Scent to Hades

Melissa and I are standing in our kitchen cleaning up some of the Tupperware that’s been hiding under my car  seat.  A team of forensic and culinary experts could never identify the moldy remains; they could only guess that most of the food once fell into the meatloaf category. 

“Ugh.”  Melissa states as she breaks the seal on another biological weapon.  “Why do you let these things sit in your car?  Why don’t you just bring them in?  Please Matt, you’re killing me.”

“I would but I usually can’t find them under the dirty laundry.”

I work two jobs.  One requires a “loose professional”look: non-themed tie, braided leather belt, slacks, and a button-up.  For job number two, I change out of these into a pair of swimming trunks and a tacky T-shirt.  This transforms my car (affectionately titled the 945) into a duffel bag on four wheels. 

When was the last time you opened your gym bag, stuck your head in, and took a deep breath?  (Warning: Bag may stink!  Illustration purposes only!)  That’s what my car smells like on a regular basis.

Melissa hands me another rinsed Tupperware container and I look for a place in the dishwasher to rack it.  The other dishes try backing away.

“Don’t worry about the stench in my car, Melissa.  I’ve got this simple solution.  I’ll just take some of that cologne you like that I hardly ever wear and spritz my seats a bit.  Problem solved!”

“Oh no!  Don’t do that!”  My wife releases her nose.  “You’re not destroying a smell you’re only marrying it to the bad one and the results aren’t pretty!  The freshman boys would walk by my room after gym class coated in some masculine body spray that only mixed with smell of their sweat!  Aaawk, it was awful.”

I tried placing the next plastic container; more shuffling by the regular dishes.  “So I wouldn’t be replacing a garbage truck with a limo…I’d be running the two into a head-on collision?”

“Yes, now gently and easily put the idea down and back away.”

“How about a little FreeBreeze?  Fresh meadow scent?”
“That would be ok.”  Melissa took a deep breath before opening the last container.  “You know, I had a girl who would smoke before she came to my class each day.  Before she walked in, she would douse herself in some cheap perfume to try and cover the smell.  Instead, she only made it difficult for those around her to breath.  I had to open the windows after her class each day.”

“Are you suggesting I drive with my windows open?”

She shook her head.  “Matt, for as long as you’ve had that car it has stunk.  Let’s not fight it anymore and by all means…let’s not share it with the world.”

Need Bathroom Reading?

Attention readers!!!  Now you can order your pre-printing copy of Matt Teply’s coming autobiography titled, “No Regrets…Thanks To Amnesia!”  This exciting read is packed with anecdotal gems from Mr. Teply’s fascinating life.

Here’s a powerful sample from the “About the Author” section also written by Matt Teply…

 “The author is truly and expert in his field.  Every detail is meticulously verified and rendered in stunning detail.  Truly, no one in the world of literature writes on the niche field of Mattacological Tepology with even close to same vigor and authority.  It’s truly a must read for anyone interested in the in this fascinating human being.  You’ll be hanging on every word as Matt dabbles with jelly before peanut butter!  You’ll be brought to tears by Matt’s stirring adolescent struggle with periodic acne!

 I’ve known Mr. Teply longer than anyone and I can assure you that there’s nothing in the book that Mr. Teply didn’t verify and completely approve.  

 My favorite parts are, of course, the pictures.  The book’s official soundtrack isn’t bad either.

  In this mind blowing first volume, you’ll be given a front seat tour of Matt’s exciting life!  Personally, Chapter One is unforgettable with its powerful forging of Matt Rule #1 – “You can only call me by my full name if you’ve changed my diaper.”  Classic!

 I’m confident that Matt’s wit and candor will remain just as potent when the unsold inventories of “No Regrets…Thanks To Amnesia!” are recycled into cardboard boxes and Chinese menus.”

Life’s Road Kill

Here’s a poem by the renowned poet and automotive philosopher Crank McKey.

Life’s road only runs downhill.  It’s all one way.

No U Turns or emergency lanes just tolls to pay.

Changing lanes; someone on your hitch

Some cause dents others are left in a ditch.

Potholes, breakdowns, and your balding tires,

Belts that stretch and needle nosed pliers.

Admiring the headlights of the newest models.

Sticker shock!  Payment plan so heavy it waddles.

Burning oil, plugs are pooped, and you’re out of gas.

Hope run-over, bent up fender, crack in your windshield glass.

Let’s brake here.

My grade school sweetheart was a button nosed little brunette by the name of Leah Schumaker.  Her and I shared a classroom from fifth grade until half way through my eighth grade year.  I spoke to her twice.  That’s an impressive average of approximately once every two years!  Scoot over Casanova, there’s a new sheriff in town! 

Forget the boogieman, what scared me to death was rejection.  I spent my early days just hoping for a chance encounter or even just a chance to impress her.

