Innocence smiles large as the boys rescue The Cube and ride their motorized scooter and roller-blades about the cul-de-sac, announcing to me in passing that they are on their way to destroy Megatron. Hood up on his sweatshirt jacket, my little one is on the roller-blades and moves awkwardly about, wheel-walking, not rolling, strange dance of plastic and clatter rushing off to secure some imagined zone.
The December sky is gray with fat and heavy clouds; an occasional breeze or gust of wind ripples the overgrown palm fronds and the garbage truck is making its Tuesday afternoon rounds in the neighborhood a couple streets in the distance. My grandson is on the motorized scooter and is wearing orange, star-shaped sunglasses to shield him against the glare of battle in his efforts to defeat the Transformers’ foes. My little one’s enthusiasm for the game is waning as a little trio of afternoon walkers enter and make a circuit of the cul-de-sac – a young mother-girl pushing her baby in a stroller as grandmother walks with her Down’s Syndrome old-man of a son in a straw cowboy hat who marvels at the Samoyed who is sticking his nose and white head through the hole at the bottom of the neighbor’s backyard wall. The cling-cling of the bicycle bell and the metallic crash as the bike crunches into the sidewalk and the garbage truck is still a few streets away.
“Can we go in now?”
“Don’t you want to play two-player on the Nintendo?” he says, as he kneels in the rocks and examines a pigeon feather, “Don’t you want to?”
“No, not really.”
“Dad, can we go inside in 15 minutes?”
He likes to orient things and events and know when they are going to happen. It helps him predict his world. He’s happier and less anxious that way. It settles his mind as the blanket of gray clouds part and roll into white balls with gray bottoms and a mini-bike just ripped and popped down the street behind us, throwing angry and irritating ripples and waves through the neighborhood air.
“How long has it been, Dad?”
I’m reading my new book, The Good Soldiers, between glances up and into the cul-de-sac and at the Transformer warrior-children and vehicles entering for deliveries or exiting for errands and whatnot.
“How much longer?”
“The post is loose on the scooter, Grandpa,” as he sucks the winter snot back into his nose and as the little one, his uncle, my youngest, talks to his dog through the side-yard gate….
“Hi Wilson,” sing-song, puppy-talk, baby-talk, talking-to-my-dog-through-the-gate-talk, sing-song “Hi buddy!”
Crunching gravel, walking scuffing, scraping, and dragging shoes through the landscaping stones. Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! A piece of gravel rock on the basketball pole. Ping! Ping! Ping!
“How much longer, Papa? How mucho longa?”
I’m on page 27…For now, no one touched the tape dispenser. Eventually, Cummings would begin swatting flies just hard enough to stun them, stick them to a piece of tape, and drop them alive into his trash can, which would be something that did have an effect. “I hate flies,” he would say each time he did this. What?
“Is it time yet?”
Did you park your bike and scoot it all the way over so Mom can open her door after she’s parked the car?
“Are you done Blakie? Hey!”
“Do you want to go in now?”
Cling! Cling! Cling! “Beep beep!”
“There’s a warning.”
“There’s a warning.”
What kind of warning?
“There was a rain drop.”
And the garbage truck is getting nearer and the little one is dragging his toes across the driveway and he’s got a Kool-aid moustache as he grins at me and says “What?”
“How many more minutes? Dad?” as he stands on the apache-red boulder rock in his one-legged pose with his arms raised like a stork’s wings…from The Karate Kid…and a game of chicken in the roadway as my grandson comes at him on the motorized scooter…and repeated “Yaaaaah!” screams and “How much longer?” asked with a Pink Panther French accent this time.
“Hhow mush longherre?”
“Ok……Blakie!! It’s time to go in!”
***This is a Favorite Re-post from December, 2009.
They are openings and closings in the literal and figurative sense, and they hold stories and and secrets of people and things passing through and beyond, touched by sun and storm, neglected and loved in their simple utility, taken for granted and expected to do what they do as guardians of threshholds and goods, resting places for weary souls, welcoming opportunities for what may come, and barricades against the boogey-man and those who would come and take.
