Friday, January 31, 2014

Secrets



Chapter 1

“Don’t let her know right away,” Jason whispered to Vera.

She snuggled closer to him and put her fingers to her lips. “Shhhh... but when do we break the news?” she asked stroking the side of his face.

“It’s complicated. She is fragile and I don’t want a scene,” he said sliding her hand away from his face and holding it against his chest.

“You’re hurting me,” she said pulling back. “What are you worried about Jason?” then got out of the bed. 

“Let me handle it,” he pleaded.

The light from the bedroom window made her long red hair look like fire on top of soft curves silhouetted in perfect symmetry.  “Your mom needs to know.”

“Let me introduce you first. When she knows it will be easier for her to accept that we’re a couple,” he pleaded.

“I don’t like keeping secrets. They have a funny way of getting out,” she said before she disappeared into the bathroom.

“You know I love you,” he shouted through the closed door.  All he heard was the sound of running water.

How had things gotten so difficult? Jason wondered. 

“I think we better get moving if we’re going to meet her for lunch.” Vera emerged already showered and dressed. She sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over and kissed him on the top of his head. “Don’t look so sad. It will be okay. I’ll do whatever your want.”

The cell phone rang. Vera picked it up from the bed stand, “Hello.””

“Hello is this Vera Fletcher?”

“Yes.”

I am Dr. Lawson, I hope I haven’t reached you at a bad time, but I have some news for you regarding your tests.  How soon can we meet?”

She looked at the time on the cell. It was 9:30 A.M. “Are you available in half an hour?”

“Perfect, I will see you then,” he said.

“That was the doctor. He has the results.  I’ll go see him while you get dressed and then I’ll meet you at 11:30 in front of the restaurant. Don’t be late.”

Vera grabbed her purse and walked out the door.

Jason felt uneasy seeing her leave. She had been suffering from an upset stomach and chronic fatigue. They thought it could be stress after all she had been through. “I should go with her,” he said out loud dragging himself from the bed and heading to the shower.

The cool water cleared his head of all his melancholy. Maybe it was too soon to get involved but he had been in love with Vera from the first time he saw her.  After she and Steven moved in Jason would make excuses to go outside to catch a glimpse of that fiery red hair when she left for work  in the morning.
Lisa, his wife was getting suspicious of his attention.

As couples they were friendly but never friends. They ran around in different circles. Vera and Steve were sophisticated and worked in the city while Jason and Lisa were artsy and worked from home and now Steve and Lisa were gone and he and Vera were a couple.

Jason felt a surge of uneasiness when he remembered they would be meeting his mother. Without further delay he finished showering and gathered up his things. Might as well face the dragon lady.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Haunted Hotel



Chapter 1


“Claire, I need your help.”

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s Sean. He didn’t come home last night.”

“He’s twenty-one now, you’ve got to expect that.”

“I think he’s in trouble.”

“Why?”

“It’s that crazy story Lydia told at his birthday party.” 

“The one where guests check-in to the hotel
but never check out?”

“Yeah. Sean and some of his buddies 
challenged her but she wouldn’t back down. 
So they went out to Noglaes to prove it was a hoax 
They left  a week ago. They were supposed to be 
back yesterday.”

“Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”

“Maybe, but last night I had a horrible dream. 
I could see Sean in an abandoned building 
running from room to room. He was screaming 
for help and couldn’t find his way out.  I’ve called 
the hotel, his cell phone and his friends but 
I can’t reach anyone.”

“What do you need?”

“I need you to find him.”

Within an hour Claire Nelson was on her way to the 
Mexican border town looking for the only child of her 
older sister. She hated the fact she couldn’t say 
no to Debra, even though she hated driving through 
the desert in her little Toyota Corolla. She had 
plenty of water and air conditioning but still felt like 
all the fluids were being sucked from her body.  


After exiting the freeway she took a long drink 
of water and waited at the stoplight. She had 
to stand up to her sister soon or she 
would continue to find herself in obscure towns 
chasing bad dreams and irrational fears. 

