Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sacrifices and Blessings

   As it is Ash Wednesday (which I only knew because of the Facebook posts I saw), I have been thinking what I would like to sacrifice for Lent -- keeping in mind that it isn't just about giving something up, but replacing it with Something better (the S is capital for a reason).  I don't like giving up something I can easily go back to after the Lent season is over.  That practice seems to miss the point.  If it were just giving up something for 40 days, I'd not drink tea.  (I do love my tea.)  Although, maybe I will give up my oral coping mechanisms and instead of drinking tea or eating chocolate whenever life is wrought with anxiety, I will turn to God's Word instead.
    Anyways, I'm having a hard time concentrating on what to sacrifice for Lent.  Life has been pretty anxiety-ridden for me as of late -- for my family and myself personally.  It seems more like a "count my blessings" time of life than a fasting time of life -- though, I suppose they are one in the same.
     Counting my blessings, I think of my family.  I really do have a great family -- immediate and extended.  We look out for each other and support one another.  I am physically far away from most of my family at the moment, but they are always close to me as they are often on my mind.  I am thankful I can count them as some of my blessings.  (I don't know if I linked the web address to the video correctly.  If not, copy and paste.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Louie (Part 5 - the last)

“Oh, I see.  Hello there.  You decided this would be a good place to park your old car?  Thought a spider would fit in around here?”  Louie was embarrassed.  He hadn’t meant to impose.  He only wanted to rest a bit.

Louie turned around and began making his way back to the steering wheel.

“Well,” came the deep growl, “I suppose a spider and an old toy car wouldn’t look too out of place here.”  Louie stopped.  “Yeah, you can stay.  Why not?”

Mr. Copperpot sat in the chair.  Louie climbed to his web and nestled in.  Mr. Copperpot sat for a long time staring at the horizon.  Only once did he speak saying: “Wait till the sun rises.  You won’t think this place looks so bad when the sun rises.”  Louie fell asleep.

*               *          *

A door shut softly.  Feet padded on the sidewalk.  A heavy weight sank into the rusting chair.  A deep growl, almost a purr, was heard.  Louie could smell the morning, but knew it was not quite dawn.  He opened his eyes.  The old shed and the overgrown grass had not changed much in the night, even covered in morning dew.  Then something happened.

Louie looked out to the horizon and saw something amazing.  Dawn came.  Louie was astounded.  The only sound was Mr. Copperpot’s slow breathing.

Mr. Copperpot sat and sat staring at the horizon until the sun had stretched her fingers completely.  He then went inside.

Louie had moved from his web to the back of the seat.  As he watched the morning begin, he knew he would be quite happy with his new home.


The end.

Louie (Part 4)

Where would be a lovely spot for my home? Louie wondered.

Louie wasn’t paying attention to the road in front of him, and when he looked forward again, he had to swerve to miss a blue minivan.  The van honked at him.  “Well, I never,” said Louie.  He then came to a screeching halt behind a grey car at a red sign.  The grey car had a light ticking on and off.  After a moment, the grey car turned right toward the busy highway.  The road to the left was empty of other cars, so the spider decided he would turn left.

Now, there’s something I’m forgetting to do thought Louie.  He then remembered the light on the right side of the grey car blinking.  “Tick.  Tick.  Tick.  Tick,” said Louie mimicking the sound of a turn signal.  He then made his left turn down the quiet street.

Louie drove and drove.  He passed but one car along the way.  Some of the houses had people sitting on the porch.  A few watched Louie’s car pass by and scratched their heads confounded[SB1] .  Others paid no attention whatsoever to the red car with yellow hood.  Soon Louie came to the end of the street.  He gradually came to a halt.  Looking up, Louie saw a big, dark house.  It had a porch with stairs leading up to it.  The grass was a little overgrown.  The mailbox at the end of the drive read “Copperpot”.

“Copperpot.  Copperpot,” Louie said to himself.  The name sounded familiar.  The People that lived at his former house spoke of a Mr. Copperpot.  It wasn’t well-known what he did, for the few times he was home, he kept mostly to himself.  “Some say he’s gone to Africa,” the Lady would say.  “No,” the man would say.  “That’s nonsense.  He goes to visit a sick relative.”

