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Celebrate!!!!!

Is finally HERE !!!!!!!!

Norma Jean Morris and Nola Morris Stam proudly announce their first joint publication, Aspects of Love.  Nine different stories, each illustrating an aspect of love.

*  Kaelyn Cull, Femme Fatale of the high stars learns to love herself and change her life with help of a very unusual being.  (Hint: the story is titled Father Earth)

*  A cursed woman calling herself Quill is released by the true love of a prince.  (You were expecting something else??????)

*  Andra Allid, manufactured in a clone factory for the use of sentient machines becomes a truly autonomous human through selfless love.

*  A newlywed couple, Vonni and Thomas learn that for love to grow it needs more attention than sharing the same abode.

*   Karen McCall, Army test driver, finds out from a hero possessed car that love is as sweet as hot fudge.

*   Azzara, a dream caster who can no longer cast dreams, learns love is powerless without faith and hope.

The Squire and her Knight battle the ultimate challenge to their friendship and learn the true power of love of friends.

Britt, a young widow, faces off against Nazi Germany to prove the love of a mother for her disabled child is stronger than any Führer’s edit.

*  And Nada and Rosa, two broken hearts, discover the mending power of the love of Christ.

Available July 30, 2017 from SynergEBooks.

It can be purchased in either Kindle or Nook form.

No reader?  No problem!  Both Kindle and Nook have free apps for PC, Tablet and Cellphone.

Shared Stories

I am sharing stories about two men today, old time musician Buddy Holly and a mystery man.  I wanted to re-blog them but there was no way to do it on the sites so I am sharing the addresses.

http://www.flipslife.com/paul-harvey-now-know-rest-story/ is a tale about music loving insects and a bad land line.  Blogger Phil Beling “Flip” presents the story behind naming the group “Buddy Holly and the Crickets.”

In https://themanfromthesuitcase.com/ Blogger Becci tells of her quest to solve a mystery.  Years ago she bought an old suitcase from a second hand store full of letters and pictures from and to the same person.

I hope you check these out.  If you have a story worth telling, send it to me and I’ll tell it.

 

Still the Best Place to find a Story Part 2

The best place the Morris flock had to find a good story was the library, either Mom’s upstairs or at the Public Library in the Park.   If we had been born 200 years earlier, our story would have been much different.  In the 1700s, educational opportunities for females were few to none.  Unless a family was wealthy or clergy, book ownership was limited to the family bible and perhaps a few other volumes.  And there were no public libraries.  Women who wished to further their learning (usually the wealthy) would meet together to read and discuss books.  Literary salons then, were not only a precursor to today’s public libraries, but also book clubs and literary societies.  Rich men at the same time had subscription clubs.  For a monthly fee, a man could borrow a book to read for a while.  The fee would buy more books and a place to put them.  Closer, but still no Library in the Park.

this photo and the next credit:  https://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/history-us-public-libraries/beginnings

Benjamin Franklin, United States of America inventor, statesman, ambassador, printer, “Founding Father”, and all around brilliant guy, had a large part in setting up Public Libraries in the USA.  In 1731, he founded the first subscription club in the colonies.  He was a member of a group, mostly merchants, who met to discuss, as he described in his autobiography, “queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy.”  They owned some books and were looking for a way to get more.  So, Franklin used subscription money and a forty-shilling investment from each of the first fifty members to order more books from England.  The next time you think your order from Amazon is taking its sweet time, remember it took anywhere from 47 to 138 days for a ship to cross the Atlantic, if it made it at all.

The greater part of the first books were about education and religion.  As the collection grew, more topics were added.  Members of the club had free use of the books. A non-member could borrow, if he gave some sort of collateral.

Ray Memorial Library in Franklin Massachusetts

Then, in 1790, the town of Franklin Massachusetts (named for him) asked Franklin to donate a bell as a memorial.  He decided that sense was more important than sound and donated a collection of books.  The town voted to have the books available to all town members, thus starting the first Public Library.

As recorded in A History of US Public Libraries, https://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/history-us-public-libraries/beginnings:  “The first totally tax-supported library was established in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. While there were many other libraries that met new public-oriented milestones—like the Darby Free Library in Pennsylvania, which has been in continuous service since 1793—the first large public library was the Boston Public Library, founded in 1848. Boston Public Library opened in 1854 and all Massachusetts residents could borrow from its collection, which began with 16,000 volumes.”