Another collection of images inspired by Mike from Mike’s Look at Life. He is the self-proclaimed and certified President of the Legion of Door Whores and my efforts here are a tribute to his fine work…. I found these doors on my lunch-time walks…all from within a couple miles of my downtown work location in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Thank you, Mike. 🙂
This is another door inspired by Mike, from Mike’s Look at Life. A novice door collector myself, I was looking for something that a connoisseur would approve of…and found this on the backside of a building on the industrial side of Salt Lake City. The bricks were painted in a faded beige and the door was actually pretty and worn, but when I viewed it on the computer, it was too washed-out…and no matter how much I manipulated and processed the photo, it seemed to lack the vitality and old-school charm that it had in “real life.” This pencil rendering is the most justice I could do for it…the texture is there and you can almost feel a splinter piercing the skin of your hands as you run them over the beautiful wood. It appears that the lower portion of the door has been modified to allow the louver panel to be placed in the center, facilitating the exhaust or circulation of air when evaporative coolers are operating during the warmer months…you can see plywood sheets that have been cut and placed on each side of the louvers…very clearly not part of the original door.
3/21/12 1905hrs – SUPPLEMENTAL INFO: It appears that my wording above may have been misleading or otherwise eaily misunderstood…the “pencil rendering” is not of my doing. I did not draw the pencil sketch of the below door. When I mentioned that I was trying to manipulate the photo to remove the washed-out and pale appearance, I used Picassa to add colors and shadows and other effects to the photo…none of them were satisfactory to me…so I ended-up using Picassa to turn the picture into a pencil sketch rendering of the second photo below. Please forgive me if I led you to think otherwise. I haven’t the skill to even begin to draw something as beautiful or detailed as this picture.
On second thought, maybe the original doesn’t look too bad…here’s the way it looks from the dock to the camera to the computer, and now to you…maybe I should leave well-enough alone….
Swirling beneath the surface or deeply embedded within the spoken word is yet another meaning, an additional understanding or interpretation that is dependent upon the receiver’s frame of mind or point of reference in accepting that word. The paths that the person has traveled in his life will have an impact on the message’s content as well. Often, trusting that the speaker has the same state of mind or set of references that he does, the receiver will take the word for its surface value, not thinking to look into the current that carried the speaker into giving it…or not.
Those additional meanings could also exist because those spoken words were wrought in deception as a ruse, to mislead, to cover wrong-doings and hidden or veiled thoughts. They were presented to protect others or the self or bring unjust scrutiny where it is not needed, diverting inspection from where it is due. Gossip, lies, and rumors bred to undermine, to make others feel secure in their own estimation…to shake foundations and crumble established ways of thinking, perceptions, and values. Visible or imagined circumstances are mated with ill-conceived thoughts and a new ‘truth’ is born. It breathes with a life of its own, spread and passed-along as righteousness…contextual and circumstantial truths that reek in filth and deception until they are discovered and ripped apart with the knife of examination, eviscerated under the light of explanation and detail…but the damage is still done, the seed was planted and doubt has grown, sprouted and thriving in another life with its germinal droppings carried by the wind of conversation and whispered in hushed tones of ‘Have you heard?’
How many of our lives’ courses have been steered aside by a single phrase or the circumstantial pairing of words? What lashes across the back have been felt because of either ill-spoken words or ones that were found to be false? What taste of blood was brought to mouth because of an offense, a broken bone or ringing of ears caused by a violence that spews from hands evil with wrongdoing; might over weakness, forcefulness over fearfulness; the victims’ souls splayed open by the sharp tongue. How many lives and reputations in past and present have been sullied by murmured falsehoods and contrived deeds?
But words also nurture and bind and comfort and heal and uplift and encourage and inspire and lead many from sickness to health and from self-doubt to greatness and success…love-spoken words can be salves that heal our wounds and reveal truths that wash-away the scourge and disease of the bitter tongue…that fortify, that vanquish evil and doubt and failure…and stir to a greatness unimagined. And sometimes, too, these soothing and healing and uplifting and inspiring words are lies bound in sweet hope that they will be believed and acted-upon and taken to magnificent ends…causing the receiver to believe the words and dig into themselves to make them true because the speaker said they were true so they must be true and that makes them become true…and that lie has become truth…and then.
And other times the utterances become opiates that relax our diligence and dull our senses, calmly deceiving and betraying us with Delilah’s alluring promises before robbing us of our strength or resolve, seducing us, leading us into temptation and delivering us unto evil where we ransom our souls and happiness and futures and eternities for ideas and notions and feelings and…in other times and circumstances we escape with and through them, these words, into our fantasies and beliefs, conjuring imaginings and hopes, falling prey to our lusts and desires…whispered in sinful darkness they feed our longings…and we covet what we have not…we resolve to tell stories of deeds done and then, twisted mysteries that complicate and turn like worms in our guts when trying to remember what happened or not as we weave that tangled web. Their partial truths and half-lies stringing us along and telling us in bits what we need to know…in power and ruse against us, controlling and subordinating and enslaving or making us free, causing us to rise indifferent to blood and ties.
