#amwriting: Scene Sketch

#amwriting: Starting Anew

Starting Anew

The horses plodded along on the asphalt of the highway leading southward to the high prairies of eastern Colorado with the wagon of the family’s belongings trailing after them. The bodies sat in a row on the seat: father, child, and mother; each with a hat on to ward off the blazing sun.

It would have been wonderful if Mr. Marshall could have afforded one of those new Model T Fords to make this trip but, as it was, he was lucky his father would part with the two horses and the wagon. His father did not want him leaving in the first place and let him know it, warning about severe consequences. Yet his wife would not stay in Nebraska to see through another winter. She wanted to get out from under the influence of her in-laws.

The bickering had gotten to the point where it was a daily occurrence. Mrs. Marshall had tried to be amicable but the aunt and the sister of her husband wanted her to change in such ways she could not avow. It was not that the aunt and sister were so wrong. It was their general attitude towards her that sent the young mother into a tizzy.

Sure, she was half Sioux but the other half was English and Scottish just like they were. She did not have a say about who her mother was. Besides, being Sioux does not mean the person is bad. At least, that was the way she perceived it.

The child, a small girl of maybe three years old, began to fuss. The mother took the youngling in her arms, cradled her, and prepared to give the toddler some of her sweet milk. The father watched in reverence as he loosely held the reins in front of him.

A Model A rolled by, carrying two men with brimmed hats. They honked and waved at the family, upsetting the child to the point where she was screaming and flinging her arms and legs. The mother yelled at the men but it did not do any good. The sound of the engine drowned out most of what she said. The father waved back as they drove on, knowing they did not mean any harm.

As the sun began its journey in the western sky of blue, the horses were trotting up a gentle incline on a well-worn dirt road. The highway had vanished at the state line. The chunks of prairie grass fluttered softly in the stiff breeze. They could see patches of purple thistle roughly circled by clusters of weeds and peat as if these other plants were trying to protect their beauty.

It was not until the daylight commenced to fading that they, at long last, came to Sterling, Colorado. The family found lodging just off Main Street, on Third Avenue. The toddler was beside herself with protests as she was handled back and forth between the couple while they tried to secure their load for the night.

Looking out of the window in the room they had obtained, they strained to see far to the west. The Rockies could not be viewed yet. Mrs. Marshall pulled down the shade.

Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.


I purposely wrote this without any dialogue, trying to strengthen my skill with a narrative description. I would appreciate any feedback.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

#weekendcoffeeshare: Crazy for Color

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White

Diana at Part Time Monster hosts a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.

We’re back at the coffee shop this week. Sorry Jacqui, want my flavored creamer. Besides, it isn’t the hot spot on Saturday morning like the diner is. I like the quiet here.

You, the reader and I, your friend for a few years now, have coffee almost every Saturday morning at approximately 9:30. If you rise later than this, assume the time has changed to your convenience.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)


When we get seated at a corner booth along the outer wall, Connie is the waitress who come to take our order. Once she’s headed toward the counter where the coffee maker sits, I look around for Laci. Maybe she took the day off today.

I was kind of looking for her too.


You squint your eyes at me, probably wondering where my brain is.

Oh, you mean Laci. Yes, but maybe she’s off today.

Or fired.

Nothing more is said about Laci. I figure the next time we’re in we’ll get a better idea of what’s happened to her. Our coffee comes in mugs we haven’t seen before. The pattern is random and the colors are wild. Swirls of hot pink with bright orange and specks of aqua and maroon. The handles go from the top to the bottom of the cylinders, and the bottoms are stemmed a little. Unusual to say the least. As usual, we have a small basket of goodies–donut holes this time.

These mugs are great. What do you think?

They’re okay.

Okay? All right, so I’m a little outlandish when it come to color. What can I say? I took that art class in my senior year of high school and have been fascinated with color ever since.

While I’d been yakking, we both had dolled up our coffee, you with your sugar and me with my cream. I pick out two of the donut holes, one cinnamon-coated and the other chocolate. You pick two of the powdered sugar ones.

I painted my bathroom light spring green after the new shower was put in. You aren’t bored by the color in there, that’s for sure.

Aren’t you afraid of green making someone feel sick?

Oh no. It isn’t hospital green. It’s the color of the first new blades of grass in the early spring. I’d like to change the walls all through the house. For the common areas, I’d like a white sea green, and in the bedrooms a white aqua blue.

What do you mean by white sea green?