When Clayton was killed in that awful car wreck 
Debra’s saw her as her go-to-person. Instead of 
helping Debra become independent Claire 
responded to every new crisis with the same 
urgency as the first one.

She looked at her map and then pulled on to the 
main highway. As much as Claire resented the 
intrusion she knew her job as an investigative 
reporter gave her the skills and time to respond 
to her sister’s misfortunes.  Maybe when this 
adventure was done she would at least have a 
marketable article but right now the calamity 
seemed insignificant and her response premature.

“The Phantasmic Hotel of Nogales, Arizona,” 
Claire laughed at the name of the two-story building 
she saw it from the roadway. She thought the 
owners must have left the hotel in such disrepair 
to titillate the guests who were searching for ghosts. 
She had to admit the broken shingles on the roof 
and the precariously hanging shutters added 
an eerie charm. 

She pulled into the parking lot and reached for her 
camera. She got out to take pictures of the exterior 
especially the cobwebs draped from the arches 
of the front porch and the dead crow lying sprawled 
out on the walkway. They certainly made spooky 
warnings to anyone daring to enter this ghostly inn.

She noticed a young man watching her from a 
bedroom window. She waved to him, thinking it 
might be Sean but he disappeared from view. 
She continued to take pictures then climbed the 
path and pulled opened the large wooden
door. Peering into the dark interior she called 
out, “Hello, is anyone there?”

Claire hesitated in the entryway and waited until 
her eyes adjusted to the cool darkness. Her chest 
constricted with the musty smell of bad plumbing 
and rotting wood. She looked toward one of the 
sources of light in the room and saw a large stained 
glass window in the center of the far wall. From its 
filtered light she could see an angel in green robes 
captured in the leaded glass. He seemed to scrutinize 
her with his eyes. He held a flaming red sword in his 
right hand and the scales of justice in his left. Claire 
felt the guilt of her sins being weighed in the balance 
and she broke away from the intense look of his 
illuminated eyes and called out once more, “Hello. 
Can anyone help me out here?”

Again, there was no response. She walked into the 
lobby where the guest rooms were arranged evenly 
along one side of the building with conference rooms, 
kitchen, dinning area and a small gift shop on the 
opposing side. The central area where she stood 
was spacious with high cathedral ceilings. 

She heard the swish, swish, swish of a straw broom 
on the walkway outside the large patio door. Claire 
saw an old woman, dressed in black, sweeping the 
cobblestones. Her long white hair cascaded over 
her bony shoulders. The woman stooped down to gather 
shards of broken pottery and placed them carefully 
into a worn wicker basket.

Claire took a step outside to speak to the woman 
but was distracted when she heard someone 
behind the counter. Turning around she expected 
to see the desk clerk but no one was there. 
Instead a leather-bound registry lay open on top of 
the desk. Confused Claire looked back for the old 
woman but now she was gone.

“Someone’s playing tricks in here,” she said 
glancing around the room. “If you’re trying to scare 
me it’s working.”

No one answered.

She moved to the desk and examined the registry. 
There on November 13th, was his name, Sean Taylor - 
room #13. Also listed in the same room were the names 
of his three friends, Chris Ruiz, Chuck Steiner, and 
Michael Lee. “You guys were here eight days ago,” 
she said drumming her fingers on the counter top. 
“Where are you now? “

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Fast Growing Empress (Royal) Paulownia Tree



Chapter One: The Package

Lydia Van Doran signed for the package from the UPS driver. She took a quick look 
to see if there were any directions concerning this particular sapling. She saw three 
Chinese symbols printed on the outside and read them out loud.

    “Growth”   
         “Love”   
   “Peace”    

She traced the graphics with her fingertips and then looked back at her new plant.

“Gus, come in here and look at this sapling.”

Gus got up from his computer and walked over to the workbench. “Wow. 
It’s growing right before our eyes,” he said running his fingers along the trunk of the plant.