It took until after the Civil War before board-governed and tax-funded lending libraries became commonplace in American towns and cities.  Now, Public Libraries have expanded their collections to audio books, movies and e-books all for free.  (Unless one decides to never take the thing back and let fines grow higher than any bookstore price.  Seriously now who would do that?!?)  Plus, most systems have an inter-library loan of some sort so if your neighborhood library doesn’t have the book you want, the one down the street does!  Public Libraries, brick and mortar or www., are still the best place to find a story.

 

Still the Best Place to Find a Story Part 1

Photo credit: http://cdmbuntu.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/Shelley/id/274

Once every two weeks each summer, Mama Duck Morris and her four ducklings would waddle to the park, but not to swim in the pond, because there wasn’t one.  No, we went to immerse ourselves in the waters of literature.  Shelley Public Library, magic land.  Outside, it was a small, one room log cabin, left over I’m sure from when the land was not a park.  It stood behind the swings and slippery slide and under huge shade trees, no doubt as old as the cabin.  Inside it seemed like Doctor Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside.

The first thing that hit you was the smell, a lovely, comforting combination of wood, paper, leather and dirt from the plants on the windowsills.  Then you heard the window fan that kept the place a little cooler than the outside.  Then you saw the librarians desk, usually with books on top, and the librarian’s smile.  (honestly, I don’t remember her name or what she looked like, but I remember we knew her from church.  Of course in Shelley, pretty much everybody knew everybody from church.)  Then, you saw books.  Books on shelves lining the log walls, books on shelves between the walls, books on tables wherever they fit.  There was just enough room to squeeze down the aisles and find the magic wrapped in hard cover.

The best part was watching the librarian stamp the card from the book’s front cover pocket.  That meant it was yours for two whole weeks.  The worst part was you could only check out six.  I could read six books in six days.  What was I to do the rest of the two weeks?  So, I read them again.  I wanted to read them all!  I actually did read all the Children’s books about horses.  I came close to reading all the Science Fiction too.

Photo credit as above.

Eventually that stuffed little house became too stuffed for the words.  When the bank moved down Main Street, the Library moved to Main Street.  It lost the atmosphere but gained a whole lot more magic wrapped in hard cover.

Photo credit:  http://www.americantowns.com/id/shelley/organizations/schools-and-libraries

It moved yet again and now it is down the street and around the corner in the old hardware and paint store.  Now instead of decorating your house, you can decorate your mind.  One of Mama Duck’s ducklings is now the Library Storyteller.  Patricia’s handy work, “Barbie” and friends dressed in homemade costumes, illustrate library display cases and story time.

Living Horror Story, Happy Ending Possible

photo credit: https://www.unicef.org/

Someone, cousin to the well know writer Anonymous, once said, “everyone loves a good scare.”  He was probably on the payroll of a movie company.  Some people love horror films or books.  The bookstore owner in the movie “The NeverEnding Story put it perfectly when talking to the protagonist, Sebastian, about his favorite books.  The owner said, “those books are safe.”  Sebastian could read them, be transported to a different world and then be safe and sound at home.  The special volume Sebastian was looking for however was not safe.  The reader would actually live the book and it would be different each time.

      

photo credits:  https://www.enca.com/africa/chibok-girl-refused-to-be-part-of-release-deal-nigeria   https://www.enca.com/africa/another-chibok-girl-escapes-boko-haram-says-nigerias-presidency 

Thousands of children in Nigeria are, I am certain, wishing their story would end.  We know part of it.  On April 14, 2014, a group of warmongers called Boko Haran captured a group of school girls from their dormitory in the town of Chilbok.  This started a well-publicized campaign called Bring Back Our Girls.  On May 6 of this year, 82 were released.  Twenty-one were release during a previous October.  They received attention and are in therapy.

photo credit:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/boko-haram-teaching-child-soldiers-to-rape

But what of the thousands of others?  Their story is beautifully and chillingly told in “The Scars of Boko Haram”, text by Aryn Baker, photos by Paolo Pellgro.  Time magazine, Volume 190, Number 2-3, 2017, pages 40-51.  To quote page 46:

“For every young woman who is whisked into a comprehensive reintegration program, thousands more traumatized Boko Haram abductees have been thrust, untreated into communities that are not equipped to tend to their wounds.  Parents have been reunited with children who were beaten, starved and forced to participate in ritualized massacres.  Some converted.  Others fought for the insurgents.  Many were raped.”

