Monday, November 30, 2015

Forgiveness, by Will Stanton


Where has the time gone? More than three score years. What do I have to show for it? Why so many trials and tribulations along the way?

I have not suffered alone. That is the fate of being human. Everyone is familiar with disappointment, malaise, unfulfilled dreams — some more or less than I.

Since time began, humankind has asked for answers to the purpose of life, why we are here, do we finally go somewhere else. I started out life relatively innocent and painfully naïve. I can't say that I know much more, despite the experiences I have had these many years.

I have tried to be kind to others and have hoped for kindness in return. They say, and I have sensed, that love is the most powerful force humans may experience. Those who have loved and have been loved may have possessed the greatest treasure humans are permitted to enjoy. Yet, those fortunate ones who have experienced love ultimately are left open to loss and grief. Love is a two-edged sword.

In my own small way, I have made my mark, nothing grand, perhaps nothing particularly memorable. I have helped a few people, and I have made efforts to share with others what beauty exists in the world. But, I have left for posterity no great symphonies, no great architectural monuments, no cure for cancer. Only a select few are granted such privilege.

I am no philosopher; I have no deep thoughts as to the purpose of life. Perhaps the whole thing is some kind of ironic joke. Perhaps Robert Frost sums it up best in just two lines:

“Forgive, Oh Lord, my little jokes on thee
And I'll forgive Thy great big joke on me.”

© 12 January 2015



About the Author


I have had a life-long fascination with people and their life stories. I also realize that, although my own life has not brought me particular fame or fortune, I too have had some noteworthy experiences and, at times, unusual ones. Since I joined this Story Time group, I have derived pleasure and satisfaction participating in the group. I do put some thought and effort into my stories, and I hope that you find them interesting.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Preparation, by Ricky


The Scout Motto is “Be Prepared.” I was a scout, so I learned as a young teenager to think ahead and prepared for any situation. It did not matter if it was for an upcoming camping trip, scout meeting, school tests, potential rain or snow fall, driving on less that a full tank of gas, or fixing dinner for my siblings; I always tried to have everything I might need to successfully complete the activity.

One rather dramatic failure to look ahead was when Deborah and I bought a new Toyota Land Cruiser to prepare for a job within the Sheriff’s Department which I did not get. I obtained two used “jerry cans” each of which held 5-gallons of gasoline and bolted their “holders” to the side of the vehicle. When it was time to use the gas while on a trip to Sacramento, I poured the gas into the main gas tank and soon thereafter the engine began to miss and eventually would not run at all.

Fortunately, we were near our destination in Sacramento and our friends came and towed us to their home. One of their friends diagnosed our problem to be a clogged fuel filter. I had not anticipated that the “jerry cans” were older and had rusted inside. Eventually little particles of rust in the gas had clogged the fuel filter. After installing a new fuel filter and cleaning out the “jerry cans” and refilling them with gas, we were able to finish our trip without any further trouble.

© 16 August 2015



About the Author


I was born in June of 1948 in Los Angeles, living first in Lawndale and then in Redondo Beach. Just prior to turning 8 years old in 1956, I began living with my grandparents on their farm in Isanti County, Minnesota for two years during which time my parents divorced.

When united with my mother and stepfather two years later in 1958, I lived first at Emerald Bay and then at South Lake Tahoe, California, graduating from South Tahoe High School in 1966. After three tours of duty with the Air Force, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I lived with my wife and four children until her passing away from complications of breast cancer four days after the 9-11 terrorist attack.

I came out as a gay man in the summer of 2010. I find writing these memories to be therapeutic.

My story blog is TheTahoeBoy.Blogspot.com


Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Favorite Fantasy, by Phillip Hoyle


In my junior high and senior high school years while listening to LPs I directed orchestral and choral music before the mirror in the front room. I fantasized myself back then as a conductor. In my young adult years I fantasized that the children I taught would retain as adults useful information, memories, and impressions that would inform their thinking and provide insightful reading of biblical, theological, and religious experience. I hoped that when they read they would find the religious landscape familiar. I hoped that they would realize they had learned skills in childhood that were still informative and not a block to their continuing growth. Such educational fantasies I entertained. As for the adults I taught, I simply hoped they would find new perspectives rather than insist on the same old ideas! For the past fifteen years I have fantasized that my massage clients in the sessions would relax deeply into the relief the therapies provide and from our work together would discover the ability to change postures or otherwise improve their day-to-day movement. But these days those fantasies serve me little, for now I am facing retirement in which I will sever my formal work relationships, a retirement that in its anticipation is engendering a whole new fantasy world.

Last week I received a retirement package from Heather, my daughter-in-law, a kit that includes a children’s book titled The cat with two homes Text by Tim Henley, illustrations by Jo Burroughs. Reader’s Digest Association Limited, 1989). Heather told me she has read the story to dozens of children and thinks it may help me prepare for my retirement. She wants me to meet the main character named Olly who she is sure will help me conceptually. She suggested I become a part-time vagabond somewhat like that cat. Of course that means I make longer visits to Mid-Missouri to see the family, play cards, work, live on the farm, and have long creative conversations. I’m imagining that but hope trips there wouldn’t include milking the goats.

Heather also sent watercolor and pastel paintings made by two of my granddaughters. I’m inspired by Rosa’s works and entertained by Ulzii’s. I framed one picture from Rosa to hang in my studio. Soon I hope to work with a teacher to learn watercolors. That means buying MDV boards, attending a class, and more. I already purchased a portable kit of paints that has brilliant colors and have a fine set of watercolors in tubes. I’ve got the other goods too: tape, paint, papers, and brushes. Now it’s time to learn how to use them with greater effect than I have been able to produce on my own. I’ll start the work soon.

During trips to my Missouri farm home, I imagine sketching plants and animals as well as buildings in towns and the countryside. I can make Artist Trading Cards galore from the new images using my watercolor supplies and techniques. I’m sure to have a wonderful time. I can send cards to my artist friend Sue who can trade them in Denver on my behalf.

I’ll also take my laptop and write a book. That will require more time than I have ever given myself in my trips there. Surely I can arrange to write in one of my vagabond homes. Oh I’ll have to find a nice coffee shop nearby, preferably one that has a resident cat, wonderful scones, and only the best coffee. I am pleased at these fantastic details. I’ll carefully plan my trips at the best times of the year. I’d hate bad weather to mess with my sunny fantasies unless clouds should provide interesting subjects, colors, and shadows for my anticipated watercolor works.

Heather also wants me to join my granddaughters and grandsons in art and music making and perhaps to get them summertime coffee house bookings in Denver, making way for their first interstate tour. This fantasy goes on and on, and all of it arising from one short letter and a small book about a cat who not only had two homes but also disappeared in the evenings to places even the storyteller didn’t know about. I’m finding that my life anticipating retirement is good; details flourish in this my favorite current fantasy.

© Denver, 2013



About the Author


Phillip Hoyle lives in Denver and spends his time writing, painting, and socializing. In general he keeps busy with groups of writers and artists. Following thirty-two years in church work and fifteen in a therapeutic massage practice, he now focuses on creating beauty. He volunteers at The Center leading the SAGE program “Telling Your Story.”



