Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Historical Day




Happy Birthday, Jesse Claire, you little ball of sunshine you!

Gratitude.

Monday, March 28, 2011

twist

I sometimes wonder how we fit now 'cause the now is decidedly different than it was before. This is much more comfortable for me, less obtrusive or dictatorial. I have settled into a much more passive phase yet the doubt still follows me here.

There is a distinct parental freedom in saying, You are responsible for your life. Your choices are your choices, and your life's journey is a direct result of those. Yet any bump in the road still feels as if it is my fault. I could have done better, can tell you how I did a million things wrong. I welcome the blame.

She is sitting across the table from me and talking about the relationship with her boyfriend. He doesn't seem interested sexually and she desires so much more so she modifies herself and becomes more of what she thinks he wants, what society has told her he wanted and becomes even more shocked at the neglect. All I know to say is, It's not you. Yet I know how she feels.

I think about the last year of vacationing, how I have themed each week as Take Care of Yourself Week. All invited were responsible for their own happiness, a great exclamation of total selfishness. A declaration of freedom on one hand and a fuck you on the other. Not happy? Hmmmm...well you need to figure that one out 'cause I am and one of the reasons I am is because I am not responsible for your happiness.

Slater paces the room. I am seeing much more of him lately. He asks me if I've ever heard of this book, and I say no but right then and there I know it will be my next read.

Gratitude.

photolog

Wherein someone experiments with F-stop.













Sunday, March 27, 2011

space

I bury my head in his chest, feel his arms wrap around me. The music plays in the other room. I feel safe and warm and open. A single candle burns and I pull away just enough to breathe and whisper the lyrics. I love it when you sing, he says.

We are a tangled mess but call this the zone, a place of trust and intimacy and we are old enough to know how precious and sometimes fleeting these moments are so we hold into them and their soft focus images until they are gone again. I always wondered why people fought evolution when it was so evident around us. There will be change, we all evolve in our own ways.

Tonight there is this and this is what will hold us as we become more and less. This and the inside jokes, the language we've developed as some secret code, the knowing glances, a half smile then a whole, the funny little noises, the way his arms wrap around me and he pulls me into him. In those moments I never fear telling him how much he means to me. I don't have to tell him. He knows. He feels it.

Gratitude.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

book

I am sitting on a balcony with a cup of coffee when I open the book. I have been waiting for this moment, a block of time when I can fall into the journey this writer is sure to create. Admittedly there are expectations of her. I have been reading her writing for years, and I have never openly recommended one of her books. All I have ever said to friends and family is she has this incredible knack for a sentence. For me it is the perfect example of economy in writing when a writer packs history, philosophy and a sly grinned humor into six or seven words leaving us with a period, the simplest of punctuation as if it were nothing. Bang for your buck I would say.

Later Kim walks out and takes the seat next to me. She has a Mary Higgins Clark book in her hand and asks me about mine. I tell her it is dark and Detroit and amazing. Then I read out loud the next two paragraphs.

The night before Devil's Night, my brother Josh's ex girlfriend Coley shows up at our door right after midnight without warning dressed like Jackie Kennedy on the day of the assassination, a blood-spattered pink suit and pillbox hat, a fake brain on a string necklace. She's sobbing like a bereaved widow, one who might be desperate enough to crawl around a car, trying to save her beautiful if faithless husband.

"What are you doing here?" she asks. She's looking past me trying to spot Josh as if he were in a crowd. Her amethyst nose ring gleams under the porch light and part of me wants to tear it out and watch her bleed. We were never close.

Wow, Kim says, that is dark.

What about yours? I ask pointing to her read.

Oh, ya' know, murder mystery. I'm only this far into it, she pinches about fifty pages, but seven people have already died. First, this guy kills this girl then the roommate kills this other girl then the prosecutor lives next to someone who kills his wife and kids.

Yowsa, I say, that's quite dark as well. Yet we both agree mine is the darker of the two. The writer of my book never so much as pinches anyone. Well, except maybe her reader.

Dead Girl, Live Boy is not a novella for the light hearted. You will not find butterflies or daisies or puppies or cute little kittens. What you will find is a city dotted with hope as irony and a survival fashioned from those who gave meaning to grit. Maybe we find there are no true heroes or quite possibly we all are because even as irony hope is still hope found in small spaces amongst the characters of this book.

Michelle Brooks paints a picture as real as most any I have seen weaving fiction like Krakauer reporting a story. I feel I have a secret, as if I am living amongst one of the greats, a legendary writer.

