A Spiritual Goose

I stepped out on the front porch this morning and heard a wonderful sound. A flock of Flying GooseCanada geese, flying in formation, called out as they passed over my humble Northern-Arizona long-house. I smiled of course. I am always touched and uplifted by wildlife. Somehow they give me hope that the beauty of mother nature will endure beyond mankind’s greed and violence.

I was reminded of an experience five, six years ago about this time of year when I was worried about finances and any number of things. I was driving my vintage Chevy short-bed pickup out the dirt road from Apache Wells to the highway on my way to work. Another Canada flock, maybe some of the recent flock’s relatives, were flying unusually low in the same direction I was driving.

As I took a bend in the washed out rocky road, our paths became much closer and parallel. For that relatively smooth stretch of road we kept pace with each other. I had my window down and leaned my head out to feel wind in my face like a blissful hound dog.  To me, it seemed their honking was just for my benefit. I looked the leader in the eye, and I am sure they were urging me to fly on faithfully into the future.

I also remember a goose encounter in the middle of one of my high school football games. We were under the lights on a near-freezing Friday night and getting ready on defense for our opponent’s next play. That was when my dear friend and team captain for that game, Jim The Hangman, called for the team’s attention. As ten of us all turned in unison and looked, we saw Hangman’s arm in the air and his finger pointed to the sky. The moment freeze-framed for me. The steam from our hard breathing poured through our face masks as we all looked to the night sky on cue. Perhaps the crowd thought we were praying.

The honking was distinct, and our entire team smiled as we recognized what it was. Then us tough guys all laughed at realizing what we were simultaneously sharing in the middle of that game. For that precious moment, we were all country boys tickled by mother nature and our own teenage comaraderie.

Good goose memories.

So today, in spite of all national economic indicators, in spite of all the horrendous world-wide challenges, I have just a bit more optimism and wonder for the days ahead, and I would like to pass some of that along to others.

Let us marvel in a wildlife moment together.Canada goose close up

Here is a little spiritual goose for you.

Honk, honk, honk, honk, . . honk!.
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Respectfully,

Jeffery Kirkendall

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Click here to view some more magical wildlife moments.

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Co-Authoring Adventures

Hello. My name is Jeff. I am a recovering writer. I can’t help myself. I just have to write

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

things that I want to remember. Mostly I want to remember the stories. I want to remember what I learned, the people I met, the unusual experiences, and how it all unfolded.

I am regularly amazed and grateful for my life adventures.   I am rich with memories.

Talking about my late wife Carol at the Peregrine Book Company was fantastic. It was like bearing witness, or describing a rare and beautiful phenomenon in nature, or giving a toast to her in front of my peers.

Let me back up.

I belong to the Professional Writers of Prescott. It is an organization and a monthly meeting of local authors, writers, poets, readers, all getting together to share our crafts, learn from each other, and hopefully inspiring one another to keep writing and sending out our messages in a bottle.

Five of us were at the Peregrine Book Company in Prescott Arizona to tell about our Co-authoring Adventures.

Carole Bolinski, who brought us co-authors together, told the audience of her experiences sharing with her brother. Their book of poetry is titled Pearls Beneath The Rind. Bill Lynam told of him and his brother bicycling and mopedding across Europe a decade after World War II. They also “footloosed” their way through South America and back across the United States. His book is Footloose Pilgrims. Connie Johnson engagingly told the story of her and her sister’s collaboration on their book Farm Kids, A 1950’s Wisconsin Memior

Herbert Windolf recalled his precious long-distance relationship with a German woman, whose poetry he translated into English. Herb, an accomplished poet himself, dazzled us all by reading a poem in German and then the same poem in English. His book is The Year Mirrored in Poems.

It was marvelous experience collaborating with these writers, these kindred spirits, holy scribes, keepers of ancient traditions. I had a nice laugh with the audience when I finished my presentation by explaining that I was going to convince my colleagues Carole, Connie, Herb, and Bill to join forces, rent a van, and go on a national book tour of our own.

I know it doesn’t sound that funny the way I describe it now, but it really was cute and everyone in the audience laughed.  As a storyteller and teacher and entertainer long ago, it felt great to be back.

