Friday, September 29, 2006
Hi, Janet Detcher here. I would like to tell you the story about my niece, Renee. (Told with her permission.) It's not an easy story to tell, but the lessons she learned may help someone out there who's going through a difficult time.
Five years ago, Renee and her husband, Wayne, packed up their two little girls, Crystal and Suzanne, (then 5 and 8) and followed God's leading to be missionaries in Lithuania. After a miraculously short stint of raising financial support, they left for a two-year assignment.
Three weeks into their new life, Wayne suddenly got sick. A seizure, out of nowhere, sent them to a hospital where Wayne was found to have a brain tumor. They immediately returned to the States. Within the next five days, Wayne would be diagnosed with Stage VI cancer, in the lungs and brain.
After only a few short weeks of chemo and radiation, and the prayers of literally hundreds of people, Wayne left Renee and their two girls and went home to heaven.
Naturally, we were all devastated. WHY would this happen now? When they had done all to obey God's call and walked through the open door to Lithuania? WHY, with a good marriage and two darling little girls? WHY when so many miracles had happened to get them on their way?
In the weeks following Wayne's death, Renee and I talked A LOT. She faithfully kept a journal and also, almost daily, e-mailed friends and family, getting lots of feedback. But interestingly, most of the answers Renee sought came to her from the heart of God Himself. These are the things God taught her through this difficult time.
First, NO ONE is exempt from pain or loss. There are no guarantees in this life.
Second, SOMETIMES GOD SAYS NO. Plain and simple. Sometimes He says "Yes," sometimes "wait," and sometimes "NO." Renee believes this was one of those times. In spite of all the prayers of so many faithful believers, (including those of Crystal and Suzie) God said "No."
Third, Renee says, in the midst of her darkest days, God said to her, "When you demand answers, you sacrifice peace." WOW! For one thing, Renee told me, God is not obligated to explain Himself. He is not obligated to tell us why He does anything He does. HE IS GOD. He knows the beginning from the end. He made the map of our lives and He will guide us on the path HE has designed from the beginning of our days.
In addition, the peace of God, that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That's a promise found in Philippians 4:7. Every answer in the world will not satisfy without the peace of God. And that peace comes only when we surrender our 'right to know' to God's perfect plan, believing He wants better for us than we want for ourselves.
Mighty hard to do sometimes, isn't it.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wilbur Meets His Sweetie
Dag nabit, if I didn't snag the best lady in the world. Yes, sir. I was 17, just got off work, and the sun had finally come out after three days of hard rain.
There she was, Gertrude McGurty with her friend Betsy Lands. Just standing in front of the Malt shop chit-chattin'. Beautiful blonde hair all nice and shiny and glowing in the sun. Well, until a truck came barreling down the street and . . .whoosh!
Talk about the puddle of all puddles. To everybody else she looked like a drowned rat. But I didn't care. It was love at first sight.
My heart was pounding fiercely as I started across the street. I walked right up to her and asked, "Hi, will you marry me?"
Don't know what got into the girl. She slapped me and "harumphed" right past me. I looked over to Betsy. She stuck up her pip-squeekin' nose in the air and bumped me. I know she did that to wrinkle me all up. But I wasn't bothered a bit. My heart followed drowned rat Trudy across the street and round the corner. I never took my eyes off her.
By that point I'd made up my mind. I was gonna catch her heart and wrap it in tin foil if it took my whole life. I didn't care what people said, I knew that little drowned rat was gonna be mine. So I followed her home.
I hung back as I tracked her. I wanted to surprise my sweetie, so on the way I reached down into Mrs. Wenchfield's flower bed and borrowed some blossoms.
Sometimes I just don't get women. If Mrs. Wenchfield didn't want people pickin' her flowers, she shouldn't put 'em next to the walk way.
That pan she threw missed me by a hair's breadth, bounced off the . . . holy smoke, Bailey! I gotta git home for lunch before the missus comes down here and drags me off. See ya!
Bailey here: As usual I was typing Wilbur's post yesterday while he dictated, since he can't type. He took off in a hurry and didn't come back to finish his post. Guess he'll have to wrap this love story up some other time.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Just When You Thought You Knew a Person
Hello, it's Bailey with you today. Kanner Lake is still getting a lot of publicity after the trauma from the summer. I know I've told the others not to say anything about all that, but I do want to say a few things about Paige Williams.
The first thing that anybody notices about Paige is her incredible beauty. Which is immediately followed by the realization that she doesn't seem to know it. She's beautiful on the inside, too. In the short time that I have known Paige I have never heard her say an unkind word about anybody. Trust me, when you work in a shop like mine you hear all kinds of things about people, good and bad alike.
Time has taught me through the years to not assume you know a person by what you hear. If that were true, S-man would have a larger than life reputation that would land him in the loony bin! But you get to know him and you realize he's a rather complex guy with a vivid imagination and subtle sense of humor.
Same goes for Wilbur. He may seem all prickly on the outside, but Wilbur was the one who showed up on my doorstep first after John's accident to help me do a few things around the house. He arrived one morning with his toolbox and lunch pail and told me to put him to work. Just like that.
Of course, I didn't know what to say. I just stood there, holding back tears. "Wilbur, how about you come in and have a cup of coffee with me before I head back to the hospital?"
Poor guy. He got this look on his face, like a toad looking up at a size thirteen tennis shoe bearing down fast. "Well, I . . . uh . . . I guess I could do that."
Wilbur has a heart of gold. Especially since his surgery. He won't like that I told you this though, so let's keep it between us, okay?
