My life in Colombia

Welcome to the blog of Chip Wiegand

Waiting No Longer

Sitting here waiting, waiting for?
A message in a bottle?
To press harder on the throttle?

Sitting here waiting, waiting for?
A wish from a falling star?
A ride to a better place in a boxcar?

Sitting here waiting, waiting no longer,
For a message in a bottle,
For a wish upon a falling star.

Courage, my heart, it's time to be strong,
Brace yourself, don't fear being wrong,
You know it's with her you belong.

Say the words, soft and gentle,
To my life and my heart, you have been instrumental,
Being with you is transcendental.

Your Friend

Shadows are gone, disappered from sight
by the growing of the night

What should I do? Where should I go?
These things, how can I know?

Coconuts, papayas, mongoes, and bananas
They'll never abandon us.

As those and the wind and the rain will never end
I will always be your loving friend.

Hope - A new poem

Hope

by Chip Wiegand

Now our lives, in a bubble
And it's time to redouble
This is what we've been brought to
Now many people feeling blue

Now we're hiding behind masks
And what has happened? she asks
It's not like we had chosen
Now to live our lives all closed in

Now we can not see the cause
And its gripped us in its claws
Microscopic and vicious
Now menacing and malicious

Now what we see is a preview
What will life look like for you?
A new way is just beginning
Now we must keep on winning

Now's the time to fight the fight
And beat this thing into the night
We will come through all this anew
Now we'll make it together, me and you

A Short Story - Logan's Meadow

He had gone to the university in the city. Cities - he has no love for cities. The tall buildings block the sunlight from the little bit of actual earth left in them. They reflect the sunlight, intensifying it, making everything hotter. The concrete cooks all day long, then bakes the city all through the night. Just about every inch of earth is covered with concrete which just forces any rain water to flood the streets. Cities…not his favorite place to be.

Brooklyn's City

Brooklyn, a pretty woman who lives alone in the city, was born in the city, and has never left the city. All she knows is the city she calls home. The smells, the sites, the tastes, are the only smells, sites, and tastes she knows. If the city is polluted she doesn't smell it. If the city is no more than canyons of buildings, one after another, she doesn't notice it. If the tastes are of concrete and metal, it's all the same to her. Her life is in the city, she doesn't even know what's outside of it.

She often went to the park, with it's spotty grass, well, more weeds than grass, and few flowers and trees, and thinks she's in heaven. She would sit on a bench and watch people walk by, busy people, talking people, excited people, lonely people. She imagined what might be going on in their lives. That woman, hmm, maybe she broke up with her boyfriend of 5 years, she has a kind of sad look, but also, the way she is talking to the man she is with right now…I think they are a new couple. Those old people over there…they're talking about what to do with the bank accounts when they pass on in the not-too-distant future…should we give the money to the grandkids? Or to charity? Or to the cat?

There was a woman walking along the path and she was wearing some strange kind of clothes, what is that? She wondered. The woman she was watching was wearing grey overalls and boots. She appeared to have just come from a farm. Brooklyn looked in wonder, and watched her as she approached the bench.

"Can I sit down here?" the woman asked.

"Of course!" Brooklyn was excited by this encounter, a chance to talk to someone dressed in something she's never seen actually worn in the city before.

"My name is Brooklyn," she smiled and reached out her hand, "but you can call me Brook".

"Okay, Hi Brook, my name's Savannah," and they shook hands.

"Wow!" Brooklyn was looking Savannah up and down, admiring the unusual clothes.

"Hehe, what is it?" Savannah asked.

"I've never seen clothes like those before, well not here in the city. They're, hmm, different. Must be difficult to manage when you have to use the bathroom." Brooklyn giggled a little.

"Huh? Well, yeah, I suppose. But these are the normal daily clothes I wear. I live on a farm."

"A farm? Where? There's no farms in the city."

"No, silly, not in the city. Outside the city. There are many farms."

"Really? I've never been outside the city."

"You should come visit me at my farm, I think you'd love it."

"Wow! I don't know about that, I've never left the city. What's outside the city? Farms? Animals? Sounds scary."

"Trust me, there's nothing to be scared about. It's beautiful.

"But, this park is beautiful! There are trees and flowers and birds here. There's even a couple squirrels in the trees."

"Oh, you do need to get out, darling, because this park is nothing compared to what's outside the city."

They exchanged numbers and promised to get together again. And the small talk continued for a few minutes longer before Savannah would leave to finish her chores in the city.

The idea of leaving the city, of going to a farm outside the city, was a little unnerving to Brooklyn. She never really liked surprises. She grew up in a family where her older brothers, and even her father, would do all sorts of things to her as "surprises" and she never liked any of it. Sometimes they hurt her. And her mother did nothing to stop any of it. Her mother was completely controlled by her father, the man had complete and full control over all of the family and everything they did. So now, grown up, she doesn't like surprises. But she was also just enough curious to want to go with this new friend to a farm outside the city. But, could she actually get up the nerve to do such a thing?

Outside the City

Savannah visits the city once or twice a month to pick up supplies for the farm. Since meeting Brooklyn the two have been getting together for lunches when she was in town.

"Brooklyn, do you have any plans for next weekend?" Savannah asked, knowing about Brooklyn's insecurity about going outside the city.

"No, I haven't planned anything, yet, why?"

"I'd like you to come out to the farm with me. I have to come back here next weekend to pick up a crate with a generator in it, it's quite large, it's for the farm. Anyway, I want you to see the farm and the countryside outside the city."

"Oh, wow, that sounds wonderful! But, you know, I'll have to think about it." She couldn't get up the nerve to simply say Yes.

"Oh, come on, girl! It'll be fun! You'll see, it'll be a girls weekend. And you can finally meet my brother and little sister. They'd love to meet you, too."

"Have you told them about me?"

"Of course, silly. They want to meet you, so please say yes."

"Oh, my goodness, this is scarey, but, okay, if you promise me there'll be no surprises, no wild animals, nobody with guns, none of that stuff I've seen in the movies."

"Oh my god, you're are so much in need of this weekend away!"

The day finally came - Brooklyn was going to the farm! She was a little nervous, a little afraid of what might be out there in that land she has never seen. That land outside the city. What will it look like? Will it be like the pictures? Will the animals be friendly? What about the people? Do they all wear those overalls things? They're not the best looking clothes, she thought.

Savannah drove her old farm truck, a sturdy old pickup, somewhat beaten with not a single straight panel on it, a cracked windshield, and one of the door windows missing. But it was mechanically perfect and it was the perfect farm truck - oh, did it get scratched? Who cares? The back of the truck was loaded with boxes of stuff she had bought during her visit to the city, and one crated generator.

Brooklyn looked at the truck and asked, "we're going in that?"

"Of course! It works perfectly!" Savannah shouted back over the noise from the city traffic passing by, and it might have been a little bit of an overstatement. "Get in! You're going to have the time of your life!" And that was definitely an understatement.

Nervously Brooklyn opened the door, with one finger and thumb because of the dirt, looked at the dirty seat, then closed the door, with her still outside.

Savannah laughed, "what's the matter? Afraid of a little dirt?"

"A little dirt? You call that a little dirt? I've never seen so much dirt in one place outside of the park," Brooklyn replied while peering in through the opening where a window should have been. She shook her head, opened the door again, brushed some of the dirt off the seat, and slid into the cab of the old truck, trying to not touch anything.

"Girl, you're crazy! It's just a little dirt, wait till you get out on the farm! You'll see what dirt is!"

"Oh, great, thanks. Did I wear the right clothes?"

"Yes, those'll do."

The drive was bumpy, the truck's engine might have been perfect but the shocks, well, not so much. They slowly made their way through the city traffic with lots of stares, glares, and generally unapproving looks from other drivers. Every pot hole resulted in a puff of dirt flying off the truck. Savannah just smiled and drove, even waved to some of the worst of them.

"Look up there, you see that sign? That is the city limits, I've never been past that sign."

"Really? Seriously? Never?" asked Savannah, surprised that such a thing could actually be true.

"Yeah. I've never had any reason to go out there. And I don't have a car. My family doesn't have a car."

"No car? How do you go anywhere? Like shopping?"

"Everything is close enough to walk or use taxi's or buses. A car isn't necessary. And usually it's faster to walk anyway."

"Wow! That's weird! I can't imagine not having my truck to get around in, especially on the farm."

The drive went on for a couple hours. Brooklyn spent the whole time amazed at the sights of the "country" outside the city. She was a non-stop question machine - what's that? Oh, look at that, what is it? Where are we now? How far is it to the farm? What's that tall thing over there? What's the name of this place? Is this a farm? Is this a town? Non-stop questions to keep the two busy for the 3-hour drive out to the farm. Savannah loved it, Brooklyn was like a child seeing everything for the first time.

Savannah turned off the paved road onto a dirt road, and it was a soft dirt that created a huge dust cloud behind it.

"Wow! Look at the dirt! My god! Shouldn't you slow down?" Brooklyn had never seen such a sight before.

"No, of course not!" And she pressed her foot down on the gas pedal and went even faster. Brooklyn grabbed onto the dashboard with a surprised, almost shocked, look, and within a few more seconds she, too, was smiling and laughing. They sped down the long dirt road making as much dust as they could.

The Farm

Way down the road was the farmhouse, and standing on the front porch was Logan and his baby sister, Dakota. Dakota was just a spring chicken at five-and-a-half years old. She was full of life, loving and enjoying every minute of every day, exhausting Logan and his twin sister Savannah. Which is what led Logan to the meadow and the solitude for a while most nights, it was his time to recharge from the day of taking care of Dakota, Savannah, and the farm.

"Logan! Look! Savvy's coming!" Dakota called her older sister Savvy. Nobody else could, though. Only Dakota.

"How do you know it's her? All you see is dust." He was smiling because he knew how she loved to drive that old truck as fast as possible on that dirt road, creating a dust storm in the process.

"She always drives like that, Logan. It's fun!" Dakota was excited that her sister was home, she always missed her sister when she made those trips to the city for supplies. One day she would get to ride with her older sister in the old truck to the city, one day…

Finally Savannah brought the truck to a dusty storm-cloud stop in front of the farmhouse, receiving lots of smiles from Dakota and a frowning, unapproving look from her brother.

"Savannah, it's one thing to drive like that out there, where there's nothing but open land, but here in front of the house? Really?" Then he saw Brooklyn climb down out of the old truck, and said, "Oh, of course, you're showing off to your friend."

"Oh stop, Logan, I wasn't showing off. Come here, Brook. I want you to meet my brother, Logan. Logan, this is my friend, Brooklyn. She lives in the city and this is her first time outside the city. And this is our little sister, Dakota."

Logan interrupted before Savannah could even say hi, "Really? You've never been to a farm before?" he asked. He hadn't been sure if his sister was telling him the truth when she talked about Brooklyn after her previous city trips.

"No, I haven't, but more than that, this is my first time outside the city," Brooklyn replied a bit sheepishly, ashamed to admit she'd never been outside the city. "Oh, and you can call me Brook."

"Brook, you've never even been outside the city?"

"Yeah, well, that's where my life is, okay?"

"Okay, excuse me, I'm just surprised that somebody could spend their entire life in the city and never leave it."

"Well, I haven't."

Savannah took Brooklyn's hand, gave her brother a dirty look, and the two young women went into the house. Dakota ran after the girls into the house, leaving Logan out in the dust to ponder his not-so-gentlemanly introduction.

"Oh, Logan, can you unload the truck, please? I'm going to show Brook around the place."

"Already on it, sis." He drove the dirty old truck around the house and out to the barn where he could use the forklift to get the big generator crate off the back of the truck.

Brooklyn noticed the two of them looked an awful lot alike, "Are you two twins?"

"Oh, yes! I didn't tell you that, did I? Yes, we're twins, though you wouldn't know it by they way he behaves. You know, boys will be boys, even if he does look like a girl!" They both laughed and little Dakota joined in, not fully understanding them.

"Well," Brooklyn said a bit softly, "I think he's kinda cute."

"Oh my god! Seriously?"

"Yeah," Savannah said as she put her hand out for Dakota to hold as they walked out to the back of the house. "Oh my god! Look at that!" She was getting her first view of the farm proper, behind the house, in the glow of a setting sun. The site was striking, the horses, cows, chickens, roosters, with a backdrop of sky colored in oranges and yellows. She stood still and stared at it for a minute or two. Her mind was thinking she was looking at a photo in a book or on the internet, but no, it was real, and she was standing at the edge of this amazing picture.

Then Brooklyn caught site of Logan unloading the truck of the crate and boxes of stuff. She liked what she saw, and Savannah noticed that.

Brooklyn finally said, quietly, "Dakota, pinch me, am I dreaming?" Dakota pinched her on the side and it was a firm pinch, at that. "Ouch! Hehehe,"

Savannah said "Dakota, that's not proper, you shouldn't do that, never!"

"But sis, she told me to pinch her," Dakota, so innocent and unknowing, was completely at a loss of understanding.

"Oh, it's okay sweetie, don't worry. I did ask and you did what I asked."

Savannah then explained to Dakota how that expression works, as the three of them walked out into the farmyard. The chickens and roosters scattered as they walked towards them, a dog came barking from somewhere, and the horses stood and watched the three approach to pet them.

"Tomorrow we can go riding," offered Savannah.

Brooklyn looked around, then at Savannah, and asked, "riding what? And where? You have bicycles? I don't know how to ride motorcycles."

"Silly girl, no, we'll be riding these horses, out there," and she pointed out towards the horizon and the setting sun. "Oh, you've never ridden a horse before have you?"

"No, I've never even touched one before."

"Hey girls!" Logan shouted from the house, "Dinner is ready!" And he rang the farm bell to get their attention.

"Let's go, I'm starving!"

"So am I!"

Logan liked what he saw when he looked at Savannah. But she wasn't the least bit impressed by his brief and embarrassing introduction. He realized that and was hoping to make amends with the meal he cooked.

"Wow, look at all the food! You didn't cook all of this, did you?" Brooklyn couldn't believe the spread she saw in front of her.

