Thursday, April 30, 2009

Theme Thursday...Water (Water Works)

I live in an area that gets hot, hot, hot! Most of the summer, the temperature ranges from the upper 90s to 120 plus degrees. The old timers say that following the completion of Shasta Dam in the 1940s, the over all temperature was cooled by 10 degrees. I am talking about fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement kind of hot. Here, hydration of everything is important.

There are many bonds between humans and other living creatures. But the most powerful bond of commonality is water. Life is sustained by water. Animals and humans need it to survive. Like humans, animals use it for cleansing and drinking. Amphibians, fish, reptiles, and some insects need it for reproduction.

Wild animals can get water from puddles, dew on grass, raindrops on leaves, and from the food they eat. They need a habitat that includes a plentiful supply of fresh, clean, accessible water. If the canals or lakes are steeply angled, they are near useless to many animals. And to butterflies, free-standing water is undrinkable.

During the blasting heat of summer, a good water source is critical for wildlife. Since we are rapidly approaching that time of year, I thought I would share some of my summer projects with you. I set up water habitats in my yard. It is quite simple and fun to do. Children love taking an active role in making the habitats that will soon give life to many different species.


Photo: krukus

Dehydration becomes a life or death issue. Especially for small birds. Birdbaths are a great way to provide water for animals. Additionally, they provide focal points for landscape designs and endless hours of viewing entertainment. Birdbaths are easy and popular for providing water sources. They can be purchased or made at home. You can even look around for naturally formed baths. Hollowed-out stumps of trees or rocks with wells in them can trap sprinkler and rainwater.

As you look for a location for your water station, consider the presence of predators. Placement should allow the bathers safe haven from sneak attacks. Bushes nearby offer bird perches for preening as well as protection. But take care to make sure the shrubbery is not low and close enough to turn the bath into a birdie smorgasbord for the neighborhood cats. That really isn't a Kodak moment you want young minds to capture. The lower the bath, the more open space around it is needed.

Photo: kariccio

A distance of 15 feet away from heavy shrubs is good for ground-level baths, but taller baths can be located closer. Baths with textured bottoms allow the birds firm footing. A simple way to provide this is to layer a smooth bottom with sand or pebbles. Keep the water in the bath shallow, no more than two to three inches deep in the middle with gently sloping sides. Contrary to popular belief, size is not important. But if they are less than a foot in diameter, they will be primarily used for drinking only. Baths that are 24 to 36 inches in diameter will encourage a number of birds to bathe and drink simultaneously and party sumptuously.

Be imaginative. You can use simple things like tin or foil plates, ceramic or plastic saucers, or a garbage can lid. Birds are attracted by the sound of running water. You can purchase kits or make your own device. Punch a hole in the side--not bottom--of a bucket or large can, fill with water and hang it above the birdbath. The size of hole should let 10 to 20 drops a minute dribble into the bath. Covering the bucket will keep out debris and slow evaporation. Freshen and replenish the water on a consistent basis. Scrub away algae when you see it begin to accumulate. Algae just loves bird-fertilized water.


These beautiful, winged creatures can not drink the standing water that a birdbath would provide. Fluids are acquired via their proboscis, the long, tube that resembles a hollow tongue. The butterflies often "puddle" by sunny, damp areas and draw moisture from the sand or mud. You can create a watering hole for these insects with an inexpensive coffee can or like container. Using earth or sand, fill the container, dig it into the ground and add water. Rocks can be added to the sides and middle of container to serve as landing pads.

Frogs, turtles, birds, lizards, snakes, and raccoons


If you are particularly skilled and have the finances, a garden pond with aquatic plants and vegetation around its edges is ideal for attracting animals that use ponds. Irregular shaped ponds provide extra fingers of space for greater variance of habitat and are attractive to a number of species. When planting a pond, you want to offer four layers of vegetation from completely submerged to completely exposed.

You can create a man-made pond or purchase any number of structures at retail stores. Be wary of pre-made ponds that are steep. They were designed for fish but can be customized for birds by adding rocks that sit above the surface serving as landing pads. Stones can also be added below the surface. And a nearby tree with overhanging branches will serve as perches.

