Saturday, December 19, 2015

Peter's Sweepers Chapter Three



   Several Weeks passed and the days got colder and colder. Winter would soon be upon them. It was during this time of year that Rat and Dart were especially glad they shared a cot; they were able to help each other stay warm.
   One night, while everyone else was asleep and the only sound was music and laughter from the bar room, Rat couldn't sleep. Over and over he heard that man, Mr. Horace, saying, "I could lose everything." Was the wallet really that important to the man? Rat shifted uncomfortably.
    Dart wiggled and stretched. His eyes blinked open. Rat could see his face in the moon light.
   "Ya can't sleep?" Dart whispered. Then he coughed several dry coughs.
   Rat shrugged, "Naw, I ain't slept good lately."
   Dart nodded, his little eyes filled with compassion. "Sometimes I don't sleep either. 'Cause I got questions. And I lay here and I think about them."
   Rat pulled their blanket up around his shoulders. He wondered why Dart's chest made funny rattling sounds. "What kind of questions?" he asked.
   Dart was quiet a minute. Then he said, "I've got questions 'bout my mama, I do. I don't like it, 'cause I don't 'member what she looked like. But I 'member that she used to sing. She used to sing 'bout a man named Jesus."
   "I don't remember my mama at all." Rat whispered, "But I have to have had one, so Dusty says. He says everybody has to have one."
   Dart laid his little head on Rat's shoulder. After a moment of silence he whispered, "Did ya know we get to live with him when we die?"
   "Who?" Rat asked.
   "Jesus." Dart said, as if Rat should know. "The man my mama used to sing 'bout." He smiled a sleepy smile. "He saved us by dyin' so we won't hafta." His eyes closed.
   "Oh." Rat wasn't sure what Dart meant. It didn't make any sense to him. But he was curious. "What else did your mama sing 'bout?"
   But Dart didn't answer. He was sound asleep with a smile on his face, even though his chest rattled.
   
   Rat pulled the sleeves of his sweater down over his hands. He rubbed them together, trying to gather warmth. He had to blink away the rain from his eyes. His cap was so wet that it felt twice as heavy on his head. The rain had poured down all morning, and so far Rat hadn't cleaned a single chimney.
   Dart whimpered and snuggled closer to Rat's side. He had taken their empty coal sacks and wrapped them around himself, but he still shivered uncontrollably. "Do ya think Baker Tom will let us stand over his gratin'?" he asked.
   Rat nodded. The grating in front of Tom's bakery was always warm, and the jolly man never cared if they stood over it a minute. But Rat didn't like to allow himself the pleasure, because the smell of all the delicious things Tom made also came up the grating. The torture to his stomach almost made the warmth not worth it.
   But for Dart Rat would do anything. And if Dart wanted to stand over the grating then Rat would take him there.
   The two of them begun to shuffle through the rain in the direction of the bakery. Ever so often Rat would through back his head and call, "Soot! Soot!" The chimney sweeps advertising call.
   Dart would follow with a call of his own. But his "Soot" would come out more like a squeak, and then he would double over with a cough attack. Rat wished Dart would just stay quiet and let him do all the calling. But he didn't want to hurt Dart's feelings by saying so.
   "Hello, Rat. Good day, Dart."
   Rat looked up and saw Konnor, a newspaper boy who always sold his papers at the corner by the bakery. Rat liked Konnor. Most of the newspaper boys thought themselves above the chimney sweeps, but Konnor seemed to think they were on the same level and was always friendly.
   "Hello, Konnor!" Rat said happily, "Sold many?"
   Konnor held up his pile of papers. "Nope." he said with a smile, "Business is as bad as the weather."
   Rat shook his head. He didn't understand how Konnor could be so happy when everything was so miserable.
   "How's your business?" Konnor asked.
   "Ifn' it keeps like this we'll be goin' home with empty sacks tonight." Rat shivered. Peter was never very happy when they came home with empty coal sacks. After all, he made his money by selling the old coal from the chimneys they cleaned.
   "Aw, keep your chin up." said Konnor, "The days only half over. You still have a chance." He turned back to the crowd, held up a paper and called, "Get your paper here! Only five cents!"
   Rat sighed and followed Dart to the grating. Dart stood over it and let out a little cry of happiness as the warm air flowed over him. Rat breathed deep, and then wished he hadn't. The Delicious aroma was almost more then he could take. Peter never fed them anything fancy. And never anything sweet. Never anything, really, except the stew and porridge that was provided in abundance.
   Rat felt Mr. Horace's wallet inside his clothing. He kept it with him always. With that money he could buy Dart and himself a whole bundle of sweets. The thought made his mouth water. But try as he might he couldn't think of the money as his to spend. He still thought of it as Mr. Horace's money.
   "Come on, Dart." Rat mumbled, "We better get back to work."
   Dart whimpered and coughed. Rat shifted his hold on his chimney brush and headed up the street calling, "Soot! Soot!"
   He hadn't gone more then five steps before an old woman beckoned to him from her doorway. He recognized her as a lady he had worked for before. And he also remembered that he didn't like her. She was cross and gruff. Last time she had sent him up a chimney that was still much to warm from the fire and he had burned blisters on both his knees. Dusty always warned about hot chimney flues. But it was a job and Rat never turned anyone down.
   "You there. Come here. I have a chimney that needs doin'." Her voice was deep and crackled.
   Rat felt Dart tense beside him. "Come on, Dart." Rat whispered, "It'll be warm in her house."
   That encouraged Dart, and the two of them hurried into the house. It was warm inside, but old Mrs. Crackle Voice didn't give them time to enjoy it. She hurried them through several rooms before finally coming to a sitting room. The furniture was covered with sheets for protection from the ash and soot that would fall while they were sweeping the chimney.
   Rat was concerned as soon as they came into the room. The fire had just been dowsed. Smoke still drifted up from the ash. He knew it was way to hot to go up the flue. He kneeled beside the hearth and stuck in his head. The flue was also very small. Small and hot. He didn't like it at all.
   Dart shook out the sacks and laid them beside the hearth. He coughed a hard dry cough, then lifted his chimney broom.
   "Naw, I'll do it, Dart." Rat said, waving Dart away.
   Dart shook his head. He knew Rat was just trying to protect him, and he didn't like. Besides, he was smaller and could fit better. "I can do it."
   "Too hot right now, I say." insisted Rat, "We'll hafta wait."
   "You will not wait." said Mrs. Crackle Voice, "You'll do it now."
   Dart pulled his cap down over his face to protect his nose and eyes and started up the chimney, pushing his brush ahead of him. Rat heard him whimper several times before he disappeared. Soot and ash cascaded down.
   Rat knelt near by and watched the dust float out. He knew Dart would cough all night and not be able to sleep. Dusty would probably have to treat some burns as well. 
   Suddenly the soot stopped falling. But Rat knew it was way too soon for Dart to have reached the top. Everything was too still.
   Rat jumped up and ran to the fireplace. "You all right, Dart?" he called up the chimney. He heard a sobbing, choking sound. Rat knew what had happened. Dart had gotten his knees wedged in between his body and the wall. Rat tried to see up the dark chimney. Then he turned to Mrs. Crackle Voice, "He's goin' off! Quick, get somebody!"
   Mrs. Crackle's scowl deepened and she left the room. "Going off" meant Dart was suffocating.
   "Don't worry, Dart." Rat said as he pushed himself up the flue, "I'm a comin'!"
   But the chimney was cramped and hot. Pain shot through Rat's shoulders, elbows and knees. Being extra careful not to pull his knees too high made him slow. He wondered with awe how Dart had managed to make it up as high as he did.
   Finally Rat felt Dart's body above him. "I'm here, Dart. Can ya hear me?" He positioned his knees and back against the walls to hold himself up. The heat was so bad he could barely make himself stay. He wanted to drop down and scramble to safety.
   Completely blind in the darkness, Rat felt around with his hands, struggling in the tight quarters. What he felt clogged his throat with unvoiced sobs. Dart's knees were pulled all the way up to his chin. He was quite solidly wedged in.
   "Come on, Dart. Try movin' a little. See if'n ya can wiggle free." He pulled on Dart's coat hem.
   Coal dust filled Rat's nose and throat and he coughed. Then he realized that Dart was too quiet. He wasn't coughing, he wasn't whimpering. He wasn't anything!
   Rat felt around desperately. But his fingers couldn't find any hope anywhere. One of his sobs escaped and the tears began to flow down his cheeks. "Please Dart! Try. Just try!" He gripped Dart's coat and hung his full weight on it, trying to pull him free. Dart did not move.
   A man's voice call up the chimney, "What's happing up there, Lad?"
   "He's stuck, Mister. I can't budge him." Rat called down, his voice thick with tears.
   "Drop down. Let us see what we can do."
   Rat didn't want to leave Dart but he did as the man said. The sitting room now held two police men. Mrs. Crackle Voice was standing in the doorway, scowling.
   "Step back now, Son. Let me look." and the big policeman leaned into the fireplace with a lamp. Rat wondered how they were going to get Dart out. There was no way the two men would fit up the chimney.
   The big policeman beckoned to the other and they whispered together. Then the other one said to Rat, "Come along, boy." He began to leave the room.
   "Ain'tcha gonna get Dart out?" Rat's voice squeaked with desperation.
   "Yes, we will. But you need to come with me." The policemen said kindly.
   Rat wasn't convinced. He did not want to leave the room. But he decided he had no choice and let himself be led away. The policeman brought him to the kitchen and sat him on a stool. Then he left Rat there alone.
   Rat's tears made paths down his filthy face. What would Dusty say when he found out Rat had let Dart go up a hot chimney? Dusty wouldn't have let Dart go. Dusty would have stood up to Mrs. Crackle Voice and told her that they couldn't sweep the chimney until it had cooled.
   Rat buried his face in his hands. He should have swept the chimney himself. He shouldn't have let Dart go.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tag Of Happiness