"Actually, yes, I did cook all of this. Somebody had to, you guys were outside wandering around, talking to the animals probably. So I cooked." He was smiling and speaking very sarcastically so they all knew he was just being funny.

Savannah broke in, "He's a very good cook, actually. I prefer his cooking over mine."

Dakota said, "Yeah, he cooks gooder basquetti."

"It's spaghetti, sweetie, try to remember that, okay?"

Brooklyn finally asked a question she had on her mind but the right moment just hadn't come up yet, "Hey guys, where are your parents?"

They other looked at each other and Savannah started to tell her the story of how their parents are no longer with them, "Two years ago they had gone on a vacation, their first without us kids. First they took a cruise down the coast to Mexico. Then they flew to Costa Rica. They spent a week hiking and exploring some old ruins and had a great time. But, when they were back in the city the day before they were to fly home there were some gang bangers fighting with a group of local kids. Apparently the gang bangers came from Guatemala and were looking for one particular guy. Our parents' taxi got caught in the cross fire." Her voice trailed off.

"Oh, wow, I'm sorry, I had no idea," said Brooklyn, quietly, and she put her hand on Savannah's.

They all continued to talk, changed the subject, and had a nice meal.

Logan asked, "Will you be spending the night with us? Oh, hehe, of course you will, it's too late for a trip back to the city now." Now he was a little nervous with Brooklyn, he wanted to impress her, but also tended to trip over his own sentences.

"Yeah, I'll stay, I suppose I can sleep here on the couch, it's comfy enough."

"No you won't!" said Savannah, and she took Brooklyn by the hand to showed her to the guest room upstairs, next to Dakota's room.

"I'm going for a ride, be back in a while," Logan called out to the girls as they climbed the stairs.

"Where's he going?" asked Brooklyn.

"He goes out almost every evening, usually before sunset, but tonight he's late because of us having company, you, here. Anyway, he goes out to a meadow. He rides his favorite horse, the big black and white Paint you saw earlier. His name's Thunder."

"That sounds really nice. Where's the meadow?"

"It on the other side of that little hill, see over there?" They looked out the window and saw Logan riding off into the distance, towards the hill. "It's a beautiful meadow, full of wildflowers, a few Cottonwood trees, and quiet. It's so quiet you can hear the bees. I love it out there, but it is his private place."

"I see, I wish I had a private place like that. In the city there's nothing like that. The parks are full of people, the noise from the traffic and the dogs barking. Hear the bees? What bees? I haven't seen any bees in the city. Look out there, Savannah, what do you see? You know what I see? I see another world. A world foreign to me. And a little scary."

"I see my life, my farm. To you it's another world, a new scary world, to me, well, it's my job."

"I suppose that's why Logan has to get away for some private time," Brooklyn said softly, thoughtfully.

Out at the meadow Logan was laying in the grass, listening to Thunder's soft noises, the bees flitting from flower to flower around him, and thinking about the girl, Brooklyn. He couldn't get her off his mind, yet he knew he really needed to.

What's the problem? Why should thinking of a girl be so bad? I have a life, and needs. And I have two sisters and a farm. But, I shouldn't have to sacrifice my life should I? No. Of course not. But I can't do anything that would hurt Dakota and Savvy. They are my responsibility. They have to be first, no matter what. But I would like to have a woman to share my meadow with, to share my thoughts with. But certainly not some city girl who knows absolutely nothing about farms or farming or life on a farm. Not some girly-girl who's afraid of the natural world. That just wouldn't work.

The next morning the roosters woke them all up, the dogs were barking at the chickens, all of them running around in the hazy light of the early morning. After a big breakfast that included fresh eggs from the henhouse, ham from their own hog, and potatoes from their own garden, they all went for a ride. It was Brooklyn's first time ever riding a horse, and it showed. She was clueless. Even little Dakota on her tiny pony was better than Brooklyn. But she soon came to grips with the big animal below her and managed to somewhat control it's general direction, or more likely, it simply followed along with the other horses.

They rode for over an hour, then they stopped by a stream for a picnic lunch.

"This is such a beautiful place! My god, it's like a picture!" Brooklyn was in awe by the scene she was sitting in.

"This is the back edge of our property. It extends that way, along the stream, for a couple miles. And that way, upstream a ways, then turns in toward the hill and the meadow," and she stopped when she said meadow, Logan gave her a look like he wanted it kept secret.

"Wow, you guys have a lot of land. A lot to take care of, too, I suppose."

"Yeah, that's the tough part, but we're doing all right," said Savannah, shifting gears to avoid anymore of those looks from her brother.

"Shouldn't we be getting back? I suppose you need to drive Brook back to the city this afternoon, right?" Asked Logan, though with a little hint of sadness that she might be leaving his farm. He has started to take a liking to this city girl. But only a liking, nothing more. He wouldn't let himself get carried away with such things, he has bigger concerns, such as the farm and his sisters.

"Yeah, that's right, I almost forgot about that," laughing, they all got up, gathered their things and rode back to the farm.

Savannah

Back at home in the city Brooklyn again felt like herself, breathing the sometimes unbreathable air, looking out the window of her 15th story apartment at a hazy city, but the haze here was caused by exhaust from all the traffic and smoke from the factories, not from the natural dust in the air out in the country (partly caused by Savannah's driving). But this was home. It was here that she was comfortable regardless of the negative points.

She left the apartment, caught the bus to get to the subway, then the subway to get to her office. She worked as an accountant. But even more than that, she was responsible for all the accounting, finances, human resources, and just about everything else in the small company. Without her they probably wouldn't even exist. Seven o'clock in the morning, coffee and donuts for the crew, and coffee for herself. Lunch at her desk, usually. Lock the doors and go home at 6pm. It was a long, tedious day, often stressful, always exciting in one way or another, never boring. And no, she didn't love it. It was her job.

The days passed and she exchanged a couple of messages with Logan and a few messages with Savannah. Two weeks passed and more messages exchanged. She missed her new friends and looked forward to the next time she would be able to visit them. But when? She had no way to go out to the farm, so she had to wait until one of them came back into the city, which wasn't often.

"Hi Brookie sweetie!" the message started, it was from Savannah. "I'm coming into town in two weeks. I'll need to pick up a couple things at the home store and a crate at the port. I hope you will be available, will you?"

Oh, I'm so happy she's coming back! Brooklyn was excited by the prospect of seeing her friend again. It's not like she didn't have friends, she did, but they were mostly work friends, not close friends. And for family, there were no other family members, not any more. Her parents had passed on years ago, and her older brother died in a motorcycle crash while desert racing in Baja, Mexico.

She told the guys at the office she was going to take a long weekend, she wanted to have extra time out on the farm, and to get to know Logan better. They had no problem with it as long as she took her laptop with her so she could stay up on some of the daily tasks. "Sorry, guys, there's usually no internet access out there, I think. I didn't see anything that might actually use the internet when I was there. But, just in case, I'll take my laptop. And, I'll hire a temp from the agency, to handle some of the simple things you guys need help with, hmm, actually, that's quite a few things." They all laughed at that last comment, but they were satisfied with the plan.

Savannah called Brooklyn as she was entering the city so they could arrange to meet at a restaurant for lunch. After lunch the girls went out to do the shopping and then off to the port to pick up the crate.

"Sorry, lady, it's not cleared yet. I believe it will be late this afternoon. Give us a call later," the port man told her.

"Oh, that's no good! That means I'll have to stay the night," she wasn't so happy about that prospect.

"Hey, it's okay! I'll take you out tonight, dancing, and you can stay at my place. I have plenty of room," an excited Brooklyn was happy for this turn of events. Now it was her turn to show her friend a little of the city she calls home.

"Well, okay, that sounds great!"

That evening they went out for dinner in a nice restaurant, then to a movie, then out to a disco for some dancing. Of course Savannah had no change of clothes, but she was the same size as Brooklyn so that wasn't a problem.

After the movie Savannah called the port man and was told her crate had been cleared and she could pick it up in the morning. That gave her a big sigh of relief.

At the disco the girls danced together, then a couple of young men asked them to dance. And so the four of them shared drinks, chatting, and dancing for several hours. Finally around 2am the girls went back to Brooklyn's apartment because they needed to get that crate first thing in the morning.

The next morning before going to get the crate Brooklyn showed her the center of the city, the big city park, the fountain park, the area with most of the discos and bars. They walked around, talked and had a great time, but Savannah sure didn't like the smell of the city, which encompassed even the few green spaces, the parks.

With the crate loaded, as well as all the other boxes of stuff, the girls climbed into the cab of the dirty old truck, and away they went! Driving that worn-out truck through the city was an adventure in itself, and the girls were laughing all the way through the city, not paying any attention to the looks they were getting from everyone else.

The Shrinking City

"I'll tell you, Brookie, I don't know how you can live in this dirty, smelly place," laughed Savannah, one arm waving bye to the city as the finally drove past the last of the suburbs.

"Yeah, I know what you mean, now that I've had a small taste of the world outside. It smells out there, too, you know," and they both laughed at that last comment.

"Yeah, but it's natural, the way nature intended. This," pointing back at the city shrinking behind them, "that place, well, that's just not natural. You need to get out of that place, girl."

"Well, if I could, where would I go? And what would I do?" She was watching the city shrink in the mirror.

"What do you do? At work? You told me some of it, but exactly, what does your job include?"

"Accounting, finances, human resources, customer service, and just about anything and everything to keep the business in business."

"You can do those things anywhere, Brooklyn."

"Maybe, but I don't remember seeing much in the way of businesses out where you live. Nowhere in that whole part of the state."

"Oh, I think I can help you find something, if you want that is. I'd love it if you were out there, closer. I don't have many friends out there, you know." Savannah sounded a little sad at the end of that, with the "you know" trailing off.

"I'm sure," Brooklyn was beginning to understand that life could be lonely out on the farm, even if it was such a beautiful place.

The rest of the ride was quiet, except for the squeaks and creaks from the truck.

Brooklyn was thinking about the conversation. What if I could move out of the city? What if there was a job for me out here someplace? Where? What would I do? Where would I live? How would I get around? There's no subway, no buses, no taxis. I'd have to buy a car, but that would require actually learning how to drive. Now that's a frightening thought, even more than the first time riding a horse. At least that was fun. Driving? No way! That is scary! All the other cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and runners, on the roads, how on earth does a person concentrate on driving the vehicle when you have to be watching for all those other distractions?

But, say I do learn to drive, why not? It's possible! I rode a horse, right? Yes! I took eggs from under a chicken! By god, I can learn to drive a car! Okay, so that's decided, I should be able to learn to drive. But then what? I still need a job. That's the problem. And a place to live. That's the problem. Hmm, those are the problems, and big ones at that. But, maybe Savannah is right, maybe she can help me get a job somewhere out here in the wide world of farmlands. Oh, and that means, yes, I like this, that means I would be much closer to Logan. But, I don't think he likes me much, being a city girl, knowing nothing about farms and farming. Well, I can learn, just like I can learn to drive! I'm gonna show him I can be every bit a farm girl as his sister! I think. It can't be that hard, can it?

"What have you been thinking about all this time, Brookie?" Savannah turned the truck off the highway and onto the dirt road that leads to the farm. And put her right foot hard to the floor.

"Woohoo! Hehehe, oh, nothing much," she smiled at Savannah. They arrived at the farmhouse and Logan was waiting for them. When Brooklyn saw him, she said, "I like it out here."

And Savannah looked at her, looking at Logan, and smiled.

Logan helped with unloading the things from the truck then informed the girls, "I'm going off for a while, I'll be back in time for dinner."

Savannah, not at all surprised, "Ok sweetie, you go relax for a while, us girls will hold down the fort! Dinner will be ready about seven."

Brooklyn watched Logan mount his steed and ride off. She was becoming smitten with him.

"You like my brother, don't you?"

"Huh? What? Oh, no, really? Hie's too smug for me. Look at him, so tall and tough in the saddle, like some kind of John Wayne. Really? Me?" Her words were coming out just a little too fast to be convincing.

"Uh huh, you, girl, now come on inside, let's see what Dakota's up to." They both laughed and bumped each other's shoulders as they walked into the house, to a big mess of toys everywhere.

Dakota

"Dakota! What on earth are you doing?"

"I'm cleaning my room, sis," the words were so sweet and innocent and honest the girls couldn't help but smile, even while looking at the catastrophe in front of them.

"Did your brother tell you to clean your room?"

"Yes".

"Well, okay, good, I'm glad you're doing as he asked, but did he tell you to do it this way? You can't clean your stuff out into the living room." She asked while waving her arms around at all the toys scattered across the floor.

"No, I think it's the better way. Get them out of my room. Then put them back in." She had a smile that would steal the heart from the grumpiest of grumps.

"Hmm, I suppose you have a point there. Please, continue, and get these things back into your room, okay? We have company, see? Brook is with us for the weekend."

"Yay! Hi Brook!" she ran up to Brooklyn and wrapped her little arms around her.

"Hi sweetie. Oh, thanks for the big hug!"

"You're welcome. Now I'm going to put my toys away."

"Okay, you do that."

And not more than 10 minutes later Dakota came running into the kitchen, all excited, "I'm done! Come and look!"

The three of them marched off to Dakota's room to a sight for all to see - toys everywhere except where they were supposed to be, but none were on the floor.

"Dakota, what is this? You said you cleaned your room."

"I did, look, the floor is clean. No toys on the floor."

They all laughed, shrugged their shoulders, and went back to the kitchen to continue cooking dinner.

"Can I help? Please?" Dakota wanted to help everyone with everything, all the time.

"Well, I suppose so, why don't you start by washing those vegetables, okay?"

"Hey, can I get some more?" One thing Dakota loved was the vegetable garden and picking, and eating, the fresh vegetables.

"Sweetie, right now we have enough for dinner, so just wash those in the sink, okay?"

"Okay," Dakota stepped up onto the little stool and started washing vegetables like a little soldier.