Your water work project will give you pleasure all summer long as you dance with nature in her infinite cycle of ebb and flow. A healthy yard attracts healthy wildlife. Healthy wildlife will yield a healthy yard. Ah, water, the gift of life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hiding from the JWs

Photo: cubanapura

This has been on my mind for a while but a few days ago it was, again, brought to the front counter of my brain. Last Saturday morning, two lovely, young women traveling together knocked on my door. They wore freshly scrubbed faces and modest church dresses. The earnest light of Jehovah illuminated their smiles, bright as that sunny day.

Luckily, I was in the back bedroom. Luckily, I had not turned on the stereo or television. It was so nice and warm that morning that I just opened all the windows and listened to the birds, bees and breeze while I cleaned. My dogs started barking ...madly announcing the women's arrival. I looked out the bedroom window and saw the telltale car with boxes of pamphlets in the back. After a moment's hesitation, I decided to stay hidden and not answer the door.

It makes me feel guilty that I hid from these spiritual sales people but I am just not into door-to-door religious sales. If you're of that faith, please understand, I do not mean to offend. I am not dogmatically religious but I am strongly spiritual. I celebrate all faiths, gods, goddesses and divine beings. Daily. I celebrate Jewish New Year, Hanuka, Kwanzaa, Yagnas, Lord Shiva Nights, Christmas, Easter, equinox and solstice just to name a few. I support Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Hercules, Lady Victory, St. Germain and many other saints and lords. I honor all the cosmic beings of light. The legion of angels and all seven kingdoms. If you want to pray, chant, drum or dance in the name of the All that Is, I'll join in the festivities.

I serve the Elohim or Yahweh or Jehovah by name as the one God. There is only One, I believe. One stream of higher spiritual consciousness that appears to each person matching their inner-vision of their personal savior. To some it is Jehovah or Yahweh. To some it is Jesus. To some it my be Buddha or Shiva. To some it is a dog or other innocent animal, beautiful flower or plant. To some it is nothingness. What this higher power appears as doesn't concern me. What does concern me is that all paths to the One are acknowledged with respect.

I understand that Jehovah's Witnesses also believe that there is only one God, Jehovah. That to not call Jehovah by name is disrespectful. I understand that an important part of that belief is the active sharing, or witnessing, the nature of Jehovah. To give witness to Jehovah's grace and teachings. I understand and honor your belief.

Photo: flyingbrick6t3 @

But what I don't understand is why there are frequent attempts to reach new members by grassroots, door knocking tactics. Over 3o years ago, when I was young and new to my neighborhood, I always answered my door. I took the time to accept the Watchtower pamphlet and listen to the witnesses. But for some reason, our neighborhood is visited time and time and time again. Often, barely a week goes by without some faithful soul knocking on my door. I could be wrong but all of my front porch visitors seem somewhat new to the teachings. If I am polite and engage in discussion, the next weekend a seasoned witness joins the rookie at my door. Is our neighborhood a training ground for new recruits? Are we demographically bereft of Jehovah power? Are we nice and safe for new trainees? I choose to believe the latter.

I have so many questions about this witness dumping program. And if any care to enlighten me with further insights, please do so. My spiritual door is open. But that day, I chose to hide and peek out from behind my bedroom window shade as I waited for Jehovah's soldiers to finish knocking on my neighbors doors. It didn't take long. I suspect that they, too, hid behind their shade.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Theme Thursday...Fire (The Deodar Incident)

Thursday, 23 April, 2009 at 0500 hours

CAUTION: all persons not having a direct need to be in the vicinity of the Keswick Dam Road area are advised to find alternate routes of travel. An incendiary incident is in progress. A local blogger's computer flared into a fully involved inferno following a recent Theme Thursday marathon. She states it was due to faulty wiring but arson is being investigated. Action News Reports will bring you the full story as it develops.


(Wish I was kidding!!! Having computer issues).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Halo Around the Sun

Photo: Jim Tomsich

My brother-in-law, Jim Tomsich, took this spectacular picture of the huge halo around the sun. This phenomenon occurs when there are a multitude of miniature ice crystals in high, thin clouds covering much of the sky. The ice crystals serve as tiny lenses. Most of the ice crystals have long, hexagonal shapes. Light enters one face of the crystal and exits through the opposite face refracting 22 degrees. The exact radius of the Sun Halo. At night, a Moon Halo may be observed.

