Monday, August 31, 2009

Sign from God

The bacon was limp and the eggs over cooked, I hated both. At least the coffee was hot which help wash it down. Sitting next to me at the counter was an elderly gentleman in his late 60’s. Being polite I sent a good morning nod his way.
An hour later the bell rings. There at my counter is the same elderly gentleman from the restaurant. He is overwhelmed by the coincidence of having sat next to me at breakfast. Excitement soon rolled out a yarn of his great new business venture. A dream of always wanting to own his own business but never having just the right idea until now.

Having sat next to me just that morning and since I was a printer and printing was the key to his idea, it was like a sign from God, affirming his idea as fool proof. In addition, I was to be his new business partner. Well as much as he was overwhelmed I was underwhelmed with his idea. I already had a business and God must have forgotten to shine His light on the significance of sharing the same air at breakfast. I tried to explain I was a local printer and random meetings with customers at restaurants or grocery stores in the community was not that extraordinary. He bought none of it.
I listened, advised him, and tried to dissuade him all to no avail. I referred him to a web printer down town. Over the months he came into my shop seeking advice and hoping I would reconsider being his partner. He would report his trials and woes as his retirement nest egg frittered away on his business idea. For two years he kept at it but in the end he was broke. His eldest son had heard about me from his father and one day son stood in my office wanting an explanation for his father draining the retirement that his mother and father so desperately needed.
I showed him every invoice of product is father had ordered. I was glad it was no more than a few orders well under $1000.00. He went away sad that his father had been so foolish.
A principle in life: when a person is young he is allowed to be foolish because he has time to recover but when a man matures and is old he is not allowed foolish missteps. The reaper shows little mercy demanding payment in the form of low energy, discouragement, and little time to recover. He violated principle after principle and made decisions to move forward based on wishes rather than a foundation of knowledge. How very sad to lose a life time of savings on wishes.
The old man, creeping into his seventies, would try to find work. Few options were in front of him and his future was bleak. I never saw the gentleman again but I have often wondered how he and his wife fared. My guess is his children had to step up and support them.
Why do I tell you such a tale – maybe it is for me and not for you at all. A reminder that the different times of a man’s life has its own stage where prudence needs to be acted out, where wisdom and common sense should not be over ruled by wishful dreams.
Thanks for listening - Grayquill

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sore Foot

Every father at one time or another feels like a failure, but every now and then at the end of the day he knows, this day, he did it right.
No apology made for the self serving story to follow.
“Hi sweetie, how are you doing?”
“Hi Daddy.”
“Are you scared?” Her head nodded, those blue eyes starred back in relief. Someone was paying attention to her; after all, we were there because of her! I had arrived a few minutes earlier, having driven almost two hours to find, Melinda talking a blue streak with mundane small talk to her friend Toni. My daughter was lying next to them in a hospital bed, a drab curtain circling the group gave off a semblance of privacy.
The frivolous adult conversation created an emotional barrier leaving the child alone with her fears. My anger spiked. Pushing it aside and leaning close, “You say you’re scared, what are you most afraid of?”
“What is the doctor going to do? Is he going to give me a shot or hurt me, what is wrong with my foot?”
Fear, often is not knowing what is around the next corner and it is highlighted when we feel alone. A few days earlier my daughter had some minor foot surgery and after two days at camp, it now had become infected.
I tuned out the adults and there in those next few minutes it was just a father and his daughter.
“Well, sweetie I am not sure if he will give you a shot – does that scare you?” Another nod and now a tear rolled down her check. “What is it about a shot that scares you?”

“The last time I got a shot the doctor told me it would feel just like a little pinch and when I look away he stuck me, it hurt real bad. The doctor lied!”
“So, you need to know how bad it will hurt? Is that what you are saying?” Again the nod came with those blue eyes fixed on mine. “Okay…, and no surprises or lies?”
Again, the nod but this time there was unbelief in her look. “If he gives you a shot I will make sure you know when it is about to happen – will that help?” She nodded. “What else are you afraid of?”
She reached for my hand, “I am afraid you will leave me alone with the doctor.”
I hesitated speaking decisively and slowly as dad’s can, “I promise, I will not leave you alone with the doctor.”
“Okay,” her head tilted back on her pillow relaxing, but her small hand still gripped mine. It wasn’t long and the next swirling thought came to the surface, head coming back off the pillow. “What is the doctor going to do to my foot?"
“Well, I am not really sure. He will probably change the band-aid and probably clean your foot where your stitches are. But, I will be right here with you. I promise I will not leave you. And, I will make sure the doctor explains everything before he does anything. Will that help?” She nodded again and let her head fall back on the pillow.
We sat there her hanging onto my hand until the doctor came. He asked everyone to leave. And, I told him I would be staying. He looked straight at me. A long silence spanned the equally long stare. In the end he looked away deciding not to argue. “Doctor, my daughter is afraid and she needs you to tell her everything that is going to happen, she has had other doctors trick her and she can handle whatever you need to do but she needs to know what it is and when you will be doing it. Can you do that?” He said, he could and he would.
Just so you know I was right there reminding the doctor and keeping him honest.
The doctor did great, my daughter did great. My daughter and I took the long drive home; I drove and she slept. All these years later, I can still remember carrying her into the house being careful not to bang her dangling foot. I don’t know if my daughter remembers that night but I sure do.
As a dad we do it wrong so many times. It is nice to have at least one memory of doing it right.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why Fish…Re-Run

