Daily Debris

We live in a small brick bungalow, built in 1903.  The main part of the house consists of a kitchen and a living room.  Although the kitchen is small, there is room for a table that rests comfortably by windows overlooking our yard.  It’s where I do most of my writing and thinking.  It’s where we eat, where we congregate, where we sit and reassure our little dogs that yes, we’re home for now and you’ll get some playful attention.  One of our dogs likes to rest at my feet under the table when I’m sitting there for stretches of time. I cherish this peaceful feeling that ensues from his gentle snores all snuggled up underneath the kitchen table.

When we recently renovated our bathroom, the kitchen table became a collecting place strewn with papers, plans, to-do lists, manuals, tools, screws, and bandaids. There were even a few bottles of Advil and aspirin to alleviate some aches and pains (both physical and mental).  As the renovation s-l-o-w-l-y drew to a close, we vowed that the kitchen table would be reborn: classic and clean from the renovation ruckus that kept it looking less like a kitchen table and more like a workbench.

The kitchen table was cleaned off, the placemats washed, and set up to look, well, like a kitchen table should look, I suppose.

It lasted one day.  Maybe less.

The table came back to life with work related projects, bills, new to-do lists, receipts, reminders, dishes waiting to be put away, car keys, gloves, cookie crumbsetcetera. What I call the “daily debris” of our lives.

There are disadvantages to a messy kitchen table. If an unwelcome visitor were to make his way into our home on any given day, he’d be able to infer, quite easily, what is going on in our lives. Hi there, unwelcome guest, welcome.  Have a seat and you can find out all you need to know about us.  We’ve “set” the table for you.  When we don’t keep on top of what is on top of the kitchen table, piles grow. The thing I think I left here, was really there–mixed between two stacks of something or moved unintentionally by one of us; causing an anxiety-filled quest to find what’s missing.  It can become a game of looking for a needle in the haystack and the haystack is only an arm-span wide.

This is when we know it’s time to clean up the kitchen table (again) and set it up to look, well, like a kitchen table should look, I suppose.

I often dream that someday I’ll have my own little studio, a workspace that will become a cozy getaway to have my thinking and my work in an organized mess. It will be lined with bookshelves stacked full of books and journals, a comfy reading chair, sun-filled windows, a couch to nap and dream, and a little counter to drink coffee (and eat cookies).

A place without a kitchen table to make me feel guilty about how a kitchen table should look, I suppose.

sol

 

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So this happened today…

I’m standing in front of a case of cookies at a new little neighborhood bakery. Why are these cookies calling my name?  I wonder.  I bend forward, without a second thought, and whisper to them. Yes, I whisper to the cookies. “Oh you little shortbread cookies, I think you need to have someone take you outta here, and it might as well be me!”  

“Can I help you?” a man behind the bakery counter asks. (Where did he come from? Did he hear me whispering to his cookies?)  Am I really forty five years old and whispering to cookies?

I swallow hard, and my face turns redder than the strawberry on top of the cake adjacent to my cookies.  “Um, no, yes, well, I think I’ll take a dozen of those little shortbread cookies.  The chocolate chip ones.” The bakery man gives me a side-eye and fills my order. “Ready to ring up?” he asks, walking towards the other end of the counter towards the register. But I stay stuck at the case.  I don’t know why.  I suddenly sense the bakery man is getting uncomfortable and doesn’t know what to say.  I don’t either.  But I’m paralyzed by the decision I just made.  I wonder if I should have gotten the shortbread ones with blueberries. I’m a self-concious mess. I’ve got a cookie problem.  I start thinking of how I get teased at home, in a playful way, of having food issues. I still stand there. I’m lost in thought, but craving the cookies.

The bakery man makes his way back over and breaks this awkward silence.  “Can I get you something else? Want to try a sample?” This man now speaks my language. Samples.  We are now connected.  He and I.  Baker and cookie consumer.

“I’ll try one of the little blueberry ones.  Are they as good as the chocolate chip?”  

“I’m a fan of the blueberry, let me give you one to try. And they like being whispered to as well.”  