We love our own. Paige is no exception. So if you come here looking to stir up the dirt, just pay for your coffee and leave. Paige is part of our family and we look after our own around here. If you need a place to belong, do come by Java Joint. We'll try to make Kanner Lake feel like home to you, too.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A Humbling Moment at the Salon
Hi! Sarah Wray here. I'm pleased to see how many of you have stopped by my Simple Pleasures website (www.simplepleasures-cda.com). Keep on coming, folks! And tell your friends. We love meeting new people, even online.
I thought I'd tell you about a very humbling experience I had last week--a simple hair perm that went awry. In more ways than one!
Feeling the need to perk up my gray hair that I'd let grow a little longer than usual, I made an appointment with our local hairdresser to get a perm. What I was thinking, I'll never know. My hair has a lot of natural curl in it already.
When it was all finished, I gazed in dismay at my reflection in the mirror. I had tight spitball curls everywhere. I didn't even look like myself. What had I done?
The girls in the salon tried to tell me it was a great new look for me. Yeah, right! How gullible did they think I was? In my opinion, it made me look positively fat! Now I know I said earlier that my pleasantly plump figure doesn't bother me, but this hairdo made me look like I'd gained fifty pounds.
Deciding I needed a pick-me-up, I stopped into Java Joint to get a biggie double latte before heading across the street to work. When I walked in, all the usual people were lined up at the counter: Carla, Pastor Hank, Jake, and Wilbur. And S-man was over in the corner, mumbling as he typed. There were a few customers scattered here and there, mostly locals--not as many tourists these days with fall in the air and school in session.
"Hi, everybody!" I greeted them with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, given the new hairdo.
Bailey turned around to face me across the counter. "Good morning! How may I help you?"
"Bailey." I cleared my throat, suddenly self-conscious (definitely a new feeling for me!) "It's me. Sarah."
Her eyes bulged, then she turned pink. "Oh, goodness!" She reached out to touch that awful hairdo. "It's real." She sounded awed. "I mean..."
Everybody else was staring at me.
"Who are you, Little Orphan Annie?" Wilbur gawked.
Pastor Hank started to say something, then closed his mouth. Carla just pressed her lips and said nothing. Even S-man looked up from his computer and said something in English. "Whoa!"
Okay, that was enough confirmation for me. The hairdo was absolutely awful, no matter what those ladies at the salon said. I made an emergency appointment to cut some of it--then see what I could do about straightening the rest.
I'm not a total Little Orphan Annie now, but I'm still half of one. It's going to take a long time to live this little experiment down.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Everything I know about world-building I learned from DVD special features. It's true. This whole desire to create a world got thrust on me suddenly, and I often found myself wondering just what the right way is to go about creating a world. I'm sure my ignorance has worked in my favor in some cases, but at the same time I needed a reference to see how other people do it. And with me being out of work and with this bum leg of mine, I had lots of time to kill. Most of that was filled with me trying to figure out this writing thing, but I also got a lot of movies on DVD in order to check out some other stories in this genre in a bit more time efficient way than reading (though I did that too).
But what I found was that even better than actually watching these films was watching the special features or commentaries on how they went about creating the worlds and visions. One that springs to mind is a documentary I watched on The Dark Crystal. They talked about how the starting point of the story was the created world, and went into depth about how they strove to make everything in that world work and be believable. From there, the story arose. That struck a chord with me.
My own writing felt like that. Even though things started with a single character drawn on my leg cast, the world soon took on a life of its own. I found that it would generate stories seemingly on its own. It's nice to know there are other people out there who've had the same experience.
But probably the biggest thing I've learned is that you don't necessarily have to know everything right away. You have to keep things plausible and believable, but you can't be afraid to let things show up in the world and be there without an immediate explanation. I think it helps the world seem bigger and more realistic. Of course I have found that is easier to do in a movie than it in writing.
For those of you wondering how Starfire is coming along, I'm making very good progress. I'm almost halfway through with the first draft. (I think. I'm not entirely sure if any new surprises will pop up between now and the end.) Another few months and I should have the first draft done. Of course, then there will be rewrites. Some days it seems like I'll never be finished and wonder if this will all be a grand waste of time. Still, I do believe there are plenty of people out there who will enjoy Sauria and its stories just as much as I have enjoyed creating them.
Friday, September 22, 2006
A Place to Call Home
In one of my prior posts, I ranted about tourists and clients who take up my time just looking at properties. I suppose I should make it clear that to me, what I do isn't just about the money or closing the deal. It's about a place to call home. Whether it's for the summer or for fifty years, we all need a place to belong. For me, Java Joint is one of those places.
My morning ritual at the Java Joint gets me going every morning. After what's happened in Kanner Lake, I've been thinking. Where else could you pile a motley crew like us in one room, and all get along? Well, mostly. Yes, I know Wilbur drives some of us bonkers, but the day he was sick, Java Joint was really quiet. I missed him. (Shhh, don't tell.) Or if Bailey's had a hard night taking care of John, I can tell. She still smiles and takes care of our orders like we're the most important thing to her at that moment. Something in her eyes tells me she's thinking about him, though. And she serves us with such grace. I don't know if I could do it. Java Joint wouldn't be the same without S-man, either. If he's not there, I notice. I don't get the whole other world and language thing he's into, but I've got to give him credit for having vision and imagination.
The gang at the Java Joint is like an extended family for me. I don't know what's made me get so deep with this blog post, but I didn't want to come across as if I didn't care about people. I do, very much. Sometimes, though, I get too busy. I've also learned that if you don't take care of yourself, often no one else will.
