Friday, August 28, 2015

Trout and Berry Days in Paradise

Tomorrow, I'll be hauling my pottery down to the center of Paradise for a bit of old fashioned fun. Oh, there will be the usual stuff, pony rides for the kids, trains, rides, cotton candy--all that stuff. But unlike other town celebrations, our's features the famous trout scramble. If you don't know what this is, think of a pool of water, a slew of fish, and humans trying to catch the fish with their hands. They do it in age groups ending with adult women. Why adult women and no adult men, you might ask? Uh, I wouldn't even dare to suggest that this is really a wet t-shirt contest--no of course not--not in Paradise in the 21st century, so I guess you'll have to ask those in charge. You'll have to come judge for yourself. 
But it's for fun and prizes and plus you keep the fish. They kill it and clean it for you--so don't think you have to build a pond at your house. 

I also enjoy the small town parade with horses, bicycles, and maybe a float or two. Usually the hand-outs are a bit better than most. It seems like for the last few years FAT BOYS were handed out--the ice-cream bars--not you know actual fat boys. Anyway that's worth coming out for right??? Then there's also an auction--proceeds benefitting our local emergency response team and or fire station. I've always donated a nice piece of pottery to this. The culmination of the evening is our very famous and also excellent trout dinner featuring White's trout and Weeks's berry desserts. I've heard that even people who don't like trout, like the trout, but I can't judge that because I LOVE trout. Besides, I look forward to this meal all year. Really, I do. 

Besides the dinner, my other favorite part of the day is just visiting with friends all day. I hope everyone I know and love comes. I know that isn't possible, but if it is come to Paradise. It's worth the drive. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Keith N Fisher

People say that when you start to feel too gosh-darned important that you should stick your finger in a bucket of water and then pull it out to see that no one leaves a hole. The water just fills up--so they say.  I don't believe that's true--not for a minute. Each of us leaves a void in the world when we go. Today a good man died. He was my friend although I didn't know him really well. He was my friend, even though we'd only had a few face to face conversations. We should have met a long time ago, but we didn't. He was only a year younger than me and attended the same high school. I knew who he was--sort of. I'd seen his face at writing conferences, but we didn't become friends until a conference at UVU some years back. That was the year I had really struggled with depression and social anxiety and writer's block, and low self-esteem and fear and ...  on and on. I wasn't sure I'd ever get another book published. It scared me to death to go to conferences and I avoided talking to authors, but in a small surge of confidence, I registered for a conference when I found out that I could attend with my good friend Josi Kilpack. It was there Keith introduced himself and told me how much he loved my writing, especially False Pretenses--my second book. This was before the following three books came out. We talked in the hall about writing, and if I recall it was then I found out that he was a good cook and participated in Dutch Oven cook-offs. From that day forward, I counted Keith as a friend. 

 He was my friend because he showed me over and over that he cared--about me, what I said, what I wrote, and what I thought. Through Facebook, we found out we had a lot of similar beliefs. He was my friend because he made me smile, nearly every week if not every day over the last few years. He was the kind of man, I wish I had known better, and met earlier, and spent more time with, and learned more from. He seemed to know how to say just the right thing when I'd post something that was controversial in our conservative circles, or when I needed to be encouraged or cheered. Sometimes, I wrote something that was a really hard truth for me, and then I'd want to delete it--but then I'd wait and often within the hour Keith would comment positively. 

The last time I saw Keith was at the Storymakers Conference in Provo the middle of May--just a couple of months ago. When I saw him and called his name, he immediately got up from his chair to greet me and give me a great big Keith hug. I said, something like thanks for reading my Facebook posts and liking them. It means a lot to me. And he said something like, no, thanks to you for writing and saying what you do. You are doing good. He encouraged me to keep at it. We talked about how hard it is to think differently than so many whom we associate with. We talked for a few more minutes. Then throughout the day, we'd pass in the hall or in a class and I'd give him a nod or a wave. And that was the last time I saw him in person. 

At the end of June, I had a meeting at my house on loving and supporting our LGBT friends and family. And Keith told me he was going to try to come. I knew he wanted to, though it was a two hour drive. I wish he had been able to because I would have loved spending that time with him, but I suspect he wasn't feeling well even then. His heart attack happened a couple of weeks later, and then there was so much more wrong. I was shocked today when he died. I wasn't ready for it. I went to his blog to read his last post. It was written on July 25th. Like much of his posts, it's poignant and touched my heart. It's fitting to end this tribute with his own words. I hope you will take the time to read it. 

Bye my friend. You were a big man, with a big heart, and a magnificent soul. You leave a big void. I hope Heaven is ready for you. Until we meet again.