Louie cautiously pulled into the driveway of the gloomy house before him.  There was a breeze grabbing the front screen door blowing it open and creaking[SB2]  it shut as if the breeze was bored.  Some mice rooted in a hole along the side of the great house.  Behind the house was a shed well past usefulness.  Beneath an awning sat a chair.  Louie drove the little red car with yellow hood beside the chair and stopped.

It was getting dark, and Louie was tired from his day’s trip.  He began to make his way back to his compartment.  Louie climbed along the dashboard and sluggishly crawled along the door, but hadn’t made it halfway when he heard: [SB3] 

“What’s this?”  A slow, haggard[SB4]  voice spoke into the night.  Louie pulled back in fear.  The old man who stood beside the little red car must be Mr. Copperpot.  From where he was, Louie couldn’t see much of the man other than his belly covered in a white shirt and the top of his brown trousers held up by suspenders.

Mr. Copperpot walked around the little red car with yellow hood.  “How did this get here,” wondered the old man aloud.

Louie could see Mr. Copperpot at the back of the red car.  The old man bent over.  A worn face with a small scar by the left eye showed through the window.  [SB5]   Mr. Copperpot examined Louie’s beautiful web.  Still bent over, he made his way to the side where Louie sat on the door, not daring to move.

 [SB2]Not technically a verb.  What other word could I use here?
 [SB3]Does this break work?
 [SB5]Too long and complicated a sentence for kids?

Louie (Part 3)

“Whew,” the spider said wiping his forehead.  Louie looked around him to get his bearings[SB1] .  He was out of the People’s backyard.  I must now be in the neighbor’s backyard, the spider concluded.

Then Louie heard a low grumbling.  It was not the car for it sat motionless still gently purring.  Louie looked over his right shoulder to find a massive brown form sniffing at the back tire.  The form moved cautiously around the side of the car.  Louie sat motionless, afraid of attracting this great beast’s attention.

How do I get rid of the mutt? Louie wondered.  Instinct took over.  Louie allowed the red car with yellow hood to slide forward an inch.  The brown dog jerked its head back.  Louie let the car slide another inch.  The dog cocked its head in curiosity and barked.  Again Louie moved the car just an inch, this time backward.  The dog began hopping from side to side barking at the moving object.  “Come on, come on,” Louie urged the dog.  The big brown dog took the bait and once again put its nose to the little red car trying to make out what it was.

“POW!” Louie said.  The car, under Louie’s command, backfired in the big brown dog’s face.  Having sufficed its curiosity, the dog tucked tail and ran back toward its house.[SB2]   “Yes!”  Louie threw one spindly leg in the air in triumph.  “Vroom, vroom,” Louie said, and once again he was off in the little red car with yellow hood.

But no sooner had Louie left the dog’s yard than he came across something much worse than a dog.  Rain.  Rain falling from a long, green snake[SB3] .  Oh no, thought Louie in despair.  That rain will ruin my beautiful web.  It seemed no matter which way Louie steered, there was no way to avoid the downpour, for to the left was a house and to the right a creek.

Then Louie saw Spats.  Spats was a pesky, neighborhood cat who believed any deck, porch or car was his own.  There were many a porch left with bits of mice from Spats’ meals and many a car in the neighborhood decorated with Spats’ paw prints.

Louie remembered the time Spats decided to make a bed in the seat of Louie’s car.  The vicious cat camped there for two days and even took a swat at Louie, nearly ruining his beautiful web, after Louie had asked Spats to go somewhere else.

A wheel in Louie’s mind began to turn and a grin formed on his face.  He turned the car toward the obnoxious[SB4]  beast who was sunning himself in the grass.  Louie zoomed the little red car forward.  “Almost there,” Louie chanted.  “Almost there.”

An awful screech was heard as Louie ran over Spats’ tail with the car.  “Meerroooowww!” wailed Spats, and with eyes now wide as saucers, he dashed madly around.  The lady holding the green watering snake caught sight of Spats and turned the water on him.  “I’ll teach you to stomp through my garden and eat on my plants, you menace,” shouted the lady.

With the rain now pouring in a different direction, Louie guided the little red car with yellow hood safely onto the road.  After such a harrowing[SB5]  ride to the road, Louie relaxed a bit and studied his surroundings.

 [SB1]Age appropriate?
 [SB3]Will kids get that this is a water hose?

Louie (Part 2)

Once the People had gone back inside the house, Louie climbed out of his web and set on the back of the seat wondering how he could move his home.  Then it came to him.  He was in a car.  If he could just get the car to wake up, he could drive it away to a new place.  Louie trekked along the back of the seat, along the door and across the dash until he came to the blue key.

