If Mitt Romney sat down at my diner booth unannounced, as he did this week at a New Hampshire diner where a Vietnam veteran and his parter were having breakfast, I’d find it hard to swallow. Literally – I’d be so terrified of RoboMitt that I’d probably find it hard to finish my breakfast. I find Mitt Romney terrifying, and his vision for our country, even more so. And if he asked me, through his genetically engineered veneers, if he could count on my vote, I’d probably answer, absolutely.
She awoke slowly, unfurling out of their bed like a flower shuddering back to life in the morning. Hair limp, eyes squinched, shirt rumpled. She straightened herself out as she walked, making an effort toward the coffee station. It was an effort; morning was not her time. Though, he always said he loved her best in the morning, and she took consolation in that knowledge. What happened to his love for her as the day slipped on, she didn’t want to know, but knowing this one fact did make it easier to get up in the morning.
Because he liked things just so, and because he was occasionally a nostalgic fool, they had a Chemex coffee pot. The scientific nature of Chemex – “the chemists way!” -made him feel precise, a feeling which, as a writer, he did not often feel. The chaos in his head and the flutterings of his hands could not be controlled, but the morning ritual of rinsing, measuring, pouring, stirring – that was always the same. And it always ended with the same result: a strong cup of good coffee. People, words, and emotions were uncertain, unbalanced. Coffee never was.
The Chemex was thrifted, as were the clay tumbler and the beaker of water from which he poured. These tools had a history, a past, which, as a writer, he was often looking for and did not himself have. He was a writer, born in New Jersey, with an English degree, two younger brothers, and very little family angst or abuse from which to write. Uninteresting. But other things, other people, could be interesting with the right back story.
Did the clay tumbler come from a potter, who threw this tiny cup specifically for someone? Was it a gift? What strange chemicals once brewed in this beaker? Was it used in a groundbreaking experiment? Or a high school science lab? Breakfast was a series of questions and musings. While she struggled to fully open her eyes, he struggled to create the provenance of every item before them, as if he could crack open the story inside simply by giving it a past and a name. Chemex. Tumbler. Beaker. Sophie.
As Sophie ground the beans and collected a mug, she ticked off the tools before her. Chemex. Tumbler. Beaker. Spoon. Sugar. Mug. Cream. Filter. Lipstick. For there it was, in all its tiny, hot pink glory. A perfect bottom lip, imprinted on her favorite white mug. Sophie, being an elementary school teacher, did not wear lipstick, feeling it both inappropriate and useless. Fourth graders loved kickball, glittery pony tail holders and video games. Lipstick was a lost art.
She stared at the lipstick, wondering calmly whether to wipe it away or crack open the story, knowing life in the morning – and the rest of the day – would never be the same.
Interesting, she thought. Imprecise, and yet, finally, something interesting.
She put the lipstick mug to the side, pulled down a fresh mug, and poured.
It’s been awhile. I didn’t totally know what to do with this space a year ago, so I left it alone. It used to be daily life, but then that got a little boring, so it became stories and vignettes about life in San Francisco, but eventually, even the weird and sad become normal here. What to do?
And then came Pinterest. This beautiful explosion of photos and drawings from everywhere on the Internet. Where all the world’s scrapbookers have finally found a place to stash their visual stuff. But…then what? What do you do with it? I have found Pinterest to be zero percent useful in my practical life (grocery shopping, going to the gym, bills) but beautifully useful in my writing life. One picture can be worth a thousand words I guess, but what happened to those thousand words? They’re still important. And interesting. And good. Just one Pinterest photo has the capability of plunging me right into a narrative. Imagine that the story is like a lazy river, and you are dropped in, somewhere in the middle, and you just have to pick up the slack and start writing. Characters and plot become revealed to you as you move along. Writing is like that. And photos, lately, have been the entry point. The point at which I am dropped in. And I’m hoping to take you with me.
Today starts a new project – a photo a day from Pinterest, with a story to match.
Let’s drop in, shall we?
So, I thought it was a secret passageway. Understandable, really. It was a small door, out of the way, unnoticed by grown-ups, but saved you from having to go down the stairs, which was both cool and practical. Plus, Grant’s head would definitely fit. It led to an entirely different part of the house, and if all my living vicariously through Nancy Drew had taught me anything, it was that a small, out of the way door that leads to somewhere else can only be a secret passageway.
The most important part of having a secret passageway, however, was having a little brother to test it out. There was no way I was going to get into the secret passageway first. It was reckless, it was dangerous, and it was a good thing I didn’t, because the secret passageway was actually the laundry chute.
So I convinced Grant that he should get in there instead.
We were mid-shove, with Grant’s feet dangling down over the washing machine on the floor below, when I heard heavy steps on the stairs, and a throat clearing noise that was halfway between shock and “Oh no you don’t!”
“Young lady,” you said, looking very stern. “Why is your brother in the laundry chute?”
“Oh he’s not,” I responded cheerfully, as I prepared to give Grant a final push. “He’s in the secret passageway.”
“We don’t have a secret passageway,” you told me, which I knew, because you had told me repeatedly throughout my childhood that we didn’t have a secret passageway, but I was determined to find one anyway. What can I say – Nancy was constantly finding them! You can’t blame a girl for trying.
“This is a door for dirty laundry to go through,” you continued as you got down on your knees and pulled Grant out. “And we do not put our brothers through that door. Understood?”
“I understand,” I said, sad that you had scolded me.
I was also sad that my dreams for a secret passageway had been dashed again. You have always been my fellow adventurer, so part of me was surprised that you were averse to the idea of the secret passageway. It’s only now that I’m much older do I realize that a love of adventure – even the childhood, backyard, made-up kind – was always trumped, quickly and immediately, by your love for us. Every ramble around the block, every afternoon spent crashing through bushes or climbing on trees, was always under your supervision. You let us play and be wild and creative, but you were also always right there, just in case.
