Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lost and Found-Part Two

I never did find my camera. We spent the morning of our last day in Freeport making calls and checking van transports to no avail. The camera was gone and it was time to leave for home.

Of course, I was disappointed and feeling a little guilty for losing photographic proof of a great family trip to the Bahamas.

The camera must have fallen out of my non zippered beach bag. I wondered if it was on the floor of the transport van, on the deck of the boat, buried in island sand or at the bottom of the clear blue water? I realized we would never know. I knew we would have to rely on our memories.

We would have to remember gazing at crystal blue water with contented looks on our sun tanned faces. We would have to remember sitting on the tall chairs at the tiki bar, frosty glasses in our hands. We would have to remember walking on the beach and high-stepping it toward the surf because the sand was so hot against our bare feet. We would have to remember laughing at stories told by new friends as we kept our balance on the catamaran.

We decided we had lots of good memories to outweigh the loss of the camera. Maybe our recounting of the trip will provide better memories than pictures, we hoped.

I still wished that I had a picture. Imagine my surprise and joy when I remembered the tiny family photo in a souvenir key chain bought at the resort during our trip. I looked through the eyepiece of the trinket and held it up toward the light.

There we were, suntanned, smiling and making memories!

Photo Found!

Photo Found!

Fact or Fiction-Reader’s Choice

Daily prompt: The Great Divide. When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non- fiction?

I read everything. My reading choices depend on my mood and how much time I can devote to keeping my nose in a book! I like to immerse myself in a good book and read straight through to the end in only a day or two!

I just finished reading a book by Daniel Silva called the English Girl. It is but one in a series of spy novels featuring Gabriel Allon. I recommend them all and I recommend reading them in order if you can.

Once I started reading this hard-cover book series, I was hooked. I have since switched to reading on my I-pad, but when I had a chance to get a signed copy, I had this book delivered right to my door! There is no personalized message along with the signature, but I like knowing that the great writer once held this book containing his creation.

I like that the fictional characters and plots are set in real world settings. For me, it’s the perfect mix of fact and fiction. I am transported to places I may otherwise never visit. I meet people I would never chance to meet. I love the fast action and smart dialogue. After so many years, I feel like I know the characters and can even anticipate their reactions at times. Of course, there is always the added element of surprise and I am left wanting more!

Mr. Silva is, in my opinion, a gifted writer. I can’t wait to start reading the next book, The Heist. So if you have already finished the book, no spoilers, please!

Home Sweet Childhood Home

I live about ten minutes from my childhood home. As a child, I lived with my mother, father and younger brother. I grew up in a brick ranch house. Let me take you on a tour down memory lane.

Purple phlox covered the sloping banks near the steps that led from our driveway to our sidewalk. The concrete sidewalk was long enough for marking hopscotch squares in chalk or practicing standing broad jumps. The walkway took a sharp turn to the left, meeting the front porch steps of our house. No one else had ever lived there. Only us!

Just inside the front door was our living room. Hardwood floors, swept free of dust, were cool under my bare feet. A gold framed mirror hung on the white wall above my couch. If I jumped high enough, I saw my reflection in the glass as I practiced cheer jumps. Facing the couch was our TV, complete with rabbit ears. A yellow rotary phone sat on a shelf of a divider, built by my father, which was placed in the space between the living room and kitchen.

Three bedrooms and a bathroom were down the hallway. My brother and I would run and slide down the long hall in our socks over and over again for fun. In our rooms, we sat on the floor, playing games retrieved from basement storage. We read books. We listened to songs on our transistor radios or on our shared record turntable. The walls contained our laughter!

Called into the kitchen for meals by our mother, we raced to the wooden table and took our usual seats. As we ate, lingering daylight beckoned to us through the large kitchen window, urging us to rush outside to play in the backyard.

The yard was large and flat. There were flowering bushes all along the sides. The hydrangeas were a vibrant blue. The peonies, a bold pink. Honeysuckle grew along the fence line, filling the air with a sweet smell. A redbud tree stood beside our swing set. The yard was perfect for riding our bikes, running races and playing games like kickball, badminton and tag! We rested in the cool grass and looked for four leaf clovers.

At dusk, we propped our bikes against our chain link fence. We ran up the back porch steps and went back inside our home sweet home.

Action-Skip the Adverbs

I live near a park. Today, the park is less action packed than on most days when children gather for football practice on the field, teens start pickup basketball games on the asphalt court and players hit tennis balls back and forth over nets. Today is Sunday and the park is empty.