A published author once told me to read a book more than once. The first time for pleasure and the second for study. He wanted me to forget the story and examine the structure, to take it apart like it was a mathematical equation. I believe it to be true that we could write a computer program insert words and a bestseller could be born time and time again, a theoretical and marketing combination to generate income. On the other hand there are writers of this world who make the story the equation. Michelle is definitely one of those writers.

Buy the book. You'll see what I'm talking about.


I am so very grateful for writers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

insanity

This week has been a tornado of activity. I have groaned, moaned, kicked, fought, pouted, fumed and frowned the entire way. If there were some saving grace then it would be I am surrounded by people who seem to find amusement in my personal thunderstorms.

No, there was no tornado. The weather was exquisite, beautiful. Fat robins, green grass, purple little flowers in which Billy Sue likes to bury her nose. A blue sky with cotton clouds. My son is safe and healthy at college. I have an incredible family, lovely lovely friends, a job, a house, the cutest little dog in the world.

Yet yesterday I felt rushed, did not offer a single moment of time or consideration to another human being. I buried myself in paperwork and resentment tied like a knot in my gut. Could they ask me to do one more thing? How in the hell was I supposed to do everything? Woe is me. Woe is me.

Ironically the girl who can't find enough time in the day for all the tasks asked of her left work thirty minutes early in order to go home and feel as much nothing as possible and quite suddenly she was stopped by a line of traffic which only allowed her to move three miles in an hour and thirty minutes. Even she saw the sweet justice in bringing to halt a racing storm.

I don't know.

I don't know what seems to be burning as of late, but it is and I think it took a traffic jam to let me breathe and realize there are other people around me caught up in the same momentum or lack thereof and sometimes all we can do is inch forward. Little by little, stop and go, stop and go.


I love the way Seth thinks. There's your link, Slater.





Gratitude.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

scenes


It is a short hat with a relaxed center. Beige. It makes sense her nails would be manicured in a nice French style since it looks so clean and she has always been the very picture of a classic style. I suddenly appreciate the term classic can be applied with confidence in a thirty year friendship. We are water under the bridge and over it without so much as a blood donation for a biological connection.

She taps her nails and then uses her hands to help explain, I just want to do an eight hour or a ten hour or a twelve hour shift. I don't want to be in all the bullshit. I just want to do my job and go home.

I like to think my own style is that of rebellion, of no style but claim defeat to the fact no style is actually a style damn it so I smile as I look at her and say, You can't help yourself. No matter where you are or what you do you will always take control and become the leader. People will look to you 'cause you seem to have the answers. You look at questions till you have answers. Sorry but I think we all live who we are. Then I laugh.

She throws her hands up, laughs. She knows it's true.
*********

I want to tell him he is scared to write but he wrote me that he was starting to write and my answers only lead to more questions of who I am actually answering so I simply respond that I have grown tired of my own voice.

He is silent so once again I try not to shoulder the responsiblity of his actions. Fuck him. Fuck me for even pretending I know what I am doing. Maybe I should take a pill for what I consider to be moments of clarity.
**********

You are dead to me. This is supposed to be our joke but my heart breaks.

He laughs but sometimes I think his heart breaks as well.

All I know to do is laugh about the dream I had where he had died and I didn't want to tell him but I did and so I had to make a joke of it and it's not a joke. It scared me and scared him and he was always walking away in my photographs until recently.
************

Here we are. You and me right here right now.

I light a cigarette, listen to the music, take a sip of whiskey and tell myself not to be so damn pitiful.
***********

Grateful for the questions today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

discombobulated

Scenes in the form of complaints become a passive aggressive means to an end 'cause maybe I feel or maybe I use as an excuse that we all need to get it out, huh. What happens if the aggravation burrows a hole in there, in the unknown depths of our inner selves? Will it rot us from the inside out?

I can't make the hot water work. The sink drips. I forgot the camera battery. Jesse's energy could be harnessed and used to light the world. I ask her if they discussed personal space at school. What? she says. Dad wants everyone to know it's turkey season. Wyatt has had strep and Mom is stressed. I have the couch and don't bathe for two days. Kim is Julie, the Love Boat Cruise Director and we are her ship but I keep trying to find a place to hide on the ship that is us. Rick wants to know what we're gonna do the last day and I explode into a million little pieces on a million mile bridge. Priscilla smiles, tans, reads her book. Slater and Shelby float sweetly around it all. Mark says, Whatever you say, Parker.

Then we're home but it took me a while to get here and I am not sure I am truly here yet.

