This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Don't wait so we can catch up

God's great gift to us is our ability to imitate, to emulate, and to mimic.

The three words all mean the same thing, each one is like the other.

We can learn how to live the best, most fulfilling, happiest life ... by learning from others who have already done so.

First we have to be able to recognize those teachers, those lives, in our lives.

Our parents are often our first, our best, and our only potential role models.

In emulating those on the path, we also gain access to the path and everyone we touch from there can see the path and how it is a good path, and they may choose to walk it themselves.

Our teachers may suddenly get too far ahead on the path where we cannot see them; and we may worry that they are gone and that the path now goes elsewhere.  But it is us who have temporarily had our view of them blocked by a sudden turn ahead.

We will miss you Mom and Dad; until we see you again...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dais - Part 7 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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The Journals

July 25, 1889, Rossville, Kansas. Gale Farm.
Well, that ends my telling of Dorothy Zona Gale's telling of her own story. My name is Hickory Dunn, a ranch hand on Henry Gales farm outside of Rossville Kansas. On July 6, around 3pm we had a fierce tornado appear out of the northwest. We just had time to lock up the barn and make it to the cellar when Dorothy insisted on returning to the house to find her dog. He would not let himself be coaxed into the dark cellar. Hunk, who's real name I never learned, instantly rushed up top to retrieve Dorothy just before the house shook fiercely for us down below. After the noise died down, we all ran outside to find out what happened to Dorothy and Hunk. The tornado had just missed the house and barn but there were pieces of farm everywhere. We could see large objects flying around in the sky to the Southeast. We heard Hunk calling from the house. Inside we found them in Dorothy's room. Dorothy was crumpled but breathing on the floor of her room with a nasty gnash on her forehead, probably from a burst window frame. Her dog was laying beside her whimpering loud enough to still be heard through the receding racket. To make my long story shorter, we quickly repaired Dorothy's room. Margaret, who likes Dorothy to call her Em, tended to Dorothy and sent Zeke into town to get Doctor Johns. Dorothy did not wake for 8 days. We were all very frightful and the Doctor said nothing to encourage hope. We had just about everyone we knew come by to visit and talk to her. Margaret talked to her for hours every day and took care of her needs as she lay in her bed so quiet; breathing and sometimes making small movements. Me, Hunk, Zeke, and Henry spent the next days and many nights tending to the repairs around the farm. We were thankful to God that Dorothy was still alive and also that most of the animals had survived. The corn crop was mostly gone. We mused that the crop ended up in Drake Miller's farm near Silver Lake. Anyway, we still had some acres left to tend. This morning, Margaret instructed Henry, who was repairing the pig pen, to find everyone and bring them to Dorothy's room. Well, I guess I made a long explanation of the story after all. The reason I'm writing this is because Dorothy was a different person when she came back to us. She talked about her dream constantly, almost as soon as she opened her eyes. The next day she kindly asked me if she could tell me her story from beginning to end and have me write it down. She wanted to remember it but felt she could not accurately write it herself. Mind you, Dorothy is quite a good student and a better writer than I, thanks to Margaret's tutelage and her classroom schooling. So, I wrote that story the way I heard it from Dorothy. I have only 2 comments about Dorothy's story. First, Dorothy is a very imaginative girl and we all love her. Also, I feel that her dog Toto is a very mischievous dog and, as much as he has frequently angered most of us on Henry's farm with his daily antics; mostly involving small farm animals, Dorothy's story has helped us understand that somehow he was an important part of bringing her back to us. Toto barely left Dorothy's bedside during her long sleep. When he did leave we could plainly hear where he was due to the horrible sounds emanating from the pig pen. Enough said about Toto. I'm writing this story in a second journal that I'll use for just for Dorothy, just in case she would like to keep it for herself.

July 30, 1889, Rossville, Kansas. Gale's Farm.
Dorothy was quite happy and thankful to have me write her story in my new journal. She already read it and decided to have me keep it. She wants to start her own. Dorothy is only 15 years old. According to Margaret she was born in Portage, Wisconsin. Not sure where that is, only been as far North as Madison. Today she said she wants to write stories when she is an adult. Seems to me that she has already grown considerably since the accident. She is more cheerful than ever and spends more time helping Margaret and Henry. She seems to find new ways to lift our spirits. I continue to resist my former impulses to holler at Toto. He is up to his old tricks. Henry said I need to nail up new lower fence slats on the pig pen. Maybe the constant hysterical squealing from the younger pigs will stop.

August 22, 1889, Rossville, Kansas. Gale's Farm.
Henry and Margaret entertained local friends and former neighbors from Topeka yesterday. The news of Dorothy's near brush with death, we're all calling it that now, has reached beyond Rossville by virtue of, not only word of mouth, but by the story she wrote in her journal. She read it to a very interested audience while Margaret served lemonade and biscuits. Lyman Baum, a friend of Henry's that Dorothy somehow remembered in her story, was a guest, smelling just like Dorothy remembered.

August 3, 1891, Rossville, Kansas. Gale's Farm.
Dorothy is 18 and leaving the farm for college. We are all saddened. Having achieved excellent grades at school she was accepted to college in Madison Wisconsin. She has become very passionate about writing and has already proven her considerable talents in this endeavor as the editor of her school newspaper. We will see her off from the Rossville train station next month. We are all so sad but do our best not to express that sentiment to Dorothy because she agonized over her decision for weeks. She said she will visit often.

November 2, 1899, Topeka, Kansas.
Henry and I moved to Topeka two summers ago after Margaret passed. I wrote extensively about that in my personal journal. Henry sold the farm. He bought a small rooming house and I rent a room from him. He is no longer able to work like he did on the farm but instead occupies himself with his new responsibilities keeping the house in good repair and servicing the 4 tenants, including me. I also help him with his stable and we are still good friends. His tenants provide a worry free income and he is becoming active in his church since it is only 4 blocks away. I work in the Miller Granary midtown, getting more than my fill of corn and wheat. We ship the product from here all over the country. Dorothy has visited the farm several times since she went off to college but hasn't traveled to Topeka as yet. We hope to arrange that trip soon with her fiance Lawrence. That will also be a little more difficult because she moved to Milwaukee and landed a big newspaper job. We know from her letters that she earned a masters degree in literature last spring from Madison. She wrote that, since she works with so many men at the paper she is now going by her middle name Zona because it sounds more professional. She wrote that Lyman Baum has published a children's book that closely resembles her own story of her 'week away' when she was hurt during the tornado of '89. She is not unhappy about that because Lymans story is very cheery and embellished with side stories that children will like.

