Sunday, October 31, 2010

A short story by James and Darrel FarnWorth

    Look into any grade school in America and you will find germs, from colds and flues. Along with old lunches and spoiled milks left in the back of the fridge. So when my son came home sick I wasn’t surprised. He seemed to get sick a lot in the past year. After all if he wasn’t blowing raspberries in the direction of some child, some child was blowing them right back at him. The modern school can be compared to a common petri dish, incubating viruses, modifying them into new strains.
   His mother called my cell phone and left me a message.
   “James, sorry to bother you, Darrel is sick and came home from school early. By the way, he got a refocus. He bit someone. Might want to talk to him about that, this makes three and he will have to go to Academy next week,” the message ended and I closed the phone.
   “Great,” I said aloud.  It was dark and raining. The windshield wipers went back and forth, frankly thoughts of stopping at the local bar were in my head. He got into a lot of trouble at school these days.
    Turning off the freeway, I stopped at the first intersection. I took the time to tune the radio; it seemed every station was off. Thinking nothing of it, I continued on, turning on to the secondary road and speeding passed a man standing in the rain. I noticed the torn shirt, but it didn’t really register as wrong living around here.
    Pulling up in front of my home I listened to the rain storm, which seemed to be worse, I sat in my car looking at my house wondering if dinner was ready deciding if I really wanted to get soaked.
    I live across from a little park, maybe three acres, wooded with play structures and a ball field where my son like to play t-ball. Rain or shine there was always someone playing in that park and tonight was any different.
   “They must be crazy walking around in a night like this,” I said as I jumped from the Kia and ran for the door.  Inside the house it was warm and inviting. The fire lit and the dinner prepared waiting for my presence. I closed the blinds and notice the people milling around the park. “Honey, have you notice the park it seems crowded.”
   “Yeah, they’ve been out all day.  I guess their trying to enjoy one last night out before it get to cold,” she answered, placing the food on the table.
   “Get’s cold, it’s freezing right now,” I said, reaching for an English muffin.
   “You know, some people don’t have very much common sense. They don’t even know when to come out off the rain,” she answered handing me the butter.
   “Where is the boy,” I asked buttering my muffin.
   “Upstairs, he looked pale as a ghost today. Didn’t say much coming home, either,” she answered.
   “Would you expect anything less he got a refocus, bet he is up there pouting,” I answered as I poured gravy over my mash potatoes.
   “You should go up there and talk to him, he is only six years old and needs you,” she said, as she stopped and folding her arms.
   I continued to eat, until I noticed her arms and her expression on her face. “Great, cold food for me tonight,” I said as I walked up the stairs.  There was a funny smell in the house; it got worse as I came to my son bedroom door.
   I opened it without knocking and looked in. He stood in the corner against the desk. He turned and the boy just didn’t look right. He was pale and tired looking. In his hand was his hamster. He had eaten the head right off of the poor thing.
   “What the hell are you doing,” I said at the top of my lungs, I wouldn’t normally talk to my 6 year old like that but come on, he just bit his hamsters head off.
   He slowly crossed the floor toward me. I closed the door and stopped to think. I did what any father would have done at that point. “Jan, can you get yourself up here.” I called his mother.
   She was already part way up the stairs. “What’s going on?”
   “Hmm, I think our son is a zombie,” I answered, looking back at the closed door.
   “What are you talking about? He is just sick.” she said reaching for the door.
   I grabbed for the door knob and told her, “be careful.”
   “He is just sick,” she said pulling my hands away.
   No sound came from the room as the door opened there was no child zombie waiting on the other of the door. My son was no where to be found, either. We moved into the room and the hamster cage was broken and laying on the floor.
   I pointed at the cage and my wife looked puzzled.
   “Where his he?” she asked.
   “I don’t know,” turning around and faced the closet.
   “Oh get out of the way,” she demanded, pushing me to one side as she reached for the door. Inside the closet was our child. He turned and reached out for the love of my life.
    Reaching down as she has done so many times over the years she must have thought nothing of it.
    “Come on, who’s my baby boy,” was the last thing I heard her say. The child zombie reach for her neck and it was over.
    The horror, I witnessed, as I ran from the room. I felt sick to my stomach as I took flight down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs I stopped and shut the door.  I needed to barricade it before he hurt someone else. No thought of what my wife might become; no thought of putting my own son down. I loved him after all. I pushed the bookcase against the door.
    “That should hold you, don’t worry baby I will find help,” calling through the door. I ran across the living room and grabbed for the front door. As the door opened, a hand came reaching through the door just missing my chest and hitting the door jam. I kicked the zombie from my porch and closed he door. I was started to think that I might be in some sort of trouble.
    I turned the lights out all over the house and remember my copy of “The Zombie Survival Guide. Then I remembered it was upstairs on my end table next to my dead wife and zombie child.
    “Oh come on,” I yelled as I reached up and cupped my own month. “You have to get a hold of yourself.” I thought.  My eyes rolled around taking in the shadows in the room. They seemed be moving. I knelt and went across the room on my hands and knees to the window. Outside on the lawn were people that were no longer of this world. They move around aimlessly in search for something.
    “You know what they want,” I said aloud.
    As I stood, comfortable that they couldn’t see through the blinds, I walked into the pantry passed the barricaded stairs and the cold dinner still on the table. I could hear my son scratching at the door.  I grabbed my hiking pack filling with supplies. Not forgetting a flashlight and glow sticks. My son liked glow sticks; I stared at one as I hatched a plan.
    A short time later I stood there at the bottom of the stairs. “I can’t leave you here, Darrel,” I called through the door holding it with one hand. “I am going to open this door and you got to do what you got to do.” The door pushed out under my weighed, but it remained closed.
    I swung it opened and he lung at me, his father. I stepped sideways and he fell into the sheet that I had strung up across his path. Pulling the make shift net free from the anchors; he fell to the floor. I grabbed his feet and tied his legs together and then wrapped the rope up his body, until he no longer moved. He wiggled as I lifted him to my shoulder and walked out the back door.
   Into the car I placed my dead wife and my zombie child and down the street we went. I could see there was no one uninfected, if so they hide in their homes as I had done. Smoke came from several of my neighbor’s houses and windows darkened from the fires within. “They are the lucky ones.”
   On the bright side it had stopped raining.
   Around the corner it was no better, this town was finished. My only hope was to get my family from his place. There was an airport in the next town and I figured that that would our best change.
   Just inside the city limit I came across the first road block. The man at the blockade directed me to the right. I could see that he was U.S. army.  He wore a hood that covered his head and shoulders with an included gasmask. The rain started and I could see the air field.  It was covered in the military equipment.
   I hit the floor of my bedroom, the lights were on and my wife stood over the top of me. “Honey, get up and comfort your son. He was dreaming about zombies again and wants something to eat.”
   “Great,” I moaned, as I slowly crossed the floor and moved down the stairs to share, yet, another bowl of cereal with my son.