He also blogs at artandmorebyphilhoyle.blogspot.com


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

For a Good Time, by Lewis


There are a thousand ways to have a "good time". "Good" can mean "exciting" or "feel-good"--whether emotionally, physically, sexually, or by getting high. It can involve exercise, dancing, playing games, telling jokes, jumping out of an airplane, or simply driving to a destination that provides you with a sense of positive anticipation. It might even involve taking a Viagra, putting on something sexy, and waiting to see what cums, whether alone or accompanied.

However, the story I would like to share with you today is of quite a different nature. It does not require a car, a well-stocked bar, reefers, needles, electronics, or jewelry. It does not even require clothes, if one is discrete. What I consider to be about as fun as anything else that I do requires only a chair, a table, and pleasant surroundings. I have to put nothing in my ears or nose, although a little bit of a favorite beverage and a few chips or nuts seems to enhance the experience.

What I do for fun most days is to simply sit out on my terrace and eat a meal, do a crossword puzzle, read from Laurin's journal or write in my own, or simply sit and watch the amazing beauty of a sunset or my terrace garden. To feel the breeze against my skin, to watch as it caresses the leaves and blooms, to observe the shadows on the furniture, walls and floor and the sunlight as it slowly traverses its path from east to west--this is my private little kingdom which I have created. It is a time to be alone with my thoughts, my memories, my dreams; to anticipate the coming hours and relish the past few.

It doesn't matter that the cacophony of construction pierces the air from next door. It's a minor annoyance, no more. I turn my eyes to the horizon, where I see Buckley Field, Fitzsimmons, DIA (on a clear day), East High School, The Pinnacle, the industrial South Platte River valley, downtown, Sports Authority Field, Cheesman Park , and a long expanse of foothills and mountains. I see blue and green everywhere--they are the colors of restfulness and relaxation. The clouds play out their drama before my enthralled eyes and a tear may form. I can hardly wait for the next few minutes until, at last, my favorite time comes, as the sun sets and twilight begins. Soon, it is time to go inside and begin to wind down into sleep, knowing that my "good times" will surely begin again when the morning comes.

© 12 August 2013



About the Author


I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and had two children while working as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. I was married to a wonderful woman for 26 happy years and suddenly realized that life was passing me by. I figured that I should make a change, as our offspring were basically on their own and I wasn't getting any younger. Luckily, a very attractive and personable man just happened to be crossing my path at that time, so the change-over was both fortuitous and smooth. Soon after, I retired and we moved to Denver, my husband's home town. He passed away after 13 blissful years together in October of 2012. I am left to find a new path to fulfillment. One possibility is through writing. Thank goodness, the SAGE Creative Writing Group was there to light the way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In the Zone, by Betsy


As one member of this group has mentioned, Mozart may be an exception to the statement “any writing is experimental.” True, Mozart was writing music not words. But there is no reason that the statement which is today’s topic cannot apply to the writing of music as well as the writing of words. Mr. Mozart is said to have been divinely inspired never having to go back over his work to correct or improve it. His writing was perfect the first try. Some might say he was continually “in the zone” at least when he was writing music.

It’s hard for me to relate to always being in the zone when I am writing. Although, I must say, some writings have come a lot easier to me than others. On occasion, depending on the topic and/or depending on my state of consciousness, I have felt myself “in the zone” as I was writing. Mostly, it is the experiences I have had that have given me awareness or knowledge which make it possible to be there. Being in the zone could be equated with being mindful—a state of complete awareness. Also a requirement for being in the zone when writing might be an element of passion for the subject and a clarity of one’s feelings about it.

I best relate to being in the zone when I am immersed in a sports activity. Some days—though they may be rare—it’s as if you can’t make a mistake in a tennis game. Or the body flows particularly easily, gently and rhythmically through the moguls on the ski slope. Those days might be rare, but we remember them—at least I do. Probably the sun is shining as well on that day, and there is little or no wind and the temperature is just right for perfect conditions.

I can recall also being in the zone in a beautiful spot surrounded by nature—feeling part of nature or one with one’s natural surroundings. Being in the zone and being completely immersed in the moment, I believe, are one and the same thing.

As for being an experiment, I’m quite sure writing falls into that category. I often set out to write about something related to the topic of the day and I find I am completely surprised at the outcome of that writing. The piece may take a totally different tack than what I had first intended.

This can apply to other art forms as well. I have attempted to draw or paint an object, a landscape, a tree or what have you. In this case I know when I start out that it is an experiment.

I have no idea how the project will turn out. I suppose that’s because I have very little experience in creating visual arts, and almost no confidence. Yet I find that to draw a tree or paint, even try to copy an object or a landscape is an adventure, and most certainly an experiment. I start out with no idea where the effort will take me, how I will feel about it, or what the outcome will be—other than either boosting my confidence or totally obliterating what little bit I had to start with.

The fact is that most active things we do—that is active vs. passive—most things we do are an experiment. Even everyday activities. That is, if we define an experiment as a course of action taken and followed without knowing the outcome. Cooking certainly can fall into that category—at least MY cooking does. Even the laundry, shopping, etc. What the heck, which outcomes CAN I be sure of. Even when I sit down to watch television who knows, (I certainly don’t)—who knows how long I will be awake.

© 24 July 2015



About the Author


Betsy has been active in the GLBT community including PFLAG, the Denver women’s chorus, OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change). She has been retired from the Human Services field for about 15 years. Since her retirement, her major activities include tennis, camping, traveling, teaching skiing as a volunteer instructor with National Sports Center for the Disabled, and learning. Betsy came out as a lesbian after 25 years of marriage. She has a close relationship with her three children and enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren. Betsy says her greatest and most meaningful enjoyment comes from sharing her life with her partner of 25 years, Gillian Edwards.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Zoo, by Will Stanton


I was told of a most extraordinary zoo, unique, in fact -- the only one like it in the whole world. All of the examples at the zoo were endangered species, some of them right on the verge of extinction. I was warned that, if I did not go to see this zoo soon, some of the specimens might be gone by the time I visited it. So, I made a point of going right away


I spent an entire day at this wondrous zoo from morning to closing at dusk. I could see why my friend warned me that everyone on display was endangered of disappearing. They were all human beings, people of the most admirable qualities, apparently qualities not much valued any longer in our society.

The sign on the first display read, “Statesman.” It did not say, “Politician” or “Congressman,” or some such degraded title. I looked into his eyes and saw there deep knowledge and wisdom. I also perceived empathy and compassion. He did not have that facial affect of hate, rage, or deviousness that we have grown so used to with politicians. I spoke to him for quite some time, and he always responded in calm tones, his words truthful and rational. I then asked him where he came from, and he explained that he once was, what was called a very long time ago, a “moderate Republican.” All the others had died off, and he was the very last one. Lonely and rejected, he accepted his home here at the zoo. Out of compassion, I felt inclined to remain even longer with this lonely soul to give him some comfort, but I knew that I had much more to see and moved on.

I came to the next display, and the sign read, “News Journalist.” At first I was confused because he looked rather similar to the first display. When I spoke to him, he, too, sounded rational and well educated. After a lengthy conversation, I asked him what brought him here. He explained that there still remains a limited number of true journalists in the country, but mostly they had fled their environs because of increasing atmospheric toxicity and decreasing clean, healthful oxygen. Some of them had found new homes with lesser watched, sanctuary broadcast-channels that were attempting to counteract the toxins as best they could. He, himself, once was hired by Fox Noise but was fired after only 24 hours because he did not fit in. The fact that, after a day's exposure to that environment, he threw up and passed out did not help. He was brought to this zoo as a dying breed.