I’m now officially dying.

“Thank you.  I best ring up now and get going.”  

I walk outside and stuff the little blueberry shortbread cookie in my mouth.  It’s good, but I can’t wait to try the chocolate chip ones.  I get in my car, drive two blocks away and pull over.  I eat ten.  Ten.  I think I now know why I get teased about having food issues. It’s like when you realize your fly is down in public.  You just want to hide.

It was my first date with that bakery and it went bad, real bad.

I’m the cookie whisperer.

 

Your Dog Does What?

Let’s set the scene.

It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard.   It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard AND it’s the last day of school before spring break. It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard, the last day of school before spring break, AND it’s Friday morning in a first grade writing workshop.

Six and seven year olds sit in a circle swapping stories like flies buzzing around a juicy watermelon in the late summer sun.  Stories that can only come from super-sized imaginations and build on giggle after knee-slapping giggle.  Storytellers who try to one-up the last storyteller with a little more first grade edge, the kind of “peek- out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye-to-see-if-your-teacher-will-frown-at-your-choice-of-words” edge. The kind of first-grade-funny that is truly a brand of it’s own to bottle up and keep in old wooden trunks for sadder days.  Genuine and true first-grade-funny.  

As the stories slip off their tongues faster than the snow melts outside, a little boy, whose turn is last, with his t-shirt on backwards and pants riding high, belts out:

“My dog leaks pee.”  

Silence.

Giggles.

Eyes glancing to and fro: teacher-storyteller-teacher-storyteller.

“Your dog does what?” chuckles Jimmy, from across the room.

Giggles.

Slaps on the knees.

A few brave actors even start to reenact what the little storyteller just said!

More giggles. This is not done. Yet.

Jimmy, clearly on par to be the captain of the High School football team in 11 years, shushes his teammates with his arms and with a glimmer in his eyes repeats:

“Wait, your dog does what?”

Eyes return fast to the storyteller with the backwards t-shirt and pants riding high.

Muffled giggles are caught in little first grade hands while big wide eyes focus on the boy to see if he’ll say it again.

And he doesn’t disappoint:

“My dog leaks pee.  We just found out last night.  She leaks pee ALL OVER THE HOUSE.  And my mom ain’t happy ’bout it.”

Giggles. Guffaws.  First-grade-funny.

It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard.   It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard AND it’s the last day of school before spring break. It’s Friday morning after two snow days from an early spring Colorado blizzard, the last day of school before spring break, AND it’s Friday morning in a first grade writing workshop.

This is how writers are born.

Waiting

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A Bench In Denver’s Union Station

This fictional slice was conceived after a visit to Denver’s Iconic Union Train Station.  I observed a woman as she sat on a bench, lost in thought.  I imagined what this woman might be thinking while waiting for her lover to arrive, if  indeed that was who she was waiting for.  So many unknowns, and I am attempting to create that feeling here for my readers.  I imagine this will be revised with time, but I wanted to get some initial thoughts down.  -Keith

She sat there.  Just waiting.  The echoes in the train station oddly gave her comfort as time moved so slowly.  Waiting.  Moments of silence as the waning echoes gave her anxiety, but not for long.  What would it be like to see him again after all these years? What had become of him, and had time treated him well?  And why, really, was she here again, waiting?

The thoughts spiraled through time and spiraled through the whistles of the trains.

Many lovers have been in this same position, surely this same bench, and perhaps a similar predicament.  Yet actually living this moment brought a different perspective.  If only the tiles on the shiny waxed floor could speak.  What advice would they give her?  Would they take her to be a fool?

It had been ten long years since Marlene had said goodbye to Charles, Charlie as she liked to call him.  Ten years since she felt that empty space consume her and take so long to ignore.  She hadn’t forgotten his last facial expression as he promised her the moon and stars and called their love real.

Another train whistle.

Another stroll around the desolate station. Waiting. Wondering. Weary.

