Sunday, December 6, 2020

WAKING THE DEAD

 


BANG! BANG!

The harsh sound reverberates through my chilly bedroom Saturday morning, pulling me out of a dream I desperately want to finish. I was rescuing dogs, finding more room for them at my home as a yellow lab and raggedy old poodle ran around the yard playing with Charlie-Bear. He likes them both. Such a glorious dream. Simple. Peaceful.

BANG!

I sit up to see that Charlie-Bear is lying at the end of my bed, his ears popping up to the loud sound as well. Neither of us is moving, but we manage to glance at each other. I look at the clock to see that it is nearly 8:30 am. How did I sleep this long? I recall waking at five, lumbering to the bathroom, then going back to bed for a few more minutes of rest where I must have fallen back asleep.

I look out my bedroom window only to see a gray, overcast day that is not calling my name. The past week has been so long. My back and shoulders ache from spending too much time on the computer day after day. Life is a trudge right now. I collapse back on my pillows. Maybe I can fall back asleep one more time.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

"What the f*ck?" I curse as I throw off my winter duvet. I have to get up but cannot move. I hope the cold air on my body will shock my system into movement. My mind drifts to what exactly is happening at the other end of the house. What is that damned banging? Is it someone pounding at the door because there is an emergency? Are there firemen trying to enter the house? Are deformed creatures that live in the woods behind the house attacking us? Is Mom actually sleeping through all of this? Maybe I am dreaming. These thoughts keep racing through my mind as I look at Charlie-Bear. I relax and slide down my bed to play with him while forgetting about... 

BANG!

Enough of this ridiculously twisted adaptation of some Edgar Allan Poe tale that has become my Saturday morning. I am out of bed now. I toss on yesterday's West Lib t-shirt and the khakis I have worn every day this week. I forgo my slippers after putting on my glasses and begin my determined walk toward the origins of the sound. 

BANG! BANG!

It is so much louder now. I turn the corner to see Mom standing in the kitchen. The oven is beeping its readiness, a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper resting atop is on the counter, and Mom has her back to me, lifting an unopened tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and smashing it on the edge of the counter. 

BANG!

I do not want to scare her. After all, it is Saturday morning, and she probably thinks I am still in bed sleeping. I reach out and touch her shoulder. "Mom? What in the world are you doing?"

She turns to me, holding that tube of cinnamon rolls in one hand and a butter knife in the other. There is a tiny portion of cinnamon-flecked dough emerging from a small crack she has made from her futile efforts repeatedly smashing the tube against the counter edge. Mom exchanges the butter knife with a metal magnifying glass and attempts to read the microscopic directions on the tube. We have all been there, haven't we? A life and death struggle with an impenetrable tube of cinnamon rolls on an early Saturday morning. This is the stuff 0f nightmares. 

"Mom, let me give it a try. These things are impossible to open."

She graciously hands it over, conceding defeat to a cardboard tube filled with bread dough, sugar, cinnamon, and a tiny container of frosting. As the barely visible directions state, I pull back all of the paper that wraps the tube. Mom watches intently as she offers the butter knife which I flip around precariously to the handle jutting away from me. I pin the monster torturing us onto the counter. I swear that I hear it growl angrily and even squirm as I push the hard end of the butter knife into a thread-thin crevice in the cardboard.

POP!

Once I have cracked open its hard shell, Mom and I can both see the cinnamon rolls neatly lined atop one another. Mom laughs and shakes her head in disbelief. "Thank you, honey." She takes the delicate dough, carefully removes it from the remaining cardboard tubing, then spaces all of the pieces around the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. 

I head back to my room where I find Charlie-Bear fully lounging on my bed as if it were his. I push him over a little bit to crawl back into bed. I know I shouldn't do this. I have already been up, awakened from the dead by a dear, sweet mother who only wanted to surprise me with cinnamon rolls. I just want a little more sleep.

I think she knows it has been a challenging week. These are difficult times for so many people. When the world asks so much, and we search for a sense of normal, we may find it difficult to enjoy the small things which bring us joy. As we carefully remove the outer shells we use to protect our simple treasures, we can share what is inside with those we love.

Once the excitement left my body, I think I fell asleep again. I knew it would take a good thirty minutes for Mom to finish the cinnamon rolls and whip up some scrambled eggs and ham. 



Thank you to everyone for your support for my new book Sunday Mornings with Coffee. It is available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited. I am hoping to have some author's copies before Christmas in case someone would like to have a signed one for that special person in your life. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

500 MILES


I will bet many people have a collection of songs, a collection that is the absolutely perfect mix for traveling down an Interstate Highway or an unknown country road. We all need at least one song, right? A song that embodies the escapist mentality in each of us.

I would have been about nine-years-old when I heard Jim Croce's "I Got a Name." I am positive that my younger self did not realize the tragic irony of this song released the day after Croce died in a plane crash on September 20th, 1973. 

In the song, the speaker is traveling a "winding road," one that is not an easy journey by any means. It is his journey, though. He is "like the singing bird or the croaking toad," both of whom have sounds that the world may group together as the same song, not realizing both have "a name" or a voice that is distinctively theirs.

Croce's haunting voice echoes defiantly about living a dream, one which so many people have kept hidden. He is "moving on down the highway" despite his own personal doubt and the dubious naysayers around him. He realizes that life's journey waits for no one, and he is determined to follow his dream even if he does not ultimately achieve it. At the very least, he has lived his life under his own purpose.

Feeling like only yesterday, decades ago I packed my car and moved to North Carolina in search of my dream of becoming a teacher. Times were challenging then in West Virginia, but I was tired of waiting for an opportunity. I spent those decades discovering so much about myself, the country, and the world. Interstate 95 had opened my road to meeting many fascinating people and having incredible experiences.

When I returned to Wheeling, I felt another dream calling me. I have always wanted to write. Sure, I had written here and there occasionally, but I wanted to write on a regular basis. "Moving me down the highway," I wanted more. Life was too short to continue wondering if I could or I should. I decided I would.

First came the Time and Space blog, which is still going strong for five years now. Then, I wrote my first book My Corner of the World. I never thought I would have the intestinal fortitude to labor joyously over a project for over a year. When these roads converged, I created 500 MILE PRESS. I wanted a publishing name. Why not?


For over thirty years, I have journeyed "500 miles" from Wilson, North Carolina, to Wheeling, West Virginia, and back again numerous times a year. That is what 500 MILE PRESS is: my journey. I have a new part of my journey, and "I could share it if you want me to. If you're going my way." 

I am happy to announce that my newest book Sunday Mornings with Coffee, Time and Space Retrospective will officially be released this Thursday, November 12th, 2020. You will be able to purchase the book and Kindle version exclusively on Amazon. 

This is kind of quirky, but I have added MY CORNER STORE to the webpage. You can click here or go to the menu at the top. I hope that you take some time to browse the store. Maybe one or two items will appeal to you.

I hope to see you on the highway!