I came to the third display, and the specimen reminded me of a weary laborer in old, mended clothes. That, in fact, was what he was. I asked him, “Why are you here? There are millions of people just like you.” “Yes,” he replied, “but many of us don't last long. Affording shelter, food, and health care with such limited funds means that, too often, we find it hard to survive. I countered, “But, this nation has so much wealth.” “That's true, too,” he said, “but only a tiny number of people control most of it. I met one of them once. He was a Wall Street hedge-fund manager. He reminded me of the most splendorous peacock, so well dressed was he in his five-thousand-dollar suit and thousand-dollar shoes. I stared at him, trying to understand how such a creature could exist. He reeked of smugness, and I perceived a sense of arrogant entitlement. I asked him how he had become so rich, and he answered, “Because I have barracuda blood in me.” The weary man then sighed, “I don't have barracuda blood,” and hung his head. I moved on.



The fourth exhibit contained an elderly, blue-haired lady with spectacles and neatly pressed cotton dress. The sign read, “Public School Music Teacher.” I looked at her, and she responded with her own sad eyes and a look of resignation. “Why are you here?” I asked. “Because we no longer are wanted and are dying off.” “But, music is such a wonderful part of life!” I exclaimed. “How, can that be?” Patiently, she began to explain. “People have forgotten what quality is, and most schools have eliminated it from their curricula,” she lamented.” “What passes for music these days bares no resemblance to what once was cherished and enjoyed, music that could enhance the lives of the performers and listeners, music that could sooth animals, music that actually can create fresh new brain cells, music that can enhance the ability to learn other disciplines. Most people no longer understand its value and, frankly, don't care.” I told her, “I care,” and we talked together for a long time, sharing our knowledge and love of fine music. Finally, she said, “Perhaps the people in the next exhibit may interest you. Go speak with them.” She sighed and sat down on a little stool, her eyes taking on a distant look, probably “hearing” in her own mind some beautiful melody. I slowly turned and walked on.

I noticed at the adjoining exhibit a sign that stated, “Singers.” “That's odd,” I thought. “There are tons of singers out there. Just turn on the radio, the TV, go into an elevator or a restaurant or supermarket. You hear it all the time and all around us. You almost can't get away from it. There are billboards announcing the imminent arrival of popular singers, and the $300 seats all are sold out. Curious, I walked up to the display. This one contained a young boy along with a man and a woman.

“Are you all singers?” I asked. “Yes,” they replied. Puzzled, I then posed the question, “You can't possibly be rare and endangered. Why are you here?” They smiled at me sadly, and the woman spoke up. “It's all relative. There are so many people who claim to be singers, but really who are not, that those of us who truly are singers are in a small minority.” “What do you mean?” I asked. She explained, “The human voice can be used in many ways to make a sound, but to produce a sonorous, beautiful tone and a controlled technique is special. You must have a good voice to begin with; then it helps to have the voice trained properly. In the past, more people, from popular singers to opera professionals and boys choirs, used to sing well; but that art is being lost with most people these days. Now they scream, which is a different vocal mechanism. That's not singing.”

I stopped to think about what she said and realized that it is true. It seems that, everywhere we go these days, we are held hostage to hearing screaming. At first, I thought that perhaps district managers chose recorded screaming because it could force restaurant-goers to give up their seats and leave more quickly. Then I remembered that a waiter told me that the restaurant chain was paid by the distributor of that noise with the hopes that the listeners would be so enthralled with it that they would rush out to buy or download that atavistic noise. It all came to money. Having been given food for thought, I slowly turned and continued on my way. As I left, I heard the man, woman, and boy begin singing in harmony some sublime melody. I felt a very pleasant sensation growing inside me.

The next exhibit had a sign that read, “English Teacher.” “Now how does that make sense?” I wondered. “Every school has an English teacher. How can they be rare?” I introduced myself and asked her. “Oh yes,” she replied. “There are a lot of people out there called 'English Teachers,' and some of them really try hard to do a good job. But, it's difficult when the students and parents no longer read and often don't really care about literature and well spoken language, when the English teachers take a back seat to the math and science teachers and even the football coaches. Also,“ she continued, “many of the people who go into teaching no longer have a solid base-core of knowledge, read very little, and cannot even speak well themselves. People may have heard of Shakespeare, but how many of them actually have read any? Listen to newscasters speak, to people with advanced degrees and those with professional positions of importance, even professors. Apparently, it never has occurred to them that having a good command of English is of any importance, for their constant errors in diction, grammar, and style are egregious.” Tears began to roll down her cheek. She quickly picked up a small, hardbound volume of poetry and began reading one of them aloud, trying to console herself. I left her in peace.

I began to notice that, as I walked through the zoo, my shadow had grown longer, and the sky was losing its intense blue. I looked at my watch, startled to find how much time I had spent with the first exhibits. Evening and closing time were approaching. So much more of the zoo's endangered species remained for me to see. I looked at the zoo signs erected ahead of me along the path. The first one read, “Honest Businessman and Honest Contractor.” I saw that there were two people in that exhibit. The sign beyond that read, “Faithful Husband and Faithful Wife.” Two people were in that exhibit, also. There actually was a small group in the next exhibit marked “Good Fathers and Good Mothers.” I stopped to think about that. Perhaps the most difficult and important task in the whole world is raising children to be happy, healthy individuals who constructively contribute to society. And, whether the child is raised by a father and mother, two fathers or two mothers, or a single parent, that daunting task remains before them. With so many failed families, perhaps, after all, that small group was rare enough to be in the zoo.

As I strained to see farther down the zoo path, I saw what appeared to be an endless series of signs, far too many for me to explore in just one day. I never realized until then how much was endangered in our society. I promised myself that I would soon return to explore further; however, I better have a solid breakfast and get an early start. I knew then that there was far more to see and to think about at that unique zoo than I had anticipated.


© 29 July 2015


About the Author



I have had a life-long fascination with people and their life stories. I also realize that, although my own life has not brought me particular fame or fortune, I too have had some noteworthy experiences and, at times, unusual ones. Since I joined this Story Time group, I have derived pleasure and satisfaction participating in the group. I do put some thought and effort into my stories, and I hope that you find them interesting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hands, by Ricky


This story and memories are about hands, specifically my hands, although the hands of others may be mentioned. My hands are versatile; they work as a team or as individuals. They usually do good work but sometimes they shirk working altogether.

My hands like to do different tasks. One likes to write and brush my teeth. The other one likes to bowl, throw balls, and take the lead in batting a baseball. One pushes buttons and wipes both windows and my butt. One feeds me while the other helps and then loads the dishwasher. The first holds my rifle while the second squeezes the trigger. One likes to give me pleasure while the other usually watches, joining in on rare occasions. One operates my cell phone while the other holds it steady. Both make a great team using a keyboard and communicating using various non-verbal signs. They coordinate holding books and turning pages so I can read stories. They both chip in to sort clothes for the laundry and then to fold and hang them up later.

