The Write Time

In relative obscurity, a one manned probe winks into temporal synch with the flowing timestream of Autumn 2011. Officially the small time-travelling craft is a minor level D.A.T.E. (Delay Assessment Temporal Explorer) made with a sturdy frame suited for the task yet, completed in a hurry, lacks polish. The probe detects no bystanders upon arrival but initiates invisibility cloaking protocols to avoid any surprises.  Landing safely with other things on his mind, namely the details of his latest charge, the pilot doesn’t care.  He simply confirms date, time, and geographic location with contemporary satellites, and gives a proverbial sigh.  Compared to handling the complexities of time, place has always been simple, so of course the GPS works fine. Internal flight logs flash across the screen of his heads up display, indicated entry has indeed undershot the intended target date of late summer.  Mercifully, mission control allots a large margin for such delays.

Junior Envoy Horatio loves how his job affords essentially all the time in the world, and more important to him, a sense of contributing to something culturally significant.  Despite his small role, and the often minor status of the artists whom he investigates, he likens his work to that of the Film Foundation reclaiming classics for new audiences. With a thoughtful eye, he opens the dossier for this latest excursion, and skims the files: talented author struggles in early stages of blogging; prone to delays and increasingly aware of these tendencies; diverse interests and easily sidetracked online, such as stumbling upon a review of procrastination research by psychologists Chu and Choi; fan of time travel stories, including the Doctor Who tv series famous for episodes like “Vincent and the Doctor,” a meeting with artist Vincent Van Gogh; subject under review for slow, inconsistent progress towards notable science fiction tale “The Active Procrasti” which is eventually cited among inspirations of several founders in their genesis of the PRINT Project (Procrasti Reclamation Initiative) … All irrelevant if the candidate otherwise fails to qualify for help. Enough dallying, on with the scan of the premises!

Last year’s addition of a walkway lays across the yard, well intended yet ill managed.  Few visitors ever use it.  For now, as recent trick-or-treaters found, each tile is more a stumbling stone.  Unseen from the street, bags of leveling sand intended for this purpose instead line the base of a wall in the garage, awaiting proper placement, best achieved in warmer weather.  The stack is easily avoided when parking, though passengers must exit the vehicle first as no room remains for opening a second door.  A constant oil stain mars an area of the cement floor reserved for the aging, used, family car.  Just beyond this void stands the components of a wheel barrel, half assembled, with some bolts slightly rusted over the last year.  A rake hangs with other implements next to this.  Together these might be useful if the leaves in the backyard will ever be removed.  Then again, so could the lawn mower’s collection bag, which lays unattached on the long shelf built across the far wall.   A marvelous folding aluminum ladder rests against that shelf too, still in its cardboard packaging,  undoubtedly meant for cleaning more of those leaves from the gutters outside before the approaching winter.

Inside, the home proper seems quite different, at least, at first glance.  Two playful, roaming kittens look well cared for and equally well cleaned after. Food fills the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer and bakers rack.  Streak-free tv screen, neatly wound video game cords, pristine counters, brilliant floors and vacuumed carpets all attest to the Lady of the House.  As do the cute knickknacks, empty sink, folded laundry, and indeed every carefully placed item.  Proper clothes and diversions are clearly provided for the young men living in the smaller two bedrooms . Yet more tell-tale signs of  unfinished business show under closer inspection.  The walls are bare, shelves and decorations yet unhung.  Truth be told, they await a promised coat of paint.  Tape holds the Lazy Susan turntable against prying paws in the kitchen.  The family room has a latch-hook rug loom with pointy screw tips similarly cat-proofed.  Some lopsided, adjustable shelves on a beautiful oak bookshelf  look oddly as if someone has left off during the reconfiguration for the real heights of its latest contents.  Indeed, the home library has a sizeable collection of well read, slightly dog-eared manuals and handbooks for a roleplaying game which, by the haphazard records in the accompanying notebook, is as yet unplayed.  The pull out keyboard on a matching scrolltop computer desk is missing its fold up cover.  Software update records on the computer seem nearly random. A variety of games, that range from the complex Guild Wars (a Competitive/Cooperative Online Role Playing Game) to simple pursuits like flash versions of classic board games,  also get used sporadically. Checking emails and online access of gradebooks for the school age child looks hit and miss as well.  The down time since the last blog entry, Hiatus, has been far too long and unproductive.

He stops the scans at this point and saves the recording with his notes. Clearly a man with undeniable Procrasti traits lives here.  These finding are enough to confirm his eligibility for the program.  This paves the way for authorization of the official interaction and likely offer of unique help in the form of time travel sequestering sessions designed to allow this author extra time to make things right. So now, feeling rather like one of the ghosts from Charles Dickens’ classic  “A Christmas Carol,” he prepares to leave his charge to the next, higher ranking envoy.  As the array of lights on the dash begin to blink, and Junior Envoy Horatio feels the tug of the cockpit shrink and expand on exit, the philanthropic pilot whispers, “Good luck, Stoney.”