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Matthew 5:16
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven".

1 John 4:12
"No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dais - Part 6 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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Dorothy thought she heard Lions voice somewhere in the distance, "Stay with us Dorothy, we all love you, we don't want you to go". She was afraid. She remembered scarecrow once told her, "There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of ... a lighted match." Another time he had said, "I am never hungry, and it is a lucky thing I am not, for my mouth is only painted, and if I should cut a hole in it so I could eat, the straw I am stuffed with would come out, and that would spoil the shape of my head." Dorothy realized that what she feared most was losing her friends and family.

Dorothy looked at a distance upon her mother's healthy smiling face. She wanted more than anything now to run into her arms, to feel her warm glow and loving voice, to smell her hair. She wanted to tell her mother, father and brother how much she had missed them. Dorothy looked back at the roses and understood the meaning. The only other place she had seen so many bright yellow roses like these were in her dream. Auntie Em lost her only child, daughter Katie, to consumption three years back. Every year at the end of July, Autie Em would cut dozens of the roses from the special garden she tended, a garden cultivated for only for one purpose. She would wrap dozens of the flowers together in separate green and gold ribbons. She and Uncle Henry, and just last year Dorothy, would travel 2 miles to the county cemetery where they would cover Katie's grave with a beautiful arrangement. Even though she had never met Katie, Dorothy knew a lot about her from Autie Em. Em did not talk about her much when Dorothy first arrived on the farm. Uncle Henry once told Dorothy privately that Autie Em had become a different person after Katie passed. Quiet and sad. He wondered whether the girl he married would ever return. Lately, Autie Em had began to talk to Dorothy about Katie. The new Gale family had spent many evenings around the piano singing. Katie had played piano. Dorothy played piano. Neither Em or Henry played piano. On summer weekends, particularly to celebrate the end of harvest, Hick, Zeke, and Hunk would join them. Amongst his other talents, Hick was a great piano player. When Hick played, everyone would not only sing but would dance too, that is, everyone except for Uncle Henry who did not like to dance. But Uncle Henry would dress up in suspenders and a flannel shirt in order to at least look festive. Hunk teased him about looking like a lumberjack. Hick played all his songs by memory from when he lived in Omaha and worked in a dance hall.

In Dorothy's fantastic dream, Autie Em and Dorothy had developed a close bond and she realized that, because of it, Em was beginning to live again. When Dorothy again focused on the beautiful yellow roses now held before her, she felt a terrible light headedness approaching. She realized that Toto had returned to the Dais from his adventures in the courtyard. He was at her feet with his front legs up as far as he could put them on her legs, looking up curiously beyond her into the rainbow above. Dorothy lifted her head skyward and absently observed the kite-like star wheel she saw earlier. It was now rotating slowly and getting larger or closer, she could not tell. She could think no more. All became bright white.

When she found herself, she was looking down at Toto. Her shoes were nowhere in sight nor was her favorite blue-checkered dress. She could see that she was laying down on a bed and under the covers of a familiar quilt. Toto was there, standing with his front feet on her legs, playfully growling as usual, but also holding a familiar gold-green scarf in his mouth as he looked into her eyes. As her vision cleared, Dorothy looked beyond Toto. Just to her left Autie Em kneeled by her bed, shedding enough tears to fill a small pond. Uncle Henry was close behind Em and was quietly wiping away his own pond contributions. Dorothy looked very confused and noticed the three of us kneeling on the other side of her bed. Hunk, Zeke and me. Earlier, Henry had told us Dorothy had been speaking and even moving more than ever. She had been very quiet and still since she hit her head the week before during the tornado. The three of us cleaned up, put on our best clothes, and rushed to her room.
-That was the afternoon of July 15.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dais - Part 5 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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A Brighter sun

