Happy New Year

 

I cannot believe the decade is over.

 Is it just me or did it end too soon?

 I was excited to see the eighties end, saddened to say goodbye to the nineties, but I am completely indifferent to the end of this decade.

The aughties just didn’t seem to have time to mature into its own identity. If you wanted to dress up as an aughties person ten years from now what would you wear? And it had so much potential, didn’t it? So much hype, so much going for it. I suppose the lack of flying cars or A.I. or a real space station (one that was bigger than a single wide trailer floating in space) just killed it.

Well I hope the tens are better. Just think three years from now we’ll be teens. That should be fun.

Tchuss

Lystra

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Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 2:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Saga of Bohok-Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Bohok reached down and scooped up the figurine out of the sand. He knew he had just been tested. He knew he had just failed that test, horribly. Bohok shook his head, it seemed like he would never learn the Way of the River. He turned to face the tribe. They all stared at him, some faces smiling and some frowning. To Bohok’s surprise Chief Yoosin was smiling.

“I think Bohok is right. It is a long way back to the village, we should leave. Tann and Mik,” The chief pointed to two young men Bohok’s age. “You will camp here tonight. Make sure that the great fish is protected from birds and beasts. Keep a large fire lit. The bears will be here soon.” The young men nodded and went to their boat, pulling out their packs and long bear spears.  “Bohok, it is a long paddle up the river. Will you help me row upstream? I would like to speak with you before you leave.”

Bohok nodded as the chief passed him and climbed into the boat. The men of the village all went to their boats as well. Bohok shoved the chief’s boat off the sandbar and climbed into the back of the boat. He grabbed a paddle from the bottom of the canoe and started rowing.

The current was strong enough that he if he stopped rowing it quickly halted the boat and reversed its direction.  Chief Yoosin sat in the bow watching Bohok paddle. Bohok had expected the chief to help; it was almost too much for one man to keep the boat moving forward alone. All the other boats were rowed by two or more men and they quickly passed Bohok and the chief. Bohok paddled furiously, but soon they were alone on the river, the torches on the bows of the other boats disappearing around bends in the river ahead.

Sweat began to roll down Bohok’s brow. His shoulders and arms began to burn. He looked up at the chief, who was still sitting backwards in the boat watching Bohok work. “Aren’t you going to help?” He finally asked.

“It is difficult isn’t it?” The chief asked quietly.

“Of course it is difficult. You aren’t helping.” He growled as he pulled the paddle along the boat and up for another stroke.

“No Bohok it is difficult because you are fighting the current. When we were going down the river I let you row, yet you never complained.”

“I didn’t have to paddle constantly going down the river. I didn’t have to paddle at all only steer.” Bohok took another stroke. His arms were on fire. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep the boat moving forward alone.

“Thus is the Way of the River. It is always easiest to work with the current. If you follow the current you do not work so hard. You need only to steer yourself down the proper course.” Chief Yoosin mimicked a boat floating down a river with his hand. “You must learn this lesson, you must learn to go with the currents of your life and guide yourself through it.”

Panting Bohok kept paddling; he didn’t need lectures about the Way of the River right now; it took all his effort to keep the boat going upstream. “Sometimes,” he grunted as he pulled out another stroke, “you have to go upstream, Chief Yoosin.  You talk like it is so easy. It isn’t easy for me.”

The old chief smiled at Bohok and pulled another paddle from the bottom of the boat. “Yes, Bohok, that too is part of the Way. The part that you must learn, it is the easiest part for most of us because we know the secret.”

Bohok looked up at the Chief; sweat trickled from his hair and burned his eyes. “What secret?” He asked. He always wondered if there was some secret knowledge that had been denied because of his heritage, the Way of the River was supposed to be so easy, but it had always been so hard for him.

“The secret is,” The chief dipped his paddle into the water and took a stroke, “when you have to go upstream, and sometimes it is unavoidable both in the Way and in life, it is better if you have someone to help.”

“That’s no secret!” Bohok yelled, anger surging up inside him. “You don’t think I know that?” He couldn’t believe that was what the chief’s stupid secret was.