I have been asked, what is it about fishing? Many find it dull, boring, and frustrating. I find a mystery in the fishing and rarely do I get lost in the lack of catching. Who can say exactly what it is, maybe it is the slight breeze brushing your face, fingers and toes numb from the cold, sun glistening shimmers of golds and yellows off rolling waves - that is magic. Then there is the silence of just the water, the pressure from the current and knowing a fall could be disastrous. Don’t get me wrong there is no evil on the water. It is where God can tell you he is good and you believe him because the beauty shouts it out. It is a time and place where time can stand still and God might say, look around do you see me?”
Of course there is the challenge of figuring it out. The beauty of the fly dancing out to that perfect spot, the strike when you thought you missed it, the thrill of measuring out the line while keeping a smooth and silky tension allowing no slack to disrupt the music you and the fish are making. Then comes that flash of silver and you see him bull back down deep for his final run. A laugh of delight rings out over the water. Your friend might give you the thumbs up shouting back encouragement. A hundred casts, five hundred cast, a thousand casts? Who is to say what number fills a day on the water?
The sun finally drops down behind the horizon and a day on the water comes to an end. Weariness is on your face as you step out of your waders and even then with painful muscles aching, you know it was good. A mental tension that was there is now gone, and a good tired has now permeated you.It could now be a drive home or maybe sitting around a fire with a blistering hot cup of coffee with that friend who makes no demands. Sure he will jab and mock that you only have fish stories and you will prod back but the smile and the bantering seals a bond and a memory of another day on the water.
By the way Homer rarely gets invited fishing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flying Rats Invade Grayquill Mountain

A past writing, when my son’s dog Goldie was reaching her end.

I sit, back in the room, in the shadows typing on my computer waiting. My pellet gun is beside me loaded and ready. The sliders are fully open and I know they will be coming soon. I hear them off in the distance screeching there mournful hacking. Last week scored three but three of thousands will not stay off the infestation. Why? One might ask would I even make the effort, it is a hopeless task. Well, maybe because they are uninvited and uninvited guests always irk me especially when they are just plain irritating.
Have you ever had a guest steal from you? Would you not say that is irritating? These mockers come only to steal and propagate there young now somewhere hidden in lonely high nests. The scouts must have warned them as it has been 15 minutes and nothing has broached the property lines. The old dog paces by again on her lonely walk, stopping, listening but not hearing, looking but hardly seeing. Her appetite wanes and is inconsistent, so the thieving scavengers have honed in on her bowl of food.
A squirrel ventures down and takes a nibble. He is welcome, it is his right. You see he lives on the property and does his part in adding entertainment to the land owner. You smirk in arrogance that the owner is a tyrant who only cares about his pleasure, his interests, and that is exactly correct. He makes no apology. To quote Barbara Boxer, "I worked hard for this title"- Land Owner. The squirrel also falls into the category of handsome and are not the handsome and the beautiful in society the privileged? Yes, I know the squirrel did nothing to deserve such status, it just is. It was born into it but if along comes a hawk or an owl such status is no longer useful.
Two have now flown in and quickly flown away. The cat with 14 years of life left sneaks in and takes his portion. The dog now passes on her lonely walk and attacks the cat for eating her food which she has little interest in except for hording. Maybe she feels as I, uninvited guest are just irritating. I was tempted to take the cat out. Would a pellet at 20 yards change 14 years to zero? Probably not.
The little neighbor dog just stopped by for his portion. A stomp of the foot and a ‘git’ was sufficient to send him packing. Killing neighborhood dogs would not fare well for Grayquill.
The irritating guests seem to know that it is only a matter of time before the land owner must go onto other tasks as they seem to be winning the waiting game. The surrounding roads are littered here and there with road kill of dead possums, raccoons, and a cat now and then. They probably know that road kill is safer than my dog’s dog food on a Saturday morning. Oh…I hear one close…wait here, I’ll be right back, maybe the day will not be a loss. They are there watching, evaluating the risk, being their normal psychotic paranoid selves.
I’m back - nothing once again. All living creatures are safe on the mountain today.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bad Grayquill - Working Step 5