I spoke of my experiences co-authoring the book  Without Consent: How to Overcome Childhood Sexual Abuse with my late wife Carol Jarvis-Kirkendall.  I explained how our writing together was a big part of my decision to marry her. We were great together saving families. easing suffering, and sometimes helping send bad guys to prison. She had my back, and I had hers, and sometimes when people are really good together, one plus one can equal three. Our work has been a healing influence in thousands of lives.

I read my popular story Marriage Decision Vision. (Click here).  I explained that I made a promise to Carol early in our relationship that when she left this world, I would be holding her in my arms. She would know that she was safe and loved and had lived a good life. I told my listeners that I kept my word and that was just how Carol passed.

I thanked everyone there for coming. I thanked Susan Lang for the pleasure of speaking at the Peregrine Book Company. I explained that if anyone in the audience would like to know more about the child on the cover of Without Consent, they needed to read my Indians & Aliens – and unexpected short stories.

I further explained that if they bought both my books that day, I would ride home with them, do a dramatic reading, and stay for dinner.

They laughed. I laughed.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Met a lot of nice people.

So thank you writers,

and thank you readers.

It was a great day.

 

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Co-authoring Adventures

ANNOUNCINGAuthor photos and more 016

2 pm / Saturday,

January 31st, 2015

Jeffery Kirkendall will speak

at the Peregrine Book Company

In Prescott, Arizona

 

Five writers present their adventures collaborating with a spouse, friend or sibling.  Hear the struggles, conflicts and laughter that each writer experience on the journey to complete a book.  One has to do with developing a transatlantic friendship.  Another is a coming of age experience.

The other authors share about soul-mates finding one another and sibling harmony.  These story tellers reveal how in co-authorship their stories and poetry exceeded what one could have accomplished alone

TO LEARN MORE CLICK HERE.

 

Jamming with Chet Atkins

(excerpt from upcoming novel Grace and Dreamer by Jeffery Kirkendall,  — also author of Without Consent and Indians & Aliens)

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Jack and his grandson Joshua jammed with Chet Atkins in Nashville. It was on the grassy

The Man

The Man

banks of what migrating Europeans named the Cumberland River. It was near a place where, in ancient times, herds of bison congregated to replenish themselves at a salt-lick. It was near a village that was the birthplace of the mother of the Shawnee prophet Tecumseh.

Near that same place, on that same river, over two centuries later, just down the asphalt street from the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry, guitar worshipers gathered en-mass at Riverfront Park, in tribes one might say.

At that time in their life, Jack and Grace lived on the edge of a small Tennessee town with two stop-signs and a broken traffic signal. Lightning killed the traffic signal. No one complained or missed it, and it was never repaired.

During those eight years, Jack worked his job during the day and evenings and wrote songs late at night, in the middle of the night, and on weekends before dawn. Some of Jack’s songs seemed important, and provocative to Grace and their family and friends, but the established music community judged them “non-commercial,” or “not exactly what we’re looking for right now.”

Jack and Grace had a single-wide Jack’s family helped them buy. It was on two acres and surrounded by forest on three sides. There was a spring on the hill out back, and it fed a stream that went for miles winding through dense forest and sparse habitation.

Over the ensuing years, Jack and Grace often reflected on their life in Tennessee. As they looked back from old age, it was clear to them that those times and those places were sacred in significance.

The greatest joy of Jack and Grace’s time in those guitar years was when school let out, and Joshua came to visit for his summer vacation. He was a boy, longing to be a teenager, and his grandparents took him fishing, canoeing, visiting friends, to county fairs, and Civil War battlefields.

Joshua loved their English Tick Hound named Shiloh. Joshua loved riding his Uncle Redhorse’s horse, and teasing his Aunt Fawn. Joshua held in reverence the backgammon board his uncle gave him and the stones of the medicine wheel his Grandpa Jack had taught him to use.

During their Tennessee summers, the family food supply was abundant with red ripe Ripley tomatoes, deep green sweetly-red “black-diamond” watermelons, and buttered ears of corn as fine as frog hair. An old farmer friend sold freshly-slaughtered and barbequed chickens. Heavenly meals my friends. Heavenly meals.

It was warm, but not muggy. A light breeze. Jack picked up Joshua from the Nashville airport and explained they were going to the river. Josh thought it sounded great. That’s how they came to be walking a Nashville alley towards River Front Park, a buzzing bee-hive, river-bank crowd of string musicians of every faith, little faith, and no faith at all.