Looking below the dais, Dorothy felt a new, unfamiliar sense of warmth and purpose. The fear and uncertainty that had gripped her since she could remember was giving way to calm. In front and below her now she could clearly see dozens of people standing and facing her, watching, seemingly waiting or expecting something. They all wore green clothes and variously shaped hats. Many of the men wore huge hats that reminded her of pictures she'd seen of French soldiers, pointed at the front and back, high and arching over the top. These large-hatted men were just below her and they faced the others. The men held long wooden poles in their hands which they kept in front, creating a barrier preventing others from approaching the Dais. Another group of men, interspersed throughout the crowd wore round hats she had seen worn by Spanish people in one of her school textbooks. Their jackets were lighter green that the rest and had sleeves that ended puffing about the shoulders. Women that were with these men were wearing full head dresses and robes that only allowed their faces to show. She had seen pictures of women dressed like this who lived in Palestine. One of the robed women below her a short distance away held in her arms a beautiful Siamese cat with fierce blue eyes. Next to this woman was a man dressed in a forest green jacket over nickers with high tops. The man had his arm around the woman and his other arm around a blond headed boy. Dorothy knew this man. Dorothy knew this boy, her brother. The man, Daddy, her father, smiled at her with the ear to ear grin she had missed for so long. She felt her heart racing and she wanted to run to him. To them. Just then the woman with the blue-eyed cat pulled down her head dress to reveal a gliding, tumbling shock of red hair. She recognized her mother. Dorothy had been slow to recognize Maddie because she looked so different than from recent memory. Maddie's cheeks were blush, skin glowing, eyes sparkling with life. The three were looking at her from a distance that seemed both unfathomably long and achingly short. Toto was in the courtyard and had found them. Dorothy had a great urgency to leap from the dais herself and run towards her family, but she could not. For one thing, there were a number of large men with huge hats that not only blocked others from her, but probably blocked her, for the moment, from the people below. Another thing held Dorothy on the Dais, a spectacle rapidly unfolding in the sky and horizon just within her view. She felt like she had to watch. The golden sun, that had been high overhead for as long as she could remember, had reached the edge of the horizon. As it touched the top of the low rising fields of green and gold, the reddened setting hue sparked bright against the earth; sending out long streams of multicolored beams arcing across the land and high overhead. High above the horizon Dorothy saw thousands of large bluish birds flying in a clockwise direction and upwards, forming a curious spiral column from the ground to the heavens. The indigo-gossamer birds were all crying out as they flew upwards, each vocal burst a short low to high pitch crescendo followed by silence. When the birds reached some seemingly predetermined height, they quickly dove out and down, away from the circle and towards the setting sun. She wondered if they might be enacting a ritual to both mimic and honor the setting of the golden sun. A warm breeze brushed Dorothy's face. The breeze, the wonderfully color-fed rainbows arcing overhead, and the gaze of every person below, all swept away now from the golden orb to the west, towards what was happening on the eastern horizon. The Dais upon which Dorothy stood had become well elevated and she could see through and above the glistening emerald silos and surrounding trees swaying in the now cooling breeze. She knew she had missed part of it, but her gaze came down and connected; to the entrance of another sun rising in the east. A brighter sun. She recognized this as the sun in her dreams. As far as she could see on either side of this sun, the horizon supported hundreds of flocks of a different, and very large, white bird. These birds were magnificently proportioned with white wings that almost touched those belonging to those of its neighbors, as they gracefully folded together first upwards, then downwards. Their peaceful, graceful motion and quiet voices were in stark contrast to that of their predecessors to the west. Dorothy's awe was compounded by what she saw directly overhead. Against the rainbow that stretched horizon to horizon touching the edge of both suns, there looked to be a tailless kite, only it was free of any tether. The kite was similar in shape to 8 other objects she had seen in the courtyard below the Dais. Each object formed what was best described as an 8 pointed star, each star tip piercing a circular wheel that held each point in place. From a distance, a simple wagon wheel with illuminated emeralds clustered around the junction of the spokes. The eight emeralds circled a much larger emerald making up the hub. Yes, several of these star wheels were in the courtyard below, arranged in four pairs. The pairs appeared to be framing passageways between the courtyard and places she could not see.

Dorothy's eyes came to rest again upon her family below. The Dais was again just above the people in the courtyard. All the people had come to rest their eyes upon her. Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow were gone. She knew they would be uncomfortable with what was happening now. She could try to explain to them what she was seeing but she would not be able to make them understand what she could not. The only motion in the courtyard was Toto. The only sound in the courtyard was Toto. Toto was positioned below her mothers arms, which were a little outstretched holding the cat. Toto was barking furiously at the cat directly above him. The cat was not alarmed. With a timing out of step with his barking, Toto was repeatedly jumping straight up, snapping his jaws close to the cat's dangling tail, missing, twisting around, and returning to the ground. Both the cat and Maddie ignored Toto and gazed intently at Dorothy. She wanted so much to vault the rail surrounding her dais and run to her family. But she saw, beyond the courtyard of her family to the east, the arrival of several of the magnificent white birds that flew ahead in advance of the brighter sun. Many of them flew over the courtyard and landed gracefully next to the people standing there. It was clear the only thing these creatures had in common with birds were their wings. The wings were obviously attached behind two shoulders, shoulders that supported long and supple arms and hands. Between the shoulders each sprouted a neck and head adorned with all the features Dorothy expected to see; a nose, two eyes, a mouth, two ears. Not to be disappointed, Dorothy saw that each had two legs and a long torso connecting them. Each winged person matched the gender of the person they stood next to. Mommy Em's winged friend stood behind her. She was a beautiful middle aged woman with long flowing red hair. Daddy's friend stood by his side but was a little shorter than her father. Like all the new friends in the courtyard, he also wore a bright white robe down to his ankles. Just then she heard and felt a fluttering of air from above. She turned her eyes up and watched a beautiful lady with golden curly hair alight beside her on the Dais. She wore a pink gown down to her feet. Her face was hidden for a moment as she looked out over the courtyard and seemed to silently greet everyone. Her face was glowing radiantly as she turned towards Dorothy. Dorothy was swept with a sudden warmth and understanding. She knew this wonderful lady, but not by name. Dorothy's attention was almost immediately captured by the beautiful cargo that her friend was holding in her arms; dozens of clear yellow roses, wrapped in green and gold ribbons. No words were spoken. Dorothy turned to look at her family in the courtyard for their reaction to what was happening. She could see their mouths move silently in unison, "We Love You".

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Dais - Part 4 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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After an unmeasurable length of time, Dorothy opened her eyes and noticed a nest of reddish hair covering her shoes. Raising her vision slightly she watched as Toto was lifting a hind leg on one of two thick glistening silver-golden posts. After rubbing her eyes, her cleared vision revealed that each post was not part of the structure of the dais upon which she was standing. The bottom of each post ended in a shoe made of the some metallic material. At the other end of the posts were bulbous metallic joints that exhibited the color of common tin. Both joints were slightly shaking and attached to a common torso that supported shaking tin arms and the oddly shaped head of Dorothy's third man-friend. He was, in fact, entirely made of tin except for his tin colored fleshy face. Tin Man, as she had nicknamed him shortly after meeting him three days past, held his ever-present axe high in one hand and was making half-hearted chopping motions downward in the general direction of Toto. It was obvious Tin was only trying to scare Toto away from his current activity, not trying to hurt him. Tin was also sobbing. Tears trickled down his tin chest. To say that Tin was an odd duck would be like saying Miss Gulch was beautiful in her own way. Miss Gulch, she remembered, was a very mean spirited lady from her dream. Tin was a very emotional and intelligent person, so to speak. When she first met him he told her how it was that he became made of tin. The story bordered on gruesome. Apparently he was once made of normal flesh and blood and he very much in love with a Munchin girl who promised to marry him if only he could build her a nice house. Well, in his furious wood chopping to do just that, he accidentally cut off his left leg. He had a tinsmith make him a new tin leg. After a spell, he resumed his chopping wood for the house only to accidentally chop off his right leg, again to be replaced by the tinsmith. This went on involving both his arms and his torso. Each time the tinsmith was able to provide new parts, except for a heart. Tin liked to say now that, "No one can love who has not a heart". That's why he was here now, to get a new heart so he could resume his love for his fiancee and finish her new house.