    Happy Halloween, Don't take any candy from strangers.
  The above short story is to be considered copyrighted. I am the author and kept all rights to the above story. Unlike most of the material on my blog it a fabrication of Fiction. I wasn’t told the story. It is not meant to be about anyone in particular and should be considered a product of my imagination. The author doesn’t not smoke or drink in excess. He has also held the same job for 20 years. So if you like fiction and want to read more of my works of fiction you can go to read the posts from the beginning and you should be able to figure out the storyline.  You can also catch me on Facebook, under the name, Letters from the Verse.
 Thank you,
 James Farnworth.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

  My book is based in a 'Verse that I didn't create, I hold no copyright to the material. It is a fan fiction and nothing more. Firefly and Serenity are owned by Fox, Universal, and Joss Whedon. Reproduction of my material for profit might end you up in court or worse. So don't do it.
  I wrote the book over the last year. It is finished and we are going to release it as a podcast for free. I have a crew and I will be giving them credit when and where it is due.
  If you have not seen Firefly or Serenity, I would encourage you to, before listening to the podcast or reading chapter one of Serenity Lost. I make references to the story created by Joss Whedon. It is a ‘verse where The Earth is left behind and man kind sets out to find a new place to live. People live on farms and fly in space craft. They might carry a carbine or laser gun. They might live in a super futuristic city or in a dusty village.
  Joss made the ‘verse and I wrote a story based in that verse. Only two characters are mentioned in my story line that was created by him, that of Magistrate Higgins and his son from the Firefly episode “Jane’s town.”
  Serenity Lost takes place a few months before the War of Independence. Forgive me if I was off a little on the timeline. The Serenity Lost came from the Podcast 'the Signal'. One episode asked the audience to call in and tell them what it would mean to lose your serenity. So, the name is based on that episode as much as the ship named Serenity from the television series. 
  I am also giving the book a PG rating, mostly for violence. The language isn’t all that bad but some may be offended.
  Chapter one drops on November 1st, and the podcast will drop in December. Have a great read and we look forward to having you back for the rest of the book once it is released as a podcast on Itunes.
  Stay Shiny, James Farnworth
See more about Firefly at:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween and Culture Shock

  Mother was a funny woman; I can remember my first Halloween alone. What I mean, I guess was after I moved out of my parent’s and into an apartment.
  That first year was insane; I had lived in the Yakima Valley all my life, but a month after graduating high school I had decided to move to Seattle. I was never one to live off my parents. I worked all summer to raise the money I needed to move.
  I even applied to Shoreline community college. I was accepted, I say this as if they rejected anyone. A high school diploma and heartbeat was all that was needed. The trouble was at the end of the summer I needed a roommate. I ended up with a disabled man who was pretty easy to get along.
  At home in Sunnyside, my parents counted the number of kids that came to the door to trick-or-treat. I can remember that there were never more than 30 in a given year. My apartment had 250 units, in an area with more than 20 complexes in just a few blocks. Which in just a few square blocks added up to more people than what lived in my home town.
  My mom called and she had her first trick-or-treater, I can remember her saying, “James you should write how many you get each time so we can see who gets more.”
It was just like my mom to make a game about it. Just then someone knocked. I opened the door and froze in my tracks.
  “Mom, I think I am going to need more candy. Oh and by the way, would you like to bet on who gets more kids this year,” saying this I started to pass out the candy.
  “S%#@, how many are there,” she said.
  “15, 16, 17,” I counted as I dropped treats into the bags held by the outstretched hands.
  The phone went dead and I ran out of candy after opening the door for the 30th time. I couldn’t stand not having enough so I ran to the store for more. Mom called back and was talking to my roommate when I got back. He was giving his own stash away at that point.
  “James, how many have you had now?” she asked.
  “TRICK OR TREAT,” the next bunch screamed.
  “Mom, can I get back to you this is getting ridicules,” I said into the phone and digging into another bag of freshly bought candy.
  In the end, Mom called and said she got 28 and I said I lost count at 300. I was in culture shock. I had never seen such a thing. Visiting a city is not he same as living there. Today we get around 120 kids, do mostly to our location on a corner across from a park. If this was Seattle in the same type of neighborhood, we would need a chain link fence and tear gas to control the riot that would take place every Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dressed up for Halloween

  My feelings about Halloween have always been mixed at best. My parents were frugal as I have mentioned before in earlier posts. This particular holiday brings back memories of coffee stains and plaid ghosts.
  I wanted to be a ghost one Halloween and my mother went into the closest and dug out a sheet with a mysterious coffee colored stain that resembled a large flower. Seconds later with a little imagination, I was a ghost. I remember it must have been 1979 and dad took me out to trick-or-treat up on the hill. (An area referring to the good side of my hometown of Sunnyside.)
  It was dark and I couldn’t see so dad cut a hole in the top of my costume and pulled my head through it. Later the wind started to blow and my sheet started to look like a more like a cape. Upset I went back to the car and he gave me his belt. He had to wrap it around twice before it would stay on properly. It had a large buckle with a silver dollar imbedded in the metal.
  I caught up with my group and everything was fine for a while until I got cold under that little sheet of mine. I couldn’t do much for my face, so I went back to the car and put my coat on. It was the seventies and plaid was in, I only say this because I had this little plaid coat.
  I went back to Trick-or-treating. The group had left me moving on to the next block. So I went up to the next house by myself.
  My dad pulled up to his son in tears.
  “What happened?” he called from across the street.
  “They said I look like a girl,” I cried out. There I stood on the side of the road. With my rosy cheeks, flowered skirt and red coat with matching belt. The funny part was dad made me go to a few more houses including my Aunts house.
  I have never seen the pictures and never want to either.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ghosts from the Past

  Memories are fresh on the mind of this Blogger. I want to share them with my son, my family and my friends just as my father did in the past. The oral tradition is strong in my family. (Jedi, maybe, but more on that later.) My dad would start telling a story and you would want to run for the door, just to stop so you could hear one more. He liked his stories about his past growing up in Idaho. We would sit around the campfire or just around his kitchen counter for hours to hear them.
  I feel sometimes like my life is fading, I have diabetes, I am over weight, my heart acts up (beat fast for no reason), and I just turned 41. I am feeling old and like I am having a mid-life crisis. I have no desire to buy an Italian sports car or find a younger mate; I cannot manage to keep up with the one that I have, she is a third my weight, two-thirds my age and full in love.
  My son is almost seven and will not graduate school for another 12 years. I want to see him go to college, have a family, and have a child of his own.
  This blog is my time capsule, it is my parachute, it is my confession, it is a love letter, and it is my connection to my father and to my son. I hope one day he will read this and understand that his father and grandfather and all the people that I talked about loved him. I want the world to know my family, they weren’t famous or rich; they were for the most part poor and unassuming. Their riches came from their grasp of the oral tradition. They had honor and respect for one another.
  Once when I lived in Vancouver, Washington, just after my son was born (2005). The phone rang and my father and mother were on a three-way call with me.
  “James, this is mom and dad.”
  “Who died,” I asked.
  “Everyone is okay, we just wanted to tell you we love you and wanted to make sure you understood that we are very proud of the way you take care of your family,” announced my dad.
“I love you, James,” said my mom.
  “Thanks,” I answered, probably sounding confused.
  They hung up after that. They just wanted me to know how they felt. I remember standing at my dad’s   funeral and remember that phone call. It made me cry to be honest. It is a connection that I needed and still need today. My parents like all good parents centered me.
  Therefore, if you find that your memories are painful and sad, try to think of them as connections to your past.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part Four of the Cub Scout Chronicles

