Signs of the Times

File this under “Politics.”

Not the national one.

The fun one.

There’s a nearby business/industrial property situated on a corner where a yellowish brick warehouse sits about 100 yards back from passing traffic that’s chock full of tractor trailers, commuters and vans and SUVs full of softball moms and all their gear.

A single macadam entrance to its loading dock that is narrowed by a rolling, chain link fence gate and concrete barriers remains visibly unvisited by day. But at the end of each day the gate with its single, rusted, NO TRESPASSING sign rolls closed for the night. Alien-esque, sometime before the next dawn, it reopens but no matter how early you pass by, the gate is already open once again.

The front and one side of the building’s frontage otherwise devoid of landscaping consists of a grass lawn that’s home to one modern metal sculpture and a tree or two. It dips into a hollow leading to a long-abandoned front office entrance. There, a tiny, lineless paved lot looks like it once served the company president, staff and visitors (but not the peons). The entire building rear and opposite side hides behind a railroad track embankment and a fenced in lot full of nondescript storage trailers.

The few windows in front reveal nothing about its contents save for a tiny, dilapidated wooden sign, peeling with age. Some of the stick-on black letters have peeled off leaving silhouettes announcing the company name: So and So Imports.

In the past, Stick Chick occasionally noted NO TRESPASSING signs on the lawn but not much else, and certainly not the number of notices that passersby could have placed announcing everything from nearby homes for sale to political rants, lost pets or yard sale ads.

Stick Chick has always maintained that the place must be a front for a clandestine government operation or more nefarious pursuits. Never would you see people bustling about and only once or twice in two decades of passing by on a regular basis did she ever see a vehicle coming or going from that skinny side entrance.

Most recently, and more ironically, facing each of the two roads that meet at the corner, someone unseen, placed a big yellow sign with red stencil-painted letters announcing NO SIGNS ON YARD.

Stick Chick laughed aloud the first time she saw them, imagining the poor bastard assigned to paint and plant the signs announcing no signs.

Some soul with a deeper sense of irony and humor than she recently planted a new accompanying sign. If you are driving and pass by quickly, you might miss it. But just the other day, Stick Chick turned the corner with v2.0 in the passenger seat who erupted with a fit of giggles that lasted a good half mile.

Neil Patrick Harris and the writers of How I Met Your Mother would be proud to know that Barney Stinson’s oft delivered line has made it into the common vernacular.

No Signs

Kudos to the maker of the renegade sign, and the local who took this photo and posted it on Facebook. Stick Chick would be pleased to give proper credit on that one.

Tea Room Memories

Like Polaroid snapshots dropped one by one on a table, new memories replace the former. The static, scratchy broadcast of a cheap FM radio which sits high on a shelf behind the ice cream counter adds to the evening din; made worse by the surrounding mountain peaks that bounce the signal. The weak antenna draws intermittent snips, broken pieces of Bennie and the Jets and Love me Like a Rock, but even then, only if the weather is clear and still.

The slam of a screen door and footfalls on the wooden floor in the stagnant summer air evoke visions of a Tea Room where no one drinks tea. A single oscillating fan aided by two ineffective paddle fans force air movement. Vacationers gather to eat sundaes, play checkers or assemble puzzles together.

The adults tap bragging rights, sharing the year’s accomplishments of their children. “Bradley got straight A’s again this year. He won the spelling bee, he’s captain of the championship baseball team, still sings in the choir at church, and since he’s going into sixth grade this year, he’s a shoo-in for the lead in the winter play.  How’s Gregory doing?”

In hushed tones they share gossip. “Did you hear about how that Nick got Susan Wilson—preg.”

“Shush. His mother is coming in just now.”

Occasional titters punctuated with sudden blasts of uncontrolled laughter suggest shared off-color jokes. “Maybe you kids ought to go play shuffleboard for a while.”

The children finish their sundaes and rush outside to the shed beside the courts to turn on the lights and reach through cobwebs for poles and discs, vying for red sticking the opponent with dull black. The buzzing white lights draw swarms of gnats that dip and sway occasionally bombarding eyes of the competitors.

Later, gentle commands float on the humidity from the edges of the yard beside the Tea Room. “Fifteen more minutes. Last game! Remember to put the poles and discs back in the shed.”

Then, “Turn off the lights now. Grab your flashlights. Let’s go.”

Together they plod along the path that leads into the mountain dark back to the cabin.

 

Mind Reader

Prompt: If you had the power to read minds for one day before you went crazy from all the chatter, how would you use your mind-reading powers for good?

Days pass when the chatter of people carrying on inane conversations make me want to flip the off switch.

The 24/7 technological connectedness amplifies this condition and I imagine that reading minds would be yet a further amplification.  Except that while so-called “good” thoughts would be added to the mix, so too would the lies, the untruths and harsh realities.

I admit this would require growing an extra layer (or layers) of my already thick skin as a buffer against vitriol. However, I prefer to think I’d  take the high road as a clairvoyant and offer advice to those with negative proclivities.

photo courtesy: Huffington Post
photo courtesy: Huffington Post

People, in my experience, can often be their own worst critics. I imagine someone with plenty of talent but low on self-esteem pondering thoughts like: “I’ll never be good enough to make a living as an artist (or baker, or chauffeur, or deputy sheriff…)”

I’d inquire first as to the source of this belief. I have found that with reasonably regular frequency, when questioned on nearly any topic about why they believe what they believe, people come to realize that their basis is neither logical nor sound.  It’s as if they formed an opinion early in the thought process either because someone  told them things are a certain way, or they alone came to a quick conclusion without doing real research.

Can I be an artist? Who am I comparing myself to? Why am I comparing myself to them? Do I need formalized education to achieve my goal? What skills do I possess that can help me? What or who stands in my way? How do I want to live? Am I high maintenance? Do I live in an area where I can be successful? Does geography matter? Am I a night owl or an early bird? How does that affect my ability to become who I want to be? Who can help me?

Reading another’s mind, catching and pointing out the negative and analyzing those thoughts by asking a myriad of questions can easily clear a path to the positive.  If I could read people’s minds and help them improve upon themselves, I’d consider that as “using my powers for good.”

I know what you’re thinking…

Earliest Memory

What’s your earliest memory? Dig deep. Maybe you cannot.

Sounds (music in particular), scents or tactile encounters sometimes trigger memories long since squirreled away of places or events. Browsing a flea market, I leaned in to look closely at an old pram. A whiff brought this memory from my infancy or earliest toddlerhood. I can be sure of my age because the pram in our family could only have held a child not much more than a year old due to its relative size.

photo courtesy: Pretty Willow Prop Hire
photo courtesy: Pretty Willow Prop Hire

The scent of white plastic and age drifts in the summer air unleashing a rush of pictures.

I lie on my back inside my pram looking upwards, its half shield shading my blue eyes from the bright sunshine. The thin mattress and squeaky metal springs that support the frame beneath me cushion the ride. I reach a hand to touch the white mosquito netting that protects me from insects and makes me feel safe. My eyelids fight to stay open, but the motion relaxes me.

While only fleeting, the memory remains steadfast—resurrected from the archives if only for a moment.