Until yesterday when a friend complained with me. It was as if we used a small vacant lot of time and space to say all of the incredibly frustrating things we were feeling and we laughed at ourselves at each other and it felt good to laugh at it all.

This must be coming home.

You were missed.




Gratitude.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

vacation

Out of office, my friends. Be back in a week.


Much love to you.



Gratitude.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

devastating

We are reminded how incredibly fragile this life is.

Japan, our hearts and minds are with you.

And we're coming. You just tell us how you need us.

This morning I will pray and do this.

After this morning we will be watching and listening so you tell us. Tell us what you need.

Friday, March 11, 2011

perspective

It was around 5pm on the hill when Dad stopped his work and said that he needed to feed his dogs. He was talking about his precious beagles. The ones he had so carefully named and could spend a good hour telling you about why. Mom had wanted a pool and he was working hard to make sure it was right. Therefore, the beagles, Pancake, Lollie Sue, Pokey, Maple, etc, had taken a backseat. You could tell it had pained him to not have enough time for them which led to my volunteering of helping him out and taking on the chore.


He seemed pleased as he picked back up his shovel and gave me instructions. I told him Josh and I could take care of it and not to worry. Dad smiled with appreciation. I went to pick up my baby brother.

To say Josh was happy about the whole chore would be somewhat misleading. He was enjoying a nice evening in his rent-free home, full from the german chocolate cake Aunt Sue had made for Mom. Yes, Josh was full and happy, but after much pleading by me, decided he would go.

The two mile trip was nice and slow while Patsy Kline belted out her sweet harmonies. There was a peacefulness to the ride and a calm had come over me as I drank my iced tea and sang along. Josh seemed anxious, but I smiled at him and told him that I loved him. As we passed the gate and my Honda took the dirt road bumps with ease, he seemed to calm a bit.

The calm was proven to be superficial as we pulled up to our destination and he jumped out of the car yelling at some sweet little puppies. I was astounded. The puppies cowered and I stepped out of the car hesitant to say anything. Josh ran toward the dog pen as I calmed the puppies in the yard. I spied him over my shoulder kicking at the pen and yelling obscenities at the caged animals as they ran towards the back of their home whining and grouping together in defense. It was a sight. My reflex was to hop in my car and leave, but I knew those precious beagles needed me. Therefore, I walked towards Josh and put my hand on his shoulder. My years working in psychiatric facilities was now paying off as I was able to calm him with simple touch and a steady voice. I explained to him he need not worry, I would feed the dogs.

Josh hung his head and backed away from the gate. I saw some tears but was careful not to let him know I noticed.

It was not an easy job and lugging around the 50# bag of food from feeder to feeder just about wore me out. The dogs' obvious appreciation strengthened me as they would lick my hands and nudge me for a touch.

I was caught by surprise in the pen as Josh flung open the gate and exclaimed "Go free, you bastards!" As I lunged toward the gate the beagles did also, and in only moments they had all escaped their containment. Josh simply laughed. Not a laugh I had heard before from him. It was like the Chucky doll in those horror movies. The kind that sends shivers down your spine. His eyes were wild, but I could not focus on him at that time. My Dad, his dogs, it would break his heart. I was able to run and scoop up about five of them, of course, one at a time, which led to my exhaustion. It had been a year since I had trained for that last marathon and I am ashamed to say my breathing got a little heavy. Four dogs had managed to escape and could be heard on the scent of an animal in the woods nearby. Josh lay in the fetal position next to the gate. Priorities, I thought. First, I needed to get Josh to his rent free home. Tuck him under the covers of the bed and linens he had gotten without payment from Mom and Dad.

Then I would take on the next task at hand.

Josh was still crying as I lifted him and walked towards the car. The ride back was filled with his sobs as he wondered what Dad would do to him. I told him not to worry and decided to take all the blame. This would not be the first time I had taken Josh's licks. As his big sister, I felt it was my responsibility. Anything to make my baby brother okay, bless his heart.

As I tucked him in bed he seemed energized telling me the story we should tell our parents. So energized, he got up and told me he would come with me to explain it to them. I said, Sure, fearful of another outburst and quickly called my brother Jason to let him know of the four missing dogs. Dad was on my mind and I knew Jason would help. He agreed knowing the importance of the situation and Josh walked out to wait for me in the car.

Dad took the news well but I could see the disappointment in his eyes as Josh rattled off the story with a slight smile. May the dogs be found and Josh get the help that he so desperately needs. I only tell the truth so that he may be set free.

