The Introduction

One of my goals for the year is to put a book that I’ve been working on into draft form by the end of the year. I’ve written about eighty pages so far, and I was going at a fantastic clip of about five to ten pages a day for a couple weeks until our computer blew up. That was four years ago, and it took about two weeks to get the computer back up and running. In that time, the drive died, the story got lost, and a couple of the critical questions I was trying to resolve became even bigger.

This last December, the book came back to my mind, and I went through and I read the eighty pages. I was reminded of a few things:

  • First, I love to write. I love seeing words formed into imagery and meaning that goes well beyond what simple letters on a page could ever mean.
  • Second, I love this story. It’s a hard story (you’ll see that in a minute), and it’s dark, but there is a real story here.
  • Third, I love this story. That’s different than the previous. The first love is a recognition that this is a creation that is coming from me. It’s mine. It’s something that I’ve agonized over and brought forth. In that sense, it’s the love of a parent for a child. You love your child because they are yours.
    The second love is something beyond that. This is the love that comes for a child you’ve watched grow and watched struggle. This is a love that comes from the understanding that what you have is genuine and good. I love this story not only because it’s mine, but because it is meaningful. In short, where this not mine, I would love it still. This is a story that would call to me, and I like to think that I would read it if I found it on my own.

The book came from a dream, written about previously here. The post is password protected, and I would tell anyone about to go back and read it that while that dream was the genesis of the idea, what has come from it is far different. And that’s a good thing. What has begun to rise from the memory of that dream is something infinitely better. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.

I wanted to throw out the introduction for you as it currently stands. There are still a lot of questions, and surely much that will change over time, but this is a start.

Enjoy!

The elevator cage closed with a crash, and he heard the audible click of the lock snapping together.

Peter stared blankly across the crowded area. No one spoke aside from the occasional whimpers and worries for what was below. He could hardly believe that he was here.

His family had tried to keep him from the Pits, but he had heard the whispers.

“We just can’t keep him any longer. It’s either him or all of us,” his dad had muttered on quiet nights when Peter was supposed to be asleep. “But he’s our son…,” had been the somber reply. “I know….”

Those words haunted Peter now. I know….

Still, even hearing those whispers, he had hoped that the words were nothing more than the half-spoken fears of parents figuring out what to do. How to keep him. He had never expected that those words would ever amount to anything more than that.

With a crunch, the cable began to pass through the gearbox and the elevator descended. The metal guides screeched quietly against the rail as the car dropped through the shaft. A few people began to openly cry, though most could do little but stare mutely at nothing. Peter could hear their silence.

I know…. An unspoken—and broken—promise that no matter what, no matter how hard, he had that trust; that commitment that he’d be safe.

The car continued to creak as it fell deeper down the shaft. Peter noted the soft clicks the wheels made each time they passed over a seam in the rail. It was impossible to know for sure, but they had to be several hundred feet down by now, if not more.

Much more.

The pits were said to be several thousand feet below ground, constructed from salt domes. In certain places, salt would form a dome deep beneath the surface of the earth, and engineers had learned to carve those domes out. Often, the domes were used to store oil, but they hadn’t been used for that since the Crash. Most of the domes weren’t much more than a few hundred meters in any direction, but there were some truly massive domes that were much larger. During the Crash, these had been hastily converted into Pits.

He envied most of the others in the car. He could tell that many were at least with others. Those they loved. He could hear the gentle assurance of husbands comforting wives, mothers comforting children. The last he had heard from his own mother was her crying in her room and his dad saying it’d be alright. Like the other times, he was supposed to be asleep then, too.

Peter’s trial had been swift, his public defender making little defense and no one standing up to claim him, not even his parents who had simply dropped him off with the Dredgers and then quickly left. The judge had asked him if he understood what it meant that no one had claimed him. Peter didn’t bother to look around. “I know.”

I know…. The words had condemned him. A verbal recognition that not only was he completely alone but that he had only one path forward.

The Pits. Into the black.

As a child, his mother would often tell him that sometimes he needed to step into the dark in order to see the path in front of him, that sometimes fear of the dark would make it so that he was too scared to try anything or to do anything. At first, he had believed completely in those words, trusting that he would see. Then, as he grew older, he had begun to doubt. “How can I see?” he’d ask.

“Trust me. When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.”