“I’m going to call Dr. Cartwright and have her look at it.”

“Do you really need to call your professor now?” Gus asked. 
“I was looking forward to a quiet evening with just the two of us.”

“I think she needs to see it. This is unusual, right?”

“You’re right. I’ll get a tape measure.” Gus walked through the nursery 
and out the door to the garage.

Lydia called her graduate advisor, Dr. Veronica Cartwright, and explained 
the situation. Then she sat down at the workbench in her refurbished nursery. 
Lydia had all the latest features installed including a polycarbonate greenhouse 
with cooling, heating and adequate ventilation. There were sprayers, soil 
sterilization and pasteurizing equipment, heat lamps, as well as her regular 
supplies of garden tools, pots, fertilizers and soils. She also had her microscopes, 
slides, glass tubes and other tools for research.

Her doctorate in Horticulture with a focus on the use of recycled materials for 
compost and the aeration of depleted soils was almost complete. She had built 
a state of the art environment for research and now from a practical standpoint 
her husband, Gus, expected her to use it to grow plants to landscape their
 long neglected yard which had only been used as a test site for the aeration 
potential of different recyclable materials.

Her first effort to beautify their yard was to order a sapling for a fast growing 
Empress (Royal) Paulownia Tree. She heard about it on Oprah and was
looking forward to a full shade tree with lavender flowers adorning their 
yard but this sapling was growing too fast. In all her studies she had never read 
about a plant with this growth rate.

“This is unreal.  It is getting too big to keep it indoors.” Gus exclaimed 
when he returned with the tape measure. “Did you reach Dr. Cartwright?”

“Yes. She will be here in about an hour.”

The trunk had already grown five inches in length and another inch in diameter. 
Gus let out a low whistle. It increased in size while he was measuring it. 
“Where did you get this thing anyway?

“I ordered it online from Sapling International. The trees can be found all over 
the world but this one came from a Tibetan monastery in China. They were 
originally planted throughout the Orient whenever a daughter was born. 
It is suppose to bring good luck to her family and when she married it was suppose 
to be cut down and the wood used to make her a wedding chest and other gifts.”

Are you trying to tell me something?”
 “What?” “Are you pregnant?” “Me? No. I just bought a plant for the yard.” “Wishful thinking on my part I guess.” “Don’t worry honey, we’ll get busy making babies once this doctorate is finished,” she said walking over to him and kissing him on the forehead. “Hey, maybe the tree will be like Jack’s magic beanstalk and tomorrow we can climb up through the clouds and find the money to pay for this doctorate.” “Maybe you’re spending too much time playing fantasy games. Look how much bigger its gotten since we’ve been talking. The tree is another three inches taller and four new branches have sprouted.” Lydia took a pair of clippers and cut the new branches.

“Why did you do that?

“I’m going to start some more saplings. Maybe we can have our own online 
business for really fast growing Empress Royal Trees,” Lydia laughed while placing 
the branches in some glass tubes filled with water. She could see roots already starting 
to form.

“Yeah, we’ll be rich.”

There was a low rustling sound as the sapling continued to grow. Lydia noticed 
the buds forming on the branches. “We’re going to have flowers before we know it. 
Oh, there is one now.”

“Where?”

“See that furry pea sized bud. It’s just waiting to burst into a huge flower but 
I didn’t think they are not suppose to bloom until spring.”

Gus put his nose up close to the bud. “It smells something like a gardenia or a jasmine.”

“Yeah, that’s what it’s is suppose to smell like.”

“Great.” He rubbed his eyes and then blew his nose. “These leaves are as big as 
my hand,” he said as he held the large tropical leaf.

“They’ll get bigger. They can be over a foot wide. They’re supposed 
to be great air filters and pull pollution right out of the air. The trees also 
withstand droughts and grow in almost any kind of soil.”

“I think that’s Dr. Cartwright at the door. I’ll let her in.” Gus hurried to the front 
door and unlocked and opened it. “You got here fast.”