Josh whispered to Grandpa Jack that they were either hundreds of guitar players or hundreds of gangsters. He pointed out that everybody carried a dark case which could conceal a weapon. A coincidence I am sure, but after college, Joshua entered the police academy.

Men and women, young and old and in between, of every color and race, of every degree of musical proficiency, and a few eccentric souls strumming tunes which existed only in their unique musician minds.

On that historic afternoon, maybe a thousand guitar pickers gathered to play one song baby! . . “Heartbreak Hotel,” with the man who did the original guitar work for Elvis himself.

The jam would last an hour-and-a-half, and make Nashville the world record holder for the greatest number of guitars playing one song for the longest period of time.

Jack and Joshua were there with Jack’s two guitars. He had a classically-aged and country-played Martin D-28 that Bob Dylan would envy. Joshua played Jack’s back-up, a respectable knock-off of a Martin. Chet played a Gretsch 6120, but Jack knew Chet would approve of his Martin, just as Stradivarius would approve of Steinway.

The hillside was, as Julie Andrews might have sung, “alive with the sound of music.” Highly-regarded musical artists took turns walking out onto the floating stage on that Cumberland River. Each led the guitar-worshipers on the hill rising up before them.

Somewhere late in that sustained joyful sound, the man himself, Chet Atkins, took the stage and played as only a spiritual master and musical devotee’ could play. Jack strummed and watched and listened to Chet and remembered hearing Mr. Atkins on the radio and phonograph records when he was a boy. He was awed by the virtuoso’s talent.

Jack’s father was a gifted musician, and Jack loved guitars. As he listened to Chet Atkins play that day, it sounded of effortless beauty and fingers that live for the soul. At Joshua’s age, Jack had fantasies of playing the guitar in such a fashion. But while Jack had the passion and imagination, he did not have the gifts for playing at such a level.

That day it did not matter. That day, Jack had the gift of a guitar jam with his grandson Joshua and the legendary Chet Atkins. Somehow, somewhere, some decades back, he must have dreamed this scene, because it felt like some mysterious circle, he could never have before imagined, was complete.

Jack looked at Joshua, and Josh looked back questioningly.

“You having a good time?” Grandpa Jack asked.

Joshua smiled and said he was.

“Me too.” Jack replied and then continued in his most respectful Elvis voice,

Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell,

down at the end of Lonely Street, at the Heartbreak Hotel.

I’m so lonely baby, I’m so lonely, . . I could cry.

Author Jeffery Kirkendall

Author Jeffery Kirkendall

Joshua joined in.

So did Chet.

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Hear Heartbreak Hotel solo guitar by Chet Atkins

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I Grew a Garden

In memory of Carol Jarvis-Kirkendall       April 28, 1937  –  November 20, 2013

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I grew a garden this past year.

It was a first of a lifetime.

Never done this before. Never grew flowers. Never grew anything edible. Never understood how Carol could get so enthralled working her hands in damp earth. Never had that desire myself. Never expected I would.

Didn’t need it. Was doin’ fine without it. I mean “What’s in a flower?” You can buy it all at the grocery store or find a farmer. There’s no profit in a garden.

But she taught me to be open to new experiences.

So in honor of Carol Ann, the woman who inspired so many memorable firsts in my life. . .

and with some help in getting started,

I grew and tended my garden.

It was earth hand-tilled by Carol in the weeks before she passed. She used to sit out there on a cushion using her little hand-spade, digging up weeds and tossing them aside, picking stones and placing them where she thought they ought to be.

She took off her gloves to knead the earth with her fingers. She had hands-full of love for all of life. She tended her gardens with a quiet feminine reverence. She said her gardens loved her back.

Gardens can love you back? I know you men are thinking I am over the edge, but hear me out.

I tended my garden as Carol would have. It was not long before I began to have moments of insight. Like little pieces of a spiritual puzzle, the vision became more clear over the passing year.

I called it a memorial garden. When I tended it, I talked to Carol as she sat in her rocker watching and listening to me. She used to ask me to tell her a story. So I told stories and told her how much I miss her.  I told her how grateful I was that I learned so much from loving her for twenty-eight years.