The simplest of things like ice, clouds and light are the ingredients of Earth's most astounding recipes. And when each crystal refracts 22 degrees and the Sun Halo's radius is 22 degrees, it makes me wonder if further out in the universe, there is another larger event holding that same 22 degree arc. I would be willing to bet that it is very likely. Mother Nature is fond of mimicking successful patterns.

In numerology, numbers are believed to link the human world to the conformation of the universe. The number 22 is called the Spiritual Master in Form or the Master Builder. People who are 22s often feel as if they exist in two very distant worlds. One world is ruled by the mundane, the other, by the fantastic. 22 contains the key to many esoteric questions as the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet suggest. In Tarot, there are 22 major arcanas and in many versions of the Kabbalah, there are 22 pathways. In the Revelation of John Bible, there are 22 chapters.

The maximum number of pieces that can be created by cutting a circle with six line segments is 22. When 22 is divided by 7, it is close to 1/4, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In mathematics and religion and spirituality, the importance of the number 22 is seen again and again. The Master Builder of life. The Master Builder of the universe.

Photo: artgrav

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Theme Thursday-Earth (The Infinity Project)

Photographs are ® G. Deane Bardwell, Tommy Olof Elder, Emelia Fleck, Lewis Legbreaker, Deb Levin, Wendy Miner and Scott Lesure.

Infinity Project

Josh Simpson, contemporary glass blower and artist, uncovered a few handmade marbles outside his kitchen door in 1976. It was likely that they had been left behind by children of another era. Time had not dulled their colorful brightness; they looked as new as the day they were lost. He began thinking about the longevity of glass. Glass, composed of silica, one of the Earth's primary component's, is stable chemically. For thousands of years, it will remain unchanged. It is environmentally inert and therefore, green. He thought of all the invaluable pieces of museum quality glass that had been discovered around the Earth. Many of the items had spent hundreds of years underground before being unearthed by archaeologists.

Click photo to View Infinity Project

He began making beautiful, intricate, silica Planets which he started hiding more than 30 years ago. At that time, none of his work had been acquired by museums. In an effort to stake his claim in posterity, he hid Planets near his house. Later, he would take extras to leave behind when he traveled. After learning to fly, he air dropped Planets from the pilot's window of the plane in obscure locations. He left Planets in everyday locations. Other people began asking for the privilege of concealing them. Since 2000, over 1,700 participants have tucked Planets in locations around the Earth. Some of the Planets will lie undiscovered for eons. Others, will be found right away. The recipients of the find may well ponder what the Planet is and why it was left.

Photo: Deborah S. Taylor

It is Josh's hope that, far into the future, archaeologists will consider the message and purpose of these little orbs. What are they? How did they get there? He likes to imagine archaeologists puzzling over Infinity Project Planets just as they had the odd glass goblets found in ancient Mideastern sites.

Photo: Britney Whiting - Budapest,Hungary

What was the story of the goblets? Was their purpose connected to beauty, health and spirit? Or were they more practical like miniature liqueur vessels? It was a great mystery until the late 1970s when a glassblower was found, by a Corning Museum scientist, working over an ancient furnace in Herat, Afghanistan making the same shaped tiny goblet. Ultimately, it was learned that they were designed as water and seed holders for caged birds. The archaeologists were way off track.

Photo: Kelly Fellows

Many of the Planets will be found by people other than archaeologists. They will be found by people who may or may not be able to afford one of Mr. Simpson's pieces. They will be found by the educated and the uneducated alike. They will be found by artists as well as non-artists. Josh is intrigued by the idea of touching a completely new group of beings with his art glass. In his own fashion, he has found a way to bridge cultural and social ravines. He has done the impossible. He has created his own time machine capable of reaching hundreds and thousands of years into the future. He stepped into the future after finding the past.

Photo: Astronaut Cady Coleman with Russian Cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and
Nikolai Tikonov with their Infinity Planet during Soyuz water survival training in the Black Sea.