In daylight or when the lights are on bright, it’ll look white, maybe a little off-white. In the shadows it’ll look the slightest of sea green. Same for the aqua blue. I did it in the house in Ft. Lupton, Colorado. It was one of the key features that sold the house for the list price we asked for.

#weekendcoffeeshare: Crazy for Color
Image provided by Keshav Bahety

You hale Connie to come over to get our mugs for more coffee. I start to reach for another donut hole but stop myself. I’m not hungry. I’d be eating just because the food is there. No a brilliant reason.

Okay, what do you think of white with earthy orange? I want to do something–well, anything with my mud room.

I don’t think orange is going to work.

My eyes get narrow, my lips pucks, and I hunch my shoulders as I shake my head. The refills have arrived and we pour in our add-ons.

How about a soft peach color? Or maybe a light lemon?

Orange won’t work, eh? How about purple like your blog?

You give me a toothy grin when you see the shocked expression on my face.

Lilac would work, but for a mud room? It would look fantastic in a bedroom though.

I was just kidding. Probably the peach would do the job all right. Why did you make your blog purple anyway?

It’s a shade of purple but the color is periwinkle, a purplish blue or a bluish purple–whatever. I even have it subdued so there’s a lot of gray in it.

Okay, but why? I wouldn’t call it a happy color.

I wasn’t thinking happy or sad when I decided on it. I want to pull people in with words rather than all the visual stuff. I almost went with black, gray, and white but I just couldn’t do it with the way I go bonkers over colors. The other day I was thinking about changing it all again. It’s been almost five month since the last time I did it.

I don’t know how many times you’ve changed your blog in the three years I’ve known you. Do you know?

No, but at least twice per year and maybe up the four times between 2014 and 2015. I really don’t know.

You’re fickle.



Rules for #weekendcoffeeshare

  1. Posts should be framed as a chat over coffee or some other beverage.
  2. Posts should be current (written within the week).
  3. Links go on the link-up, not in the comments section.
  4. Comment and share each others’ posts using #weekendcoffeeshare on Facebook and Twitter.

Color possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter. ~Paul Klee


Precious Moments on the Front Lawn

Precious Moments on the Front Lawn
Image provided by
martinak15 @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinaphotography/

Yes, the town I live in is small, but still, where are the teenagers? If I was to assume, all of them are in their respective bedrooms on their laptops or iPhones thinking that they are socializing.

From the time I was twelve years old until I had the stroke that summer right before I turned eighteen, if I wasn’t in school, studying, at my part-time job, babysitting or helping my mom (which wasn’t very often), I’d be sitting in my front yard, usually under the crabapple tree. Sure, there were times during the winter when it wasn’t a good idea to be out there, but because it was Colorado, there were some pretty warm days during the winter months.

What was I doing out there? I was socializing with the neighbors and my friends who lived on the same street. Yes, I had a number of friends who did live right there on Eudora Street. And I didn’t live downtown were there’s more likely to be pockets of cliques. I lived in Suburbia.

I learned how to flirt out there in the coolness of the shade that one tree provided. I learned how to be friends with those of the older generation by striking up conversations with the man next door, the woman who lived up the block from me and anyone else I saw outside. I learned how to be compassionate by observing when neighbors needed help.

At the time, I was sure that all residential streets were like mine. After all, on the next street over, Elm Street, I saw the same sort of thing going on, at least during the warmer months of the year. However, when I stop to think about those times now, I don’t remember this activity going beyond these two streets. Were the residents living there an oddity? I felt that life was extremely normal but I guess we could have been a little peculiar. It was the 1960s and early 1970s, when the “revolutions” of sex, love, race, and I don’t know what else were going on. If you went by what was on the news and in the newspapers, I was only supposed to hang around with my “clique”. Yet, there I was gabbing away with everyone on my street and they were gabbing back at me.

In today’s world, I don’t even see teenagers hanging out at the corner or at any of the fast-food restaurants. I wonder if they even hang out with each other at school or if they just text each other like mad. Do the teenagers of today know how to be social? I doubt it.


Leaves of Flame

Leaves of Flame
Image provided by
John Morgan @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/

Being a fireman’s kid can put a real damper on many things that most kids get to experience. Anything that had to do with fire was classified as a taboo for my brother and me. We could watch someone else strike a match, start the coals going for a barbecue, or watch fireworks from a more than adequate distance. However, to actually get involved in the process of one of these activities was strictly forbidden.