The sun was setting on a brisk fall afternoon in Dakota Territory. The overcast sky was flooded with the thick, slate gray clouds so common during the winter. It gave everything a subdued and melancholy light.  Football practice was over and I was sitting on the concrete steps outside of Hogan Junior High.  My mother would be here soon to pick me up.

(By the way, our school mascot…The Midgets!  That’s right.  The long arm of political correctness hasn’t reached Dakota Territory yet!) 

I took a moment to inventory those gathered around me. There were always a few athletes or cheerleaders loitering long after school waiting to be picked up.  However, this afternoon someone more important was among their faceless assembly.

Leah was there. She was standing with a couple friends talking easily, breaking the drab of life with a delightful giggle.  She was only twenty yards away yet looking completely unattainable.  Did she even know I existed?

I did have one hope. My mother’s car was in the shop and that meant there were only two cars she had the option of using.  Leah would have to notice either one since both cars were members of their respective extreme. The car would either be my father’s completely restored 1973 Pontiac GTO or the rust red YuGo missing its front grill.

The Car Was So Bad, The Country Folded
The Car Was So Bad, The Country Folded

The GTO meant a proud march to the car with my football equipment on the opposite shoulder.  I wouldn’t look directly at her until I was getting in.  As we rumbled away I would look again in her direction then to the tree above her as if a bird had caught my attention.  (Somewhere Don Juan is nodding.)

I asked God to grant me this wish.  I needed this.  There was no way I would work up the bravado to actually approach her.  It was this or I’d never know true love!  It was a simple prayer like a child asking for candy before bed.

Minutes later, a red bucket with four wheels turned the corner.  Nuts and bolts littered the asphalt behind it, acting as a trail of breadcrumbs leading home.   I bit my lip and draped my jersey over my head. Leah and I had missed our chance.

Honorary Pomp

It’s one of my worst nightmares.  I’m sitting in the middle of a large auditorium surrounded on every side by chattering, joking, and obnoxious middle school students.  There are limited exits and if they wanted to, these uncouth hooligans could swallow me before reaching one.  The throng is loud, rude, and out of dress code!  And the worst of it…I am chained to my seat not by braided loops of iron but by a device far more sinister…I was at work.


The students and staff at Clownsworth Middle School are assembled to hear a special guest speaker.  Information the faculty received boasted about Dr. Nancy Hooping-Blather.  She was the mother of a famous athlete and she busied herself by touring as a motivational speaker.  She wore the ever-professional female suit and was introduced by a stunning audio-visual presentation.  (As soon as the tech folks at school could get it started for her…oops.)


So,” I mumbled to the teacher beside me.  So, she keeps referring to herself as Doctor Hooping-Blather.  But what is her degree in?  Do you know?”


“Well, it’s an honorary degree.”


“And it’s supposed to carry as much weight as someone who’s actually earned their doctorate?”


“Yes, she’s Dr. Nancy Hooping-Blather.  Didn’t you see her business cards and name tag?”


One of my eyes narrowed a bit perfecting the disgusted/discounting expression.  “Then how about we call her Honorary Doctor and make it an abbreviation before her name like, say…Ho. Nancy?”


“That just won’t catch on.”


Dr. Hooping-Blather’s discourse on making proper choices and directing one’s life was good, but I was still stuck on the honorary degree.  Afterward, I went to the good Doctor’s homepage to find out that other than her honorary degree, she’d never received anything other than her high school diploma!  This needed to be addressed.  Behold…




Rule #1- Any honorary degree you receive only promotes you ONE level.  In other words, if you have a bachelor’s the only honorary degree you can receive would be a master’s.  If you have never set foot in a college classroom, then the generous institution may give you an honorary bachelor’s. 


Rule #2- You may only receive ONE honorary degree during your lifetime.


Rule #3 (Just because) – You must write a five page paper (due before Spring Break) on why it is important for everyone to call those who’ve earned the highest degree to be called Doctor So-And-So.  



Is He the One?

Girls, is the boy in your life really interested in you?  Do you hear wedding bells and he’s listening to the call of the wild?   Find out how smitten he is by taking our LOVE QUIZ!

Question #1 – When is the last time he bought you flowers?

A- Last Week!  (5 pts.)
B- It’s been a while but it still happens…sometimes.  (3 pts.)
C- He promised me a bouquet when we got married. (0 pts.)
D- He claims he’s allergic. (-1 pts.)

Question #2 – When you ask, “Do I look fat in this ________?” He replies…

A- “No, don’t you know by now that I’m the ugly one?” (5 pts)
B- “No, and for goodness sake, please don’t ask me that.” (3 pts.)
C- “No.” Pauses.  “How do you feel about liposuction?” (0 pts.)
D- “Baby, you look like thirteen Twinkies in a dozen box.” (-1 pts.)

Question #3 – When you want to watch a “Chick Flick,” how does he respond?