Dorothy had real doubts about both the story and Tin Man’s plans but did not dare ask more questions. The sight of his axe always kept her away from sensitive subjects. She also realized that Tin Man's face bore a striking resemblance to Hick, one of the men in her haunting dream. She quickly focused her attention on getting Toto to stop what he was doing in order to prevent the axe from becoming intimately involved in yet another horrible story. At the top of her lungs she barked, "Toto! Stop!". She realized that this was a familiar scene and reaction from her in the past three days. It was one of the few times she ever yelled at Toto, her best friend and companion. And she always felt terrible as soon as the words left her mouth. Some justification for her harsh words always arrived in that her command always had the intended result. Toto, in sudden shock at the verbal outburst from his master, whimpered and jumped off the dais onto the courtyard below. A crisis had been averted. Tin Man immediately calmed, put down his axe and cast her a big shiny faced smile of appreciation.

Off to Dorothy's left side, Scarecrow suddenly quipped, "All the same, I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one." Dorothy remembered that his words were a continuation of a conversation Scarecrow and Tin Man had been having since they met each other. Tin Man quickly replied, "I shall take the heart; for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world." Those two argue way too much, Dorothy thought, but they are both good friends. Dorothy's mind became engulfed in another thought that started her careening into the darkness. She thought, "Toto has left the dais and jumped into the courtyard below, which I cannot fully see. I've lost him." But this time was different, Dorothy did not swoon. She felt compelled to focus on the courtyard below to look for Toto.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Dais - Part 3 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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Hunk continued, "When I hadn't heard from Billy for a few months, I had a friend write to Billy's brother Henry. Billy used to talk about his older brother in Kansas. Henry's wife Marguerite wrote back and enclosed a letter Billy had written to me before the accident. Henry said he had just found the letter in your Dad's belongings. He said he read the letter and thought it would be a good idea if I could come here for a spell. Your dad was not coping well with your mom's passing before his accident."
"So I would consider it an honor if I could just work here with you, Henry and Marguerite for a while. Your Mom and Dad were the closest family I've had since leaving home as a kid. Henry said I could help out during the summer. I can find work in town in the winter."

Dorothy could remember Hunk smelling like Uncle Henry's friend from town, Lyman Baum. She remembered that name cuz it sounded funny, like a skin cream. Uncle told her that Lyman smelled bad sometimes cuz he drank too much whiskey. Dorothy wondered why anyone would want to drink something that made them smell worse than they already did a day after tending barn. Not that she knew what Mr. Baum did during the day. But hunk smelled bad most days as it was. Autie Em always told her that, "If you don't like the way someone smells its because you aren't working hard enough yourself". Dorothy was always trying to help out beyond her usual chores. But she found out there was no hiding the whiskey smell. At least, not for her. She felt bad for Hunk as he kept speaking about her Dad.

Dorothy drifted back to reality. This dream Dad, Dorothy thought, was not clear. Billy. Daddy. She studied her red shoes for an answer. Sometimes she thought all of life's answers could be found in her shoes. All they had to do was move her someplace besides where she was standing and she felt happier. Toto was still here on the dais. This Hunk was a good man and knew her father. That was the important thing. She liked the idea of having a mother and father even if it was only in a dream. Being able to remember her activities back only three days was starting to scare her. In other memories Hunk told Dorothy stories about her Father as a young man. They took up clogging, dancing in wooden shoes on the banks of the St. Johns; acting out skits and plays with their friends after a hard days work. Both were unmarried, unkempt and crazy for adventure. Without warning, clarity arrived. The memory flooded her mind quickly.

She was with her Daddy, helping him ploughing the fields some hot May day. She was a lot younger, maybe around 10 years old. Pike was only 7, sandy blond hair and olive skin, still holding onto Dorothy's dress for security. Mommy Em was not well. She was sleeping on the second floor outside patio of their house not far away. She needed fresh air all the time. That afternoon, Daddy Dee had told Dorothy and Pike to play by the well and watch him while he finished ploughing the last corn field closest to the house. He had started ploughing this field the day before. Dorothy and Pike played with the water from the well during that hot afternoon. They tried to catch dragonflies gently by their tails, looking into their colorful eyes before letting them fly off. She and Pike talked about how high the corn was going to grow by August and how they'd run in between the rows before Daddy made dinner. Finally, Daddy was ploughing near the well and it seemed that he was nearly done. As he got closer Dorothy saw how very tired he was. Daddy had almost ploughed a perfect row of furrows. The ground was dry and hard from lack of rain. He had only a few more rows left but was dripping sweat and breathing heavily. Daddy was close to Dorothy and Pike when he stopped and looked back at the house. He saw that the green scarf was not hanging over the outside window. Recently they started keeping one end of Mommy's long green scarf draped outside the window, the other end next to Mommy's bed. When Em was having trouble breathing she would pull the scarf onto her bed to let her Billy know that she needed help.

Dorothy remembered making that scarf for mother as a Christmas present years before. She didn't know how to knit so Em taught her and helped her make it. She designed the scarf with a forest green background with two colorful flowing ribbon shapes meandering lengthwise between each end. One band was a sun-colored gold. The other was a deep red. Both bands started on one end of the scarf almost touching at the point. But they took their own unpredictable path through the green, and widened towards the other end where they once again narrowed to points that did not touch. Each band had it's own story to tell, but they both came from and ended at the same place. Mommy Em used to wear the scarf all the time. She said she loved it and was happiest when she wore it, especially when her Dee-Dee and Pee-Pee were near. She often called Pike Pee-Pee and they all would always laugh until Pike came to understand the hidden meaning. Then he didn't like it so much. Later, when Em started feel poor health, she let everyone know that whenever she was wearing Dee's scarf on her head and neck, she was in perfect health and extremely happy.