The article points out that abductees, child and adult alike were told they must punish offenders of the Boko Haram creed, even to the point of murder, or their lifes would be forfeit.  Some were coerced to kill their own parents, for “a child who can kill his parent can do anything.” (pp 47)

Living with what happened is horror enough, but after the victim returns home, the nightmare worsens.  Townspeople reject young women escapees for “sleeping with the enemy” (most were forced) and consider their babies as “bad blood”.  Because many victims will chant Boko Haram creeds when stressed, townspeople ostracize them as walking time bombs.

Try going to school, getting a job or, well, anything to prove you are not what you are being told you have become.  It’s next to impossible.  Because the country has been so torn by the war to stop Boko Haran, funds are short and available treatment is scarce.

photo credit:  http://bhekisisa.org/article/2017-04-25-handful-of-psychologists-deal-with-minds-racked-by-boko-haram-terror

So can they have happy endings to their stories?  It seems a far possibility as things stand right now.  Geoffrey Ijumba, head of the UNICEF field office in Maiduguri, stated: “If nothing adequate is done to help this generation of children, very soon we will have a bigger problem than the one we have now.” (pp 49)  The far light in the tunnel is therapy.  The Neem Foundation is an organization founded in 2016 to offer counseling to Boko Haram victims.  The group sessions are time-consuming and staff-intensive, but are considered the best way for a better if not happy ending.  Without this ending, the next chapter in the story is mental illness, drug use, and social crimes to hit back at the government that failed them.  (pp 49)

Think about your own life stories and those of your family and friends.  Would you write any of them into these pages?  Of course not!  I intent to put more than these words into this.  I intend to, after prayer, contact the two sources below and find out how I can donate some badly needed funds.  Please, share this blog with everyone you can and consider prayerfully if you too can help.  We may not help the entire nation, but we can help one more person.

http://support.unicef.org

http://www.neemfoundation.org.ng/

 

 

Adam and Eve?

Who were the first story tellers?  Well, the first people of course.  If you are Christian, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)  If you are an LDS Christian, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) your twist on the story would be “Gods” as in Heavenly Parents who came to earth, partook of earthly food and had two earthly children.  So I guess in that case the storyteller would be Heavenly Mother.  But, if you are some other persuasion, you have a different story.

If you are Piute the first woman was Bear’s wife.  The first man came to live in the area and she wanted to see him.  Bear was jealous, they quarreled, he was killed, (that’s one tough woman) and she went to find the first man.  They met, married and started the Piute people.  One of her sons was unruly and caused such an uproar that he and a sister were sent away to start another group of people.  The first woman missed them so much that her tears formed a lake and she waited so long by the lake, she turned into stone.  (http://plpt.nsn.us/story.html)  Photo found on:  (http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/nevada/underrated-lake-hidden-gem-nv/)

If you lived in Ancient Greece, you believed that the world was first populated with the gods.  One group, the Titans was pretty much wiped out by the god Zeus.  One of the remaining Titans, Prometheus made humans out of clay.  Since Zeus didn’t like Prometheus, he decided humans were not worth it either.  So, he flooded the earth to drown them out.  Two survived, huddled in a boat.  Deucalion and Pyrrha (daughter of Pandora, yup, the one with the box) decided to consult the Titan goddess Themis to see what they should do.  She told them to throw their mother’s bones over their shoulders.  Confused and a bit horrified at what seemed sacrilege, they pondered the words and decided that the goddess meant mother Gaia, the Earth and bones were rocks.  So they tossed rocks which transformed into the ancestors of humans today.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSGaia.html)  Picture found on: (https://mrpsmythopedia.wikispaces.com/Deucalion+and+Pyyhra)

If you are Hindu, Praja-pati, the Lord of Creation, was all that existed in the beginning.  From his will alone, he created mind, water, earth, fire, sun and air.  Then because he was lonely, he split himself into two parts, man and woman.  From these two came all of the animals, humans included.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSSelf.html)  Picture found on:  (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/475692779364306624/)

If you are from China you may have been told of the goddess Nü Wa who roamed the world in solitude.  She wanted company so she shaped some mud into the form of a human.  As soon as she set it onto the soil, it gained life.  She made many more and then, wanting even more people, too a long vine and dragged it through the mud.  Then she swung the vine in the air and scattered mud all over.  Each drop turned into a human.  The handmade ones became aristocrats and the mass produced ones the common folk.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSPG&NW.html)      Picture found on:  (https://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/nuwa-the-serpent-goddess/)