A young boy on a small bike pedals down the road near the park. A black and gold bike helmet covers his head. The boy looks straight ahead. He tightens his grasp on the handlebars as the bike wobbles. His eyes widen and he presses his lips together. He leans towards his right and then toward his left until the bike steadies. He never stops pedaling.

His father follows on foot, not far behind the boy. He takes longer steps when the boy’s bike wobbles. His pace quickens.

The boy pedals harder as his bike moves from the smooth pavement into the bumpy grass of the park. His father rushes forward and places a hand on his son’s shoulder. They pause. The boy grins as his father pats him on the back. Then, they continue moving across the field.

I turn my attention to a woman walking two tiny white dogs. She holds a bright pink leash in each hand with her arms extended in front of her. She takes rapid steps forward to give the leashes some slack. The dogs scramble toward the stop sign near the park.

The woman stops and shifts her weight from one foot to the other as her dogs sniff the ground near the sign. One dog turns in a circle, nose to the ground. The other dog lifts his right hind leg and leaves his calling card. Then, both little dogs tug against their leashes again, pulling the woman forward down the sidewalk. They walk out of sight.

Happy TV Dinner Night!

Beans and franks. Baked apples. Corn muffin.

Simple food. It was the perfect combination. I cut the franks so I could have a hotdog bite with each scoop of the tangy beans. The corn muffin was soft and sweet. I saved the warm cinnamon apples for last. They seemed like a dessert. I thought it tasted great!

What made the meal special was the shiny metal tray with three compartments holding the food. All three items on one tray! None of them touched! And, they all cooked in the oven together! And, everyone could choose something different! This seemed fantastic to me as a child.

It wasn’t fast food; it still took a while in the oven. But, it did save my mom time in the kitchen on some nights.

I remember pulling the tin foil back to reveal the contents, hot steam rising from the tray. We let it cool a bit so we could carry it to the table and eat straight out of the tray. Even though it was a TV dinner, we didn’t sit in front of the TV. Our family sat at the kitchen table like we always did. My brother and I hurried to finish so we could go back outside to play with the other neighborhood kids before it got too dark.

It was a happy time with days and nights filled with family togetherness, joyful play and wonderment of dinner in a tin tray.

Contrast-with Dialogue

The young executive walked briskly down the city sidewalk toward the farmers’ market, the sleeves of his crisp white dress shirt rolled up against the heat of the August sun. On his lunch break, he had just enough time to stop by the produce stand before returning to his office job.

He spotted the fresh home-grown tomatoes that he craved and pushed through the downtown lunchtime crowd. He selected two ripe tomatoes and handed them to the old farmer working the stand.

“I’ll take these two,” he said.

The farmer gently placed his prized tomatoes into a paper bag. “These are Best Boys. You can’t go wrong with Best Boys. Sure is a nice day we’re having. Better enjoy it now because this is gonna be a rough winter.”

Impatient, the younger man glanced at his watch. “Is that so?” he asked.

“Yep. Fog on the mountain today. August fog. Been foggy a lot this month.”

Still pushed for time, but curious, the executive questioned “what does fog, now, have to do with the weather this winter?”

“There’ve been eighteen dense fogs this month. That means there will be eighteen snowfalls. Three hid the top of Twelve O’clock Knob. You know what that means?”

“No, sir.”

“Look for three big ones. Maybe you should go ahead and stock up on this strawberry jam the missus canned for the winter,” the farmer said, the wrinkles around his eyes crinkling.

“You know, I think I will,” the young man said, now wiser from the lore of the old. “In fact, I’ll take three.”

Be Persistent-Finish the Job

Hard Work

Hard Work

I never claimed to be a landscaper. While some people seemed to cherish time spent in yard work, manicuring their lawn and nurturing blossoms, I was lucky to find time just to mow the grass and gaze wearily upon all the weeds growing along the fence line.

Over time, those unencumbered weeds steadily grew thicker, taller and stronger. They encroached upon my yard and upon my peace of mind. Ridding my yard of this army of weeds, including the impervious poison oak, seemed an impossible task.

I decided that the only way to rid my backyard of this ongoing growth of greenery was to get professional help.

Jim arrived right on time, as scheduled, to begin the job. He extended his calloused hand in greeting and quickly laid out his plan of attack for the week. He shared his projected timeline and went straight to work.

He unloaded his work tools and placed them near the fence line. He started the tedious job of digging, pulling and cutting the offending vegetation. Despite the heat of late summer, his arms were covered in long sleeves. He wore a blue bandana around his neck and pulled another from the pocket of his jeans to wipe sweat from his brow.

He worked persistently, with only occasional breaks to drink water from his thermos. After a brief lunch break, he steadfastly returned to his work of freeing my yard from previously unhindered weeds and brush. At the end of the day, he organized his tools and loaded up the debris to be carted away.