Skillfully spoken with temper and might, those spoken symbols can cause us to rise-up in defiance against our natural selves and believe ghastly things about others, to strike-out with deadly consequence or they can inspire us to love and nurture others at the cost of our own lives, can lead us to unbelievable heights and lengths to sacrifice ourselves and others for a cause, sometimes just and sometimes not and so…and someone said that someone said that He said “I am that I am.”
Between friends they are casual, words of comfort and ease, gentle conversation about anything or nothing, rambling and disjointed wonderings and plans and hopes and disappointments and promises to do better and live stronger and try instead of not…and they know the sacred and the secret, the hallowed and irreverent…jingling jangling juggling jumbling jabbering and tossing about in the mixing of anything and nothing and sometimes the learned stumble for a lack of the right one and the not-so-learned has it in picture form and simple and more beautiful and from the earth or the tugging inside the heart and in the hum of nature and in the tick and tock of the silent passing on the pendulum’s path and so…to speak in word form.
What aspect of our being hasn’t been touched by the spoken word? Is there a single step in this labyrinthine effort that is a stranger to the audible thoughts and contrivances of verbal communication? I dare to offer that near every color of life’s prism has been and is painted by and with every manner of uttering by the human tongue – those simple expulsions of breath, twisted and rolled, compressed and urged through the vocal cords, throat, teeth, and lips to become the shouts and screams and soothing whispers and encouragements or curses that propel us through our collective existence.
This is a Favorite re-post from December, 2009.
“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.” ~Walt Streightiff
I took an unplanned hike this morning, on an unplanned day off in the middle of the week. As chance would have it, I found myself on the trail that I first hiked when visiting the Salt Lake area in preparation for my move from Phoenix.
I have hiked sections of this particular trail about six or seven times in the past year, and only twice now from start to finish. Shortly after crossing one of the trail’s bridges, it dawned on me that I haven’t been to this specific section since I was up here locating the apartment where I would stay until my family arrived a few months later.
There was an odd recollection-quality to being there again, remembering my excitement (and fear) at the coming relocation, my physically being out in the woods and along a rushing stream again for the first time in decades with all my senses noting the sights and sounds and scents of being out there…and the notion of standing on the ledge of time and change and wondering what the next step would hold for me and my family.
The past year has, more than anything else (of course) been one of incredible change and adjustment and prioritizing of resources, time, and emotions. We’ve cried happy and bitter and sad tears, and mourned the losses of a familiar life and loved ones and have hoped incredibly for normalcy in all of the realms of our lives where we’ve missed it, both individually and collectively.
We have also longed to sit again among our entire family on the weekends like we used to do, and to spend our weekdays with and among our long-time and beloved friends and coworkers whose absence still aches in our hearts after all this time.
And yes, we have considered, too, what life would be like if we could roll back time and return to that old and familiar place, to have never left…or to even return to it now, afresh, after being gone for this single and elapsed year…we have wondered so, and have measured our past against our present and our still hoped-for future and we still wonder if it was the right thing to do, while telling ourselves that it was.
And so there I was again, walking under the familiar and green canopy of beautiful trees, smelling the natural and alluring perfumes of forest mulch and wild flowers and grasses riding the cool mountain breezes and listening to the accompanying and ever rumbling stream that was sometimes loud and close and other times quieter and removed, but ever-present, depending on the trail’s nearness to that peaceful and natural water-feature.
I was there, looking for distraction and peace and comfort after a crazy and sad month, hoping for a calm to return, hoping that what my senses experienced on the hike would remove images and texted sentiments and echoes of angry and sad words from my rambling and disjointed mind…hoping again for peace to be restored…and my hopes were answered, in this sense. Peace did come and quiet a portion of the unquiet things in my mind…it was a good hike.
I know I have posted similar pictures many times over the past year, but these images, these snapshots of our local and natural beauty are just too good not to share again, in my thinking anyway.
Yes, it’s been a year, and while I still miss my old friends incredibly, miss having them as constants in my every-day…I’m still loving it here. I hope you enjoy the pictures….