Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
With a speed and purpose that would have astonished a tornado chaser, Charlie's mother coastered her iced tea, deftly nudged Agnes back a step, and stepped toe to toe with Julia. She grabbed Julia's perfectly pressed collar, which folded like paper mache under her fists as the amazed audience edged their seats. "Julia Schindler, I've waited for 15 years for you to step out of line, and now you've officially outworn your welcome!" (Bret)
Demonstrating remarkable strength for so old a woman, Charlie's mother escorted Julia to the door. And with a courteous "Good day," Julia was propelled onto the sidewalk where she smoothed her clothing with indignation, cast a final scathing look backwards, and stormed away. Back in the living room, Charlie felt the drapes in his mind begin to pull back and let in a peculiar light. As if for the first time he saw Julia for who she was. Her receding footsteps dragged with them the shadows of a former life and relief brightened the room. And there was Agnes. His oldest friend. My lands, she made good pies.
The room seemed filled with bright colors. In collective suspense the guests held their breaths. Charlie had never felt shy around Agnes. Now with a strange awkwardness in his knees he turned to look at her. He held out his hand to her. Her diamond ring caught the light as she found his hand. The room filled with applause.
Monday, October 12, 2009
"Fiance! No one here is going to be married until I've had my say," interrupted an authoritative voice from the hallway as Julia marched defiantly into the house of well-wishers. Julia Schlinder was an austere woman. She came from a long line of respectability - a weight not many can bear. Julia dressed almost entirely in navy blue. She ironed her collars at least twice before leaving her home, a habit which no one ever noticed to her satisfaction. After the death of her first husband, Julia had thrown her energies into her perfectly maintained garden and her not so perfectly behaved neighbors. Julia was a fiercely beautiful woman.
So with hostile self-possession she entered the living room, where Charlie stood frozen, a man who has discovered to his dismay to be in the possession of more female attention than he had ever sought. Julia took in Agnes, the ring on her extended hand, and Charlie's mother without so much as nodding in their direction.
"Charlie, I've waited for 15 years for you to come courting. What, is the meaning of this?"
"Julia, I never meant for this to happen. Agnes. . . " Charlie's voice suddenly lacked the necessary air.
"Hello, Julia." Agnes interrupted. "Charlie, loves me. He's always loved me. No, he doesn't know it yet, but give him a minute and he'll figure it out. I think you should leave. We are in the middle of an engagement party."
The guests at 3407 Magnolia Drive had been watching with interest. This was better than anything they had seen in a good while. Their widened eyes bounced from Agnes to Charlie to Julia to Agnes. Whole glasses of iced tea were tipped out on the carpet, unheeded, their owner's hands limp as the scene unfolded before them. They never could have predicted what happened next. . .
*** This is where you come in, dear reader. In 3 sentences or less, please describe "what happened next." I will choose from YOUR options. ***
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
"Agnes said that when you came to your senses you'd call her. She's staying at your mother's house."
This frightened Charlie even more. Call Agnes? Talk to Agnes? Agnes, who was even now insinuating a relationship with him and staying with his MOTHER? This was outrageous. Maybe he could just go talk to his mother and make her make Agnes give back the ring, the ring intended for Julia, the woman he was ACTUALLY sweet on.
"Mortimer, I'm going to Monkey's Eyebrow. You can hold down the fort here till I get back. And if Julia comes around, tell her I'll make it up to her. And Mortimer? . . . Don't ever let me listen to your sister again." The door jangled in punctuation as Charlie exited "Fix it or Forget it." And before the day was out, Charlie was buckled into his 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, having informed his mother of his imminent arrival, on the fast track to confrontation. And as the Arizona freeway shimmered ahead of him, Charlie had to ask himself how Agnes would stoop to doing such a thing. She was supposed to inconspicuously flaunt the ring until Julia started acting jealous. Charlie had planned to ask Julia to marry him when he knew she had feelings for him. Agnes would then assure Julia that she had been wearing the ring for safe-keeping and would never think to do so now that the couple was betrothed. Charlie pressed into the accelerator and felt his frustration mount.