This business with Paige has made me realize how much she and I have in common. At first I didn't think we did. But I do know what it's like for someone desperate for a place to belong. Maybe that's why I love real estate. A house is made of bricks, stone, wood--and travertine, perhaps. When I see a spark ignite in a client's eyes and I know they're envisioning family gatherings, quiet dinners, laughter, games, nights in front of the fire, it makes my job worth the hassles. I don't think just about my commission, but also that I've had a hand in helping a customer connect with a dream. A place to call home.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
If you asked anyone on the street what "charity" they support, most of them could probably give you an answer. Here in our own community of Kanner Lake we have an "Unplanned Blessings" committee that serves to take action for raising funds, providing assistance or prayer for residents that find themselves in a crisis. I happen to serve as the chairman for that committee. During our monthly meeting last week, an interesting discussion unfolded. I forget who brought it up, but one member made the comment, "I hope I never end up on our service list."
That comment really struck me. Isn't it funny how we all like to give charity but none of us want to receive it. This is certainly true for me. Truth is, I hate accepting help from anyone because I don't want to appear weak. Does that mean that I find the people I give to "weak?" Of course not. So why the double standard? If everything we have comes from God, and He has promised to meet all of our needs, why do I feel that my needs will only be met by the works of my own hands? I don't really, but that is what my actions reflect.
Tomorrow I'm tagging along with a group that is going to feed the homeless. Usually the group takes extra clothes and items to hand out as well. As I was packing up some extra clothes, coats and blankets to take, I suddenly felt I was doing things all wrong. I don't want the people I meet to feel like "charity," but to feel sincerely valued. Instead of taking the things I could do without, I'm taking some of my best. I'm praying that I will honor every person I meet and that they will know that God loves them deeply and that we, their neighbors, care too.
Deuteronomy 15: 7-8; 10-11: If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and towardbthe poor and needy in your land.
There will always be poor; one day it could be me.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Frank Jr.'s Homecoming--Get Ready, Girls!
Hey, folks. Angie here again. Is everyone else enjoying the beginning of the beautiful fall colors? Here in Kanner Lake we have a lot of trees that are green all year long, but there are others that change. Our mountains aren't quite like those in the eastern part of the U.S., but we do see the change in season.
Guess what--only four days, six hours, and fifteen minutes before Frank Jr.'s plane lands. My, oh, my, won't it be good to have that boy home again! Needless to say, it's hard to pin me down these days.
Speaking of Frank Jr., I hinted in my last post about the reasons why he hasn't gotten married yet. Now, girls, this is just between you and me and . . . well, thousands out there in blogland. But mum's the word, okay? Because he'd be fit to be tied if he ever got wind of what I'm up to.
I think he hasn't found "the one" yet, because he's been all tied up in his career in Chicago, and all the girls he's met have been big city girls. Growing up in Kanner Lake, he got downright spoiled, being here with all the wholesome local gals. (Nothing against you all in the Windy City!) If you've ever been here in Kanner Lake, you know what I'm talking about. The kind of girl you can take home to Mom, and not have it completely spin Thanksgiving into utter chaos. (But that's a different story).
So on with my plan. Honestly, it's so simple I don't know why I didn't think of it years ago. If all the eligible ladies of Kanner Lake were to show Frank Jr. just a bit of that Kanner Lake hospitality, I'm sure he'd get serious real fast about settling down. All it would take is a home baked pie or perhaps a picnic down by the lake. (Okay, so you'd have to dress warmly.) Remember strawberry-rhubarb is his favorite, and I've still got some frozen strawberries from my own patch in the freezer, if you need some. So, how does that sound? Any of you girls up for a real Kanner Lake homecoming?
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Another Critter Story
Last time I told you about a dog story I once had to write. Well, guess what, there are cats in Kanner Lake, too. And they can go missing just like canines.
Mrs. Bonner's Siamese cat was the culprit this time. Jared asked me to interview the owner. I was not enthusiastic since I didn't see it as an important news item. But I couldn't tell Jared that. I needed every story at that early point in my news career. At the same time, I wasn't thrilled about it when I set up an interview time with a sweet-sounding little old lady.
Mrs. Bonner lives in a cozy house with her fifteen cats (!) and many memories of her dearly departed husband Jimmy. Before his death, she had never owned a cat; Jimmy liked dogs, and their last one, Rusty, had run away the day after Jimmy's funeral. (Mrs. Bonner theorizes that Rusty went in search of a new master.)
So how did Aurora Bonner become such a fan of cats? A tourist approached her one summer as she worked in the flower bed in front of her house. He held a Siamese kitten that belonged to his five-year-old daughter, and he told her that although his wife hadn't known she was allergic to cats when they brought the pet home, her symptoms were now too much to bear. He was desperate to get rid of the furry creature (out of sight of the little girl), and he thought Mrs. Bonner looked like a cat lover.
She accepted the kitten on a whim and grew to love feline companions so much that she became a regular visitor to the SPCA. She began to rescue poor kitties that faced euthanasia because of overcrowding at the shelter.
My interview provided so much information about this fascinating lady that it spilled over to a human interest piece that, if I do say so myself, was great!
After that experience, I certainly learned that a good story could be lurking behind any corner. Or cat, for that matter.
Oh, and the Siamese returned home soon after the article ran. Cat probably read the paper and decided she'd caused her owner enough grief.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Things That Go Scratch In the Night
When Hank and I married, I had next to no experience with camping. Hank was, on the other hand, well-seasoned and in love with the great outdoors. Being the patient man he is, he lovingly schooled me in the fine art of camping and I came to enjoy it.