Josh Simpson donates two Planets at least once a month: one to keep, one to hide on Earth. Inscribed only with the Infinity symbol, they are entrusted to people who apply.

Merely propose when, where and why you want to place a Planet. If selected, you will join a select group of individuals whose quest is to participate in this exciting and unique project. Your name, approximate location of your hidden Planet and (hopefully) your photo will be posted.

Zebulon Jakub Near the weather station at the summit of Mount Washington

I have my own idea of when, where and why I would like to conceal a Planet. How about you?

All photos courtesy of the gracious Josh Simpson. From the bottom, top and center of my green heart chakra, THANK YOU.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Days


I Meant To Do My Work Today

by Richard Le Gallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand--
So what could I do but laugh and go?

Photo: Jim Tomsich

There are so many things that tell me that spring is here, like flowers.


And Nina's birthday on April 15th.

And other events that occur on April 15th, like deadlines.

And dreaming about what you will buy with your refund. Chelsea's choice? Upgrading from Mini Coopers to SUVs.

And nothing SCREAMS spring louder than the first marijuana seedling eradication raid of the season in our little northern California locale.

Photo: caligirl_070 photobucket

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Seeds are bursting. Plants and trees are leafing and budding. In many ways, people are like plants...some bud early, others much later. Enjoy this season of growth!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Theme Thursday-Egg (Egg Hoax Case Uncovered)

Egg Hoax Case Uncovered

In March of 2001, I was talking to my sister, Tami, at work. I told her that I had just learned that one can balance an egg on end during the spring equinox, the first day of spring. So, we decided to try it even though the idea sounded rather far-fetched. With enthusiasm, we began our egg balancing trials. After a number of attempts, Eureka! We had success! We passed off this information to one of our coworkers, Jeanne. She told her husband Bill. Bill, in turn, told all of his coworkers. Egg erections spiked to staggering proportions on this particular equinox.

Photo: byakuya92

My sister and I made up a joke article: Egg-balancing: Facts and Fiction. In this case, it was mostly fiction. But we truly believed what we had been told. That as the equinox is a time of balance, equal day and night, this is the only time eggs would stand. We faxed it to Bill's office. I can't remember the entire gag. Its been too long. But, I'm sure it was very funny. We are quite creative and thorough when it comes to mischievous endeavors. He spent several days informing coworkers, family and customers of this wondrous magical trick that could only be accomplished one day of the year. And then, we discovered that eggs will balance on end any day of the year. Most importantly, HE, discovered that the trick will work any time. What follows is his response (retaliation) to our practical, albeit, unintentional joke about egg standing.

Egg Hoax Case Uncovered

Current investigations of Redding's Egg Hoax case have uncovered a devious scam, planned and implemented by two Redding sisters, to undermine and destroy a prominent Redding businessman's good name and credibility. The aforementioned sisters, both of whom are employed by a prominent Palo Cedro doctor, purposely and mischievously, masterminded and carried out the hoax causing Redding businessman, Bill Casparino, to lose face and credibility with co-workers and family in a plot uncovered by Redding's own EMPLOYMENT ADVERSARIAL THREAT, SCAM & HOAX INTERVENTION TEAM, EATSHIT. EATSHIT said today that the sisters did, in fact, plan to destroy Mr. Casparino's reputation by intentionally feeding him falsified information regarding the vernal equinox egg standing fallacy. The malicious leader of the two, Ronda Laveen, accomplished this dastardly feat by deviously manipulating a member of Mr. Casparino's family to feed him this false information. Mrs. Laveen, who could not be reached for comment, has reportedly purported these sorts of heinous crimes in the past, according to SCREW YOU.

SHASTA COUNTY'S REGIONAL ETHICAL WOMAN'S YEARLY OPPROBRIOUS UNDERTAKINGS, is a watchdog group dedicated to exposing such characters as Mrs. Laveen. SCREW YOU has has previously reported that the pair have distributed falsified documents in the past. "There is a distinct lack of class emanating from these two sisters," SCREW YOU told us today. "They should be banished from the public view," said Mr. Casparino speaking from his newly formed anti-hoax crime associations headquarters in Redding. The association known as, UP YOURS, or UNITED PERSONS YAHWEH OVERSEES UMPEEN RETRIBUTION SOCIETY. "It truly is a crime that my credibility has weakened some and I vow to continue to fight for the restoration of my good name."

