Archive for the Duke's Stories Category

D.R.E.A.M. Big Kid Coloring Book

Posted in art, Duke's Stories with tags on August 19, 2016 by dukex

Cover book cover back Colored art 1


Trinkets, Stones and Bones

Posted in Duke's Stories, poems with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2015 by dukex

What is the value of a dirty Cat-eye marble or a half melted toy army man? If you think Zero$$$ you could be right. Unless of course these items had a story projected on them by the one who possesses them. Their value may increase depending on where they are found or who owned them in the past. There is no shortage of trinkets, stones or bones so they can’t be more valued because of their rarity. Yet as family and friends we are compelled to collect such items and  pile them in delicate and loving arraignments along road-sides across America.

When I was walking in the early spring I came across this  sacred monument and was moved by its simple reverence.

074A sad memorial to the loss of children along the shore-line at the mouth of the Columbia river.


078Faces of toys and trusted friends that in the past had a comforting smile stitched on them, now were faded and drawn down by years of rain.  To me these object represented extreme expense and were placed here by broken hearts and trembling hands. Here lies what was once a Dollar store toy to help a restless child make it to the next stop on a day of errands now stands guard over a Geo-location that staged an event which, for someone, changed the world.

I’ve been paying more attention to such places lately and now see them more often.  Many are just a blur on the side of the road  where they denote a spot where at once, time stood still and trails ended. Some are kept fresh like a celebrity grave-site and others fade rapidly. Few grow and expand into more.044While I was speeding along traveling for an out-of-town job, something caught my eye. Brakes were activated and some gravel did spray. Looking out my window I could see what looked like a parade of colorful flags blowing back and forth, waving me to come closer. When my feet hit the gravel I noticed some coins mixed in and reached down to collect them, thinking it was my lucky day,  I poked the coins into my pocket with my other change. I then climbed the small grade through the scrub brush and empty beer bottles.045I was halted at the gate by a centennial that look me up and down before my entrance was granted. I was thrilled with its many trinkets and I started to see things that to someone, were once objects of great personal value.

048Somehow this seemed to be more than a one-time memorial. This area is part of the great Yakima Nation. But now suffers the installment of a paved highway and speed limit signs that stoically holler their commands. 055

001I’m not sure how much time I stood there and gazed at all the trinkets, stones and bones?  I did notice more coins on the ground and as I bent to pick them up something spoke to my soul. I realized this is not a place where one comes and takes things, no it’s a place where things must be brought and left. I was genuinely moved and before I slipped through the barbed wire I reached into my pocket and pulled out all the money I had and tossed it back. In doing so I felt I had added to the validity of the place and moment. I hope this is more than a Native American marker and now belongs to all who seek it’s offerings. I considered asking the local people  what this place is about, but I don’t think I really want to. I know what it means to me and think of it often, imagining fanciful reasons that had led to its establishment.

Today I was reminded of this place again. It happened when I was traveling through my old home town, The Dalles Oregon. When passing, I often like to drive through my old neighborhood. This time I had remembered that my brother Darrel suggested I stop and visit our old family friend and babysitter. Her name is Francis Lee and she had two boys. Bobby and Jimmy Lee. Jimmy Lee was Darrel’s best friend when we still lived there. Bobby and Jimmy both died way to young (Jimmy at age 19 passed due to complications of  Muscular Dystrophy). Francis is a longtime widow and still lives in the same home.  Because of Muscular Dystrophy Jimmy wore leg braces for a time and then was bound to a wheelchair. As kids we would take Jimmy into the back lot and spend hours setting up toy army men and wage battles with the carpenter ants as if they were an alien race from outer space.

Visiting was pleasant and I asked her about her new kitchen and if the laundry room was still downstairs. She said yes and joked about how she throws the dirty clothes down to the bottom of the stairs, when the pile builds up to a load she goes down and picks them up to be washed. She told me how she has a garden now in the back lot and she spends a good deal of time there during the growing season, and then she said something that pulled at my heart and clarified my thoughts on how seemingly unimportant objects can be a marker for the life of a loved one.

She said,”Every so often when I’m out in the garden turning the soil…  …a marble or an army man will pop up.”

Once cheep toys to be trodden under foot, now trinkets of peace and comfort.

I didn’t ask to see the jar of her precious trinkets, but I knew she had it…

We hugged and I took her picture.    Francis

Coming Soon:  “The Tree of Dash”


On Your Knees

Posted in art, Cooking Tips, Duke's Stories, Duke's Cooking Stories, Duke's Recipes, Handyman Tips, Kitchen Shop Tools, poems with tags , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by dukex

Cookies and Milk

I am a Christmas Clam… Are you one too?

Posted in Duke's Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by dukex

I guess It’s no great revelation when I say the reason most Bloggers blog is because we really want to know if there are more people out there in the world that are just like us. Many blogs follow popular hobbies, sports, politics, and entertainment including an endless list of topics. The people who pen the most popular blogs do; in my opinion, not need the social affirmation that the small blogger like myself seek. Blogs can sell, persuade and convert. Bloggers can induce anger, sympathy and send a readers endorphin glands into a tailspin. Today I just want to know; is there anyone who thinks like me?

In my everyday life, I find many things in common with my work mates and neighbors. I did find one difference. The difference is that I love Christmas Music. I mean I really, really love it. I can fool around in my studio all day long, listening to those familiar carols, and be as happy as a Christmas Clam. Not the clam in the dip at the party table, but a Grandpa clam under the sand at the beach, with it’s family gathered around the Christmas tree with a roaring fire and Christmas music on the Ipod dock.

The other day at work, I started to sing “Silver Bells” and was quickly shut down by a fellow worker. “Oh man; he said don’t start with the Christmas music, I can’t take it”.

In the first part of November, I was driving back home to Battle Ground WA from a job in Spokane WA. (About a six hour drive) While scanning the local radio stations I was thrilled to find an all Christmas Music format. It truly made a portion of my lonely drive pleasant and reflective.

Because of so many family parties to satisfy at Thanksgiving this year, we had a complete Thanksgiving dinner at our home on Saturday; the week after. We called it “Thanksmas”. We also got our Christmas tree on that Saturday. My wife and the Grand kids decorated it beautifully. A few days latter, I realized we had not watered it. So with my Dishnetwork set to an all Christmas Music channel; I filled a picture of water and commenced to crawl under the tree.  It being a good-sized tree I had to stick my face into the branches and stretch my arm to hit the well. The song that was playing at the time was “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (one of my personal faves)

The very moment I inhaled the sweet Douglas fir fumes I was instantly intoxicated with Christmas endorphins. You know how it is described; that when a person dies they some times see their life flash before their eyes? Well that is what happened to me; except it was scenes of Christmases past, the smell of a new can of Lincoln Logs or the smooth shiny cold feel of a fresh box of Legos. Cold only because they had just come from Santa’s sleigh which was surely parked on our snowy roof. I lay there paralyzed as the song echoed into my childhood. Water spilling down my arm; I nudged my face deeper into the welcoming branches and drew in a larger, deeper breath.  Ahhhh… I exhaled and remembered colorfully lit Nativity scenes with solemn statues in poses of amazement and rows and rows of neighborhoods decked out with twinkling lights.

At the age of 52, it is hared to hold on to those moments and so I was rudely jerked back to the here and now. The music was still on but the song had changed. I thought to myself; “Man, I am a Happy Clam”.

So, am I the only Christmas Clam on the beach?

Tell the truth.

Do you love Christmas Music too?