“I came as soon as Lydia called. She sounded pretty excited. I wanted to see
 the tree before she planted it.”

“She’s out in back.”

They heard a loud scream and ran through the house and into the nursery.

Lydia had unwrapped the burlap from the soil surrounding the base of the tree. 
The roots were reaching out like long tendrils. One wrapped around her wrist. 
She pulled herself free. “Do you believe this?”

“Gus do you have a video camera and tripod?” Dr. Cartwright asked.

“Yes.”

“Set it up. We need to get pictures of this. No one will believe us unless they see it.” 
Dr. Cartwright said. “How long have you had the sapling?”

“An hour before I called you. What should we do? Look at my cuttings 
they’re outgrowing the glass tubes.” Lydia tried to laugh.

“Have you looked at the growth cells under the microscope?”

“Yes. Take a look. The vacuole in each cell is larger than normal.”

“Let’s plant them. Gus, keep the camera running and follow us. Lydia, get some 
holes dug outside. I want to plant the smaller cuttings as well.”

Lydia grabbed a shovel and Dr. Cartwright took the smaller plants. They walked 
out the back door and into the yard. Lydia quickly dug three small holes ten feet apart. 
Dr. Cartwright dropped the saplings into each hole patting the soil to stabilize the new plant. 
Lydia started digging a larger hole for the biggest sapling.

Dr. Cartwright went inside but couldn’t carry the tree by herself. The roots kept 
winding themselves around her arms. She called out for help. Lydia came in and 
they carried it out and planted it in the ground. Gus recorded everything.

When all the saplings were stabilized Dr. Cartwright told Gus to take some still shots. 
She turned to Lydia and asked, “Can we get some lights out here to record any 
growth during the night?”

“I suppose. Gus, do we have lights and a chair? What else will we need if we are
going to take shifts watching this thing?”

“The camera, a notebook, something warm to drink, and some music should do it,” 
Dr. Cartwright said.

“Get me the stuff and I’ll take the first shift. What do you want me to watch for?”
 Gus asked.

“Watch for growth and any changes like added branches, flowers or anything unusual,”
 Lydia said while she set up the items needed to make her husband comfortable.

“Lydia and I will be in the nursery,” Dr. Cartwright said, “I want a closer look 
at the cell structure.”

The full moon rose overhead and offered additional lighting in the yard. Gus had 
the tripod and camera set-up with wires running back to the nursery. He had 
extra memory cards available for the long night ahead. Three halogen lights were 
also set-up by the largest sapling.

“Concentrate on the largest plant and take incidental shots of the smaller ones 
when we change shifts,” Dr. Cartwright said before she left him on his own.

He didn’t remember sleeping but now he was wide-awake standing in front of a half grown 
Empress (Royal) Paulownia Tree. He checked his watch. No one had come to relieve 
him during the night and the sun was starting to rise on the horizon. He must have 
fallen asleep after midnight. He looked around at the other plants and they had 
caught up in size to the one he was supposed to be observing. He checked the 
camera. “Ouch, it is out of memory.” He quickly replaced the memory card 
and went inside to find Lydia and Dr. Cartwright.

Both were asleep in the nursery. Lydia was sitting at her computer with her 
head nestled in her arms. Dr. Cartwright was at the workbench, her eyes 
closed and her head slumped forward. They jumped when he came in. 
Lydia spoke first, “What’s up?”

“The sun’s rising. We must have fallen asleep. The trees are almost full grown.”

Dr. Cartwright headed for the restroom and Lydia ran outside with Gus. 
The four trees created a canopy of shade covering forty feet. She could see 
the purple flowers open up in the early morning sun. Gus took her hand and they 
watched the beauty unfold. By the time Dr. Cartwright joined them there were 
several flowers on the trees. Early morning joggers and walkers stopped to 
view the wonder emerging.

Lydia realized she had planted the trees too close together. They could reach 
over fifty feet high and they were well on their way. “What are we going to do? 
They don’t have room to grow much bigger.”