  This weekend, I took some time to do Cub Scout reading. The first part of the Cub Scout manual was about personal safety. I had no idea, what I was about to read. It was about how to talk to your child about strangers and how to teach them what to do in situations. I had THE talk with my son. (Nervous much)
  We (meaning my wife and) spent the rest of the weekend asking random questions about what he would do in certain situations. He did well to tell you the truth. I didn’t really have any doubt about his performance.
  Today, we as parents need to watch and teach our children about strangers. Not only the strangers on the street, but the people that we think we know next door or even in our home. When I was young this wasn’t as big of an issue. Excluding a few bad apples in the bunch, I had good childhood.
  The meeting went very well. My wife had a long talk with my son about personal space. (Don’t kick your neighbor.) She also told him that he needs to pay attention and stay quiet. Later, I found out she had threatened to take his video game privileges away. (Personal note never get on my wife’s bad side or she will take things away.)
  He did very well, almost making it through until the end of the meeting before he started squirming in his chair. I gave up in the end and let him run off with a couple of older scouts. They came over and invited him to play ball. He said, “Yes,” and with a nod from myself, ran off in search of the ball. I almost asked if they wanted one more, because I still feel a little like an outsider in the group of parents.
  I miss the good old days of the play ground. When you are a child you can just run off and make friends. In the novel, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, one of the characters had a name for these types of friends. He called them single use friends. The people that you meet in a doctor’s office have a good conversation and leave without asking their names. Later, you might think of that person and wonder why you didn’t ask them their name. You hit yourself in the head; I could have been having coffee with that person, right now! Darrel is the same way, later he will be at the park and relate the area with the person and wonder out loud.
  “Where are my friends?”
  “What friends Darrel?”
  “The ones that where here last time,” answering the question with concern.
  “They don’t live at the park, Darrel,” we tell him only to watch him go off and make more single use friends.
  I sit in a crowd and still feel sad that I can’t make friends as easy as I used to, in turn it makes me happy that I see my son playing with two kids that he might because friends with, after all they go to the same meeting each week. Maybe, he will become best friends with one of these boys, or maybe they are just a single serve friend, but for now he is enjoying himself and is no longer thinking about video games and what will be on TV when he gets home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ghost of Halloweens Past

  My mother and I had a game we used to play. I’ve been putting a lot of thought into that game lately. We used to scare each other. We sometimes pulled pranks on each other; we sometimes teamed up and pulled pranks on other people.
  She would stand in the closet for ten minutes just to jump out and frighten me. A plan that would back fire if the other person realizes you were in the closet, 10 minutes became much longer, or worse my dad was the one that opened the door first. Scaring my dad was liable to get someone hurt.
  One time my mom spotted me lying on my bed. She quietly opened the door the rest of the way and moved into arms reach. Trouble was it was a trap. I had spent a long time molding the laundry into, well, me. (Now it wasn’t just a pile of cloths. I molded legs, and feet, arms and hands. It looked like a person sleeping in my bed.) Then I covered it up with my bedspread. What she thought was me was just a pile of laundry. As she grabbed the laundry, I grabbed her from behind and screamed. She screamed and I ran for my life.
  We worked together more than once to scare other people. We scared my aunt in "Man She Can Run" (story in blog). Onetime we almost gave a friend of my dad's a stroke. My mother had me hide in a closet. She got the poor man close to where I was hiding (the setup) and when my dad’s friend came into the room, I reached out of the darkness and he almost hit the floor (knock down).
  Not all pranks worked as planned. The time I walked up the stairs and my foster brother jumped out at me. I punched him out and he bled for half an hour. That wasn’t really all that funny, but that does bring me to my next point.
  “People can get hurt.”
  One day my dad came home and told me that the scaring of my mother was no longer an option. Turned out she had a bad heart problem and it could kill her if we scared her. It didn't stop from scaring the crap out of everyone else, up to and including the last month that she was alive. She just got of outpatient surgery and my brother helped her into the car. He asked how she felt.
  "I’m Okay. Can we go to the casino one last time?" she asked.
  "What?" he answered.
  "I really want to eat out and maybe play a little (gamble)," she asked.
  “AH,” he muttered out, he turned white and really looked frightened. My mother got off her death bed for a surgery to help her comfort level and really had no business anywhere near a casino.
  "Yeah, I can't see a problem with that," I said as it started the vehicle. I could see my mom and how she was smiling. She let him off the hook and we drove home. More than once she stopped taking breaths and laid still on the couch just to see if anyone got scared.
  “Mom, MOM!” we would yell.
  “Just seeing if you were paying attention,” she said with that little croaked smile.
  When she past from this earth, Halloween just hasn't been the same. Hopefully, she doesn't scare the crap out of me one of these nights. Unexplained noise makes me think of the times we had when I was a child.
  “Ghost, great now I am not going to get any sleep,” he said out loud.
  Bam, scrape, rattle, bam.
  “No seriously, Mom is that you?”
  He turns from the keyboard and runs in search of yet another noise.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Brown Coffee

  We all are different. Some people like coffee and some don’t. Even the ones that like coffee don’t like it the same way. I like my coffee with just the right amount of cream to turn it the right shade of brown, then sweetened with a packet of NutraSweet. As for the coffee itself, some people like a mild roast, at my house we drink tar strength, any stronger and you could stand a spoon in the deliciousness of our coffee. Jan and I drink from the same pot, but by the time that we are done mixing; we have two very different favored drinks. Jan likes hers strong, cream and sugar with whipped cream on top.

  There are many food items in my house that are cook and served three different ways. When Mash potatoes and gravy are served is a good sample. Jan uses butter or nothing at all. I make a lake in the middle of my potatoes to make room for the gravy. Leif likes the potatoes flat on the plate and covered in gravy. Darrel is another story; he falls in the category of not liking it at all, but remember that is the first difference I mentioned.

  Take rice, some people eat it with milk like cereal. Some like soy, sugar or even cucumbers. I like raisins and sugar in a milk bath. I have ate it will peaches, and berries of many kinds. It doesn’t make us strange, it just makes us different.
  Okay, if I haven’t lost you I am getting to a point, when I was 10 years old. My family vacationed in Windover, Utah. Well actually, my Brother Lee, and I vacationed in Utah, My parents spent most of the time in Windover, Nevada. You see the motel we stayed at was in Utah and the casinos were in Nevada.
Keep in mind that it was just blocks away from each other so don’t call CPS just yet. We weren’t allowed to leave the motel. It was hot and temperature of the room was even hotter. The pool was where we spent most of our time. When we weren’t swimming we were sitting around talking to total strangers. The scene if played out today would look like the opening of Criminal Minds and we would eventually end up in a ditch somewhere.
  The area around Windover is desert and flat for miles. It was hot as I said before but I do remember the air force base. The F14’s climbing high into the air disappearing from view. We sat there waiting for the next one when someone said they would be right back. They wanted a Soda.

  “A what?” I asked looking confused I‘m sure.
  “A soda,” she answered.
  “What is a soda?” I laughed. Back then we didn’t call them soda’s around where I lived, we called them pops or by their real name; Coke, Pepsi, etc.
  “I’m getting a Pepsi,” she answered.
  “Oh, you are getting a Cola,” answered someone else at the table.
  “No, a Pepsi,” she demanded.
  Somewhere the conversation started about how we say things different, one girl’s soda is another boy’s pop; one boys pop is someone else’s Popsicle. The conversation went on for hours. I even learned that a fag was a cigarette; which blew this 10 year old boy’s mind.
  “Really and your parents’ smoke fags?” I asked.
  “Yeah, mostly when they are getting pissed,” the tall one answered.
  “Whaaaat?” I asked.
  So we are all different, from a children’s chance meeting in a motel in the middle of no where to the spouse that sleeps next to you. The trick is to know acknowledge their differences and hand them the whip cream.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Haunted High School

