Dad’s Story

I wish I could find the words to say.

The right words, not what sounds sappy or sentimental,

But what’s true.

Life is exhausting sometimes,

Especially when everyone looks to you for answers

Or a million different responsibilities are yammering for your attention.

I sometimes wonder

How anyone survives being “man of the house”

Without losing their head.

But you do.

Day after week after month after year.

Working long hours to pay the many prices of family.

Dealing with all our big and little issues.

Giving time and counsel and love most of all, and still finding time to help others.

Praying for strength to fulfill all your callings and all that they entail.

I’m sure you have struggles, worries, and fears,

More than you’ll ever admit.

Who doesn’t?

Yet still you do your best to be a haven of strength to the rest of us.

As a certain songwriter so eloquently said,

Make your life a song.”

And you do, Dad.

Sometimes the notes are all discordant and wild,

Each new stanza a mystery, a burning question:

What lies ahead?

But as you so often remind me,

This is God’s story.

He’s got things under control,

He’s working everything out.

And so your own life is a story he’s telling,

One of adventure, of twists and turns,

And a hero who turned out all right.

He’s brought you this far and he’s not done yet.

The music plays on,

Blank pages remain.

There are still many words to be said.

I’m glad he gave me a part in this story

And glad, most of all,

He gave me you.

Love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

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Dinkey Doodle

Once upon a time, a tiny gray and white kitten got her head stuck in a piece of wood.

Poor baby couldn’t even lift her head. Taking shelter in a cold shed filled with tools and wooden beams, she wore her piece of wood like a lead shackle until the shed’s owner discovered her. Very carefully, he cut the wood. As it fell from her neck, the little kitten tasted the sweetness of freedom and wasted no time seizing it with both paws . . . she shot out of that shed like a bolt of lightning, darted across the street, and somehow ended up on our front porch.

“If you feed her, she’ll never leave,” Dad said, which, for some reason, wasn’t too effective at discouraging us. Sure enough, she came back the next day, and the next, and the next thing we knew, she had a routine: each morning at 7 o’clock sharp, if her food wasn’t on the porch, she would loudly and tragically announce to the neighborhood that she was being starved to death.

Pretty soon, she had a name: Dinkey Doodle. Dinkey for short.

Little miss Dinkey had an acute phobia of humans: we would watch and laugh as the klutzy kitty tumbled over herself trying to stumble off the porch when we brought her food. At least once, she took a nose dive to the ground a few inches below and stumbled up all wobbly and trying to shake the fuzzies from her head.

Eventually though, she began to smarten up . . . if the humans keep bringing me food, maybe they’re not going to hurt me.

One day, she let me touch her. The next, she let me run my hand down her back. Before long, she wouldn’t even sniff her food until she had received her customary morning scratch-down.

We couldn’t bring her inside, due to a couple of old indoor cats who would hiss and scratch through the glass door every time they saw her on the porch. So, during the cold months, Mom got creative with a plastic storage tub and some old blankets. On the coldest mornings, not even food or attention would entice Dinkey from the nice warm snow shelter.

Oddly enough though, she loved snow. One wintery night, Mom looked out the window and saw Dinkey digging at the snow, pawing it into little balls. Then she started whacking the balls, batting them across the yard and chasing them as if they were a family of moles fleeing from hungry cat teeth.

Speaking of moles. It’s a minor miracle (or a testament to the size of our mole infestation) that she didn’t thoroughly exterminate them from our yard. We usually found them uneaten and in one piece on the front porch. Gifts for food . . . I guess she thought it was a fair exchange.

For five years, Miss Dinkey claimed us as her own. Five short years.

I think there’s an oversized swath of Heaven reserved for the animal kingdom; and if so, I imagine she’s chasing wisps of cloud like snow balls up there, living happily ever after as she loudly and dramatically demands attention from any resident crazy cat ladies and showers them with the gift of mole.