 A – “Sure!  As long as I get to pick the snacks…and I’ll try not to cry.” (5 pts.)
 B – “Ok, but then I get a Sunday of uninterrupted football.” (3 pts.)
 C – “Na.  I think I’ll go run your dad’s table saw.” (0 pts.)
 D – “Hmmm, no but I think professional wrestling is on.” (-1 pts.)

Question #4 – What would his response be if you ordered two deserts at a restaurant?
 A – “Really?  You know you cannot get any sweeter!” (5 pts.)
 B – “Really?  I’m not that hungry you know.  (3 pts.)
 C – “Really?  When was the last time you worked out twice in one day?” (0 pts.)
 D – “You might as well.  I’m dumping you tomorrow.”  (-1 pts.)

Question #5 – How would he describe you to an old college or high school pal?

 A – “She’s not too bad and over half my friends think she’s hot!”  (5 pts.)
B – “It’s been a month and I’m still thinking about her.” (3 pts.)
 C – “I like her but…you know…I’m keeping my options open.” (0 pts.)
 D – “She’s kind of low maintenance.”  (-1 pts.)

Question #6 – You have a pimple on your face.  He alerts you by saying…

A- (Offers you little brother $20 to tell you about it.) (5 pts.)
B- “Umm…Never mind.” (3 pts.)
C- “Hey, you could use some more make up.” (0 pts.)
D- “Hold on, let me get my pliers and we can straighten a few of your teeth at the same time.” (-1 pts.)

Question #7 – Someone asks him what your favorite color is.  He says…

 A – “Green, defiantly green…no, wait, blue?” (5 pts.)
 B – “She likes a lot of colors.  Pick one.” (3 pts.)
 C – “She harps about a lot of stuff, but she hasn’t reached colors yet. (0 pts.)
 D – “What color is ugly?” (-1 pts.)

Question #8 – You like the name Timber for a future boy.  He says, …
 A – “No, but I think its sweet when you’re insane.” (3 pts.)
 B – “No, and are you on drugs?”  (3 pts.)
 C – “No, and suddenly I don’t think procreation is in the mix here.” (3 pts.)
 D – “No.” He squints and looks hard at you. “No.” (3 pts.)

Question #9 – What is his response if you offer to pay for a fancy meal?
 A – “Save your money…You’ve got to replace my stolen heart.” (5 pts.)
 B – “Well, if you insist but the next time we go to McDonald’s it’s all me.”  (3 pts.)
C –  “Whew, thanks.  I didn’t bring any money.  I was going to have you wash dishes.” (0 pts.)
  D – “Sure, and don’t forget to leave a nice tip for the hot waitress.” (-1 pts.)

Question #10 – How often does he call you?
 A – Whenever I’m lonely. (5 pts.)
 B – Every afternoon. (3 pts.)
 C – When he needs something. (0 pts.)
E- Once, during the rainy season. (-1 pts.)  


 30 – 50 Points = This guy has your expectations too high.  Dump him.
 20 – 30 Points = This is a normal guy.  If you can get by the smell, keep him.
 10 – 20 Points = Well…If you GOT to have a child.
 00 – 10 Points = He’s not worth the Mother-in-Law.  Dump him.
 Negative Points =  A monkey in a tux would work better.

Taboo Tattoos

The strangest, most eccentric people I know are college professors, people who own lizards, and the frost bitten folks who live in Dakota Territory.  Life molds you a little differently when an ocean of open grasslands surrounds you.  On the high prairie, the only things that ever really change are the high clouds and the harsh temperatures. 

What do you do when the rest of the country forgets you exist? 

Option A – You can move away – possibly someplace with trees.

Option B – Well, there’s the Internet.  You could spend most of your time there.

Option C – This one has two parts…depression…heavy drinking.

Option D – Get a wee bit kooky.

Wish you were here?
Wish you were here?

I remember a particular dairy farmer who exuded “Dakota” with every step – cowboy boots, tanned face, and bone-dry wit.   This man and his family refused to own a television. He equated it with “running an open sewer pipe directly into his living room” and it was hard to argue with him.  During times of leisure, his family would sit around a spacious living room of driftwood lamps, afghan blankets, and out dated furniture digging through a box of conversational questions.

To shake the routine they would invite kids from my boarding high school over for an evening meal.  I don’t know anyone who ever turned them down or even wished they could.  The conversation cards might have seemed lame but they were always fun.  They never missed. 

“Alright Matt we’ll start with you.” He drew the first card and took on a parental tone. “If you had to get a tattoo, and I would break your arm if you did, what would it be?”

“That’s easy.  I would get two red, evil eyes tattooed to the back of my head. With my buzzed hair, you would only be able to see them only if you were standing directly behind me. And if I decided I didn’t care for the look anymore, I would simply grow my hair out a bit.  Cool, huh?”

The young lady beside me chimed in, “I’d want a tattoo that was small and tasteful.”

The farmer and I quickly exchanged looks.

“And what could that possibly be?”

She replied. “Um, I would probably just put my name in decorative lettering across my shoulder or ankle.”