Savannah quietly said to Brooklyn, "She can be very helpful when she wants to be. But usually, she just gets under our feet, you know?" The two girls laughed.

Dakota said, "I don't get under your feet, that would hurt."

"You're right, sweetie, that would hurt, if you were actually under my feet. But that's not what I meant."

"What did you mean? Oops," Dakota dropped a potato on the floor. When she stepped down from the stool she stepped on the potato and it squirted out from under her foot and got under the feet of Brooklyn.

"Well, it means, kind of like that potato right now, you see? It's under us, kind of getting in the way of our walking, and just being a little bit of a disturbance."

"So, I'm a diturbance?"

"No, no, of course not, you're not a disturbance, that was a bad choice of words. It's just that sometimes I'm trying to do something, and you want to help, which is great, but it is, sometimes, easier for me to do it without your help. Do you understand? You're not a disturbance, sometimes it's just easier if you are out, in the other room. But not right now, right now you are a good helper."

"Okay the potatoes are washed," well, they were mostly washed, "can I wash the carrots?"

"Yes, please."

Logan

What do you think, Thunder? She's going to be here for a few days. I know Savvy and Dakota have taken to her, and become good friends. I'm glad for them. I like her, I guess, she seems nice enough. And she's certainly pretty enough. She has a nice smile, I like her eyes. Do you like her? But what does she know about the country? What does she know about farming? She could barely ride Arrow the last time she was here. And Arrow, well, she's the easiest of all of you guys, isn't she? Yes, she is. And that girl nearly fell off, what, 3 times? Poor Arrow didn't know what to do with that woman on her back. Hehe, it was funny…hmm, Thunder, I must admit, since the first time I saw her she's been on my mind…You think I should give her a chance? Give her more than just the time of day, huh?…I suppose so.

Logan continued talking to his steed, a perfectly marked Bay, as if Thunder understood everything he said. Then he rested for a while, soon he fell asleep.

Savannah, Brooklyn, and Dakota had rode up the hill. The three were on the top of the hill looking down into the meadow, Brooklyn finally remarked, "Wow, it's beautiful, no wonder he loves it here."

They got off their horses, wrapped the reigns around a tree branch, and quietly walked down to Logan. He was asleep so he hadn't heard them coming through the soft grass. They sat down around him, looked at him peacefully sleeping, and then Savannah touched a blade of grass against his nose, very softly. He wiggled his nose a bit. She did it again, this time he swatted at an imagined fly. The girls were having a fun time teasing him and he didn't even know it. She pushed the grass blade just a little into his nose and he jumped, "What the hell?" While slapping at his nose. The girls cried out in laughter, rolling in the grass.

"Oh my god! Savvy! You did that?" He pushed her, gently, in the grass and they wrestled a little, then Dakota jumped onto Logan's back, riding him like a horse. Brooklyn watched and laughed, wishing, wondering, Do I dare join in with them in their fun? But she didn't, she watched and laughed with them.

After a couple minutes they settled down and sat in the grass, breathing heavily, laughing. Logan looked at Brooklyn, smiled, and said, "Well, my new friend, welcome to my meadow". Then he gave her a little push so she rolled backwards onto her back, laughing. And the wrestling started again when Dakota jumped into Brooklyn's lap and tried to wrestle her.

Finally getting little Dakota off her lap, Brooklyn, smiling and looking directly at him, eye to eye, said, "Thank you, Logan, I'm so glad you are willing to share your meadow with me". She had put her hand on his, and he smiled and did not remove his hand.

Savannah smiled at both of them, hoping to see this move on to more than just friends. Savannah stood up, took Dakota's hand and the two of them walked quietly back to their horses. They quietly walked the horses a short distance then rode back to the house, and finished preparing dinner.

Brooklyn couldn't help but think "Oh my god! His hand is still under mine! He hasn't pulled it away, that means he is interested in me! Yes!"

They stayed there and talked for a few more minutes before they, too, headed back to the house for dinner.

Logan's Idea

That night dinner was wonderful in more ways than just great-tasting fresh food, and they all had that same feeling. The evening passed quickly with Brooklyn and Logan sitting on the porch swing, talking, all the rest of the evening.

The weekend and Monday passed even quicker. Brooklyn didn't want to return to the city, the smell of exhaust fumes, the dirty parks with more weeds than grass. But she knew tomorrow she would have to, she would have to leave this wonderful farm that she was falling in love with.

At breakfast they talked about the possibilities for Brooklyn outside the city. They talked about where she might live, where she might work. There weren't a lot of possibilities out there in that part of the world. Just lots of farms. But Logan was formulating a plan.

"I have an idea," said Logan while eating some eggs with chorizo.

"What?" asked Brooklyn, drinking her coffee.

"I have to check into some things first, so I'll tell you later. Can you come back here in, oh, say, two weeks?"

"Two weeks? I want to come back next weekend!" Brooklyn said after gulping her coffee.

"No, sweetie, two weeks, okay? And I'll have some news for you."

She frowned, a flirty little frown, "Oh, okay, if you insist".

Anxiously Waiting

Brooklyn's job keeps her busy enough that she can't spend much, if any, time thinking about Logan, Savannah, Dakota, and the farm. Only the evenings crawled by slowly as she let her mind wander to the farm, to Logan, to what might be in her future. And her imagination took her to many places, all with Logan of course.

The business was getting busier and she had to hire another worker for the crew. This task took up her attention for the next week and a half, even her evenings were spent reviewing resumes and calling contacts. Days were spent in interviews as well as her other many daily tasks. And she couldn't help but think how nice it would be to have a less stressful job, especially outside the city. She had begun to notice the big differences between the air quality, the noise level, of the city and the country. And she wasn't liking what she was awakening to - the city isn't such a beautiful place, after all.

Thursday she got a call from Logan and of course they talked for some time before they arranged the time for Savannah to pick her up on Saturday morning. She was so looking forward to a relaxing weekend with Logan. And Savannah and Dakota, of course.

Eventually she came to a decision about who to hire and spent Friday afternoon with the crew foreman and the new employee. She couldn't stop thinking about the farm.

"Brooklyn, Brooklyn", the foreman caught her daydreaming while he and the new employee were talking about the job duties he would have.

"What? Oh, excuse me," she said a little embarrassed.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine, just tired, you know, it's been a stressful couple of weeks, with all the work of the office and the extra work of interviews and hiring."

"Yeah, no problem. I think we're finished here." And he took the new guy out to the shop and then showed him around the offices.

At the end of the day she saw the foreman again and said, "I'll be back on Wednesday. Have a good weekend."

"Hey, Brooklyn, what have you been doing on all these long weekends, anyway?"

"Oh, visiting friends. Outside the city, on a farm! Can you believe it? Me, a city girl with friends on a farm. Unbelievable!"

"Come on, Brookie, it's not that unbelievable, is it? Nothing special about farms. We get our food from them, you know, farms and ranches. What would we do without farmers and ranchers? Anyway, I think it's great that you have friends outside the city."

"Thanks. You're right, of course, about them. And it's such a beautiful place!"

The foreman smiled, turned and walked out to the shop, Brooklyn left the office, smiling. She thought, "He has no idea what's going to happen, well, I'm sure he and the guys will be fine without me. They'll just have to find another 'me' to run the office."

She had already come to the decision that she would be leaving the city and living somewhere out in the country, but she hadn't talked to Logan about any final details, yet.

The Plan

The past two weeks Logan was busy asking around at all the neighboring farms and ranches and in the town not too far away if anyone had any need for an accounting person who could manage all the tasks needed to run an office. At first it was slow going, but then he came up with an idea.

He found that many of the local farms were handling all their own accounting, often needing help that they would get from various sources on the internet. Logan thought that Brooklyn could set up an office and offer her services to all the farms and ranches, helping them in any way they needed with their accounting and financial needs. She could go out to the farms and ranches, talk to them, give them personal help, so they wouldn't have to rely on online help.

He spoke to many of his friends on the other farms and ranches and they thought that would be a great idea. The work from all of them combined would be plenty to keep her busy and help her earn a decent living doing it.

And he discovered several small businesses in town that were interested as well.

So, that was it, the plan. Now all he had to do was convince a city girl to trade the city for the country. Oh, and teach her how to drive, and find her a place to live, and introduce her to all the farmers, ranchers, and business people. That's all. Well, he'd have his chance soon, she would be arriving for the weekend in just two days. That was sufficient time for him to take care of finding her a place to live. And a car for her.

Big Changes

With that part taken care of there was the little bit about a place to live.

"Logan, what about the old guest house? It's not been used for anything in years," a hopeful Savannah suggested at breakfast.

"Well, that's a possibility, but, it would take some work to get that place cleaned up, patched up, and made livable, again."

"Yes, but it is possible, yes?"

"I'm sure it is. After breakfast let's go over there and take a look at it. I haven't been inside there for a few years."

She was all smiles, "Cool! I'm sure it will be fine for Brooklyn. What do you think, Dakota?"

Dakota, between spoonfuls of cereal, "mmhmm!"

It turned out just getting into the old house wasn't as easy as simply turning the doorknob and walking in. There was a very old padlock on the door, and as far as either of them could remember, they didn't have a key for it. So, right from the start, Logan had to pry it away from the doorjamb with a crowbar.

Finally, inside they found the old, rundown guest house wasn't quite so bad as they were afraid it might be, but it would still require a fair bit of work to clean and repair.

Logan came up some estimates and made lists of supplies, Savannah made a list of things needed inside the house, and Dakota supplied them with cookies and milk, but ate most of the cookies herself.

The next day Savannah went to the city to get Brooklyn. This time it was only a short visit - pick up Brooklyn and leave. No need for any shopping.

The talked all the way back to the farm, but Savannah said nothing about the guest house. That was going to be a surprise in the coming months, after they have it fixed up.

The weekend included proper horseback riding lessons, her first attempts at driving, and lots of time just keeping busy with farm duties.

The next week Logan and Savannah began work on the guest house. First a major cleaning so they could see what they were dealing with, which wasn't quite as bad as suspected.

Within a few days the door, and several windows were repaired or replaced. And in another week the electrical was all repaired. Still, the plumbing, the roof, new paint inside and out, and furniture (there was some, but it was in bad shape as well).

It had been about two months of working on all these projects and Logan was just about finished with the little house on the farm. It was about a hundred feet from the main farmhouse, so that gave everyone some privacy, yet not too far away. Two bedrooms, bathroom, living room and kitchen, wrap-around porch, typical for these old farmhouses, and a little flower garden behind it.

And for these past couple months Logan and Savannah, and Dakota, had said nothing to Brooklyn about the guest house. Logan planned on handing her the key to the new door as a surprise when he also told her about the farmers and businesses in town that are interested in hiring her.

Another two weeks and another trip to the city for a few more supplies, and Brooklyn. She could see Savannah wanted to say something but was holding back.

"Savannah, what's on your mind? You look like you want to say something," Brooklyn was prodding, hoping to get something out of her.

"Oh, well Brookie, you'll find out when we get to the farm," she could barely suppress the smile, almost giving away that there were big things happening, and they would be a surprise.

"Savannah, you know I don't like surprise!" scolded Brooklyn.

"Yeah, well, you'll just have to live with the fact that this is going to be a surprising day, okay?

They arrived at the farm and Dakota ran out to meet the truck even before it was stopped, in a cloud of dust, "Brookie!" Waving her hands in front of her face to try to push away some of the dust cloud, Dakota wrapped her short arms around Brooklyn and gave her a big hug.

Logan also gave her a hug, "Brooklyn, we have a lot to talk about, something exciting, and something to show you. But first, let's eat, I'm starved! It's been a busy day today." Logan and Dakota immediately went into the kitchen and took care of setting the table while Savannah and Brooklyn talked about girl things.

At dinner Logan told Brooklyn all about his plan for her to work as an accountant for many of the local farmers and ranchers and some of the businesses in town. He told her how they agreed on a fee that would be reasonable for them and allow her to make a decent profit. They talked about him and Savannah teaching her how to drive the Jeep after she is comfortable in the truck, and that they would be helping her get a car.

"Oh my god! Really? You've done all that? There really are enough people who can hire me, so I can live here? You're going to teach me to drive you Jeep? Wow! You guys are the greatest friends anybody could want! Thank you so much!" Brooklyn was just about in tears with joy.

They finished eating, cleaned up the remains, the dishes, and the kitchen and took a walk. When they came past some trees and large shrubs Brooklyn saw the guest house, now looking much different from when she last saw it, many months ago, broken down and unused.

"Wow, look what you've done to the old guest house, it's beautiful. You must have been working every day on this old house," Brooklyn was saying as she was looking at the renovated guest house.

Logan started, "Brooklyn," he held out a set of keys, "this guest house is now your house."

Brooklyn couldn't believe what she had just heard, "What?What are you talking about?"

"This house, sweetie, it's yours," Savannah told her as she put one hand on Brooklyn's back and gently pushed her towards the front door.

"But, no way, seriously? No, it's not possible…" She put the key in the doornob, unlocked the door and opened it. "Oh, my, god! This is amazing! You guys! How did you do this? Why? I could've gotten some little apartment in town, but this! This is too much! You didn't have to!"

"Brooklyn, darling, this is for you because you're our friend and we love you and want you to have a great new home, out here, on the farm, in the country."

Dakota was all excited and running around inside the house, "Brook! Look, over here!" then she would run to another room, "Look at this room Brook!"

Logan reached out and grabbed little Dakota's hand as she ran past, again, "Dakota!" laughing, "You can stop running around like a chicken with your head cut off and just let Brooklyn look at the house at her own speed, okay?"

Dakota finally stopped, "Oh, okay. Brooky, you look at the house your way," and now with permission from Dakota they walked through the house, talked about the work, sat down and relaxed. Dakota climbed up onto Brooklyn's lap.

Savannah took her by her hand, "Dakota, sweetie, you should be sitting on Brooklyn's lap. At least, not right now, sweetie, okay? She has a lot to take in - this house, the new work. It's a lot to process."