Back to the bench.  How she craved the echoes now.

sol

Touchless Faucets-A Review

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We live in an age that’s all about efficiency and convenience.  Just flip on the television and the commercials pitch products that not only get things done, they get them done quickly and reliably.  There’s an app for that and an app for this.  Why walk to the lightswitch to turn on your lights when you can quickly and conveniently do it from your phone, while driving, so that everything is lit up when you arrive home?   What’s next?  An app that gives your spouse a kiss without you having to do so?

Now, I get it.  Some of these conveniences are not only a sign of the times, but actually can improve the quality of our lives. Give us more time to spend on what really matters.  However, there’s one modern convenience that’s been around for a while and just plain needs to go.  It’s the touchless faucet.

Every time I’m at a sink in a bathroom with a touchless faucet, one of two things happens: it either doesn’t come on, or it comes on and then goes off. On. Off.  On a second, off a second.  Wave. Cuss. On. Off.  Steady stream?  Yes, here it comes.  Nope.  Off.  Are you starting to sense the frustration? Are you nodding, thinking, “Yes, that happens to me ALL THE TIME!”  How about when you have your hands all lathered up with soap and stick them under the degenerate piece of metal and nothing comes out?  Do you ever find yourself waving, like a pageant queen, only to pull your hands out and then the damn thing turns on?  Then you stick them under again and off it goes? Then on, then off?  See my point?

Maybe I just visit all the wrong bathrooms with faulty touchless faucets.  Maybe the technology has improved. Maybe. But then up comes another issue.  Without the ability to control the water temperature, the water is either too hot or it is too cold.  Too hot or too cold.  You can’t control it, people!  And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we like control.  Heck, Janet Jackson even wrote a whole song about control! So in this scenario, it goes like this:  Ouch that’s mother f#*@!ing hot…on…off…on a second…off…steady stream…here it comes…almost got all the soap rinsed…off…on…cold…F#@! 

And let’s not pretend you don’t cuss, even if it’s silently to yourself.

(Let’s pause to take a break.  Deep breath in, out, in, out.)

I get why the creators of the touchless faucet created the touchless faucet.  It’s sanitary–who wants all that nasty bathroom bacteria?   It saves water.  It helps kids to not leave the water running.  And the list goes on and on and on.  (Too bad the faucet doesn’t stay on.)

Let’s rethink the touchless faucet.  Let’s go back to the golden days when we had to turn on the water, (yes- even if that movement doesn’t count as a step on your Fit Bit), select your temperature, and get the job done.  Right. The first time.

You can still wave like a pageant queen if you want to, but do it with clean hands…and a smile.

sol

 

Sophie

Her spaghetti-like hair shot into the sky as white whispy clouds flew by. With every pump of her miles of legs, she wondered if she was one inch closer to heaven. Her  wrinkled dress curtained the streaks of light rushing between her and the little boy twisting carelessly in the neighboring swing.  Just yesterday, her melancholy had been derailed as she listened to the soft-spoken words the minister had preached at Sunday services. That heaven was a beautiful place and if people just prayed their prayers every night, rest assured they’d be there someday. Up in heaven.  That had to be just beyond the sky that she gulped with every push and pump higher. She wondered if she was already there; swallowing the cool air as her Mama made a snack of blueberry jam on biscuits nearby.

The swing tormented Sophie’s giggles with it’s rusty-chained litany of sharp squeaks; up and down, back and forth with every pump. Higher and higher she went, gulping, swallowing, squealing-as if to dare her mother (watching out of the corner of her eye) to look over and call her down. “You’re going too high, Sophie! Slow down now!”

Then it happened. She noticed the neighboring swing was suddenly empty, wiggling in the breeze, yearning for another child to take hold of it’s smooth chain and bring it to life since the little boy, her younger brother, fool of a child, had untangled himself and ran to get his share of the temptatious snack.

Was heaven this feeling of flight in the sky–or was it the taste of her Mama’s fresh baked biscuits with blueberry jam?  She had to find out—and before those dirty and scratched up legs could stop pumping, off Sophie jumped- to her mother’s dismay and fright-to taste that biscuit and decide if it just might be heaven, too.