“Are you in danger of forgetting anytime soon?   I mean, isn’t that a little like taking a permanent marker and writing ‘fruit’ across your bananas?”  I was trying to be funny but it came out a bit harsh. 

She took offense, “Well Matt, just because you’re a weirdo doesn’t mean I have to be. I mean eyes in the back of your head. How dumb is that?”

Another boy sitting to my right said, “Oh mine is worse. I’m planning on having a tight rope drawn between the nipples on my chest. Then I’ll have a stick man put on tight roping across.  I could shave my chest hair to look like passing clouds.  ARE YOU FEELING ME?!  AWESOME RIGHT?!”

A mixture of grunts and uncomfortable chuckles indicated weak approval.  Someone gave him a high five. 

“Yea, that’s neat until you get old and the rope loses a little tension.”

The farmer rubbed the side of his temple. “You know, a tattoo is like dental work or a hip replacement. It’s an investment that depreciates one hundred percent in the first minute and has absolutely no resale value. Only the thing is a tattoo doesn’t improve your quality of life. The only thing it really proves is you aren’t smart enough to move when someone keeps sticking you with a needle.

Draw another card.”

DodoEgg Plant

Attention All Registered, Card Carrying Vegetarians, here is a message from our Commissioner:

Which vegetable is the most important?

Put the sharpened carrot sticks down boys!  We don’t want anyone else to get hurt arguing which of our beloved vegetables is more important than another.  Remember, carrots are only good for the eyes if one isn’t stuck in your eyeball. 

To settle this raging debate, I have convened a summit to determine the authoritative pecking order of all our leafy friends.  We have included information about each one that helped us come to our decisions.  Rest assured, all members of the committee were screened using the most rigorous of standards.  Each selecting member is thoroughly trained in dangerous juicing combinations, has read the manual to their Salad Shooter at least three times cover to cover, and rejects ranch dressing.

After weeks of careful study and furious debate, we now present the end-all ranking of important vegetables.   

#26 & #27 Beets and Parsnips- You don’t know the difference and neither do we. 

#25 Radishes- Death wish with a root.  Often mistaken for being edible.

#24 Turnips- Root vegetable that will grow in cold climates after the warm ones kicked it out.

#23 Rutabagas- A cross between cabbages and turnips that was attempted after oranges and strawberries refused to hybrid.  Oops.

#22 Leek- The national vegetable of Wales, which is supposed to be important.  Also of note:  it rhymes with Greek, peek, and reek.

#21 Brussels Sprouts- Traditionally eaten with Christmas dinner in the UK and the YUCK.

#20 Collards- This leafy, green vegetable is rich in vitamins and minerals.  Couple with grilled raccoon for an ethnic favorite. 

#19 Artichoke- A tight head of fleshy leaves.  It’s very tasty with lemon butter and a clip over your nose.

#18 Asparagus- Tender green tips that can be raised in a shortened growing season.   Voted MVP of the all-vegetable basketball league after Celery went down with a season ending injury less successful on people’s plates.

#17 Eggplant- Our panel recommends breading thick slices and disguising it as a hamburger.  A great way to convert your meat-eating barbarian friends!  They won’t know the difference!

#16 Okra- The only recognizable ingredient in good gumbo…unless you count the pig’s feet.

#15 Spinach- Rumor that it causes severe swelling in forearms is untrue.

#14 Cabbage-Main ingredient in the German staple… sour krap. 

#13 Celery- Famous for burning more calories than it provides, which means the partially hydrogenated peanut butter is OK!

#12 Peas-Wanted to make the top ten but its communal, hippy, utopian upbringing bothered the judges.  That, and smothering them with cheese doesn’t seem to help at all.  

#11 Cucumbers- This vegetable is common in salads, grows quickly, but likes to hang around dill weeds. 

#10 Broccoli and Cauliflower- Only edible when covered in cheese.  Little known fact:  in Venezuela children are told they are baby trees. 

#9 Yams- The mild-mannered, alter ego of the vegetable super hero Sweet Potato. 

#8 Lettuce-It’s big secret is that it has almost no nutritional value. Covering it in ranch is paramount to a diet soda and large fries.  Place a large leaf on your tongue then eat it without using hand or utensil…you’ll feel like a dinosaur, Vegosaurus Rex!  

#7 Carrots- Introduced by the Romans because we were to shy to approach it ourselves.  Convenient narrow end indicates which end should be eaten first.

#6 Peppers, Green or Otherwise- Like a Latino gang, most seem mild but eventually you will mess with the wrong one.  Babylonian women would shove them into the eyes of overly amorous men to protect themselves.  Hammurabi’s first law was to prohibit this practice.

#5 Beans- High in protein and Vitamin F.  The entire bean family has filed a libel suit against school kids for a reputation marred by flatulent comments and mean-spirited nursery rhymes.