Taking a big breath, Louie turned the key.  Nothing happened.  He tried again. “Please,” Louie said, but still the car sat motionless.  Louie looked around in desperation, but there were no answers.  Then Louie had an idea.  He thought about what a real car sounds like.  He knows that sound well because there is a road that runs behind the house where the People live.

Maybe…, he thought.  Once more, Louie turned the blue key, but this time he said the right magic word: “Vroom!  Vroom!”

Suddenly the little red car with yellow hood came to life!

In disbelief Louie blinked his eyes.  “Impossible,” he whispered.  At this the little red car once again sat lifeless.  The engine no longer purred, nor even sputtered.  The gentle vibrations ceased.  Nothing.  Just a plastic little red car.  “What?”  Louie said in dismay.  “No.”

In determination, Louie once more turned the blue key with his front two spindly legs.  “Vroom!” he exclaimed[SB1] .  Again the little red car with yellow hood sputtered to life and settled into a gentle purr.  It did not go back to sleep this time.

Louie laid hold of the steering wheel.  Because of the enormity of the steering wheel in comparison to Louie, it took four of the spider’s legs to maneuver[SB2]  it.[SB3]   “Vroom, vroom,” he said once more, and the little red car started to move.  Not really knowing where he was going to relocate, Louie guided the car slowly forward.  This isn’t that hard thought Louie, so he began driving faster.  This is lovely he smiled.  Until dead ahead he caught sight of a support column.  “Oh dear!” cried Louie.  “What do I do?”  Inches away, Louie swerved the car to the right.  The back corner of the little red car nicked the pole, but Louie let out a sigh having averted total disaster.[SB4] 

But not for long.  Louie realized he was quickly heading for the creek that lay at the very back of the yard.

“Oh no,” Louie cried.  Once again he swerved the steering wheel, this time to the left.  But there was a tree!  He violently turned the wheel to the right and to the left again.  Then Louie brought the car to a stop.

 [SB1]Or should I just leave it “he said” since there is already an exclamation point?
 [SB2]Age appropriate word?
 [SB3]Are the modifiers placed correctly?
 [SB4]First, is this sentence to long for kids?  Second, is “averted” age-appropriate?

Louie (Part 1)

The little red car with yellow hood stood parked beneath the deck.  Tufts of grass had become mangled in the steering wheel.  The black wheels had bits of grass and dirt plastered to them.  The door and seat of the car were now filthy with the muck of years’ worth of sitting and storms.  It had been so long since the blue key had been turned, so long since the little red car had come to life.

In the back of the little red car with yellow hood was a compartment.  The compartment was now covered with a soft, strong mesh of silky string built slowly day by day.  This soft mesh of string was actually the web of a spider named Louie.  And in this web, housed in the compartment of the little red car is where our story begins.

Louie had now been by himself [SB1] for several years, which is not sad since it is in the nature of spiders to live a solitary life.  One day, on his journey to find a home, he crawled into the little red car with yellow hood to rest.  However, he liked it so well in the compartment of the car that he decided to stay to make his home there.  Each day he would build a little more of his web: crossing from one side to the other, from the top to the bottom, from one corner to the other.

No one ever bothered Louie in his task.  Louie lived fat off the flies and insects that happened upon his compartment.  Three years later, Louie was content in his magnificent web that lay in the compartment of the little red car with yellow hood.

He was relaxing there in his web one evening before the sun had set when he heard the People discussing something.  The People lived in the house where the little red car slept.  Louie saw the People pointing at the flowerbed nestled against the house, saw them pointing to the old bird bath in the yard, then heard, “We’ll take that red car and throw it away too.  It’s been years since it’s been played with.  Then we’ll spray around the house with poison.  Get rid of all the insects and pests.”

Oh no, thought Louie.  They’re going to throw away my home and kill all my food.  I have to leave, but I can’t.  I can’t leave my home.  I love my home!

And why wouldn’t Louie love his home?  There was plenty of food, not to mention the care and pride he had taken in spinning his immaculate[SB2]  web day by day.
Louie decided: I have to find somewhere else to go, but I’m taking my home with me.

 [SB1]Why is this grammatically better than “Louie had been on his own”?
 [SB2]Too big of a word for kids?  Age appropriate?