I complimented him on his hard work and shared my amazement at how much he had accomplished for one day. Still wearing his work gloves, there was no handshake. He thanked me and said he had a lot more to do the next day.

This routine continued throughout the week. Each day, he arrived on time, deliberately attacked the overgrowth, cleaned up the work area and headed to the dump with a full load of brush.

I was impressed by his persistence and his drive to get the job done. I was also impressed by his attention to detail. The job was not done halfway, as I was prone to do with laborious jobs. He systematically approached the large task, working section by section, until all the brush was removed and preventative measures were taken to stop or slow the return of unwanted greenery. Jim showed a strong work ethic and had pride in his work. He finished the job.

When the job was done, I thanked him for his effort. I told him how pleased I was at the appearance of the yard, which now seemed much larger. I told him I appreciated his work and was impressed by his persistence. A brief smile flashed across the tired laborer’s face, hinting at the pleasure he felt from being praised.

With his work now completed, Jim shared a little bit about his life. I learned that he was relatively new to town, had previously owned his own business but now worked for someone else, was married and that he didn’t always have time to keep his own yard in pristine condition even though that is what he helped others to do.

He pushed up his sleeves, removed his gloves and extended his hand. With a handshake, our interaction came to a close. He walked to his truck and drove away.

Letter on a Path

Crumpled paper edges
Words tossed aside
Love untold

Tear stained ink
Words abandoned
Heavy heart

Too many years
Too many changes
Love lost

Lost and Found-Part One

Vacation Postcard

Vacation Postcard

Twenty five years ago, I had the idea to plan a family vacation to the Bahamas. By family, I mean my mother, my brother and me.

The 3 of us hadn’t been on vacation together since I was a kid. After a bit of planning on my part, it was arranged. We flew from Virginia to Florida and then to the Bahamas! We were soon on the beach in Freeport!

The sun shone brightly and tanned our skin as we basked in its warmth. The water, which was a vibrant blue, was a sight to behold. The sound of Island music filled the air as a steel drum band played. Frozen coconut beverages were mixed at the beach bar. Palm trees swayed under gentle breezes.

We took the standard vacation photos, smiling and laughing with each snap of the shutter. This was going to be a vacation to remember. And, we would have the pictures to prove it!

We wanted to see what tourist activities were available. One activity we decided on was a day cruise across the water to a private island. It was a party cruise, better known as “the booze cruise.” Fun times ahead.

Eagerly, we boarded the boat on the morning of the excursion. We greeted all the other passengers on the catamaran. Lots of guys and girls, including us, ready to relax and have fun. Island rum punch flowed freely. We took pictures of the scenery, our new friends and our own smiling faces. We travelled to the private island for sun, volleyball and a Bahamian feast. We were on “island time, mon.” A little later in the afternoon, we gathered our beach bags, re-boarded the boat for the ride back to the dock. Then, after a short van ride, we arrived safe and sound at the resort.

We traipsed through the resort lobby, laughing loudly. Back in our room, unpacking my beach bag, I made an unsettling discovery. My camera was gone!

The Top 3 Songs in 15 minutes

I have been asked which 3 songs are most important to me. The first song is Happy Birthday, The second song is Amazing Grace and the third song is The Star-Spangled Banner.

Now, let me tell you why.

Happy Birthday-the happy birthday song is a celebration of my birth. I admit, I love the sound of people singing this song to me. On my special day, I feel this song was written just for me! I smile and sing along under my breath. It’s my birthday and I’ll sing if I want to. I also enjoy singing this song for other people on their special day. At times, however, I have suggested that my NOT singing is my gift to them. And, then, I sing anyway! happy Birthday is such a simple song, but it is full of joy and meaning!

Amazing Grace-this is a beautiful song. It is a testament to my faith in God and my wonder at HIs amazing grace. I am filled with love and gratitude as I sing the message of being saved. I have met many people in their golden years that can still sing this song when they are otherwise unable to communicate. As a child, I sang Jesus loves me with purity of heart. I always knew that I was loved by Jesus, but it wasn’t until I was older that I could grasp the true meaning of salvation and the cross.

The Star Spangled Banner – This is a hard song to sing. But, when I hear it I am filled with pride. I love America. I am proud to be an American. I recognize and appreciate the rights I have as a citizen and the freedoms I enjoy. I hold my hand over my heart and sing along. I also love the song America the Beautiful and it’s glorious description of this land I call home.

I suppose I actually mentioned more than 3. This is what came to mind in response to the question.

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