This was a bumper sticker on the back of my van during the early nineties. I loved it! Old blue color democrats would speed up next to me and flip me off. And, of course I roared with laughter. Then there was a favorite vendor and stanch democrat, that I loved antagonizing. I would back my van up to his warehouse door to pickup product. The bumper sticker pasted to my back window right at eye level. He could hardly stand it but what could he do? I was a paying customer. I would egg him on and he just had to take it. Yeah, I know it was my depraved evil nature at work again. But it sure was fun. Why are naughty things so much fun?
Then there was the motorcycle cop who wanted to know where I got my bumper sticker. I wasn’t sure if he hated me or envied me. Either way my bumper sticker was not a sitting on the fence slogan.
After many laughs and worries of gun toting wackos, my bumper sticker disappeared one day. I figured it was a liberal who was afraid of dogs but several months later I found out it was my wife who thought my juvenile behavior needed curbing. There she was doing her job,
regulating again. D’OH!
You now have another peek into my evil soul. Just so you know I joined TA (Teasing Anonymous) and worked the 12 steps – “Hi my name is Grayquill and I am a teaseoholic.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Once a Month Breakfast

One Saturday of each month is breakfast with the guys.
Coffee, German Apple Pancake with three slice of chedder cheese on the side please. The men who show up for this are varied in education, income levels and interests. All of these guys are from my church, hmmm, can I say, "my church" since I haven't been to church for several months? I will have to think about that. Our breakfast is not at all spiritually motivated, it is just a bunch of guys, some who have both feet into retirement, a few with one foot into retirement, and then the others who wonder what is retirement. Now and then we talk politics. That is the best! We have no disagreements because we all listen to the same right wing talk radio programs (that’s a joke - kinda). Other conversations will center on stories about days gone by or more resent times.
I find it interesting that most of us only have a few stories that are worth telling, so we tend to re-tell them. The group is made up of 50+ers and with the memory's slipping it makes for a great time of re-telling the same great stories over and over. Those of us who still have our memories (or at least partially) laugh like it’s the first time we ever heard the stories, it keeps us bonded.
Here is a mini sampling of a recent conversation:
Son’s last three girl friends have all had the same name - This one he calls Amber3.
Story of when in eighth grade, he walked into the principal’s office the principal slugged him in the jaw knocking him to the floor. (Montana principals 40 years ago)
Retired police officer, now part time school bus driver, recounts working security for an event, in his full dress police uniform, sees a trouble maker student that rides his bus and greets the student by his first name in front of all his “bad” friends. The significance is that pretend tough guys don’t like a police officer calling them by their first names in front of their other would be tough guy friends.
The 1000 mile, Iron Butt, non-stop motorcycle ride – not me, my butt is rather soft.
Finding a twenty dollar bill and giving it back to the wrong person, realizing his mistake he then forks over another twenty bucks of his own money to the right person – a better man than me.
A daughter getting married later that day, the man said, “I went to get some money for breakfast and then I thought, oh yeah, I don’t have any money.” All of us with daughters laughed but we also understood – BTW no one bought him breakfast.
Politics, shooting matches, white collar crime, meeting the son’s new girl friend, meeting the daughters new boy friend, and so goes the once a month Saturday breakfast with a bunch of men who have mostly known each other for 20 plus years.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lighting Flashed and Thunder Rolled