Brooklyn climbed down off Brooklyn's lap and sat next to her on the couch.

Finally, Brooklyn said, "Thank you, wow, thank you, so much! I'm still in shock, guys. You've put so much work into this! It really is amazing!"

As the weekend progressed so did lining up clients for Brooklyn's new accounting business. She could use the extra bedroom as an office, at the beginning, then later get an office space in town to cut down on the driving. That was the plan for that part of things.

The next task: start learning to drive. Savannah would start by giving her a lot more time in the old truck. Since it was an automatic it would be easier to learn to drive first.

The weekend passed very quickly. Brooklyn was still in something like shock on Tuesday morning when she and Savannah headed back to the city. And Brooklyn was given the driving duties for parts of the trip. She loved it and she hated it - she loved the parts out on the country roads with very little traffic, usually no traffic, she hated the parts on the city roads with many other cars and trucks. But she was learning fast.

Leaving the City

At the office Brooklyn started the task of finding someone to take her place. She interviewed 8 people and finally decided on who she would hire. The new gal, Brenda, another life-long city girl, would start work the following day.

For that week Brooklyn trained Brenda in all the various tasks she would be responsible for, which is basically everything other than the work the guys on the crew do. And the final day of working there was coming up fast.

On her last day at the office the crew had put together a party for her. They even had quite a few of their clients at the party, it was a great send-off for Brooklyn.

During this time she had been selling some of her furniture and things she wouldn't be taking out to the farm, and many things she donated to a local charity.

It took her a couple weeks to get all of this in order and also to get her head wrapped around the idea that she, a city-girl her whole life, would be leaving the city, and going to live on a farm. This is something so strange to her that it hadn't been easy to come to terms with. But she was on her way! She was going to do it! She was determined and had her mind set on this new page in her life.

The weekend arrived, and it would be the last weekend of living in the city. Savannah arrived her at her apartment and helped her load a few things, suitcases, and bags into the truck, then they went to a restaurant to eat and walk around the not-so-pretty park, for the last time.

"It's very strange, you know, the idea of leaving this place. I've come to realize just how dirty, smelly, and not friendly, the city really is. I had no idea it was so different from anywhere else. But then, I hadn't been anywhere else, so how would I know?" Brooklyn asked, not really expecting an anser.

"At times it's almost been like I was outside my own body, watching me go through these motions, doing all those things to get moved away. At times it's been very strange. Why did I never leave? Why have I never even gone outside to see what's out there? What's wrong with me?"

"Nothing is wrong with you, you simply had a life here, and you lived that life the way you knew how to live it. You depended on public transportation to get around, you walked. I suppose that makes it less likely that you would have gotten out to see anywhere else," Savannah said, trying to understand it herself, how someone could never leave the city, to see what's outside of it.

"But there are buses that leave the city, I know that, but I never even thought of taking one, I never thought 'where do they go?'. I just grew up in this neighborhood, got a job in the next neighborhood, and lived here. Now I see that I missed so much, that I could have had a much richer life if I had only taken a few steps that, I suppose, I must have been afraid to take."

"Oh, I don't know if it was about being afraid," Savannah was trying to come up with something to help her put this all in perspective, "maybe it was simply that you were taught that this is your life, here in the city, doing a job, and never expecting anything more. Maybe something like that?"

"Hmm, maybe, but, well, no, now it's time to move on with my life, to something new and different. Now it's finally time to learn that I'm more than just an office girl doing everything that everyone else wants done."

They climbed into the truck to drive out of the city and into a new life for Brooklyn, with Savannah driving, "Yes, you are starting a new chapter in your life and it's going to be exciting! You'll see out in the country, life on a farm, is never boring."

Within a year Brooklyn was living in the farmhouse with Logan. Savannah and Dakota were spending more and more time in the guest house. Logan's Meadow had become Logan and Brooklyn's Meadow. Brooklyn was finally comfortable riding the horses, and the horses were finally accustomed to this somewhat clumsy city girl sitting on their backs. Life was good and they were all happy with how life had brought them together.

Logan and Brooklyn lay in the grass, under the stars, twinkling in soft whites, reds, blues, and greens, the breeze was gentle and refreshing on the skin. Holding hands and staring up at the stars, the moon a crescent of white bread fresh from the oven, they talked softly and planned their wedding.

A Short Story - Aches-n-Pains

Two a.m. arrived quickly. The owners of restaurants and bars like this were always strict about closing time. They know the law said no more alcohol sales after 2 am so they used that as their closing time. And they told all the bands to stop at 2 am. Not 2:05. But that was okay with the guys because they were being cooked by those spotlights and were happy that they would be turned off, finally, after 4 hours of playing in their heat. Those lights put out as much heat as they do light. The guys put down their instruments and walked to the bar where the owner gave a packet of money to Jimmy, the leader, and then gave all the guys shots of his best Tequila. It takes a little while for the adrenaline rush to come down, and the Tequila probably didn't help with that, but it did give them all a chance to congratulate each other for another gig well performed. Another "audience" kept excited for an evening. Then it was time to pack up all the equipment and finally leave for home.

The drinking/self‐congratulations part was always no more than 15‐20 minutes, the packing part at least an hour. The driving home part could be anywhere from an hour to 5 hours. After that evening's show, it was half‐way across the state and about 4 hours of non‐stop very early morning driving, with tired eyes. They got to watch the sunrise in their mirrors while they drove along the interstate. Nobody said much, and the ones who weren't driving were sleeping. They didn't have a luxury bus or even a small RV. They had their cars and a pickup pulling a trailer. This repeats 2 or 3 Saturdays a month, some weekends would have Friday and Saturday gigs, in different towns. It wasn't the life of the glamorous international rock star. And that packet of money? That amounted to a hundred bucks, maybe a bit more, for each one of them. Hardly enough for all the time that went into the evening, but that wasn't important, because being on that stage was what they loved to do.

Jackson pulled into his driveway around 8 am and found his wife in the kitchen preparing breakfast for her and the boys, Richie and Bobbie. They were both young musicians in the making. They and their mother never really paid much attention to Aches‐n‐Pains. That was daddy's thing. And the boys weren't really into that kind of music. Jackson had always wished, to himself, that the family would be a bit more interested, but it just wasn't there.

"How was the gig?" asked Brenda as she stirred eggs in a pan. Brenda may not have been interested in the band but she supported everything Jackson did in the band, allowed him to buy instruments, and whatever he needed for his "hobby". But never actually saw the band perform.

"Very good." He kissed her, hugged the boys, took a shower, and went to bed.

His day job was in a warehouse. He was the guy who took care of the paperwork for shipping the goods all over the US, Canada, and Mexico. He didn't have the title of "manager" but he managed the shipping and receiving side of things. A dead‐end job. Not exciting, but it kept him busy for 9 hours a day. And it paid the bills. Well, it combined with Brenda's job paid the bills. The band money was just pocket cash.

"Hey, Jackson! Come here," the boss was yelling from his office.

He put down his work and strolled to the manager's office and sat down, thankful for the chance to get off his feet. "What's up?"

"Friday is our quarterly meeting and I want you to do a presentation on the shipping department,"

"What? Why me? I'm no good in front of crowds." Then he thought, but didn't say, "unless I have my bass or my sax in my hands."

Jackson knew about his band and had even seen them play a couple of times. He smiled and said, "Come on, Jackson, you're great up there on stage. I've seen it, you love it, being in front of all those people."

Why did I ever ask him to come to one of our gigs? And then he came to a couple of others. And now he wants me to give a presentation. This isn't good. "Yeah, I'm good on stage, but that's different."

"No, it's not. Just think you're up there with all those people dancing. Piece of cake! Remember, Friday, 9 am, be ready!" That was that. Jackson was already feeling anxious, nervous.

The days passed too quickly. He just finished the presentation early Friday morning. Jackson was a nervous wreck. Hands sweating, forehead sweating, cheeks flushed. The one thing in the whole world he dreaded the most was speaking in front of a group. Any group of any size. Just standing up in front, all those eyes peering at him, some anxious for whatever he managed to stutter out of his mouth, others anxious for him to finish and sit down.

"Thank you, Jenny, for that report on accounts receivables. Now we'll hear from Jackson. He's going to fill you in on what's happening in the shipping and receiving side of things. Jackson…" The boss smiled ear to ear, held his hand out for Jackson, and passed the remote control for the projector to Jackson, who immediately dropped it. When it hit the floor the battery cover popped off and the batteries bounced out and rolled across the room. Now he was really nervous. "Shit! What a disaster! Right from the beginning!"

He looked up at some shocked faces, some laughing faces, then realized he said that out loud. "Um, excuse me, sorry, I, I'm not good at this kind of thing."

"Jackson, I've seen you perform on stage many times, you can do this better than anyone." The boss just wouldn't let up.

He went on with his presentation, stuttering, stumbling, faltering all the way through. His sweaty hands dropped the remote two more times. He did eventually get through the presentation and managed to finish it with a flurry of words that didn't make a lot of sense.

Just for fun everyone stood up and gave him a standing ovation. Jackson wasn't having any fun and stormed out of the conference room.

"Okay, that's good for today, everyone back to work." The boss closed the meeting and went to talk to Jackson before finishing his own day.

Back at home Jackson let loose on his wife, "Holy shit, Brenda! My presentation was a disaster today! You should've seen me! I was a nervous wreck! That stupid boss! Why'd he make me do that?"

"Oh sweetie, I'm sorry. Sit down and I'll get something to eat." She gave him a hug and a kiss and prepared dinner for him. He always felt better with her arms wrapped around him and her warm lips pressed to his.

The band was scheduled to play at an awards festival for Texmex music, in Texas, the next weekend. That is something he looked forward to. He'd be upfront again but this time with a saxophone in his hands, and the crowd cheering, dancing, and clapping to the music. The only sweating he would be doing was caused by the hot stage lights and the non‐stop dancing while playing music. And he loved it!

"Hey Jackson, what would you do if we actually won one of these awards festivals and had to go up on stage without our instruments?" One of the guys in the band loved to tease him about his insecurity.

"You could go up on stage and I'd just watch from the crowd."

"But the whole band would have to go up to receive the award."

"Well, then I'd take my sax up with me."

"You really do need that to hide behind, don't you?"

"I don't hide behind it, Sonny."

"Really? Then why would you take it with you?"

"I just feel better if I have it, or one of my other instruments, between me and the crowd. That's all. Now drop it."

"Fine. I hope we win that award one of these years."

A year passes by and thankfully the boss hadn't asked him to do any more presentations, but something even more worrying occurred ‐ at the next year's festival the band won! And they had to go up on stage to receive an award.

"Here they are ladies and gentlemen ‐ Aches‐n‐Pains!" The emcee made a really big deal out of winning the award and got the crowd to cheer even louder as the band walked up onto the stage. Except not Jackson.

"Thank you, for this award, but hey, Jackson, get up here! We're not complete without you!" He tried to hide behind Brenda. It didn't work. She was too small for him to hide behind. This was her first year going to the festival. To the audience, "He's a bit shy, believe it or not!" The crowd started chanting Jackson! Jackson Jackson! He had no choice, he had to go up there.

Brenda pushed him, and pushed him some more, then took him by his hand and led him up the steps and gave him another push. Jackson immediately went to the back of the group. The crowd cheered for the guys and they all waved and smiled back at the cheering people. Jackson couldn't help but feel the pride well up inside him, but it wasn't enough to get him to step out in front. But nobody cared about that at that moment. But Brenda could see the fear and anxiety in his eyes.

"Brenda, you shouldn't have pushed me up onto that stage tonight," he told her when they were laying in bed in their hotel.

"Oh, come on, Jackie, you had to go up there, you know that. The crowd wanted you up there. The band wanted you up there."

"I know, but it was terrible! I was sweating like a dog! My hands were shaking! My heart was pounding at a hundred miles an hour."

"Sweetheart, you really should talk to someone about this problem of yours."

"I don't need a shrink."

"Not a shrink, baby, but some kind of therapist or counselor. I'm sure they could help you learn how to cope with your anxiety."

"I'm tired, let's go to sleep. We can talk about at home."

A week later Jackson and two other band members were at the local radio station to do an interview. The DJ asked "Where does the name of the band come from? Why do you call yourselves Aches‐n‐Pains?"

One of the guys gave the whole story, the history of the band, but it got to be too long, so Jackson interrupted, "The history is long and boring, it comes down to this ‐ we're a band of old guys and we all suffer from some kinds of aches and pains. That's it."

The DJ said, "So, tell me, tell your fans that are listening, what are the aches or pains you suffer, Jackson?"

"It's not important."

"Sure it is, your fans want to know this stuff about all of you guys."

"I read our fan mail and I see the questions they ask, and you know what? They ask about the name of the band, but they don't ask about what ails each of us individually." He was getting impatient and testy and the DJ noticed. Jackson got up and left the studio and the DJ continued asking the other guys about their aches and pains.

Brenda wasn't impressed and told him so, "Jackson! Why did you do that today? During the interview? I can't believe you responded like that. Both the boys were listening to your interview. And then you just walked out? Really? What got into you?"

"That DJ got into me, that's what!"

She made arrangements for them both to talk to a counselor the next week. Jackson wasn't happy about it but he did agree to go.

As the sessions passed, week after week, month after month, Jackson slowly learned to control his anxiety and all that went with it. He was never as comfortable on stage without an instrument as he was with one, but that was okay. He could at least give a presentation without dropping the remote control 3 times and swearing when the batteries bounced out. He could stand at the front without his hands shaking, even if his feet were non‐stop bouncing a little, in his boots.

And Brenda and the boys actually went to watch a few of his gigs, and they started to enjoy the music that he had chosen to play.

A Short Story - The Garden

The garden isn't big. Just 20 feet by 30 feet, roughly, but filled with an incredible variety of color. Flowers from all over the world filled this little space. There were paths to walk, like a maze, but they all ended at that rose tree in the center. The sounds of the city were far away and easily forgotten here. The sounds of birds and bees, the soft fluttering of butterflies - those were at the heart of the garden. They helped her forget what would be soon coming. This little piece of heaven on earth was hers and hers only, and nobody, not even he, was allowed to enter.