   I was tagged by Daminika Stenersen @ Walking In The Sonshine. I think this will be super fun, but I don't know how good I will be at it! ;) Note: These aren't my "favorites"; they are what make me happy. Some of my favorites(movies and books) are sad.;)
 

   Movies that make me happy
Follow Me, Boys!
Pollyanna
Ace Wonder
The Widow's Might
Road To Avonlea(series)
Facing The Giants
 
Books That Make Me Happy
The Elsie Dinsmore Series(The originals) by Martha Finley
Roses For Mama by Janette Oke
Seasons Of The Heart(series) by Janette Oke
Early Thunder by Jean Fritz
The Far Frontier by William O. Steele
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Emma by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
 
Songs That Make Me Happy
Voice Of Truth by Casting Crowns
Just Be Held by Casting Crowns
All To Us by Chris Tomlin
How Can I Keep From Singing by Chris Tomlin
I Saw God Today by George Strait
Cowboys Like Us by George Strait
Not Ashamed by Jeremy Camp
Long Black Train by Josh Turner
A Living Prayer by Krissa Somero
You're Not Alone by Meredith Andrews
Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets
It's Good(Love's Not Safe) by Sidewalk Prophets
Food That Makes Me Happy
Pasty
Mash Potatoes
Fried Chicken
Cinnamon Rolls
Ice Cream
Ginger Snap Cookies
Coffee!!!
Words That Make Me Happy
Jesus
Love
Christmas
Food
Squishy(my siblings are squishy!);)
Together
 
Other Things That Make Me Happy
Sunshine
Snow Flakes
Christmas Cards
Old Photos
Old Books
Grazing Cattle
Church Buildings
Pianos(And I don't even play!)
Bird Houses
Big Coffee Mugs
Letters
Envelopes
Stamps
Writing paper
Black Ink Pens
My Siblings
Yarn
Knitting Needles
Weekends
Hymnals
Maps
 
   I could go on and on so better just stop! haha :)
Guidelines:
Take the banner and put it in your post
List as many things as you want in each category
Come up with more category if you wish
Tag as many people as you want
I tag:
Clarissa R. West @ Clarissa R. West - Writer
Elisa @ Pioneer Girl at Heart 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Candles and Pinecones

   So much excitement for Christmas! The game of hiding presents, the preparation for overnight visitors, the fun of decorating. Nothing compares to the wonder of this season and the celebration of Jesus' birth!
 
 
 
 
 
A Very Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Oh, Brother!

