NAILS


NAILS

By Sharon Stevens

You’ll never guess what I was doing on Good Friday this year.

For starters, I dropped by Stevens Flowers to pick up a special gift to celebrate a family birthday, a wedding, and a new birth, all in the same family. Stepping out the door I noticed a feather on the sidewalk and knew I was on the right path. Next I stopped by Haley’s Printing, then to Johnston’s Hardware for nails, and then I continued on my journey on past the Palace Coffee House. Another stop was a purchase of the 100-year issue of the Canyon News. Before entering I read the Historical marker about the Warwick family, such a legacy for our town. Round and round I went traveling the entire courthouse square taking pictures of every business and each memory. My final stop was at the statue of the World War I Doughboy to pay my respects, and to read the names on the plaque for remembrance. This is the very least I can do.  Even with the shadowing trees gone that shaded the warrior from the sun, he still stands ever at the ready for whatever battle calls him to arms.

After returning to my place of origin, and before stepping back into my car, I stopped once again at Stevens Flowers and photographed the feather still resting in front of the store on the sidewalk, my heart coming full circle once again.

And the nails…at the beginning of my journey I walked in to Johnston’s Hardware and was greeted by Curt Johnston as always. Even though my husband had been by several times this was the first time I had been in the store since it was remodeled. This was beautiful! Bringing back the tin ceilings showcased all those items found at any local hardware store, but the silver reflecting from above brightened even the dreariest tool.

But my mission was all about the nails.

Curt asked me which kind I needed and what size or for what project. How could I explain to him that I had no clue?

As a writer I wanted the nails to represent so many memories to segue into a story. Since it was Good Friday of course this would connect to the Crucifixion of Christ, but this wasn’t my main focus. I had a thought in my mind that reminded me of a sweet memory shared with me about nails at the family Grove Hill Methodist Church in Leonard Texas. There was another story in my mind about an American Flag I found nailed to the wall in an abandoned house, the sole purpose of this beautiful symbol used only to hide illegal activity. On another vein I also wanted to honor my husband, patiently waiting on me at our own hometown business, the Buffalo Bookstore. He deserved a precious story about his life as a craftsman, and all the things he had built with his own hands over the years. And I could never forget Joseph as a carpenter, and his Son, Jesus, learning the trade of his Father.

There was no way I could give a description or reasoning OR explanation for this piece of hardware so Curt could direct me further. “For want of a nail…” Any piece of steel would do as long as the word, “nail” was listed on the box. I needed something so tangible and physical that it would inspire every sentence, every thought. I knew how Nandy Ekle felt with her Wordsmithsix blog, “The Grail” about her Stephen King cup. If I just had the perfect nail I knew I could create any masterpiece of my choosing. Pain or joy would be at my fingertips, straight through to my soul, exuding my thoughts from pen to paper.

Quickly I chose from the display loaded with every length and penny. Under Curt’s guiding but watchful eye I didn’t want to close my eyes and pick. He probably thought, no, he knew I was already looney, just kind enough not to say so. I chose quickly and took my purchase up to the front, and paid the price worth every cent. I asked after Curt’s family and told him to tell them hello. Precious people in a hometown business, you can’t get any better than this. When I left the store I continued around the circle back to my car and found the feather again.

How could I ever explain to anyone of the significance of the nail?

This coming Monday is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah). In researching this blog I read so many quotes and memories. Some I found even related to nails. One was a negative connotation referring to being crooked, another was explaining the beauty of nails, (fingernails) with the lighting of the Sabbath candles. Still another describes the reasoning behind Jewish law only allowing natural materials like plain wood for a coffin so the body can return naturally to earth. Nails could be an item that would impede the process of decomposition.

But I think what hit the nail on the head was the note I came across with the founding of this holiday on April 12, 1951 that signified “Devastation and Heroism Day”.

Since Yom Hashaoh is a relatively new holiday there are no set rules or rituals. What kind of rituals could represent the Holocaust?

CHOICE


CHOICE
by Sharon Stevens

Recently a news journalist remarked that this was a wonderful time to be a reader, with books, magazines, libraries, bookstores, I-Pads, the Internet and so on.

I beg to differ. I don’t think there is any better or more glorious time in the history of our world than to simply be a writer.

Let me give you an example. On the way into town one morning, I passed a work crew on our neighbor’s land replacing electric poles of the “walking giants.” They were silhouetted against the morning sun and I could just make out the men and women getting into their safety gear, ready to climb into the buckets of their “cherry pickers” in preparation for the assent to the top of the poles.