Years had gone by and Em wasn't wearing her scarf around her neck very much any more. she was using it to drape across her chest at night for warmth, and to signal father in the fields during the day. Em needed to always breathe fresh air so they all moved to the upstairs which had large windows and a strong breeze from the west. It was open to the weather. In the winter Daddy, Pike and she would heat rocks downstairs in the fire. When the rocks were nice and hot, they would tong them into thick wool socks and place them around edges of our beds. This kept them warm through most nights while the healthy breeze blew silently through the rooms.

Dorothy missed her Em, so badly she wanted to cry all the time. Lost and terrified in thought, Dorothy was startled by a loud voice. It broke through one memory bringing her back into another.

Daddy shouted that he was going back to the house to check on Em. Mommy had been coughing a lot that day. As Dorothy watched him disappear into the house, she felt an overwhelming urge to help. She made up her mind. With Pike in tow, she walked the short distance over to the plough and took the reigns and plough handle firmly in her hands. She told Pike to hang on, and she did what she saw Daddy doing; she shook the straps and yelled at Ozzy, their farm horse. "Yaaaaa", she shouted. Ozzy turned and glanced back at her quizzically. Then he did something unexpected. He started walking briskly towards the barn, and at a much faster pace than when Daddy was usually behind him. The only problem was that the barn was diagonally across the field and at the other end. Dorothy hung tight and Pike followed, being pulled quickly behind Ozzy as they opened up a new wide furrow towards the barn. She had no control. All she could do was stand on the plough and hold on. Pike ran along behind. Ozzy must have had a picture of soft fresh hay waiting for him at his destination. When they got close to the barn Daddy showed up; running, waving his arms, and yelling at Ozzy to stop. Ozzy stopped, but it was too late. The three of them looked back over the perfectly ploughed field to see one lone furrow cutting across the others. Pike was crying. He was looking at the scene through two parted fingers on his right hand, which otherwise covered his entire face. Dorothy was crying, saying she was sorry, and that she just wanted to help. She knew it would take Daddy hours with a shovel to reshape the damaged furrows. Daddy turned around and knelt in the end of the fresh furrow to face her and Pike. His back to the field, he put one arm around Dorothy and another around Pike. He studied their faces closely for a moment and drew a big smile.

He said, "It's going to be just fine. No need to cry. I know you did this to help. Do you know that you two have just started a conversation with God? You didn't just think about helping, you took action. People often pray for God to help others, but few take action themselves. I pray for you and your mother all the time. But I feel helpless to do anything that will make Mommy well again. You two acted to help me and I think God hears and sees your actions loud and clear."

Sobbing himself now, Daddy wiped his own tears and then ones from Dorothy and Pike. He said softly, "Remember, what lies in your hearts can only truly be seen by God through the work of your hands. Without a doubt, your actions to help others is the language God understands above all other. And he will speak to you back in the same language in due time."

Daddy brushed his hair back with his hand, put his hat back on, and stood.

Dorothy missed Daddy Dee and Pee-Pee very much. She missed her father's voice, his tender ways, the twinkle in his eyes. She wondered what happened to them. The last thought left her exhausted and confused. Everything became dark.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Dais - Part 2 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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When she found herself again she was looking down, this time at Toto. Toto was looking back at her with his adorably large brown eyes. He was growling playfully through a mouthful of hay. Scarecrow was on her right, grimacing, biting a piece of cloth that was the material making up his lower lip. He was making a valiant effort to remain silent while leaning on a railing to support his weight on his remaining foot. Scarecrow was an amazing and talented man; but very quiet when he wasn't singing. He danced a lot, mostly when Toto was around. Dorothy realized she would have to help Scarecrow put his foot back together soon. First she would have to catch Toto to make him give up the hay.

She loved this scarecrow man. His name in her dream was Hunk. Hunk knew her father when they were young river drivers on the St. Johns river in Northern Maine. He told her this soon after he arrived on the farm. Dorothy was a fairly new resident at Uncle and Auntie's farm at the time Hunk arrived.

Hunk showed up one day smelling like whiskey, head hung low and wearing dirty overalls. He and Hick had obviously been travelling by foot for some time. Overall, Hunk was quite a nice, likable man, but Dorothy felt a deep sorrow in him that sometimes made her feel uneasy. He was an experienced worker. So even though Uncle Henry had no money, he hired him that summer. Times were tough. There wasn't much to do for a third hand on the farm. But, starting in late July, when the corn was chest-high, Uncle Henry put Hunk to work chasing crows away from the fields. Usually the crows weren't a problem until August, but he hired Hunk in July. With the drought going on 3 years, the crows were both thirsty and extra hungry. In the fall Hunk worked the scythe and packed hay. In the winter he worked in town somewhere fixing wagons, but he always bunked in the farm’s barn. The bunk house was only big enough for two men so all three of them, having become friends, decide to sleep in the barn up in the hay mow. Hunk didn't take care of himself much in the morning. He'd get up, crawl or fall down the hay loft ladder, grab some jerky for breakfast, and hit the fields before the crows arrived. He was a sight to behold running through the fields waving his arms, singing; hay still clinging to his crusty jeans and poking out of his shirt sleeves. Whatever he was doing was scaring the heck out of crows.