  Halloween is just around the corner and I can see the decorations appearing on my neighbor’s house. I was recently asked to go to haunted house. I love haunted houses. It is a chance to feel the danger that our ancestors felt everyday of their lives. We were born with a fight or flight response. Our bodies will betray us, in a haunted house. We know that isn’t real, but still jump at the sounds and run from the actors. In a good haunted house we come out with a new found respect for the modern day cardiologist.
For me scary situations haven’t always been my cup of tea. When I was a boy, say 8 or so I was invited to a haunted house. My cousin invited me out of the blue to attend. I had never been invited before but I went along like a lamb to slaughter.
  We were going to the Haunted High School in Mabton, Washington. I am not sure it is still there or if they still have the haunted high school because I have never returned. It was my first haunted house and almost my last. It was started out as simple enough we walk room to room watching scenes in minor horror, torture scenes and beheadings, until we came to a room of a scene out of a graveyard. I wouldn’t have thought twice but in this room we paused.
  “Jimmy,” came a whisper from somewhere in the room.
I looked around wondering where they voice was coming from.
  “Jimmy,” called the voice. But this time I noticed it had came from the large coffin in the middle of the room.  
  I grabbed on to my cousin and pulled her with all my might. I wanted out.
  “Jimmy,” came the voice from the coffin, I watched on in horror as the coffin’s lid opened and I spotted a zombie looking as if someone had just dug it up.
  I turned and pulled harder as the Zombie limped his way across the room. Reaching out and calling my name. Just as I pee myself and threaten to bit my cousin’s finger off, she let go. I ran from the room and all I hear was laughter. I didn’t care I just wanted to get out of there.
  It turned out to my cousin’s big brother and it was all planned. I couldn’t watch a horror movie for years unless my mother was in the room making me. (See Spiders on this blog, if you haven’t read it already.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad Dreams

  Once my son bit someone at school, he was sent home and we soon found ourselves in a meeting with the school Principal about his behavior. Yesterday, he stuck his tongue out and blew raspberries at a fellow student. He gets two strikes each week and then he is placed in an after school program call Academy. As for his punishment at home he gets his TV and video game privileges taken away on just the first offense.
  I got home about 6:30 and dinner was already being served. For dinner we had; chicken with mash potatoes with gravy. I was about to go into the living room when I noticed my little man sitting at the table. We sometimes watch TV while we eat our dinner. Tonight, Darrel was not allowed do to the raspberries at school. I decided to sit with him and see what he had to say for himself.
  “I’m Sorry, Dad,” he started.
  “Why did you do it?” I asked.
  He looked down at his plate and then back up at me, “I don’t know.”
  We sat there eating our dinner together. Before long he looked back up and asked, “Do you have bad dreams?”
  “Sometimes,” I answered.
  “What are they about?” he asked, now meeting my gaze for the first time.
  I know my son, so I answered, “Zombies, my dreams are mostly about zombies.”
  His eyes lit up at my answered and he asked, “Me, too. Was I in your dream?”
  I quickly saw that this conversation was going somewhere I didn’t want it to go. I could just image that my wife would kick me out of bed because my son was screaming about zombies attacking him in his dream. So I answered. “Yes, you were a zombie.” Hoping if he was a zombie he would dream about being chased by said creatures.
  “I was.”
  “Yeah, I locked you up in your room so you wouldn’t hurt anyone,” I answered, I watched him eat for a little while. I could see that he was mulling over what I had said.
  “How did I become a zombie?” he asked.
  “It was just a dream, Darrel,” I answered, hoping to end this conversation.
  “But how?” he demanded to know.
  “I think you caught it at school.”
  “At school?” he said raising his voice high enough to catch the attention of his mother who was in other room.
  “Darrel eat dinner,” she called out.
  “Yes, Darrel eat your dinner,” reiterating what she had said.
  He picked up his fork and started back at his dinner. He waited a few minutes before asking, “Was mom a zombie, too?”
  “Yes, she was a zombie,” I answered; now pointing at his dinner plate.
  “How did mom become a zombie?” he asked.
  “Oh, no,” I answered rolling my eyes.
  “What?” he asked, rolling his eyes mockingly.
  “How do you even know what as zombie is?” I asked.
  “Call of Duty and Spongebob,” he laughed, “Now how did mommy become a zombie?”
  I felt a little trapped. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I really hadn’t dreamed about zombies and I was trying to figure out how to get out of this conversation. “I have no idea,” I answered.
  “Did I bite her?” he asked.
  “Yes, Darrel, She reached down to give you a hug and you bit her on the neck,” I said, giving up on the chance to have a normal conversation with my six year old son.
  “Oh, did I bite you?” he asked.
  “No Darrel, I locked you in your room and mommy in her room once she turned into a zombie, now eat your food,” I ordered, trying to pretend that I was playing the roll of the parent in this conversation.
  “Did you get away,” he asked, frankly.
  “When will this conversation end,” I thought. In fact it went on for a long time after that. He figured out that I escaped on an airplane, just after the army got involved and cleared the airfield by blowing up the buildings. In the end, I announced at the top of my lungs, “You’re a Zombie,” and ran from the room.
  “No, I’m not, it was just a dream,” he answered as I fled from the room.
There are times in a father’s life that he will look back and say that’s my boy; first soccer goal, first touchdown, first girlfriend, and first short story. I look at him and love him for his active imagination. Now if I can just get him to stop with the raspberries.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How I Learned Sex ED on My Back

   Okay, I know how it sounds. So please bear with me. I was standing in my kitchen yesterday having a word with my nephew. He had a funny story about Sex Ed.
Briefly; He asked his Sex ED teacher, “What is Cincinnati Bowtie?” I don’t recommend anyone looking up the answer to that particular question, and you won’t hear the definition from me.
   Well anyways, I told him I learned Sex Ed on my back. He laughed and started for his room. I told him “No really!!” The door slammed and the conversation ended.
   I have decided to explain in my Blog, because I can’t run as fast as my nephew. When I was in school the gym teacher taught Sex ED. He had a hard (no pun intended) time with the subject. I can remember heading into the class, finding a place to sit and the teacher up at the black board writing “SEX EDUCATION” in bold letters. The laugher started and believe it or not, it was contagious. It spread like VD (Okay pun intended).
   “Okay, Gentleman, You will sit in your seat and stay quiet.” he yelled over the laughter.
   We quieted down and he started in again. He explained about hygiene and about the reproductive system. We were about half was through the self love section of the class when the laughter started once again. It didn’t help that he broke up, first cracking a smile and then and out right laugh. The rest of the class erupted as an uncontrollable riot, until he slammed the book on the table. Turned out he wasn’t laughing with us; he was just decided how he was going to torture us.
   “Clear the desks from the middle of the room, and lie down,” he yelled.
We lay on the floor and calmed down for the most part. “You will learn the material without laughing,” he commanded. I laid there looking up at him with a crook in my neck. He continued, “If anyone laughs, everyone will raise their legs until I say they can stop.”
   The class continued and low and behold someone in the back smirked. Just one smirk was enough to set the gym teacher off. “Okay, raise your legs.” The laughter stopped and the teacher continued. The pain was getting quite intense by the time he said, “Lower your legs, and stay quiet.”
   He rinsed and repeated that teaching method for them most of the day. I am not sure I how much I learned lying there, but that is how I learned Sex ED on my back.
   Hopefully, my nephew reads this post, oh I am wondering what he was thinking.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Man, could she run