Lighting flashed - thunder rolled…she was still sitting right next me!
For weeks I had been driving her home from play practice taking the long way to her house, dropping off another friend first. When I dropped him off she would always slide over to the other side of the car but this day was different. WOW! I had considered her out of my stratosphere as far as dating options. But, here she sat right next to me on the bench seat of my Sky Blue 1963 Falcon. Not knowing how to handle such a strange and wonderful situation I nervously looked at her and she was smiling at me. I guess I did the right thing - I smiled back. Not thinking too well I eased the car away from the curb.
Looking back I wonder how she explained me to her family. It had to go something like this. Girlfriend -“Mom my new boyfriend is just great, he is a young man with few goals, although he does have one goal at the moment, and that is to be sure he never goes to college.” Mom – “Oh my goodness!! Does he work?” Girlfriend – “Oh yes, he has a great job he delivers furniture for a company that is going out of business and he has no opportunities for promotion but he does make $1.65 per hour.” Mom – “Well, what does he think for his future?” Girlfriend – “He says it will work out.” Mom – “Oh my goodness...I think I need to go to my bedroom now.” She walks away mumbling, “I think I am behind in my prayers. Oh, my goodness…Oh my goodness!”
They say past performance is the best indicator of future results. My past performance to this point had been less than stellar. The girl who decided not to slide over on that ride home was a straight A student, popular, a cheerleader, long brown hair that hung straight accentuating her amazing figure that made a 17 year old boy go cookoo. I have wondered now that many years have gone by; did anyone say to her? “tap you helmet girl he’s a loser”. Well, I am not sure if anyone told her that but I know at the time that is exactly how I felt.
As the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years – I heard her say more times than I can count, “you can do that.” Somewhere along that lane of many turns in time I began to believe her. She has been a strong encourager to me now for so many years.
Just tonight now in our 36th year of marriage I heard those words once more, “you can do that.”
To my sweet wife – you have surely been a blessing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Pain in my Stomach

This pain in my stomach just would not go away. I was sitting more and had gained about 5 pounds since starting this new job - okay, maybe it was 10 lbs. Off to the doctor I went – I hadn’t had a physical for sometime so I figured to hit both the stomach pain and the physical together.
Doc listened to my complaint, took blood, pushed, prodded, scheduled me for a CAT scan, then an MRI. The MRI showed a growth on my liver about 2 inches long. Doc scheduled me for a biopsy. Growth ended up being nothing but a birth mark. I bet you don’t have one of those.
Doc sent me to a specialist, a gastrologist, he did all the nasty things and I do mean nasty things gastrologists do to check for stomach pain. He found nothing. So far I figured all the tests and appointments had ran the Grayquill bill up to just under $10,000 dollars. Doc Specialist said it could be a spastic colon and I should try staying away from nuts and berries with seeds.
Being a typical guy, I need to fix things. I figured these Doctors should have some help. For several weeks I had been pondering the problem, after all I was the one with the pain. It seemed to hurt more when I was sitting. Doc Specialist was leaning over his paper work writing notes, this is when I thought it was probably the best time to help out the Doctor. “Doc, do you think this pain could be caused by my pants being too tight?”
You would have thought I shot him with a spit wade the way his head jerked up. Calmly he set his pen on the counter. He turned and faced me. “Well how tight are they?”
Now how do you answer a question like that? There are no qualifiers to the question. How does one measure tightness? It’s not like I can say, “Well Doc, the pants upon exhaling after snapping is 22 psi.” or “The thrust force upon coughing is 38 psi.” I mean sure there is probably some engineer somewhere who could figure out a definitive answer to how tight my pants were. But, I am just an average Joe. I barely understand what psi is. In the end I mumbled some pathetic answer and Doc found another reason to touch me by measuring the pant tightness factor with the true scientific method of inserting his finger around the waist band of my pants. Well scientific or not we now had a diagnosis.
“Go buy some new pants.”
Of course I did and within a week I felt much better.
So, word to the wise, if you have stomach pain before going to the doctor and running up thousands of dollars in doctor bills, buy some new pants.
YES! Finally, a post that serves the public good, I feel so much like a humanitarian at this moment. No thank-you’s needed – You are all very welcome. D’OH!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mr. E

Mr. E a special man – I was dating his daughter and he didn’t much like me. I guess who can blame him. He came home for lunch and found me with his daughter un-chaperoned in a dark room with all the blinds pulled. Hmmm…
He would sit and talk to me, “So Grayquill, what are you planning now that you are out of high school?”
“Well, while all my friends are heading off to college, I will be heading for the mountains, I am planning to go hunting every day and the days I am not hunting I hope to fish or work to buy a new car. I got a real nice rifle last year it shoots straight as a gun can shoot. You want to go shooting sometime?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
I received the cold shoulder from Mr. E all the time I dated his daughter. And, of course being the rebellious young man I was, taking his daughter from him when he didn’t like me made it all the better. Weeks stretched into months and 14 months later. I sat in front of Mr. E asking to marry his daughter. The strangest thing happened that night. Mr. E became my best friend. He put aside all his negative feelings toward me at least on the outside. From then on every time I was with him he was so very interested in all that I was doing. He encouraged me and was excited about what I was excited about. He never wavered once in his kindness and affirming spirit. And, when a great tragedy came my way he listened to much of my grumbling about how unfair God had been to allow such an injustice. Even though he was a minister he never defended God in all those conversations. By the time he died I loved that man dearly.
Years later in front of me sat a young man who I didn’t like much (does any father like the man who wants to take his daughter in the beginning?) asking me for my daughter’s hand. Guess what – that young man might not know it but I am his best friend. He for sure knows I believe in him.
Once Mr. E began loving me I never wanted to disappoint him and I don’t think I did.
And, up until now my son-in law has not disappointed me – in fact I am so very proud of him. He is a man of high character – my daughter chose very well.
I miss Mr. E.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Depraved Troll