   When I think of my brothers I think of...
   ...Stinky clothes with holes
   ...Wild activities in the living room
   ...Smart Aleck remarks
   ...Loud conversations early in the morning (When I'm trying to sleep!)
   ...Oily gun parts spread across the kitchen table
   ...Cheesy jokes (That make me laugh)
   ...Hunting season (All the fun that comes with it!)
   ...Long games of Risk
   ...Piles of leaves (With the leaf blower, not a rake)
   ...Someone to heroically kill spiders
   ...Advice on what kind of vehicle I should buy
   ...Impulsive hugs (After which they try to strangle me)
   ...Late night chats
   ...Someone to try my story ideas on (They always give an honest opinion)
   ...Someone to move heavy things (When you're just a little girl like me you need help!)
   ...Nicknames (They like to call me "Little Sister". Even though I am the oldest)
   ...Someone to build a fire when I'm cold
   ...Someone to hang out with
   ...Someone to fix a stool when it's wobbly
   ...Someone to put the chain back on my ten speed
   ...Someone to make a big mess of the kitchen (And delicious food!)
   ...Someone to try my patience
   But Ultimately...
   ...Someone I couldn't live without!
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Personal Update

   I know, I know, I've been neglecting this blog lately. My deepest apologies! I'll try to catch you up on my life real quick.

   I was offered a job several months ago and have been enjoying the freedom of money! :P It's a clerical job. I didn't know that it was called that until last week when I dug in the employee files :D. But anyway, I mostly handle the lower jobs no one else wants to do; Stuffing envelopes, filing invoices, adding up royalties ect. I also keep the bathroom clean, the floor swept, and the desks dust free. Well, mostly dust free anyway. Except when the days get long I really enjoy it! The people there are fun. We can really get to goofing off sometimes. But the work does get done. :)
   I have also been taking Drivers Ed. with my brother and a friend. I really like my drive instructor, and although the classes can often be boring I do learn from them. My drive instructor told me he thinks I'll pass the drive test with no problem. I hope he's right!
   Mom is getting really close to her due date. I can't wait to hold my new little sister! Praying she arrives safely!
   I've already been planning Christmas presents. I made a list of what I want to give each person. Then I had to write one of what I can afford to give them. :P I wanted to make a lot of the presents, but I don't know if I have time!
   I am now teaching the Kindergarten Sunday school class at church. I really enjoy it! The kids are eager to please and quick to learn. I think they are such sweet hearts!
   My dad and one of my brothers have gotten bucks this year. So excited for them! We ate the heart and liver of the most recent one and they were actually quite good! Much to my surprise.
   Well, that wasn't very long, but all I have time for now. Hope you all have a blessed day!~Kimberly Elizabeth     

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Christianity and Racism

I am a right wing conservative, republican and a believer in the second amendment. I am anti-murder(aka pro-life/against abortion). I believe in states rights. I am a christian. I have light hair, blue eyes...I am white.
But, I am NOT a racist.
Because of recent events and overheard comments I've been thinking about this: Does racism and Christianity go together?
   Of course, I already know the answer. They do not. I have several arguments for this.
First: Racism is an evolutionary concept.
As a young earth creationist, I believe The LORD created the earth aproximitely 6,000 years ago. But evolutionist believe we humans came from ape-like creatures. They think whites are more evolved.
   As a christian who does not believe in evolution, I am against racism.
Second: Racism is prideful.
If you believe that, as a white, you are somehow better than those who are dark, than you are being prideful. The Bible says that we are ALL sinners, saved by grace. No human can be better than another. God cares about our hearts, not our skin color. All humans, black or white, must come to a place of repentance before God.
   As a sinner who can not possibly be better than anyone, I am against racism.
Third: Racism is not loving.
God is love. He created love; He is the source of love. How can we, as christians, be unloving and say that it is right? The Bible says that if you hate your brother than you are as bad as a murderer. If you hate a "lower" race, you are like a murderer.
   Because of God's love within me, I am against racism.
Fourth: Racism is hateful.
God is a loving god who wants all to be saved. If we hate someone of darker skin, they will in turn hate us. How can you share the gosple with someone who hates you, has no respect for you, wants nothing to do with you? How can you bring another human to Christ if you despise them? If you believe that God has saved you, than you should long to share this with others. You can not share love with someone you hate.
   As a sinner saved by a loving God, I am against racism.
Fifth: Black skin is the mark of Cain???
I have heard this as an arguement for racism. To me this has no grounds. And anyway, why does it matter? It goes back to pride. Are you prideful enough to believe that you are a better christian than the decendance of Cain? To God it is your heart that matters, not your forefathers.
So, whether you have black skin, brown skin, tan skin, white skin, yellow skin, red skin or any other color of skin, it does not matter to me, or GOD. And it should not matter to you.


Corum Deo, Kimberly Elizabeth

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Peter's Sweepers: Chapter Two

