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So I’ve taken some time off this summer to get out and live! I’ve discovered that there is indeed a whole wide world out there apart from social media, blogging, Facebook, etc.

Who would have thought? 😉

As those of you who’ve stopped in before know, my wife and I have been living out that “in sickness” clause this year. Indeed, the last year and a half has been tumultuous to say the least. Which is why, when she was feeling better, we vacated the valley where we live for cooler climes. It was glorious waking up to views like:

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What’s not to love about that?

We spent a considerable amount of time just driving around admiring the different views. And eating ice cream. A lot of ice cream. 🙂 (Seriously, my pants are tighter).

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This place was decent, but their ice cream wasn’t kept quite cold enough. More’s the pity.

Here are some more gratuitous landscape shots:

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Are you jealous? 😉

As indicated above, I’ve taken some time away this summer to travel, spend time with family, and to live. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been working; on the contrary, I’ve got some irons in the fire that I’m really stoked about <--see what I did there? Fire/stoked. 😉 One of these irons is a blogging eBook with Chris Morris and Tim Gallen. We have a structure, a theme, and some preliminary pieces written. When it’s done it should be a hoot! Can’t wait for you to read it!

Another project is a semi-irregular podcast with Ricky Anderson (because neither of us can commit to “regular”–maybe we need more fiber in our diets?), called Faith, Culture, and… You. This idea grew out of a conversion he and I had via Words With Friends chat (if you can believe it) about Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz movie. I liked it, but Ricky not so much.

Should be fun.

As for personal writing projects, I’ve an idea about a couple and and weekend trip gone horribly wrong. But like the late Orson Wells, I’ll sell no wine (in this case, story) before its time. I’m calling it Casita 106 At the Red Pines.

By the way, if you’ve been looking for something to read, I can’t recommend Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game highly enough. (I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind about the sequels, although I’m tearing my way through them).

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Peace out,

Chad

I see her in my mind’s eye: the bright red of her hair shining in the sun’s light, pigtails flying, green eyes sparkling as she swings on the backyard swingset. She is fair-complected like her Irish forebears, freckled by the sun she loves so much.

In my dreams, I stand behind her pushing her higher and higher as she squeals in delight.

“Higher, brother, higher,” she says. So I comply, pushing her up towards the sky.

She is always five, happy, precocious, precious as we play. We roll in the grass, staining our clothes. We chase my cat into the trees behind our parent’s property. She is a joy–full of laughter and life.

I will always keep her safe. No harm will come to her as long as I’m alive. I am her big brother.

Our mother calls us in for dinner. Missy, for that’s her name, can’t come inside. I wonder why. She’s just as much a part of this family as I.

“It’s okay, brother,” she says. “I’ll be here tomorrow when it’s time to play.” I go in for the night, eat my dinner, say my prayers…

Then I wake up. I’m not a little boy, but a man grown. And then I remember: I’ve never met my sister. Her life ended before it even began, scraped from our mother’s womb. Because two sons, and a burgeoning career, were enough–perhaps too much.

I see my sister, sitting on Daddy’s knee, laughing, waiting for me. Someday the faith shall be sight.

Until then, Missy.

My dad has had an on-again-off-again affair with the golden nectar known as beer. Sometime in the ’70s, he discovered a particularly noxious brew known as Olympia Gold (“Oly” for short). I’m told it had the body of water, and a flavor reminiscent of cold piss.

Oly Gold was lowcal before lowcal was a thing.

But whatever. I never tried it. What I did do, as a kid, was every time he asked me to get him a beer from the fridge, I shook it up. (This was when beer was still sold in steel cans, with pull-tabs. I’m old. Shut up). I could hear the roiling pressure of the trapped gases awaiting their released, but he usually didn’t.

Beer splosion!

Followed by, “CHAD!!!”

I either thought it was funny enough to risk the butt hurt I could be subjected to, or I had some latent resentments I harbored against the man… Probably both. It wouldn’t be the first, or the last, time I’d done something passive aggressive.

Yeah, I got issues. But I loved the man, and wanted his attention. And the “shake up the beer game” was one of the ways I got it. When a kid isn’t feeling the love, he will resort to desperate measures to ensure it. Lack love is usually why kids act out.

It’s their way of saying “Notice me.”

———–

Dad was gone more and more, working later and later hours. As I got a little older, the beer game lost its luster. I stopped trying to get his attention, retreating more and more into myself, and the world of books, movies, magazines.

