Bookshelf

I stopped accumulating books. Now I’m eliminating them. At one time in my life there were groaning bookshelves in every room in my house. They bulged with leftover text books, paperback novels, tomes on my ever changing current topic of interest, literature and poetry anthologies, children’s books, coffee table art books. My house was built of books.

My first epiphany was getting novels from the library instead of buying them and dragging them home permanently. My second epiphany was that 20 year old zoology or algebra books or books I didn’t enjoy the first time through would ever be needed again. They had to go.

Another eipiphany involved leaving my books behind in whatever location of was in when I finished them. Perhaps someone else . . .

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Shadow Play

With the sun barely peeking over the mountains behind me, my long morning shadow stretches out on the trail before me. One hip bears the shadow of an iPod. The other hip bears the shadow of a cell phone. I look like a gunslinger with pistols holstered at the ready.

The shadow takes me back decades to the time when I wore my twin gold cap guns to the Saturday matinees. The matinee featured stars like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Rex Allen, all wearing six shooters. My cap guns, I was happy to explain back then, were indeed six shooters. They used a flat disc that only fired six caps before needing to be reloaded. The realism was awe-inspiring. They were my proudest possession.

My idol, Annie Oakley, wore . . .

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Dawn

I peered through the venetian blinds, roused by angry voices outside my window in the pre-dawn darkness. My bedroom was dark, so I felt hidden standing there with my pajamas and bedhead, listening to two drunk men yell at each other. One of the men was my neighbor. The other, although obviously drunk, had apparently driven him home.

My neighbor started toward his door, hurling curses back toward the street as he went. The other man reached inside his car and came dashing up the sidewalk with a baseball bat in his hands.

“Hey,” I yelled. I banged on the window, but . . .

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My Dream

My dream is to hike the length of New Zealand. I’d start at the tip of the north island and wander southward for about a year, with plenty of stops and side trips along the way. I’d see every inch of the most beautiful place on earth from the platform of my two feet.

I’d write about everything along the way, because I’d have a camper with internet access following me around. I’d sit at my computer after dark and record my day, upload my photos. Then I’d sleep in a real bed and wake to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

New Zealand is a small place. I just hope a year is enough time to see it all. . .

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Drought Resistant

Where I live, everything is drought resistant including the people. A few drops of rain and things grow, bloom, and fade in record time. A lot of rain and profligate, fecund, overwhelming life bulges from every pore in the earth and sky. There’s no keeping up with it; plants grow 10″ overnight. The air is moist and soft; the sky looms gray and white like a blanket overhead.

We’ve had more rain in the last 30 days than we normally get in a year. It feels alien to step outside, where skies are always blue, the sun is always blistering, and skin is always chapped to find a time warp of tropical rain forest, jungle-like growth, humid breezes that make your daily moisturizer feel like 30-weight oil, and dark wet dirt.

“Where am I?” you wonder as . . .

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First Day of School

“This is Shelley,” she said. I’d heard about Shelley for weeks and had formed a negative opinion from the tales about her. Looking at her now I felt a catch of excitement leap in my stomach. Suddenly I was eager and nervous, feeling like it was the first day of school and I was 8 years old.

I held out my hand. I wanted to touch her. She shook my hand with perfunctory, too short, disinterest. I wanted to pull her hand back, enclose it with both of mine, stand gazing into her eyes with warmth passing between our palms like sunlight. She smelled of citrus. Her . . .

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Fun

the cliff hanger

Falling a couple of hundred feet at high speed: some people think it’s fun. All kinds of falling appeals to certain people: sky diving, bungee jumping, roller coasters and amusement park rides that hurtle you straight down as fast as the laws of physics allow.

I don’t like falling down. I don’t even like looking down. When I’m looking for fun I go out and listen to music, feet firmly attached to the earth. Or I get even closer to the ground and plant something in my garden. Exercise must be earthbound . . .

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A Great Day

I thought I was having a great day. I brought home a new painting, a bright whimsical scene with multicolored houses and lollipop-shaped trees. It cheered up my wall. Then the phone calls started. Upset family, depressed friends, friends in pain at the hospital, full moon outside the doors and agony under the roofs.

I selfishly wanted to enjoy my small stab of joy when I looked at the charming innocence of the painting and forget the needs of all these people who pulled me from the imaginary utopia of my perfect moment.

Could I do it? Would . . .

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The Season

Schools starts early so swimming season is over. The weather is not a factor. All the underpaid and sunburned life guards have to go to school, therefore, no more swimming.

The life we live moves farther and farther away from the reality of earth, sun, wind, and sky every year. Is it any wonder that we forget how and why our actions affect the earth that we are a part of, made of, live on, live by the grace of?

Unless you notice it on your electronic calendar, do you know when there’s a full moon? Have you been outside before dawn to . . .

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Mind Games

I didn’t much believe in God, but I needed somewhere safe to rest my mind, so I thought about Nancy a lot. Instead of praying, I envisioned running into her and getting some sort of affirmation, kind words, a hug. It got me through long years of hard times when my real life was full of condemnation, shame, and abuse.

For a long time I figured this was because I loved her and she loved me back in a nonjudgemental way. Now I realize that she dwelt in my mind because she was safe, she accepted me for who I was, just like God is supposed to do.

I wonder how much of what we think is actually nothing more than a search for a safe place to rest our thoughts . . .

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