With all my love and concern,
Shea



Gratitude.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

perspective

It is sunday, may 22nd, and tomorrow, monday, may 23rd, i return to work after a 2 week vacation, most of which was spent on horn island (a small island in the gulf of mexico that has been designated as a nature reserve.




Slater (my nephew) is currently sleeping on my couch with a dvd playing the title screen over and over and over and over. the volume, which has since been turned down by me, was blasting throughout the night, but since my bed was so comfortable and engulfing, the option of getting up in the middle of the night and turning it off was not really an option. instead cursing my nephew for being able to sleep through a repeating 20 second sound bite while being in the same room as the tv and having the volume cranked way up was the option i went for. my lack of energy to get up in the night could also be linked to Slater's mother, which happens to be my sister.



My sister, who does not live across the street from my parents as i do, can sometimes find herself oblivious to the do's and dont's of the hill. one don't here is never agree to feed the rabbit dogs at the camp. these rabbit dogs (more beagles than one would ever want to see really), are owned by our father, bobby miller. they are a ravenous horde who despite their small frames, can often be overwhelming but always annoying. in avoiding this task, i find that when asked it is best just to pretend you did not hear the question all together then quickly before it is asked again make a statement like "i need to work on some paintings." or "i have to call work.", anything that requires your attention can usually work. my sister however did not know this and in fact she was excited to do it, and for some reason i got roped into it with her (blast!). so off we went, her with a crown and coke filled to the brim, and me with hazy mind, to feed the rabbit dogs. the camp in which the dogs habitat, is about 2 miles from my home set back in the woods off an orange dirt road that has seen better times. the camp is a serene setting with new grass growing, placed there recently from my parents yard which in turn was removed to make way for their new pool. oaks, pecans, and pines are scattered throughout the yard giving it alot of shade at any time of day. as we pulled up the first of the dogs appeared. these were the puppies, the ones that were free to roam since their roaming never took them too far. they are an extremely cute bunch, about 6 of them altogether, but they also have sharp nails and teeth which scratch and claw at you as they jump on you in excitement. Basically they are annoying, all except one, the only one that i have taken a liking to really. I think his name is pancake. he is laid back and his eyes never seem to be looking in the same direction which endears him to me more. we walk to the right side of the camp constantly having to yell, "get off my leg!", "get down!", and "leave me the hell alone!". this seems to fall on deaf ears as the puppies continue to jump, stumble, and yep directly in your foot steps. my sister makes comments on how cute they are but i just sneer. the pen where the older dogs live, who by this time are howling and barking like crazy, is filled with piss and shit and smells of it too. it is a most unpleasant place, one that i avoid as you well know. the task of feeding the rabbit dogs goes something like this:



1. Pokey is an older dog and requires canned dog food. you must remove Pokey's old ass from the pen, and feed her separate from the rest. this task in itself sounds easy but it is the most difficult. one must yell and scream "get back" (threats of the dog's well being seem to work as well), and kick the fence when ever they approach, generally be a son of a bitch, because if you are not, they will most certainly smell your weakness. pokey does not respond to this ranting like the others for she knows that she is old and that it is her you are freeing. she will sit by the gate until opened and merely walk out while the others cower in to a corner.



2. once you have let pokey out and fed her, it is time to hoist the 50 lb bag of dog food over your shoulder and fill all the feeders and bowls scattered across the camp ground. there are several dogs around the camp tied to trees and poles. these, i think, are good hunting dogs because they have won the privilege of not living in the stink pen.



3. the final task is getting pokey back in the pen, which she will willingly do once you have managed to get the others cowered into a corner so that you may open the gate. once pokey is in you have to feed the bastards in the cage. with the food bag over your shoulder, movement is restricted and cumbersome which the dogs sense and act on. they jump and paw at you which when wearing shorts, (i usually am) is very painful. once you have fed each dog, water all the bowls, and you are done. Hooray!Warning: The gate to the pen is locked by two handles, a top one and bottom one. One must lock both even if leaving only for a minute. if either is left undone the dogs will sense it and bull rush it in packs of three or four. they are crafty.



on this day, due to my sister's lack of knowledge in regards to these rules, especially the warning one, a great rabbit dog escape occurred. as i carried the food over my shoulder and my sister followed me with drink in hand away from the dog pen, a great commotion occurred from behind. in turning, i was able to see three of the dogs ram the fence, opening it enough to start a waterfall of beagles to pour out into the yard. as they freed themselves from the pen, so did they from the yard as one after the other dashed into the woods. i dropped the food and ran to stop the tide and maybe catch one or two, my sister took a sip followed by "Your free!". This makes me think she was in on the whole escape plan to begin with. i managed to catch one dog and put him back while 6 got away. we could hear them bark and howl as they got further away, maybe chasing up game but i imagine just yelling back to us "Suckers!". In the end, father was not too happy about the whole incident or really too mad. hell, maybe we'll find those bastards one day but for right now, i don't really care. right now it's sunday, May 22nd, and i am going to go enjoy the sunlight.

