My Granddad’s Watch – Finis

My grandfather, who I was named after, was born in Indiana in 1896.  After fighting in the “Great War,” he returned to Indiana where he ran several businesses and raised his family.  Rumors were that he had two families.

The clan had its share of characters back in the day.

At some point along his journey he acquired a watch.  An Elgin pocket watch.  A railroad watch.  No one seems to know the exact story surrounding of how he came by this watch.  He could have bought it or he could have taken it in trade for some of the many cigars he sold in his “City Club.”

Although it was gold-filled, it wasn’t one of those fancy watches used to mark social status.  The ornate ones with jewels that weren’t part of the mechanism.  No special engraving.  No hand-painted or enamel designs.  No animated scenes or characters turning in coordination with the hands.

No, this watch was used to tell time.

When my dad graduated high school, granddad sat my father down and explained that dad had reached a point in his life where he earned some recognition.   He was now old enough and responsible enough to receive a precious gift.  A timepiece to mark a rite of passage.

And so the watch was passed on to its first successor guardian.

Continue reading My Granddad’s Watch – Finis

My Granddad’s Watch

It was a colder winter than usual in northern Arizona back in ‘78.  When my brother and I pulled into Flagstaff there was no way to make a left-hand turn.  Some three feet of snow had been plowed into the middle of the roads to be trucked away later.  A crystalline white bulwark separating the oncoming traffic.

We had a few more miles to go to find a campsite among the Ponderosa Pines.  Once there, I eased the ‘70 Plymouth Satellite off the park road where the snow was the lightest and drove deeper into the forest.  The snow being an incredible insulator, as soon as I shut the engine off it was dead quiet.

The beauty surrounding us was as breathtaking as the air was frigid.

In the distance, the towering San Francisco Peaks were covered in clouds.  It looked like they were tethered to the mountains with the surrounding sky perfectly clear and blue.  When those clouds cleared there would be an additional layer of snow on those holy Peaks.

Respect Mother Earth and the native traditions and you’ll live longer in this wilderness.

Continue reading My Granddad’s Watch

Clearing the Cobwebs

Well, I’m coming up to my one-year anniversary here on WordPress, and the blog has certainly helped me do what I set out to do with it.  It’s given me a creative outlet and provided incentive for me to write on a more regular basis.

That, in turn, has had many beneficial effects.  I do love to write, but I have to say, it is so easy to let time slip away with a million other things that it’s good to have something to help with my focus.  More importantly, I find writing to be very therapeutic for me.

The more I write, the better I feel.  And I have a lot of stories I want to get down on paper.  Some are a little hard to believe, but they’re true, and that makes them more fun.

I passed the 200-post mark a little while back and I realize as time goes on that my earliest posts probably aren’t being viewed by people anymore and I’ve decided to start taking them down.  They may get recycled at a later date in some form, but it’s time to clear the cobwebs off the blog, and out of my mind too.

New Year, fresh start.

I will keep up some of my personal favs, and some of those posts that everyone really liked.  And it may be time to start compiling some materials for a book.

Guess we’ll see what happens 🙂

***

Photo: An Orb-Weaver Spider, sometimes called a Yellow Garden Spider or a Golden Orb.  Orb spiders weave distinctive spiral webs.  I like to think that we, as writers, weave the stories we tell.  They go in all sort of directions, take many shapes, and have interconnections that will hopefully “capture our prey” – the attention and imagination of our readers.

spidy + spfx2

Coming Up: A little later today I’ll put up part one of my story that lost the writing contest I had entered it in.  (See my prior post “Loser.”)  I think it’s a good story from back in my road-living days of my early twenties.  It’s true too.  Hope you like it.

A Story – Chapter 8 – Freedom?

Dawn.

The sun was rising.  Casting a beautiful glow of orange across the sky, as twilight, the crack between the worlds, faded.

I had everything I owned packed into my 1970 Plymouth Satellite.  Ready to hit the road.  A friend had promised a job would be waiting in Houston.

Mike and I shook hands and nodded.  No words were necessary for this goodbye.  But suddenly he did speak.  A single question.

“Stearley, there’s been one thing I wanted to ask you all along.  I don’t remember you putting that lock box in the car that night, where did it really come from?”

“Well Mike, I imagine you were just too busy loading up that monster of a stereo to see what I was doing . . .”

***

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 8 – Freedom?

A Story – Chapter 7 – Legalities

“Not funny Mike,” I growled as we were being led across the street.

Our interrogations were over and we were reunited for the walk to the county jail for processing.

The city jail was on the third floor of the police station.  The county jail was across the street, and it occupied the north wing of the courthouse building.

The two facilities shared space for stripping you down, performing the body search, outfitting you in jail garb, taking your mug shots, fingerprinting, and completing the associated paperwork.  County sheriffs were performing these tasks, and I was hoping that when they were done they’d take us back to the city jail.  I’d heard some pretty viscous tales about county lockup.