She arrived at the same time every day, just a half-hour before sunset. Slowly walking among the flowers, pausing to gently touch and smell many of them, feeling the soft petals and leaves, and smiling and whispering to each one. They seemed to respond to her love by giving her an amazing place to come and be herself, or anybody she could imagine. And she imagined being somebody else often. Life inside the garden was the life she cherished and wished she could have all day long.

Sitting under the rose tree and listening to the sounds around her she watched the sun set behind the far away mountains. First bright yellow, then slowly morphing into a strong orange, and finally deep red, it sank behind the Wishing Well Mountains. She gazed at the colors in the sky, fading away to dark blue, then dark purple, and finally darkness. She gazed at the emerging stars, sparkling yellows, greens, and reds.

The peacefulness of the garden was interrupted, as it is every day at this time, by the sound, or more appropriately, the noise, of her husband's car. That unmistakable sound that a car makes when the engine has been modified as much as it can be, and then the mufflers removed so it can be even louder. That's what he did because it matches what his personality has morphed into - loud, obnoxious, rude, selfish. And as is the case with such personality traits, he didn't care. He didn't care if it interrupted your peaceful, relaxing time in her garden; he didn't care if it was louder than your family conversation at the dinner table, a block away; he didn't care if it broke your concentration while catching up on the daily news. He just didn't care.

The noise finally ended when he entered the driveway and turned off the ridiculous car. He got out, all smiles and proud of what he just did to the entire neighborhood and every home along the street. She had quickly stood up from under the rose tree and hurried into the house, put on an apron, and started preparing something for his dinner. All the while wondering, "how did we come to this?"

It hadn't always been like this. He wasn't this person when they met some 20 years before. If he had been she wouldn't have even given him the time of day, let alone her heart, her love, her care, and attention. Her life. "How did we come to this?" was the ever-present question she had yet to find an answer to. She hoped to find it in the garden, but such a place of beauty is not for such thoughts. It was for escaping to other, more pleasant thoughts.

He walked in, threw his hat and jacket on a chair, kicked off his dirty boots and pushed them aside, but still in the middle of the floor, all without even looking at her, not even a kiss on the cheek.

"How was your day today?" She asked the same question every day at the same moment and received the same answer. Well, it's been the same answer for some time now. It wasn't the same answer before, but before what? What changed?

"Same as always," he grumbled back at her. "I'm hungry, where's my food?"

"It's just about ready."

"I'm tired of waiting. I'm going out."

What happened to your patience? What happened to you? was what she wanted to ask, but instead, "But, it's just finishing right now."

He yanked on his boots, stood up, and stormed off, leaving her holding the plate with the food he was too impatient to wait for. "What did I do wrong?" Tears started to fall from her brown eyes. She sat down at the table and ate the dinner, alone, sad, and frustrated by the man she once loved with all her heart.

A few minutes passed into a few more minutes and she was washing the dishes, cleaning up the kitchen, when she heard his cell phone ringing. It was in his jacket pocket, the jacket he hadn't taken with him when he stormed away. She picked up the jacket, found the phone, removed it from the pocket, all while looking nervously around the room - was he here? Of course not, he left in a huff. She pressed the green button and put the phone to her ear, and listened.

"Hey man! What's up? Why have't you answered any of my calls? Are you there? Say something! I want my money and I want it now! You know what'll happen if you don't pay up!"

"Um, hi, this is his wife. He's gone out and left his phone behind."

"Oh, shit, sorry." And the other man immediately disconnected.

What was that about? Money? Is he in some kind of trouble? What money? What's he doing?

She went to her laptop and logged into the bank account. Normally he takes care of the banking, the finances. Well normally only applied to these past 5 years or so. He told her it was the man's responsibility. She didn't argue with him. That was pointless and a waste of breath and time. What she discovered shocked her. They had less than 500 dollars in their account, and she saw two big withdrawals, cash withdrawals. And there was a bank loan as well, one she didn't know about. What was he up to? What did he do with their money?

She decided enough was enough. That wasn't just his money. It was hers as well. This time she would stay right there and wait for him to return, then she would look him in the eyes and ask Just what the hell are you up to? Where's our money? What did you do with it?

One hour, two hours. She was getting tired. Three hours, four hours, where was he? Why was he out for so long?

Finally, around 1am, she heard his obnoxious car coming up the road, pull into the driveway, turn off, and the door slam closed. He came back into the house and saw her waiting for him.

"Why are you still up? You know what time it is?"

"Why have you been out so long? Where did you go? What have you been doing all evening?" She was almost, but not quite, yelling at him, her hands shaking a little as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

"Oh, relax! It was nothing. Now, go to bed."

"You had a phone call."

He felt his pockets, looking for his phone, "I did?" Now he was the nervous one.

"Yes, and the man said he wants his money. What money is that, darling?" She said darling with a lot of sarcasm in her voice. "Would that be our money?"

"What did you do?" He yelled at her, grabbed his jacket and searched the pockets for his phone. She handed it to him. "Why did you answer my phone? MY phone! Not yours! You don't touch my phone, get it?"

"Yes, I answered your phone. And I checked our bank account, and guess what I saw?"

"I told you to stay out of the bank account, remember? I told you I would take care of it!"

"Well, it appears you're not doing such a good job of that." And immediately after the words she regretted saying them.

He raised his arm as if to hit her, something he's never done before, then changed his mind, turned and rushed back outside. The noisy car fired up, the wheels screeched for all to hear, and he was gone, again.

Now her mind was reeling. A man called and said he wants his money back. So he's not having an affair. He took out a bank loan. So they didn't have enough money for whatever it was he was doing. What was he up to? Had he started gambling? I've never known him to be a gambler. It was far too much money for somebody drowning in alcohol, or prostitutes. But what could it be? Who was the voice on the phone?

With all these thoughts running through her head she slowly faded off into a restless sleep.

When she woke up she was still alone. He hadn't returned from where ever he had gone not too many hours before. She brewed some coffee, took a cupful out to the garden, sat under the rose tree, and let her mind wander off to other, more pleasant, thoughts. But only for a short while, as she would have to be going to her own job shortly.

That afternoon when she returned home there was another shock in store for her - the house was empty! Everything was gone! Absolutely everything, as in 100% of everything. What on earth? What happened? Where's all my stuff? My furniture? My pictures? My dishes? Where's, everything? She was in shock at the sight. She fell to her knees and cried. She dropped her head into her hands and sobbed. She slumped onto her belly on the floor, now just about wailing, Why? Why did he do this? Why!? And she lay there, crying, for a while, until she had exhausted every ounce of strength in herself.

She struggled to push herself up. Standing on wobbly legs, she looked around at the empty house, not a chair in sight. She sat on the floor. And cried again.

Finally, she got up and walked out to the garden, at least it was still there. He hadn't taken that away from her. She thought maybe it was too much work for him to dig it all up so he just left it. She walked among the flowers, touching them, petting their leaves, smelling their scents. Tears falling on the petals. She watched the butterflies and bees kissing each one, passing the love from one to the next. She wanted someone to do that to her. Flowers have a power over her, over just about everyone. She could almost feel the flowers, bees, and butterflies comforting her. It took a few minutes, but she eventually gave in to the power of the garden, smiled, relaxed, and sat under the rose tree. She felt like the garden smiled back at her. She forgot about the house, the things that were now gone, the husband who turned his back on her, and submerged herself in the love that was coming from all around her in the garden.

As she sat under the rose tree it dropped a pink petal onto her lap. She looked at it, just sitting there, one petal. One lonely petal. But, it wasn't alone, it had her, it had many other petals up above, it had many flowers of every imaginable color all around it. She thought I am alone, but I'm not lonely. I have all my friends, my flowers, here in the garden. They love me unconditionally, day after day, unending. She gently lifted the soft pink petal off her lap, raised it to her nose, smelled the scent of it, and it was good. It filled her heart with love that only comes from the natural world around us; it filled her mind with thoughts of wonder, sweet thoughts of Him who gave all of this to us. And she fell asleep.

All the crying had drained her of all her energy, and she slept all evening and through the night. It was a wonderful, deep sleep, there under the rose tree, surrounded by love, by beautiful colors, and wonderful scents.

And he had not returned. No noise to interrupt the neighborhood. No complaining or griping. No demanding his meal Right Now! It turned out to be a wonderful, rejuvenating night, something she desperately needed.

Morning came and the rising sun woke her from her slumber. She looked at her watch and thought Oh my god! What have I done? I didn't cook him dinner! What's going to happen? Another rose petal dropped onto her lap after brushing past her nose and she came back to reality - he wasn't here, he hadn't returned last night. She let herself smile, a little guilty for feeling some kind of comfort in that thought.

Back in the house, she prepared for another day a work. At least she had her clothes, still hanging in her closet. He hadn't taken those. And he had left a few toiletries, just enough for her to take care of herself. He hadn't been generous in any way, mind you, but he did leave her a few personal things. She went to work, refreshed by a night in the garden. Determined to not let what happened ruin her day.

That afternoon when she returned home she looked at the empy kitchen - no appliances, no cookware, no, well, nothing. What could she do? She sighed. She called a restaurant and had dinner delivered, and ate in the garden under the rose tree. She thought, "what could be better?"

But reality hit when she notice there wasn't even a garbage can in the house. Okay. She had to do something, but what? Where to start? She called the bank and spoke to the manager but he had no information about the loan or the withdrawals. She called his brother but he too knew nothing, and hadn't even talked to him for several years. She called the one friend of his she knew, and he too, claimed to know nothing, but said he had been acting strangely lately, meaning for a couple years, but had no idea about what he was up to.

All dead ends. She still had her laptop. But he never even touched that, as far as she knew. She did a history search on it just to be sure. And no, nothing there as well.

She went to the local bar hoping to find him, but he wasn't there. She asked the bartender and some others about him but they hadn't seen him that day. She went to two more bars and got the same results.

It was getting late so she went home. The house was empty, not even a bed, nor a chair. She slept outside in the garden again. It was a sweet refuge she could never live without. There she felt comfort from the flowers that she wasn't getting from her husband. Here she felt the companionship he wasn't giving her. Here she felt needed and wanted. Here she felt love. And that is what she needed now more than anything else.

The next day she took the day off from work. She asked around the neighborhood and eventually found one man who had seen him in a bar on the other side of town. She drove across town to that other bar and asked around and discovered something interesting.

Yes, he had been there, many times. But, only to meet another man, always the same man, and he would give the man a small package. She wondered if maybe that small package had been their money. The bartender told her he never stayed, never drank, only gave the man the package and then left. And then the bartender complained about the noise from his car. She thought what a strange thing for the bartender to complain about when his own bar has loud music playing. Oh well. At least she had a little more information.

Outside the bar, she started walking down the sidewalk to her car, when someone came up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder, "Hey lady, the guy you're asking about, who is he to you?"

What a strange question, she thought, and replied, "He's my husband".

"Oh, I see. Well, I think you can find him at the General Patton over on South 13th."

"What's that? Another bar?"

"No, it's a club, of sorts."

"Of sorts? What does that mean? Is it a place I shouldn't, or can't, go?"

"Well, they do permit women, but you might want to take someone with you, a man, I mean."

"Just tell me what is it? What kind of place is it?"

"Look, it's a rough place for rough people, the kind of place for people like your husband."

"What's that supposed to mean? What kind of man is my husband?"

"You don't know? You don't know what he does?"

"I know he does his job, every day, at construction sites. He's an engineer."

"Well, he's an engineer of sorts, yes, I suppose you could put it that way. And I know he's done some work at one or two construction sites, in the past."

"Would you just be straight with me? What are you talking about?"

"Lady, I don't want to be rude, or disrespectful, but your husband is in deep, deep shit."

"Tell me!"

The man looked around then said, "He killed a dude who was part of the Rotan gang. You've heard of them, right?"

"Yes, of course I've heard of them. But, my husband killed a man? No way! He, he couldn't have!"

"That's the word on the street. Now the leader of the Rotans is taking him for everything he has."

"And more than everything he has," she added.

"What? That's not possible, they haven't taken any body parts, yet."

"No, but he took out bank loans to get money, he drained our account, he, apparently, sold everything we had in our house, except my clothes. And I mean everything! Literally, everything!"

"Holy shit! I had no idea. Look, that is what I know. What happens next, well, that's up to that Rotan guy. It's usually not good."

"Do the police know any of this?"

"Of course not."

"Well, I'm going to the police, we'll find him and that Rotan guy and get to the bottom of this!"

"I wouldn't recommend that."

"Just try to stop me!" She shouted back as she stormed off, this time not for her car but for the nearest police station.

He shouted back at her, "They probably won't help you, not with those Rotan guys."

She just ignored that last bit and left him behind. At the police station she spoke with the captain and explained the situation, everything she had learned, and the situation with their money.

The captain said he would put some people on it and let her know what they find out.

That night again, she slept outside under the rose tree. Even with all the upheaval in her life, sleeping in the garden was the best thing for her - she was getting the best sleep of her life out there. But she knew it couldn't last.

He still hadn't returned.

The next day, after work, she did some shopping - a bed, living room furniture, kitchen stuff. She had to get some semblance of a normal life back in order. And in doing so maxed out her credit card, but what choice did she have?

With the house now looking as it should again, and life returning to something that was actually better than the previous normal, she was beginning to feel a little better. But the problem of her husband was on her mind, always. Her only respite from that was her time in the garden.

She contacted the police captain almost every day, asking for updates. He kept telling her the same thing, nothing new yet, we'll let you know when we have some new information.

One week, two weeks, three weeks. Still no husband and the same response from the captain. Something has to come of it, what's the hold up? She thought maybe she should go to a different police station and file the same report.

"Look, sir, you're not giving me anything. I'm going to file a report at a different station, with a different captain, and see if they can do anything."