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The Worst Sentence in the World

From S.E. Hood: thanks to Joe Bunting of The Write Practice for inspiring today’s post. His ebook, 14 Prompts, suggests beating perfectionism and writer’s block by attempting to write “the worst sentence in the world.” It got me thinking, which got me writing. This is the result.  🙂

The worst sentence in the world is being a writer.

Seriously.

Writers are born with a life sentence. Our minds reel with the best way to string words together. Obsess about whether “about” or “over” is a better choice of words here. Debate whether a period or a semicolon should go there.

We conjure up people that have never and will never exist. Let them live in our heads like imaginary friends, telling us all about themselves, captivating us with their larger-than-life personalities. Yet we’ll spend hours dreaming up what kind of heck to put them through; trying to discover the most shocking or poignant ways to kill them off.

Ideas captivate us. Words fascinate us. Stories drive us.

Writers have to write. It’s hardwired into our DNA. There is no discussion. There is no argument.

But sometimes, we just can’t write. Words won’t come. Characters are silent. We stare at a blank screen or find other things to do because we just can’t do it.

You know what that’s like?

Imagine being dipped in boiling oil, then scrubbed down with sandpaper. Imagine swallowing a piece of cactus with all the spines intact. Imagine listening to an orchestra of scraped chalkboards and squeaky brakes.

No. More accurately, imagine a spectral sunrise. The music of rain and thunder. A soft wind rustling through pine trees. Rolling hills and undulating waves. A baby’s laughter, an old man’s smile. A hug shared between friends. Dreams hoped for, dreams realized. Dreams that will never be.

Imagine beauty that breaks your heart. Something divine, a hint of heaven. Your heart can recognize it, your soul can feel it, your entire being longs to express it.

But you can never quite capture the intangible with words.

Writers write, knowing words will always fall short. Knowing that perfection is impossible. And sometimes that knowledge overwhelms us, making us doubt our own desires and ask ourselves, “what’s the point?”

But writers find a way to write.

To see the beauty and paint some small glimpse of it with words.

It’s the worse sentence in the world, being a writer.

But somehow, some way . . . it’s also the best sentence in the world.

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Writer’s block

Once upon a time, there was a blank computer screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End.

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Mom’s Garden

Mom….

If home is a garden, you’re the gardener.

You grow your kids as best you can,

Planting seeds, pulling weeds,

Making sure everyone has enough water.

You support Dad with love and prayers,

Helping him grow In the Light of the Son.

You nurture Grandma as a precious flower,

Tenderly, always putting her before yourself.

From warm, perfect bread just out of the oven,

To a hasty dinner on the run,

You satisfy need and desire

And grow everything with love.

You talk with us like you talk with your plants,

And you’re always ready to listen.

You pray for us like you pray for the harvest.

You pray for rain during the drought.

You pray for everything:

Because both mothering and gardening are hard work!

And sometimes your worries g row like weeds,

But that’s just part of it I guess.

You pull them up and give them to God,

Though sometimes you miss the roots.

But when the worries grow back you pull them again…

After all, a gardener never lets the weeds win!

Well, all this rambling’s just to say…

How thankful I am God blessed me with you.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

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If You Forget

So this is visibility?

My life, displayed for all to see.

You eye me on the tabloid covers

All the lies and rumors,

And gobble up this fake me.

So you who think you know me

Since you see me on TV,

Who light on me like vultures

For wearing the wrong thing,

To every random stranger

Who screams out my name:

Can you forget that I exist,

And let me do the same?

So this, this is industry?

My life, on call for the company.

You see me show up early,

Go home late,

And still, you overwork me.

So you who think you own me

Since I answer every call,

Who appreciate my work ethic

Too much, demand my all,

To my superiors who expect

My world, my family time:

Will you forget that I exist,

And let me live my life?

So this is affinity?

My life, to love, and give it free.

I’ll be there on the good days,

On the bad days,

And still, you’ll turn on me.

So you who think you know me

From our days as little kids,

Life was simpler then, when we just played

And didn’t mind our differences.