As we were being escorted, Mike had slipped his right hand out of his handcuffs, laughing and boasting about how clever he was.

The jailer wasn’t impressed either.

As he rearranged his cuffs, switching his hands from being held behind him to being in front of him, he very softly said, “Next time, I’ll just shoot you.  Say you were trying to escape.  And your friend here won’t contradict me, will you now?”

His steely eyes bore into me as he repositioned me in front of Mike, produced a third set of handcuffs and linked Mike’s and my cuffs together.  Me now marching in front, Mike attached behind and the jailer in step next to Mike.

Satisfied with this new arrangement, he sort of smiled.  “Just take one bullet now to take you both out.”

After processing, they threw us in the same holding cell while they figured out where we’d be going next.

I was staring at Mike, thinking about what I wanted to say . . .

***

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 7 – Legalities

A Story – Chapter 6 – It’s Fucking Over

My mind was racing back in time.

I first flashed back on a time when Mike and I were in high school.  We were at a friend’s house.  Jim was showing us his father’s rifle collection.  His father must have had fifteen or so rifles of all different varieties.  All lined up symmetrically on a homemade rifle rack in his basement.

Mike picked up a .30-06, Springfield, bolt action rifle and leveled it directly on my face.  His finger was on the trigger as he laughingly said, “Right between the eyes.  Stearley, I could blow your head clean off.”

I angrily slapped the barrel away and said, “Don’t you ever fucking do that again!”

“Ah, Stearley, calm the fuck down, it’s not loaded.”

Jim chimed in, “Yeah, my dad never keeps his weapons loaded.”

My gaze was bearing down on Mike and he felt the weight of it.

“Here, I’ll show you.”  Mike pulled back the bolt and a cartridge flew out of the chamber.  “Holy shit!  I’m sorry man!”

***

My mind jumped ahead a few years to a time when I was visiting my parents over spring break from college.  My brother Ray was still living with my parents and he had his girlfriend Carly over.  Ray and Carly had gotten into some argument.  I have no idea what it was about, but the yelling from the living room had woken me from a nap.  I came out of the upstairs bedroom and hollered down at them to knock it off.  I was trying to get a little peace.

Carly suddenly stormed up the stairs, ran into my brother’s room opposite of the bedroom I was in, and grabbed Ray’s .44 Mag deer rifle.  She was chambering a round as she brought the gun up and pointed it squarely at the center of my chest.   She was only a half dozen feet away and she was yelling at me, calling me a “perverted asshole.”

Ray hit the top of the stairs in a bound and aggressively disarmed her.

I was simply stunned as this reaction came out of nowhere.  Later Ray would tell me she was insane, had been locked up in the mental ward before, and that he only saw her because he liked the sex.

Jesus.

***

Back in the present.

This was the third time a loaded weapon in someone else’s hands was pointing at me.  This time at my back.  And I didn’t much like it . . .

***

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 6 – It’s Fucking Over

A Story – Chapter 5 – Rules Schmules

I was speeding toward the old part of town.  Turn-of-the-century Victorian houses.  The mansions that once separated the “good folks” from the people “on the other side of the tracks.”

There had been many battles fought at the Planning and Zoning Commission over whether to widen this road to four lanes.  It was the main artery flowing to the business district downtown.  But widening it meant cutting into the elongated front yards of the old castles.  Bringing the wealthy inching ever closer to the common people, and the old money in town would never let that happen.

So, there was a one-mile strip of road different from any other in town.  To appease those with the power to manipulate local government.

One battle the money-hoarders lost was over the replacement of the first stop light to hang in this old town.  It marked the entry into their miracle mile.  Out with the old relic having the character of a rustic chandelier and in with the new three-eyed monster.

The one I just barreled through at the strike of noon.

Frank, my friend who worked in HR, nervously looked over at me from the passenger seat.  “You realize you just ran that red light, don’t you?”

Frank was especially nervous because he knew what I was carrying.

I laughed wildly, “Don’t worry Frank, I’m making the rules today!”

***

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 5 – Rules Schmules

Loser

I found out yesterday that I did not win in a writing contest I had entered.  So, I guess that makes me a loser – LOL!

There were 2700 entries though, and the entry fee was $25.  The journal raked in $67,500 and only paid out a $5000 prize.  Clearly, they were the winners.

But I’ll look at this as being their loss.  I thought I had submitted a great story and since I no long have to worry about publication rights, I’ll be posting that story here on my blog 🙂

And it’s a true story too.

When I relayed the history of what happened to one of the parties involved he appropriately said, “Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.”

This story kind of flows sequentially with the multi-chapter story I’ve been writing called, very unoriginally, “A Story.”  And I might break this one up into two chapters since it’s about 2600 words.

First, I must complete Chapter 5.  My apologies for not getting it together sooner, but soon, I promise.