The car continued to drop down the shaft. Peter had long since stopped paying attention to the sounds the machines made as they crunched the cable through the gears, instead listening to the tense conversations around him. He could feel the pressure in the car, and although no one moved and he had plenty of room to stand, he could sense the crushing weight of earth and emotion.

The air in the car had grown thick, musty with the scent of fear and worry, as though every passing second added to the dark. The blackness had never scared him, and the truth was that he didn’t know any better to let it. The world outside of his parents had always been one of deep shadow and unknowing, and he had long grown used to the idea that hoping beyond the immediate future was short-sighted at best. But within that circle of safety, the world was bright and open.

Until it wasn’t.

The elevator came to a sharp halt that sent Peter and the others grasping for support. The door slid open loudly, crashing against an unseen wall.

“Out! Out now!”

The voice was harsh and loud after the stifled elevator car. Peter and the others slowly moved out of the car onto the hard earth of the Pits.

“Over there for sorting!” called the voice, and Peter moved with the group forward.

“Men over there, women and children that way!”

Peter stood still, though those around him moved out. Soon he was alone.

“You there! I said go that way!”

Peter just stood there.

Pounding footsteps approached him, cursing him. “I said MOVE!” Peter felt the blow long before it landed, but he was still surprised. He crumpled to the ground as the man continued to yell at him.

“That’s enough, Cain,” said a quiet voice.

Cain stepped back, and Peter felt a hand on his shoulder. It was firm, but gentle. “What’s the matter, son? Did you not hear the directions?”

“Yes,” replied Peter. “Yes, but I don’t know where to go.”

The man muttered softly. “Look at me…. Ah,” he said as understanding set in. Peter felt the touch of the man’s hand change. The gentle grasp softened more. The voice took on a feeling of regret. Almost pity.  “Well, this is an easy one. Cain, move him over to Processing.”

Cain roughly grabbed Peter, set him on his feet, and pushed him forward.

“Sorry, kid,” the man called. I know, Peter thought as he was led away.

Some time later, Peter was thrown into a trench, not quite dead yet. His body was sore, the pain not quite high enough to turn everything numb, but far too significant to ignore. As his life came to an end, he remembered his mother’s promise—When the time comes, you’ll see. When it really matters, you’ll know.

And he finally did. As he died, he finally saw that the world had no place for a blind boy. No use for him. I know… was his last thought. Then everything truly went black.

 

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Winter Bee Deaths

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually; I lost all of my hives.

I had suspected that the weaker one was doomed all along, but I was so sure that the big hive was going to do just fine. They had a bit of a varroa nightmare going into the fall, but I medicated for the first time in many years and was otherwise feeling confident. I went out the other day to see what was going on, and not a peep. I cracked the top of both hives, and there in the front on both hives was the remains of a tiny, frozen cluster.

My early guess is that they honey chamber was a bit too spread out, and they got caught between honey stores as they tried moving to a new spot. Very frustrating and discouraging!

A few weeks back my dad called me to tell me that he was dropping his hives. He’s getting to an age where the weight of the boxes plus the heat of the summer was causing difficulty for him, and it was the right choice. Talking with him made me wonder about my own hives. I enjoy keeping bees, but I’m also less willing to put forth the serious effort that they sometimes require. So do I stop, take a break, or start over?

Part of me feels like a short break of a year or two would be the right choice, but I also recognize that a short break might became a long break. Probably will become a long break if I’m being honest.

So do I start over this year? Sigh… I don’t know. Bees are pricey to start over, and I don’t care for that part of it all. My success rate with a package is only about 50% as well, and I’m not too excited to pour money down the drain. I’m debating baiting the hives and trying to attract a swarm. I’m also debating replacing all my equipment.

Then again, I could sell it all off and just be done for awhile.

So my fellow beeks, what have you done when you started debating the “do I keep going” question?

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The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

Merry Christmas!

I woke up this morning and was immediately filled with a deep sense of peace and joy. I love this season of celebration and family and friends and gospel. As I pondered on the feeling, I had clearly in my minds eye that trip so long ago from the hills of Nazareth to the humble village of Bethlehem. I pondered the many miracles–probably small in the eyes of most and maybe not even miracles in the eyes of some–that led to a simple stable with a simple manger. I love the story of His birth.

As I thought, the words from the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem came into my mind, particular this line:

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Hope makes sense. The Savior brought with Him an incredible feeling of hope for many who had waited long for His arrival. We, like the Jews of old, look forward to the time when He will come again. We hope on the thought that He will lift us from grief and pain. We hope for the gifts of salvation and healing that He brings.