  My aunt Betty on my mother’s side of the family died when I was in college. I know that is hard to believe but I miss her. Even though it was almost 20 years ago, I remember most that she always spoke her opinion and trust me she always had one. One day when I was a kid I remember my parents getting called up to my grandpa’s.
  We got there and my dad walked into the hallway. She called through the bathroom door. “Help, LaVerne.” That was his name, given to him but my grand parents. He spelled it La capital Verne.
  He reached for the door and it was lock. “What’s wrong?” he answered through the door.
  “My toe is stuck in the faucet.” she answered.
  “Well, how the hell did you do that,” he exclaimed. It had turned out that she got into a hot bath and laid back and relaxed. As she rested she moved her toes around the faucet. Somehow her big toe became lodged in the opening.
  He worked at the door jam until the door gave way and there was my aunt in the buff. She screamed and I came running. Just as I got to the door dad scooped me and out of the way. In reflection I am glad he did that. The cost of a therapist is outrageous these days or so I have heard. After what seemed like forever. My dad managed to get a towel in there to cover the poor woman up. I can remember it took a long time working her out of the tub. Once she was out we left.
  That wasn’t the last time we had to save the poor woman. My dad had to go up there for spiders and bugs. Once we made a trip up there to find her and my sister on a table. When dad asked, “Why are you standing on top of the table?”
  She exclaimed, “Rat!”
  He search the house and came up with nothing.
  “No, Vern, you find the rat!” she screamed.
In the end, the rat turned out to be a common field mouse. He found the poor think hiding under the couch. He chased it out the front door and my aunt disappeared into the bathroom. Dad called through the door    “Don’t get stuck in there, I’m not coming back.”
  That wasn’t the only time she got scared of a mouse. Once I was alone in my room and my mother knocked on the door. She opened it and asked if my aunt and she could come in. I to tell you the truth was a little freaked at the sight of the two women entering my room. They were on a field trip to see my mice. Mom had told her that kept mice in my room.
  She looked in long enough to see that they were secured and left my room swearing never to return. I took offense to my aunt comments. So hatching a plan, I left my room and headed down the stair into my parents room. In my mom’s jewelry chest was a rabbit’s foot on a key chain. It was made to give luck to the person who owned the object. Just as I closed the case my mother open the door to her room. To my surprise, once I explained what I was doing my mother jumped at the change in to help. I think she was just glad she wasn’t on the receiving end of one of my pranks, but that is another story.
  I went back up the stairs and my mother announced, “We have a special treat. My son James will be bringing his pet mouse down to show use a trick.” She didn’t tell everyone that I planned to make a grown woman disappear.
  “HE BETTER NOT!” is what I heard from the lips of my aunt.

  I put the rabbit’s foot into my balled up hand, I remember it didn’t look alive, so I put the key ring around my pinky finger. Stepping into the Dining room I notice everyone gathered around the table. I walked up to my aunt and produced the fake mouse. She looked on and didn’t jump as I had predicted until I wiggled my little finger and the fake mouse wiggled.
  A lot happened in just a few seconds. I heard language come out of my aunt’s mouth that I won’t repeat here. I will leave it to your imagination. She stepped back reached for a handful of salad and throw it in my direction. I heard a few more choice words and she disappeared into my parent’s bathroom.
  Leaving the key chain on the counter and I went back upstairs to my room. I might add that I never saw the rabbit’s foot again.
  A few minutes later I heard foot steps and my door opened. Just as I looked up from my bed a pan of ice water hit me in my chest. The door closed and I ran to see my aunt bounding down the stair. The only think I can remember thinking was, “Man can she run.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Many Years From Now

  Part Three of the Cub Scout Chronicles So there I was once again at the Cub Scout meeting. Darrel slowly kicked the little girl sitting on his neighbor’s lap. It was more of a tap and there was little girl putting up with the little man. We watched as the older scouts received their badges, beads and belt loops.
  Darrel asked, “When to I earn a badge?”
  “You have to work for you badges,” I whispered.
  He returned to his kicking of the girl next to him and the meeting went on. I was started to think he once again wasn’t paying attention when one of the scouts relieved a badge for a BB gun.
  “Dad, what is a BB gun?” He asked loudly.
  “I will show you someday,” I answered.
  “When,” he asked.
  “Many years,” I answered to the laughter of the person next to us. Thoughts of him with a BB gun would be a recipe for destruction on a new level, unmatched by anyone. He gets in enough trouble with the plastic weapons in his arsenal.

      Once I remember asking my dad for a BB gun. I was 14 about to turn 15. He told me I would have to wait for my birthday. On the day of my birthday and at my party my dad handed me a note.
  It said, “If you want your birthday gift you will have to work for it. Go to the living room closet and look for a clue.” There under the shoes was another note. “Look in the cupboard under the sink in the upstairs bathroom.” The next clue sent me to my father’s room, then to the guest room, then to his fathers den, then my brother’s room. This went on until I had explored ever room in the house and had gone up and down the stairs at least three times.
  I finally found the last note, it location under my cake, It was a birthday card that read; “If you think it was hard to earn your present this time. Just miss use it once and see how hard it will be to get back. It is under your bed.”
  It turned out to be a 22 rifle. Like the Cub Scout badges, I had to earn the right to have my reward. I still have the rifle; it sits in my gun cabinet, next to my grandfathers shot gun. One day many years from now I will give both guns to my son. Maybe he will end up on his own scavenger hunt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Pancake Incident

  One of the most important rules at my dad's house was always eat what you take. My sister Diane could explain it better than I. She would sit for hours at my dad's table refusing to eat her peas.
I learned that if the plate was dished up for me I could avoid the hours of sitting by showing him that I tried the item and respectfully declined. He would let me off the hook. This was rule you didn't violate at my fathers house.
  When I was 26, I lived in Yakima for a short time. My roommate’s girlfriend came over one morning and decided to make us breakfast. The trouble was we lived like most bachelors did, we had no food. She did her best and made the breakfast just as my dad came to visit. I took my share and he took a few pancakes for himself. I placed a bite of pancake in my mouth and almost choked. She had decided sense we didn't have butter that she could use lard.

     I quickly slipped back into the kitchen and throw mine in the garbage. Turning I could see no one had noticed and I washed my mouth out with a shot of vodka. Note I don't drink much and tend not to drink at 10 am in the morning.
  I stepped back into the living room and there was my dad. He had a look on his face that I will never forget. He sat there with half eaten pancake and looked at me as if I had taken the coward’s way out. I watched as he struggled with another bite and it told him, "we have to go or we will be late."
  "I haven’t finished my breakfast," he answered.
  "We have to go, if you need to eat you can take it with you," I said.
  He looked disappointed as we left with that plate. I didn't let him off the hook until we reached the car.
I do remember him saying, "Oh, thank God."
  If you want to try the recipe don't us the required egg and fried each pancake in lard and of course think of my dad as you chock each bite down.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Watch Out Linda Knows Karate

     She smiled and limped off in to the living room. So watch out my sister knows Karate. She passed away 5 years ago from cancer, a few years before my dad and mom. When she passed away she left no debts and no troubles. She only had family members who loved her. I don't practice Tae Kwon Do anymore, but I would like to think that my sister does.
  When I was in college, living in Seattle I learned Tae Kwon Do. I eventually earned a black belt and taught in a small school in Toppenish. That was almost twenty years ago and I being in my forties miss the good old days.
  That was the same time of my life that I went home for the weekends. One weekend I came home to I find my sister, Linda on the couch enjoying my parent’s hospitality. I worked out seven days a week so even though I was home I still exercised practiced my forms and stretched.
  My sister who was ten years older, watched on quietly to one side. When I was done she walked up and said that I was invited to join my parents for dinner. I even back then never turn down a meal.
  The evening progressed and my dad and I came around to the discussion about Tae Kwon Do. My sister must have heard the discussion. As I talked to my dad, I worked on the dishes, about the time the dishes were done Linda walked in from the living room, mom followed behind.
  As she came closer she grabbed a door knob and the counter. She declared, "I know Karate, too." Before anyone knew what she was up to she kicked her right foot high into the air, which looked like a great front kick until her left foot came off the floor. Spinning around and crashing to the ground head first. We came over and we're quickly pushed away. She stood up and declared that she would try it again.
We all uniformly screamed, "Not again"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Lincoln Inn

        Well anyway, we had started to grow apart and my father could sense this. He thought throwing us into a car and a hotel for a week would help of find even ground. The plan was to drive 13 hours over the course of two days and end up in Reno. We had reservations on the second day for the next five days. Upon the seventh day we were to head back. Well that had been the plan.
  We left early in the morning around 6 am and drove most of the day stopping only for gas and my mother's before mentioned bladder. We ended up in Reno by 7pm that evening. My mother had a way of pushing you to drive on when the destination was an in fact a casino.
  We stopped at the Reno Hilton and tried to check in. There turned out to be a national bowling tournament in town and every room was reserved. Our room wasn't ready and wouldn't be ready until 2 pm the next day. We called around and there were no rooms in the whole of Reno.