When I was a baby they both tasted good, even sweet like candy. At bath-time, they were my toys and servants, washing me at my command. As I grew my toys changed and my hands acquired new skills. They collaborated with my legs and feet and I was able to ride a tricycle and later, bicycles. They learned how to fly a kite and to operate lawn mowers. Still later, they would allow me to drive automobiles.

My hands would often do things that got them dirty, and then they wash each other to remove the dirt and grime. When I was younger, they liked to play in the snow but don’t enjoy it very much now.

My hands traveled far and wide. They have been to Disneyland, Disney World, Euro Disney, Knott’s Berry Farm, Shasta Dam, Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, Trees of Mystery, Crescent City, Grand Coulee Dam, Portland,

Vancouver, Seattle, Boy Scout World Jamboree, BSA Camps Winton and Harvey West, British Columbia, Alberta, Niagara Falls, Times Square, France, Germany, Moscow, Voronezh, Saint Petersburg, Tampa, New Orleans, San Antonio, Tucson, Sea World, the Eiffel Tower, Bitter Root Valley, Hot Springs Arkansas, both Titan and Minuteman missile silos, Pierre, straddled flag pole peak while holding on to the flag pole, and their favorite—piloting the Skipalong on Lake Tahoe.

Yet for all of this travel my hands are just two of many and are not particularly noteworthy like some others. Hansel is famous for getting lost. Handel is famous for composing music. Hans Christian Anderson is famous for writing stories for children. Hans Conried is a famous actor. Hans Zimmer is a composer. Hans Albert is a philosopher.

There are many hands. Black hands, white hands, Oriental hands, Polynesian hands, brown hands, straight hands, LGBT hands, and perhaps others, but they all have one thing in common. They are all attached to people who want to live a happy life and provide a happy life for their descendants.

The song says in part, “He’s got the whole world in his hands. …” Isn’t it about time all of us humans settle down and live peaceably together—before He uses His hands to slap us silly?

© 28 June 2015



About the Author


I was born in June of 1948 in Los Angeles, living first in Lawndale and then in Redondo Beach. Just prior to turning 8 years old in 1956, I began living with my grandparents on their farm in Isanti County, Minnesota for two years during which time my parents divorced.

When united with my mother and stepfather two years later in 1958, I lived first at Emerald Bay and then at South Lake Tahoe, California, graduating from South Tahoe High School in 1966. After three tours of duty with the Air Force, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I lived with my wife and four children until her passing away from complications of breast cancer four days after the 9-11 terrorist attack.

I came out as a gay man in the summer of 2010. I find writing these memories to be therapeutic.

My story blog is TheTahoeBoy.Blogspot.com


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Close, but No Cigar, by Ray S


We finished up our job early so we closed the shop and I somehow knew a little happy hour pick up was a five o’clock necessity.

The proximity of the new art beckoned me to the rooftop terrace and bar. The sun was sinking in the west casting a golden glow splashing against the fading deep blue above. So much for aesthetics.

God, it was good to be done with the shop and studio for another day. The deadline for our next show was bearing down on everyone. The frosted stem glass with its lemon twist boded a welcome respite from the last ten hours.

There I was seated at a high-top surveying the view north and south of Denver’s own gay White Way, although it was not evident that it was so gay or not. As my gaze came back to the deck it fell upon an older man—I would have guessed him fifty years or something—reading the paper and having his own martini.

Not wanting to be caught checking him out, I quickly averted, as they say, my eyes. Only trouble was that this handsome “old guy” returned the glance. Putting his paper down, he looked up at me and simply said, “You like yours with a twist too.” Was that a question or an obvious fact?

Responding as though we had been friends for a long while, I said, “Always a lemon twist—can’t stand a dirty martini—no olives!” With that he got out of his chair and brought his drink over to my high top.

“I’m Howard Rafferty. Haven’t I run across you at the museum?” Suddenly my head was spinning and blood pressure was rising. “Be still my beating heart.” Almost speechless, I answered with a wide smile and a breathless, “Uh-huh.” By now you’ve got me figured out. I’m a pushover for older men. A little love handles or tummy never did any harm. He followed up with the usual come on’s, while in my mind at the same time I’m remembering last week’s fifty minutes with my Dr. Shrink. Boy did this slam me right between the eyes—after twenty-five minutes Dr Shrink said he felt I really had symptoms of a “Father-Son” complex. You know, unresolved conflicts in the subconscious over deep-seated incestuous desires by my struggling psyche. It was an alarming discovery at the time and now dreamboat Rafferty slid right into the puzzle part that Dr. Shrink had in mind. Come to think of it, Dr. Shrink was rather fatherly himself—but that could be another story for another day.

The martini was working its mightiest for Mr. Rafferty. Guess he’d been at the bar for Happy Hour’s opening.

The irony of this could-be fortuitous meeting as it drew to a climax was an invitation to view the original art on the walls of Rafferty’s suite. If I had been cruising a bar instead of just trying to relax before going to my apartment and preparing for meeting the boys at the X-Bar in an hour, no telling how much abstract expressionism would have overcome me.

Hastily killing the last of the cocktail, I thanked Howard, exchanged numbers, and explained I had to run so as not to be late for some other business.

Close, but no cigar!

Made it to the X-Bar and found a place at a table with my four other thirsty queens. Then went to the bar and ordered, you guessed it, another dry one with a twist from a very cute, sexy, and tattooed bar “tendress.” She sported a figure in her T-shirt that could put Venus Di Milo to shame, and MY girl had two arms—Venus could have had tattoos too if she could find those arms. She smiled so charmingly that I even forgot fleetingly that I was gay and in a crazy gay bar.

I was looking over the patio full of every shade and age of a cavalcade male pulchritude when she inquired what I would have. I told her, “Anyone of these” and quickly followed with my drink order.

My Venus looked at me and then surveyed the yard full of men and said, “One martini coming up,” and then said, “What a waste.”

Close, but no cigar.

© 28 September 2015



About the Author



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Scarves, by Phillip Hoyle


I started wearing scarves when I lived in New Mexico. The mild winters there when compared with the previous nine seasons of harsh weather in mid-Missouri made it possible for me to wear a jacket, scarf, and gloves and be plenty warm most of the time. I liked the light-weight effect. Of course, keeping track of scarves presented a new challenge to me. I lost several when upon leaving coffee shops I failed to put them around my neck.

Actually scarves and their care were the least of my complications in those days. I started doing quite a few different things during my Albuquerque mid-forties years and now realize that in addition to a change of scenery and culture, the exit of our children from the home had a lot to do with my adaptations. For the first time in my adult life I had freedoms I had longed for but had never exercised. It seemed like the challenges of my homosexuality were not going to be overlooked. Wearing scarves was the least among my new behaviors although not unimportant.

Looking back on it all I can say that scarves significantly symbolized a feminizing of my life, a simple step of my living into my girlishness fostered by being reared with four girls and by my personality that I now identify as gay, or at least as the gay part of it. I wasn’t at all surprised. I had long wondered how I got through childhood and youth without being beat up for being a sissy, a weakling, too girlish, somehow not a man. I wondered but thought happily about my enduring good luck. And then, in my middle-age-moving-toward-old-age, I could flip a scarf around my neck without a care. For me, scarves were a bit like umbrellas, things most men I knew had no truck with. Still, I had learned to use umbrellas in Missouri where it often rains, and then in arid and mild Albuquerque I sported scarves.