Josh

 
 
 
Gratitude.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

undone

The other one has planted mines, little traps to trip the one. A strange enemy was made, the deep cover of one's skin. The other one would like to linger, put forth as little as possible. The one, although tempted, wants to believe in something more and questions the big answers.

The debate begins. ensues.

Both the one and the other one are skilled, quite the loving adversaries. They are friends or at least the one thinks they are so the battle is lost by the one who gives up in the name of love. The other one never accepts a medal or raises the arms in victory for it would be too telling.

The one thinking there are no enemies does not truly battle. The other one smiles at the ease, looks out a window. Slowly without any obvious deliberation the one completes a task at hand, a small trivial wash of a dish, the paying of a bill, a reading promised, a problem solved, a writing done.

The other one turns from the window and notices the progress. Hesitates at the beauty of the efforts, reaches for a hand, whispers in the ear and once again the battle which is never a battle only a conversation between the one and the other one begins. ensues.

Until the other one wins. Or the one.


Maybe it is all still undone.







Gratitude.

pssst

There is a thrill and a sadness to completing a story. Typing The End has a sense of accomplishment and a following void which asks Now What.

Hell if I know.

So I visit old venues, past sources of inspiration, take a warm bath and say maybe tonight I'll set up camp and rest.

I am grateful for Sipsey Wilderness and those boys and for all the lessons that linger.





Thank you, Miller, for following. It is an honor.

Monday, March 7, 2011

destination

My heart sank and tears welled in my eyes as I watched Slater and Isaac celebrating, jumping, spinning, running in circles. The last few minutes of light revealed we were at the horse trail, the spot on which the first morning we had entered the path of the four legged beast. Slater figured it was two to three more miles back to the car. For him and Isaac this was great news. They would run the rest of the way.

The rain began to pelt. I had ignored muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and skin for the day's last ten miles. The very essence of my physicality began to scream. I was crying mad but nobody could tell 'cause the rain cleared my tears as soon as they fell.

I made one last pitiful plea to set up camp. Slater said, No, Mom. We're almost there. And he took off running with Isaac.

Seth and I bowed our heads and began walking.

I started noticing the breadcrumbs. We crossed the creek. Slater and Isaac with huge grins were waiting for us at the first night's campsite. They wanted the keys, and I handed them the camera bag, told them where the keys were and watched them take off down the trail. I immediately regretted the decision and paranoia set in. They're gonna leave us, I thought.

Again the rain let up.

Again I dragged my backpack through the thin cave.

Seth was silent. My inner dialogue was doing crisis intervention as it assured me the boys would not leave, at least I knew where we were, here was the large wall of rock, now we were walking with the river.

It was dark and the trail was slick. Seth's focus helped me, and we began to walk in a determined cadence. This was the won't give up, although I wanted to at a ravine made almost impassable by the rain. Seth and I spent twenty minutes there, talking about it, problem solving, using a sapling and each other as anchors. Walking didn't seem so hard after making it to the other side. The extra weight of all the mud and the soaked packs seemed funny now.

Still we walked.

Climbed.

Slid.

Fell.

All remaining was determination.

No words, just forward movement.

We passed the first waterfall we had seen, where the boys had played, where I wanted to set up camp that first night. I said, Not much longer now, Seth. Self assurance spoken. Seth grunted.

When we saw the overpass we began jogging up the hill.

Maybe we hadn't lost light. Maybe the darkness was all in my head. I could see the car, it was where we left it, the boys standing by it smiling. Seth and I started walking towards them and the jar of the pavement became a new sensation. When we got to them Slater and Isaac started explaining how a group of state park rangers had been waiting on them and circled them in vehicles as soon as they got to the car. Obviously they were criminals. They had no perforated envelope attachment on their dashboard. What had they brought back from the wilderness.

Slater said ticks and mud. They could check him if they liked. He explained his mother, the twenty bucks and they may want to pick up some of those trees that had blocked the path. Maybe it was the way he and Isaac looked but they were vindicated by ignorance long before we made it to the car.

Serves you right for leaving us, I said.