   Note: To read Chapter One scroll down, or click on July to the right.
   Rat pressed his stomach close to the shingles of the roof. His heart was pounding in his ears. Who were those boys? They obviously weren't friendly, considering the way Dart was shaking with fear. Rat didn't know what to do. He couldn't get Dart away from those boys by himself. Should he go get Dusty? But what if they carried Dart off? Would he be able to find them again?
Just then one of the boys kicked Dart, who cried out and fell against the stone wall behind him. His chimney broom rolled away with a clatter.
    Rat jumped up and fled. He had no choice but to leave Dart and go for help.
    Rat forgot all about that man, Horace, and went straight home without skirting around the man.
    The sun had bid the city goodnight and the lamplighters had finished their job when Rat finally reached Peter's tavern. The bar room was full of laughter and loud talking.
Rat stumbled through the kitchen door panting for breath. Dusty and Billy jumped up from their seats by the fire. Arnie and Lane must have been ordered to bed, for they were not around.
    "Did ya find 'im?" Billy asked.
    Dusty asked nothing but helped Rat to a stool. Billy brought a dipper of water from the rain barrel.
    Rat took the dipper, but before drinking he managed to gasp out, "Dart's in trouble. Some boys have 'im. Don't know why. One kicked 'im, I saw it." Then he drank the water while Billy poured forth questions.
   "How many boys? Where they at? Do ya think we should tell Peter?"
    Dusty stopped him with a shake of his head, "Peter's busy with the bar." and a burst of laughter from the front room emphasized his words. He turned to Rat, "Ya think ya can show us where Dart is?"
    Rat nodded, "I can show ya where he was."
    "What kind o' boys are they, Rat?" asked Billy, "Are they chimney sweeps like us?"
    Rat nodded, still breathing a little heavy.
    "Well, let's go." exclaimed Billy impatiantly.
    "Wait until Rat has caught his breath." Dusty ordered, putting a hand to the little boy's shoulder protectively.
    "I'm ready." said Rat, standing up with determination. He didn't want them to wait on his account.
    Dusty looked doubtful, but he didn't question. Flipping his cap onto his dark head and pulling it low he led the way to the door.
    Rat took the lead once they were on the sky road. He was feeling a little hungry, since he hadn't finished his supper, but he wasn't about to let it show. A feeling of urgency filled his small chest.
    Rain began to drizzle down. The clouds hid the moon and stars. The only light to guide their way came from the street lamps. The rain caused the roofs with older shingles to become slippery.
    When they came to where Rat had left Dart the boys jumped down to the ground. The the corner where Dart had been was now dark and empty. His chimney broom still lay on the ground, forgotten.
    Dusty examind the hard ground, garbage bins and piles of packing crates. Billy's red hair seemed to glow in the darkness as he lifted Dart's broom and swung it up to his shoulder. Rat shivered and wrapped his arms about himself. The back street they were in seemed too narrow and the darkness was sufficatingly close. Rat shook the rain off his cap and nervously ran his fingers through his hair.
    "I'm cold." whispered Billy, "Rain is runnin' down me back."
    "Shut up." Dusty whispered back, but not angrily. "Look what I found." He held up a wet, soggy piece of paper.
    Billy took it from him while Rat crowded close. "What is it?" Billy asked, obviously confused why Dusty cared for the piece of garbage.
    "It's a coupon for The Green Dragon. 'Buy two beers, get one free'." explained Dusty.
    Rat and Billy looked at eachother. Was Dusty suggesting they go for a drink?
    "That's where Dart is." Dusty further explained when he saw that his comrades were not getting it.
    Rat's eyes popped open, "How do ya know?"
    "It was lyin' over here, near where ya said Dart was. It's clean to, see? It's new, so I know it ain't been here long. I'm a thinkin' one of those sweeps dropped it when they was pickin' on Dart. He probably had it 'cause they were on their way there."
    "But if'n they stopped to bully Dart, do ya think they would still go there?" asked Billy.
    "Shore would." Dusty nodded with confidence, "They'd wanna go an celebrate. Ain't that what we'd do?"
    Billy shrugged. "Okay, but how do ya know they still got Dart with them?"
    "He ain't here, is he?" Dusty seemed to be getting a little irritated with all the questions. He was a good natured chap and had an amazing amount of forgiveness, but even the best of sorts don't like their knowledge questioned.
    "Where is this 'Green Dragon'?" Rat asked. He was beginning to sniffle from the cold.
    "Let's see if the paper says." said Dusty, reaching to take it from Billy. But the soggy paper ripped, and he left half behind in Billy's hand.
    Both boys held their half up to their faces, trying to read in the dark.
    "Here it is." exclaimed Dusty, "It says, '211th street'. That's only the next street over. Come on!"
    The three boys went off at a trot. It wasn't at all hard to find the tavern. They could hear the loud music and laughter from several houses away.
    When they arrived at the front door Dusty hesitated. Rat and Billy looked at him questioningly. He smiled to reassure them, took a deep breath and went in. Billy propped Dart's broom against the wall before following.
    Once inside Dusty again hesitated. All the tables seemed to be full with card playing men. At the very front of the room was the bar. All it's stools were full as well. The only differance was the stools were crowded with boys, not men.
    "That them?" Dusty asked Rat out of the corner of his mouth.
    Rat could only nod, his throat was too tight with fear to talk. The other boys far out numbered them.
    Dusty rubbed his right eyebrow with two fingers. Rat and Billy knew this was his "thinkin' pose" and waited for his plan.
    After a moment Dusty turned to them and loudly whispered over the din, "Act confident." Then he strode across the room toward the bar, with a very timid Rat and a semi-confident Billy trailing behind him.
    "Wet out there, it is." proclaimed Dusty to the bartender as he came up to the counter. "Rain's comin' down harder and harder." Then, completely ignore the local boys who were watching with strange smiles, he plunked a few coins on the counter, as if he were planning to buy a drink.
    Before the bartender could say anything, the nearest local boy dropped a heavy hand on Dusty's shoulder. "Ya better take yer money back, Kid." It was rather bold for him to call Dusty "kid", considering that he was the younger of the two by at least two years.
    But Dusty did not seem to take offence. He laughed and turned to speak to Billy and Rat, affectively twisting out of the boy's grasped without seeming to do it on purpose. "Come on, boys. He's offering to pay for our drinks."