In my well-compartmentalized life I had already known scarves, actually worn them. They were present in our house due to having two older sisters who sometimes wore them when the bop was popular, poodle skirts and saddle oxfords reigned on the dance floor, and scarves in complementary colors were worn around the neck. Now I couldn’t wear them to school dances, but I did wear them when dancing at powwows. They were a standard part of my straight dance costume with its roach headdress, old fashioned bustle, beaded and mirror rosettes, trailers, apron, sheepskin anklets, bells, and moccasins. I preferred dark blue scarves and wore them in this other cultural compartment of my life. But when I left home for college, I left those costumes packed away in two suitcases and a few boxes wondering if I’d ever wear them again. They were stowed along with memories of childhood sex with boys, a nine-month affair with another teen, my love for doing artwork, and the like.

By the time I got to Denver a few years after leaving Albuquerque, I was wearing scarves almost every winter day. I also learned to pull a scarf into my sleeve so I wouldn’t have to remember it when donning my jacket. I now prefer plaid scarves although they often clash with my plaid shirts. I have even encouraged my partner to wear scarves and have noticed now he wants to tie them in a more girlish fashion like some kind of off duty drag queen! Oh, did that just slip out? Well, you can see that I have learned a lot but probably have a lot more to learn about myself. I wonder what else I may discover in those old suitcases of lost dreams.

Denver, ©23 March 2014

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Grief, by Pat Gourley



“By meditating on death, we paradoxically become conscious of life”.

Stephen Batchelor – from Buddhism Without Beliefs. 1997

This is one of those Story Telling Topics that really brings home to me what a lazy undisciplined writer I am. My life certainly dating from the death of my father in August of 1980 up until my most recent shift in Urgent Care, which was yesterday, has been chock-full of experience after experience of life’s impermanence and the personal grief that causes. I should be writing at least several chapters on grief if I were ever to get off my ass and write a memoir. The reality though is that the topic of Grief is going to get less than a thousand words as usual.

If I were in a really self-indulgent mood I suppose I could conjure up reams on grief around my own HIV infection and that of many, many friends and clients and their suffering and too often deaths over the past 35 years. An issue of self-exploration here for me would perhaps be how much of my own grief over the decades has really just been self-indulgent wallowing in the pool of “poor pitiful me”. How unfair that I am “forced” to face my own mortality every day when I swallow my HIV meds. And even worse how come I have witnessed so much suffering and death of others? I really need to watch this tendency in myself carefully and continually realize that no one gets out alive and many through the ages up until this minute have it so much worse than I do or ever will.

Nevertheless, that all said let me delve self-indulgently just a bit into my own grief issues, as they seem to come into focus for me especially this time of year. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. The Grateful Dead were an integral part my life for decades. During the darkest years of the AIDS epidemic, from the late 1980’s until 1995 when I was not only looking down the barrel of my own infection I was also the nursing manger in the AIDS clinic at Denver Health and living with the love of my life who was dying in front of me. The music of the Grateful Dead was a great solace in those years and remains so today actually. I was at the last two shows Garcia and the Dead performed at Soldier’s Field in Chicago July. 1995.

Those shows were not particularly memorable at the time in large part because Garcia was not well but it never occurred to me that he would be gone himself in a few short weeks. The memory of hearing the news of his death on August 9th, 1995 is indelibly etched in my mind but not for the reason you may think.

Minutes after the news exploded across the world of Garcia’s death of a heart attack in a rehab center in Marin County my life partner David Woodyard, who was battling several major HIIV related issues of his own at the time, was on the phone deeply concerned about me and how I was taking the news.

This was and still is for me the real lesson on how to handle the feeling of grief in my own life. I need to always take a moment or several no matter what the circumstances and look around, outside my own little puddle and attempt to be “conscious of life’ and what an amazing trip it is to get to experience that at all, even when filled with grief.

David was teaching me that lesson right up until his own death five weeks later at 9 AM on September 17th, 1995. That was when my own real grieving began in earnest with no Grateful Dead song able to console me. Not even the beautiful lyrics of Brokedown Palace, which we played at his memorial.

Fare you well my honey
Fare you well my only true one
All the birds that were singing
Have flown except you alone

Going to leave this broke-down palace
On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
Make myself a bed by the waterside
In my time, in my time, I will roll roll roll
In a bed, in a bed

By the waterside I will lay my head
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
To rock my soul
River gonna take me

Sing me sweet and sleepy
Sing me sweet and sleepy
All the way back home

It's a far-gone lullaby
Sung many years ago
Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come
Since I first left home

Going home, going home
By the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
To rock my soul

Going to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water

Lovers come and go, the river roll roll roll
Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs

To rock my soul


Songwriters: GARCIA, JERRY / HUNTER, ROBERT

Brokedown Palace lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

© August 2015


About the Author


I was born in La Porte, Indiana in 1949, raised on a farm and schooled by Holy Cross nuns. The bulk of my adult life, some 40 plus years, was spent in Denver, Colorado as a nurse, gardener and gay/AIDS activist. I have currently returned to Denver after an extended sabbatical in San Francisco, California.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Extreme Sport, by Lewis


Let me begin by saying that my idea of "extreme sport" is playing tag football with the tag tucked into the front of one's britches rather than the rear--it makes for more of a thrill for both the offense and defense. Beyond that, it seems to me that every sport requires a level of skill, coordination, and ruggedness that has always seemed extreme to me.

The sports that I enjoyed the most in my youth involved putting a pretty, round ball into a hole swathed in leather using a long, stiff, woody instrument with a little lubricant on the tip--namely, pool and snooker. I found the activity quite challenging while still allowing the competitors the opportunity to swill a little tomato beer, if so inclined.

The sport that I believe has taken this basic idea to its extreme is golf. With golf, the player must stand hundreds of yards away from the hole, drive a much smaller ball placed much further from his eyes, with an instrument that is much longer and less balanced, leaving him unable to either sight along it or steady it with his hand. Rather than a smooth, flat table, the golfer must navigate terrain that has been deliberately made treacherous with hills and valleys and even obstacles like sand traps and little bodies of water. It is a game invented by a sadist for masochists or, as Mark Twain so cryptically put it, "A good walk spoilt". Thereby have I forever been discouraged from setting foot on a golf course despite how pretty they may look.

The only other sport in which I have taken a serious interest is motor racing. No doubt, it is an extreme sport, whether measured by expense, danger, difficulty, or destruction. My favorite form of motor racing was road racing, which is a rough simulation of cruising an overcrowded parking lot trying to beat the other person into that last open space. My son also had an interest in racing, gymkhana racing in particular, which is even more like parking lot competitions as they are held in empty parking lots using orange cones to mark the course.

It, therefore, seemed the perfect college graduation gift for him to send him to the Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving near Phoenix, Arizona. The more I thought about the fun he was going to have there, the more tempted I became to enroll as well. So, I signed him up for the 5-day class, while I settled for the 3-day. When we arrived, the temperature most days was 107 degrees and the action on the asphalt was just as hot. After the first couple of days, I'm guessing that the instructors had to draw straws to see who would have to accompany me whilst I attempted to learn the secrets of high-performance driving. We were taught how to find a turn-in spot on the upcoming curves to have the right line coming out of the corner, how to control a skid, and lots of other stuff which I will never again use.