“You’re going to have to trim them. Cut them back to the main trunk and branches,” 
Dr. Cartwright said and then returned with Lydia to the nursery.


“What do we do with the cuttings?” Gus asked but didn’t get an answer 
because the two women were deep in conversation discussing the phenomena 
of this fast growing tree.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Aunt Stella and Sir Charles




Chapter 1: Aunt Stella


Town folks liked us well enough until my Aunt Stella came to live with us in late spring. She had forgotten about normal a long time ago and pretty much dressed as she wished. Sometimes she would adorned herself in scarves of silver and gold and other times hide in dark shawls and rags but whatever her clothing she always had her companion, her beloved pet, Sir Charles

Now Sir Charles, as far as I could tell, was an imaginary creature, perhaps a bird perched on her shoulder, most of the time, but occasionally he flew around to spy for Aunt Stella or to bring her small sparkling gifts. Of course when people heard their secrets coming out of Aunt Stella mouth or found their jewels and watches in her possession they became angry. They thought she used Sir Charles as a ruse to eavesdrop and take what she wanted but then appear too crazy to know better.

They threatened to call the police if we didn’t control her and keep her out of their business and possessions. I was assigned the duty of keeping an eye on my middle-aged aunt. At thirteen, I was curious enough not to mind, and so I, Sherry Marie Benson, spent the summer before my freshman year, in the company of this unusual woman.

“Aunt Stella, what shall we do today?” I asked as I brought her morning cup of tea and a slice of buttered toast.

“Sir Charles, would like to go out to the park before the sun gets too hot,” she replied. “We can go to the one by St. Andrews.”

“Would you like to stop at the church while we are out?” I suggested,  thinking the cool quite of the St. Andrews would be a nice break after the park.

“No, today I think the sunshine and your company is all we need,” she said arranging her skirt and shawls for our walk outdoors.

We had been taking these walks since early June and I had heard many of the tales from her childhood. Each story told about a normal home, with normal parents and normal events and maybe it was a coincidence but the problems with the neighbors subsided with my constant watch.

“You never mention Sir Charles in your stories Aunt Stella,” I asked one day. “When did you meet him?”  I felt we knew each other well enough by now and that it was time I learned the whole story.

She pulled her shawl over her face. “I met him when I was your age,” she said.

“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked as we crossed the street to the park.

She chose a spot on a shady park bench overlooking the duck pond. It was far enough away from the street and the kid’s playground to offer some privacy. “I had just turned thirteen,” she said. “My girl friends and I rode our bikes all afternoon. My bike got a flat tire so I left it at my friend’s house for her dad to fix. I lived further away and walked home by myself along the dirt road.”

“Was it dark already?” I asked.

“The sun was starting to set. Most objects were silhouettes in that light,” she said “A blue van was parked at the side of the road. When I walked passed it a man reached out through the open door and grabbed me. He pulled me into the van. I screamed but he covered my mouth and bound my hands and feet. In no time we were on the main highway. He had me blindfolded face down on the floor.”

“Did he hurt you?” I prodded.

“The musty smell of the carpet choked me and I struggled for air. I started crying but couldn’t breathe and started to pass out. That’s when I saw Sir Charles,” she smiled, “his feathers were glowing a bright red with slivers of green and yellow. He said, ‘Don’t be afraid, you’ll be safe with me’.”

“Whoa, what happened?” I asked.

“That’s all I remember. He’s been with me ever since,” she said getting up from the bench.

“Aunt Stella, you can’t leave me like this. There has got to be more to the story. What happened next?” I insisted.

Without acknowledging me she cooed to her pet, “Sir Charles do you want to go home now? I think it is time for our nap.”  She didn’t say another word all the way home.


Chapter 2: The Discovery



Aunt Stella climbed the stairs to her room then she looked back at me, “Sir Charles and I will take our nap. We don’t want to be disturbed.”

