been waiting for you in the car."
Amanda looked at the man, then at me. I looked at her, then at Bev. Bev just kept glaring.
Eva (Amanda?) grabbed onto Blondie like a drowning woman just thrown a lifeline. "I'm fine. I guess. I was just . . . getting acquainted with some of the locals."
Finally, I found my voice. "Amanda?" I squeaked. "You mean, you're not Eva Longoria?"
She laughed. "Oh, everybody says that. It's not the first time. But no, I'm Amanda Bellingsworth, a seamstress from Montana, here on vacation." She gave me a look. "Sometimes the mix-ups can be more dangerous than others."
Amanda. A seamstress. Not Eva. I'd chased her, knocked her down. Well, with the help of a fool dog. She was going to think I was totally nuts. She'd think the whole town was nuts. At first I couldn't think of a thing to say. Then once I opened my mouth it wouldn't shut again. I said something about how lovely it was to meet her and I hoped their vacation was wonderful, and really, Kanner Lake wasn't a town full of a bunch of idiots, it just looked like it, and I just knew my friend Bev was going to lay into me the minute we were alone . . .
I'd have kept right on blabbing if Bev hadn't clamped her hand over my mouth. "She IS crazy," Bev declared to Amanda. "It's ALL I can do to keep her in line." Bev pursed her mouth at me and grabbed hold of my arm. "We'll be going now."
And with no chance for another word, she stalked away, pulling me with her. I looked back over my shoulder to give Amanda and her man a tiny little wave. She shook her head at me, and they went their way, and we went ours. Bev didn't let go of my arm until we were in Java Joint. Even then she threatened to chain me to my chair at our table.
We drank our coffees in silence.
Four days later and Bev's still mad at me. Probably because Wilbur won't stop teasing her about it. ("Chasing an actress, who'd a thought?") He's always looking to bring Bev down a peg or two. Anyway, would somebody out there tell her to lighten up? And Wilbur to shut up?
Although it'll be a miracle if either one of them listens.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Angie's Chase--Part 2
So there we were, Bev and I, trotting down the sidewalk to catch actress Eva Longoria. I tell you--that Bev protested the whole way. You'd have thought I was pulling her along to feed her to the lions.
"This is ridiculous!" she wheezed. "The things you get me into. And just what do you expect to do when you catch up to her?"
Well, she had a point. What do you say to one of your most favorite actresses? Anything. It didn't matter what. I was just dying to meet her.
It didn't take long to catch up, which was a good thing because neither Bev nor I are in the best of shape these days. Too many cinnamon rolls at Java Joint.
Eva paused to read a poster outside a shop window. It was then or never, so I called out to her. "Yoo hoo! Hello there!"
She turned around, looking very flustered. Staring at us as if wondering if she was supposed to know us. I skidded to a halt and thrust out my hand. My tongue got all tied up. "Hi! Hello! I'm Angie. This is Bev. I'm dying to meet you. Angie's not, but she came along--wait, I didn't mean that. Of course she wants to meet you too."
Eva's eyes bounced from me to Bev and back. Slowly, she took my hand and shook it once. Then let go in a hurry.
"So how do you like Kanner Lake?" I gushed. ""We just love you here. I watch you all the time."
A strange expression flitted across her face. "You do?"
"Yes, yes, I just think you're so beautiful, and the way you stand up to that rat Albert on the show--"
Out of nowhere, a red blur bounded down the street. I knew at once it was Thelma Grady's Irish setter, Josie, loose again. Thelma lives just two blocks from downtown, and that crazy, overly friendly dog wriggles under the fence every chance she gets. Josie spied me and headed straight for the three of us at full speed.
"Aahhh!" Eva howled.
I stepped in front of her, protector of actresses that I am. Bev was left to fend for herself. Josie plowed into me with a vengeance, licking and barking happily. Well, my goodness, that dog knocked me clear off my feet! I fell into Bev, and Bev fell into Eva, and before you know it the three of us were sprawled on the sidewalk like Dominoes. Josie's tail went a mile a minute as she pranced right across Eva, then that idiot dog took off to find another victim of her excitement.
Oh, my! Eva Longoria, on the sidewalk--because of me! I thought I'd die of humiliation.
Turned out, that would have been nice, given what happened next.
Bailey Truitt ~ Java Joint owner
Leslie Brymes ~ reporter extraordinaire
Carla Radling ~ realtor at your service
Wilbur Hucks ~ ya gotta love him
Jake Tremaine ~ retired logger
Ted Dawson (S-Man) ~ sci-fi writer
Hank Detcher ~ pastor and friend
Janet Detcher ~ keeps Hank in line
Bev Trexel ~ retired teacher
Angie Brendt ~ Bev's best pal
Sarah Wray ~ Simple Pleasures owner
Jared Moore ~ Kanner Lake Times
LEARN MORE ABOUT KANNER LAKE
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Mary Ann Diorio
Girl's Write Out
Joy in the Litter Box
A Life in Pages
Pieces of Me
Readin N Writin with Patricia
Robin Lee Hatcher's Write Thinking
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