Archive | January, 2012

Determination

16 Jan

Jared repairing his broken XBox 360

     

 

“Never

never

never

never

   give up.”

  ~ Winston Churchill

Excuses, Excuses

14 Jan

Well, I made it twelve days without breaking my New Year’s resolution of posting every day about something that makes me smile. But then Friday the 13th did me in.

I did post yesterday, but it was not about a smile. In fact, what I posted was actually quite depressing to write. I get a little too deep into my characters sometimes, and that character in particular tends to suck all the happy right out of me. I could come up with a million more excuses — I was cleaning my disaster of a house, I had a headache, work has been draining my brain — yadda yadda. All of it true, but none of it a reason not to smile.

I probably did smile yesterday. Once. I think. I don’t remember for sure. I was pretty crabby.

My house is still a bit of a disaster, the kids are exceptionally loud, the television in the background even louder. I missed supper because I got called into work. Blake Shelton’s in town and I’m not within kissing distance. Yeah, I’m still kinda cranky. But when I look at these two furry faces, both of them stubbornly refusing to get out of my chair, I can’t help but roll my eyes at how damn cute they are.

And smile.

 

Lost

13 Jan

Jimmy wiped the last of the spilled water out of the cabinet base and packed up his tools. He listed the parts he used and his time on the work order, but it was more for his own records than anything else. He never billed Pastor Tom for repairs.

As he left the restroom, the door squeaked. He opened and closed it a few times, listening, and then set his tool box down. With a mallet and screwdriver, he popped out the offending hinge pin, cleaned it, and added a bit of chain lubricant. When he tested the door again, it was silent.

If only his mind could be as easy to silence. Squirt on a little lube, shut it up. Johnny Walker worked, sometimes, but only for a night.

He repacked his toolbox and lifted its heavy weight in his left hand. As he walked the narrow hallway that led to the exit near the sanctuary, the fingertips of his right hand brushed along the wall, an old habit he didn’t resist this time. The horsehair plaster was cool to the touch, uneven and heavily painted. His fingertips bumped over cracks, dipped into craters, the path foreign. He stood a good foot taller now than he had the last time his hand had traveled the wall. His stride stretched longer. He dropped his hand, and continued on without reaching.

In the archway, he paused. The afternoon was bright, but except for where the sunlight played in rainbows through the stained glass, the sanctuary remained shrouded in shadow. The church was old, gothic revival in design. Cherry paneling covered the walls. Ornate chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The pews could hold a hundred people, twice that if they really packed in, and they had on many a Christmas Eve of past. He wondered if they still did.

After a moment of hesitation, he set his toolbox down and stepped inside. The air smelled cleaner than he remembered, free of the perfume of flowers and women, the cigarette smoke clinging to the jackets of men, but it still carried the comfort of lemon oil and sweet sage.

He slid into the pew on the left-hand side, second from the back, and slowly inched his way down to the other end, close to the wall. He placed his hands on the pew in front of him and closed his eyes, sitting without moving, without breathing. He heard nothing, except the screaming of his own mind. About his father. Brayden. What he’d lost.

About Ky.

Always, about Ky.

“It’s still there, you know.”

Startled, Jimmy turned in the direction of the voice, and watched as Pastor Tom settled into the pew behind him.

“What’s still there?” Jimmy asked, though he knew.

“Your name.”

Jimmy slid the hymnal in front of him over in the rack, revealing the first half of his name, carved into the cherry wood long ago. He traced the letters, the lines no longer splintered and fresh. They had been aged by a buildup of wood oil, smoothed by the polishing of other’s hands, his presence a shallow scar time was threatening to erase.

His thumb caressed the letters. “I sat and stared at this every Sunday morning for years. My mom thought it was remorse…” He shook his head. “I just hated that I got caught before I could finish.”

“If I let you carve the rest, will you come back again?”

Jimmy traced the J. The I. The M. The unfinished remainder of who he had once been. “I wish it were that simple.”

“It can be.” Tom set a folded pocketknife on the seat of the pew. “Once you realize you’ve been searching for Someone who has never left your side.”

****

This short was written for the “Where is it?” prompt on Story Dam. Write a descriptive piece (fiction or non-fiction) in which you or your character has lost something important.

Smile #12 ~ Generations

12 Jan

     “Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree.

      Each season new life blossoms and grows,

     benefiting from the strength and experience

     of those who went before.” ~ Heidi Swapp

Smile #11 ~ INFP

11 Jan

The more I write, the more I have come to realize that one of my greatest challenges is consistency of character. As I go through and edit, I find I have inserted my own personality into my characters’ thoughts, their actions, their emotions. Even their dialogue. My workaholics become procrastinating coffee-addicts. My girly-girls poo-poo their heels and start lounging around in jeans and flip-flops. My tough guys cry. It would be easy (and awesome!) to write a novel full of little mini-mes, running amuck in my imaginary land, but one personality living in harmony with itself does not make the world go round. In all honesty, if I ever happened to find myself surrounded by a whole bunch of me, it would probably be far from harmonious. I can be a bit of a handful sometimes. It takes a personality like my husband’s to balance me out and keep my world on an even keel.