    Several of the other boys snickered at this, but the one who had "offered" scowled.
    Rat and Billy came forward, attempting to look confident. Billy swung up on the only empty stool left and leaned casually against the counter. "Awfully kind o' ya." he said to the scowling boy.
    "Aw, come on, Turk." one of the other boys shouted, "Buy the strangers' drinks."
    Turk shot them a look that silenced them, then he turned on Dusty with an unfriendly smile. "Listen, Kid. I ain't jokin' around. Take yer money and git."
    "What are ya afraid of?" asked Dusty, faining innocence, "Me, I ain't gonna do nothin'. I just dropped in for a drink, is all. Ain't that right, boys?"
    "Shore is." said Billy, a little too loudly, while Rat nodded violently.
    "Well." said Turk, "Maybe that's what ya came in for, and maybe it ain't. But it don't matter none to me." He put his hand on Dusty's shoulder again. "I want you to leave." and he pushed Dusty back.
    Dusty stumbled a little, but he didn't fall down. By now several of the men at the surrounding tables were noticing that something was up. The bartender had retreated into a corner, polishing a glass. He didn't seem to want to become involved.
    Dusty's eyes flashed angrily now, but he struggled to control it. "Look." he stepped real close to Turk, but in a friendly way. "We didn't come here to cause trouble. We came cause-"
    But Turk interrupted, "Are you afraid of a fight?"
    Dusty had hoped to find out where Dart was through carefully manuvered conversation. But obviously, Turk was not prone to be friendly. And still more obvious, the boys with him would follow his example.
    "Of course not!" Rat cried indignantly, answering Turk's question. "Dusty ain't afraid of nothin'." He turned to Dusty, "Tell 'im Dusty. Tell 'im ya ain't afraid to take on the whole bunch o' them."
    Several men chuckled at this and one yelled, "Someone buy that little fella a drink!"
    Dusty pressed two fingers to his eyebrow. His only thought was to find out where Dart was and get back home. This was getting out of hand. Perhaps he was using the wrong tactics. "Look." he said again, but his voice was no longer friendly, "I don't wanna fight ya cause I got better things to do." His eyes bore into Turk's, "You wouldn't happen to know where my friend Dart is, would ya?"
    Turk's eyes wavered a little, "What if I do?"
    Dusty grabbed a fistful of Turk's shirt front and dragged the younger boy of his stool, forcing him to stand against the counter. "If he's hurt..." he paused a minute. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath. "You'll suffer for it." he finished. His eyes were shooting sparks. Billy and Rat watched him with wide eyes.
    Several of Turk's friends got down from their stools. They looked at eachother, questioning whether or not to do something.
Billy carefully moved so that he was in between them and Turk. He wasn't much of a shield to hold off seven boys, some larger than himself, but it did help to give Turk a feeling of being without support. They hadn't seemed very supportive of him in the first place.
    All the men near enough to hear what was going on waited in silence to see what Turk would do. Turk and Dusty stared at eachother, their eyes inches apart.
    Turk jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "He's out back in the woodshed." Dusty jerked on the shirt a little and Turk flinched away, "He ain't hurt bad, I swear."
    Dusty released Turk and stepped back. "Come on, boys."
    Billy and Rat followed Dusty back out into the rain. Billy remembered to grab Dart's broom, and the three boys went around to the back.
    It was dark behind the tavern; The light of the street lamps didn't reach back there. But Dusty was able to find the delapitated woodshed with no problem. It was locked, but Rat climbed in the window and unlocked it from the inside.
    They found Dart lying on the dirt floor. He was shivering uncontrolably and whimpering. Dusty knelt down and touched his shoulder. "Hello, Dart. Ya okay?"
    Dart sat up and threw his little arms around Dusty's neck. Dusty hugged him back, not at all embarressed. In fact, Rat thought he saw tears on Dusty's cheeks. But they might have been raindrops.
    "I was scared, Dusty." Dart said, his voice muffled against Dusty's neck. "Those boys said I was on their turf. I told them I didn't know what they meant, and they all laughed and one kicked me, right here." Dart backed away from Dusty and pulled his shirt up to reveal a large black and purple bruise on his ribcage.
    Rat kneeled down by his friend and gently touched the bruise. Anger burned inside him. What gave them the right to pick on Dart? Dart never hurt anybody. He wished it had been him instead. He wasn't much bigger than Dart, but at least he didn't have lungs that rattled and made other funny noises.
    "Dusty." Billy said warningly. He was standing watch at the door, "Some fellas are comin'."
    Dusty went to the door for a look. Dart curled on the floor and coughed while Rat patted his back. Rain was pounding on the roof and Rat wondered how Dart would stand the walk home.
Five boys stood in a semicircle around the door of the shed. They didn't say anything, and in the dark it was immpossible to tell who they were.
    "What do we do?" Billy whispered.
Dusty rubbed his eyebrow. "Let's just ignore 'em." he said finally.
Billy was surprised at this. He knew that ignoring them would not make them go away.
    Dusty turned to Dart and lifted the small boy into his arms. Dart snuggled close for warmth. He was so small that it took very little effort to carry him.
    "Okay." Dusty nodded at the door, "Let's go."
    Billy wondered how they were going to get past the human road block, but he didn't say anything. He went out first, followed by Dusty holding Dart. Rat whispered that he would meet them at home and disappeared around back of the shed. Dusty was not worried about him. He probably knew a way home that the rest of them couldn't navigate in the rain and dark.
    Billy had been told to ignore the boys in their path, so he did. He walked right up to them as if they weren't there. When he tried to push through they broke ranks and let him. Dusty followed in his wake. Their enemys made no effort to stop them. The only sound was the rain.
    When they were finally on their way home Dusty broke the silence with a laugh. "Look at ya, Billy. Your hands are shakin'."
Billy shoved his free hand into his pocket; The other one was holding Darts chimney broom. "I'm cold is all." Then he took a good look at Dusty. "Yer shaking yerself. Yer knees are knockin'!"
    Dusty smiled wryly, cradling Dart close to his chest like a prize. "Guess things got a bit tense back there."
    "Yeah." Billy nodded.
    Rat was far ahead of them and almost home. He paused as he passed the house that that man, Horace had gone into. But it was only for a minute, and then he went on, struggling to put the man from his mind.
 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Bull Moose