To my friends who have forgotten,

My friends who cease to be:

Did you forget that I exist,

Do you still remember me?

So this, this is charity . . .

My life a bleak and barren thing,

I feel betrayed

When I betray,

Yet somehow,

Still, you love me.

To the One who sees my hidden heart,

Who truly owns this whiner,

How can I claim to know myself,

And all that I desire?

Yet, God, I’m weak, and may still curse

When You refuse my plea.

But if You forget that I exist,

Then I am lost indeed.

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That’s No Toy Boat

Kids love to scream.

Sometimes they actually have a good reason.

Sixteen kids and a couple younger adults were swimming in Lake Erie. It was a near perfect day . . . warm sun shining, a light breeze, gentle waves teasing the rocky beach where lifeguards watched and a couple of the kids buried themselves in the warm, damp pebbles.

As the hour progressed, a little surprise drifted closer to the merry party. From a distance, it might have looked like a toy boat; but as it reached the first couple of kids, they screamed like they’d seen a corpse and began thrashing back toward the beach.

In fact, they had seen a corpse.

A fish corpse.

Well, the advent of a dead fish finding its way into the swimming area produced a veritable choir of screaming kids; and with all the waves they made trying to get away from it, it’s a wonder that fish didn’t find its way back out to sea.

One of the lifeguards came to the rescue. Armed with a pair of sticks, she waded into waist-deep waves and nabbed the waterlogged corpse as easy as if she were using kitchen tongs. Crinkling her nose at the sight, the smell, or both, she carried it safely away and deposited it in some of the bushes on the shore a stone’s throw from the beach.

Naturally, the kids took right back to the water, the thought never crossing their minds that the dead fish probably wasn’t the most disgusting object filling these waters.

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Little Blue Circle

Round and round like a bathtub drain,

Tornado-ing on again and again.

The little blue circle spins and spins,

The webpage gapes at me . . . paralysis wins.

Come on, computer, I’ll punch out your screen,

Just give me the page and I’ll let you be.

Stupid page, just load already!

I don’t have time for your stupid stupidity!

Quick check of my email, then get on with my day,

Won’t you cooperate? Why must you play

This stupid game every blasted time

I turn on my laptop? I say, it’s a crime!

I know it’s early, you still want to sleep,

Guess what, me too . . . I don’t give a bleep.

Well, threats and abuse still don’t work.

Restart and shut-down can’t fix this quirk.

That little blue circle just keeps on spinning.

If laptops had faces, this one would be grinning.

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Hello Sun

The sun shone through my window that morning, for the first time in two weeks.

I love the sound of rain playing its gentle lullaby on the rooftop. But rain is for falling asleep, and a drizzly overcast at 6 AM makes it nearly impossible to drag one’s self out of bed.

That morning, as light filtered through my curtains, tinting my walls a glowing golden, it felt as though the earth were finally waking up again . . . as though it were inviting me to open my eyes and feel the warmth and beauty and promise of a new day.

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The Incredible Uno-Vac

 

From S.E. Hood: Today’s post comes from a friend and fellow writer, H.L. Seibel. He originally wrote the following as a letter of praise to Union Manufacturing Company, the long-defunct maker of the Uno-Vac thermos. His book, Born Lucky, is available on Amazon.

 

Gentleman~

Nothing satisfies like a mug of home brewed. Unless it’s a mug of home brewed straight from an Uno-Vac. Piping hot. Aromatic. Quintessential. That’s why I bought one, somewhere along the fall of ’77. Paid for it with $20.00 American. Cash.

’Long came the winter of ’78. I managed to locate a pothole on my bike. My Uno-Vac went airborne. Banged to the ground. Skidded across four lanes of rush-hour traffic. Naturally I went after it. I like my coffee. Found it. Hardy little cuss hadn’t even felt it. Oh, maybe a dent or two, but the coffee? Jostled. But piping.