Dorothy remembered that on one of his first Saturdays in July, when the mid-day heat had the crows keeping to the shade of the Maple trees, Hunk had come by the house to talk to her. Dorothy got a real good look at him. Kind blue eyes, white and prematurely wrinkled skin, brownish nose, dark hair. Hunk wore a dark vest buttoning in his small patterned flannel shirt. Her favorite pattern was small checkers, like her frock. Hunk was wearing a medium brimmed farm hat that kept his longish hair in check. She thought he might be around 35 years old. Dorothy thought how ordinary he looked compared to her friend she was with now, the one she knew as Scarecrow. She wondered why she had such detailed dreams about a man so much like Scarecrow, and why her dreams were lifeless, dull, and colorless. Her real world here was cheerful, colorful, and fascinating. And yet the memory of what Hunk told her in the dream flooded now into her mind. The memory was irrepressible and she felt she was mindlessly dancing near the edge of a bottomless pit. She had no control to stop it. Speaking with unmovable rubber lips, Hunk told her that her father asked him to come to the farm to help her, Henry, and Marguerite. As they sat on two oak barrels next to the house, Hunk’s head was down and turned towards her. His eyes filled with tears as he spoke.

"Your Dad and I were best friends. We met while working for the St. Johns Timber company near Ft Kent, Maine. Me and Billy must have rode a thousand logs down to River Falls from Claire. We were river drivers, trying to keep the logs moving down river. Every single run many old trees would find a way to get themselves hung up on the river bank, stopping the whole darn float. Me, Billy and Sky, used our peavys to break the trees free so they'd go on their way. Billy was like my brother. We'd do everything together when not dancing on those rolling logs. The only way to stay alive was to learn to run, learn to dance on them trees. We helped each other, saved each others lives more than a few times. Me and Billy worked around 7 years on the river when we were just young men."

"One night in Fort Kent we were at a dance. We had taken an interest in dancing so we could meet girls. Well, to make a long story short, your Dad met Maddie. Madeliene Thibodeau was her full name. She was the most beautiful girl your Dad said he had ever seen. I could not agree with him only because I myself was dumbstruck by her beauty. I just said she was a fine looking girl. Well, you of all people should know how beautiful she really was."

Dorothy remembered her. Long red hair like hers. Green bright eyes. Burned in memory of the inescapable dream. This person, dream person, was so real. But she knew the mother in her dream would not deliver her from the deepening despair and conflict she felt. The dream was full of details that mocked her now. A mother of flesh and blood; she could still see her face when she first opened her eyes to the world as a newborn. A short lifetime of memories lined up in front of her like so many summer rainbows, moving away after the rain, beckoning her to follow. Following her mother around the farm with her head no higher than mothers thigh, finally reaching somewhere she was leading in order to help her do something important. Running with her across the yard to catch a floating wisp, laughing uncontrollably at the mud that consumed her and painted her new dress. Walking to school with her, singing the rain song to try to bring rain for the fields. Somewhere over one of those rainbows was a drenching trying to reach the crops. When mother taught Dorothy the alphabet, she adopted endearing names for everyone other using letters. Mommy 'Em' and Dorothy Dee. Em sewed a red D on Dee's dresses. Mommy Em was truly beautiful and loving. Yet sadly, she had to watch the fragility of life slowly consume her. Dorothy could not bear to think about it and escaped. The later parts of these dreams suffocated her if she thought about them too much. Especially lately.

Hunk was still talking, "I am both happy and sad to tell you Dorothy, that from the day he met Maddie, your Dad and I didn't see each other much when we were not working. Billy spent most of his time with Maddie. I was happy for him because he was so happy with her. He talked about Maddie all the time. But I was sad because I felt like I was losing my best friend. He called on Maddie often at her folks home in Claire. Unlike me and Billy, she was educated,. Billy didn't think he was good enough for her." Hunk must have seen the sadness that slipped across Dorothy's face.

"There I go again, Dorothy. Making too much talk. Anyway, your Dad and Maddie got married and moved to Wisconsin a few short months later. She had an older brother there who promised to help Billy learn farming outside of Portage. The farm was near a big river where he could always find a new job if farming did not work out. I don't know how much you know about any of this Dorothy. Billy may not have told you anything about our friendship. He talked about you and Pike all the time in his many letters. I think Maddie actually penned the letters for him until three or four years ago." Pike. Dorothy dimly remembered now another part of the dream. Her younger brother. The older memories were many and happy, but a suffocating flood of emotions waited there too. She started to panic. She grabbed at the nearest thought to escape a great fall; she found Hunks voice. He was still talking to her.

"Billy said Maddie taught him how to read and write.", Hunk said solemnly. "Your Dad wrote me often over the last 11 years. He wrote to me last six months ago about poor Maddie. I was heart broken Dorothy. Your Dad saved my life so many times on the St. Johns, He was the brother I never had. So I promised him back in St. Francis that if he ever needed me, I would be there for him."

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Dais - Part 1 of 7

Dedicated to William Henry Anderson 1920-2012
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This time, when she found herself, she was looking down at her shoes.  They were shiny red and now adorned, if not blanketed, with many strands of long reddish-brown hair. Alarmed by the vision, she spotted more hair between the fingers on her right hand.  She realized that she must have been stroking her hair for quite a spell. She kicked the hair from her shoes. Her neck was sore from supporting her head's position, turned to one side, left cheek to a cloudless sky, eyes down.  She observed the small, familiar reed picnic basket hanging from it's usual spot on the inside of her left elbow. Her arm was sore on that spot. The basket had been there for as long as she could remember, maybe 3 days. The basket was light at this time because it was empty. She did not know why she always carried it. Her thick wavy hair was getting rather thin on just the right side. Why didn't she ever switch the basket to her right arm? Many things in this instant were a great confusion to her.  She did not know why she stroked her hair or for how long. She could not recall actually stroking or watching it fall down to make the canopy over her shoes.  She felt little sense of time. She knew the darkness was still near, even after she had thought she had learned to understand and avoid it.

Straightening her head and looking up and to her left she saw something that melted the darkness.  There was this glistening light from dozens of silos, wrapping around her vision, each rising and expanding to its own height and girth.  Streaking from the ground the towers were of brilliant green, like miles of August corn husks, sometimes they touched each other to create a wonderfully warm and rich silo city and a feeling of intense belonging.  Each silo was different, yet very much the same.  They were familiar and she liked that, in her world of so many new and wondrous things. She came back to remembering the dream.  Until recently, the dream had always given her the most comfort. In it she remembered a vast country side of silos sliding across the landscape as she traveled in a very noisy and smelly train.  She was on her way to visit her uncle in the heartland.  She began to remember more about the time before the train and the darkness began to push in.  There was an unbearable emptiness.  She ran through tall rows of  corn with her younger brother, Pike. He was only a faded memory in her dream; not real, not here.  She remembered helping her father on the farm, her mother with the chores.  She remembered getting on the train in a place called Omaha with her Aunt and she started to cry.