Taken from where we stayed the night.
  We would dine in a five star hotel eating prime rib and sleep in a car. A Lincoln town car was made for driving and not camping. I can still remember the seatbelt poking me in the back and the smoke from my mother’s cigarettes. She smoked a lot that night. I guess she was nervous about what she was going to tell my father.
  As I was starting to feel like a homeless person the sun peaked over the hills. She asked, "Do you want to go have breakfast with me at Calneva, an older casino closer to downtown. I jumped up in my seat and started the car.
  A few hours later we called my dad and told him that we got to Reno early and stayed in the Lincoln inn. It took a few seconds before he asked, “Where is the Lincoln inn.” He knew Reno very well and didn't recall that motel.
  I can still see my mother on that payphone telling him, "right now it is parked in the parking lot."
  From three feet away I could hear the laughter on the other end of that call. When he stopped he told us, "It serves you right for not following the plan.”
  We checked in, lying down in our beds, claiming to rest for a while before starting our vacation. A few minute later my mother asked, "Do you want to go downstairs to the casino?” Not sure why I said yes but I did and we headed for the casino.
  I remember taking a class about how to play blackjack and mom headed off to the slots. When I was finished I headed to the blackjack tables to try what I learned in the casino sponsored class. I started with thirty dollars and soon double it. When I start to loss I move on to another table. Soon I had a hundred dollars and was paying two hands of cards at a time. I won more and loss track on my winnings. About the time I placed thirty dollars on each hand my mom came behind me and announced, "James honey, I lost my purse and do you know how much money your betting, that’s a lot of money." just as I lost the money, all 60 dollars of it.
  After losing my nerve to do it again and my mom losing her purse I jumped up from the stool and headed off to look for my mothers purse. Lucky she had left it where it crossed paths with security guard. My winnings came to about 400 dollars and have never been that lucky at cards since, but will never forget the story of my trip with my mom and the Lincoln inn.
  I miss her, too.

  The last post was about my father mostly. There are many stories of my dad and just as many about my mother. Not just the stories involving her bladder and passing truckers. People remember her for the way she was right before she passed from this earth. She used to be a very out going person much like my own wife. She would drag my dad out camping, visits to friends, over night stays to family, or just picnics in the park.
Over time I will share as many stories about her as I can remember.
  I call this one the Lincoln inn.
  When I was 21, I was in college and was at that point in my life where I still went home on the weekend with laundry and came home for the summers. One day my dad asked if I would take my mother to Reno, Nevada. She hadn't been in a while and he didn't want to go. I think it had something to do with over the years. Look at me saying that as if it was a decades. It was three years, from the time I left for college and my third year.

Friday, October 15, 2010

He Knew Me Best

  My parents used to take my brother and me on long road trips. We headed off to Canada one summer when I was ten years old to visit our relatives in Alberta. It was a long trip in to a foreign country but for the most part looking back it looked like Washington State.
  We would take the camper and drive until my dad would get tired and stop for the night. Along the way, we stopped at radium hot springs for the day. It was magical place the water was hot as the name implied but there was something more about the place. I remember the scenery and the people. In the states we are pushy, people get onto the city pool and stake a claim on an area and give stern looks to people who cross into their cordoned off space.
  In Canada, people are not rude and tend to get along with each other. At radium, people were relaxed and helpful, even more than the norm for Canada. Before we went in we stopped at a view point that over looked the pool with my dad. He looked down at the large pool and pointed to the very high diving board. It must have been 10 meters. "Now James, I don't think you should jump off that board, it is too tall for you.” I remember his voice as it was yesterday.
  Anyone that knows me, knows I don't like heights and spiders, we can't forget the spiders. But heights bother me. I don't like to climb on top of roofs or hang from cliffs. I am will do it, just avoid it if
I can.
  Lee and I departed my father and went swimming in the community pool, while my parents went off to the adult, no kids allowed, quiet place for meditation and relaxation pool. Not sure if all that was in the title but I remember my mother telling us about it and why couldn’t go with them. The temperature was moderate and the sky was clear. We played most of the day. I used the small diving board off and on all day, but there was something about that ten meter board.
  A few minutes before the swim session ended I climbed to the top of that board. I could feel my heart beat as I step to the edge and look down. At that point, I almost climbed back down. Mustering the courage I stepped off the end. It wasn't like the high board at my swimming pool back home. As I fell, I had time to think. I remember my short little life flashing before me and saying to myself, "this was a bad idea.”

  I hit the water and I remember my feet burning. I was out and in the locker room in less than a minute, toweled dried, dressed and up the stairs. Dad was there and he walked my brother and me out to the camper. We didn’t stay a second day we were back on the road before night fall.
  Months later, he showed me the pictures that he took of the little boy jumping from the high board. I told him I was sorry. But he looked at me and said, "That is why I told you not to. I knew you would jump, if you had the right kind of motivation."
  He knew his son and waited at that spot over looking the pool. I am not even sure if he got wet that day. I miss him because he knew me best.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Central Washington Wheel Chair Bound Student OR The Flying Gimp

  Anyone that knows me is aware that I am a professional home heath care provider. Yes, that would be my title if they haven’t changed it yet again this year. I think of myself as a Gentleman, Gentleman. Batman had Alfred, who did things for Batman that went far and beyond the normal tasks of a butler. I do a great many tasks that would turn the stomachs of some people. A good caregiver does these tasks quickly without complaint and with respect. The later is very important. I think of myself as a great caregiver, one that respects his client and has a sense of humor about it.
  All that a side, I take you back 20 years ago, I had already been a caregiver for a couple of years at that point when I was hired to work with a client that attended the same college a myself. We lived in the same dorm room and for the most part ended up with the same friends. We enjoyed the social parts of the college a little too much. We liked to play games with other college student sometimes late into the early morning the next day.
  We broke the game play only to visit the local 7-11 convenient store for nachos and a coke to wash it down. One night, couple of us left for quick trip to the store when my client asked to go. When we got outside he told us to head out and he would take the wheelchair ramp and the long trip around the dorm to meet up with us on the way. We didn’t think anything about it and headed off into the dark. The trip that he was taking was about four times as long compared to the short trip we needed to walk.
  As we turned the first corner I got a wild hair and told my other friend “let’s run out ahead.” My friend laughed and said, “He will go nuts if he can’t catch up.” You see his chair moved really fast, almost a joggers pace.