And, if you grew up long ago in Babylon, you learned of Ea, Marduk and Nintu.  Their gods were just as loving and gentle to each other as the Ancient Greek’s.  Ea, the god of rivers, ended up doing in his great-grandfather, Apsu.  This really caused a battle which his son, Marduk led, won and became head god.  It seems the earth had water and land, but nothing else, so Marduk filled in the details: rivers, plants and animals.  Okay, so he gave the vanquished gods chores to do to take care of this newly filled planet.  Surprise, surprise, they didn’t like it.  So, Marduk called the leader, Kingu, to come forth and slew him, right on the spot.  Then, with spit from the other gods, Kingu’s blood and clay, Ea and Nintu, the birth-goddess, created humans.  Guess who got all the chores?  Yeah, the measly human underlings were also given the honor of worshipping the gods and holding festivals for them.   (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSMarduk.html)                                                                        Photo found on: (http://www.annunaki.org/who-is-marduk/)

All these stories and more may be found in a bounty of books and on-line.  There are many sites in addition to the University of Georgia web site cited above, all just a few clicks away.  Try out your local library first.  In my un-humble opinion, the rustle of turning pages far surpasses the clicking of a computer mouse.

Each time I read a creation story I’m filled with respect for the ancient people who with limited knowledge and revelation did their best to make sense of the beautiful world they called home.

Life Story Short


A Short Story is short on purpose. The author has a set number of words in which to tell the tale. Each word has to be important and to move the story along to its conclusion. But what about life stories? Like each word, each day is important. Each moves a life along to its end. I believe, as the Musician Cat Stevens wrote, some lives are “only dancing on this earth for a short while.” I have two brothers whose stories only had a couple of letters. My first daughter’s had not quite 30 chapters. When God/Nature/Fate is in control, that’s okay. But what about when Man, in his finite wisdom(?), takes control.

On May 8th, 2017, an article was published in the Utah newspaper, The Deseret News. It told of a young man with only 18 chapters of story who was facing legal charges. He helped a young woman with only 16 chapters written, end her life’s story. He helped her buy supplies, find a place in the nearby woods and establish a setting. Then he watched her die. He did this to discover if this was something he could go through with.

People magazine, June 26, 2017, printed an article about a young woman with only 20 chapters in her story who is facing up to 20 years in prison for actively encouraging a young man of 18 chapters to end his story. She texted him, keeping him on task. At one point, when he wanted to back out, she ordered him with profanities to continue.

No one who values the light, colors and varieties of life wishes to leave it. Therefore, it seems to me that all four stories had paragraphs, pages, even chapters of sad, depressing words that fogged over the beauty of living and put each person in a place of cold, damp gray. If one remains in that place long enough, one will do anything to get out.

Those who have removed themselves from that place, and life, I believe are now in the light of God’s infinite love and will see much more than gray. The rest of their eternal stories will be written with many more beautiful words.

For those still in this world, UtahBlueDevil from Durham, NC commenting on the Deseret News article put it beautifully. “You have to wonder what could have gone so wrong (in) a short 16 or 18 years to have some kids with so much ahead of them to make such a horrible decision. There are many chapters in life, some good, (some) less so. But few of them last, and there is always a chance to write a new chapter, with a different ending. I feel and pray (for) the parents and families of both of these kids. It is nothing any family should have to deal with… under any circumstances.”

What kind of pages will the two older young people write in prison? Will they have a chance to use beautiful words or will their words stay fogged over?

What about you and I? What words are we using to write our stories? How do those words help or hurt us and those around us? I have too much fog causing words in mine. One thing is certain, the next time my second daughter calls me “anything but human”, I plan on smiling. After all, she is still here to swear.

Happy birthday Mom, do you feel ancient?

I just passed my 60th birthday. It felt like one more page in the story of my life, not even a chapter, only a page. My daughter, 18 years “old”, asked me how it felt to be 60. Other than arthritis, sinus headaches, chronic cough from sinus drainage, sore toe from clutzing and stubbing it, acid indigestion, hand and foot cramps, (at least I’m done with the other cramps, thank heaven) and a constant flow of words in and out of the brain that never make it to the mouth when I need them, Hey, it feels great!