Yes, what will happen to Mike and me in our drug-crazed frenzy? 🙂

Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with many happy surprises.  I have to get out for a bit today.  Helios is back and nature is calling . . .

***

Photo: The beautiful sunrise is marred by the damn telephone poles and wires – making it a loser of a pic 🙂  Just kidding.  It is a beautiful sunrise to a beautiful day, fitting with my post’s theme.  While my story and this photo didn’t win any contests, they are still winners as far as I’m concerned.  Here is a pic of that same time just prior to the sun breaking though.

sunrise 11-30-17 +

Turn About is Fair Play

As we begin a new circle around the sun, I think it’s a common thing for us to reflect back.  We not only give ourselves a list of goals for the new year, but we give ourselves a scorecard for the past year.  Where did we succeed and where did we fail?  What dreams were realized and which ones were dashed upon the rocks of despair.

Sorry, that’s a bit overly dramatic 🙂

Continue reading Turn About is Fair Play

May You Soar High In the New Year

Sandhill Cranes Plus Text

So yesterday I stumbled on this quote and I thought Wow!  What a great thought.  Not that I wish to take anything away from the celebration of New Year’s Eve, but I like the lofty idea of changing the world.

And then I thought, not the world in the “global” sense, although that too is a great aspiration.  I thought, our own “worlds.”  Yes, let’s celebrate all of those amazing and positive changes we bring into our own lives.

I wish you all many blessing for the New Year !

***

Photo:  Some Sandhill Cranes take flight! I had the fortune to follow these guys on their migratory path in 2017.  I first saw them in Michigan and then later in southern Arizona.  It wasn’t my intention to follow them, but there they were, and I was totally blessed with being able to experience them.

To Soar: The definition of soaring implies more than just flying.  It is to reach new heights!  To feel the wind below your wings!  Joy ! Exhilaration ! Beauty !

A Story – Chapter 4 – Burning The Candle

The buzzing of the alarm clock was piercing.

The noise was reverberating in my head, over and over again, throbbing, almost painful.

I slowly opened my eyes, rolled over, and switched off the alarm.  5:00 a.m.  I groaned.  I needed to be at the hospital for morning blood rounds at 6:00.

My hand went straight from the clock to the small, brown bottle sitting next to it.  I sat up, opened the bottle, scooped the miniature spoon into the white powder inside and rapidly inhaled a heap of magic white dust through each nostril.

Super-charged!  A lot more powerful than coffee.  Eyes wide.  Heart pounding.  I swung my legs over the side of the bed and was up and dressed in a flash . . .

***

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 4 – Burning The Candle

A Story – Chapter 3 – Occupational Hazards

My cowboy boots’ clomping echoed down the tiled hallway as I sped towards the elevators.  The docs had ordered some new blood work on a bipolar woman.  Time to check her Lithium level.

I swung my venipuncture tray side to side with my left arm as I sprinted out of the laboratory.  But I abruptly slowed as I passed the Dutch-style doors of the pharmacy.

My right arm lifted up while my roommate’s arm reached out of the open, top-half of the pharmacy door.  Hands clasped, or slapped.  A sort of modified low-five.  But as my hand withdrew it was now in a closed fist.

The exchange happened so fast that no one would have noticed anything odd.

Continue reading A Story – Chapter 3 – Occupational Hazards

Give Yourself Permission

As I rose from my slumbers a couple of days ago, I began my usual prodding of myself. “What are you going to do today?”  “What will you accomplish?”

I think we’ve all been conditioned to get in this frame of mindlessness.  We have to do something “constructive” in order to feel like we have any self-worth.

But who is this “judge” sitting in the back of our minds and where do all of these self-created pressures come from?  Why do we have to “accomplish” something and what makes that something “constructive” or “meaningful?”

I decided to give myself permission to take the day off.

Not in the sense of doing nothing, although arguably, there is value in that too sometimes.  But I gave myself permission to get off my own back.  To kill that self-judging voice in the back of my head.

What happened?

Well, I spent a good part of the day reading, relaxing, enjoying the freedom I gave myself not to attach my entire worth as a person on completing some task.  And it felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

So, I carried this state of mind over into a second day.  I read, meditated, had coffee with my daughter, took a long hot bath, built a nice fire in the woodstove.  And I cranked up the music and danced around the living room 🙂

It was absolutely liberating.

You see, by giving myself permission to quit judging myself, I actually accomplished much more in terms of gaining some peace of mind.  Of freeing my spirit.  Of capturing some happiness.  Of living in the moment.

Happy Holidays to everyone and give yourself permission to be joyous and free!

Crank up the music and dance!

***

Photo:  Somewhere in Oregon.  Open and free.  Rolling grasses.  Azure blue lakes.  Snow-capped mountain peaks.  Weightless beauty.  Liberation.

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