As tears streamed out of the inside corners of her eyes, the very hairy man standing next to her all this time leaned over.  She felt his humid breath and his long whiskers reaching out, waving.  She took in the curly long amber hair adorned with a red bow, the thick eye brows pointing down to the bridge of his sharp nose. She leaned away from him with slight revulsion.  But he was no stranger. He had been with her for days and she remembered that she liked him a lot.  He was crying too. As he dabbed his eyes with the furry end of his pinned and rigid tail, the man sobbed a quiet message, "Stay with us Dorothy, we all love you. We don't want you to go." She noted that this was one of many strange occasions when she heard words directed at her from someone nearby but their lips did not move.  However, she recognized that the voice belonged to the man sobbing in front of her.  She met him only three days ago on the road to Emerald City. She also realized that she dreamt about another version of him.

Toto, who must have been quietly dozing behind her, was awakened when Lion, as Dorothy affectionately liked to call the hairy one, drew near. Before Dorothy could react, Toto snarled and leaped for Lions oddly shaped pug nose; his snout lips raised in preparation for a quick sinking of teeth. Her dog could really jump. Dorothy surprised herself with a quick reaction.  In a miracle moment, she reached out and snatched him back just before the ferocious puny teeth reached the man lion's face.  In the next instant she remembered why she carried the basket. With a quick, but gentle and well practiced move, she ushered the terrier into the basket and latched the lid.  She remembered why Lion always held the end of his tail in his hand when Toto was around.  Lion's tail was a tattered mess with multiple teeth marks.  For some reason, Toto never liked Lion. Dorothy started wondering when she last fed Toto.

In the reoccurring dream she knew Lion as Zeke, a worker at her Uncle Henry's farm.  Zeke was one of three farm hands. Dorothy remembered Uncle Henry explaining to her and Aunt Margaret that he met Zeke in town one day.  This was before Dorothy started living with them. Zeke had asked Uncle Henry for work.  He was a mess. Hungry and unshaven, he was the hairiest man Uncle Henry said he had ever met.  Uncle Henry said he took a liking to Zeke and offered him walk-on work at the farm - no strings attached, until the end of the summer.  That was three years before Dorothy arrived from Nebraska.  Dorothy liked Zeke because she made him feel safe, and he made her laugh. He also had a beautiful singing voice. One time he saved her when she slipped and fell into the pig pen. But she knew this was a dream.  Zeke's real name was Lion; she was pretty sure.  She wondered why she kept thinking about the silly dream. She spent more time remembering this dream than creating new dreams.  The problem was that she knew dreams were supposed to be created when sleeping.  But sleeping is only something she did in her dream, except once.  She remembered sleeping once.  It was in a very large field of flowers; maybe two days ago. Lion slept too but her other friends did not. She woke from that sleep because of some cute talking mice and from the cold brought on by a sudden snowfall.

The Uncle Henry dream man told her on one occasion about how he met the other two ranch hands that worked at his farm. Zeke reported to Henry one morning that two men had arrived from town the night before looking for food and shelter from the spring cold. Out of compassion, he let them stay through the night. Their names were Hick, and Hunk.  Hick and Hunk! Hunk had been traveling to Henry's farm and met Hick riding on a train to Topeka.  Both were looking for work. But Hunk was hoping to specifically find work at Henry's farm.  Times had been tough since the drought began two years back. Farmers were leaving fields fallow for lack of water.  The two of them were quite a mess and did not look much like any farm-hands Dorothy had seen in town.  Uncle Henry was quite used to tending his farm on his own but had a large pond that still had crop water. He took a shining to the two new men and decided to give them work for board but just until after the fall harvest. He could not afford to keep them through the following winter. Uncle Henry told them they would have to join Zeke and sleep in the barn. There was no place else to bed down.  He told Aunt Margaret and Dorothy that they were so grateful that Hunk did a curious little happy dance.

Zeke was an average looking middle aged man who wore a light grey reed hat. Sometimes he was so hairy that all you could see of his face was a small egg shaped area between his nose and his eyebrows.  His beard dove all the way down his neck, disappearing under the buttons of a charcoal shirt. Later, Uncle Henry told her Zeke was Amish earlier in his life.  Days after Zeke started work, he had shaved and looked very much like any other imaginary dream man Dorothy had ever met. Every now and again, Zeke would go unshaven for a couple weeks and his alter appearance would quickly return. Dorothy formed a deep friendship with Zeke and discovered his personality was not as menacing as his occasional scary looks. He was very timid of everything and everyone. He would never hurt a mouse. In fact, mice scared him. The day Zeke saved Dorothy from the pig pen he was so scared afterwards that she thought he was going to faint. Hunk and Hick came over to help him regain his composure.  She wondered why Zeke looked like a normal man in her dream when he did not look that way in real life.  The lion man standing next to her now on the dais had lots and lots more hair. Not only that but most of it was curled into thick coils. He sported a ribbon on the very top of his head.  Lion had very large pointy ears that were located farther up on his head than any man she had ever seen. His eyebrows were remarkable because they were also located much farther above his eyes than most anyone. After they started, his brows travelled well up his forehead before they thinned, almost reaching the ribbon. His large upper lip, situated below a strange brown, round nose, continued on well into his cheeks, which sported a very thick forest of straight whiskers.  Thus, his mouth and chin were set back and gave way underneath to a dense curly mess that one would be tempted to call a beard. Apart from the ribbon on his head, Lion wore no clothes. This was not a problem because, except for his paws, Lion had thick fur covering the rest of his body. She had never seen anyone like Lion. Dorothy knew that Lion was connected to the Zeke in her dream.
She felt a darkness creeping into her thoughts the more she thought about the dream. She realized that thinking about her dream was exhausting and confusing. She had to find a way to let it go.  As she fell deeply into a darkness, she was aware of others near Lion on the platform.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Heroes of Kaneohe

May 28, 2012, Memorial Day.