#4 Onions- While off limits while you’re dating, this is one of the perks of getting married and not caring anymore.

#3 Corn- A vegetable still pissed about the fact that candy corn tastes like wax.  If you call it maize, it will try and fight you.

#2 Tomato- While technically a fruit, it knew it couldn’t compete with oranges and strawberries so it switched leagues. It broke from the highly successful Vegetable Soup to try a solo soup career.

#1 Potato- What everyone’s referring to when they say, “Yea, I like vegetables.”  From fried, to mashed, and to baked…if a big bowl isn’t present at most meals you’ll be beaten, whipped, or mashed. 

Also, please don’t forget that “I’m Pro-Vegetable and I Vote!” bumper stickers are still available.  They’re ten dollars a piece and we need to get rid of them.

       – Your Commissioner

Glass (Part 3)

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Glass (*)”

“Hope.”  The word came without thought.  It was almost a reaction.  “The unrelenting ache of loosing my family has worn into acceptance.  It is a bitter acceptance to be sure, but one I can live with.  There is hope.”
 Erick seemed perplexed, “But what did you see specifically?”

 “I saw another man who loves me even more than my first husband and two little girls that follow me around town doing as I do.  They kissed my cheek and life is wonderful again they give me hope.”  She paused to wipe the tears from her eyes.  “I believe this vision.  It seems so real!  It sings to my soul.”

 “Take the bowl.  It’s yours.”

 That very hour, Erick returned to the back room and began moving the sand aside.  “The benefit of time!  Imagine!  Perhaps the sands will speak to me again blessing me with the wisdom of future experiences!  I will try again this time crafting something just for me.” 

 He removed the large hourglass and again placed it between two stools.  The slide on the bottom was reluctant to move but eventually it gave.  Bit of glimmering gold began pouring into the tin pan Erick had placed on the floor.  It took hours for the sand to finally accumulate enough for even a simple oil lamp globe.  Then the sand suddenly stopped.  Erick looked under the hourglass to divulge the problem.  The plate had moved back into place and this time, would not move.

 “A lamp globe it is and a thin one at that.”   Erick thought as he replaced the hourglass and the concealing pile of sand.  “I’ll make it tomorrow first thing and see what becomes of it.”  

 Before the sun’s tender yearnings lit the eastern sky, Erick was busy ramping the furnace to its hottest breath.  When the radiated heat felt as if it was blistering Erick’s skin, only then did the glass blower begin his work.  He spun and spun the thin layer of glass molding in into a shape that was he could nearly make blindfolded.  The glass cooled as a common globe open at both ends; one a bit wider than the other with a smooth bulge between the openings.

 That afternoon, Erick decided to test his creation.  He waited for his apprentice to leave and his shop to empty.  He covered the globe with a bit of tattered wool and rode outside of town to a windy rise.  He could see the countryside painted green with healthy crops alongside trees scattered into rows and groups.  The glass blower took out the globe and held in into the last strands of sunlight.  Nothing.  There were no colors; no visions.  The future did not unfold.

 “I don’t understand!  How can this be?!  I made the globe for my own use.  It should work for me.”

 Erick waited but nothing happened.  The sunlight faded and fell into the night’s dark abyss as Erick stood waiting for the enchanted glass to speak to him.  Eventually, Erick wrapped the lamp globe again and traveled back to his shop.  He would try again in coming days but each time the glass failed to activate.

 Erick did nothing else with the angelic hourglass until a week later.  He was frustrated with the results he reaped from the lamp globe.  It ended up in one of his cabinets.  He had decided to try again.  Erick was nearly finished moving the sand when he heard something moving behind him.  He spun and a short, round man wearing suspenders and breeches stood next to the coal.  The clothing had a very old-fashioned appearance.  The man’s mustache was so bushy it almost seemed to grow straight out. 

“Who are you?!  What are you doing here!?”  Erick took his shovel and swung it at the intruder’s head.  The man’s hand came up and knocked the shovel away.

“You can’t get rid of me that way.”

“Who are you?”

Erick was offered a smile.  “Do you know what Enta Socumal Demapola means?”  His voice was quiet but crossed Erick’s ears with authority.  “Roughly it means…Time determines men from God.  Or more clearly, God’s omnipresence extends even to time while the rest of us are trapped here and now.”

Erick wasn’t dissuaded. “Fine, ignore the question.  Now what do you want?”

“I think you know what I’m here for.”  The man picked up a piece of coal.  It ignited in his hand.  “Your purpose with the hourglass has been concluded.” As the man closed his hand, the burning coal crumbled and fell to the floor as ash. 

“Wait,” Erick stretched out his arms.  “There is so much more to be done.  Don’t you realize the good that could be done by letting me use the sand on others behalf.  There’s more good to be done!  Did you not see what happened to the young widow, the boy, or even to me?  I never would have taken up the art without time’s vision!”