So it was natural, when our girls came along, that we'd be a camping family. In the early days we 'roughed' it in a large tent. It had a big, zippered front door and three large flap-covered windows. It was really pretty roomy, and was even doable when our third daughter came along.
Eventually we did graduate to a fifth-wheel--our mansion on wheels. We have enjoyed some wonderful family experiences and have also, through the years, made some great memories with our friends here in Kanner Lake. One of those experiences is worth telling. First, my version, followed by Hank's.
One year, when our girls were about 9, 6 and 4 we were joined by Larry and Carole Cellaway and their kids, Nick--who was about 10 at the time, and Natalie, 8. It was arranged that Hank would share a tent with Larry and Nick and all the girls would share the other.
As is our custom, we sat around the campfire for a couple hours after supper, making the traditional s'mores and singing. (We didn't tell ghost stories as it really didn't help much when it was time to get the girls to sleep!) The kids really loved this time and still talk about it.
After we'd said our good-nights to the guys, had done our private visits to the cordoned-off latrine, Carole and I got everyone settled into the tent. As is typical with the first night, the girls had a hard time settling down and were doing a lot of giggling.
Suddenly there was a scratch at the side of the tent. It startled all of us, but I was sure it was the prank of our next-door neighbors.
Our oldest, Amy, the serious one, said, "Abby, stop it." (Abigail is our middle child). Abby told her, "It's not me, Amy." Another scratch.
"Natalie, if that's you, STOP IT," came Amy again. Natalie said it wasn't her. So she said to me, "Mom, stop. You're scaring me." I assured her it wasn't me. For some reason it never occurred to her that her dad and Mr. Cellaway and Nick might be up to no good.
Another scratch. Amy said, "Abigail, I said stop it!" Abby said, "God help us, it ISN'T me!"
From outside the tent came peals of laughter from two grown men and one little boy. And the girls were nearly in tears, screaming, "DAD!" "How mean!" "That wasn't funny, Dad."
Needless to say, it took a while to settle everyone down again, with assurances from the dads that they would not be back, and additional assurances that there were no wild animals anywhere near the campsite.
Here's Hank's version of the story:
Larry, Nick and I were tired and really wanted to get to sleep so that we could get up early and get a bit of fishing in before the sun came up. It seemed that every time we would be just about asleep one of the girls would let out a shriek of laughter. This "visiting" went on for some time and we boys got a bit weary of the routine. So, being the ornery type of guy that I sometimes can be, I devised a bit of a fun for the guys. We decided to get close to the girl's tent--we originally planned to bang some pans and scare them good. Nick got a bit too close to the tent and brushed it with his shoe. To our surprise one of the gals heard it and reacted. We changed our tactics and began making subtle scratching noises with our fingers. Finally we heard a shriek of "God, help us!" and we couldn't contain our laughter.
Funny thing, though. After that, the girls were noisier than ever. It was a long time before anybody got to sleep that night.
--Janet and Hank Detcher
Friday, September 15, 2006
Christmas In September
Christmas? Can you believe we're already talking about Christmas? I'm still warm from the lingering summer heat, or maybe my body's warming up to serious hot flashes. I can't imagine how anyone who has high humidity in their area manages to survive summer, by the way. Thankfully, Kanner Lake air is wonderfully dry. Another great reason to escape here.
Back to the subject of Christmas. Guess it's not too early to start inviting everyone to come to our play, I mean, if you have to travel hours and hours to visit us, we should give you a heads up on our local events far in advance, right? My John has the most beautiful tenor voice. Janet has asked him to sing in the Christmas program at our church. You really won't want to miss it. I'm hoping he'll be feeling more himself by then, stronger. So much has changed in our lives since the car accident that left John with epilepsy. Singing is one of the few things that remain the same. I may be a biased wife, but you really don't want to miss out.
Now of course, if we could get Hank to join in, seeing as he has this way with guitar (not that scratchy type of playing, but the kind that really seeps into your spirit and tells you why you're there!), we'd have a performance to rock the heavens! I can almost see it now. Hank and John make an amazing duo. I'll have to talk to Janet and see what she has planned.
The Christmas program is just one of many things that I love about the holiday season in Kanner. The easy smiles on people's faces, the lights going up, the decorations that tell family stories, and the sight of once familiar faces of people who come home for the holidays.
I know I'm sort of changing the subject, but I was just thinking the other day how every day here on this earth has a slightly different flavor, just like the drinks and treats I make here. They are made the same way every day but since I hand make them there are subtle differences, and they are each unique and individual.
The Beautiful Creator has given us these days, each with its own unique blend. Some are as different as espresso is from a low fat latte, but many feel comfortable and familiar. When a loved one is ill, you learn to thank God for every second together. We all need to wake up each morning and thank the Lord for a new day, and go out and make the most of it.
As for our town, you'd think all the publicity right now would be turning people away, but they're coming into Kanner Lake like flies to honey! I'm so glad. Java Joints hoppin' like never before. Of course, I wish the circumstances were different. Such a terrible thing to happen. Even so, I can just see all the good God is bringing out of it to make Kanner Lake a stronger and more united community.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wilbur Hucks' Top Ten List of Things NOT to Do in Kanner Lake
10. Never go fishing with Pastor Hank unless your insurance is paid up and/or you're wearing a welder's mask.
9. Don't abuse the waterfowl. Swinging your pull-toy, wakeboard, kneeboard, etc., into a duck or Canada goose is just plain mean and turns the birds ornery. Nothing like sitting under when an angry Canada goose flies overhead.
8. [Bailey here: I'm not typing what Wilbur just said, but please be aware that there are restroom facilities at the park adjacent to Kanner Lake city beach.]