She doesn’t want to be disturbed but she leaves me with a bee in my brain. I had so many questions. I looked for my mom to get more information. I found her downstairs in the kitchen. “What happened to Aunt Stella when she was a thirteen?”  I asked.

“Sherry, why do you want to know those things?” she asked as she turned away. “No one in your Dad’s family ever talks about it and I never ask questions,” she said getting up and going into the laundry room to sort the clothes. She looked up at me and asked, “Don’t you have some summer reading to do?” 

Frustrated I went into the living room and looked through Dad’s family album. There were lots of photos of grandma and grandpa with their six kids. Dad was the second oldest. Stella was much younger than the other five… an after thought, a redhead in a family of brunettes. There was Aunt Lila the oldest. Uncle Rick, who came after dad. Little Joey, who died from whopping cough at three, Uncle Jake the youngest for eight years and then baby Stella.

I figured I wasn’t born for another thirty-five years. I saw pictures of her looking happy and normal up through her thirteenth birthday and then she had that zombie look, that unexpressive stare with dark circles under her eyes, until she assembled herself at twenty-two into what she looks like today.

“What happened to you?” I asked out loud. I went to my room and searched the Internet to see if I could get some idea of any events in 1967 of any significance:

Rock and Roll, The Summer of Love, Vietnam War, and Space Travel seem to be the big events but nothing here to give me an idea about Aunt Stella. I sighed. I think I’ll have to go to the library to get the information I need.

I looked in on my Aunt and she was sleeping soundly. I packed up a notebook, some pencils and my library card and walked out to the city library. Here I checked through some references to account for that fateful day.

The on-line database provided a crime record reference, but no detail. Thankfully, a Reference Librarian explained the process and I continued searching. I worked the rest of the afternoon looking for some record of my relative's kidnapping and finally it appeared on the screen. The reason Dad’s family wouldn't discuss the crime was starting to become clear.


With the crime date and conviction date, I searched for other records. Lucky for me the new technology allowed me to find the important dates from the time of the kidnapping, then the assault, and through the search for the attackers. I found an online data source called the Detective and he listed crimes and important dates for all the violent crimes in the Okalahoma area from the late sixties to the present.

It was almost dinnertime and I had to get home. I felt flush with the new information. I left the library determined to come back tomorrow. I had all these questions but lived in a family where no one wanted to talk about it and the only one that could tell me wasn’t lucid enough to discuss it. I went to bed early but kept waking up every few hours.




Monday, January 27, 2014

Grief



He lost the battle tonight at ten o'clock

I will miss him dearly

my heart has broken in a million pieces

I feel so lost.

“I love you my darling

until we are together again.


In memory of Leo R.I.P.
Words from  his wife Linda

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Consumed



Fires in
Southern California
consumed
All that I could acquire
leaving nothing but ash.

After this experience I went on a cruise
Where I consumed too much food
too many activities consumed my time
Traffic consumed natural resources 
Vendors consumed my dollars.

The tour guides consumed with knowledge
History of their country, to give me a taste their culture
Since tourist's consumerism
Is the second most important resource for local business.
I was consumed me with a sense of wonder and a longing
To see more, to learn more, to sample foods and to meet people
And... to come again.

I was consumed with appreciation for the visit, grateful to be home
Consumed with fatigue and pleasant memories

Knowing that the Pyramids will never be consumed and will last forever.
er.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Accident

                                                      watercolor by drice


“Relax, no one will find out, “ Catherine assured her youngest daughter. 
“Even if they did, it was an accident on a blind curve. No one will blame 
you for what happened.”

“But Mom, I was at the wheel. I should have been more careful,” 
Maggie cried burying her face in her hands.

“Accidents happen,” Catherine said.

“Can you help me out here Mother?” Maggie countered. 
“I have to go back.”

“What can you do? Look there is no damage to the car. The blood 
on the grill and wheels can be washed off.” Catherine took her 
daughter by her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes, 
“I don’t recommend returning to the scene.”