"I will fight to the death to clear my name," said an angry, but determined, Mr. Casparino as he was surrounded by a large, cheering crowd of supportive friends outside of UP YOURS headquarters. "I may bend but I will not break," Mr. Casparino shouted to supporters today.

Also on hand to support Mr. Casprarino, was the nationally know Washington,
D.C. based, and powerfully connected political action lobbyist group, PAAB, PAYBACKS ARE A BITCH. "With our unlimited monetary fund and hundreds of thousands of members, those two women just don't stand a chance. They will serve restitution of Mr. Casparino's good name," said their spokesman and founder, Harry "The Hitman" Genovese. Mr. Casparino was last seen being driven away in a large, black limousine with Mr. Genovese and the Godfather.

Reporting for the Record Searchlight with truth, liberty, and justice for all emanating from my pores, Captain America.

Laveen's notes: Well done, Bill. I applaud your gene Se qua. But keep your one good eye and your egg standing hand at ready 'cause, I, too, am a card carrying member of PAAB. Happy Passover!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My 50 Years of Friendship with Barbara

Barbara: 1950 Graduation Photo

My mother's birthday was Sunday, April 5. She would have been 76 years old with nearly a full head of brown hair. She died on Friday, September 7, 2007. Although we tried to stop it, she drifted away from us into the lost land of Alzheimer's. A short time after she crossed over, her best friend, Millie, sent myself and my brother and sister, Mark and Tami, a copy of this letter. I have edited the original only to make it cohesive for those who don't know our family.

My 50 Years of Friendship with Barbara

I first met Barbara in November of 1956 at a little restaurant called The Shack. It was a trailer that had been remodeled into a cafe with six stools and two booths. Bill and Reva Lakmann had purchased it that same year. Many years later, I married Bill after Reva's death. It was a family business and their sons worked after school doing prep work. A few others, including Barbara, worked the day and evening shifts.

In 1959, the City of Redding decided that they would not renew the business license as the trailer was not up to code. It was moved off the property and a new, larger building, with two rooms seating up to 60 people, was built. Barbara started working the night shift which started at 5:30 p.m. Barb always seemed to arrive late and by that time, The Shack would be busy with the dinner crowd. Bill would always be waiting and looking at the clock. At 5:40 or 5:45, brakes would squeal, a car door would slam, and Bill would say, "Barbara's here!" I worked some evenings with her but when the breakfast girl quit, I started working the a.m. shift. I missed working with Barb. But on my days off, I would go up at night, help her close and catch up on all the news.

In 1969, customers kept asking Bill when he was going to enlarge again and put in a lounge. On October 12, 1969, The Shack Lounge was officially opened and there was standing room only for three hours. It took off. It never stopped being a very popular "watering hole" for many.

The Shack became known for its famous Broasted Chicken and The Shackburger. It was a good place to work and employees stayed on the job for many years. Mark, Barbara's son, was also a cook there. There were customers from out of town and state that would always stop in to eat and visit with the waitresses, namely, Barbara. So many of them would wait to sit on her station. George Kutras came in every morning for breakfast and would only sit in Barbara's station, no matter how long he had to wait. There were so many others, it would take pages to name them all. She brought in so much business for The Shack and was a favorite with all. We worked there for 37 years.

The year 1977, brought a big change in our lives. Bill passed away in February and Bud, Barbara's husband, in August. There were so many similarities with our lives. She had four grandsons. I had four grandsons. Then, a few years later, she got her little girl, Kerriann. Mark went to Korea and brought her home. Barb was in seventh heaven. I never caught up with her on that one. I didn't get any little girls. Our mother's both passed away within a few months of each other. My mom in March and hers, Wilma, in July.

We had so much fun with our trips to Reno, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Stockton to visit with Barb's sister-in-law and her husband. When going to Reno, Barb would drive as far as Susanville and I would take it on into Reno. She didn't like driving in the cities.