7. Don't litter. Six-pack rings are the worst--they get caught on birds' legs, around the necks of lake critters, in trawling motors--but any trash is bad news for the lake. [Bailey: Wilbur's right; it breaks my heart every time a Java Joint cup washes up on shore. Littering's bad enough, but to involve me in it--for shame.]
6. Don't drink yourself stupid and sail. Or canoe. Or motorboat. Jet-skiers are plain stupid to begin with, so there's no hope a warning'll do good there.
5. Don't drown sacks of kittens. Every summer we get some fool or three who thinks the solution to their household animal overpopulation problem is to bring a litter of kittens (or puppies; haven't had ferrets yet, but that day's coming) up here and dispose of them in the lake. Best case: the animals survive and we wind up with a feral cat problem. Worst case: the animals don't survive, but your washed-up canvas sack is discovered by a five-year-old beachcomber.
4. Don't. Whatever it was you were thinking you might do, but weren't sure of--just don't.
3. Don't help yourself to someone's boat dock. Private homes are just that: private. This goes for hot tubs that don't belong to you, too.
2. Don't lick the boreal toads. [B: Wilbur's trying a bit of reverse psychology here; licking any of the local toad species will accomplish two things: 1) give you a toady flavor in your mouth (no psychotropic toads in these parts) and 2) give Wilbur a laugh as he watches a bunch of out-of-towners licking toads. I'm so glad I'm typing these posts for Wilbur so I can set you straight ahead of time.]
1. Don't forget to go home. [Bailey: and tell all your friends to come visit. (Oooh, listen to Wilbur howl as he reads over my shoulder!) Take home a Java Joint mug to remind you of your trip and start conversations about Kanner Lake when neighbors come over for coffee--see link at left.]
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The Grandkids at Simple Pleasures
I've been feeling a little under the weather the last few days. I do suppose it's because I'm not as young as I thought I was. Children have a way of making us feel rather old sometimes, don't you think?
Now, don't anyone get his or her knickers in a twist thinking I'm berating the next generation. But if you've been reading this cyberspace diary you may recall my three grandchildren were visiting when I wrote my last post.
I have to say, it was most fun having them around. I so enjoyed how they delighted in even the smallest of things. I took them in to Simple Pleasures, now that the ruckus has died down a little, and although they were very good, I could tell it was difficult for them to keep their hands in their pockets.
Sarah has such beautiful things. Shiny things. Even Christmas things. Why she keeps that fake tree up all year, I'll never know. Poor Abigail thought Santa would be coming soon and wanted to leave Kanner Lake immediately to be sure she was home when the Jolly Old Man arrived. It was rather sad and funny to watch her try to sort it all out in her mind.
Sarah, being the great sport she is, quickly distracted the children with samples of the delicious raspberry caramel sauce. Alexander took a huge dip and had the creamy liquid running down his chin. But one quick slurp of his tongue saved his good dress shirt. I truly didn't know whether to be proud of his ability or embarrassed, but we all had a good laugh.
All too soon it was time to get home and start dinner. That's when I noticed Angela wasn't beside me trying out the sweets Sarah had prepared. My heart jumped into my throat. After the recent events, I do suppose my imagination is still frightfully in overdrive.
After a quick search of the store, we found her. She had pulled herself up on the daybed and was holding a wooden box. Her eyes shone big and bright as she gently tugged a little drawer open. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the box was designed to look like books with titles on the front. When one of the books was pulled, it was actually a little drawer. Angela was obviously enthralled with the item.
Since I had already purchased 4 jars of the caramel sauce--regular and raspberry--with one jar each for Alexander and Abigail, I decided to purchase the delightful little trinket box for Angela.
Now, I don't go too much for public displays of affection and such, but when Angela hugged me and said, "Oh, Grams, you're the best. I'll love you forever," I thought I would barely be able to hold back a tear or two. It made me feel so good, I bought two of those wooden boxes--the second for myself. Every time I look at it a strange feeling of warmth tickles my bones. Sometimes, it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. But I'm sure you know that.
-- Bev Trexel
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pastor Hank Detcher with you today. One of the joys of my week is my weekly time of coaching, mentoring and sometimes fathering with my Cougars, Kanner Lake's Little League team. Something happened this week that caused me to reminisce about the year that I started to coach the Cougars. An old friend came back to town, and I saw him at church on Sunday. I'll call this friend Tommy. Seeing Tommy brought back a lot of memories. I'm telling his story--anonymously--with his permission.
I met Tommy 10 years ago when he showed up one Saturday in April at our Cougars signup day. It was my first signup day as the new coach. Tommy was 12 years old and, with his mom, Georgia, had just moved to our town. Tommy was an angry boy. His dad had passed away the previous year and he was in a lot of pain. Cancer had taken his dad, and Tommy seemed to be angry at everything and everyone. But Tommy was a great pitcher. He had a curve ball on par with an older boy. His talent had brought him acceptance by the boys and success for our team. Heart healing seemed to be coming Tommy's way as he experienced success and friendship with his teammates. But occasionally I would get a peek into his heart when he would respond to me with words like, "I'm fine, I'm always fine. Stop asking me!" I guess I made Tommy a bit uncomfortable at times. That first year was a good one for our team. We won more games than we lost thanks in part to Tommy's pitching arm.