“No Bohok. I don’t” The chief said sadly taking another stroke. “When we got in this boat you rowed until your strength nearly failed you before you asked me to help you.” He pointed at Bohok’s chest. “You have been going upstream your entire life; even more so since your father died, but you have never sought out another to help you with that burden either. When you hit Kirso with the rock and I exiled you from the tribe I hoped that you would travel to another one of the tribes. Perhaps find a friend among them, someone who could help you. You did not do that, you chose to go live alone down the river and keep paddling upstream alone.”

Bohok was stunned, he hadn’t even thought about going to another tribe. “I thought I was supposed to be alone, to learn my lesson.” He mumbled.

“You were to leave the tribe, I didn’t say what you were to do, I had hoped that you would follow the way of your Father. I hoped you would be a traveler like him” He pulled the paddle out of water and made a grand gesture with it. “The whole world to explore, like your father.”

“My father?” Bohok asked.

“Your father was a great traveler. He left the people when he was young and visited all the people. We had thought he was lost to us he had been gone so long. Did he not tell you of his travels?”

“No.” Bohok answered. His father never said anything about travelling. Bohok had assumed that his mother had come to the Fish-Eater’s not the other way around.

The chief frowned and thought for a second. “Your father told me his stories. I thought he would have told you too, I am sure he would have told you in time, if the fever hadn’t taken him.”

“Well he didn’t.” Bohok grunted. He wondered why his father would keep that a secret from him.

“It does not matter. After you return from the Bug-Eater camp I will tell you the stories he told me. What matters is you need to ask people for help Bohok. Even the strongest man needs help sometimes.”

“Who would help some half-blood boy with no family, no house, and no boat.” Bohok growled.

“I would.” The chief said.  “Many men of the village respect and like you. They too would be willing to help you Bohok, but you do not ask for their help. You have to make friends. But before you can be friends with someone you need to be a friend to yourself. If you see a half blood boy not worthy of help and friendship when you look into the river, that is what others will see. You must learn that you are more than your blood line, you must learn to be the man that you want to be, not the man that others say you are.”

“If it were only that easy.” Bohok said, finally able to wipe the sweat from his brow with the chief helping with the rowing. “Everyone in the village knows me as the half blood. I cannot change that.”

“Yes, you can, I will help you if you ask.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you want to be known as something other than half blood?”

Bohok looked the chief in the eye, there was nothing in the world he wanted so much as that, he wanted it so much that he couldn’t even answer in a full voice. “Yes.” He whispered. “Please, yes.”

“Good.” The chief anwswered. “Then it is settled. When you return with the Bug-Eaters I will give you a new calling. Never again will any of my people call you half blood.”

“Thank you Chief Yoosin.” Bohok said earnestly. “Thank you.”

“There is one thing you must do to earn this new name Bohok.” The chief cut in wagging a long wrinkled finger at the boy.

“What is it? I will do anything.”

“Really?” The chief asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Anything? This will be no easy task, quite possibly the hardest task I have ever given anyone in the entire tribe.”

Bohok was so eager to erase the stain of his heritage he knew in his heart that he could perform any task the chief could ask of him. “I am sure Chief Yoosin. What would you have me do? Tell me and I will do it.”

“Before you return with the Bug-Eaters you must.” The chief stopped and pulled the oar out of the water forcing Bohok to paddle alone again. He watched Bohok work the paddle for a long while, long enough for Bohok to feel the burning in his shoulders again. Unexpectedly the chief dipped his paddle back in the water and started rowing again.

He looked at Bohok and with a serious look upon his face he continued, “You must make a friend. You must make a true friend. A friend who will help you without you asking.”

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 9:37 am  Comments (1)  

Holly Jolly Christmas

Just a quick post. I had a great Christmas. I hope everyone else did too. I know everyone is suffering from the recession and times are tight but I really think that the Spirit of Christmas shone brighter this year than it has in a long time. Everyone seemed to take a moment and look at what was good in their lives, to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we have lost. I hope that my experience wasn’t a singular thing. I hope that everyone had as good a Christmas as I did. I would like to thank all my friends and family for making it so. I love you and…Merry Christmas.

Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 11:03 am  Comments (1)  
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Health Care Reform

I am about to do two things I swore I wouldn’t do with this blog. 1. post something political. 2. post something to do with my work, other than my work as a writer.

I have many reasons for both but this morning I found out that an amendment has been added to the onerous Health Care Reform bill that will single out the construction industry. While all small businesses under 50 employees are to be exampt from the fines that are going to cripple small business in America, construction business are only going to be exempt if they are under 5 employees. I haven’t seen many construction companies with fewer than five employees. So it’s pretty much all of us.  I wrote a letter to my congressmen explaining my position.

This is what I wrote:

Dear Senator,

I am writing regarding the Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 3590, which excludes the construction industry from the small business exemption contained in the bill. H.R. 3590 exempts employers with fewer than 50 employees from the fines levied on those who cannot afford to provide health insurance for their employees.  However the Manager’s Amendment singles out the construction industry by altering the exemption so that it applies to only those firms with fewer than five employees.

As a contractor in Reno, Nevada I have been hit hard by this recession and the accompanying lack of new projects. I have struggled and persevered up to this point by bidding jobs at or even under cost, to keep myself and my employees working. I currently employee forty Nevadans, down from close to two hundred a few short years ago. I consider myself responsible for these men and women, and also their families. I know my employee’s spouses, their children and grandchildren. Every person I have had to lay off due to this economy has been a knife in my heart. 

I have had to cut benefits; Christmas bonuses, holiday pay, vacations, insurance, retirement and wages just to stay in business and keep the few employees I have left out of the unemployment line. Times are hard; I understand that, I also know that it will not always be so, but in order to make it back to recovery I have had to make some soul wrenching decisions. As a business owner I have a choice, I can make the hard decisions, keep as many people as I can working for as long as I can or I can give up, close the doors and join my people in the unemployment line.

I have watched several of my competitors and colleagues go out of business already, companies just like mine, full of good hardworking Nevadans.  My office is clogged with men looking for work, our phone rings constantly with people, good people, people who I would hire in a heart-beat if I had the work for them. I do not want to add my people to their number. I wasn’t able to pay a Christmas bonus this year but my employees had work, they had a paycheck and they have their pride, which is more than most people in the construction industry have this year.

Senator I am fighting to keep these men employed. I cannot do that if I am unfairly singled out and forced to pay the fines as laid out in H.R. 3590. When times were good I provided my employees with the best health care I could afford, among countless other benefits. When the economy recovers and I rise above 50 employees again I might be able to afford the health care but right now I simply cannot. This amendment will result in the destruction of my business and the businesses of countless other construction companies in Nevada that are struggling to get by just like I am.

I urge you to address this provision that will result in the destruction of so many lives and livelihoods in our state.

Thank You

Lystra Pitts

As you can see I feel quite strongly about this, so I am breaking my own rules. I would ask that anyone who reads this take a moment and write their senator and request that the amendment detailed in my letter be removed.

Thanks

Lystra

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm  Comments Off on Health Care Reform  
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Saga of Bohok-Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The sun had just begun to set, starting the long summer twilight. The sky reflected on the water and made the boats look like they were travelling on a river of gold. It had taken Bohok half the day to run up to the Fish-Eater village but the boats, aided by the current took but a quarter of that time.

The boats rounded the last bend in the river and revealed the great fish, a black mountain of flesh atop the sandbar. Bohok sat in the bow of Chief Yoosin’s own boat, and he could clearly hear the gasp of the other men in the boat as they first glimpsed the fish.

Bohok tried to hide his smile as he jumped out of the boat and pulled it up onto the sandbar. More boats pulled up on the sandbar, they carried most of the adult men in the tribe. Few men failed to follow the Chief down the river.

The Chief leapt over the side of the boat with a grace that belied his age. He walked slowly towards the great fish. His footsteps were careful and quiet like a stalking hunter.  When he reached the fish he outstretched a hand and placed it carefully on the creature, like he was trying to penetrate a mirage. His eyes widened with surprise at the feel of its hard flesh.

