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Friday, Dec. 31, 2004
~ This is the 300th time since August of 2001 that I turned on a computer somewhere and tapped out words, laid them in a row and set them afire for this place, my yawning closet of piled high magazines and old novels and letters of note. There were days when things worked and my heart was out there, fresh and glowing, making me smile. There were hurting days. There were days that I donít even recognize now, some 3 odd years later.

A handful of you kept a light on in the window for me when I jumped off the ship and hung on to a wildly cascading buoy for a while. Iíd like to thank you for that, it was a quiet and smiling surprise for me when I clambered back to this place and saw friends with a glint in their eye and a grin on their face. We know each other, and not, but there are times when your friendship and warmth are more appreciated than youíll ever know. Climbing back into a saddle of writing has been one of the more comfortable and welcome things Iíve ever done, certainly one of the best things to happen to me this year. And it wouldnít have happened without you and the thoughts you beam my way. Youíre all very special people.

~ I lost my father early this year, and I think it affected me more than I could have guessed at the time. It was not unexpected, it came as a sort of blessing to see him out of the darkness that had enveloped him. I miss him physically, but maybe the loss of his presence on earth is what most of my sorrow is about. He was a small, un-notable man of a generation fast leaving us. But a giant in so many ways. A man of ethics, and faith and morals, of love unsaid and seldom demonstrated. But he had but to look at me and I knew beyond any doubt that he loved me and would give up life itself to make my travels easier. I think about him everyday, and how small my life is when placed in the hands of GodĎs disciple.

~ I miss my Eldest daughter too, for an entirely different reason. She lives just a few miles away, alone and without fear, but sheís not here and seeing her once a fortnight brings back the days that she could lean on me and hit a softball to deep left and run wildly around first to home. Sheís grown up so much. So much that Iím tempted to let her be an adult in my eyes. And maybe, maybe she will be. One day. But not just yet. A little while longer Beth, my little one.

~ I spoke on the phone with Maggie yesterday, out of town on a lark with friends, and it struck me that the Middlest One was gone so often that it seemed almost normal for her to check in with me even from long distance, and that I had resigned her elfin flitting to and fro to being just Maggie. The girl of another sphere who is so much like me. And Ben, at 17 the very thing that grounds me into more earthy and practical things, things of grease and wood and starting recalcitrant cars. That Iím thankful for both of them, even the fleeting glimpses of them and the world they make better by living in it.

~ 2003 was a year I was glad to see pass on, and 2004 all the more so. There has been loss, hard and weeping loss this year and pain between myself and people who are precious to me. We go on, we stagger through things and flit through others and it blurs sometimes, the speed we acknowledge as months and years just make things more unsure, the waves just a little rougher and the wind colder. It was one of the reasons I had to climb back on board this boat of sails and lines. That having a handrail and a wheel made the sail downwind a little less choppy. And it had a nice bunk to crawl into.

~ Sometime this winter I want to pack a bag, throw Ally in the truck and drive south for as long as I can stand it. I want to find a beach or a mountain or a drugstore and stand there in warmth, let my blood thin out some, feel sun on bare shoulders and heat in my hair. Georgia might do, or Louisiana. Somewhere with ham and eggs breakfasts and tall ships on a Gulf night. A little roadhouse out of town, on a pier maybe, and a quiet crowd at days end telling lies and listening to the clinking of glass on a long oak bar.

~ This May, Iíll have been married for 25 years. I want a place to take Ally, where she can get her Cherokee tan that appears in an hour and lasts all summer long. I want to sit by her anywhere, hold her hand and not say one single word for two days, but know every single thought running through her head for every single moment. After that, I want to eat lobster and scallops. And blue crabs. Males, big Jimmyís. For a week.

~ Itís all dreams, what I want. Once in a while they come true, the horseshoe tilts up on odd days and there are good things happening all around me. The best of them are either in front of me or behind. But itís my job to find that out. Every time I do itíll be special.

See you there.

And a very shining New Year to you. The Guestbook.

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