   This young bull moose visited our backyard today. Several days ago a bigger one visited us as well, so this is the second live moose I've ever seen!
   Praying God blesses your day!~Kimberly Elizabeth

Monday, July 27, 2015

Peter's Sweepers

   "Sorry, Mister. Didn't see ya there."   
   "That's all right, little lad. I-Wait! You took my wallet!"
   Quick as a flash the ragged, coal covered boy tried to disappear into the crowd, but the finely dressed gentleman wasn't about to let him off so easily. He gave chase, calling out loudly for someone to stop the boy.
   The boy was skilled at moving about the crowded street and his small size made it easy. The man was not so skilled, but desperation helped him keep up with the boy. He simply needed his wallet!
   The boy left the main street and darted down a back alley. Without a second thought the man followed.
   Without the many people to dodge the boy picked up speed, leaping over garbage bins and mud puddles.
   Without warning the gentleman's foot caught on something and he sprawled headlong into a pile of reeking garbage. Several black rats, startled by his sudden decent, scattered in all directions.
   He sat up slowly, admitting defeat. The little thief had gotten away.
   "Terribly sorry, Sir. Guess me leg got in your way. Help ya up?" A skinny, soot covered lad of about fifteen years appeared out of the shadows.
   The gentleman watched him warily. He had no doubt that the boy had tripped him purposely. A friend of the little thief most likely. Nevertheless he allowed the red head to pull him to his feet. He grunted, brushed himself off, and left the alley as quickly as he could.
   Billy-for that was the red heads name-watched the fancy dressed man leave, a smirk on his freckled face.
   Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Billy walk nonchalantly down the alleyway. His eyes scanned possible hiding places, searching for the dark bundle of rags who had run off with the man's wallet.
   "Thank Ya, Billy."
   Billy looked down into two dark eyes, walking near his elbow. He was surprised to find the boy so near him, but of course, he didn't let on.
   "Thank Ya." the boy repeated, "Thought I was gonna catch it that time, I did."
   "Aw, weren't nothin', Rat. We gotta stick together 'roun here, ya know."
   Rat nodded. "Yeah, Billy."
   Then Billy remembered why he'd been looking for Rat in the first place. "Ya 'bout done for the day? Supper's nearly ready, so Dusty says."
   Rat's stomach gave a growl of anticipation.
   The two boys then took to the chimney sweep's Sky Road, otherwise known as the roof tops of London. High above the crowd that bustled and pushed on the streets below, the chimney sweeps could navigate around the whole city. Trotting quickly along the ridgepoles, it took the boys only eight minutes to reach Peter's Tavern. It would have taken them twenty minutes on the main streets and fifteen through the back alleys. The Sky Road was jealously protected by the chimney sweeps, for fear that the crowd below would swarm up and ruin it for them.
   When they reached their destination, Billy and Rat slid silently down a water pipe to the ground. Then they dusted themselves off and headed for the back door of the tavern. They never entered through the front door unless they had money to pay for a drink, and they rarely did.
   "Hello, Billy. Rat." Dusty was leaning against the door, his newsboy cap pulled down low. All the boys had an extreme respect for him. Always calm and cool headed, his quick thinking had saved many a chimney sweep.
   Dusty held the door for them as Billy and Rat entered the taverns large and warm kitchen. Arnie and Lane were already inside, sitting cross legged by the fireplace with steaming bowls in their laps.
   Rat and Billy dished themselves bowls of stew and settled down on the floor with the others. All were too busy eating to talk.
   Peter, tavern keeper and Master Sweep, came into the kitchen from the front room. He nodded to the boys, grabbed some large bottles off a shelf and hurried back to the bar.
   The boys liked Peter because he fed them well. But he was also prone to angry outbursts, and he was always so busy with the bar that he didn't spend much time with them. Orchestrating the activities of the chimney sweeps had fallen mostly to young Dusty, with Peter pocketing all the profit.
   Lane and Arnie were just scraping the last of their food into their mouths when the back door opened and Dusty came in. He sat down with the boys without getting a bowl of stew. "Dart ain't back yet." he stated.
   The boys paused, spoons halfway to their mouths. Then Arnie shrugged and said, "Dart's always late, he is. Like's to dig in the garbage bins to see what he can find. He'll be along soon, I say."
   Dusty shook his head. "He is normally the last one in, but he's never really late. I'm sure he'd usually be in by now."
   "He was coughin' hard this mornin', he was." Lane admitted, "I gave 'im a bit o' lard to grease his chest with."
   Dusty's eyes filled with worry.
   "Should I go a lookin' for 'im?" asked Rat. He was the best of the boys at sneaking about the city and staying out of trouble. The gentleman Billy saved him from earlier was a rare exception.
   With a nod from Dusty, Rat jumped up, the bowl of food and his hunger forgotten. As he slipped out the door he heard Billy say confidently, "Rat will find 'im." And Rat was confident that he would.
   Scampering up the water pipe to the roof top as easily as the rodent whose name he bore, he set off for Mr. Beckett's. Mr.Beckett was one of Dart's regulars clients and a good friend to all the boys. Rat wasn't sure that Dart would be there, but it was the first place he'd thought of.
   As silent and swift as a black cat, Rat reached Mr. Beckett's in a mere five minutes. The boy congratulated himself on his speed record, swung off the roof to the cobblestones, and knock respectfully at the front door.
   Mr. Beckett's doorman, Norton, opened the door wide. Then he did the same with his eyes. "Sorry, Boy. The chimney flues have all been done. A little late, you are."
   "Not here to do the chimneys, Norton." Rat explained, "I'm lookin' for Dart. Disappeared, he has. Dusty's wantin' me to find 'im."
   Norton shook his head. "Well, he ain't here. Sure, he did the chimneys for Mr. Beckett. But I saw him leave with me own eyes, I did. Went thata way," he pointed down the street, "a draggin' his chimney brush. Real sick, he looked. Begged me for a drink o' water 'fore he left. Havin' trouble breathin' seemed to me. He's disappeared, ya say?"
   Rat didn't wait to answer Norton, but swung back up to the roof and headed in the direction the doorman had pointed. Mr.Beckett's house was right on the edge of Peter's un-declared territory. The boys rarely went past this block and further into town.
   Moving as fast as he dared without loosing his balance, Rat's eyes scanned the terrain. He didn't know the area he was in now. He was more then a few blocks farther away then he'd ever been from Peter's Tavern.
   Suddenly one of the men in the street caught Rat's attention. It was the same gentleman who's wallet he'd taken! He was standing with another finely dressed man.
   Rat slowed. He didn't know why, but he wanted to know what the men was talking about. Silently, he crept closer, pulling his cap low so as not to be recognized should the men spot him.
   "It's a real shame, Horace." the other man was saying, "But it's not likely that you'll ever find the boy who did it."
   Horace shook his head, "I know, Terrance." He rubbed a hand over his face. "It isn't the money I'm upset about. It wasn't much anyway. I had some very important papers in that wallet." He looked up at Terrance and his eyes were full of pain, "I could lose everything if I can't find those papers."
   Terrance looked shocked. "Oh." he said, seeming to be at a loss for words. After a minute he said, "Perhaps you should come in, where we can talk." The two men went inside.
   Rat crept away from the edge, sat down and pulled out the leather wallet. He hadn't even looked in it since he'd taken it. Undoing the clasp he did so now. It contained several pieces of stiff paper held together with ribbon, and a handful of coins. That was all.
   The small amount of money was more than young Rat had ever seen. His still tender conscience pulled at him. Mr. Horace needed his wallet, and Rat was the one who'd taken it from him.
   Rat had taken many wallets and coins from strangers' pockets, but this was the first time that he had thought about the other's need for it.
   Rat fingered the coins. Should he return the wallet? But think of all that he could do with that money! Rat slowly closed the wallet and stuffed it back into his clothing. He needed it just as much as that man, Horace did.
   Like a frightened rabbit, Rat tried to get as far away as possible from Mr. Horace. He was getting farther and farther from Peter's tavern, but Rat didn't really care anymore. He could circle around and go back when he felt safer. Surely Dart hadn't wandered this far away.
   But as Rat leaped from one housetop to another he spotted a boy cowering in a corner. Dart! And he wasn't alone. Several larger boys were standing about him in a threatening manner.
   To be continued...someday. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Think On These Things