He ran his fingers along the smooth skin and walked down the length of the creature, carefully examining it as he walked. He paused to look more carefully at its giant mouth, Bohok’s net still dangling from it. He paused again at its eye, stared a moment into its depths and then moved on. He paused at the flippers and where he could see the blow hole on top of its head.  When he got down to the creatures tail he nodded to himself.

When the chief turned away from the beast he found himself surrounded by the men of the village. They crowded around him eager to hear what the chief would say. Bohok stayed back out of the crowd of men, but still close enough to hear.

“Clansmen.” Yoosin spoke using the deep formal voice he used for proclaiming judgment, “This fish is like no other fish that you or I have ever seen but it has been seen before. There are stories of this fish told by the chiefs of our people. This fish was known by the chiefs of old. So I know it too.”

“Chief Yoosin.” A tribesman as old as the chief himself spoke, “We both have seen many visits by the travelling fish, weathered many winters together but I have never heard of such of beast, no such fish has been seen by me in all my time, nor did my father or my father’s father every speak of such a fish.” He looked at the great beast. “As I am sure they would have.”

Chief Yoosin nodded. “The last time this fish was seen by a Fish-Eater was seven generations ago. Kagin, your father never saw this fish, nor did your father’s father or his father before him.” The crowd of men stirred, Bohok heard murmurs of disbelief quietly emerging from the crowd. The chief silenced them by raising a wrinkled hand.

He pulled a doeskin bag off his back and reached into it. He produced an intricately carved piece of wood, he held it up for all the men to see. “This is my Chief’s pole. I have carved on it every significant event that has happened to the people during my time as chief.”  Intrigued Bohok pushed his way through the crowd, clear up to the front, to see the carving.

He pointed to a scene on the pole it showed the trees shaking and people beneath it cowering in fear. “This represents when the earth shook two summers ago.” He pointed to another carving of a river and the fishermen holding up empty nets. “This is when the so few travelling fish came five springs ago.” The men in the crowd all groaned in unison, remembering that miserable spring, they had been forced to trade with the Elk-Eaters and the Root-Eaters for food, many went hungry and a few starved.

The chief looked apprehensively at Bohok before pointing at another scene. It was a man walking with a pregnant woman. “This is when Arnas returned with his foreign wife.” Bohok stared his mouth falling open. Arnas was his father, and the woman had to be his mother.  He had never seen his mother.

He looked at the figures carved into the pole, the man looked like his father so he could only hope that the woman’s likeness was as accurate. She was beautiful, as he always hoped she would be, but strange looking, wearing odd clothes, Bug-Eater clothes.

 The chief saw Bohok gaping at the pole and handed it to him. Bohok ran his fingers over the forms carved into the wood. Touching the likeness of his mother and father brought tears unbidden to the boy’s eyes. Bohok wiped his eyes furiously trying to stop the tears, mortified that the men of the village were seeing him cry. He looked up to see several of the men looking at him with wet eyes of their own, chief Yoosin among them. He handed the pole back to the chief with a nod of thanks.

The chief lay the pole down in the black sand and brought out another pole from his bag. It too was full of elaborate carvings. “This is the pole of my father.” Chief Yoosin announced. He pointed out several carvings and told the story of them. Only the oldest men of the tribe nodded with the remembrance of the events. The chief lay it down next to his in the sand. The chief retrieved yet another pole from the bag and held it up. “This is my grandfather’s pole.” He put it down next to his father’s. He pulled out three more poles each as elaborately carved as his own and lay them down in the sand.

“These are the poles of the six chief’s that lived since the great fish last came up the river.” The chief spoke pointing to each of the carved staves. He reached into his bag and extracted another pole. The pole wasn’t made of wood but a brilliant white stone the likes of which Bohok had never seen. The men of the tribe all gasped as he pulled it out of his bag and held it up for them to see. “This is the pole of Chief Hunnan.”