Sometimes we have more than normal unproductive time on our hands. A while back I found a new past time and like most past times it ran its course and became something I did for a bit.
This particular boredom alleviator is something less than, how do you say it? Well, let's just say it was less than above reproach.
My son explained to me how Yahoo Answers works and I found it to be quite entertaining. I'll give you my best-worst example of the depravity of my experience engaging in Yahoo Answers. It was the best because 41 people answered it lickety split – like in maybe 10 minutes. The worst because it was spawned straight out of my depraved nature. You see it was the challenge. A challenge in asking a question that I had not even the slightest interest in the actual answer. But, I had a great interest in evoking the greatest degree of emotional and/or angry response that could be mustered out the responders. It was really quite challenging but for sure not very Christian.
Very Christian? That's a good one Grayquill - it wasn't Christian at all - tap your helmet.
Hey, whoever you are get out of here this is my blog.
Where was I or yeah, I was in the Political section and I asked this question: "Do you think liberals are mostly young people who don't really get it yet? I have often wondered why liberals seem to be so simplistic in their thinking. Is it because they have not had enough life experience to really gain much wisdom?"
Well, this question hit it out of the park. I was rewarded with several near belly laughs from the anger spewing back at me through the screen. It was a little more fun than it should have been. But then that great fun lead me to the even more rabid readers, the Atheists, in the religion section. I will leave you in suspense on this one but I will say a good Christian reprimanded me and told me to stop it and that I should be nicer. FYI I have been nicer since my shaming.
What would a shrink say about my morbid pleasure seeking behavior? I probably don’t really want to know. I am sure it would have something to do with a great gulf left in my soul from some horrible childhood experience. The problem my childhood was pretty darn good. But if we could come up with some tragic childhood break in my development; then it could be accepted that it was really not my fault that I committed these depraved acts. But, then of course I would probably have to become a Democrat and join the nothing is my fault club.
I leave it to my readers to do the proper shaming and dish out the correct diagnosis.
I know I was bad – I’m sorry. D’OH!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crazier than scaditch…

I pulled the package out of my saddle bag and walked into the post office. Helmet under my arm, black leather jacket still zipped tight. Three people in line, hmmm…not to bad, I would be out of here in 10 minutes. The lady in front of me turned and eyed me up and down with squinted eyes. The eyes hesitated just slightly at my helmet and leather jacket. “Why do you keep following me?” she said loudly. “ Were you watching me at me at my house?”
“Ma’am I am just here mailing a package I don’t know you.” I took a step back giving the lady more personal space.
“Are you with the CIA? Have you bugged my phones? Why are you people following me?” Her cadence had lifted and now the teller was eyeing her and me. I backed up one more step the person behind making room.
“Lady, I have never seen you before. I am here just like you trying to mail a package.”
“Well, you are not going to keep me from mailing my package!”
As softly as my voice could muster, “No, ma’am, I would not want to do that, why do you think someone is following you?”
“See, there you go trying to get information out of me, just leave me alone!”
“Sure thing ma’am the teller is ready to help you,” point past her.
Carefully, she moved forward and I could hear her whispering to the teller I was following her.
Her business done, she left and soon my business was completed. Riding a motorcycle takes a bit of doing to get everything situated, there is the helmet, the gloves; any parcels must be stowed in the saddle bags. While my getting ready to take off all at once the crazy lady was there, right up close. Now her words to me were irrational and made no sense. I knew they were meant to be accusatory. I listened just like I was listening to any other crazy person, with my bike as a protective barrier between us. Finally I guess she said everything she needed to say. It might of helped that the lady behind me in the post office came and helped rescue me. Being kind of creeped out, I headed home somewhat distracted.
I was tempted to follow crazy lady just to give her a little reality but then I realized that would just be cruel and might end in jail time. I have thought about crazy lady now and then and wondered how she is doing.

Sorry, for no point to this story, it just happened, a strange interlude breaking up the mundane. It did make me feel very powerful that someone might think me a CIA agent. That night I had dreams of fast cars, hot women, and 007 stamped on my gun. Of course I woke up eventually – D’OH!