I’m Fine, How are You?
There’s nothing the matter with me,
I’m just as healthy as can be,
I have arthritis in both knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.
I’m overweight and I can’t get thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
Arch supports I need for my feet.
Or I wouldn’t be able to go out in the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me, who are growing old.
It is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in.
I’m fine, how are you?
(wish I knew who wrote this, I found it on http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/aging2b.htm)

All in all, I simply: Don’t Worry
At age 20 we worry about what others think of us;
At age 40 we don’t care what they think of us;
At age 60 we realize that they haven’t been thinking of us at all.
(again from http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/aging2b.htm)


My Grandmother Morris was born an eldest child in December of 1898 and died November 1994. She knew the first, middle and some last pages of the life stories of siblings, children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and greatgreatgrandchildren. She saw, felt and lived an entire history book. She travelled by horse and buggy, train, automobile and watched rockets fly to the moon. She knew the pain and delight of a hard day’s work with crops, farm animals and school children. She collected sagebrush for the fireplace and paid the propane bill for the room heaters. She communicated by word of mouth, telegraph, party line telephone but never computer. She knew how to see each unique sunset, to hear a bird call and name it, to smell a storm or feel a tornado’s approach, to taste the sweetness of crab apple jelly—sweeter because she made it, and to live the experience of standing on a Snake River tributary bridge with a grandchild and see, hear, smell, feel and taste all that entailed.
She taught me more than I can remember. The forgetting does not come from living too long. The forgetting comes from living too long in concrete and steel, too long with instant pudding, ½ hour Sit-coms and texting. It’s time I remembered. I think my next life page will be a different story from this one.

When an 80-year-old widow, Gram shared an anecdote that went something like this:

MY FIVE NEW BOYFRIENDS!
I am seeing 5 gentlemen every day.
As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed.
Then I go to see John.
Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here, he takes a lot of my time and attention.
When he leaves, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn’t like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint.
After such a busy day, I’m really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay.
What a life!
Oh, yes, I’m also flirting with Al Zymer and thinking of calling Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker to come and keep me company.

(wish I knew who wrote this one too!)

El cóndor pasa

Sometimes a piece of music tells a story. Other times, it is part of a story, told in a musical. But, sometimes the story is what the song inspires. In 1913 Peru, as part of a musical “El cóndor pasa” (The condor passes) an instrumental piece of the same name was written. The play told how a group of miners gain the hope of better working conditions by the deaths (murders) of their bosses. It was the last piece of music in the play and accompanied a wedding procession of all but the miners who had no time off work. At the end of the musical, cóndors, long absent, return to the area. The miners see this as a sign for better days ahead.

This piece was at one time thought to be an Andean folk song, but it really was composed by Daniel Alomía-Robles for the play, based on traditional songs with an early set of Quechua words. Quechua is a native Andean language. It was scored for an orchestra, but it’s most famous renditions use Andean flutes or Pan Pipes. This gives it an airy sound, like wind over the mountain tops. There are over 400 versions, at least 300 have lyrics, each one different. It has become so popular, it is now considered a second Peruvian national anthem. I suppose that makes it a song for folks.

One set of lyrics was written in 1965 by American artist Paul Simon. He heard the tune in Paris, performed by the band Los Incas. He asked the band for permission to include the piece in his next album. They told him the music was a folk tune, but that the arrangement was their director’s. Jorge Milchberg stated he was a registered co-author because he added two notes and therefore could collect royalties. So, the Simon and Garfunkel album did not list Robles as the composer.

In 1970 Peruvian filmmaker Armando Robles-Godoy, Alomía-Robles’ son, took Simon to court over copyright infringement. His father had copyrighted the music in the U.S.A. in 1933. The lawsuit ended amicably as Robles-Godoy recognized that it was an honest mistake brought on by a misunderstanding. Today the album lists Alomía-Robles, Milchberg and Simon as composers with Simon as lyricist.

Google Youtube El cóndor pasa sometime.  I’d add a link, but there are way too many wonderful choices.  Find the one you like.

I found the Quechua words at this site: http://www.allthelyrics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=92041 with a translation at entered by a user named citlalli.

Quechua:

Yaw kuntur llaqtay urqupi tiyaq
maymantam qawamuwachkanki,
kuntur, kuntur
apallaway llaqtanchikman, wasinchikman
chay chiri urqupi, kutiytam munani,
kuntur, kuntur.

Qusqu llaqtapim plazachallanpim
suyaykamullaway,
Machu Piqchupi Wayna Piqchupi
purikunanchikpaq.