Well here’s the the thing that really surprised me. I mean knocked my socks off

All this stuff bloomed!October 2014 003

Carol’s Memorial Garden grew sunflowers and snow peas right off the bat.   Ate a lot of peas.  Zinnias took over one side and seemed to just go on forever blooming. Then some weird green thing grew five feet tall, and overnight, burst out with a flower like I have never seen before, and then popped out with eight more, all of them bobbing in the breezes, happy as clams at high-tide. Call them Cosmos.  Turns out both flowers are related to the daisy.

All through those bloomings, down on the ground a vine was growing and stunning me with ongoing hand-sized yellow/orange blossoms.  As it got cooler at the end of the season, I finally harvested two pumpkins for pies

I put a lot of love and reverence into the garden like Carol would have. It was a great experience.  I love the fact that I am still inspired by her influences.

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Of course, autumn had to show up. The food and flowers dried up brown, dead and gone. One year after my beloved’s passing. my garden’s beauty faded and is blowing away with the cold winds.

But check this out. I have placed seeds in envelopes for next year. I am preparing for spring.  She would be proud.  She’s probably chuckling right now.

And yeah, the garden loved me back.

Her Chair

Her Chair

No doubt about it.

Check out the sunflowers.

Weren’t they grand!

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Marriage-Decision-Vision

(excerpt from the forthcoming novel Grace and Dreamer by Jeffery Kirkendall)

Jack was considering asking Grace to marry him.

Photo by Winged Photography

Photo by Winged Photography

During this time of great contemplation, he was driving his truck to the cabin he and Grace were staying in for a couple of weeks of writing. On a little-traveled two-lane blacktop, among the springtime Ponderosa pines, he was startled by a large hawk flying dangerously close in front of him. He put the brakes on and watched as the bird soared up onto a nearby hill and landed at the top of a bare dead tree.

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Jack pulled off the road, and stopped. The hawk was beckoning to him. He deftly eased out of the truck, walked over and slipped through a fence, and then he strode towards the crest of the hill and the old tree and the great bird. As he came close to the bird’s perch, his winged brother tilted his head for a last look, nodded, and lifted off to the east.

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Jack stood still in the light breeze and scanned the valley below, much as the winged one had appeared to do. Then before him he noticed a distinct depression in the earth. It was long and narrow and strangely looked just the size for a human to lay in. Jack had read of an Indian that went on a vision quest, fasting for days while lying in just such a hole on top of a hill. So Jack laid down in the earth.

As he laid there and looked about, he thought the soft natural bed was deliberately located on the hill so that someone lying in it was positioned in an offertory fashion before the sky above and earth below.  So he closed his eyes and opened himself up to a prayer, asking God to guide him in his important life decision.

He was suddenly taken with the image and sense of an old man standing still before him, a man who appeared peaceful and carried a staff. He looked at Jack until Jack realized he had just asked in his prayer, “Should I marry Grace?”  The old man had come with lightning  response.

The old man made a slight gesture with his staff, and Jack had an amazing vision of many attractive and sensual women surrounding him in a public venue.  They showered him with attention and adulation for his many worldly accomplishments. Jack felt some of the  sensations of that vision as it lingered, and then instantly it was gone.

Before him again was the old man. Jack understood him to say. . .

or you can marry this woman and live a life of greatness.

The vision vanished.  The gentle sounds of the birds in the meadow returned.
Alone on the hill, lying in the grass and sunshine and a gentle breeze, Jack sat up and looked across the valley.

He knew . . .

It was true.

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The Grateful Living

You know who you are.

Her Chair

Her Chair

Over the years you all made it possible for us to have a home. You provided honest work and fair pay. You helped me warm our mobile through the winter nights and cool it through the summer days. We had adequate food and clothing. Our animal companions were cared for.

You cut and carried firewood, cleaned our home, care-taked, replaced roofing, repaired vehicles, loaned equipment, made donations, provided transportation, and took risks.

You spoke up, reached out, reached in your pockets, made time, made loans, respected, trusted, prayed from many faiths, encouraged, and shared your talents and resources.

You were with us through twenty-five years of medical appointments, expenses, hospitalizations, chronic pain and suffering, life-threatening events, ambulance rides, and finally my beloved Carol’s beautiful passing last fall.

You have given me countless gifts of worldly and other-worldly value.

You held me when I wept in sorrow and joined me in tears of joy.

I am humbled.

I am blessed.

I sing, hike, laugh, and love where I can.

I continue my sacred work.

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For all of this,

I thank all of you.

The Grateful Living,

Jeffery