As he pulled in front of his mother's house, Charlie was aware that his angst was dissolving into trepidation the closer he came to the screen door. He was also mildly surprised to see that he was not the only guest arriving at 3407 Magnolia Drive. Cars were finding parking even as couples in formal wear made their way up the sidewalk. An elderly woman greeted him at the door, exclaimed in welcome, and took his jacket. Strangers filled the hallway, sipping iced tea, milling into the living room. They all seemed to know him. They all murmured congratulations. In a stupor of confusion, Charlie barely made out a particularly enthusiastic voice calling from the living room, "And here he is now! Charles Conway, my soon to be married son!" A smattering of applause filled the spaces around him and Charlie found the source of the exclamation. His mother, holding Agnes by the arm, approached him from across the room, parting a bevy a middle-aged women with tears in their eyes. The only coherent thought that entered his mind found its way to his lips, unbidden, "my very own mother, a traitor." This produced a generally shared mirth, as the guest imagined him to be joking. His mother's eyes twinkled,
"Now Charles, do be a gentleman, and take your fiance's arm. You've so much to talk about!" And there was Agnes, smiling impishly with her hand extended.
a.) Charlie didn't stop to see how many people he had bowled over. He was carrying the screen door with him as he sprinted down Magnolia Drive.
b.) "Why, yes we do!" Charlie responded. "I'm just angry enough to say exactly what I mean, too!" The guests parted in suspended merriment as the Charlie led Agnes to the back yard.
c.) "Fiance! No one here is going to be married until I've had my say," interrupted an authoritative voice from the hallway as Julia marched defiantly into the house of well-wishers.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Mortimer, proprietor of "Fix it or Forget it," would know what to do. After all, he was Agnes' brother. Charlie crossed the street in a few quick strides. He had entered the general store nearly every day of his adult life, but this was the first time he could remember being so very angry. The bell jangled to announce his arrival and Charlie didn't stop to smell the paint thinner and saw dust in the air.
"Mortimer, she's done it. She's gone too far!"
The shop owner looked up from his morning newspaper behind the counter with a grimace. He folded the paper with purpose, rubbed his eyes behind his spectacles, and sighed,
"Charlie. I told her you'd be hotter than the Gobi, but she wouldn't listen. Never would listen to me anyway."
"Well why didn't you stop her? Lock her in the tool shed, something!"
"She called me from Arizona. It was too late. Charlie, old friend. . . . I think she's . . . sweet on you." With this admission, Mortimer began folding and refolding his newspaper and glancing nervously at the door.
Now, this was not what Charlie expected. Instantly the situation shifted. Charlie was no longer angry. This news effectively transferred the situation from the realm of revenge to the shifting uncertainty of woman trouble. Charlie was terrified.
"Sweet on me. You think? Now why would she go and do a thing like that?"
"Now, I don't know. I can't be sayin. She's been your friend for nearly 50 years, Charlie. There's no telling when a thing like that gets a brewin'. She's been baking you a lemon meringue pie every Christmas for a decade. . . "
"Well, zounds, Mortimer, now what am I supposed to do?"
a.) "Run for the hills, my friend. this is no place for a man of principles."
b.) "Have you thought about calling on Julia? Its been 12 hours and she may be less inclined to kill you."
c.) "Agnes said that when you came to your senses you'd call her. She's staying at your mother's house. . . "
Monday, September 28, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
a) Mortimer, proprietor of "Fix it or Forget it," would know what to do. After all, he was Agnes' brother.
b) Charlie was going to find Julia. She had never followed through on a threat to shoot him yet . . .
c) Monkey's Eyebrow was only a day's journey away, and by gum Agnes couldn't hide there forever!
(p.s. see below for all the results of the MadLibs)
“ Oh no you di’n’t!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Shitea hadn’t flaunted the lavender diamond all the way to Pittsburg, Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Brook)
“Ooo Doctor!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Cora hadn’t flaunted the orchid diamond all the way to Khartoum, Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Lori)
“You left the oven on?!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Gloria hadn’t flaunted the lime green diamond all the way to Concord Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Cree)
“Not to 50!!!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Gladys hadn’t flaunted the crimson diamond all the way to Mt. Horad, Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Erin)
“My eyes!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Miranda hadn’t flaunted the black diamond all the way to Yellowstone, Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Danielle)
“ Zounds!” was the first thing out of Charlie’s mouth that morning. For you see, if Agnes hadn’t flaunted the Taupe diamond all the way to Monkey’s Eyebrow, AZ, Charlie would still have his dignity and maybe even a fiancé. (Eric)
Monday, September 21, 2009
I need: a woman's name, a color, a geographical location, and an exclamation . . . leave your answer in the comments. It begins.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
"North! Or Be Eaten"
“Eaten by what?” you may ask. The list of probable predators is daunting in itself: a Gargan Rockroach, the legendary Bomnubble, a horned hound, the dreaded toothy cow, the Fangs of Dang, to name a few. For the Igiby family and for those who would defend them, the pages of Andrew Peterson’s second book in the Wingfeather Saga are filled with dastardly opposition. And yet (perhaps more dangerous than the wild creatures of the forest and the evil plans of Gnag the Namless) the most sinister threat to their safety lies within.