  “Time like heat changes things.  Sand is worthless but with applied heat it is transformed, given shape by the Master, and the finished product is beautiful.  Yet it is fragile as well maintained by the Master’s hand and protection.

You cannot know time the way God does and his hourglass does not belong to you.  I’m here to take it.”

 Erick studied the other man for a moment longer. Anger blazed in his heart.  Why would he be given something so precious only to have it taken away?  What had he done wrong?  When he was told to leave it until Charles died he had done so.  Where his intentions not pure?  His was a mind that was knotted with questions and no answers.

“Very well!  Take it!  No doubt, you know where it is!”  He marched out of the room and did not look back.

 The next day, Erick returned to the back room.  Nothing looked out of place.  In fact, it looked as if the sand hadn’t been moved at all.  He cleared it away and opened the door.  There was nothing but shadows inside.  The hourglass was gone.  He spit into the hole and closed it for good.

  That night in their bedroom, Erick’s wife tried to confront him with his anger.  “Erick, all day and last night something has bothered you why don’t you tell me what it is?” 

She was carrying a candle, which she sat on their nightstand.  She took the globe off the oil lamp and lit it with the candle.  Then she replaced the globe.  Light from the glass globe erupted onto the walls and ceiling. 

 Erick cried out and covered his eyes but his wife seemed unaffected.  She apparently couldn’t see the vast images that played throughout the entire room.  “Erick, what’s wrong?  Are you hurt?”

 The blinding flashes of colors and now roar of a million voices had Erick crumpled to the floor.  “Where, where did you get that globe?”

 His wife’s voice broke through the pandemonium.  “I broke the old one today and I slipped into your shop to get another.  What’s wrong Erick?  Tell me.”

 After a few moments, the visions faded.  Erick reopened his eyes with his wife on her knees beside him. 

 “Erick, talk to me?  What’s wrong?”

 He blamed the incident on a sudden headache.  It was the best excuse he could conjure.

Erick’s vision completely returned but not his hearing.  For the rest of his days, he heard the gentle hiss from an unseen stream of falling sand.  He could feel the measured, unalterable passing of time.  The actions and words of men were sifted in the sand of eternity.  Erick deciphered pointless chatter and saw the end of useless pursuits.  Although he could never completely understand God’s hand, Erick could see its actions.  The glass blower knew the difference between what was temporary, lasting, and eternal.  It was wisdom to rival Solomon’s.

Glass (Part 2)

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Glass (*)”

Note:Please read Glass (Part 1) before continuing / Charles is Erick’s father

“You mean the vase!  I saw a purple glaze and in it the future!”  As his father closed the plate, Erick pushed the hourglass completely on the crate.

Charles straightened and let the sand slowly spill though the gaps between his fingers.  “It showed you a portion of time that would make a difference in your outlook. Time teaches.  It forgets, destroys and advances without care or concern.

I made a vase for you because I didn’t want you to loose the family’s skills.  The purple you saw was more than I expected.  It indicates grand prosperity.  As it turns out, your skill has far surpassed my own and soon you will gain the notoriety your abilities deserve.  I took some risk for if it had shown you black I would not have forgiven myself.”

“What does black mean?”

“The glass made from the sands of time take on shades based on what they have to show you.  Black will show you sorrow even death.  Others I’ve discovered are purple for wealth, brown for poverty, pink for companionship, white indicates peace.  Only the recipient can see the color then it disappears.”

Erick was incredulous.  “How can you not make use of this power?  We should be crafting everything from this!”

“What it shows you cannot be controlled!  Do you want to know the coming suffering your children will endure or view your long forgotten grave?  How about seeing your wife after her beauty has long faded.  How can you enjoy your wine today when you know tomorrow you will suffer from a terrible fever?  The burdens of this life should not be assumed until you must.  Our lives are harsh and short.  Enjoy what you have today and take pleasure in it.

Now put it back.”

Erick complied without another word.  He replaced the wooden panel and began moving the sand back where it covered the hourglass.

“One last thing…” Charles stood as Erick finished.  “You must promise not to disturb the hourglass until I am gone.  Even then, I would not use the sand.  Your work is as fine as can be found.  You will prosper; let it be enough.”

“As you desire father.  It will remain here counting the seconds until eternity.”

Erick did as he promised.  The seasons of his life changed from spring to summer.  Nobles, mayors, and wealthy tradesmen sought his work.  They paid him well and he was able to marry well.  Children followed and Charles watched over the growth of his family with great pleasure.  He lived another fifteen years before his body was returned to the earth

All the while, Erick kept the secret near to his thinking.  He wondered about the secrets that could be revealed.  He wondered if the shape of the glass effected the fragments of time that would be revealed.  Erick had plans for the sands of time and now that his father was gone he was free to test them.  The warnings were understood but for Erick it was madness to have such an opportunity and fail to try it.