"That won't do you any good. The report is in the system so all the stations in the precinct have it. I told you we're working on the case. These things take time. You just need to be patient."

"Patient? I've been patient for three weeks! I'm losing my patience, sir."

"I understand. Just, please, bear with us. This is turning into a bigger investigation than we expected. I can't give you any details. I'll let you know what I can, when I can. Okay?"

"Hmm, okay." She got up and left for home.

Another week passed and the captain called her, "Can you come to the station today? I need to talk to you."

The flood of information hit her like a tsunami. She couldn't move in her chair she was so stunned. Words were nowhere to be found. She stared into the space between herself and the captain. He stopped, looked at her for a moment, and said, "I'm so sorry to have to give you such news. I'll give you a minute to collect your thoughts." He walked out of the office and quietly closed the door behind him. She didn't move, not even a blink of her eyes, now with tears emerging from them.

What? What did you say? Um, okay. Sure. How can such a thing happen? In our lives? He wasn't that kind of man when I met him. Not for all the years we've been married. How? I don't understand. It doesn't make sense.

Her mind was flooded with the same questions and responses, over and over again. She wanted to be sitting under her rose tree, not in this police station, not in the captain's office. Not hearing the story he told her. It can't be true. Can it?

He had been acting strangely the past 4 or 5 years, but it came about slowly. He never said anything about it to her, he kept his life to himself and did a bang-up job controlling hers at the same time.

She stood up on wobbly legs, turned towards the door, took a step, and the door opened.

"Oh, just a minute more, if you don't mind," said the captain.

She sat back down, gladly.

"We found an account, a bank account. He had opened it about year ago, do you know about it?"

She shook her head side to side while staring at the floor.

"It was opened in your name, with his as the secondary. Here's the account info." He handed her a piece of paper, she didn't look at it. She put it in her purse, another day, maybe, not today.

She managed to get out a few words, "May I leave now?"

"Yes. Please, if you need someone to talk to, here's the name and number of someone who can help you."

She slowly stood up, numb from head to toe, turned, and walked out of the office. The other officers were looking at her and whispering as she walked through the station to the front door, but she didn't notice any of that. Her mind was reeling, she couldn't believe it still, that it was true, that he was now gone, forever.

Outside the station she walked to her car, slowly, not paying attention to anyone else on the sidewalk. She bumped into a woman, said 'scuse me, and continued onwards. He was gone. Forever. She was beginning to realize the depth of it.

At home she put her purse on the table, took off her shoes and socks, changed into some comfy clothes, and went out to her rose tree. With a smile slowly forming she fell asleep.

A few days later she finally looked at the paper the captain had given her. The bank account was indeed in her name. She contacted the bank to confirm that and arrange to talk to someone about the account. The account had exactly the amount of money needed to repay the loans he had taken, to replace the money he had taken, and replace everything from the house he had taken. It was the exact amount. How could he have known the exact amount? She wondered.

Well, that's not important. She used the money to take care of all those debts and was feeling much better about her situation. But it was so very strange. There's no way he could've known what the exact amount would be, not when he opened the account a year before. It just makes no sense.

She was doing some cleaning in the garden, wondering about all those things, when a butterfly landed on her hand. It was a beautiful black and yellow Swallowtail. Her thoughts changed to focus on the butterfly. She watched it, its wings slowing rising and lowering, it was looking at her, eye to eye. "What are you doing Ms. Swallowtail?" she asked. It bumped its head up and down a couple times. She slowly stood up, walked over to the rose tree, and sat down underneath it. The butterfly stayed with her and continued to look at her.

She thought she could feel the love of nature coming from that butterfly, from the rose tree, from the many flowers around her, the bees buzzing around, the hummingbirds flicking around from flower to flower in the tree at the edge of the garden. She was sure she could feel the love pouring into her heart. Then she fell asleep.

When she woke up she was surrounded by garden, as far as she could see, a garden as big as the whole world. Flowers of every imaginable color and scent.

She was going to be fine.

A Short Story - A Kiss on the Beach

She arrived in the morning the next day, ready to attack the beach come hell or high water. And we did just that. She changed into her beach clothes ‐ short shorts and a crop top, and I into gym shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. It was only 10am, and the day was promising to be perfect.

We walked down the road, downhill, to the beach talking about this and that. There was a gentle breeze blowing her long golden brown hair around her shoulders. The bright sunlight was bouncing off here smiling face, her eyes bright and big as we rounded the corner and could see the Caribbean Sea in front of us.That's a sight I will never get tired of, the sight of the sea stretching out to the horizon.

Stepping into the sand we both remove our flip-flops, the warm sand now between our toes, massaging them with a fine grit and freeing them from the days and weeks of shoes and work. I took her hand and led her directly to the edge of the water so it would immediately cool her feet from the hot sand. She smiled, it was such a beautiful smile.

"Wow, that feels so good!" And she walked out into the water a little further.

I caught up to her and a bigger wave came in and we were both splashed up to our waists. She giggled, knelt down a bit and let the next wave wash over her. I joined her and we laughed and got soaked. But that was the plan. Another big wave came in and knocked her down, she went completely into the water. As she came back up with she grabbed and pulled me in with her.

I stood up and as I pulled her up to me, another wave came in and pushed her crop-top t-shirt up just about to her neck. She wasn't wearing a bikini top under it, just herself in all her natural beauty. She giggled and pressed herself against me as another wave came to us. Being a gentleman, I gently lowered her t-shirt back down to it's proper position and she smiled, "Thanks, sweetie, but that wasn't really necessary, you know".

Of course I knew that it wasn't really necessary, but it seemed to be the correct thing to do at that moment. We are new friends, not lovers. But maybe she wants more. I hope she wants more.

We met because she wanted to improve her English, and that's what I do, I teach English as a foreign language. We met just once, in fact. But in that one meeting we became good friends. And there were even a few gentle, friendly touches. So, that led me to ask her if she was interested in visiting the beach with me. Even if we were new friends and the new relationship would hopefully be a business relationship. Obviously she has more than a business relationship on her mind.

We walked a few steps towards the beach and sat down in the water, letting the waves wash over our legs and often higher. Each time that happened her top also floated upwards. That didn't bother me, I liked the view. And it didn't bother her either. A couple times the waves were big enough to knock us over, sometimes she ended up on me and sometimes I ended up on her, either way, we were both enjoying the morning.

After some small talk we got up and walked over to one of the empty chozas. A choza is a beach cabana, usually made of bamboo and palm leaves. And usually, during the non-pandemic days, there is a small charge for using a choza. But not now. Nobody else was anywhere to be seen, other than a couple fisherman way over there on the breakwater trying their luck for the catch of the day.

We stepped under the shade of the palm leaves where it was much cooler and she plopped herself down on the soft warm sand and then pulled me down next to her. She then decided to toss some sand onto my wet legs, so I returned the favor. After some fun and both of us getting pretty much covered in sand we went back to the water to wash it all off.

Now clean again, it was back to the shade to relax and talk. We laid back and chatted and relaxed and soon she had rested her head on my chest. I liked the feeling of her golden-brown hair flowing against my chest. And I liked the feeling of her soft cheek against my skin, it was so pleasant, so calming in some way. She had one hand rubbing across my stomach as she was telling me about her home town, which made it a little more difficult for me to concentrate. I also starting caressing her, petting her hair. Eventually I leaned my head forward just a bit and gave her a kiss on her head. I could feel her smile against my chest. She moved her head, ever so slightly, closer to my face. I could now press my check against the top of her head. I liked that, and it was obvious she did, too.

The small talk continued for a while longer until I couldn't put off the inevitable any longer. I gently sat up, holding her as I did. She pressed herself to me all the more.

"You're probably going to think this is a very strange question, and my guess is nobody has ever asked you this before," I started.

Giggling, she asked, "What kind of strange question could it be?"

Her smile was contageous, more than the virus taking over the world. I looked at her eye to eye and asked, "Can I kiss you?"

She giggled again, such a girly little giggle, "Yes, you may, I would like that." She was trying to be very serious but it was just a little over-dramatic and she started to laugh, looked straight at me, and leaned in for a kiss.

I turned a little and kissed her on her cheek, just a little peck. "Hey, what's that? Kiss me here!" And she put one slender finger on her full lips and gave a little kiss to her finger, and to me.

I laughed a little, and whispered into her ear, "Oh, I will, sweetie".

I leaned in to her, kissed her on the cheek again, and she sighed and dropped her shoulders a little. I smiled and moved a little closer to her ear. Another soft kiss and a soft breath across her ear and she suddenly became more interested. I kissed the top of her ear, the around to the bottom, giving a light breath across it as I moved down. She shifted a little, or was it a little shiver? A little shiver of excitement?

I moved down below her ear and kissed the side of her neck. She tilted her head to the side, giving me a better shot at the soft skin below her hair. I kissed her and moved down a little more, and around to the front, and kissed her on the collar bone. That got her. She came to immediate attention with a moan and a deep breath caught and released on the second kiss, and a third in the same place. Then I backed away a bit and paused.

"What's the matter? Don't stop! I want more of that, please!" she was definitely getting excited now.

"Hmm, you want to rush things? Let's take it slow and enjoy the moment," I whispered into her ear, giving her another blow across it and getting her to respond with a deep breath. I could see her breasts under her web t-shirt and her excitement was clearly obvious. The sight was pleasing, so I continued my journey around her little world.

My kisses took me across the front of her neck, across to her other ear. There I took some of her hair in my hand, held it to my mouth and kissed it. She gasped and caught her breath again, her chest heaved. I looked at her, eye to eye, held her hair to my face, feeling its softness against my skin, smiled and gave her a very soft touch of my lips to hers. Not a kiss, not yet.

Kissing her cheek and her neck to her other collar bone, her breathing was definitely becoming more excited. Her hand were running all over me. After some time of teasing her with these little kisses and whispers I moved in front of her, looked at her eye to eye, smiled and pressed my lips against hers. She melted.

Our lips came together followed my our tongues, first gently touching each other, the with more excitement. Her hands were caressing my chest, my stomach, and more. My hands had found their way under her little t-shirt to those excited breasts below. Her breathing was heavy, mine was heavy, we were in sync. Two people, surrounded by nature, the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach, alone yet not alone, what could be better?

Mesmerized

Remembering what happened is sad,
but it reminds me of the importance of living each day.
Living each day is not just living from one day to the next,
It's more than that.
It's taking it in, into your innermost places.
It's pausing and thinking,
what can I do to help make this world a little better today?
It's putting into action your dreams,
it's not living the same old nightmare day in and day out.
I never get tired of doing something positive.
Something that helps the world be a better place.
The feeling of accomplishment runs deep into my heart.

The day my life changed
it wasn't just about that day, or that time, of my life.
It was to change all of my life.
There's no point in wishing life could be as it once was.
Those sands have blown away
and the land has taken on a new shape.
The new shape is just a satisfying as the old,
just in a different way.

I watch the small dark shapes glide gently through the blue.
I watch the brown, black, and white shapes scamper
through the browns and tans and greys.
I feel the warmth of the yellow in the blue,
warming my skin as it's supposed to do.
I'm captivated.
I'm wondering.
This amazing site is unfolding before me,
I'm thinking.
I'm remembering,
and smiling.
None of that beauty,
none of the beauty of our lives,
lasts forever.

My memories also make me sad,
knowing I will never again have what I once had.
But that is in the past,
there's nothing I can do about it now.
I can smile because I remember what I had.
I smile because I see there is still so much
beauty to be experienced.

I hope you can take some time,
time for yourself,
be alone,
think, notice things around you,
let the yellow above, in the blue, warm your skin.
Where the blue meets the blue,
where the greens and browns meet the blue.
Where the blue water meets the blue sky.
Where the white frothy tops of waves float across the blue water.
Where the white puffy clouds float through the blue sky above.
I hope you can take some time,
Some time to be alone,
On a mountainside,
Watching the hawks floats on the winds in the blue above.
On a boulder high on the side of a valley,
watching the rabbits and deer in the meadows below.
I hope you can take some time to be mesmerized,
to stare,
to think,
to wonder.
To be thankful for what you have, your life.

Colombia

The sun always shining
Warm water waves rolling
It’s hot, so find some shade
A breeze gently blowing
Coffee like nowhere else
Cocos, Piñas, Mangoes
Relaxing, free, friendly

New York City

Long coat covers me
Umbrella over me
Cold rain against me
Strong wind pushes me
New York City

Wonders

Look up and gaze at a star
Let your mind wander near and far
Look inside and gaze at your heart
Let your heart run, give it a start
The waves roll in onto the beach
Think of the wonders they can teach
I hear the thunder in the sky
As the lightning flashes, too nearby
Be quiet and listen, it sounds like art
As I watch it all with my sweetheart

The Spot

There’s a spot!

There, on my wall.

It’s a blot!

Quick! Make the call!.

Colored red,

And also black.

Something’s dead,

Attack! And whack!.

Mosquito!

There, on my wall.

Mosquito!

Is now graffito.

My Flip-flop

My flip-flop is broken
Now I feel heartbroken

I wore it to the beach
One day I didn’t teach

I walked through the flood
And got stuck in the mud

My foot came out all dirty
My flip-flop stuck in firmly

Stuck firmly in the wet muck
With great effort I got it unstuck

One strap was separated
The flip-flop and I were not elated

My flip-flop could only flip
Now repaired, it can flip-flop flip-flop

Hug

Another day, another dollar,
Another day feeling smaller,
Nothing is everything,
No need for a plaything,
and everything is nothing
we just need more hugging.

Dream or Reality?

When I wake up

Do I wake up to reality?

When I wake up

Do I wake up to a dream?

My reality is mine,

Or is it?

My dream is mine,

Or is it?

You are in my reality,

Am I in yours?

You are in my dream,

Am I in yours?

Do I make my own reality?

Do I dream my own dream?

What would happen if my reality

Became my dream?

What would happen if my dream

Became my reality?

Christmas Cheer

In the movies and on TV
The people are always full of glea.

Santa Claus, Snowmen in the parks
Children’s eyes light up like sparks.