Peterson wastes no time in the sequel to “On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.” I was unable to extricate myself from the story, as it immediately swept the three Igiby children into danger and me along with them. Peterson does a masterful job of keeping the plot exciting and developing the characters in the story. Most poignant to me was the theme of identity in the book. Janner and Tink and Leeli are torn between the people they are destined to be and the fear and jealousy that threaten to rip them apart. The story is about redemption, forgiveness, courage, and the power of beauty. I’m rereading it. It was that good.
Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One in the Wingfeather Saga, and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in a little house they call The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his website www.andrew-peterson.com
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I feel compelled to comment.
1. Jazz. Not techno. I thought there would be jazz.
2. How many times can a normal person "double step to the right" in a 60 minute segment?
3. I've never looked that good in workout pants.
4. We are pregnant, not post-surgery, not decrepit, certainly not dead yet.
5. I'm pretty sure the Lincoln City Library employee was mocking me when I picked up the dvd.
disclaimer: I recognize that in 5 months I will no longer be rolling my eyes when the woman urges "work it" to women walking in place. . .
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I needed to read that tonight. Not just children need to be reminded. You can read the full article on the Rabbit Room.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
So. Perhaps the penalty for a lifetime of social faux pas has found me. Addison is ridiculously loud. Seriously. She likes to talk to the person on the other side of the grocery store. She loves to yell. Her laugh has one volume. She thinks her jokes are funny enough to share with the neighborhood. It makes me laugh. So, with a grateful nod to my mother, I have begun the process of gentle feedback. Addison, I'm right here. You don't have to yell. . .
Thursday, June 25, 2009
On Tuesday it was hot. Really hot. My friend Renee, in a moment of brilliance, decided to lead a mass exodus out of hot-ville to Pawnee Lake. It was a great plan. Might I recommend that we do it again? Addison came along, sporting her lime green bathing suite and a slightly ridiculous hair style (which she of course pulled off). Summer, friends. Its summer.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Yesterday was Father's Day. Ben and I continued the tradition of giving Cabot cheese to our fathers. And for the second time, Ben Davy celebrated father's day. I told him this - there are few things that make me fall in love with him all over again more than seeing him interact with Addison. He's just great with her. She knows that he loves being with her. She laughs so freely with him. He can make her a giggling rowdy mess in seconds. He can calm her. Ben prays over her, he cares about her heart growing in safety and love, he is strangely oblivious to pacifier germs. So, because Addison can't say it or write it yet in crayon, I will. Happy Father's Day, Ben. Being a father is just a magnifying glass of the heart to shelter and serve that you have always had. We love you.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
We are going to try to make these at the mission tomorrow. I might even try to find a red sweater. . .
Thursday, April 30, 2009
2. What is the outer coating of a marshmallow made out of? That powdery smooth stuff. Its genius.
3. Can there be an 8th Harry Potter book, please?
4. Why, oh why, oh why won't Addie take a nap?
5. What am I doing inside on a day like this?
6. If love is so obviously the answer, why do I gift it, like a blessing, and withdraw it, like a curse?
7. What about my theology winces when Christians fail?
Monday, April 27, 2009
Well, its official. Melissa and I have embarked upon a new adventure. We had our first band debut at Ben Welstead's birthday party and we have two more shows this month! This Friday, May 1st, we are playing at a fundraiser for Grace Chapel's summer missions trip to Walthill, Nebraska. And then on Thursday, May 14, we are playing from 7pm-8pm at the Crescent Moon coffee shop in Lincoln. Consider yourself invited.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
"This is it, old man," grunted the taxi driver. I repeated the phrase to myself as I handed him the bills and eased out of the cab. Her home was a modest brick structure on the edge of pond, surrounded by a black iron gate. I found the buzzer and rang it. I found my sanity and nearly walked away. A young woman's voice interrupted my flight; it came from a small intercom by the buzzer.