So I grabbed a blanket, a snack, and a Nancy Drew and headed out under the trees to live vicariously through my favorite adventurer for just a few more hours. Meanwhile, my other favorite adventurer looked safely on from the back porch. Just in case.
Everybody likes you. No really, it’s true! I have never met one single person who didn’t. We had to build an extra ten minutes into our grocery store trips just to make sure we had time to chat with the sample cheese ladies, and it seems like everywhere we went, we (you!) made new friends left and right.
This was especially evident when I went with you to Idaho Springs, for your 50 year high school reunion. We arrived at the outdoor pavilion and there were several groups of old friends sitting at tables, drinking lemonade, and catching up. I waited to see which group of friends you would join as we approached, when one of your friends spotted you. Immediately, everyone was buzzing that Dick – class president, head boy, and all around good guy – had arrived! It was the kind of welcome movie stars and royalty would dream of. You were the prom king of real life. The man of the hour.
After a few hugs and introductions, we flitted (can a 75 year-old man flit?!) from group to group, catching up with everyone. It demonstrated to me that you weren’t just my favorite person in the world, but that everyone, from cheese ladies to high school classmates, thought just as highly of you as I did.
I love you so much, Grandpa! Thanks for teaching me the importance of kindness, how to be sociable, and – most importantly – the fine art of the flit.
I have never been tall. We know this. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of my LITTLE cousins are taller than me now, except for maybe Joy…hmm… But I have always been scrappy, and a pretty good detective, which is how I found out about the Whoppers.
You thought you had hidden them, but I saw you, every once in awhile, getting something chocolately and delicious out of the top cabinet in the hallway between the kitchen and dining room. And so, after much speculation about chairs and drawers and angles, I pulled out all the drawers below, scrambled up onto the counter (who needs a step stool?!) and felt around and found a carton. I pulled it down, shook it and heard its hollow rumble, and knew I had struck gold. I popped open the top and the balls came streaming out into my hands. I crammed several into my mouth, before I could get caught, and was just about to stash the evidence and wipe the chocolate off of my face when I heard that distinctive Grandpa chuckle. I looked up to see you standing there, smiling at me, shaking your head and cracking up. You had been watching me the entire time.
Better luck next time, Harriet the spy.
I love you so much, Grandpa! I’ll see you in eight days! It’s almost birthday cake time! I wonder if we can make a Whopper flavored cake? YUM!
My sweet Grandpa passed away last week. He was 88. In addition to his many accomplishments, awards and honors, he was also just the best guy I know. He and I had a very special relationship. I already miss him.
I will be posting some of the memories I’d been mailing to him, so everyone can share in his wonderfulness. In the meantime, if you’d like to read his official obit and leave a comment below, please do. He loved so many people, and I know his bright spirit lives on.
We love you, Grandpa!
Richard Everett “Dick” Davis, 88, was born on May 1, 1923 near Idaho Springs, Colo. at Floyd Hill to Margaret and Shelby Davis. He often liked to say that he arrived in a May Day basket with his twin brother, Bob.
He attended Idaho Springs High School, where he was a natural leader, popular student, and active Boy Scout. He was elected both Class President and Head Boy his senior year, and graduated in the spring of 1941. Dick would remain devoted to Idaho Springs for his entire life, serving as president of the Idaho Springs High School Alumni Association from 1994–2005, and continuing as an active member of the board until his passing.
Dick enlisted with the Army Air Force in January of 1942. He served as a 2nd lieutenant bombardier with the fourth army air corps until the war ended in 1945, when he returned home to attend college at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
At CU, Dick was a dedicated student, a proud member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, the university’s hiking club, and the civil engineering society, which he led as president his senior year. He also played co-ed intramural volleyball and was a long-time admirer of his teammate, Dee.
They married on August 27, 1950 and were married for 61 years.
Dick was hired by Rio Grand railroad in 1952 and was steadily promoted through a variety of positions. The Davis family moved between Utah and Colorado before settling permanently in Arvada in 1969. He retired in 1985 as Superintendent of Engineering, overseeing structures, buildings and bridges. Davis Road in Salt Lake City still leads to the superintendent’s office as a testament to his 34 years of service.
Dick was passionate about so many facets of his life. As a volunteer, he devoted his retirement years to many causes, including tutoring at Stott and Vanderhoof Elementary, volunteering for the PBS Channel 6 auction, chairing the CU class of 1950 reunion committee, and participating in Boy Scout activities with his sons and grandsons. Dick was a recipient of the Silver Beaver award in 1974, the Denver Area Council’s highest honor for Boy Scout volunteers. He was so proud that his four sons and one grandson obtained their Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest rank.
He also traveled widely, visiting 48 states, Europe and Asia with Dee during their life together.
He was a loving father and grandfather to his five children and 13 grandchildren, and he instilled in them a love of service, respect for nature, and a deep appreciation for family.
Dick passed away on May 4, 2011. He is survived by his beloved wife, Dee; his son Kirk and his wife, Lorna; his son Kip and his wife, Lynn; his son Kelly and his wife, Michelle; his daughter Heidi and her husband, Keith; his son Kerry and his wife, Jani; and 13 grandchildren: Eric, Hilary, Grant, Morgan, Ali, Hope, Ian, Kanessa, Kaylan, Faith, Grace, Joy, and Hannah.
Donations may be made to:
Denver Area Council
Boy Scouts of America
10455 W. 6th Avenue, Suite 100
Denver, CO 80215
Clear Creek Alumni Association
65 Brentwood Street
Lakewood, CO 80226
In memory of Richard Davis, Jefferson County, Colorado
7710 Carondelet Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63105