She got me interested in doing ceramics and we spent many years making them. Barb was so talented and artistic. She went on to do so many beautiful stained glass pieces. She made beautiful windows for the front doors of Mark and Ronda's homes. And one year she made 12 hanging lamps and gave them as Christmas gifts.

In November of 1993, a friend, Tom Parker, called Barbara and I and said he knew of a good deal for us to get into. We were both a little leery of Tom's "good deals." He knew of a little restaurant in Anderson that was open only on weekends while the Jolly Giant Flea Market was open. We were both ready to leave the Shack. It was no fun working there anymore and business had dropped off. Bill's sons had to sell it in 1985 and the new owner was hard to work for. So, we took the big step and signed the papers on November 23, 1993. We opened for business at 6:00 a.m. on December 4, 1993. Barbara kept her job at The Shack until the 7Th of January 1994. She said she wanted to stay until then so Sue, the owner, would have to pay her the big Christmas bonus of $50. I had quit in December--no bonus for me!!!

Our business took off. I did the cooking and Barb took the orders and cashiered. We had lots of fun and soon needed some help. Mark came down and cooked for us sometimes and Tami's son, Jacob, worked for us too. We never got rich, but we never lost money either. In December 1994, we decided to get out of it and sold it to a customer. Barb missed having her weekends off and my mother, who was 97, needed more care. It was the right thing to do. We would have more time to play.

When we both left The Shack, Sue's remark to one of the customers was, "Now that Barbara and Millie are no longer here, maybe people will realize I'm the one that owns The Shack and not them." We got a good laugh out of that. We never knew we were so popular.

My memories of our Saturday night in December every year to bake our 32 fruitcakes and make 32 pecan rolls are ones I will always cherish. We both loved to bake. Four or five hours later, we would be all through--tired but happy. I still have many of her hand written recipes that I continue to bake but miss her being there doing it with me.

Barbara was more than just my friend--more like a sister. We watched each other's children grow up, get married and start their own families. I remember helping Barb with Ronda's beautiful backyard wedding with the sun shining brightly in our eyes. Even Bill came to the wedding, because it was Barb's family and he thought so much of her. He never did that for anyone else.

In all of our 50 years of friendship and all of the trips we took together, we never had an argument. We were too busy enjoying ourselves. I have so many good and fond memories too numerous to mention. I will always be thankful I was one of the very fortunate ones to have a friend like Barbara. I believe very few are so lucky.

Even when her illness was beginning and she had to give up driving, we still went out every Saturday for lunch. Her favorite was Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad. I would pick her up and Tami and Brandon would always be there. Brandon usually doing some yard work and Tami, things in the house.

Weren't we all lucky to have her for a FRIEND, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER?

Barb, we'll have a lot to talk about, dear friend, when we get together again. In the meantime, know that I love you and all our good times. Neither you, nor they will ever be forgotten.


Millie at mom's memorial service

Millie became a great grandmother at the beginning of 2008 and mom, if she had lived, would have been one in September of 2008. How many of us have been blessed in having such a wonderful friendship for 50 years? How many of us will find a friend whose life parallels ours so closely? How many of us can say that we found a friend to love and share with so fully and freely? How many of you have a friend like that in your life?

Sometimes the soul mate we yearn to find is right before us and not, by necessity, of the opposite gender. A soul mate is not necessarily a mate. Thank you Millie.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We love and miss you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Theme Thursday (The Perfect 10)

The Perfect 10

Deliberately, I pick my ball up off the rack. Cradling the ball in the crook of my left elbow, I wipe the tracks of lane oil off of it with a clean, pink towel, carefully chosen to match my tournament uniform. A superstition of mine. After squeezing the little rectangular rosin bag, I, first, insert the tips of my two middle fingers and then the thumb of my right hand into the finger holes of the ball. I look down at the thin, half inch strips of variegated, blond hardwood and rainbow colored dots embedded in the approach. Carefully, I slide the center of my right foot, encased in a well worn, white leather, Lind's shoe, two boards to the right of the second dot. I notice every detail. The satiny feel of my suede sole gliding across the smooth wood. The pleat of my teal and pink cotton tournament skirt flaring away from my suntanned thighs as I find my position. The scent of lane oil. I grew up with this smell. It reminds me of my father, my 12 year old self, and 5 a.m. practice sessions. Quiet. Private. Reverent. No untoward interruptions. No need for conversation or food or anything but pure dedication.