“I need to make sure it’s dead and not lying there injured,” Maggie said. 
She pushed her mother aside and reached for her car keys. 
“Are you coming?”

“We better take some tools to clean up if we have to,” 
Catherine said and then went into the garage to get gloves, 
old towels, a shovel, flashlights and some bottles filled with water.  
“Do you want me to drive?” she asked.

“No, I know where it happened. It will be easier if I’m at the wheel,” 
Maggie said. She easily maneuvered the Trail Blazer out of the 
driveway and on to the road.

They drove in silence until they came to the edge of town. Maggie 
took a quick turn off the main road onto a small side street and then 
she shifted into four-wheel drive and drove through the creek and 
over the uneven terrain until they came to an abandoned fire road.

“What were you doing way out here?” Catherine asked.

“I like to park here and sit on top of my car looking at the stars. 
It gives me a quiet place to think,” Maggie said. “There it is,” she said 
pointing to a heap in the middle of the road.

“It doesn’t look like an animal,” Catherine said feeling the hairs on 
her neck stand straight up and a shiver run down her spine.

It doesn’t look human either,” Maggie said.

They both got out of the car. Catherine tossed one flashlight to her 
daughter and kept the other one. She also grabbed the shovel. She 
thought it could serve as protection if necessary. The ground was
 loose underfoot so she used the shovel as a cane to stabilize herself
as she followed her daughter.

Maggie shone the light on the dark shape. It didn’t move. They 
walked up to it slowly and then Maggie bent down to get a closer 
look. The arms were like tentacles but rigid with misshapen fingers 
reaching out to the darkness. She kicked it and started to laugh. 
“It looks like a tree.”

Catherine came up alongside her daughter and pushed it with the shovel. 
It rolled to one side. “Do you see any blood?”

Maggie scanned the area pointing the flashlight in all directions. 
“I don’t see anything else out here.” She knelt down to closely
examine the tree. It had a main trunk and two extending arms. 
“I hit it when I came around the curve.
I seem to remember it was moving. 
Like it was crossing my path,
“but trees don’t walk.”




The trouble with my writing is I can get started then stop. 


Friday, January 24, 2014

Fate and the Weary Traveler



The sun was warm but the wind still when the path revealed 
itself in the dense woods. The traveler wandered aimlessly not 
knowing that Fate followed his footsteps just over his shoulder. 
His attention was on his own destination even when he saw 
Fate close on his heals. He brushed Fate aside and even 
ignored the warning from the red headed woodpecker 
tapping out “Tread carefully for Fate is following thee.”
 
The traveler sought his own fortune thinking that his map 
of the world was a better guide. He trusted the telescope 
to look to his future and walked for several miles ignoring 
Fate again and again, and at times even turning to face him 
then chasing him away. The traveler walked this way until he 
was too tired to go on and finally rested along the side 
of the road.
 
The weary traveler fell asleep in the dark without knowing 
he was on the brink of a steep embankment. 
 
Soon Fate discovered him once again. 

"This fool," Fate said, "could have an uneasy dream and roll 
off the side of this precipice and die. Some would say that 
I did it.  I do not like to be unjustly accused of things I have 
not done so I will see that doesn’t happen to me."
 
After saying this Fate pushed the young man and he rolled 
off the side of the embankment. 
 
The traveler rolled down the perilous cliff tumbling downward 
until he reached the bottom, but he was not injured. Instead 
he awoke upon the rocks. He tried to find his way back up 
when he noticed the sparkle of a stone partially hidden by 
the fallen leaves. He cleared the foliage and branches to 
discover a beautiful ring with a gleaming diamond 
the size of an acorn. 
 
He took the ring and carefully placed it on his finger so he 
could safely climb back up the side of the hill. He cautiously 
found his way back to the path and headed toward the next town. 
When he arrived he showed the treasure to all he met praising 
Fate for his good fortune. The two traveled together the rest 
of their days.