Nativity scene in the mall
Is the normal protocol

Christmas is always very white
It’s all so pretty and quite a sight

Christmas is always very green
It’s also pretty and quite a scene

Where I am, where I want to be
Is to be sitting by the sea.

Christmas is always very fun
We’re all together in the sun

Christmas should be full of cheer
But all I want is a beer,

Big Red Balloon

Big red balloon
Floating away too soon
On its way to the moon
Bye bye big red balloon

Who Are You?

Are you your own?
Are your thoughts you?
Are you thoughts your own?
Who are you when you are outside?
Who are you when you are alone?
We are who we are, yes?
We are who we were brought up to be.
We are who we were made to be.
We are who we were trained to be.
We are our parents.
We are our siblings.
We are our teachers.
We are our friends.
Are you who you want to be?
Are you who you think you are?
Very possibly, no.
Very probably, no.
To be who you want to be might be easy,
if you want to be the same.
Or, to be who you want to be might be difficult,
if you want to be different.
To be who you ought to be requires nothing,
if you want to be the same.
Or, to be who you ought to be requires strength,
if you want to be unique.
To be who you are requires nothing.
To be who you are is the easiest.
If you want to be the same.
Are you going to be the same?
Are you going to be everyone?
Are you going to be unique?
Are you going to be you?
Who are you? You or me?

The Lizard

Little lizard on my wall
Please be careful, do not fall

Little feet must be sticky
Don't walk on me, that'd be icky

A little green, a little brown
Easy to hide on the ground

So very small, so very quick
Tongue grabs mosquito with a flick

I never see you on my ceiling
You must not find it at all appealing

Maybe being upside down
Makes it difficult to get around

Running here and running there
Even running under my chair

I know you live out in the garden
To you I'm prob'ly just a Martian

You're so small and I'm so big
We can't dance nor do a jig

Maybe we can have a walk
To the beach and then to talk

Oh, but I forgot, you cannot talk
But I can protect you from the hawk

Oh, little lizard, I think it's hopeless
The two of us, never much closeness

Mosquito

Mosquito
I see you
Just a black dot

Flying erratically around me
I clap my hands
And hope you are between them

I look at my hands
And I don't see you squashed in them
Where did you go?

You disappeared
Do you have a stealth mode?
I see you again

Then I don't see you
How do you do that?
I wish I could do that

But alas I can't
I see you again
Line up my hands

And clap you between them
There you are
Your remains are smeared in my palms

No more mosquito

Moving Forward

Life doesn't stop, it always moves forward,
Like the never-ending breeze.

No matter what may come in and block your way,
Like a storm and rough seas.

You can't live in the past, in the dust and gloom,
Like the remnants of old memories.

Put one foot in front of another,
Like the forward-moving centuries.

As the clouds move forward, never backwards,
Forget about the treacheries.

Another breath breathed, another step ahead,
Remember the good memories.

Another step forward is another day gained,
Moving forward with all your energies.

Don't stop now that you have started again,
Fill each day with new discoveries.

Remember

I'm just sitting in the sand
With the waves at my hands

I could sit here all the day
And when the skies are all grey

I love to soak in the rain
And dream of going to Spain

Sitting on this old, wet log
Staring out at the bog

I try to forget the past
But the mem'ries they last

The memories are with me
Remember them gladly

I remember the good times
And also the bad times

I remember your smile
It stays with me awhile

Roosters

The roosters, they crow every morning
They crow every morning, without warning
Without warning they stopped and no more crowing
Yet I still wake up at four in the morning.

The Day

Open your windows and doors
And finish the chores
Get up and go outside
It's so big and wide
Enjoy the day for a while
Forget about life's trials
The day is yours, go take it
Open your mind and your spirit
Enjoy the day for a while
It's yours with a smile

The Daily Routine

Many people are stuck in the day to day rut, the daily routine.
Up at five, home by six, it's a terrible fix, the daily routine.
We're always on the go, life's straight as an arrow, the daily routine.

I lost the meaning of life, always full of strife, my daily routine.
I crossed the world searching, my life only lurching, my daily routine.
I found only heartbreak, it is time to awake, my daily routine.

Look closely at your present with a good intent, your daily routine.
You can improve it if you will only submit, your daily routine.
Forget about the future, break out of your stupor, your daily routine.

Make a new decision, time for a new vision.
Try a diff'rent current, don't live as a servant.
Break out of your routine, it's time to start clean.

Shores of the Caribe

The sun sits on the blue waves, big and orange
The moon sits upon the clouds, small and round

Cats sit on rocks, in the warmth of the day
Dogs wander in search of something to eat

The breeze blows from beyond the horizon
The still air of July is stifling hot

Flowers bloom all year round in your garden
Coconuts, mangoes, there for the taking

The stars overhead light the sky above
In the mangroves the birds welcome the days

The sun is high and hot in the morning
It is low and hot in the afternoon

Always relaxed and enjoying the day
Stress is washed away in the Caribe

On the shores of the sunny Caribe
Warms your mind and your soul everyday

Upside Down

Strawberries growing in the seas
Fish swimming in the trees
Stars shining in the ground below
While worms display a nighttime show
Birds fly through the ground that's plowed
Grasshoppers hop from cloud to cloud

The world as we know it is upside down
No longer a smile but rather a frown
One day we will turn it over
With the luck of a four-leafed clover
When that day comes, we will all smile
Let's hope it lasts for more than a while
I hope on that day you are in my arms
So, we can enjoy each other's charms

Then the strawberries will grow below the trees
And the fish will be swimming in the seas
The stars will again display a nighttime show
While the worms live happily in the ground below
Birds will fly from cloud to cloud
As grasshoppers hop through land that's plowed

The world as we want it - not upside down
Now a smile and no longer a frown
One day we turned it over
We found the luck of a four-leaf clover
When that day came we all had a smile
Let's hope it lasts for more than a while
I hope on that day you are in my arms
So, we can enjoy each other's charms

My Friend

The waves roll gently onto the beach
On the breeze is the scent of the peach
Geese fly by in the form of a vee
The sight of my friend fills me with glee

The clouds roll gently across a blue sky
As the sun sets I feel a gentle sigh
The moon casts it soft rays on your face
As I hold you in my warm embrace

The Thought Of You

The coffee is brewing
The sky is blueing
The clouds are whitening
The thought of you is frightening

To see you again
Is like ants on my skin
If I hear your voice once more
I will fall flat on the floor

Take a Risk to be Alive

Inspired by this quote from the book "Veronica decides to die"
"…make me climb some dangerous mountains, because I need to run the risk of being alive"
- Paulo Cuelho

Alive. Take a risk to be alive.
Go for a long run, a long drive.
Leave the hive, risk being alive.
Alive. Take a risk to be alive.

Sunrise. Take a look when you arise.
Watch the sun rise, feel alive.
Wake up, open your eyes.
Alive. Take a risk to be alive.

Follow your heart. Give your life a new start.
Look deep inside. You can go far.
I took the risk and I made a new start.
Alive. Take a risk to be alive.

Sunset. Look at your day, and don't forget.
And through the night, to another sunrise.
And open your eyes to what's inside.
Alive. Take a risk, and be alive.

Alive. Another day to watch the butterflies.
To watch the birds above fly.
Feel alive, feel the life, and fly.
Alive. Take a risk, and be alive.

Follow your heart. Take a risk to be alive.
Go ahead and give it a start, follow your heart.
I'm alive, I took the risk and I'm alive.
Follow your heart's desire and feel alive.

The Healing Path

Life is full of negativity, it is full of bad experiences, but what do you do when you confront adverse situations in your life?

I learned in that terrible year after the death of my wife what not to do.

I learned from the many deaths in my family that a person cannot live if he/she closes himself to everyone close to him.

That is what I did in that year that turned into a living hell. I hope you who are reading this will not do what I did if you find yourself in a life-changing situation. I hope you will read on and find out what I did to get on the path to healing.

After such a difficult time in life, we need to be open to other people. We need to talk to other people. We need to get the feelings out of our mind and out in the air.

Only then can we begin to heal ourselves. Only then can we begin to see that life continues, and those who are now gone cannot prevent us from continuing to live a good and productive life, a life with love in it. We cannot let those who are no longer with us stop us from living. I think it doesn't matter if those people, or that person, are still alive or has gone on to a higher place. We must put them in the back of our mind and focus on our live going forward. I will never forget any I have lost, but my life is not ruled by the loss of them. My life is ruled by my love for them and the knowledge that they would want me to continue the best I can, even without them.

I have memories of my wife returning to my mind ever day, maybe only a few seconds, maybe many minutes. I remember my brothers often. Nevertheless, they are gone and that cannot stop me from living a life of happiness and fulfillment.

Sometimes I have negative thoughts in my mind, but when I do, I force those negative thoughts away by thinking of something positive. I do not dwell on the negativity; I do not dwell on the losses.

To live life to its fullest we must maintain a positive attitude. We must push the negative thoughts back into the dark corners where they came from. Once those negative thoughts are back in their corners we must leave them there, let them live there alone and untouched. We must not return to them and pick them and look at them over and over. That will only result in us becoming bitter and angry people. All our family and friends will see that bitterness and anger in our life, in our attitude, in our personality, in our speaking. There's no hiding that from anyone. Push those negative experiences, memories, back into their corner and leave them there where they belong.

Try to begin living in the light of a new attitude, a new presence, a life that will bring happiness and joy into your soul. Find something that makes you smile. Find something that makes you happy. Then do that whatever-it-is you found. Do it because it will bring a smile to your face. Do it because it will help you heal. Do it because it will help you move your life forward.

I have always loved being out in the natural world - the mountains of Washington state, the Mountains and the deserts of Arizona. The beach of Rocky Point, Mexico. I found joy, peace, happiness when I was hiking, 4x4 off-roading, sitting in the sunshine and listening to the sounds of the natural world around me. That is where I found, and still find, peace and joy. Not so much in solitude, which is nice from time to time, but those times when I needed to recharge my soul, my spirit, and clear my mind.

Whether a person in such a situation as I was in back in 2010 and 2011, or is in a completely different situation, such as a broken heart, the outcome is similar. Not the same, but similar - we need to heal, we need to rejuvenate, we need to take the time to learn who we are without that other person in our life. It's not easy. But, it is a choice. You have to choose - do I move forward or stagnate where I am? Do I look for happiness and joy, or do I settle for anger and bitterness? For me the answer was easy - move forward into a life of fulfillment, personal, spiritual, fulfillment. A life of happiness and joy in everything. I chose to change my attitude and change my life and I've had no second thoughts or doubts about what I chose to do. And remember this: there's always hope.

Wake Up

Are you looking for your knight in shining armor, my dear Guinevere?
Are you looking for your Don Juan, my dear Doña Ana?
Are you looking for a man to carry you away into the night?

Are you looking for your Prince Charming, my dear Cinderella?
Are you looking for your Romeo, my dear Juliet?
Are you looking for a man to carry you away into the night?

Wake up! Open your eyes! Look at what you have right in front of you.
Have you considered the one you are with, the one who wants you?
Wake up! Open your eyes! Look at what you have right in front of you.

Smile

Smile,
the sun has risen,
the birds are singin',
the flowers are bloomin',
your smile is all consumin'.
Smile.

What is Love?

People don't just "fall in love". They fall into infatuation. You think you have found your "one", the one you will spend the rest of your life with. You fall head-over-heels in love. Then a few months later, Bang! It all blows up. What happened? I was never love, it was infatuation.

Infatuation is passion, love is passion, but infatuation is temporary, love lasts a lifetime.

Infatuation is sudden and quick, love takes time to develop and nurture.

Infatuation is see the relationship from my own point of view; love is compromise and working together to develop a lasting two-way relationship.

Infatuation is putting the other person on a pedestal that I cannot reach, seeing them as perfect and not seeing any imperfections. They are there, but because we haven't taken the time to develop a relationship I don't know what they are.

Infatuation is Yay! I found my life mate! I WIN! That is not love. Love is about sharing and wanting to live for the other person, not for myself only. It's not I WIN but Let's do this together.

Infatuation is saying you know your new partner like the back of your hand, but you really know next to nothing; while love says I want to learn everything about you, tell me your story, your history, and I will tell you mine.

Infatuation feels jealous every time someone even talks to your new partner because you want the whole world to know that person belongs to you and you only. Love is not jealous, it is secure in the knowledge that you both share the same feelings for each other and would do nothing to endanger those feelings and your relationship.

Infatuation says Let's get married now! Love says Let's get to know each other intimately (not sexually) first and develop our relationship. Marriage doesn't have to happen immediately.

Infatuation is being in love with the way the other person looks, walks, talks, thinks, and their feelings. Love is about a personal and deep knowledge of each other that only comes with time spent together.

Infatuation is insecurity – if your new partner doesn't call or text you one day, you cry and wonder what happened? Love is security, knowing that even without those messages or calls your partner loves you every day, more and more as life goes on.

Infatuation is feeling the relationship must always be perfect, never an argument or fight, never a rude word spoken, but always happiness and joy and pleasantries. Love is about settling differences through compromise, hugs and kisses, and understanding that building a lifetime relationship is work, hard work, for both people to take part in. You know things will go wrong from time to time, and you know the two of you can work it out.

Infatuation is drama, a lot of drama in the relationship – overblowing the small things, saying things to hurt the other person because they did something that may have hurt you.

Infatuation is about holding your partner to too-high expectations and then getting upset when those expectations are not met. Love is tender and sweet, it is talking and working through problems, giving support to each other and never talking bad about each other.

Infatuation is stressful, it will drain your energy and you will be tired a lot of the time. You will be consumed by questions such as What is he doing tonight? Where is she at right now? Why hasn't he contacted me? You are constantly worried about your partner, dreaming about him, thinking about her, worried, and you cry for them. Love is none of that. It doesn't drain you, it gives you energy. In a real loving relationship you feel joy and gratitude.