But fear? Why was fear there that night?

As I pondered that idea, I came to feel that fear was not a towering power that night. It was the weakness and worry that we all carry with us. That night, it came as a humble lamb to witness what it saw as opportunity.

I think of my own fears and worries. So much of what scares me about the future, about the success of my children, and about the direction of the world can be tied up in that same fear. It’s not a fear that diminishes me or binds me. It’s a fear that pleads for help from the Source of all good help.

There were many witnesses that night, be them shepherds or angels. Carpenters or mothers. Hope and fear. Faithful hope and pleading fear.

Merry Christmas!

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New Year, New Design

It has been probably… eight years since I did a site redesign. We’re going with this one for the time being. Here’s what I changed and why:

The Title–The old site was named “the prodigal” with all lower case letters. When I first started this, I wanted to emphasize the casual nature of it, the come-and-go feel. Lower case just seemed to speak to that. The name itself is from the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11 – 32) and was chosen because it speaks to the transitory nature of humanity and how we as a species can change, grow, and digress.

I still love the title, but I wanted the capital letters in the name now. It just feels time to formalize a bit. As the blog has matured, so has the content from the whimsy of “what do I do” to directed and consistent topics.

Color–Yeah, it’s yellow. Get over it. :-) I’m a yellow kind of guy. I’m also colorblind, so if it’s not really yellow, will someone please tell me now?

I chose that particular shade to not be overly obnoxious–vibrant yellow can be hard on the eyes–but still yellow. It is yellow, right?

Fonts–If I had anything I’m not quite sure about, it’s the fonts. I love the body font (can’t think of what it’s called right now…). Gentle, whispy serifs, a strong vertical stance, and shallower but not shallow ascenders and descenders. It’s also broad of body, which I like. It’s a good font.

I’m less fond of the header. I like the left-to-right slant to the letters; it feels gently aggressive. I also like the whispy nature of the stroke. I made it italic, which I’m not sure I like. I might take that off. I really don’t like it in the subheaders, which I don’t often use. It feels… ew. I love this font for the title at the very top of the page which is probably why I chose it. I’ll sit on this for a day or two.

Image–I used to have a picture of the Inside Passage from the beach at Point Lena in Juneau. That was a favorite spot of mine looking out over beautiful Southeast Alaska. It’s been over 12 years since we’ve been back, and it just seemed appropriate to put something more recent as the picture.

The picture I chose is of my bees cleaning the wax from my most recent harvest. It was a sunny September afternoon, and I went and sat not 18 inches from the swarms going after that wax and let the thousands of bees swirl around me, crawl through my hair, down my face and arms, and all over. The sound was incredible, the smell intoxicating, and the feeling of peace and oneness with these miraculous creatures near overwhelming. Basically, imagine that picture, multiply the bees by about a thousand, and then put them swarming all over you. Yeah… I’m weird. You knew that already. :-)

Widgets–The last thing I did was dropped a couple widgets on the right side. I honestly don’t even remember what they were, so I guess that’s why I dropped them.

Let me know what you think of the new design! If you hate it, let me know that, too! And for the love, if it’s not yellow, will someone please tell me!!

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Of Farkles, Practice Thanksgivings, Shimmies, and Gravy

Kind of a private post to two specific and very beloved people…

Farkle–How long did we go without even getting on the board? A year? We still can’t play without laughing about the futility of it all. And to think that we kept trying even after abject failure! At least we can claim that we are persistent, right?

Practice Thanksgivings–Probably my single most favorite friend-based tradition and one we still do every single year. Every time we talk about it, the people who hear it for the first time think it’s utterly brilliant. And it is. One of these days we’ll get you back here in time to do it again. Heck, next time you guys are here, it’s Practice Thanksgiving even if it’s the middle of May!

Shimmies–I deny everything. There’s no evidence that I’ll ever admit to. You can prove nothing. If you bring it up, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer.

Gravy–There’s no point even trying to deny this one. It’s true. It happened. We tell probably every last person who walks through the front door about it, and they all look at me with eyebrows raised and say, “Two cups of corn starch?!?” Then they look at the food we’ve prepared and wonder if it’s edible. Hopefully I’ve more about cooking since that particular disaster.

Sigh… It passed far too quickly, and it was worth every second.

Merry Christmas to you, Joe and Lora!

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