  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
   These verses, taken from Philippians, have been heavy on my heart recently. They said that if your thoughts are on good things then the God of peace would be with you. In the last few weeks I haven't felt close to God. I wondered why.
   I have recently downloaded over 100 country songs onto my laptop computer. And though I also had a large number of Christian songs, the country songs were what I listened to the most.
   Now the songs I listened to weren't exactly "Bad". They weren't about cheating or drinking or swearing. But they didn't lift me up or make me feel better when I listened to them. Actually, they made me feel dissatisfied with life. I wanted the romance and perfection that was in those songs.
   It was my mom who pointed out to me the pointlessness of the songs I was listening to. It was hard for me to take. At first I was angry. Then I was in denial. I didn't want to admit that the songs were ruining my peace. I liked them. They made me happy; or so I thought.
   Well, today I suddenly realized I didn't even want to listen to them anymore. And so I deleted over 100 songs off my laptop, keeping only songs about God, and three or four traditional songs. It was hard for me to do. Some of the songs I almost cried while I deleted them, they meant that much to me. But that's why they had to go. They meant more to me than my time with God.
   I am NOT judging those who do listen to country/world/pop etc. And I am not against listening to it every now and then. I'm just saying that it wasn't good for me and my relationship with God. It needed to go so I'd have room in my mind for God. I needed to think more on pure, just and honest things. Maybe you could call it a fast. 
   Are you feeling a distance between you and God? Is there something in your life that's distracting you? Just something to think on...
The God of peace be among you, Kimberly

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Disappear Into a Book

   It would be impossible for me to write a list of my favorite books because I love so many. So instead I've written a list of books I recommend you read. I will also include a portion of the story to perk your curiosity.

    The Light Across the River by Stephanie Reed 

   Father groaned. "So you helped you husband escape, you stole your baby away when you escaped, and now you want to liberate your daughter, who is with Mr. James-and Biggerman?"   
   "Oh, no, Beulah, she done got sold away from Mr.James after I helped George run off. Now she b'long to Mr.Adkins, over Germantown way. Leastways, last I heard."
   "That's small comfort. Biggerman won't have forgotten." Father's jaw twitched. "How many children does Beulah have?"
   "Five." Johnny saw Mother flinch. Eliza hurried to add, "This gentleman here, Gil, he gonna scout out where she is and bring her and all five o' her children over here, though. Me and the good Lord has got it all planned out."
   "Five! See here, far to many people know about you already, Eliza. Sam recognized you. If one of those children makes a peep and calls attention to us, it's over." Father shook his head.
   "You leave the children to me," she reassured Father. "Way I figure, only worry we have, 'sides Biggerman hisself, is that man that let me and Mose go, down yonder by the river."
   Johnny saw the memory of that night register. "Zeke Means," Father said weakly. "Zeke Means saw you, too. We have to hide you away this very night. Who else knows about you?"
   "No one."
   Let's keep it that way." He scanned the room. "No one else," he said, and his gaze lingered on Johnny the longest, "is to know about Eliza."
   Only Johnny knew that Father's warning was three years too late.

Second Watch by Karen Autio
    When the man stepped over the rail and jumped, I stared down at the river. It frothed with swimmers and debris. My knees trembled. The water was closer to us than the snow had been tp Papa and me, but still my head spun from the height.    
   A space appeared. Swallowing my fear, I breathed a quick prayer. "We have to go now-hold your breath."
   I grasped John's hand and we leaped together.
   When I hit the water my lifebelt thrust upward and struck my chin. The shock off the icy cold water wrenched John's hand away as we went under. Skin instantly chilled. Every nerve in my body protested.
   Holding my breath, I battled against panic. I tumbled every which way in the inky black water.
   Choking terror.

Shades of Grey by Carolyn Reeder
    He felt at ease with Aunt Ella and he guessed he'd learn to get along with Meg. Already they seemed like family, probably because they reminded him of Mama and Betsy. But he knew he would never feel comfortable around his uncle. Imagine the son of a Confederate cavalry officer having to accept charity from such a man! He'd be courteous, and he'd help out all he could to make up for being an extra mouth to feed. But he'd never call him Uncle Jed. Never!

    Bud and Me by Alta Abernathy
    "Don't push your horses." Dad said firmly, as we saddled up. Then he handed Bud a copy of the New Testament saying, "Bud, carry this with you, and above all, both of you say your prayers at night." In Unison, we both replied, "Yes, Sir!"    
   Bud carefully wrapped the New Testament in a silk handkerchief and put it in his saddle bag. At last, we spurred our horses and were off, on the first leg of our Great Adventure. We felt pretty big, riding away from the farm while our dad and our sisters-Kitty Joe, Johnnie, Goldie, and Pearlie-waved goodbye. Maybe having all those women around made us more eagerto seek out adventure, for Bud and I were always ready for a new one. We never thought about being afraid, but we often were tired, dirty and discouraged.

    Early Thunder by Jean Fritz
   "Here's Daniel West!" someone shouted. "Tory!"
   The chant was taken up by the others. "Tory! Tory!"
   Daniel's head was reeling and his mouth was dry. "I'm not a Tory," he said.
   "Not a Tory!" There was a sudden burst of laughter. Wild laughter mixed with jeers that grew louder and louder. Daniel couldn't see the faces, only the legs lighted up by lanterns on the ground. Legs that danced grotesquely and then suddenly stopped in a circle again.
   "You say you're with us?" a voice asked.
   Daniel swallowed. "I'm with you."
   "Anyone got that letter?"
   "Yea. I got it. Don't trust is out of my sight." There was a rattle of paper and a figure stooped over one of the lanterns and began reading. "May it please your Excellency," he said. It was the letter that Daniel and Beckett had written Governor Hutchison. The letter that Daniel had thought his stepmother had thrown away.