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Life is a gradual series of events we generally consider unrelated until in hindsight we have time to notice connections.  Habits, routines, relationships …all grow in a positive fashion with time well spent, and all are equally strained when the balance in our life shifts.  Lately I have been away from home, family and my writing due to a radical change in my available time.  My day job is experiencing a short-term influx of extra work, and I am reaping the benefit in overtime, to the tune of basically double shifts for a few weeks including nearly unheard of weekends.  We have just slowed for a slight lull and expect to gear up full throttle again soon.  I am fortunate this pause coincides with my wife’s schedule, we are off together for both days this weekend. So, for now I am catching up on bills, sleep and quality time before the next wave hits.  In the grand scheme it is a brief intermission, not a Sabbatical from my writing, and I do hope to return soon.  Thank you for reading, pray we make the most of this season …and don’t adjust that dial, as Arnold says, “I’ll be back.”

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Proceed with caution

 Like most people, I do not remember beginning to walk, but Mom recounts how I did well – until I fell one time too many and decided not to try again for months.  We moved around according to where the military stationed Dad, and Mom was always there.  I was a happy child, soon blessed with a younger sister/playmate, and we knew they both loved us.  When I was about five years old Dad exited the service and they  returned to Indiana.   A few years later my parents divorced and I withdrew somewhat to the safety of my own thoughts.  With time I gained two more sisters, a brother, and a second mother.   I was a bit clumsy throughout my school years, at times ridiculed, and kept mostly to myself.   This is surely an over simplification,  but suffice to say I am just naturally wary.  Sometimes, like Indiana Jones, even when facing dangers on the fly, one should proceed with caution.

Flash forward, now married and raising two boys, I feel I’m finding my place in this world. I am enjoying a day with my family on the boardwalk at an amusement park for my annual company picnic,  left spare shoes in the car, and feel reluctant to make a quick exchange.  I am not concerned, and rather content to wear relaxing sandals that, if I bothered to give a passing thought, would consider to have a rugged appearance, great traction, and with velcro straps across and behind the ankle, secure enough for general use. These odd details all converge into one significant personal event when I find myself trailing my son halfway through a high ropes course.  It had looked so inviting from below, where Joan and James both stand watching and impatiently waiting for us to finish. 

What a blur! Being fitted with a harness, inserting the end of the safety strap into the over head rail, and pulling it along with me through the first few obstacles while staying just far enough behind Devin to let him enjoy a taste of independence – until I step on the next cable and feel it bend beneath my weight.  I retract my foot to the middle platform as the world comes into sharp focus, and mentally note how my feet moving ever so slightly in my sandals suddenly matters.  Granted, from an intellectual standpoint I am fully aware “you can’t fall”, and indeed soon hear staff try to coax a young man with those exact words. But neither do I want to risk literally sliding off course to dangle from my tether like a side of beef until dragged away. So I pause to collect my wits and pull my rigging to the side, allowing other people to pass. 

Time proceeds and I am unaware how long I stand there examining the situation like some Mensa puzzle.  I cannot remove the offending footwear or reverse direction without violating the rules of the park, or worse, lose face with my boy already ahead of me.  Which leaves me staring at the design of the two paths built between my platform and the next.  One option is the cable that wiggled beneath my weight.  A series of cords suspended in sequence across the gap offers hand holds but, short of swinging Tarzan style, I doubt the required hand over hand motion would do much to remedy the poor combination of slack in my sandals and the unexpected instability of the “tightrope”.  The other option is a beam, only a few inches wide, which appears more sturdy but void of any overhead support.  I might scuttle across, were it not tilted at an angle that would again call into question my choice of footwear.

 The point of this excursion was to enjoy an adventure with my son, and now it all seems a very frustrating impasse of my own shortcomings…  I picture my father, who looks great in a leather jacket and a fedora, and wonder what he might do.   Honestly I think he would have sense enough to stay on the ground or make clever use of some gadget. Next I imagine a bull whip, and remember sadly that is a skill I never picked up.  Anyway, this is no conundrum to ponder at leisure!  A line of people are bottling up behind me.  I know that an immediate, real world solution must exist, but I am somehow over looking it.

Then God smiles upon me with His grace.  Using the foolish things to confound the wise, He sends a child across in front of me.  She is barely tall enough to qualify for these obstacles, and in my eyes she looks like a preschooler.  She sweeps over the beam so fast I nearly miss the secret of how she manages differently than all the adults I have seen.  The tether everyone drags along the track with them is undoubtedly able to support a person’s weight in an emergency.  What I have not yet considered is the capacity to use it purposefully as a tool for crossing!  As the bulb goes off in my head I chuckle inside, thank the Lord for His merciful insights, and opt for crossing the beam. I grasp my tether with both hands the way that child displayed.  Safely supporting my weight in what should have been the most obvious fashion, I clutch all the reinforcement I need and easily slide myself along the upturned corner of the board with my feet.  I quickly reach the other side.  Keeping this new-found discovery in mind, I make short work of the remaining rope course and join my awaiting family at the bottom.  We look forward to these family outings and are familiar with the park, but this new addition will stick in my mind.