Moral of the Story: Sometimes fate must shove you off an embankment 
                             for you to find your fortune.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A GOOD DAY FOR SWIMMING



In my family, Sarah is the smart one, Jason the brave one and
Hector, that's me, is the one who can’t do anything right.

Today for example, Mama wanted to teach us to swim. 

Sarah and Jason waddled off to Mama right away but I didn’t 
move from the nest. I knew what she wanted and 
didn’t want anything to do with it.

I thought she would forget about me but she didn’t.

“Hector,” Mama called out so sweetly.

“I'm not going!” I hollered back, not so sweetly.  

“What’s all the fuss?” Sarah asked.

“It’s Hector,” Jason mumbled rolling his eyes.

That’s when I made a run for it. I sprinted from the nest,
crossed the sidewalk and headed for the road leading 
away from the pond.

“Hector, get back here!” Mama shouted.

“Hector you’ll get hit by a car!” Sarah screamed.
 
“Hector…oh never mind,” muttered Jason and 
covered his eyes with his wings.

I wondered why they worried about me getting hit by a car 
while they insisted I go with them into deep water?

“Hector, let's go now!” Mama said, using her very stern voice.

I knew she meant business so I got in line with the others and
without a word walked with them until we reached the pond.

Mama stepped in without a fuss, then Sarah followed, soon
Jason was also paddling along. 

I stood at the shore with my toes barely touching the edge and
waited.  I saw my mother, sister, and brother move 
further and further away. 

I looked to my nest where it was safe,
then to the road where it was dangerous,
finally I slipped in and hurried to be with my family.

The funny thing about swimming, 
it isn't so hard once you jump in.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

California Drought

                                                               picture by Bill

Another day in paradise
the sun is brightly 
shining 
news of below zero cold

from the east coast and mid west
but in California the weather is balmy…
although this sunshine brings fires…

and lots of them.
Campfires are too dangerous
with sudden gusts of wind

what was an outdoor adventure
becomes an inferno
wiping out wildlife and homes.

Some say the world will end in fire
others say it will be with ice
but it depends on which coast you live on.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Repair the Infrastructure


A bridge will fall
or water main break
when the infrastructure crumbles

with time and neglect.
Politicians and taxes
combine to find solutions.

Knees ache and hips break
with time and abuse
doctors and medicine try to resolve

the problem but without
cooperation from the body’s host
the infrastructure is doomed to destruction.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dogs Are Healers


Without the word a dog
seems to know
licking a wound
can heal it.

When I am ill, my dog
will lie beside me,
breathing slowly,
‘til I feel better.

Sometimes the dog
dies young because he takes
the physical stress
and consumes it as his own.


Soldiers from war 
feel their anxiety
leave when they have 
a dog beside them.

Frighten children 
are calm and serene
reflecting the mood 
of their pet

unafraid 
with their protector 
to guard them.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Awards Season



Another chance to catch
the red carpet glamour
seeing the latest celebrity couples
watching the hopefuls reach for the stars.

How many shows are too many:
People’s Choice, Golden Globe,
Emmy and Academy Oscar?

I guess it is to be expected
if you choose a profession
where people crave attention

while they feign surprise
and humbly accept adulation
dressing for the camera 

and center stage.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Evolution of Marie Antoinette Painting



First attempt in Watercolors



Second attempt in Oils... waited three years




then refined it a third time.



Painting is based on the movie, "Marie Antoinette" by Sophia Coppola


Monday, January 13, 2014

Smuggling the Virgin Mary


We walked across the border 
carrying a statue made of mud 

details were carved upon the clay 
but within contained a holy woman

her head bowed in prayer while she 
patiently waited for her release.
The border guards took a close look 

questioned the jewels upon her crown
tapped and prodded but let us resume our journey.

They watched closely while we balanced
our treasure and crossed the border.   

We hurried to a van then chiseled away
the mud releasing the ancient woman
who gasped for air. She gave us each a hug.  

My question: “Why am I dreaming
about smuggling the Virgin Mary 
across the border?”

Is there a message here I need

to understand?