We all laughed and got in the car, rolled down the windows because of the smell and headed home.

The End.

The Nikon's Last Word




Thank you for reading.

Gratitude.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

tune

continues

Seth was born with a heart condition, the thought entered my mind and left it. I could not panic. When I reached him only moments later I repeated, Seth, are you okay?

I can't do it. I'm done. He was convinced of his own incapability.

Yes you can. You just need to rest. I picked up his backpack. Told him to sit on a log next to it.

Up into the nothingness ahead I yelled, Slater.

Again, Slater!

What? I heard from a distance further than I had estimated.

Get back here, I yelled louder.

What?

Get back here!

You come here! We're not coming back there.

Slater, NOW! It's Seth.

We shouldn't have to walk all the way back there.

And then in the middle of the woods with God, three boys, trees and a river as my witness I used my most intensive outside voice to instruct, SLATER GOFF, GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE! plus several more exclamation points.

His silence meant he was on the way back telling Isaac how pissed he was for having to rehike a situation.

I turned to Seth, Is it your heart? Where are your pills?

No, it's not my heart. I just can't go any further.

Yes, you can. You just need to rest. Water. We'll get ja something to eat. I transformed into pain free nurse Shea with Seth as my dutiful patient.

Slater and Isaac, the pissed off fellow hikers, were soon on the scene. I gave them the jist of the matter as the food spilled from my pack. We're gonna stop here and rest. Everyone needs to rest and regroup. We'll sit, eat, drink and recoup.

They both did their own checking on Seth and began setting up shop, our own sweet little ICU in Sipsey Wilderness, Alabama.

We were all soon laughing. Seth even. It was like summertime on a patio with good friends. We talked about our day, what we had found along the way.

Once Seth convinced himself of the could do it we began to discuss the prospects of us making it to the car by nightfall. Slater announced his intentions to the group once again. He would be taking a bath in his own bathtub this evening, sleeping in his own bed in his own home. Seth and Isaac agreed.

We are walking against the river, I explained. We were walking against the river the first night. We are going in the opposite direction now. The car is that way, I pointed behind me and across the river.

Slater looked Seth in the eyes and asked, Seth, you've got the map, can we make it? Seth nodded.

He turned to Isaac, Isaac what do ya think?

Let's do it, Isaac replied.

Slater looked at me. I reluctantly nodded my head as well with a Good Gosh whispered loud enough for the three to hear me.

We soon had our packs on and not much later had taken our previous places in line, my eyes on the trail and Seth's back. We were losing light. The rain came again, harder this time. I had to hike closer in order to see Seth through the sheet of water falling from the bib of my hat, my personal waterfall.

The rain let up but little light remained.

A guy yelled from across the river. We yelled back and then heard laughter.

We continued on the trail until Seth and I froze from the sounds of Isaac and Slater celebrating. Whooping and hollering as if they were football fans and their team had just won the championship for the first time in fifty years.

Seth, we made it. I think they found the car.

Yeah, maybe so.

The dark was settling in and the rain came again as we picked up the pace to get to the party. On our way we dared to ask, Slater, is it the car?

No. But we know where we are, he yelled back.

Damn, I thought.

To be continued.....






Gratitude.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

favorite things

Yes, I have a subscription to WireTap. In my dream world Jonathan Goldstein and Ira Glass would alternate nights telling me bedtime stories from a special little box next to my bed at 10pm.

Jonathan: Shea, are you tucked in?

Me: Yes, Jonathan. All tucked in.

Jonathan: Okay. Well you see the other day I was talking to my friend Gregor and.....

I'll leave this bit up to Jonathan, but you may want to check out today's podcast where listeners learn about Rap Master Maurice.

Good stuff and gratitude.

rain

It was forward motion in a constant drizzle. Like the first night we kept a certain distance between ourselves. Obstacles, there were plenty, became group meetings. As we neared the river we found ravines forcing us to remove our packs and climb, slide, fall, laugh, jump a stream, then climb, slide, fall and laugh again. We became covered in earth. A hard rain came to wash us and blind us.

Slater found another snake on a log Isaac had just climbed. He and I went around it but not before he chastised Isaac for not paying more attention.

The rain let up and then came back again. It reminded us to be careful, to watch our step. There were places where a fall was not just a fall. It was a rescue mission. My earlier warnings of be careful echoed in my head.

The rain heavied our already heavy packs as we saw the river and left it again.

Nature's drama dotted the path and the moist southern heat soon came to meet us. Still we walked. The boys refused to stop.