As September came the Little League season came to an end and the new school year to a beginning. This was Tommy's first year of Junior High School and he desperately wanted to fit in. Hard to say why but he didn't seem to fit in the way that he did with the Cougars. He didn't have classes with anyone on the team. Tommy struggled to gain acceptance from his new classmates. This struggle, combined with the unresolved pain of his dad's death began to direct Tommy down a dark road that involved marijuana and alcohol. It was at this juncture that Tommy and his mom showed up at my office one day in November. Georgia recounted to me how she had found a bag of grass in Tommy's room. She just could not understand how, after all they had been through, that Tommy could turn to drugs. I was tempted to put on my preacher hat and talk to Tommy about the dangers of drugs. I instead decided to take a path that would change both of our lives. I decided to be a big brother to him.
For the next few years I would get together with Tommy once a week. Sometimes we would fish, bowl, shoot pool, watch a movie or just hang out together. At first we rarely talked at all. I think Tommy saw me as punishment for getting caught. Over time we developed a strong rapport. I began to see my young friend no longer as a project but a boy that needed a friend. I remember that day that Tommy asked me THE QUESTION--the one that I had been preparing to answer for a long time. "Why did God kill my father?" I wasn't quite ready for the question to be put this way. I spent the next few hours and indeed the next few years working through that question with my young friend. I am not sure that I ever gave an answer that he or I was comfortable with.
Seeing Tommy in church this week reminded me of those days. Knowing that my good friend had just graduated college and is pursuing a career in social work encouraged my heart. As I greeted people after church Tommy came up to me and embraced me with the kind of hug that let me know how love, faith and time can help heal those who have broken hearts. It reminded me of the verse in 1Corinthians 13 that says that love never fails.
-- Pastor Hank
Monday, September 11, 2006
The Stubborn Merchant
Shnakvorum Rikoyoch (Greetings, friends).
I don't know how it works for other writers, but some of the characters in my science fiction novel can be incredibly stubborn. I'm not talking about in the story, but during the act of creating them. I've had to learn to listen to what they're telling me when I go about bringing them into the story. Case in point, the merchant Gruln.
For a long time I was struggling with this character. All I wanted him to be was a bit character who would show up early on when my protagonist, Rathe, was getting some new gear. But the character was adamant that he wasn't going to resign himself to such a small part and that his name wasn't Gruln. No matter how many ways I tried to write the scene with him in it, things just wouldn't work.
I fought with him for days on exactly what his role would be, but he'd just stomp around in my head refusing to act right. Finally I gave in and asked him just what role he thought he should play, but all I got was "not Gruln" and "one leg." Nothing like characters in your head talking in cryptic code to make you feel one mile past the end of insanity.
Frustrated, I packed up my gear and headed over to Java Joint. After all, what better place to figure out a character than in a place full of them? Plus, Bailey has always shown an interest in my writing, and I always feel better talking about Saurian troubles out loud. When I got there Bailey asked how Sauria was doing, and I told her about this stubborn character--and wouldn't you know it, just as soon as I voiced his demands out loud the answer hit me like a falling blite!
You see, back during his days of training, Rathe had rescued a hatchling that had one of its legs bitten off. The pieces started falling into place. Due to reasons I can't divulge here, this hatchling would be one of the last people Rathe would want to see again. And enough time had passed that this young hatchling could believably be working as a merchant (three aboyoch, to be precise). But best of all this would add a new layer to Starfire and work to flesh out Rathe's character even more.
So I guess I've learned to listen to my characters when they begin acting stubborn. After all, I have to assume they know themselves better than I do. And they've never led me down a wrong turn yet.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Gift Certificates--Just the Thing
Hi! It's Sarah Wray.
First I need to tell you that the link to Simple Pleasures is up! Just look to your left--and come visit our Web site. The site doesn't have nearly all the items we have in the store, of course. But you can see a photo of the shop, and a few things for sale. Plus, you can buy a gift certificate.
Speaking of gift certiicates, I have to tell you what happened in Simple Pleasures, this week. A man rushed in to buy a present for his precious wife. How sweet! He stalked through the store trying to decide what to get for her. Nothing was quite right.
I started visiting with him and found out he had been to Java Joint for lunch with his wife. He got into a conversation with Wilbur and ended up in an argument. Neither one saw a way to put the argument behind him, so the man put the whole place behind him and walked out.
I told him I was glad he came here to get away from Wilbur. Really, Wilbur's not all that bad. He just gets a little ornery sometimes.
The man thought for a moment before he admitted that he could've tried harder to stop the argument. He hated that it happened and knew his wife was going to fuss at him when he got back to her.
That was the reason he decided to buy her a gift. To distract her from fussing. But nothing in the store seemed to be what his wife usually bought. He didn't know what to do but go back and apologize.
He trudged to the door with a "Thanks anyway" look on his face. I blurted out, "Have you considered a gift certificate?"
His face brightened immediately, and he stopped two steps from the door. He turned and gazed at me like the cat who held the key to the bird cage. "You're right!" He chuckled. "Why should I steal her joy? She loves to shop. The time I give her to shop will be more of a gift than anything I pick out for her."
The man left with his gift certificate and sent his wife in with a smile that would make Mona Lisa jealous.
She had a grand time shopping. To some people, my store is a playground of possibilities. I could see the wheels turning in her head as she debated between buying things for herself or gifts for others. Before she left with her purchase, she told me her husband had made up with dear old Wilbur. She'd noticed that as she was leaving Java Joint to come to Simple Pleasures, the two men were showing each other their bypass scars.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Thank You, Rescuers!
Hi, everybody, Carla Rading here. As of this past Tuesday, I wasn't sure if I'd have anything to blog about this week. Then fate intervened. I was on my way home from Coeur d'Alene Tuesday night. I had met my friend Lisa Warren over there to try a new Mexican restaurant. Which, by the way, was fabulous. Best cheese enchiladas I've had in a long time. Anyway, Lisa lives just outside of town and had already left when I started home. Alone.