I look out fifteen feet down the lane to the aiming arrows. My eye finds a little brown spot on the lane about four boards inside the gutter on the right side. I have found my target. Taking a deep breath, I slow every thing down. My mind chatter. My heart rate. My vision tunnels...obscuring peripheral vision. My ears quit seeking information in verbal noises and are soothed and covered by the generic, non-specific din of machines and hundreds of voices. The sounds morph into beats and rhythms. As cosmic as the universe. As visceral as my heartbeat.

I purposely ignore the overhead electronic scoring display, garishly braying the task before me. For the last 10 frames of the game, I have knocked down 10 pins each time. 10 strikes in a row. In bowling, the tenth frame is a bonus opportunity. If you strike in the tenth and final frame, you get two more shots at knocking down pins. On the 11th ball, I also strike which brings me to my 12th and final shot. A strike here ensures my achievement of a perfect game. 10 perfect frames. A score of 300. The Holy Grail of bowling.

I feel as if I am frozen. I can not move. Locked in fear of failure. Locked in fear of success. Yearning to realize the outcome of the perfection that I have trained for all of my life. Afraid of falling short of that perfection, I can't seem to move. Truthfully, I have been here many times before, successful in collecting all 12 strikes. But it doesn't "officially" count if it's not in sanctioned play. Nor, does it count if you have 10 strikes in game one and then then two more in the next game. It is not an "official 300." Right now, I am giving "official" the stank eye.

Finally, I rock back to start my movement forward. I push off with my left foot to get my right foot moving on my first step. Simultaneously, I move the ball out and down toward my target. I let it fall into a free wheeling arc while my footwork follows. I feel the ball reach the top of the back swing. I feel the speed of my movement gently sweep my hair away from my face, like the soft breath of a lover. Mentally I say, don't rush it here. Don't force. Wait...Wait...Wait for it. Wait for gravity to kick in and do her job, pulling the ball back down into the swing pattern. And I feel that shift of weight. And I gently follow the movement down like a dancer following her partner. Easy. Effortless. Weightless. Mindless. That's right. Easy does it. Rest between the beat of the moment.

At the bottom of the swing, I feel the inertia shift. It's time to go to work, time to engage my mind. As the ball hits the bottom of the swing, I feel the weight on my hand. The swing advances past center, upward. My thumb slides out. All the weight of the ball rests on the fingertips of my second and third digits. I curl them as fiercely as I can, as if to resist the ball coming off of my hand. And I give a vicious tug straight up. This is how you create those impressive, massive, board swallowing hook balls you see professionals execute on television. Curling your fingers tips with all of your might as the ball comes off of your hand is what imparts the gyroscopic inertia. In layman's terms, ripping the cover off of the ball.

The ball, out of my hand now, is jettisoned in a straight line, skidding through the oil, heading out toward that four board. Reaching its destination, it hits the dry boards and flips like a gymnast off the vault. It begins its high revving trip back toward the right-handers G-spot, the 1-3 pocket. It is homing in on a strike, moving like a heat seeking missile. During a solid strike, the ball slams the 1-3 pocket to knock all ten pins down. The ball, itself, only hits four pins, the 1, 3, 5, and 9. The remaining six pins are taken out by pin action. My ball hits the pocket and the pins erupt in an explosion of red and white.

I watch the ball roll off the back of the pin deck. I watch all of the pins as they blow off the deck. I watch as the six pin does its job and tickles the belly of the 10 pin, the last man to fall. It rocks on its bottom from side to side to side. Another degree of lean and I have my perfecto. Arghh, agony. The lean is not far enough. The soldier settles and stands straight in a one man salute. My spiking elation quickly rides a rapid descent to dejection. The score of 299 is mine. Still a record score, but I am denied my perfect 10. Today the bowling gods withheld one ray of light of my day in the sun.