  Only a week after Charles was laid to rest, Erick returned to the storage room.  Very little had changed.  The coal and sand were piled where they had always been.  It took him longer to move the sand then remembered.  The excitement was the same as it was years ago but he was older now.  After almost an hour of work, the hidden door was uncovered.  Erick took hold of the iron ring and forced the door free.

The gold hourglass was exactly as he remembered it if seeming slightly heavier.  Erick set it on the floor and tried tipping it to one side.  It would not rock in any direction.  He brought the seats of two chairs together and hefted the hourglass between them.  Erick took a small pan and placed it under the hourglass, found the bottom plate, and pushed it slightly open.  The trickle of golden sand began piling up along the bottom of the pan.  It took three hours before Erick decided he had enough to work into a vase. 

The sand was stubborn.  Flames from the furnace were strong making it difficult for Erick to get close enough to melt the sand.   The molten glass gave off light beyond an orange glow.  Instead it gave off a white light not overwhelming but easy and consistent.  Erick spun the solidifying glass on the ends of his rods working it into a narrow-necked flask.  It was an exquisite work by any standard.
When it was finished, Erick held the flask up by his fingertips.  Sunlight danced and wavered through the glass but there was no color. 

“Hmmm, I had no one in mind as I shaped it.  Perhaps someone will see something in it that I cannot.  I’ll set it along my storefront for sale.”

The very next day the apprentice to the local cobbler flew through the Erick’s shop door.  “Master Erick!  Master Erick!  That green flask you have in your window!  It’s amazing!  It sounds like foolishness but I believe I saw something like a dream inside of it!”

Erick set down his tools.  “Tell me then, what did you see?”

The young man spread his hands.  “Well, I saw myself taking my inheritance and investing it with Kamron’s caravan group.  The man is a boar and once he found out I had been given my sum he’s been pestering me continually!  I’ve been ignoring him and was going to buy several sets of new clothes instead; there is a lady I’ve been working to attract.  However, I saw myself lending Kamron the money and six months from now receiving close to three times as much in return!  I saw it all and it felt real! 

I believe the vision and now I want to purchase the flask.  Tell me, how much?”

Erick couldn’t believe it.  This young man was given the benefit of a hard lesson before living through it.  His inheritance was saved thanks to the wisdom time’s perspective could bring.  Immediate pleasure delayed for much greater gain in the future; the benefit of time!

“Six months from now your new clothes could have been food for moths but now you have the right perspective.  Take the flask.  There is no charge.”

That night, Erick went back to the hourglass.  He siphoned off additional sand and the next morning he began work on a glass bowl.  Again, the heat necessary to work the magic sand was excessive.  Erick felt as if his skin cooked each time he had to approach the furnace.  The finished bowl was clear and completely level; a true marvel. 

“I shall set this at the edge of my highest shelf, crowded by many other works.  It shall be a test of the hourglass’s unique power.  I wonder who will be able to next partake of the hourglass’s power?”

Erick did as he planned.  The bowl was even set behind a much more elaborate pitcher Erick had made.  For almost three days, those who entered his shop glanced about or spoke with Erick, but no one ever mentioned the glass bowl.  Some even commented on the glassblower’s other works, but nothing was said about the bowl.

On the fourth day, a young woman entered Erick’s shop.  She was dressed well but her clothes were dirty and it looked as if the woman had not bathed for some time.  Her eyes met Erick’s and filled the glassblower’s mind with pity.  He knew this woman.  Her husband and three year old son became sick over this last winter with a terrible fever.  Both had perished and she was left alone.  Her father and the church had tried to care for her but she would do nothing but weep over her loss.

She had come to beg him for a few glass needles.  They were a specialty of Erick’s; now his apprentices made them from thin metal molds and open the needle’s eyes with a thin bit of metal.  Erick gave them to the poor to sell.  This young widow had been in many times.

Erick placed a few in her apron when something attracted her attention.  Her eyes were pulled away from his almost as if they were pulled with strings.  Her gaze fell to the top shelf.  “What, what is…?”

He made a dismissive gesture toward the far wall.  “Everything you see is for sale of course, but are you sure you can afford it?”

She didn’t respond.  The widow took two steps toward the shelves then stopped.  “May I see that amazing bowl you have there?  Please let me see it.  Please.”

“The bowl?  Yes, you may see it.  Let me get it down for you. “  Erick took his step stool and took the bowl down.  The widow had her hands open and gently lifted it away from Erick.

“Look!  Look, do you see it?!”  Her brows lifted and she smiled.  “There!  Between the reds and the violets!  I can see myself!  I am beautiful again and there are arms to love me!”  She had to close her eyes; dirty tears zigzagged down her cheeks.  “I have a family again!”

 The widow clasped the bowl to her dress.  “How much?!  Please, how much do you want for this magnificent bowl!?”

 Erick studied her for a moment.  “The bowl is yours if you will tell me exactly what you see in it.”