All the men pressed close to see what was carved on the pole. Bohok saw that the top of the pole was carved in a likeness of the great fish himself complete with a spout of water rising up from the top of its head.  Below the great fish the scene carved into the stone was of a great feast many people eating at a long table.

The people were all dressed differently. He saw many dressed as Fish-Eaters with simple clothes. Then he saw some with beads and feathers, the way the Root Eaters who came to trade dressed. There were men in heavy furs and antler headdresses, Elk-Eaters. Then there were others dressed like his mother, like Bug-Eaters.

“This pole is proof that the great fish has been in the river before. It is carved from the bone of the great fish itself.”Bohok stared at the pole. It seemed too hard, too shiny to be bone, but he knew the chief would not lie.  “It shows the great fish, and the great feast it provided. The last time the great fish came up the river Chief Hunnan called for a great feast. He sent runners to all of the peoples so that they could come and join in the bounty. The great fish was cut up and shared among all the tribes they took its meat back to their peoples and not one person went hungry that winter.”

All the men smiled and looked at one another. Even among the Fish-Eaters with the river and the travelling fish, famine was not unknown, winter was always harsh and food had run out before. The Root-Eaters and Elk-Eaters had a harder time of it, often coming to the Fish-Eaters to trade for food.

The Bug-Eaters had it worst of all. They lived on the other side of the great mountains in the desert. They traded for most of their food with the Elk-Eaters but they starved as often in the summer as they did in the winter. Bohok knew that their name wasn’t based off what they mostly ate like the other tribes, but what they often had to resort to eating in lean times.

“We will call a great feast. I will send runners to all of the peoples.” Chief Yoosin announced. The sun was finally gone the light fading around them fast. Bohok heard two pieces of flint being banged together and soon several cane torches burned brightly around the men. The chief dug back into his bag and pulled out three figurines, each carved from the same shiny bone as the pole.

 The chief held the figurines out and Bohok saw that they were carvings of the great fish, identical to the one atop the chief’s pole. “I will give each runner one of these. The chiefs of all the peoples will know what it means and that the runner speaks true. Each runner will invite the peoples back here where we will prepare the feast and dry as much of the meat as we can.”

The chief picked one figurine out of his palm. There was an Elk carved on one side of the great fish. “This is for the Elk-Eaters. They make their camps high in the mountains, the journey will be long and perilous. I choose my son Kirso to have the honor or delivering the message of the feast to them.”

Kirso’s face lit up with pride. He knelt before his father and took the figurine. Bohok scowled, it frustrated him that Kirso was given honor for the great fish. The fish that Bohok had caught not the loud mouthed Kirso.

The chief picked another figure out of his palm. The figure had a flower carved into the side of the great fish. “This is for the Root-Eaters. They make their camps far to the south on the plains. They live farther away than any other people but the river flows close to their lands. Yannin is best with a boat and has the strongest arms for rowing. I choose him to row down to deliver the message of the feast.”

Bohok knew that Yannin was the strongest rower. No one could ever beat him in a race but he frowned when the chief put the figurine in his hand. He was getting angry, it was his fish but all the honors were going to the pure blood Fish-Eaters. He was becoming certain that they were going to ignore him, even in this.

Chief Yoosin held up the last figurine. It had a mountain lion carved into the side of it. “This will go to the Bug Eaters.” Chief Yoosin looked around at the men gathered around him. His eyes searched the crowd for the face of the man he wished to send. They passed over Bohok and he held his breath. He wasn’t sure if he even wanted to go to the Bug-Eaters but he wanted to receive some honor for his catch. Then the chief’s eyes moved on. Bohok felt defeated. Then rage overtook him. He spun and began walking back to the boats, his eyes filling with tears yet again.

He shoved his way through the crowd.

He couldn’t believe the chief wasn’t picking him.

It wasn’t right.

It wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t…Bohok heard something fly over his head and land heavily at his feet. He looked down to see the white Bug-Eater figurine embedded in the black sand.

“Bohok.” He heard the chief’s voice call to him. “I think if you are leaving you should take that with you.”

Published in: on December 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm  Comments (1)