About Me

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I write and live with my beautiful wife, Sandra, and sons (Solstice, Finnegan and Brahms) in a little-big house on a dirt road in a valley in the hills. My secret identity struggles through the grind of teaching high school English to the denizens of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back from Vacationland

Well, I got my welcome back letter from the school. I had to take deep breaths from the inevitable anxiety that produces in me. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot about my teaching job, but... I have fallen in love with the summer and the writing time it has afforded me. Next week, I have to put my long pants on again and start planning curriculum. I am not a multi-tasker and the job requires a lot of it. Stephen King once said (I think) that a week of teaching made him feel like his head had been in a wine (cider?) press. I know what he means. It will be hard to keep up with all the writing I hope to do during the year, while continuing to raise my five hellions. I think, though, I have a new motivation with the oncoming publication and will look forward to the day, perhaps, I can stay home, and make believe all day long.

Speaking of Stephen King, I just got back from a vacation in his home state, white water rafting, camping, and beach bumming. I have to say, there were plenty of seeds planted for future stories.

The first thing I noticed was the proximity story. A proximity story begins because two random things are in unexpected proximity. Let me give you an example:

A number of years ago, my wife and I were driving through St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and were stopped in front of the South Congregational Church. The Church does a great job providing community lunches in our broken down little town. It just so happened there was a funeral held that day in the church. Out front, a long black hearse was parked, the back door open, presumably, the deceased occupant just having been unloaded into the church for the ceremony. Right in front of the open door, the folding placard sign had been placed stating:
Today! Free Community Lunch! All Welcome!

You can imagine the possiblities. We took pictures in this time before digital, and we have them some where. When I dig them up, I'll post them. Yes, my wife and I are a bit deranged, but we are never bored.

The proximity stories we found involved business establishments. On an abandoned stretch of road sat an old roadside motel with the sign in front saying: Whispering Pines Motel. First off the site of the old place was spooky, but the name, well it just sounds like the backdrop for any number of psycho remakes. But, right next door, was an establishment called: Speedy Cleaners. You wonder how often the management of the Whispering Pines called on their neighbors...

The second was in a little town, with the spooky name like Solon, or Canaan. On a rise of land stood The Church of the Harvest. Right next door was Schneely's Quality Meats, with a smiling red neck painted on the sign. I think I need to say no more.

We stayed in The Forks (you heard me), and rafted the Kennebec. The twins were too young to travel the first, most rapid, part of the river, so I stayed behind with them. Where we waited to board the raft, was a cliff. No fence, just a log to sit on overlooking a eighty or so drop down to the raging river. I watched with dismay as my children and another youngster threw rocks down and skirted death during the long hot wait. Finally, a big bellied bearded man who works for the area came down and warned us that a boy had plummeted half way down and got snagged in a bunch of bushes. Oh, and let me not forget the bed of rocks where snakes twined and sunned themselves.

We stayed in cabin tents in the woods near the river. At night, after a long day on the river, we were all sleeping. I woke up to find a stranger standing over my bed asking me if we were squatting, for he had rented these cabins. It turned out he had the wrong campground, but it was enough for me to get my heart racing, and I'll have to admit, afterward I threw up in my own mouth. Let's just say, Maine never fails to provide excitement.

We even got to the beach, went to a picturesque Popham beach. I walked a quickly dissapearing sand bar to a rough island of rock and looked out over the Atlantic. Mist shrouded the light house and everything. We didn't see any of Dagon's people, swimming in the brine, but there was a proliferation of ungodly radioactive green horse flies (the biggest I ever saw). We all look like we have chicken pox now. The locals told us that all the rain was the cause, and they had never seen a year like it.

Finally, we drove home on 302 through Fryeburg. We passed Lowell, where Stephen King has a camp and was struck by a mini-van. My uncle lives in Fryeburg and has had lunch with Stephen King a couple of times. It isn't much, but, as a fan, it is the corner of King's world I own, so i'll keep it. Finally, I arrived home, tired, and wondering if I had time to crank out one more spooky tale before putting on the long pants once more. We'll see...

TL Barrett

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