Glass (Part 1)

This post is part of an archive.  To read the current version, we recommend  “Glass (*)”

 For many years, Erick toiled in a glass shop under his father’s supervision.  He learned everything there was to understand about the ancient art of glass blowing.  Just by watching the burning oven, he could determine if the heat was correct.  The sand was always properly measured.  With skill that rivaled magic, Erick could spin the molten glass while blowing a right amount of air.  His creations were smooth and nearly flawless.

 The apprenticeship wasn’t easy.  Glass is a fickle medium.  Imperfections could not be sanded out or painted.  It would not bend; if put under pressure it would shatter.  Imperfections were common even under a skilled hand.  Erick found the skills difficult at first and tried to quit but his father refused to allow him to leave.  There were times Erick’s immaturity overcame him and he would purposely quench misshapen bottles. 

Everything changed for Erick after his father crafted a special vase for him.  Other than a bold streak of violet beginning at the lip and pooling along the base, the vase’s structure wasn’t spectacular but its effect was profound.  When he looked into it, his eyes filled with images of wealthy commissions by royal houses.  Princes vied for this handiwork; offering him handsome prices.  Erick gazed into a future filled with promise and prosperity all because of his keen skills shaping glass.  The images were not imaginary; instead they were keen in detail.  He saw it once then never again. 

The next day the purple was gone and only days later the vase broke.  Clear shards covered the floor one moment and in the next they were gone.  The broke glass simply dissolved.  It was as if the earth simply absorbed them. 

From that hour on, the boy worked tirelessly to master his craft.  He accepted his father’s training with zeal.  In time, he surpassed his aging father and became a true master in his own right.  And yet, he was never able to add to understand the magic allure his father’s work.  Some claimed to see the future in them and were called mad.  Erick didn’t doubt them but didn’t share the vision he once had with anyone, even his father.

“Erick, come.”  His fathers worn, scarred hand took Erick’s shoulder and pulled him aside.  “I have something I need to show you before the sands of time drag me under.  Follow me to the back room where we store the sand.”

Both men entered a dark storage room.  Coal was heaped to one side and sandon the other.  The floor was smudged black and worn smooth from years of shoveling fuel into a small kart and wheeling it toward the furnace.  Long, iron clamps and other tools hung from thick rafters. 

“Take the sand shovel and move the entire pile near the door.  There’s something underneath you should know about.”

“What is it father?”

“Time, distilled and tangible.  Hurry, we must do this before your mother or sisters come back from the common.”

Erick’s back and arms were sore from the day’s work but found new life with such an unexpected prospect.  His shovel didn’t slow or tarry until bulk of the sand was shifted close to the door. 

With the last few scoops, Erick finally found something unusual.  Near the rooms corner, built into the floor was a door less than two feet square.  Along one side the top of an iron ring poked through the sand.  Erick tossed the tool aside.  His finger dug out sand inside the ring and he lifted.  It took some effort before the he was able to pry the door free from the sand that had wedged between it and the rest of the floor.  Inside was a square gold plate.  It was engraved and each corner was being bit by what Erick believed were small snake heads.

 “Lift it out.  There’s much more than you can see from above.”

Erick wrapped his fingers around the edge of the gold plate and lifted it out.  There was something heavy attached.  As it emerged from the hole, Erick finally grasped what he was holding.  It was a massive hourglass almost three feet tall fitted with solid gold.  The inner orbs were fashioned from crystal and clear to near invisibility.  Sand, almost as warm and deep yellow as the gold, filled both hemispheres.  Even now, it trickled silently into the lower half.  The rods that affixed both the top and bottom plate were shaped into long snake coils with the heads biting into the top plate.

“Father!  This is a marvel!  It must be worth five times what we could make in a year!  Where did you get it?  Why did I not know about this earlier?”

The old man’s expression didn’t change.  “I don’t know how our ancestors came to possess it.  I was told angels owned it a tool taken from the heavenly realms and lost to men.  Angels and demons should be able to read it but it is beyond human understanding.”

“How long does it last?  It was still pouring when I pulled it out.” 
“No one knows.  It will not flip.  A force binds it and keeps it upright.  Is it set to run out at the end of the age?  Possibly the final judgment?  Sand just continues to run from the top to the bottom.”

Erick wiped a little grime from the top of the hourglass.  “What does this say?”  He tried reading the script but he didn’t recognize the characters.

“It’s an angelic language.  I think the top portion reads, ‘Enta Socumal Demapola.’  Don’t ask me what it means.  Now set it on the edge of the crate over there.”

Erick lifted the heavy treasure and heaved it onto the wooden surface.  He balanced one side against the crate and he continued to hold the opposite side up.

The old man reached underneath and slid something aside.  “There is a movable plate on the bottom.  If you try hard enough, you can move it slightly to one side.  A trickle of sand will escape.  It isn’t much but if you’re patent you can capture enough to work with.”

“Work with!?”  Erick finally understood the implications of such magical sand.  “You have fashioned glass from it?!  What happens!?”

“I think you know.”