These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

the gloves

earlier this week dawn bought me a pair of gloves when i work outside on the lawn or cutting stuff around the lawn. they are 70 percent leather and 30 percent cotton, gray gloves.

when she first gave them to me, i smeled them. i'm a very olfactory type of person. i smell almost anything to get a sense of something. that's what a lot of my memories are olfactory's something that irriates dawn because i pull things up to my face and take a good whiff of them.

so these gloves went through the same test. it brought back a lot of memories from working out at the ranch. in fact, i had similar gloves, perhaps the last time i worked at the ranch before i got married. they are not extremely thick, leather gloves, so it makes it easier to grasp things such as shovels, axes, picks, post-hole diggers, fence posts or hay bales (the square kind where you grab the wires around the bales). it makes it so much easier to grab shrub or brush branches after you've cut them. and in texas, that's essential because nearly everything, every brush or shrub, has thorns on it and you will tear up your hands with them if you dont' have gloves on. (it has happened before on occasion when i forgot the gloves.)

so as i pulled the gloves up close and took a deep breath, all of those ranch memories came flooding back. now, i'll admit i'm not exactly the rancher proto-type. but i put in my fair share of building barb-wire fences, clearing away brush to build those fences, lift hay bales off a a field in the middle of july or august, or use them to fix windmills, so as not to burn the hands when pulling a pulley to get pipes from out of the water well underneath the windmill. good times.

and now i do not live in a rural area where any of that is possible. i have moved on from that. however, nowi am now using the gloves for something else...strangling hapless individuals as they pass by our home at night.

actually, i am using them while working on the yard. i have found it quite relaxing. perhaps it's comfortable and a place where i can retreat to to get away from worldly crap, work and worries. that is why i think i enjoy working with my chili (or is it chile??) peppers out back. it's nothing major, but i have three large plants out back that i care for on a daily basis. to one side is a big tomato plant in a large pot. it's got lots of budding tomatoes. my pepper plants have already yielded me quite a bit of peppers, too. i'm waiting for more.

today, i was out in the front yard pulling grass away from the ararngemetn of flowers we have along our walkway that comes up to our porch steps. i took out my books on tape machine and set to pulling rass away from the pretty red and white flowers. it felt so good, so free. it is a nice way to spent a few hours.

i wish we had our own place with a larger backyard where we could plant more flowers and plants and work out all saturday afternoon. that would be relaxing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

odd things

i was crossing pine avenue thursday on my way to the library to return a video and had the beatles playing on my discman. there's heavy traffic on that street due to construction on river ave. it makes it almost impossible to cross at peak hours like noon and 5 p.m.

i've visualized crossing, or attempting to cross, and not having seen a car or truck because of a ray of light through branches or bloackage of some kind, getting hit by a vehicle.

i imagine myself -- at that final instant -- saying "oh shit, i misjudged the car's distance." then i get hit, roll onto the windshield and then off to one side, maybe even struck or runover by a vehicle going in the opposite direction. i lie there, dead or dying while people get out of cars and panic ensues.

if i'm off to the library, whatever item that's in my hand is now lying near a sidewalk, gutter or in someone's hedge, not to be found until the folowing year's snow melt.

but i am careful about this. i always look both ways before crossing pine or any stret. i am more so now that pine is heavily traversed with cars. sometimes i feel embarrassed because i wait too long and i think people are watching me and wondering why is this idiot standing by the curb when no cars are coming.

i was just running that scenario through my head this afternoon.

wouldn't you know it. i go into work at 4. i'm on the phone and i hear the scanner go off about a personal injury priority 1 crash. i hear nothing else because i'm on the phone.

i tell my supervisor about it. then we hear it's in town. there's a scramble to get a photog. then finally a reporter goes (I was lucky enough to stay in the office since i had to call a person in israel on the midle east crisis).

subsequently, i hear it involves a car and bike. not good. too many kids out since it's summer. then i hear it involves a city vehicle.

wel, i turned out to be a 16-year-old kid wo got hit by a bus. it's a bus that has city routes. the kid, allegedly didn't stop or look both ways, and the bus ran into him. he was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition thursday night.

that follows a 21-year-old man who fell off a scaffolding on eighth st. just up the strete from us. he was not lucky enough to even be in critical condition. he died at the hospital. rumor has it he might have been at the pub. the scaffolding was 20 feet high and he climbed it at midnight. draw your own conclusion.

it ws a wild night. i heard the initial call for both the scaffolding fall, since i was in the office late last night when they called it.i left a message for the cops reporter.

any morals here? i dunno. maybe take an extra second to look left and right before shooting across a street on your bike and never climb a scaffolding, period. unless you're supposed to be up there working.

Monday, July 17, 2006

into the woods and out onto the beach

it turned out to be quite eventful sunday. nothing was really planned for the day.
turns out laura and evie were on the way to some beach. we tagged along.

after inquiring what beach to go to, laketown beach was dismissed because of the stairs and evie might not be able to make it over and then back again. we dismissed saugatuck state park, but settled on whatever the little area is next to it where you go to the felt mansion and the old prison.

dawn and i had never been there, so it was nice to go somewhere new. in fact, just last week a friend at work asked if we'd gone to any new parks this summer. we hadn't gone to any. dunno why, but we just hadn't gotten out. god knows there areplenty of them.

so we knew the beach was ahead of us somewhere. but the woods were betwen us and the beach.

we set off, tall trees all around and trickles of sunlight seeping through spaces in between branches. the path was marked well enough and padded down with pine needles and such.

we walked endlessly, not really knowing where we were going. i had visions of the donner party in my mind if we didn't make it out. but i figured that as long as we stuck to paths, we'd end up somewhere eventually. plus, there were fplks on the paths every now and again. so i guess resorting to cannibalism was premature on my part.

we went towards an area where the paths went left, straight ahead and to the right. we headed straight and in the process saw a fawn eating off to the left side of the path in some heavy vegetation. it was about 15 feet away but didn't run off. we then found out we were going the wrong way. this guy said we needed to have gone left. so we sorta followed him.

as we made our way southwest, this guy somewhere in front of us, my imagination got away from me. i began to think he was leading away from civilization and resort to some unseemly act of violence. i had just finished watcing the movie "hostel" the night before, so a lot of this violence was fresh in my mind.

but we encountered peole coming back, so i figured we were safe.

soon the terrain elevated and wound around a bit. the sound of boats on lake michigan was heard through the trees and sand dunes.

then under foot the ground changed from the pine needles and dirt to sand. it happened quickly as the path wound its way up and to the right. the trees gave way some. and there she was the grand lake making its appearance through a larg path cut througha large sand dune. it was so blue and it stretched on and on.

we made our way onto the beach. giant sand dunes covered with vegetation and trees comprised the backdrop behind us. in front waves spashed up towards us and water, water every where for miles toward the western horizon. and there we werew, tiny humans resting n towels in the sandy beach between the nature of the lake and that of the sand dunes and woods behind us. you begin to feel quite insignificant in the presence of mother nature.

we hung out for a couple of hours. dawn, laura and evie went into the lake. i stayed behind. i'm not fond of getting in the lake. i respect it too much and fear it. i've heard of too many accidents and drownings and don't wish to become a statistic. besides, someone had to look after the pooch that went with us.

we made our way back and encountered a lot of people coming toward the beach. it's very popular, it appears.i don't blame them.its beautiful and secluded.

after some minor difficulty finding our way back (went down the wrong path), we emerged from the woods and into civilization -- the asphalt parking lot.

such a lovely place. if any of my relatives ever decided to visit, we're definitly bringing some gear and going back for some more. or dawn and i can go and enjoy.