  We rounded the next corner and slowed. I wasn’t into jogging, so we stopped and waited for him on each side of the sidewalk. We moved back into the bushes on each side of the ramp. I was nearest the wheel chair ramp and could easily reach out a scare the daylight of him.
  I watched as he rounded the corner and coming full steam ahead. As he got to the stairs he missed the ramp and went down the stairs. The chair bounce down the steps and landed on all fours. My charge didn’t fair so well. His momentum pushed him up and in almost in a standing position. He never worn his seat beat and only used a leg strap to hold the legs down. I watched as my friend and employer catapulted himself from the chair.
  I ran to his side and he laid face down in a growing pool of his blood. I unbuckled his legs and grabbed a towel from his back pack to press against his chin. When the funniest thing happened, he started to laugh and wanted back in his chair. I told him of the blood and the appending ambulance and I honestly think to this day if I would have let him in his chair he would have put his seat belt on and tried it again.
Later in the hospital he confessed that he had made the jump before.
  A few days later we were having dinner with a few of our friend when one of them started to laugh as he read the school newspaper. It was a college paper and anything made the news back then, even a story about a guy in a wheelchair careening off a ramp in the middle of the night. I remember how the story started; A Central Washington wheel chair bound student fell down a set of stairs. It was funny but he became the Flying Gimp an honorable title that he will answer still to this day.
  I learned a few things that night. Always make sure your client wears his seat beat and a title doesn’t make the person, their action do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


  I have had my share of spiders haunt my dreams over the years. It probably has something to do with my parents. Yeah, I know how people say that people blame their parents for everything. "Why can't they just take responsibility for their own actions"? Well, truly, this time can I point the finger at my parents. They are the ones responsible for my fear of spiders.
  Case in point, when I was 6 to 12 years old I was forced to watch scary movies. Back when I was little the "late movie" was the one after the news. It was scary and most children would be in bed by that time. We didn’t have cable, we relied on what was on the TV and not “on demand”, The DVR or the “interweb“. We had three channels, ABC, CBS and NBC. Back then FOX wasn’t being broadcasted in our area. On Friday night, we would sit in front the TV and watch the movie of the week. Kind of like the movies that are shown on the LIFETIME channel. This was before Video rental store and Beta-max.


  My parents liked to watch me jump, so they would wake me up to watch the late show on Friday night. The scariest movies back then seemed to be the ones about radioactive spiders. Movie plots were always the same. Monster comes to small town. We see small town, and how nice it is just before someone dies, the rest of the movie is spent trying to kill the creatures. The trouble was my parents wouldn't let me see the end of the movie.
  Come on, think about it. Let a small child see thousands of spiders killing a town full of people and then send him back to bed to dream of the ending. The dream never worked out in my favor. In my dreams, King Kong chased me for years before I found out he was dead. The moral of this story is; just let the little kid see the ending!
  It all ended the night when my parents figured out I liked the late show, except the ones about spiders. I never could get over them. Luckily, my wife hates those kinds of movies more than I do, which means I don’t have to watch them anymore.
  I wasn't the only one in my parent’s life that hated spiders. My dad's best friend was known to be afraid of spiders. Ask anyone in Sunnyside. He would find a spider and spray chemicals on the area like it was a World War One battlefield.
  One day in particular comes to mind. I wasn't there, but I heard about it many times from my father who brought the story up every few months around the dinner table, campfire or just standing along side the street. It didn’t matter to him; he just looked for someone to share that story.
  They had been working and were heading back from a job, when a dust spider dropped down in front of my dad from the sun-visor on to the dash. His friend noticed the little spider cross the dash and stop in the mid way to the other side.
  Dad hadn't noticed the flea sized spider and continued down the road, traveling 25 miles an hour. His friend was lucky they weren't on the freeway. The spider going about its day jumped down and was caught by the air from the vent and landed on the seat next to my dad's friend, who in turn started to struggle with my dad sticky truck door. He was again lucky that that door did stick so my dad could slow down to 15 MPH before his friend jumped from the truck, slapping his leg like a horse jockey trying to win a stakes race.

  With the old pickup stopped, my dad's friend made him go through the truck for the remains of that little spider. The friend refused to get back in in the vehicle. He soon displayed the spider and they were off down the road, but not until my dad made the man put his seat belt on and lock his door. He never told him that what he displayed was a bit of string just to get him back in the truck. I think he had given that little spider a heart attack. I would tell you his name, but he is still running around Sunnyside, mostly from spiders.
  I make my wife sick every time I tell her I read somewhere that a human eats an average of 14 spiders in their life time. As I mentioned before, she hates spiders more than I do. We have our own story revolving around spiders. We had a little visitor in our wedding.
  It was a nice day to get married. Fall was in the air and the spiders in Amboy, Washington must have been cold and there were more than a few spiders in that old church. In the middle of the ceremony, a spider decided to join the proceedings. The spider fell from the ceiling and landed on the pastor's head. I whispered, oh so quietly, "There is a spider on your head." He went on with the ceremony, but it was distracting. I could feel my soon to be wife backing up, and I knew something had to be done before the wife screamed and bolted from the church.
  I pleaded with the man, "Kill it before I do." It would have looked like I had gotten mad as I suddenly karate chopped the preacher of that fine community church. Luckily, he reached up and swiped the little distraction away.
  I asked my wife if she could remind me of a funny story involving her and she came up with this one. Might add, I have her permission to share the story.
  It was early fall in Ellensburg, Washington. She lived at this boarding house with 5 other people and most of them were guys. It was a college boarding house. She went in to the bathroom and did a little reading. When she was finished with her reading she happen to glance up as a spider dropped from the ceiling of the bathroom and into her pants which laid around her ankles.
  The next part of the story is true but the order of events is only speculation. It went something like this: she dropped the magazine, took one shoe off, opened the door, took the second shoe off, and left the bathroom. Somewhere in the hallway, her pants and underwear flew the rest of the way off, but she continued to run, screaming, from the area. This happened in about 3 seconds, and I am sure she had forgotten how many guys she lived with. It is always an adventure when my wife is involved.
  We all have spider stories. I try to show my son every time I see one that they live peacefully all over the world, just not in his mama’s jeans.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You Got to Love Him

     Darrel’s second Cub Scout meeting went off course last night. We arrived on time and the books for the Tiger cubs weren’t available and I still have no idea what we are doing. I have my reasons for sticking it out. I realize we are off to a slow start, but I didn’t have this chance when I was a little boy.
  I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but my parents as I mention before were frugal and may have had the money for the dues and the uniform to boot, but it wasn’t spent on me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not that guy that will stand at the edge of the football yelling at his son to do better just because couldn’t. If Darrel shows signs that he isn’t happy being a scout, I will get him out of there; I just want him to have the chances that I didn’t.
  He did look sharp dressed in his new uniform. He wanted to play but settled for making goofy eyes to the kid across the table.
  We watched as the color guard came from the back of the room and set the flags in their rightful place. I could hear my son saying the pledge of elegancy and then whisper the scout promise. I was proud of him until the climbing started.
  I said to myself, "There’s my boy."
  He gets distracted easy when he is bored. I whispered to him, “This was going to be good once they get started.”
  Not missing a beat he answered loudly, "Can we go and comeback when they start." You got to love him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Last Assignment of James Farnworth

  We have all been in school and wanted to be somewhere else. For me it was a long time ago and I remember being tired of the teachers and students. One week in my 8 grade year, my parents had planned a trip to Reno which meant after school on that Thursday we would be on our way. The school’s office would get a call that my family had an emergency and would be out for at least a few days. In this case we weren’t planning on being back until Tuesday.
  It was nearly the end of the school day and I was stuck in the middle of typing class. I wasn’t sure why anyone would want to learn how to type. I wasn’t planning on working in an office. This obviously was before the internet. The teacher announced one finally assignment. We were to type out office four office memos and address them to people within the school. This wasn’t unusual, we offend made up memo’s to people we didn’t know.
  The memos were to state some change of plan, some new rule, or just anything we want to tell them. I didn’t want to do the assignment. Reno was on my mind. Yes, I was just 14 but I like to go to Circus Circus, the Reno, and the National car museum or just hang out with my older brother.
  We had thirty minutes to do the project and then we could leave. I got to work and was done with the assignment before everyone else. I left school and was soon on my way to Reno.