I got out of my car to snap a quick picture and took just a moment to contemplate the scene before me. For a writer, this pastoral scene was simple and straight forward. But with a flick of my imagination I could conjure up any number of plots and characters. There were so many choices open to me on both sides of the grid requiring no human contact at all. My story could lead in so many different directions and avenues. I could use any emotion or genre of my choice.

My 1890 Webster’s Dictionary defines choice in so many ways. “The act of choosing, the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things. The thing chosen. The best part of anything. That which is preferable and properly the object of choice.”

Again, as a writer, this puts the dilemma right in front of me, making it almost impossible to tackle. Or it does for me.

For instance, I could write a drama regarding one of the men being so distracted with troubles at home, putting the lives of his fellow workers in danger. Or I could pen a romance of the electricians and engineers erecting poles with hard muscles, strong spirit, dedicated heart, and with faces that exuded masculinity or sexuality in their smile, through eyes etched with desire that could look deep into your soul.

Or maybe I could write about safety, including hard hats, or lifelines, or anchors to the ground such as those about safety first that fellow Wordsmith Six blogger Natalie Bright wrote in her book Oil People. What about tragedy and the loss of friends on the job, senseless acts, terrorism on a national scale, shutting down the power grids all across the country. I would have to do a lot of research, but it’s doable.

On the one hand I could write about the power conglomerates tearing up the land, killing the environment, gobbling up natural resources. Or maybe I could choose to focus my story on the hawk I witness every day on my way home from work that settles on top of one of the cross bars of the electric pole just high enough to survey his domain as he looks for a tasty meal from his lofty perch.

What about cattle ranches and farmers? Each pole the power company erected was across generations of neighbors’ land on both sides of the spectrum. I could write about the power companies taking Eminent Domain, growth hormones, Mad Cow disease, PETA, or vegetarians. Or I could write about Molly and Charles Goodnight and the Goodnight-Loving Trail, John Wayne, saving the environment, the beef industry, steaks sizzling on the grill for an outdoor cookout, hamburger sliders at a tailgate party for the Super Bowl.

And where would we be if there was no electricity or fuel to run the tractors, the cotton gins, and the grain elevators. Without this most basic commodity farmers would not be able to feed their neighbors, their families and their friends here in the community, but also throughout the world.

And then there is politics. I could choose any debate on the energy crisis, oil embargoes, foreign oil, offshore drilling. Or I could write about how thankful I am that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked so hard for us to have rural electric power that runs our water well, the microwave, the washer and dryer, the lights, the heat, the air-conditioner, the refrigerator that keeps all food and produce at the peak of freshness, and of course, last but not least, our T.V.

But I am also intent on sharing the story that electricity levels the playing field for all businesses, corporations, and CEO’s, that reach from the tallest sky scrapers down to the littlest mom and pop shops alike.

The sky remains the limit for me or any writer worth their salt. I could undertake a screenplay, a stage play, a murder mystery, non-fiction, horror, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, children’s book, or even a song lyric. “I am a lineman for the county,” as Glen Campbell would sing. And if my little heart desires I could find a place for vampires, werewolves, blood sucking aliens, or energy guzzling robots. And how easy it would be to connect and pay tribute to all that protect and serve against all forms of those who spew evil in every walk of life.

So many choices, so many avenues, limitless possibilities.

After staying to watch the men work to link the cables that stretched from one end of the earth to another I knew I had to get to town. I took one last glance and climbed back into my car. My heart was heavy with the magnitude of decisions I would have to make. Once I left this place I feared the memories would dim. But as I turned my eye I caught the reflection of the breaking sun. The brilliance burst across the horizon through the clouds. I knew I had my answer. I could choose to write about the worst of society, the ills of mankind, the stupidness of humanity at large, or I could go with my first impression.

What I first witnessed in my heart and soul when I saw the framework of trucks embracing the giants was the Holy Trinity…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and encircled within was the symbol of the cross. I could see the light of the Spirit rising above the scene with all of His majesty. I pictured the fields and the pastures and all the creatures below enveloped in the warmth of His gentle embrace all across the land.

And that leaves me with MY definition of “choice” from Webster’s Dictionary, “Holding dear, selecting with care. Worthy of being preferred, select, precious, very valuable.

And I knew at that precise moment what I would write.

No question, this is truly a glorious time to be a writer!

Sharon Stevens

CHOICE


CHOICE
by Sharon Stevens

Recently a news journalist remarked that this was a wonderful time to be a reader, with books, magazines, libraries, bookstores, I-Pads, the Internet and so on.

I beg to differ. I don’t think there is any better or more glorious time in the history of our world than to simply be a writer.