By the time I reached the outskirts of Kanner Lake, my car started vibrating really bad. Flat tire. Ugh. I've never changed a tire in my life. Fully intending to call triple A, I couldn't get a signal on my phone. Which we really do need to do something about. That stretch of road outside Kanner Lake is such a dead area. We need a few more cell towers. But that's another story.
So there I was, late at night, all alone. I was more than a little skittish when a sedan pulled up behind me. With all the stuff going on lately, I've already been a little on edge. As a man in his mid forties approached the car, I made sure my doors were locked. I rolled my window down a crack. He asked if I had already called for help, or if I'd like him to take care of the tire for me. I didn't know what to do. Common sense says never talk to strange men on a deserted road. Let alone tell him my phone couldn't get a signal.
He must have seen the fear on my face, because he smiled and waved to someone in his car. Great. Two of them. Once I could see who was walking up, I realized it must be his wife. He said he understood my hesitance and wanted me to know his wife was with him. If I wanted to stay in the car I could pop my trunk and he'd take care of the tire. What could I say? I didn't have many options at this point. While he worked, his wife and I talked. Said they had two daughters. Late teens. Both driving on their own, now. When her husband saw my little compact car and saw that I was alone, he said he'd hope someone honest would do the same for one of their girls if they ever broke down. I tried to offer them some cash, but he'd have none of it. I wish I'd have thought to get their names. I've never seen them before, but I thought on the off chance they read this blog, they'd know how thankful I am. So thank you to the kind man and his wife. After all we (Kanner Lake residents) have been through lately, you showed me there are still trustworthy people left in this world.
Have a great rest of the week everybody, and if you get the chance to do something nice for someone, I hope you will.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Author Stephen Bly, and a Poem from Yours Truly
Good morning. Jared Moore with you today.
All of us blog writers have been bragging on Kanner Lake and Java Joint, and with good reason. This is the best town on earth and definitely the best coffee. However, I feel like I must warn you: When you do decide to visit Java Joint, wait until at least 9:00 a.m. If you come before that, you risk running into the locals when they are still in their "pre-coffee zone." Not pretty. I got here at 7:00 this morning and now it's going on 8:00. So far I've seen Leslie and Carla. Leslie's eyes were such little slits, I kept waiting for her to walk into something, and Carla yawned so much, she kinda looked like one of those fish Hank likes to catch with the mouth hanging open. Wilbur just grunts at everybody until his second cup, and it usually isn't until then that he remembers to zip up his fly. But if you come in and just talk to Bailey, you'll be fine. She's bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even if you come in at 6:00 when she opens.
So, today, once the regulars all got their caffeine fix and woke up all the way, they were talking about what fun it has been to do some writing on the blog. One of them wants to try and get some stories published and a couple of others want to start keeping journals. I think it's wonderful.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing and writing an article about Stephen Bly, a fellow Idahoan. (Visit his web site here.) He lives over in Winchester, a little 300-citizen town. Mr. Bly is the mayor of Winchester as well as the pastor of its only church and the author of one hundred books! The man is 63 years old and still pumping out western novels like crazy. Won some awards for them, too. Anyway, one of the things he said was that he liked to encourage seniors to write if they have the inclination. Said it's never too late to start. I think he's right. You bloggers keep on writing. Keep a journal, write those stories, or join the creative writing group at the library. I think there's some talent here.
In my first post I hinted that I might share some poetry. Well, I'm still not feeling ready to share my current work, but my wife recently found an old work of mine--a poem I wrote about Kanner Lake back when I was in the fourth grade. Old Evelyn Kanner, daughter of the founder, lived way out at the western point of the lake (she and about five hundred cats.) Miss Kanner loved Kanner Lake more than anyone. It was the summer of 1965 and we were celebrating Kanner Lake's 150th anniversary. Miss Kanner held a poetry contest and offered a prize of $150.00, one dollar for each year. The poems, which were supposed to advertise the wonders of Kanner Lake, were printed in my grandfather's newspaper. Here's mine:
If a groovy vacation you want to take,
Come on and visit Kanner Lake.
Want to have fun and even get tanner?
Boat, fish and swim in a lake called Kanner.
If you don't like water, take a mountain hike,
Or ride a horse, or ride a bike.
It's been here for a hundred and fifty years,
If you don't come and visit, we'll all be in tears.
Aren't you all glad I became a newspaper man instead of a poet?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
This Retirement Thing
Howdy, folks. It's Jake Tremaine. I get to be your tour guide again. But first I want to update you on my retirement.
Awhile back some of you kind folks posted comments about different things I could try during my retirement. Some of 'em were right smart ideas. Others need to be taken out back and shot. The only problem is I'd hate to waste a good bullet on 'em. (You tell me what self-respecting, red-blooded American male is going to take up crotcheting!)
Jared suggested I take up boxing. Now I know he was just being smart-alecky, but I gave it a run anyway. Bart Bronson runs a little gym over in Spirit Lake. He tried to teach me a thing or two, but when I hit the punching bag so hard it knocked him on the ground, he washed his hands of me. Guess all those years wrestling with trees made me a muscle machine. (Wilbur may have his scar to show ya, but I've got some rock hard arms on this skinny ol' body.)
Now running track ain't never appealed to me. Partly cause I don't like to sweat that much for the pure sake of sweating. Give me a task or a reason, and I'm your man. But I'd be bored silly after couple blocks. Probably look foolish, too, huffing around town.