Shouldn't be too much longer now, Seth said.

We climbed, hiked, jumped, slipped. Found the river again, steadied ourselves on a thin trail above it.

Maybe a mile or two, Seth assured us.

It began to feel like a race although we saw no other competitors. Mist then rain then heat. One foot in front of the other. Noon passed. We hiked through early afternoon. Individually and together we would meet with Seth, look at the map, quiz him and still he pointed us in the same direction.

As the sun began to move westward I suggested camping and found the perfect spot above the river. No, Slater said, We're going home.

It shouldn't be this far, Seth said, I don't understand.

Still we hiked. We'd gone too far now to turn back.

The aches settled in my bones and I moved past them to the next step, climb, fall, laugh.

Slater had taken a far lead with Isaac close on his tail. I paced myself within sight of Seth and was about thirty feet behind when I saw him drop to his knees, throw his arms back and let his pack fall.

I picked up the pace, called out his name, Seth. Are you okay?

To be continued....




Gratitude.

Friday, March 4, 2011

departure

Seth said we would be back at the car at noon, early afternoon at the latest. My last dig was, We've got another night. I just want it to be stated that I am willing to stay another night. Truth be known I was missing indoor plumbing and looking forward to a nice, long bath. After an initial shower obviously.

We snacked, packed, filled water bottles and cleaned like we were hiking experts. As the sun was rising we crossed the creek and soon lost the water again. The path had put us right center of an incline. It took muscles, both brain and body, to remain balanced while continuing to step over fallen trees, duck under limbs, maneuver around large holes and keep an eye out for snakes.

Soon we were facing a couple of hikers, another father son team. They had spent the entire night in the trees after losing the trail. The Dad had brought an ax, and they had cut their way through several places. They were so excited to see someone, and we gave them directions to the fall. We were offered the ax but none of us wanted one ounce of extra weight.

The mood was light, and Seth had us convinced he knew what he was doing.

To be continued.....




Sweet Friday music.





Gratitude.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

night

Something began to change when we found the trail again. It took climbing the tree, falling into the tree, climbing out of falling into the tree and climbing some more before I realized I kinda needed to keep a bit more of the joy with me. I looked back on the day, the horse trail, the people and decided I should act better. I should not bitch and give up so much.

Camping was good. We spent the night at a curve in the creek.

'Cause I knew about what time the sun went down in Alabama and I could see it in the sky. And I was whooped. Whooped, I tell ya'. I was zipped up in my cylinder tent by 6pm. Me and the ticks. I don't know, maybe there was three or four or five or six but they were crawling on the interior wall and I was hunting them down and killing them. Call it the Mississippi girl in me.

I could hear the boys sitting in a circle, talking about the day, arguing, laughing. Yet another night I got to drift off to their song under the stars next to a creek. I was a lucky girl. We were lucky people.

I got up early before daylight of course to only the creek. Did the rituals. Smoked a cigarette, made a commitment to a new day and waited.

Soon the boys would be up, and they wanted to get home. TODAY.

To be continued.....






Gratitude.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

not a place

Not long after, people came. First it was two guys with a cool dog, possibly some Retriever mix. He made me miss Billy Sue but I knew she was much better off where she was. The guys talked about where they had been, what trail they had taken and we did the same. It was early afternoon and before long the opening in the woods seemed to become a gathering place.

I would've camped there by that waterfall but I was with three boys who never lingered too long so maybe thirty minutes later we were standing, putting on the backpacks, hooking water bottles. Slater had to put on his shoes 'cause he's like his Mom that way. It's hard to keep a pair o' shoes on.

In a matter of moments we were gone it seemed.

Gone to a place which wasn't a place. Well, okay it was a place but a tree had fallen and covered up the place. Although the place was still there, we could not see it. So is a place still a place if no one is there to see it? Yes, I would say so. But maybe not.

Seth by his reading of the map said we should go to the left of the falls, circle around and follow a creek to the river. He was thinking we could be home by tomorrow. We were now in a race to see how fast we could get home 'cause we were already starting to smell.

When we came to a place which was still a place but we couldn't see it, we were stumped. Fooled. Confused. We had no idea where we were but Seth assured us this was the trail.

Okay, Seth, where is the trail? We all asked at different times and sometimes together while pacing in overgrown brush. I began to wonder if we had lost the trail. So I stopped and asked all of them, When was the last time we saw the trail? And I prayed, Thank you, Lord, for light.

I don't know, Seth said. This has got to be the trail. It has to go through here.