English translation based on the Spanish translation of the original:

Oh majestuoso Cóndor de los Andes,
Oh majestic condor of the Andes
llévame, a mi hogar, en los Andes,
take me home, in the Andes,
Oh Cóndor.
oh condor,
Quiero volver a mi tierra querida y vivir
I want to go back to my beloved land and live
con mis hermanos Incas, que es lo que más añoro
with my Inca brothers, this is what I yearn for most
oh Cóndor.
oh condor

En el Cusco, en la plaza principal,
In Cusco, at the main square
espérame
wait for me
para que a Machu Picchu y Huayna Picchu
vayamos a pasear.
so that we can go for a stroll
in Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu

The Hill

I lived from age 6 months to 6 years in Blackfoot, a small Southeastern Idaho town, named in honor of one of the local Native American tribes.  The area is still mostly agricultural, Spud country, home of the best potato in the world, the Idaho Russet.  Those lovely oblong tubers grow fabulously in the volcanic loam.  From 15,000 to 2,000 years ago, Southeastern Idaho was home to volcanic activity.  Craters of the Moon National Park and two buttes are visible reminders.  The rest of the story is in the wonderfully loose soil that grows practically anything that’s planted in it.

After we moved to Shelley, I remember many times driving through higher than our car walls of lava as we went to dentist appointments in Blackfoot.  The area was the southeast tip of a flow called “Hell’s Half Acre” and it wasn’t hard to imagine the devil sitting on top, laughing at the motorists below.  Well, somebody got the bright (actually good) idea to put a set of very nice rest stops with nature trails right there.  They needed rock for concrete and hey, there was all this lava.  So now that “Hell” has been reformed, the devil has moved elsewhere.

The Hill

September, 1960

“Whee,” I run up the hill as fast as my three-year-old legs will carry me.  At the top, I splat myself down for the twenty-seventeenth time.  Instead of rolling down, this time I flatten on my belly and kick my feet.  Slowly I feel one smooth, emerald blade of the lush yard carpet my dad so carefully waters, mows, fertilizes and treats with that long, brown, stinky weed-killer-on-a-wire block.

My golden capped baby sister laughs.  I look across the narrow side yard to where she sits with our mother.  Mom picks a small yellow flower from the color-splotched strip of garden next to the Hortin’s tall, white cinderblock fence.  She holds it up to Dorothy’s button nose to sniff.  It’s my turn to laugh as Dorothy’s chubby hand reaches for the bloom and her mouth opens wide.

“No, you don’t smell with your mouth, silly,” I say and roll down the cool slope.

Once at the bottom I sit and pick green bits out of my strawberry blond strands.  I look around and decide to watch a Daddy-long-legs climb up the pink wood siding of our two bedroom, neat-as-a-pin, one story house.  If he makes it to the white edge of the black roof, he might get eaten by the bird sitting there.

“Hey, race you,” my soon to be five big sister calls.  Her brunette bob pokes around the back corner of the house.

I bounce up, “okay.”

We run past the Snow White apple tree, red apples on one side, green on the other, over to our barbecue that looks like a monument.  I catch my breath in front of the stout, iron grill and run my hand over the rough brown brick trying unsuccessfully to reach the top.  I scan the yard for a good course to run.  We could go back to the apple, left to the purple plum and straight to the sandbox.  Then we could go left again along the Jensen’s wooden fence, past the lilac bush with its tangle of trunks to the peonies by the back fence.  I’m thinking that as long as we go that far, we might as well keep going past the gate and weave through the yellowing corn stocks in the vegetable patch.  Why, I can run so fast, I could even jump over all the bumpy dark green Hubbard squashes I can hardly pick up, fly over to the one branch of the Hortin’s apple tree that slumps over the fence, pick one of those golden beauties and still beat Diana back.

But, she wants to run to the hill.  Oh well.  She lines up with the barbecue’s stick out side with more shelves than cubby holes.  I stand in front of the other.

“On your mark, get set, go!”

I speed up the slope again with all my tired might.  I just barely come in second.

July 2009

On my way home from visiting my two youngest sisters, I find a tiny house in a small Idaho town.  It’s all peeling paint white now.  I stop in front.  It looks like no one is home.  That’s good because, “hi, I used to live here and want to roll down your hill,” seems more than lame.  There are bicycles not bushes on the front porch.  Bottles line the living room windowsill.  The curtains behind them are crooked and gaping.  The sandbox is filled with unruly grass.  I inch the car forward until I see a crumbling, nondescript, brick structure stuffed with—stuff.  I shake my head and then see a small slope in the yellow-green, dirt patched, narrow side lawn.  It is a 10 inch drop, maybe, if that much, maybe less.  I tell myself, “that hill shrunk.”

I put the car in gear again and drive home to Utah.