 I highly recommend the attraction, using the trick I learned, and  just tell everyone they should closely read the note on safe footwear:    (  )

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Intentions Are Good

As I once encouraged another aspiring writer, “gaze upon the world without and the imagined within, knowing full well none ever can share it all (yet surely some must try else we become little more than the beasts that roam this land with us) and ask who could ever aspire to more than the noble task of lending words to these?” For me this blog is a commitment to pursue my deep desires and apply my talents to a greater good, yet, I also feel sorely out of general practice, and so, plan to proceed with caution.  Some who know me well may realize those words speak volumes.  For everyone else, I think perhaps it is time to further reveal more of my own character… 

Blogging is a new experience for me.  Thus far I have only tinkered with writing styles, as intended, and not divulged much of myself to the casual reader.  Even so, I understand the most engaging authors [consider Stan Lee  or  J.K. Rowling] are generally willing to invest much of themselves to allow, and even encourage, some audience participation. Granted, I admit this observation may merely echo countless editorial discussions taken to heart from the annals of comic books and cinema that I so love, which is surely no coincidence.  As a youth I had an ever advancing love of reading as imaginative escape and mental stimulation.  Whenever near television or movies it was much the same, for time and again I seemed to fall out of  this world and into the screen.  I dreamed of writing tales of my own, creating worlds and populating them with personalities that would securely hold the interests of future generations of fans like me.  Life happened and somehow along the way I have yet to write those stories. Friends and loved ones have encouraged me to take up pen or keyboard again and so I am here in self guided study, fanning embers of those dreams in hope that eventually I may write professionally.  

There are many ways to describe a person, even myself, and in modern times that may include brief snips of the music they enjoy. To new readers I offer fair warning that my thoughts, and hence the words and styles soon to fill my blog, may often meander like the genres and albums of the band  They Might Be Giants … but take heart, for They are still going strong after many years … and I find a few of their lyrics quite relevant here.

 The song Dead has mixed images, but these words succinctly describe the risks of  not living:

“Now it’s over, I’m dead and I haven’t
Done anything that I want
Or, I’m still alive and there’s nothing I want to do –
I will never say the word
“Procrastinate” again; I’ll never
See myself in the mirror with my eyes closed…”

 The author in me feels called to a meaningful purpose I hope to pursue and still meet the everyday responsibilities of a modern man –  honor God in my thoughts and with my deeds;  remain open to the continued joys and ever-evolving challenges of  parenthood; be available to bring my wife home from work nights and, when our schedules coincide, hope to be as good a companion to her as she has been to me in our many years of marriage; hold a mundane day job to help fulfill our financial obligations; stand beside my neighbors and sternly face the sometimes dull details of home ownership and lawn care;  and maintain my body with a basic routine for meals, showers, sleep, and maybe, even occasional exercise.   The odd free moments of my nights and weekends are usually filled with simple pursuits, which I may cover in detail some night, but, lately I have chosen to forego other beloved pastimes and ongoing projects in favor of advancing this creative writing exercise. 

The song Older emphasizes the passage of time I begin to feel:

 “You’re older than you’ve ever been and now you’re even older
And now you’re older still
Is marching on
And time
Is still marching on
This day will soon be at an end and now it’s even sooner…”

Life’s journey has already taken me a long while over a winding road, but I feel I have not yet traveled far from where I started.  I would never trade my family for any riches, and am grateful for our home and the job that helps me support them, but I believe there remains more for me to achieve.  Indeed, anyone who enjoys reading, writing, and imagining so much must feel so for a reason!  Inside it seems my time is just beginning yet eternity waits just around the corner…. I hold tight to dreams of sharing with the world and realize full well that I have only so much time to do it.

Whistling In the Dark is another whimsical song from They Might Be Giants, and for those who still wonder what I am going on about, please consider this catchy refrain:

“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you
Be what you’re like
Be like yourself
And so I’m having a wonderful time
But I’d rather be whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
There’s only one thing that I like
And that is whistling in the dark”

Sometimes I simply find myself happiest when I make time to write.  The pairing of text to thoughts, emotions and imagination brings part of me alive, and if I write things worth reading, then my gifts are not wasted in this life.  I hope in writing to stay true to who I am created to be, and wish to thank those who look at my ramblings while I practice my craft.  This summer was eventful, with much I’d like to share before it escapes me. Obviously intentions are good but results are better, so I have a few ideas in the works and more posts should follow soon.  Learning the editorial side of this blogging, and so I’ve decided to include some Links too.