On day 3, we were being trained how to react quickly to dangerous developments ahead of us on the road, such as a spinning car. The course was laid out something like a drag strip with three lanes instead of two. Ahead of us about 75 yards was a structure that looked a little like a toll booth, also with three lanes. But the lanes were separated only by traffic cones. Beyond the booth was a series of lights, red or green, for each lane. The object of this exercise was for the driver of a car--in my case, a Mustang GT--to roar away from the starting line at full throttle up to 45 miles per hour and look for two of the green lights at the end of the track to turn red, at which point you had one second or so to steer the car into the one lane whose light was still green.

On my first and second attempts, I had only managed to alter the configuration of a few cones, never quite making the smooth lane-change that I so anxiously hoped for. On my third-and-final attempt, my nerves were as jangled as if I were making my first sky-dive. I roared away from the start line at full throttle, quickly glanced down at the speedometer to make sure I didn't go over 45 mph, at which point I think I went glassy eyed, recognizing only that some of the lights had changed color and I had to do something right away. The Mustang ended up in a long sideways slide through the middle of two lanes until it came to a screeching stop in a cloud of tire smoke.

My instructor, trying to look serious, rushed up to me to see if I was OK, which I was, other than a severely bruised ego. Any trace of romanticism I had for auto racing had disappeared in a cloud of tire smoke and discombobulation.

Fortunately, my son made out much better than I. He even got to train in open-wheel race cars, similar to Indy racers but much smaller. One of his fellow students, a young man of about 17, had raced open-wheeled cars before, likely beginning with go-karts. His mother told me that he had won one race after scraping the bottom of his car on the pavement so much that it had worn through and soon began working on his driving suit. When he finished, his bottom was worn raw but it didn't matter--he was a winner in one of the many extreme sports.

© 2015

Find date by comparing Phillip’s



About the Author




I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and had two children while working as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. I was married to a wonderful woman for 26 happy years and suddenly realized that life was passing me by. I figured that I should make a change, as our offspring were basically on their own and I wasn't getting any younger. Luckily, a very attractive and personable man just happened to be crossing my path at that time, so the change-over was both fortuitous and smooth. Soon after, I retired and we moved to Denver, my husband's home town. He passed away after 13 blissful years together in October of 2012. I am left to find a new path to fulfillment. One possibility is through writing. Thank goodness, the SAGE Creative Writing Group was there to light the way. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hinterland, part two, by Gillian


Grief

A few days after my time-travel to Aberystwyth, I returned to Episode One of Hinterland only to find Matthias dashing off to Devil's Bridge. Well, duh, that was the title of the episode. I just hadn't noticed.

Devil's Bridge is a little village up in the mountains about ten miles inland from Aberystwyth and it was a very, very, special place to my parents. My mother wrote in her photo album in 1930 that it was the most beautiful place she had ever been. You can't tell from the faded old sepia photograph but it is a pretty spot, though I suspect Mum's enthusiasm for it was more because it was where she and Dad spent their honeymoon. Several years later, we went there quite frequently on our day trips to Aberystwyth, always stopping there for tea and a walk down to the waterfall no matter how hard it was raining. It is the only place where the three of us ever stayed overnight, in the same hotel where they had honeymooned; inevitable as there was, at that time, only one hotel. (Now, I am astonished to find, Expedia lists eight right there, and a hundred and forty-six nearby!)

Now, I sit here in Colorado watching Matthias hurrying down to the falls, where of course he finds a dead body. I am amazed to see solid stone steps with handrails zig-zagging down the little gorge. No such thing in my day! We simply scrambled over wet muddy slippery rocks until, one way or another, we landed at the bottom. I am disappointed in this development, but have no time to dwell on it as Matthias is now entering the hotel. THE hotel. The one I stayed in with my parents, and where we used to go for tea. In the series they call it the Devil's Bridge Hotel but I recognize it instantly as the old Hafod Hotel, as it is actually still called, they just changed the name for the TV series. It has been there since the 1700's when it opened as a hunting lodge, and there was probably some kind of hostelry long before that, as there have been bridges across the gorge at Devil's Bridge since the 1100's.

Probably I was already sensitized by my Aberystwyth experience, but seeing the waterfalls, and the bridge, and following the path of the TV camera into that very hotel, overwhelmed me. I had an intensity of grief for my parents such as I have rarely felt, and certainly not for many years. As I have said before, I seem unable to come to grips with being an orphan, but this pain astonished me How can I possibly feel such sorrow after ... what is it now? Thirty years. I guess real grief never leaves us, despite the healing qualities of time. We feel it less often, perhaps, but it is never gone. It sneaks up on us when we least expect it, and stops us in our tracks.

I turn off the TV.

Again.

I have decided that Hinterland Episode One is not for me.

Warily, a few days later, I did watch the other three episodes. All was well. Matthias trots his grim path around many places I recognize, but none that tear at my heart. I'm not sure if I will ever return to Episode One.

Who needs what the critics are calling 'Welsh noir,' anyway? At this moment I am grieving for a longtime friend who died last week. There's enough 'aging noir' in real life these days, I don't need to borrow grief from the television.

© 10 August 2015



About the Author


I was born and raised in England. After graduation from college there, I moved to the U.S. and, having discovered Colorado, never left. I have lived in the Denver-Boulder area since 1965, working for 30 years at IBM. I married, raised four stepchildren, then got divorced after finally, in my forties, accepting myself as a lesbian. I have now been with my wonderful partner Betsy for 25 years.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hinterland, part one, by Gillian


Going Home

Although I spent the first twenty years of my life in Britain, I have been away from that home so long that it has long ceased to be 'home' to me. Colorado has been my home for fifty years. I have fond memories, sometimes sliding into nostalgia, of that original home, but most of us occasionally succumb to such sentiments for the days of our long-lost youth. Once in a while, though, something propels me instantly, unexpectedly, through time and space, and there I am as surely as if I had clicked my little red heels.

A few weeks ago I watched, on DVD, a Brit police drama entitled Hinterland. A strange choice of title, you'd think they would have chosen from an endless array of lyrical Welsh words. It is set in the wet wilds of Wales, and is all a bit dark and dour. I don't think the main character, the investigating cop, Matthias, smiles once in the entire series. Actually I'm not sure anyone smiles once in the entire series. But the police are headquartered in Aberystwyth, a small seaside town; a place very close to my heart.

I've bored you endlessly about when I was a little kid and gas was still rationed and the British economy shot to hell, so few people had cars, and no-one took unnecessary trips. But by the early nineteen-fifties things were finally looking up. My dad bought a small, very used, car, and we fell into the habit, on rare summer sunny Sundays, of spending the day in Aberystwyth. It was only about an hour's drive, and a breathtakingly beautiful one; up and over the rugged Welsh mountains and down to the jagged rocks greeting the crashing waves of the Irish Sea. These were always special days. Just Mum and Dad and me, carefree and silly.