When I was three years old, I got a spanking for getting involved in a process that included fire. My friend, Cathy, and I were in the kitchen while our moms were in the adjacent living room enjoying coffee and chatting. Cathy and I got curious about the stove. It was so much larger than the ones we got for Christmas that were used in playing house. We managed to move one of the kitchen chairs over to the stove without our moms noticing. Seeing that we were so little, both of us could easily stand on the same chair without any fear of pushing the other one off. Therefore, a second chair wasn’t required. Cathy was just about ready to turn one of the knobs on the front when my dad came walking in. He grabbed both of us off the chair and spanked us, cupping his hand so the noise would scare us. To say the least, I didn’t go near that stove again until I was nine years old and my mom was standing right there to supervise.

Sure, my world as a child was safe — in my opinion, too safe. It took all of my powers of creativity to find ways around all the safety in my domain.

I loved playing outside. I wasn’t one of those frilly girls with her dolls lying about her. I wanted to pretend that I was camping and stalking wild bears with a bow and arrow. Yes, I was a tomboy through and through.

Cathy and her family moved from our neighborhood when I was six years old. I was miserable without her until Linda moved in a few months later. Although she loved playing with her Barbie doll, she was usually game for playing outside and getting a little dirty.

One of our favorite places to play was behind the tall junipers that stood at the front corner of her house. We knew that the little berries from the junipers were poisonous, but we would still strip them from the branches and pretend they were are food. Linda being Linda wanted to build a fire back there. After all, it was autumn and it was nippy outside. What better way to stay warm without going in? However, it wasn’t going to happen while I was there. I still remembered the spanking I got three years before then. She tried her best to con me into it but she didn’t have any luck.

It was when I was leaving to go home so that I wouldn’t be there when the fire started that I noticed the leaves of the small sycamore tree that hugged the side of Linda’s house. Sycamore trees aren’t native to where I lived in Colorado. This made this little tree a real find as far as I was concerned. Most trees in Colorado go from green, to yellow, to brown, and then fall off the tree sometime in September or October. However, the leaves of the sycamore tree didn’t follow the rules of Colorado and were in hues of orange and red as well as the green, yellow and brown. Moreover, you could find all four colors on one leave sometimes.

I picked some of the leaves, making sure to leave some for another day, and trotted back behind the junipers where Linda was on her hunches. She was thrilled with my discovery. We make our little fire of sycamore leaves and had a wonderful afternoon playing our game of being campers.

Do kids use this type of creativity these days? I haven’t seen it, but then, I haven’t been behind a juniper in a while.


Heifer Vacations

Heifer Vacations
Image provided by
Smabs Sputzer @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/10413717@N08/

Family vacations were extremely popular during the era of my childhood. However, this didn’t mean spending a lot of money. Most households went camping for one or two weeks. In some ways, this time away from the normal daily life was harder. There wasn’t that comfortable bed to sleep in. Meals meant gathering firewood and sticking with menus that required grilling instead of baking. Still, it was a time once a year when the family was together 24/7 for a short time.

My family wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea of camping. We did it a few times but we couldn’t get really the hang to roughing it. To compensate, we would usually go visit one of the cousins who had a cattle ranch. It would take us approximately eight hours to get there and the cousin and his family were always glad to see us.

The vacations at our cousin’s ranch always occurred after my brother’s birthday in the first part of August. The reason for this was that these vacations were spent working. About the middle of August, there were added jobs that must be done before the weather turned cold. The alfalfa, oat, and wheat fields needed to be plowed. The cattle had to be brought down from the high pastures to the lower ones. A thorough cleaning of the barn needed to be attended to.

While my dad would be on a tractor in one of the fields, my brother and I would attend to the chores that are always done on a daily basis and help with cleaning the barn. My mother would be inside the large two-story house, helping our cousin’s wife do the housecleaning.

The herding of the cattle to the lower pastures was always the finale of our vacation. My mom, brother and I would ride to the high pastures of Horsefly Mountain in the jeep with our cousin and the fixings for the meal that would be cooked and eaten before the ride down again. My dad, our cousin’s wife, the owner of the one restaurant in the nearby town, and the two ranch hands would travel by horseback up the steep incline to the top.

The meal was always fabulous. After all, the person preparing it was the owner of the restaurant. Each person got his steak exactly the way he wanted it. The baked potatoes that had been precooked at the restaurant were reheated over the campfire.

The ride down was a little different from the ride we had going up the mountain. In the jeep, we didn’t stay on the crude gravel road. Instead, we were out there with the ones riding horseback keeping the herd going in the right direction.

I never was too fond of that ride down the mountain. I’m sure that the ones riding horseback weren’t getting as jostled as I was.