"Mrs. Ashton is out for the day, Sir. She's gone looking for an old friend who used to work at the Tribune. No, I'm afraid she didn't say when she would be back."
I was beginning to get used to this feeling. The one where you can't keep your rib cage from plummeting to your knee caps. I worked for the Tribune. Did she know that? I stayed in the city, hoping to find her the next day. And with a growing incredulity I realized that she was looking for me. I was always one step behind her. Yes, an elegant old woman (I winced whenever I heard that) had been at my old office looking for me. Yes, she had visited my old apartment building. They had sent her to my Sun-Times office. The dawning of this knowledge made me restless in my own skin. What would I do when we . . . gulp. . . found each other?
I found the dance studio. I knew the time of our meeting was inevitable. I needed to know that when I saw Nancy again, I would be able to sweep her off her feet. I asked to be taught to waltz. I asked for their slowest song. I could almost feel Nancy getting nearer with every hour. I knew what I needed to do. I stepped. I turned. I breathed. I lifted my head. I bought a ticket home.
I only had to wait 4 days before she came. I knew she would find my home address. I swallowed 60 years of self-doubt and loneliness in the 9 seconds it took me to get to my door. I pulled it open. She held a little piece of paper with a scribbled address in a tiny hand. I saw mirth glinting behind a pair of glasses. She wore red lipstick. I bowed and took he hand. She laughed,
"You remember me, Ezekial Bender?"
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"Its just, Mr. Bender, I will need to warn you about her, she left the Order last month. She said she wanted to marry again. "
Perhaps it was the look on my face, um, the color of my face, that gave away the nature of my "friendship" with Sister Nancy Ashton. In any case, Sister Carroll had felt compelled to share this information with me, and I was therefore compelled to respond.
"Why, I don't see how I should need to be warned about Sister Ashton . . . I'm sure if she wants to get m-married again, that is her private affair. Can't see why I should be bothered a bit. I shouldn't care a wit about the r-romantic interests of a very old friend . . . " and my voice trailed off to spite me.
"Of course, Mr. Bender," came the hasty reply. "I wouldn't dream of implying. . . "
When I looked up, Sister Carrol was grinning.
"We were given a forwarding address. Would that be of interest to your highly platonic quest?"
"I reckon so." I responded, feeling in my shirt pocket for my pencil and the scrap of paper.
"Where in Hollywood did she say she was going"
"Oh, no, Mr. Bender. Not Hollywood. She left an address in Chicago."
I boarded my return flight nervous and feeling (except for the creaking remnants of my "coot-ness") like I was 18 again. Clammy. Foolish. Unstoppable. Could she be looking for me? Who else would she want to marry in Chicago? But MARRY? Would she be still wearing a habit? I knew I was being irrational. In my mind I kept picturing Nancy as I had last seen her. She was laughing. Her lips were red. She was draped in black. She was blowing me a kiss. What was I thinking?!? I couldn't talk to Nancy! I hadn't cared about a woman in 40 years. I was an old man. And my ears! Oh, my shameful sorry saggy ears. What could she possibly want with me? I had to do something. Fast. I flipped through the magazines in the seat pouch, at men 50 years younger than I. I got the attention of the flight attendant.
"Miss, could you help me?
a) Do any of these magazines sell zoot suits?."
b) Do you know any places in Chicago that could teach an old man to dance?"
c) What is the quickest way from the airport to the train station?"
Saturday, April 11, 2009
"So pleased to meet you, Mr. Bender." Sister Carroll extended her hand to me as soon as I entered her office. "You will excuse my appearance, we have had such a racket today with Sister Tabitha. I'm afraid she insists that every one of our patients be promenaded around the grounds before Divine Office and I've only just finished escorting Sr Eloise. How may I assist you, Sir?"
I was pleased with her warmth, with the simplicity of her appraisal of me, with the strength of her handshake.
"Sister Carroll, I believe I spoke with you on the telephone about a Sister Ashton? Would you be able to help me find her?" The words came out more quickly than I wanted them to, I feared I sounded too eager. "She is an old friend of mine." I added.
"Sister Ashton? Yes, I remember the conversation. I'm afraid we don't have anyone here by that name. Of course, you couldn't be looking for THE Nancy Ashton could you?"
I gulped. My head began to sweat. "ur, actually . . . I am." I studied my shoes earnestly.
There was a pause, during which I assume she was deliberating.