Back on the DVD, the camera, seeing the world through the Matthias's eyes, rolls down an Aberystwyth street, between solid Victorian buildings of local Welsh stone, towards the pebbly beach. I had walked down that very street, exactly there, many times. And suddenly I was there. I was there! Walking down that street. I was no longer watching. No longer seeing through other eyes; nor through the camera lens. I feel and hear the crunch of my feet on the sandy, gritty, pavement. Mum and I have our arms linked and are half walking half skipping like little kids.

My dad, who of course will have no part of skipping, is striding beside us, swinging my hand up and back in big arcs. I am too old for real hand-holding, probably ten or eleven, but swinging seems OK.

Dad looks down at me and winks.

"By 'eck, i'n't this grrrand!"

He rolls his r's. He is Welsh and being in Wales makes him more so.

We are at the end of the street, where we have to turn either left or right to follow the waterfront.

Dad releases my hand. I am suddenly in a dark, smoky, room. Matthias is growling something.

No. I am not there. I am no longer there. I am, once more, the watcher.

I am in my house in Colorado.

It's 2015.

I turn off the TV.

This incident bothered me so much that I did not return to that DVD for a few days. I felt all discombobulated. What had happened? I tried to shrug it off. Nothing so surreal, in fact. Just a very vivid memory, as some childhood memories seem to be. But why that one? Why that street? It wasn't as if it ended in some terrible trauma, causing it to be burned into my memory. And to be honest, it wasn't really a memory. Not like memories are, usually, where you are outside them, just looking in. Just remembering. It was more like a dream. A very vivid dream. I was there. I was there.

No, don't panic. I'm not about to deliver a diatribe on the space/time continuum. Even if I wanted to I couldn't. I just recognize how grateful I am that I was blessed with such an all-encompassing flash back, and hope for more to come. Living away from home is fine, but it was great to go back and visit.

© 3 August 2015



About the Author


I was born and raised in England. After graduation from college there, I moved to the U.S. and, having discovered Colorado, never left. I have lived in the Denver-Boulder area since 1965, working for 30 years at IBM. I married, raised four stepchildren, then got divorced after finally, in my forties, accepting myself as a lesbian. I have now been with my wonderful partner Betsy for 25 years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Clear as Mud, by Betsy and Gillian


(Betsy)


This past summer while strolling through downtown Denver with some visiting relatives, we came upon a sign that read,

RESTROOMS ARE LOCKED

TO PROVIDE CLEAN FACILITIES

FOR OUR CUSTOMERS.


The sign caught our attention especially because we had been searching for a restroom for quite some time and were more than ready to find one. “If they are locked how do we get in?” the three of us said almost in unison. The sign was not posted on the door of any particular store, rather on a door from a walkway into a hall leading to nowhere except the two restrooms. We were not customers then, but neither was anyone else. The walkway belonged to the entire pavilion which housed many stores. “Do we have to buy something to get a key from one of the stores?” I queried to myself. How long will that take. There are no stores immediately handy.

Fortunately in a most timely fashion, a woman came out of the walkway door and informed us that she had been given the secret code to open the restroom by the previous user and she would gladly pass it on to us. It turns out that we did the same for the next person in need. It seems the only way for this restroom to be used at all is to have a constant stream of users passing on the code. Otherwise the facilities would most surely stay clean forever. A good way to keep your facility clean: lock it.

One day while driving on I 70 through eastern Colorado on our recent trip to the east coast, my mind was wandering as it does on such roads. I began thinking about the next topic we would be writing about when we returned at the end of the month. MUD, hmmm. The phrase “clear as mud” jumped into my head and reminded me of the puzzling sign I had recently seen on the door at the pavilion in downtown Denver.

It was then that Gill and I decided to make a collection of such signs on this trip.Gill would take photos of them, otherwise no one would believe we had actually seen such a sign. We would then pass on these gems of wisdom to our friends at Storytime.

(Gillian)

On one of those narrow winding backroads that are quite common in the eastern states, we got stuck behind a slow-moving truck. On the back of the truck a big red sign said,

CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE

DO NOT FOLLOW


Now, it's not as if we were following from choice. We were simply heading down the same road without a chance to overtake. What is expected here?? Are we supposed to find an alternate route to avoid following this truck? Not so easily done in the mountains of West Virginia. Was he heading for a top-secret destination?? We're probably on yet another CIA/FBI shit-list now.

(Betsy) 

Sometimes if we have time and we are in an area with which we are not familiar, we like to travel the back roads. It does mean a lot of stop and go, especially in the more populated parts of the country. But it presents so many opportunities to learn—and laugh.

We’ve driven through many, many small towns with very unusual names.

We had to turn around a get a picture of this one.

WELCOME TO ACCIDENT

I forget in what state the town of Accident is—it doesn’t really matter. What makes this sign memorable is the sign just beyond it directing passersby to the nearby hospital with an arrow (unfortunately we were unable to photograph the two signs together.)

Welcome to Accident—the hospital is right around the corner, it said to us. I wanted to add “for your convenience.”

(Gillian) 

At a gas station a sign in the window read,

BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL!




DISAPPROVE OF UNDERAGE DRINKING

An admirable sentiment, doubtless, but surely a little wimpy? Nobody, including all those underage drinkers, gives a toss if I disapprove. The word has no power; my disapproval has no power. Perhaps I might accomplish something by fighting underage drinking, or by not drinking with minors, or by not buying booze for them, but disapprove?? I think it is actually the first time in my life that I have been urged to disapprove of something. Ah, lots of 'firsts' to be found on road-trips!

(Betsy) 

What this negative message says to me is: My advise to you adults driving cars(hopefully sober) and reading this sign is as follows: model for young people how to judge others—never mind taking positive action to suggest a better behavior.

(Gillian) 

Next to this gas station was a big sign,

Arby's

DO NOT ENTER


Of course there are these signs at the exit of all drive-throughs, but this one was big and quite threatening. Well, OK then. We had never intended to enter. We drove happily away.

(Betsy) We don’t use Arby’s really, but couldn’t help but notice the unwelcoming sign. I guess we all know what they really mean, but couldn’t they come up with a better presentation. They certainly know how to present their food—if one dares to enter.

(Gillian) 

This one is not exactly about a sign, but rather a tale of two billboards. One was positioned directly above the other. I have no photo as we zoomed past at 75mph. The upper one had the usual pitiful baby picture accompanied by the statement,

ABORTION is MURDER

NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO TAKE A LIFE


The lower one had a picture of a man bearing arms; and was he ever! Six-shooters in a gun-belt, cartridges slung across his manly chest, rifles over his shoulders, machine-guns at his feet. It read, simply,

IT'S YOUR RIGHT

I have no idea if the two signs were put together on purpose, but the irony is delicious.

(Betsy) 

The last day of our trip and back in our home state we were not disappointed by Colorado road signs. No one can miss the huge sign on I 70 entering Colorado. It is written in lights across the highway like a Broadway marquee.

0 FATALITIES 0 TOLERANCE 2015

Clearly because of its in-your-face presentation, this is a very important notice announcing, “ Please, all those entering the state, take heed.” We did just that. We did take heed and we definitely took note of the sign. I am still contemplating its meaning, however! Have there been no fatalities at all in 2015 in Colorado. No wonder the population is increasing at record rates. And it will continue to do so. This clearly is 
THE PLACE TO BE
—a place where one dies only of natural causes.