The best thing about people is how different we are from one another.  We see different. Taste different. Speak of different things in different languages. We hold different beliefs, want for different things, act and re-act in different ways. We love one another because of these differences. Unfortunately, our difference are also why we fight with one another. We don’t understand different. Different can be scary, especially when one who is different than us tries to strip away our differences and turn us into something that more resembles them. We go to war to make countries of mini-mes because ‘I’ am not scared of ‘me.’ I understand me. I find comfort in me. It is you who is different, so it is you who must change.

But is change even possible? According to the experts, personalities are already established at birth. Society can influence you, but not completely alter you. We have to embrace our differences and learn to live together.

In order to better understand the differences between myself and others, I must first better understand myself. And, by knowing who I am, I can identify which of my fictional characters’ personality traits are true, and which are mere reflections of myself.  At least that was my reasoning when I sat down to take The Keirsey Temperament Sorter personality test this afternoon. Seventy, quick, easy, painless, multiple-choice questions…. “Is it better to be (a) just or (b) merciful”… “Waiting in line, do you (a) chat with others or (b) stick to business”… It took about ten minutes to answer the questions, another ten to tally up the score, and then I was off to the Myers-Briggs website to look up what the heck INFP meant! This is who they say I am:

“Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.”

Cool. But I needed more. A lot more. I wanted to truly understand what makes me “Me.” According to Keirsey, INFP translates to Healer:

“Healers live a fantasy-filled childhood…”

“They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion….”

“Healers are adaptable, welcome new ideas and new information, are patient with complicated situations, but impatient with routine details….”

“Healers have very high standards. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit….”

“Healers can be both extremely romantic and extremely independent. They are likely to want a mate who won’t shrink from their expansive imagination…..”

*cue dramatic music, beam of light* Ahhhhh!

Finally, someone managed to explain me! I felt as though I was reading my biography. I tried showing it to my husband, “See? See? This is why I do what I do! Why I am who I am!” But he wasn’t interested. He says personality tests are no different than horoscopes, written to mimic just enough of everyone so they apply to all who read them. Hrmp! Maybe he’s right, but I’m a compassionate, adaptable, accepting, devoted, and imaginative Pieces, and proud of it!

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where they overlap.” ~Ani DiFranco

Smile #10 ~ Full Moon Rising

10 Jan

I love when you step outside and Mother Nature welcomes you with a surprise. Tonight it was a gorgeous moon, just starting to peek over the horizon.

 

 

 

And, because a full moon is not complete without a little CCR, I give you Bad Moon Rising.

 


Smile #9 ~ A Full Pantry

9 Jan

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:15-17

A few short months ago, the shelves of the food pantry in the church basement were almost bare. The summer was hot, the need was high, and donations were few and far between. We had canned corn and green beans coming out of our ears, but the stores of canned meats, canned fruits, paper products, personal hygiene items, dried beans and rice were all but depleted. On any given day, we didn’t even have a jar of peanut butter to hand out. For every box of cereal that came in, we had three hungry families in need of one. Sure, there was always the option of writing out a voucher for the local grocery store, but a voucher does not stretch as far as a box of food does. Not even close. Every voucher written takes away from the funds used to assist with utility bills, rent, emergency shelter for transients, and those coffers are extremely slow to replenish.

The Food Pantry in the church where I work is a joint venture of the local Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and serves a county with a population of just under 10,000 people. If every person in the county donated just one dollar a year, the shelves would never be bare. The lights would never be out. The heat would always be on. We could very easily have kept each other fed, sheltered, but we didn’t.

It took a class of kindergarteners to remind us how to care for one another.

At the beginning of the school year, the kindergarten classes at the local elementary school organized the mother of all food drives. The entire school participated, calling on parents, friends, family, neighbors and strangers, encouraging them to donate whatever they could spare — a can of peas, a box of granola bars, a tube of toothpaste. Anything. The response was overwhelming. Carload after carload of food paraded into the pantry, filling the shelves that had been bare for way too long.

But it didn’t stop there.

Whether inspired by the children, or by something inside themselves, organizations, businesses, and individual families all pitched in and donated like they never have before. Throughout the fall and into the holiday season, heavily laden boxes of food, warm winter clothes, and monetary donations came into the pantry. They are still coming in. Just today I received another call from another family asking, “What do you need? We would like to help.”  For as long as those calls continue to come in, I will continue to smile, knowing we are all in good hands.

Suggested items to donate to your local Food Pantry:

Canned tuna, canned chicken, soups and stews, chili, canned or dried beans, peanut butter, canned nuts, canned vegetables and fruits, dried fruits, spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, powdered milk, applesauce, rice, canned pasta meals, dried pasta, whole-grain crackers, cold cereal, oatmeal, baby food, formula, dried milk, pudding mixes, baking goods (flour, sugars, oils), pancake mixes, bread mixes, graham crackers, diapers, personal hygiene items, household cleaning supplies.