Then show us, Seth. Show us this is the trail. Go through there, holler back. Let us know when you find it, Slater urged.

Slater, look at that. I can't go through there. The tree was so thick we could not tell it was a fallen tree. We were so in the thick of the middle of that tree we could not see the full of it. We had no idea we were facing a fallen tree.

Seth attempted to follow a nearby creek to the trail but came back with nothing.

Soon after we were turned around and heading back to the gathering place to see if someone there knew. The trail there and back had not been an easy one, not too clear as far as trails go, and we had to follow our mind's eye, those little breadcrumbs in the brain. We bitched, planned and fought the entire way back.

To the immediate left of the waterfall I did a little give up routine. Not proud of it, just saying I did it. I sat down and pulled out some cigarettes. Lit up in the middle of a green forest 'cause I couldn't believe we were lost and going to have to take the horse trail again. The boys absolutely refused to take the horse trail again.
They wanted to figure out how to take the river route.

Seth, map in hand, sat down next to me. Isaac and Slater ditched us and went back to where the trail had ended. I was what you  may call freaking out to the point where it wasn't funny anymore to watch Mom verbalize her anxieties and fears. Not pretty.

As Seth and I sat there I saw a snake at our feet and was not concerned. Then a father and a son walked down a steep incline behind us and said, Hey.

They were beautiful. I swear to this day they had been dropped off by a helicopter just a few feet back but I never heard or saw a helicopter. All I knew is that they smelled good, their clothes looked clean. I don't even think they had a drop of sweat on them. They were so pretty and had two walking sticks each. This was jealousy. They made it look too easy. I simply sat and listened as we asked them questions about where they had been and if they knew a trail that way. One by the river.

No, they had just gotten on at so and so place and were from Birmingham.

They left and I was sure we were lost.

Seth and I sat in silence and discussed futility at times.

We wondered where Isaac and Slater were.

Seth went over what he thought he knew, what the map said, several times.

I swatted at ticks and other various bugs.

Sometime later Slater and Isaac returned with news from up ahead. They had met a group of guys who told them Seth was right. A tree had fallen, covered the trail but we could climb it and eventually see the path.

Once again, celebration ensued. High fives were for everyone.

We were back on the trail, and I began to remember the roughness of our new terrain.


To be continued.....






Gratitude.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

waterfall

The suffering we found on the horse trail seemed to serve as an emphasis to the sheer joy we felt under those trees. Their covering made for a proper shade and soon we stopped at a fork to take off our backpacks, sit for a spell and enjoy some water from the bottles. The mood was celebratory. We laughed and joked and told stories of the horse trail as if it was a long ago memory.

We believed Seth when he explained the waterfall was not too far now and showed us with the map. See, here we are. Here's the waterfall. This is how far we came. It won't be long now.

We agreed with this as well as the fact we would not be leaving the trail the way we came. Seth said he saw an alternate route on the map. Maybe we were delirious from our experience on the horse trail or maybe overconfident in the coolness of the shade. Whatever the reason we were soon lifting our packs and following Seth's directions to the waterfall.

Not long into the wooded hike we began noticing the ticks, small blood suckers falling from the trees, seemingly diving for Slater. And they were successful. We marvelled at their accuracy, and I concluded that Slater's Dad and I must have biologically come together for a genetic tick dope. Those ticks must have been waiting their whole little lives for Slater's scent. No amount of repellent seemed to do the job so he spent most of the hike swatting and running from the enemy bombers.

Seth was right. Maybe it was an hour, maybe two, but the hike to the waterfall didn't seem so long in the shade and the world appeared to open around it. A vast clearing, a nice sized cliff. We were on top looking down into the spray, the rocks below. The rush of the water, it's fall to the stone, the crash of the collision was the best music I had ever heard.

Off to the far right below we saw a fellow hiker, a lone guy. Seth waved his arms above his head and yelled out, Hello.

The guy ignored him.

Again Seth called out but louder, Hey you!

The guy looked up, did a slight wave, put on his backpack and walked off into the woods.

Slater and Isaac had run to the stream feeding the fall. I was pulling out snacks, setting up an impromptu picnic when Seth turned to me and said, Serial killer.

What are you talking about, Seth?

He's out here by himself. He's a serial killer.

Dude, really. Do you have to go there? That guy may be making some major decision in his life. He may be wanting to ask a girl to marry him or change jobs or move. He may just need the solitude of this place to make a proper decision. How 'bout that?

Serial killer.

Go play, Seth.

Off he went but not before planting a seed of serial killer in my head.

To be continued....








Gratitude.