But I still loved my old man. Knew when he wasn’t home. Even if he didn’t have time for me, I knew when he was there, and when he wasn’t. I mean I still had hope, you know?

I remember a night when I couldn’t sleep. The clock ticked eleven, twelve, one, two… I wasn’t up reading: I was worried about my dad. Was he okay? Why wasn’t he home? Around two o’clock, there was a noise: the sound of a door being jerked open at the far end of the house.

I heard the master bedroom door open, the pad of my mom’s feet in the tiled hall.

I followed her.

Down the hall, through the family room, and into the kitchen I followed her.

There was my dad, standing in the doorway separating the breakfast nook from the entryway, swaying a little–listing from starboard to port, and back again.

The sour notes of cheap beer, piss, and bar smoke wafted off him in waves. But the piss wasn’t his. No, there was a quivering dark bundle under his left arm.

My mom asked “Mont, what’s going on? Why are you so late? Where have you been?”

“Dad,” I asked, “are you okay?”

My mom turned to me, asked me what I was doing up? Said I couldn’t sleep. She directed me back to bed. The last thing I heard as I walked to my room was:

“Why are you so late? I was really worried about you.”

“Because… Dog?” my dad intoned like a question. Because what he had under his arm was just that: a quivering Cockapoo we later named “Puppy.”

Because… Dog?

PC Laptops for Sale

randomlychad  —  March 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

Due to some expenses my family and I have recently incurred, I’m having to sell some PC hardware that we’ve accumulated over the years.

First up is an HP Pavilion ZDseries laptop. Has 2GB RAM, 100GB hard drive. Will ship with Windows 7 installed. Needs a new battery (works fine with adapter), and has vertical lines on screen. Otherwise works as it should. This is a 17″ desktop replacement type laptop. Looking to get $125+shipping for it.

Next up is an HP Mini 1000 (1151NR) netbook. Has 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, web cam. Very comfortable to use, as keyboard is 80% of full size (I’ve used this for writing). Will ship with Windows 7, and includes a Verizon 3g modem (should you wish to use it) for wireless broadband Internet access. Looking to get $150+shipping.

Both laptops include WiFi, of course. 🙂

If you’re interested, or have questions, please email me at [email protected] Thought I would offer these items here to you, my faithful readers, before I go to the bad place (eBay). 🙂

Pics in the Flickr gallery below. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157626590784415

When I was eleven, I read Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is a harrowing tale of haunted hotel, and a father’s descent into madness. Though it’s been over thirty years since I read it, I remember look of the book–a silver and grey New American Library paperback. And I remember the opening chapter with Jack Torrance being interviewed, calling his interviewer an “officious little prick” in his internal monologue.

Jack Torrance was a man setup by the demons of his childhood to fall prey to possession by the haunted hotel. In the fight for his soul, the cards were stacked against him (as they are all of us, really). He was a man who wanted to be free, but couldn’t get there. In that sense, though he became the victimizer, he is a man we can pity.

Even more than Jack’s story, I remember his son, Danny, who fell prey to his wrath (Jack at one time dislocated his young son’s arm). Danny had a special ability–the shine–he could see things. The hotel’s chef, Dick Halloran, mentored him in his gift (Dick had it, too–just not as strong as Danny).

I read that book, devoured it really, and despite the abject terror of it, the monstrous heart of evil bound within the Overlook Hotel, I wanted to be Danny. I wanted to have abilities–to see, and to know, things. It’s explained in the book that Danny was born with a caul. And that this covering, this caul, was the fount of his gift.

I asked my mom if I, too, had been born with a caul. Although she couldn’t have known it, in my heart I was asking “Am I special?” She answered “No.” (Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t available to take my question to. Would he have answered any differently? There’s no way to know with any degree of certainty, but his unavailability spoke volumes. Like the Overlook of the novel, it haunts me still).

The thing is, I would have endured everything Danny went through in King’s story to know that very thing:

That I was–am–special.

It wasn’t until many years later that Jesus whispered it into my soul. He told me that God is my Father–the father I’d always longed for–and that he, Jesus, was my friend. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. Like Robert Frost’s divergent path, “that has made all the difference.”

Do you know that you’re special, too, and loved more than you can fathom? That God is your Father, and Jesus is your brother?

You can.

Look up from wherever you are–Jesus is coming for you.

Where do you see Jesus moving in your life?

Did you ever want to be a character in a beloved book?