    Jip:His Story by Katherine Paterson
    "Strangers in town." Jip was waiting at the counter to pay for the staples Mrs. Lyman had sent him to buy. The speaker inclined his head slightly, and Jip followed the tilt down the length of the long counter.
   He had heard the old men at the farm tell tales of meeting their own ghost. That was the only way he could explain what had happened at that moment. As he turned his head to look down the counter, a tall, fair-headed man at the far end met his gaze-grey eyes meeting his dark ones. He knew that face-it was the same one that stared out at him every day from the wavy kitchen mirror.
  
   A Thousand Shall Fall by Bodie Thoene
   "Hey, how about I bet the kid? Anybody want a cute little kid? I'll see your five bucks and raise the kid. No kidding. Take him."
   Nervous laughter.
   "You've had to much to drink, Brian O'Halloran. Lay off it, will you?"
   "Raise your own kid, O'Halloran. Nobody else wants him."
   Brian boomed. "Nobody! So that's it. A bachelor again free as a bird, except I'm stuck with this kid."
   "Shut up. He'll hear you."
   "Nothin' he ain't heard before, I'll bet." said Mr.Ryan. Then chairs scraped back and the gamblers said they'd had enough cards for the night. Brian told them to stay-said he was just kidding, just trying to make the best of a rotten situation, blowing off a little steam. Didn't a man have the right to blow off a little steam, after all?
   The poker game was over, just the same. David was pleased that other people, grown up men, had gotten sick of Brian O'Halloran's big mouth. He delighted in Brian's misery as he heared the gin bottle clink against Brian's glass and he finished the bottle alone in the front room.
   Hope you enjoy!~Kimberly Elizabeth


Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Very Biggest Dream

   I don't want to go to college. I don't want a degree. I don't want a career. I don't want a fancy office job or lots of money. I don't want to be independent. 
   My very biggest dream is to be a stay-at-home mom to a bunch(at least 6) of children.
   My very biggest dream is to marry a God fearing man who will be my very best friend.
   My very biggest dream is to devote myself to my family and friends. To care for people. To love people.
   Someday, when I'm old and grey, people might look at me and say, "That lady has never travelled the world. She's never had a good job. She's never done anything for herself. She's never had a life!"
   But I'll know better. I'll know that I have had a life. I'll know there is nothing more rewarding, more satisfying, more meaningful, than a life led by God. A life full of my husband and kids, pushing them to be the people God wants them to be.
   Some people might say, "What do you mean? You can have a job and a family. Lots of woman do."
   But how can I devote myself to my husband and kids if half my attention is on my career?
   Some might find my dream weird, strange, boring, or even not worthy to be called a dream. But I don't care. It's my dream. My very biggest most longed for dream. Lord willing my dream will someday become reality.
   May all your dreams come true! ~Kimberly Elizabeth 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Campfires, Four-Wheelers, Puppies

   My earliest memory is from when we lived in a subdivision. I was around a year and a half. The neighbors had a dog chained in their back yard. It was barking at me, but I wasn't scared. I pressed my eye close to a crack in the fence to look at it, and I can still remember the smell of the warm wood.
   When I was around the same age I remember pulling handfuls of pea gravel toward me. It was warm, smooth and dusty. And then I felt guilty, as if I wasn't supposed to touch it.
   I remember playing with my brothers in our sandbox. It had just rained and the sand was wet. Mommy let me take a doll out to play with. It had dark skin and wore a pale blue dress. Someone had chewed off its fingers, but I thought it was just beautiful. But while in the sandbox I tripped and dropped her. The wet sand stuck to her, and I couldn't get it out of her eyes. I ran to the house to show Mommy.
   I remember it snowing. The ground wasn't even completely white yet but I wanted to go play in it. Daddy came out with me. I told him I wanted to make a snow bunny family. So we did. I remember they had pinecones for ears. I thought Daddy was so clever.
   I remember leaning on the window seal and watching a mole make a dirt hill in the yard. It was fascinating. But when I ran out the front door to catch the mole he disappeared.
   I remember riding "horsie" on Daddy's back with my brother. We tried to hold on tight, but we laughed so hard we tumbled off anyway.
   I remember having the flu. I told Mommy I was scared I was going to puke again. She held me and rocked me to sleep. I dreamed that my stuffed dog, snowball, was real and was playing in a water sprinkler with me. Then I woke up and told Mommy about it.
   I remember sitting in church with my head resting on Daddy's or Mommy's lap. I could see my cousins sitting in the bench in front of us. I knew more were sitting behind us, and I felt so secure.
   I remember Grandma taking me shopping. She bought me a blue shirt with a puppy on it. She tried to buy me some pants, but couldn't find any my size. I remember her holding a pair up to me and saying, "I don't know, your so tiny." Then she took me to Burgerville and got me a Kids Meal with radish seeds and a little red shovel. I planted those seeds beside our barn, and they grew! I was so happy when I pulled the green leaves out of the ground and found red balls hanging from the ends. I remember how excited Mommy was for me as she put them on the kitchen window seal. I can still remember what they tasted like, though I don't actually remember eating them.
   I remember Grandpa serving up chocolate ice cream. He asked me which dish I wanted, and I suddenly realized I was still clutching in my dirty hands the Barbie plate I'd been playing with outside. I held it out and said, "This one!" and he said, "Well, we have to wash it first." He carefully washed and dried it for me. I now own that plate. It's in my hope chest.
   I remember riding on one of my uncles shoulders at the Lilac Gardens. I felt so high up, but wasn't at all scared of falling.
   I remember The Ranch. It would take a whole blog post to describe it. Four wheelers, kick the can, sleeping bags, and playing house in the barn. I fell asleep to the sound off the big kids riding four wheelers, and laughing as they roasted marshmallows around the fire in the yard. Everything was happy, cozy and safe.
   I remember going to a strangers house to choose a puppy. Mom said I could choose. I sat on the floor and one of them climbed into my lap and began to lick me all over. I wrapped my arms around it and cried, "This one! I want this one!" I didn't even look at the others. We named him Shadow. I loved him and he followed my brothers and me everywhere.
   Years of memories of playing with cousins. So many fun times we have had. It makes me sad to think that we can never go back. But, of course, we can always look forward to the future .
   Well, those are a few of my memories.