Let me give you an example. On the way into town one morning, I passed a work crew on our neighbor’s land replacing electric poles of the “walking giants.” They were silhouetted against the morning sun and I could just make out the men and women getting into their safety gear, ready to climb into the buckets of their “cherry pickers” in preparation for the assent to the top of the poles.

I got out of my car to snap a quick picture and took just a moment to contemplate the scene before me. For a writer, this pastoral scene was simple and straight forward. But with a flick of my imagination I could conjure up any number of plots and characters. There were so many choices open to me on both sides of the grid requiring no human contact at all. My story could lead in so many different directions and avenues. I could use any emotion or genre of my choice.

My 1890 Webster’s Dictionary defines choice in so many ways. “The act of choosing, the voluntary act of selecting or separating from two or more things. The thing chosen. The best part of anything. That which is preferable and properly the object of choice.”

Again, as a writer, this puts the dilemma right in front of me, making it almost impossible to tackle. Or it does for me.

For instance, I could write a drama regarding one of the men being so distracted with troubles at home, putting the lives of his fellow workers in danger. Or I could pen a romance of the electricians and engineers erecting poles with hard muscles, strong spirit, dedicated heart, and with faces that exuded masculinity or sexuality in their smile, through eyes etched with desire that could look deep into your soul.

Or maybe I could write about safety, including hard hats, or lifelines, or anchors to the ground such as those about safety first that fellow Wordsmith Six blogger Natalie Bright wrote in her book Oil People. What about tragedy and the loss of friends on the job, senseless acts, terrorism on a national scale, shutting down the power grids all across the country. I would have to do a lot of research, but it’s doable.

On the one hand I could write about the power conglomerates tearing up the land, killing the environment, gobbling up natural resources. Or maybe I could choose to focus my story on the hawk I witness every day on my way home from work that settles on top of one of the cross bars of the electric pole just high enough to survey his domain as he looks for a tasty meal from his lofty perch.

What about cattle ranches and farmers? Each pole the power company erected was across generations of neighbors’ land on both sides of the spectrum. I could write about the power companies taking Eminent Domain, growth hormones, Mad Cow disease, PETA, or vegetarians. Or I could write about Molly and Charles Goodnight and the Goodnight-Loving Trail, John Wayne, saving the environment, the beef industry, steaks sizzling on the grill for an outdoor cookout, hamburger sliders at a tailgate party for the Super Bowl.

And where would we be if there was no electricity or fuel to run the tractors, the cotton gins, and the grain elevators. Without this most basic commodity farmers would not be able to feed their neighbors, their families and their friends here in the community, but also throughout the world.

And then there is politics. I could choose any debate on the energy crisis, oil embargoes, foreign oil, offshore drilling. Or I could write about how thankful I am that Franklin Delano Roosevelt worked so hard for us to have rural electric power that runs our water well, the microwave, the washer and dryer, the lights, the heat, the air-conditioner, the refrigerator that keeps all food and produce at the peak of freshness, and of course, last but not least, our T.V.

But I am also intent on sharing the story that electricity levels the playing field for all businesses, corporations, and CEO’s, that reach from the tallest sky scrapers down to the littlest mom and pop shops alike.

The sky remains the limit for me or any writer worth their salt. I could undertake a screenplay, a stage play, a murder mystery, non-fiction, horror, science fiction/fantasy, westerns, children’s book, or even a song lyric. “I am a lineman for the county,” as Glen Campbell would sing. And if my little heart desires I could find a place for vampires, werewolves, blood sucking aliens, or energy guzzling robots. And how easy it would be to connect and pay tribute to all that protect and serve against all forms of those who spew evil in every walk of life.

So many choices, so many avenues, limitless possibilities.

After staying to watch the men work to link the cables that stretched from one end of the earth to another I knew I had to get to town. I took one last glance and climbed back into my car. My heart was heavy with the magnitude of decisions I would have to make. Once I left this place I feared the memories would dim. But as I turned my eye I caught the reflection of the breaking sun. The brilliance burst across the horizon through the clouds. I knew I had my answer. I could choose to write about the worst of society, the ills of mankind, the stupidness of humanity at large, or I could go with my first impression.

What I first witnessed in my heart and soul when I saw the framework of trucks embracing the giants was the Holy Trinity…the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and encircled within was the symbol of the cross. I could see the light of the Spirit rising above the scene with all of His majesty. I pictured the fields and the pastures and all the creatures below enveloped in the warmth of His gentle embrace all across the land.

And that leaves me with MY definition of “choice” from Webster’s Dictionary, “Holding dear, selecting with care. Worthy of being preferred, select, precious, very valuable.

And I knew at that precise moment what I would write.

No question, this is truly a glorious time to be a writer!

Sharon Stevens