       I wish this story was about trip but we will stay with the four memos that I wrote. First, the teacher had told us to address them to people within the school district, but what the Teacher didn’t tell us was he was going to deliver the memos to who everyone we addressed them to. Some people wrote memos to there teacher and a few went to the janitors. Mine went to the vice-principal, the principal and the school board. Our great and shiny, teacher dropped them in the mail boxes of each of the addressees. The principal was the first to get his. Then the vice-principal and it was never clear if the board got theirs but I am sure it would have been a laugh.
  I was halfway to Reno and memo‘s were getting past around. The memo read, “I apologized for the problems that I have cause over the years and have decided to end it. I can not go on any more with the way that this school is being run and I have choosing to kill myself rather than come to school anymore.”
  I am just glade that cell phones and voice mail hadn’t been invented for a few more years. The teacher was called back to school; a small delegation went to my house to see if they could talk me out of ending it. I was no where to be found. Then the next day, I was not at school, in fact the school got a message form my father saying that there had been a family emergency. This didn’t stop the school from calling all of the numbers on my emergency contact list to ask were I was. No one knew where we were or when we would be home. My father didn’t tell people when we would leave town. He had trust issues.
  The teachers sat around and waited for the announcement in the paper about my death. Today, I would like to think that there are more protocols set in place when a kid threatens to commit suicide. Although they were under the impression that I had already committed the act and there was nothing that they could do.
We got back from a great vacation and I went to school the next day. In my first class, I was called down to the office. Where I found my typing Teacher, My principle, vice Principle, two counselors and a couple of people I didn’t know. The funny thing was I had forgotten the whole assignment and when I was asked to explain I started to laugh and said it was a joke. That I was gone with my parents on a little vacation and there was nothing to worry about. They were mad but surprisingly just wanted to sweep the whole thing under the rug.
  I was never taken seriously when I was a teenager but for weekend I was on the minds of every power player in the school district. I am not sure the typing teacher ever tried that assignment again but I doubt it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Don't Waste a Drop

  My father was a frugal man. He grew up poor in Idaho, and they made every penny count. Growing up we found recycled objects and fixed them. Sometimes to sell, some times to use ourselves. When he found a good deal he jumped on it. So when one of his sisters called him to let him know where he could get apple juice he got in the truck and picked up a dozen boxes.
  They were large boxes, at least a gallon, inside a box with a tap sticking out the bottom. I remember it wasn’t very sweet, and had a great amount of pulp. But good old dad told us, “Don’t waste a drop.”
So for weeks I came home from school and took a glass of juice and went off to watch the Flintstones.
  I was told juice was better for me than pop. Some weeks into it this new juice campaign I was started to agree. I even started to bottle to take to school for lunch.
  One day I came home and the juice was gone. I went in to the Washroom, (Pronounced “WORSHroom” in my family but that is another story.) The juice was gone; all the boxes had disappeared from the shelves.
I went to my dad and asked who had stolen the juice. He explained that his sister had called to tell us that the juice had started to ferment in the boxes and it contained alcohol.
  I asked again,” Where is the juice, right now?” I almost ran for the garbage can at that point.
  It had turned out the company knew that the juice was going bad and that is why they had gotten rid of it. This meant they had thrown it away and expected it to be left there. That didn’t stop my family.
  It also explained the headaches in the morning and my new found love of the Flintstones. Dad went down and bought some apply juice from the store but it would never be the same. So if you ever see me drink my apple juice down really fast. You will know why. “I was a teenage Wine-o.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HEY, Mister Bondo man, Bondo me Volkswagen.

  When I was nineteen I lived in Seattle had a job and attended Shoreline community college. I drove a ford Mustang 2 that had been a hand-me-down from two brothers, who had both wreaked it at least once. I had paid to have the body work done but I didn't feel like it was mine. In fact, it belonged to my dad. I decided I needed a car. My employer offered a VW bug that he no longer needed.
  It was blue and had a Baja package. The tires were street legal, 60 series. It had the look of an off road beast but the heart of a low rider. The gas filler hole had been filled with bondo and painted over. This made for an interesting first fill. I walked around the car twice before opening the hood and discovering the filler tube.
  That was the first time I over filled the gas tank and the bug smelled a gas station for a week. That hadn't been the only mistake that had been that week. My dad and I picked the car up and had to put the motor in and the engine cage back on. The engine worked fine but when we picked up the cage we couldn't figure how it bolted to the firewall. I finally figure out how it fitted and we built brackets to make it work. Turned out it was up side down and I didn't find that out for 7 years. By that time I liked it the way it look and never thought twice about changing it.
  I once took the car to Reno, about 1300 miles round trip. We had decided to go at night because the car had no Air conditioning. We needed to carry extra few gallons of fuel. The car got great gas mileage but I knew there would be a point that the service stations would be closed and the range of the car wasn’t there to make it all the way. In the middle of the night the gas gage started to do its death dance. Bounce up and down to let the driver know that they were about to start walking when I stopped and put 2 or three gallons of fuel in. I can remember that night, we were in the east side near the southern boarder of Oregon and the stars were amazing. The Milky Way lit the sky like lightning.
  I drove the car for years until one father’s day I went out with some fiends to do a little rock crawling. I had put some heavy duty air shocks on the front that gave me awesome clearance in the front. But on the way back I looked down to get a tape off the floor and was blow off the road by the wind. I was going about 60 mph a long the bottom of a large ditch, the breaks failed and just a I grabbed for the E brake hit a culvert that worked as a ramp launching us high into the air and into a row of mail boxes that were made out of railroad ties.
  I would have liked to think if the mail boxes wouldn’t have been there I would have made the jump and landed safely on the other side.
  On a side note my friend Steve made up a song about the experience sang to the melody of “Day Oh“. It went. “Hey mister Bondo man, Bondo me Volkswagen, mail box come and we can’t go home. Mail boxes came and WE can go home.” That last part was for the back up singers. Oh it was well thought out.
  I ended up in the hospital for the day and my dad drove up to visit and retrieve my car from the ditch. It was totaled. The front end a total loss, every fender ripped off and the windshield shattered and the window column crushed.
  I decided that I wanted to spend as much as I could fixing, what I had done to my little car. I spent a year of Fridays working on that car. Back then I lived in Yakima, and the car was at my parent’s house in Sunnyside. Understand I had three jobs and it was hard to get Friday’s off. But I got most of them off to spend time with that car and my father.
  Looking back that was a great year. I got to spend a lot of time with my parents. It was one of my dad’s last good years soon his battle with cancer and failing body would slow him down. Some Fridays, he would come over and help me work on the car. Some days I would work on one of his projects. I loved that time. We ended up painting it white and it was shiny.
  The car went with me to Ellensburg with a new paint job. I deliver pizza in it for a few years and drove it in several parades. The company had given me nice decals to place on the doors and it looked sharp.
I drove it less once I bought my convertible because it was in fact a convertible. But one story of that era comes to mind. Jan and I were going on vacation and we were loading my convertible when she noticed that the tabs were due by about a month. So the trip was off. You can't buy a set of tabs to save a life in Ellensburg on a Saturday.
  As I thought about what to do I looked over at that little white bug of mine. It hadn't been on a trip like that for a long time. I had it down in Reno, but that was a long time ago and really wondered about driving into Seattle. An hour later we were on the freeway going 70 miles an hour with the rest of the traffic.
That was the last big trip I took with that car. I drove it less and less until it broke down. When I started to fix it my dad past away and I never had the heart to fix it without him.
  A few weeks ago I sold that car to someone that is going to rebuilt it once again. Part of me hated to see that car go. Part of me couldn't wait to be separated from it, but most of me just still misses my dad.

  If you want some advice Britney have your dad help you with that little car. He still has it in him and you may just build a connection you never thought you would have.