Next best thing to a mug of home brewed is pulling a duck out of the sky with a 12 gauge double barrel. Naturally, my Uno-Vac came along. Duck hunting. Sometimes you run into situations. I dropped that Uno-Vac into four feet of scummy pond water. There were those who thought I’d seen the last of it. They were wrong. Dead wrong. Dadgum it, sirs—I’ll do just about anything for a mug of home brewed! My coffee? Pure Columbian. No pond scum. Ah-h-h….

Summer of ’79 I did a little farming. With a 9600 Ford. And my Uno-Vac. Lost the Uno-Vac out on the back forty. Disked it under along with chemical fertilizer. Disked it right back up a moment later. Minus the handle. Plus a few scratches. But full of rich, satisfying coffee. Still hot.

Occasionally I cut timber. Whacked down a stand of Missouri pin oak back in the ’80’s. With two chain saws and my Uno-Vac. Wore five chains plumb down to nothing. And lost my Uno-Vac under a pile of wood the size of Kentucky. I went through that mountain of wood like Texas lightning. Found the Uno-Vac. And a few new dents. But the coffee? Scalding. Delicious.

Sometimes I go deer hunting. Haven’t missed a season since the winter of ’68. Give me a clean November sky and my Uno-Vac and life is good. Ever bring down an 8 point buck? Things get a little intense. I’ve lost that Uno-Vac over the side of so many treestands it’s downright embarrassing. Collected a fresh batch of scratches each time. Never touched the coffee, though. And I like my coffee.

Have I mentioned that I carry the United States mail in my spare time? Satchel on one shoulder; Uno-Vac on the other. When it comes to making a point with a disgruntled Rottweiler I’ll lay my money on an Uno-Vac. Every time. And the coffee? Unscathed. Naturally.

Gentleman, for the past twenty-odd years that Uno-Vac and I have been pert near inseparable. We’ve been over mountains, in white water, and through more tall timber than you can shake a stick at.

Why, I’d like to say that single-handedly, and armed only with a length of stout rope and my Uno-Vac, I blazed a trail across the uncharted jungles of the upper Amazon to deliver a life-saving vaccine to an all but extinct tribe of aborigines. Only that would be an out and out lie. Truth is, I did it without the rope.

Yes, come wind or high water that Uno-Vac and I have weathered the storms of life together. It’s been dropped, kicked, scraped, dented, bruised, patched and bandaged more times than I can count. Yet through it all, it’s delivered cup after cup of piping hot coffee.

Fact is, sirs, that Uno-Vac has been more faithful than a woman. More loyal than a dog. And a dang sight more dependable than a Ford, if you’ll pardon my saying so. And I’d be stretching the truth way out of shape if I didn’t come right out and say that, after two decades of service, the Uno-Vac hasn’t fared a mite better than me. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if that critter wasn’t immortal.

But then—disaster.

Happened ’long ’bout the winter of ’98. The Uno-Vac stopped delivering the goods. I guess I can’t rightly blame it, but there it was—no longer did dark, rich liquid spill, steaming, from its friendly mouth. Steaming? Heck, it barely hit lukewarm. And gentlemen, when coffee’s no better than lukewarm you might just as well be throwing back dishwater. Fact is, dishwater’s almost preferable.

Well, I did the right thing by it. Took that Uno-Vac out on the back forty and shot it. Put it plumb out of its misery. It was kinda quiet coming back. But you’d have done the same.

Gentlemen, I’d be willing to put down good money on a replacement. Fact is, I’ve been desperate to do so these past few months. If I could find one. Why, I’ve looked high, low and all points in between for another Uno-Vac—and turned up zip. It’s taken the wind right out of my sails. And I’m getting mighty tired of cold coffee. So you’d be doing me a powerful favor if you’d point me in the general direction of a new Uno-Vac.

Anxiously awaiting your reply, I remain~

Timothy Cochran, Esq. A Satisfied Uno-Vac User

P.S. I took the liberty of devising a slogan for your fine Uno-Vac which you’ll probably want to use:

Uno-Vac Takes a Whack and Comes Right Back.

You’re welcome.

 

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