Related articles

(Stan Lee interview on writing) 

(Author J K Rowling official site)

(They Might Be Giants fan site “This Might Be A Wiki”)

(blog: Pull Over! I Must Write!

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Show me, Mower

Personification is a process of imbuing lifelike characteristics upon inanimate objects, or something like that… all seemed a bit fuzzy, neither mechanical, nor orderly.  These humans are known to be our makers and yet, as my unattached collection bag attests, this individual evidently knew little about my kind. Still, he seemed to possess intelligence as he clasped my handle and spoke words of power, “Show me, Mower!” sending sensory perception, so foreign to me, flooding over my surface as some sort of awakening took place … imagery filled my new-found consciousness as this strange being tried to reassure me with thoughts of a race, just as alien to him, known for longevity, prosperity, angular appearances, and most applicable here, a technique of thought transfer facilitated by touch.  No matter how reportedly logical the race in question, nor however great some of their representatives have become in the minds of these humans, this exchange seemed disturbingly irrelevant to me as a mower – until it occurred to me that for this gift of awareness the man simply wanted insight in return, on the subject of lawn care, for which we mowers are engineered.  Around us I now perceived the reason for my existence, “Raison d’être” came the words tumbling from his mind, and I wondered how much effort these creatures must waste on communication to spend so little time on the upkeep of their environment, for the area was overrun with foliage. He seemed to sense that my consent to continued endurance of this bizarre mental ordeal was wholly subject to engaging my underlying drive to combat the encroaching growth of vegetation. In unspoken agreement, the man pulled my starter cord, accompanied by another annoying flash of insight, this time a vision of a furry, four-legged anatomy reacting adversely to the manipulating of an appendage called a tail. Relieved to find this was not overly discomforting, we began. My blades sprang to life, yet I found myself reliant upon his push, and inside I wished my maker had deemed me worthy of self-propulsion as some other models. Together we cleared the beginnings of a path through this place he referred to as the back yard.  Then, as he pulled an object, which he deemed a cell phone,  from his pocket, we paused for him to capture images of our progress. The concepts of clothing, mobile communications, digital photography and chronicling one’s day – all novel to me – were still just irritating distractions from the grass around us. This human considered it all very important though, claiming significance for the height of the grass towering beside me, declaring our efforts against it were all the more worth recounting later to his fellows, and finally continued pushing me along. With him back on track, we quickly made short work of clearing the area. I experienced only slight interruptions while he dragged loose branches away and dodged a few strawberries, again recording for posterity.  The wood was beyond the scope of my design, so I conceded the need for its removal, and the berries were an oddity he chose to leave to feed other creatures he referred to as rabbits and squirrels. When we finished, the ground showed standard lines of demarkation from the path we had taken.  I had done my best to trim the grass to tolerable levels and, still awaiting attachment of my collection bag, was forced to mulch the greenery as we went.  I admit I was unable to mow some along the fence, but I glimpsed thoughts of a companion creation similar to myself, named weed eater in the human’s mind, that would be tasked with finishing those edges. In the corner, near his neighbors, still stood plants behind a barricade also beyond my reach.  It seems those weeds would need pulled by hand if they proved too much for the other machine too.  The day was hot, and the time had come for this man to stop.  Soon we would tackle another portion designated the front yard, hopefully without the added burden of this cumbersome altered existence.  Mowers, in my opinion, were never meant to think… but as my benefactor returned me to the shed he expressed his gratitude with the promise of many a gasoline refueling this season. He seemed so delighted, filled with thoughts about sharing the details of our day, and as his fingers slid off, my last insights were about a form of communication  he referred to as blogging, and the identity of the human, who is called Stoney.


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Nothing criminal, just a beginning

Quick online search and registration, soon typing an impromptu blog entry …really nothing premeditated. (Some legal terms seem to pop up in the strangest places!)  Was an avid reader in my youth, more sci-fi and fantasy than anything, though still recall some mysteries like Encyclopedia Brown, even Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  These days find me more inclined to watch television, including the occasional CSI episode with Joan.   Last summer we were blessed with a home within our price range and soon added a computer with internet access …the means with which to reach out.  Since then, social media has connected me with family, friends, fellow high school alumni, even folks from my early childhood …their encouraging remarks soon providing good motive for a would be writer. Now the odd timing of a poker night, sleepover elsewhere, and wife’s weekend to work have left me with the house to myself awhile tonight …opportunity at last. For those vaguely familiar with law, we’ve just seen means, motive and opportunity …often considered three key elements of a crime. What’s up with Stoney? Glad the act of blogging is nothing criminal, just a beginning for the writer inside me.  Hope to connect and entertain, look forward to your readership …and thanks, Glenda, for the blog’s title!


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