Infatuation is needing to be connected to another person, needing that feeling of companionship. In the tough times, though, where is your partner? Are you on your own? You want and need their attention, are you getting it? Love is a connection that is not broken, even by distance. You and your partner are a team and the two of you work through life as a team. You don't feel alone because you know you have a partner who will always be by your side, not in front of you, not behind. But rather, standing side-by-side with you, with your hand is hers.

We can spend our lives searching for or waiting for the "one, right person" to suddenly appear in front of us. Or, we can choose the person who shows us they are truly interested in us for who we are, not for their own desire of a fleeting, temporary, relationship. Because love is not about me, it's not about you. It's not about my "feelings". It's not about your feelings. It's about two people taking action, the action needed to get to know one another, and develop something called love, that they both share equally.

Real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly even though we don't particularly feel loving or even feel like we like the person at the moment.

Real love does not have its roots in a feeling of love.

Real love is about how we act towards the one we want to be with. Love is a decision you make and continue to make in order to create an experience that is described as love.

Love is an action that if you don't use it you lose it. Love is like any communication, if you never send it out, you won't get a return.

Love is an experience related to a strong sense of affection. Affection is a "disposition or state of mind or body" that is often associated with a feeling or type of love. This definition suggests that you do something rather than have something done to you.

How do you feel affection for anything? You would actually decide to show it love, admire it, pay attention to it, treat it right, honor it, praise it, and find the good in it. At which point you will then have affection for it.

Love is something you give to others, not something you feel because something happens to you.

Love is something we develop over time, not a day, a week, a month. Maybe not even a year. It must be worked at, it must be learned through interaction with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Do you have to "fall in love" or "feel love" for another person before you decide to spend the rest of your life with that person?

If you answer is Yes, then you will probably find nothing but failure in your love life.

Love is not an Earthquake

Love is not a feeling,
It is something that must be developed.
Love is not a sensation,
In which we are suddenly enveloped.
Love is not an emotion,
In constant flux like our attitude.
Love is not a perception,
which can be so easily skewed.
Love is a decision you must make
It doesn't just start like an earthquake.
Love requires practice, we must take action
Love comes, at last, from our interaction.

Waves

Some are big, some are small,
Some have too much force,
Others none at all.

They're blue or they're white,
Here they come again,
They're frosty, they're bright.

They never stop, they never end, waves.

Don't let'em in your mouth,
Awful taste of salt,
You'll want to go south.

Don't let'em in your eyes,
They sting like a fright,
They are worse than lies.

They never stop, they never end, waves.

Some hit me on the chin,
And against my head,
Here they come again.

They push me, they pull me,
They make me feel small,
I prob'ly should flee.

They never stop, they never end, waves.

They are strong, they are weak,
Here they come again,
They're full of mystique.

Are they coming? Are they going?
Some are soft, some not,
Are never slowing.

They never stop, they never end, waves.

They are often gentle,
They can be frightful,
And sometimes mental.

They never stop, they never end,
Rolling in and out,
Think of them, transcend.

They never stop, they never end, waves.

I Choose the other Path

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you didn't intend to take, but that doesn't mean it won't take you to a wonderful place.

Sometimes you find yourself on a path you did intend to take, but that doesn't mean it will take you to a wonderful place.

Sometime you might choose to take a different path, the path less taken, less popular, but that doesn't mean it won't take you someplace wonderful.

Sometime you will have to make a choice - the path to the left? The path to the right? Which should I choose? How do I decide? Do I go down the popular, well-trodden path? Or the path with many uncertainties?

Nobody can make that choice for you, for me. That is a choice we each have to make for ourselves. Search your heart and you will find the answer. Not just 5 minutes, but hours over days, weeks, months if necessary. Search your heart and you will find your answer.

My life suddenly changed paths without me having to make any decisions about it. It was thrown upon in a moment, in an afternoon. For a year or more afterward, I lived the life of a living hell. Everything I did failed. I lost everything, even myself.

Then I realized I needed to search within myself if I were to climb out of the hole I dig myself into.

I spent many hours over many days and weeks and months sitting alone in the desert. Not a metaphorical desert, but a real desert where I could hear only the sounds of the birds and insects. Where I could see only the creatures created before mankind set foot upon the earth. It was in this time of self-healing, meditation if you will, that I started to find myself again. And from that point on I started the long climb out of a deep, deep hole, out of my personal hell.

I eventually reached the top of the hole, climbed over the rim, and started the next part of my recovery - exploring what to do with the rest of my life. Which path should I take? The known path of an 8-5 routine, the doldrums of the same days repeated over and over again? Or should I look for something different? Something outside of my comfort zone? A path that would cause other people to ask "Are you crazy?"

I had a choice to make - the path known, or the path unknown. If I had chosen the path well known my life wouldn't have changed, not really. It would be the same routine, day after day, with the same people saying the same things. On the other hand, I could have chosen the path unknown, a path I had never set foot to before. A path people said was crazy and dangerous. Two choices - continue my life as it was, or start something new.

I chose to latter option - the path unknown. I had written a message a message to friends telling them about this choice and what I was thinking of doing and in the message I wrote that I was starting a new chapter in the book of my life. One friend I hadn't heard from in many years wrote back "Chip, you're not starting a new chapter in the book of your life, you're starting a new book".

I thought about that statement - I'm starting a new book, not a new chapter. Why is that significant? Taking the path well known would be a new chapter. That would be the same story continuing in the same book. No real changes happening there. It would be easy and comfortable, familiar. Is that what I wanted? Is that what I needed? Familiar? Comfortable? Easy? Or did I need something bigger than that? I decided that yes, I needed something bigger which is why I had decided on the path less taken. The unknown path. It would be full of difficult times, hardships, new friendships, missed loved ones, new loves, new experiences, excitement, a new routine. A new book? Would I be writing an entirely new book of my life? Yes, that is exactly what it would be, break out of my old routine, step out of my comfort zone, and start writing a new life story.

What would that new life story be about? I had no idea, I only knew that I had to do it. With my wife, Cheryl, gone from my life, starting a new book was the only real choice. To choose to stay on the path well known, to have maintained the routine, would have been spiritual death, mental death. A slow road to nothing but unhappiness, possibly bitterness and anger because of the way life turned on me. I had to start a new book; I felt I had no choice but to take the path unknown. However, the question remained - what would this new book be about? What would the plot be? How would it unfold? Only time would answer those questions. Was I nervous with these uncertainties? Afraid of what might happen in such an unknown story? Did I feel trepidation? Honestly only the slightest little bit which I pushed back into the corners of my mind. I felt excitement and wonder. I had the self-confidence to know that no matter what, it was going to work out fine. I knew it wouldn't be easy, writing this new book, but I also had the self-assurance and fortitude to go through with it. And I did.

The day came to step out of one life and into another; to step onto a plane that would take me to a country I knew little about and what I did know was based on what I'd seen on TV or read about on the internet. I left with my carry-on bag and two checked bags. That's all I had of my previous life. Everything else had been sold or given to charity. I decided to make a clean break, and I did just that. Leaving my sons, brothers, relatives, and friends behind wasn't easy. Especially when one son was happy for me and the other wasn't. But I couldn't let that effect my new life story. I love my sons with all my heart, there's no doubt about that. I always will. I may not be there with them, but they have their own life stories to write. That day came, I gave them each hugs, shook their hands, and said "See you later", then I was gone to start a new journey.

I came to this country, foreign to me, with no expectations. I was starting from a clean slate. I would accept my new life in all its glory and with all its defects. I knew it would be different from what I am used to, a new culture, a new society, new norms, different attitudes, and different beliefs. I came not expecting to find the same comfortable life that I had before, but I came expecting adventure and new experiences. That is exactly what I have found.

I am now a little more than 6 years into my new life story, my new book of life. It hasn't been easy, but it has been an adventure. It hasn't been fun-n-games, but it has been an experience that has changed me. Every day is different, I like that. No more 9-5 daily routine that never changes. I like that, too. Every day has had some uncertainties, some days more than others, but that is life, that is what makes it exciting. Without those uncertainties, without those small worries, life would be routine and boring. But, I don't let the negative aspects affect me. I push them back into the corners of my mind and I continue moving forward because that is the direction I am looking - ahead. If I had eyes in the back of my head, maybe I would be going backwards, I don't know. But, what I don't do is this: I don't turn my head and look back at what might have been, what could have been. I focus on the road ahead, always and only, on the path that moves me forward into the new pages, the next chapters, of this new book of my life.

Am I glad for the decision I made back in 2013? Yes. Do I have any regrets about making this decision? No. We all have to choose which path we will take. Think about your paths ahead, consider them, pray about them, think about them, but don't over-think them, don't take the rest of your life wondering which to take. Give careful consideration to the paths for a relatively short period of time, then make a decision, choose a path, and step out onto that path. The alternative - the same life as always. If that is what you choose I hope the best for you, if you choose the path less trodden I know you will find yourself in a new adventure, whether it is good or not is your choice, it is what you make of it.

I Want You, I Don't Want You

When I see the moon, I see your smile
When I see the flowers along the roadside, I see your sparkling eyes
When I hear the birds singing, I hear you whispering
When I am walking, alone, I am missing you

At night, lying in my bed, alone
I dream of you being here by my side once again, once again
When I feel the sun on my face, I feel your hand
We are hand in hand, walking together

I loved you and you only. Did you love me?
I don't think so, I read your words, and I don't think so
I tried, I wanted it to be us, always, for always
But it appears that was only me, not you

Can I have you here by my side?
Do I want you back again? By my side?
Yes, and no, and yes, it's hard to say
I want you, I don't want you, I don't know what I want

I miss you, yet I don't miss you
I miss your touch, I do miss your touch
I want you, I don't want you, I don't know what I want

What do I want? It's hard to say
It's hard to say, I just don't know, yet
I want you, I don't want you, I don't know what I want

I am, I can't

I am who I am
I can't be the man of your dreams
I can only be who I am

I can't be your saving prince, but
I can hold you when you are sad
I can support you when you need to cry

I can't be your every hope, wish, or dream, but
I can listen when you need an ear
I can reassure you when you feel lost

I can't be the one you dream about, but
I can love you when you need to be loved
I can accept you for who you are

I can't change you to be who I want you to be, but
I can love you because of who you are
I can live for you because I love you

I can't be perfect and I don't expect you to be, but
I can hold your hand when that is all you need
I can be devoted to you and you alone because of who you are

I am who I am
I hope I am the man of your dreams
I am who I am and I am here for you.

I am, You are

Do you have a dream to find the one you hope for? I am.
Do you need a hope to carry you through? I am.
Do you wish your hope will come soon? I am.
Do you need a reason to continue on? I am.

I have a dream to find the one I hope for, You are.
On my journey I hope to find the one, You are.
On my journey I wish my hope will come soon, You are.
On my journey I have a reason to carry on, You are.

High and Low

Let me wipe away your tears
Let me hold you when you have fears
Let me take away your doubts
Let me show you what my love is about

High and low
I will soar with you in your highs
High and low
I will stand by you in your lows

I want you and you want me
We are two yet one we should be
Open your door, and please don’t run
Accept me, try me, and let's be one

High and low
I will soar with you in your highs
High and low
I will stand by you in your lows

Gemstone

When I was walking along the malecon
I saw the beach but did not feel alone
I imagined that you were by my side
The sea and my thoughts were at high tide

I imagined us walking together, two birds of a feather
hand in hand, two people, two grains of sand
It's a big universe to go through alone
You're more than a grain of sand, you're my gemstone

Does life have different paths?

I decide to take a particular road and am then involved in an accident. Life would be different.
If I had left just 10 seconds later, would I have missed that accident? Life would be different.
If I had taken a different road, would I have missed that accident? Life would be different.

You decide to go out for dessert; you sit at one particular table facing a particular direction, would we have met? Life would be different.
You could have walked a different route than you usually walk, would we have met? Life would be different.

A different path results in a different life, a different future.
If I had taken the route I usually take, you and I possibly would never have met. Life would be different.
If I had left a minute or two later you and I may not have met. Life would be different.
If you had chosen a different route, you and I may not have met. Life would be different.

This is something I struggle with - does life have different paths?
The bible talks about being "predestined" but just what does that mean? And how much of our day-to-day life is "predestined"?

I wonder about this because I have been a Christian all my life, and have been taught about predestination in church sermons over the years. But, how much of our life is predestined? All of it? Every second? Every minute? Or just the overall story of our life - the beginning and the end?

Am I on the only possible path for my life?

Is there possibly another path that I can't possibly know, or be aware of, even if I'm on it?

But Always We

Looking into your eyes,
Did you steal stars from the skies?
The effect of your smile,
Makes my life worthwhile.
The soft touch of your hands,
Leads me into new lands.
With you I will always be,
Not just me, but always we.

Ascension

You are a dear friend, unlike any other,
I will always love you more than any other.
Just as the birds singing every morning,
The stars are all yours, for your adorning.

Your beauty, as natural as nature can be,
As the corals that grow within our great seas.
Your soft voice always draws my attention,
Being with you is my ascension.

A Love Apart

I am yet young,
With hopes, wishes, and dreams.
I'm far from done,
With the birds I will sing.

The sun will rise,
And the moon, it still glows.
Stars are the eyes,
And we forget our throes.

I hope life's long,
My wish is for yours, too.
Life is a song
I want to sing with you.

The clouds above,
I watch them, and I dream.
Soft sounds of a dove,
They pull my heart strings.

I think of you,
And the love in your heart,
One of a few,
A love that sets you apart.

Me on the old Muelle (dock)

Chip Wiegand

Barranquilla, Colombia

Contact me: Chip Wiegand

I teach english as a foreign language in Barranquilla, Colombia. I'm from Kennewick, Washington, USA. In my previous life, as I call it, I was an IT guy, systems administrator, computer tech, as well as a shipping/receiving guy and also worked as a merchandising guy for a year for a camping/RV accessories store.


Claudia Ulloque and Jose Paez Realty linked from Chip Wiegand's blog Claudia Ulloque and Jose Paez Realty linked from Chip Wiegand's blog
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