Another suggestion was to try woodworking. My pappy was a world-class woodworker. He could craft things with his hands that were so beautiful they belonged in a museum. And he did it before power tools. I wish he was here to teach me a trick or two. I may just try that one. I've got a huge tree trunk out back just crying to be used. But why start with a puny jewelry box? I'm thinking a china cabinet for the missus may be just the thing.
Hmm, that idea's growing on me. I just need to hustle down to the hardware store. All I'd need is a power saw, some nails . . .
Monday, September 04, 2006
Wanted: Daughter in law with a sense of humor and child-bearing hips.
Good morning, Kanner Lake! Your giggling and colorful friend Angie with you on this fine Labor Day.
I wanted to use my post to set the record straight about my friendship with Bev. We're fine even if I did get so mad her. Most of the time, she's the one who's angry with me. Oh boy does she ever get mad! Once a day most of the time, but she's all bluff and bluster. She gets hotter than an asphalt driveway in Texas summer but it never lasts longer than it takes for me to say I'm sorry. So, you can all stop trying to get us to kiss and make up; we're fine. Though I appreciate your concern, I truly do. You all are the sweetest. (Sarah, I know that candle came from you. Bev would never send me a "friendship" candle or anything else. That's just not her, but thank you, sweetie. And Bailey, thanks for sending Bev those mini-muffins with the card signed from me. She knew they weren't really from me but we sure did enjoy eating them. The chocolate ones are to die for.)
As far as Bev accusing me of dating David Clanton, well, I know she's just worried that a man will come into my life and occupy all my time. Isn't that right Ms. Beverly? So, really the teasing is just a cover and is actually quite sweet. She doesn't want to lose our friendship. That would never happen of course. Who else could make me laugh so hard I snort?
Bev, you fire-ball, if you're reading this, don't worry, no handsome widower would ever take your place as my best friend. And David and I are just friends anyway. Don't think of him as someone taking your friend away, think of him as someone you can pawn your old man on so we can get out more. Wink.
Now, for the real meat of this post. My son Frank Jr. is coming home!!!! Do you think this old gal is excited to see her baby? Of course I am! Girls, wait until you see how handsome he's become. Of course those of you who knew him growing up know that he was always a looker. But, with the touch of gray pricking at his temples and the distinguished laugh lines working their way around his deep brown eyes, well, turning thirty-seven has agreed with him. So, why isn't he married, you ask? Good question!
I've been asking him that for about ten years now. I think I've finally figured it out and more importantly, what you eligible Kanner Lake women can help me do about that.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Mrs. Gallagher's Dog
Hi, everyone, it's Leslie. I'm doing fine. And I want you to know Paige is OK too. She's kind of quiet and HATES publicity, but she did give me permission to tell you hello.
Kanner Lake is getting back to normal, now that it's been over a month. No more national reporters in town. Regular tourists these days. Some days I can close my eyes and almost feel that Kanner Lake's like it used to be--the days when it was so quiet, and I thought I'd never have something serious to report about.
In those days, not so long ago, my reporting centered on lost pets and fender benders. Like the story I wrote about Mrs. Gallagher--just three months ago.
Mrs. Gallagher, who happened to be my first grade teacher, called the police to report someone had stolen her black lab. So my editor calls me into his office and sics me on this nail biter. Charlie may be cute and doggedly affable, but he's dumb as a broken toenail. Now if he were one of those little Chihuahuas you could tote around in an equally adorable bag, well . . . but I digress. Mrs. Gallagher prattles on for ten minutes about my lady-like printing and imaginative writing, exclaiming, "I just knew you'd turn out to be something really special." Finally I manage to get the story out of her.
She'd run Charlie's leash around her laundry pole in the backyard and clipped it to his collar while she went in to wash and set her hair. When she came out he was gone. We searched the backyard together. Looking for clues the police might have missed. Apparently Frank West had come on the call. The general, if not unanimous, consensus is that he's Kanner Lake's most eligible bachelor. The rumors abound--women blowing past Frank's cruiser, practically daring him to pull them over. Or staging flat tires when they know he's on duty. Pathetic, I know. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Competition's tough in our sleepy little town.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Mrs. Gallagher's dog. Well, under the laundry pole I found one clue Frank had missed. The clasp to the leash. No leash, just the clasp. It seemed odd that the thief would take time to cut the leash from the clasp when he could just undo the thing. It wasn't like Charlie was going to bite him. Lick him to death, or maybe knock him senseless with that nonstop battering ram of a tail.
I get a hunch and decide to test it. I ask Mrs. Gallagher to get out Charlie's food and dump it into the bowl as loudly as she can. She does and sure enough we hear the clackety-clack of his claws running down the sidewalk. He skids around the gate to the backyard and drops something next to his bowl and digs in. I bend down for a closer look, careful to steer my freshly manicured nails clear of dog slobber. And guess what it is? His leash. Or, I should say, what's left of his leash. The dumb dog had chewed it to bits and run off to explore the neighborhood.
And that was my big investigative piece--before July 22 hit. We were certainly excitement challenged here in Kanner Lake. Not that it was a bad thing. It's exactly what made this a great place to come for a quiet vacation.
But we are getting back to normal. Although I know that will reverse in a few months when the reporters return . . . But Bailey doesn't want me to talk about that.
So come see us in quiet-and-getting-quieter Kanner Lake. Have one of Bailey's mochas or lattes. Talk literature with Bev and fishing with Jake, giggle with Angie, visit Sarah and Paige at Simple Pleasures. Have Carla show you some houses.
Just turn your head when Wilbur starts to raise his shirt.
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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