It was a chilly December morning. Seven a.m and the temperature was stuck in the low 70’s. Forty sailors stood for muster on the tarmac outside the main hangar. There were no real runways at Kaneohe Naval Air Force base yet since the only plane the sailors were servicing was the PBY Catalina “flying boat”. There were 36 of them spread around and their runway of choice was the calm area trailing behind steaming battleships. It was a typical Sunday morning for the sailors. Stand for muster, proclaim ‘Present’ when their names were called, then report to their duty station to fix or maintain the PBY’s. One of the sailors standing muster was a 21 year old Seaman First Class, or ‘E3’. He hailed from Fort Kent Maine, jumping from a short stint with the National Guard to the US Navy in the summer of 1940. His name was William Henry Anderson, son of a farmer and bridge construction laborer. He was a smart young man, achieving a co-valedictorian award upon graduation from high school. He tested well in the Navy so they put him to work as an aircraft mechanic. Up until December 7, 1941, aircraft repair work was pretty predictable and mundane for the sailors on the tarmac. Billy, as his friends called him, had no interest in politics and did not follow world events, even though there were many, many world events probably worth following at the time. He was barely 20 years old when he joined the Navy. Jobs were scarce in America and the Navy offered exciting travel, guaranteed paychecks, and a Hawaiian deployment. Without factoring in a major change in America’s peace status, a stint in the Navy seemed like a pretty sweet deal.

December 7, 1941, 7am, Kaneohe Naval Air Force base, Oahu, Hawaii

The sailors were standing muster when one of them first spotted the first Japanese Zeros headed their way from the North. There was initially disbelief, eye rubbing, and denial. The CO barked out some orders and they all ran to various defensive positions around the hangar. Billy ran into the hanger, unbolted a machine gun from a PBY, walked it over to a work table next to a window, clamped it into a vice, and started defending his country through the window. It was a hellacious attack. Virtually all the PBYs were demolished. 20 sailors died. But Billy, thank God, survived and lived to marry his future sweetheart, my mother, in 1951. Talking to me about what happened that day was not something Dad wanted to do until I was in my 30’s. A couple interesting tidbits shared by Dad about that December. First, all sailors were ordered to bring their Navy white uniforms to the mess hall. The uniforms were dumped into a huge vat of coffee in order to color them so they would provide some degree of camouflaging. Everyone was expecting the Japanese to invade as part of their plan. Sometime shortly after the attack, Billy was ordered on a detail to the bay to help paint some US plane parts to look like Japanese Zeros. The painted pieces were scattered in the bay where they were made part of a short video by a mainland movie director. The video bragged about all the Japanese planes that were shot down. The mainland public needed to hear such things, even if vastly exaggerated.

The Arizona Memorial

Dad was actually stationed on the USS California up until late November, 1941, just 2 weeks before the attack. The USS California was moored directly in front of the USS Arizona. You might say Billy lucked out to get transferred to Kaneohe 2 weeks before the attack. Both the Arizona and the California were sunk where they were moored. The California was salvaged and re-deployed. The Arizona remains underwater where it sank and is now the main attraction of the Arizona Memorial. 105 men were killed on the California, 1177 men died on the Arizona.

In 2001, on a business trip that spanned a weekend, I visited the Arizona Memorial, starting with the visitors center. In front of the visitors center is a short walk to an area facing the bay that has bronze plaques for every ship that suffered casualties that fateful day. Each plaque provides a list of names of the men who died on the vessel. I paused at the USS California plaque and read each name. I was pretty choked up, grateful that Dad was not on the California that day 60 years ago. After awhile I used my cell phone and called Billy. He answered. I told him where I was. He asked me to check some names for him. Dad came up with a dozen names of friends he had when he was stationed on the battleship. After 60 years... He remembered a dozen names of men he worked with and never saw again when he was redeployed to Kaneohe! That alone brought real tears to my eyes. Tears of joy soon followed when none of the names Billy asked about showed up on the bronze plaque of casualties. At least his friends survived the first battle of the war.

Later I visited a similar memorial area for all missing, unaccounted for, US submarines that served in WW2. I read the story on each plaque.

Sometimes its easy to forget how we got to where we are as a country. We’ve fought many battles, small and large, since the country was founded. Each an every war made us who we are. And there were always the legions of young men willing to protect America and it’s freedoms. They don't seem to want to get down into the weeds on every war and determine for themselves if this war or that war is just or unjust. To them, the point is moot. America comes first. Today is the day to recognize the ultimate sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of young men, all the way back to the US Civil war, who put their country above all else. We owe them a huge debt.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rudy, July 10, 1999 - Feb 25, 2012

Rudy, the older and larger of our 2 Italian Greyhounds passed on Feb 25. Like his adopted younger brother who died 2 years earlier, Rudy had absolutely no complaints as his body wore out from various maladys. Rudy actually met the lower end range of life expectancy for the Italian Greyhound breed. It may have had something to do with the fact that I prepare fresh human food for him every day since Speedo died. I'll never know. It was grilled chick breast in 2010, then deli meats, hot dogs, you name it in 2011, until the end. He was spoiled to the core and he knew it. Even so, he wouldn't eat anything the last three days of his life. He just looked blankly at us and could only stumble around when he walked. But he never abandoned his house training and continued to go outside to perform his various doggy duties.

On the night of the 25th, after days without food and the only water was what I was able to squirt in his mouth, he just laid in his bed and looked blankly at us. I noticed his body was a few degrees colder than normal and sensed that there was too much suffering. I dripped a vet-prescribed .5cc of doggy Valium into his mouth so he could relax the labored breathing. Within one half hour, his breathing unexpectedly stopped altogether. I was devastated. Although the family had been saying goodbye to Rudy for a few weeks, I was the only one home at the time so Cathie, Dylan and Maddie were not able to be with him when he died. We all miss him.