"Well, Mr. Bender, I'm afraid the only person I can think of is Sister Rebekah. She arrived here in a great deal of distress, calling herself Ashton. Its just, Mr. Bender, I will need to warn you about her,
a) She has claimed to be THE Nancy Ashton for years. She doesn't cause any trouble, she's just, well, loony that's all.
b) Sister Rebekah is very very ill.
c.) She left the Order last month. She said she wanted to marry again.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
But I am now a coot. Freshly inspired at the tender age of 79 and I was going to find her. I started at the library in the warm afternoon. Looked up every article I could find on Nancy Ashton. And there she was, taking shape before me on the dusty newspaper clippings. Posing for an award, waving to reporters, gripping the arm of the man she would later marry. The trail ended in 1980. The last times I found her name in print were in that year. Two articles mentioned her name in a list of benefactors recognized at an art show in Sydney. One was an obituary, for her husband Roland, buried in Chicago. The last was a recipe for minced pie by a Sister Nancy Ashton, printed that year from a convent in Dublin. I had to start somewhere. I bought a ticket for
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Turned out we were both headed to Chicago to find jobs. I was fresh out of grad school in journalism, she had finished a typing course and wanted to be a secretary. We talked books and authors, dreams and silliness. I have always been a shy man, even in my youth, and while age has certainly contributed to the ungainly proportions of my face, I was big-eared even then. Nancy didn't seem to mind. I can remember so clearly her gentle questions, my surprise when I made her laugh, the deep amusement of her eyes. We promised to look each other up in Chicago. We exchanged addresses. I never saw her again.
a) Not in person, anyway. Her name was written on every movie billboard in the city. She was apparently famous. I was embarrassed.
b) When I called on her two days later, the care-taker didn't know anyone with that name. Nancy Ashton didn't live there. I looked all over the city and never found her.
c) There was a fire in the building where she lived just days after we got to Chicago. I asked after her for months. I never found her.
d.) you come up with something.
Monday, April 6, 2009
It is time for the next installment of "Choose Your Own Adventure"!!! I hardly need remind you that your timely voting will significantly change the outcome of this humble story, yes, and even the world.
a.) buy Wall Street
b.) find Nancy Ashton
c.) run Spain
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
"This place is a tomb, I'm going to the Nutshop where its fun!"
"Patricia? I love Patricia. Patricia's great. Patricia makes coffee nervous."
"What is that? What are you doing? What is that; what are you doing? That caviar is a garnish!"
"People do stupid things in foreign countries." "Yes, they buy leather jackets for way more than they are worth. They do not fall in love with fascist dictators!"
"When I get out of here, I'm going to get my eyes lasered. Ugh, where are my tictacs?!"
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Please accept my most profuse apologies. Words fail me. I have at my disposal a veritable feast of blog topics. My progeny is unquestionably the most attractive 10 month old who ever refused to crawl. My life abounds with adventure. Take for instance the 3 hours I spent yesterday FILING. Weep not, oh bored one! You too can splash about in the sea of delight that is 5 year old paper piles. Indeed, it seems positively ludicrous this very moment that I should have been so selfish. Imagine the insult! Enjoying my life to the full in all this banana mashing glory - subsequently denying my dear friends the escape from their dull drudgery that would be the tales of my spirited life. Forgive me. Unless I am swept away by marauding pirates before the day is out, it won't happen again.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
We spent a lot of time this weekend working on our dining room. We painted and put in a new floor! I really like how it turned out.
This is a picture of what the floor looked like under the carpet that was previously in the dining room. Above you can see Ben putting the last few boards of the new floor in. I am pretending to be a part of the process. . .
Addison really likes the new dining room!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I'm halfway through my second week of substitute teaching. I agreed to do a two week assignment at my old school for a teacher who had back surgery. Its been very enlightening. I love to teach. Maybe I just love to be the center of attention . . . hmmm.
But today, as I was on lunch room duty, I was reminded in a rush of nostalgia (perhaps we could come up with a word with more negative connotations) of what high school tables meant. I scanned the clusters of heads and saw the easy distinctions. The table for athletes. The table for math kids. The table for the "trouble" kids. The table for the kids in wheelchairs. The table for the pretty girls. The table for the sporty girls. The table for kids who couldn't possibly be still in high school. . . The tables predominately for kids with darker skin. The table for theater kids.
So my question is, which table did you sit at in high school? And do you still hang out with people who would fit in that table today?