But then we must remember there is zero tolerance here. Does this mean all entering are on notice that the state of Colorado 


WILL NOT TOLERATE THE CURRENT RATE OF ZERO FATALITIES?
Surely that can’t be what they meant.

Maybe it means: the state of Colorado has zero tolerance for any fatalities. But when you put the phrase zero tolerance directly below the phrase zero fatalities??? I’m left scratching my head. Now if you put the sign “0 Tolerance” by itself, then one might be deterred from entering the state.

(Gillian) 

According to Colorado Department of Transportation's own statistics, as of October 1st of this year there have been 398 highway fatalities, so the meaning of this sign completely eludes me. Apparently staying here in this state of zero tolerance will not preserve us from danger. We might as well keep on taking road trips!

© October 2015


About the Authors


Betsy has been active in the GLBT community including PFLAG, the Denver women’s chorus, OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change). She has been retired from the Human Services field for about 15 years. Since her retirement, her major activities include tennis, camping, traveling, teaching skiing as a volunteer instructor with National Sports Center for the Disabled, and learning. Betsy came out as a lesbian after 25 years of marriage. She has a close relationship with her three children and enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren. Betsy says her greatest and most meaningful enjoyment comes from sharing her life with her partner of 25 years, Gillian Edwards.

I was born and raised in England. After graduation from college there, I moved to the U.S. and, having discovered Colorado, never left. I have lived in the Denver-Boulder area since 1965, working for 30 years at IBM. I married, raised four stepchildren, then got divorced after finally, in my forties, accepting myself as a lesbian. I have now been with my wonderful partner Betsy for 25 years.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Horseshoes, by Will Stanton


Who in the devil came up with this topic “horseshoes?” What am I supposed to do with it? I know that people for generations have tossed horseshoes at metal stakes as a game. My dad used to many years ago. Washington Park even included a brand new horseshoe pitch as part of recent renovation. Apparently, my great-grandfather was a skilled farrier, although I heard mention of it only once. I am not an equestrian nor a Western cowboy, so I don't hang around horses or blacksmiths.

It seems that we non-rural folks occasionally use the odd horseshoe or two as decoration, sometimes nailing them over doors for supposed good luck. I'm told that the shoe must point up; otherwise, all the good luck will run out. So, how did that old custom of good-luck horseshoes come about? Apparently, the horseshoes keep the Devil and witches away.

Some say that the horseshoe legend goes back as far as the year 969 CE when a blacksmith named Dunstin supposedly was visited by the Devil. The visitor surprised Dunstin by requesting that he have horseshoes nailed to his feet. Dunstin was even more surprised to discover that, rather than feet, the individual had cloven hooves. Apparently, this was a dead give-away that this was not a man but, instead, the Devil himself. Dunstin quickly stated that the individual had to be placed in the oxen-lift and hoisted up in order to do the shoeing. This was agreed to, and Dunstin began his labors, deliberately making the process as prolonged and as painful as possible. Howling in pain, the Devil pleaded to cease the shoeing.

Dunstin promised to let the Devil go but with one condition, that any home with a horseshoe nailed to a wall or over a doorway was off limits to the Devil. He could not harm anyone living in or visiting that place. The Devil agreed and was released.

The historically known Dunstin became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is said that Christians were the first to move the horseshoes down onto the center of their front and back doors to be used as doorknockers. The knock of iron on wood was thought to ward away the devil and awaken guardian angels. So, it's advisable to have a good pair of knockers.

Legend has it that displayed horseshoes also could keep witches away. Of course in this case, we are not talking about the anthropologically accurate nature of these pre-Christian pagans. Historically, they did not believe in, nor engage in, evil. Instead, the later misrepresentation and popular portrayal of evil, old hags is addressed here.

There is a 1666 legend concerning a Goody Chandler of Newbury, Massachusetts, who claimed that her illness was caused by her very unpopular neighbor Elizabeth Morse. Once a horseshoe was nailed above the door, supposedly Elizabeth could not enter the house.

The story goes on to say that her nosy, fundamentalist neighbor William Moody removed the horseshoe, stating that he was opposed to any kind of magic, that it was just as bad as witchcraft. I know how religiously uptight some people can be. My mother's ancestors are of Puritan stock, arriving here in 1630 with Governor Winthrop; and I suspect that they may have participated in hanging a couple of witches in Salem. Not straying outside the Bible was the official platform of the Puritan church in New England. Cotton Mather wrote in Wonders of the Invisible World that, "The Children of New-England have Secretly done many things that have been pleasing to the Devil. They say, That in some Towns, it ha's been an usual Thing for People to Cure Hurts with Spells, or to use Detestable Conjurations, with Sieves, & Keyes, and Pease, and Nails, and Horse-Shooes... 'Tis in the Devils Name that such Things are done."

Removing the horseshoe from above the door was followed by renewed visits by Elizabeth, whereupon, Goody became worse and eventually died. I am sure that this tale is apocryphal, but it does reflect the mindset of the time.

A horseshoe could also be used to keep a dead witch in her grave. The towns-people of Hampton, New Hampshire, staked the heart of suspected witch Goody Cole after she died. They tied a horseshoe to the stake. Perhaps it was because of the iron, believing that supernatural creatures such as witches fear iron. In the British Isles, witches often were accused of associating with fairies, so peasants nailed horseshoes over their doors to keep fairies out of the house. I was quick to notice that there is no horseshoe nailed over the door here. What would happen if there were? Oh well, as an old Celtic blessing says. “May the charm and good luck of the horseshoe be with you and yours always!”


© 2015

About the Author



I have had a life-long fascination with people and their life stories. I also realize that, although my own life has not brought me particular fame or fortune, I too have had some noteworthy experiences and, at times, unusual ones. Since I joined this Story Time group, I have derived pleasure and satisfaction participating in the group. I do put some thought and effort into my stories, and I hope that you find them interesting.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Brick(s), by Terry Dart

Bricks for sure make up some formidable walls. They are a well understood building material.

In metaphor a brick wall can be for protection from one bad event (say a house fire) spreading and multiplying problems.

Or a wall can keep out of sight unwanted entities. If I am depressed a metaphorical wall rises up within my consciousness. Of course that is not brick so I digress. I will leave.

“Like talking to a brick wall.” Well that has been tried many a time and always unsuccessfully as anyone who has tried will attest. But I have always thought it a terrific simile.

The most extreme use or misuse of brick is when it winds up being thrown through a window or at someone’s head.

Bricks can be broken with a hammer and often are broken in two by a bricklayer in the process of building. He may be building a house, of course. If you have ever watched a bricklayer at work, you can see the careful almost meditative work at this ancient craft.

So there: bricks. That about covers it.

Oh, there is a literary piece, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allen Poe that makes great use of brick. But don’t read it. It’s Way too Scary!

© 12 October 2015



About the Author


I am an artist and writer after having spent the greater part of my career serving variously as a child care counselor, a special needs teacher, a mental health worker with teens and young adults, and a home health care giver for elderly and Alzheimer patients. Now that I am in my senior years I have returned to writing and art, which I have enjoyed throughout my life.