Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Things Go Boom, In a Good Way

Home, slightly sunburned and exhausted from an awesome ArsonFest!

This was our fourth (?) ArsonFest, joining my dear friend Mitzi and her friends and family to celebrate Independence Day with shootin', barbecue and watching things go boom in the sky, just like the founders intended. It is always a great honor for me to be included in this annual tradition, and I honestly can't imagine what the Fourth would be like without it.

Shooting was great, and as always we were happy that those who actually own guns let us Illinoisans shoot as well. Ian turned out to be quite good with the 9mm pistol and a .22 rifle. I brought a batch of chocolate chip cookies as our barter for admission to the range.

A brief panic ensued when a sizable squall hit in the late afternoon, and we scrambled to tack down the rainfly on our rental tent. We had put up the tent at 1 a.m. without any familiarity with the tent's design, so I think it was a testament to our (read: Mitzi's) brilliance that we were actually able to get the damn thing up at all. We got the rainfly in place just in time for the storm, and I was highly impressed with its ability to weather the winds and rain. I honestly think in a big storm, we'd probably be safer inside that tent than we would be in the shelter. And not one drop of rain got inside.

Post-barbecue (om nom nom), we watched the fireworks with special guest star Seantaclaus, and we killed a bottle of bourbon. By which I mean Sean and I killed the bottle, with one drink to Jimmy and I think Mitzi abstained. Good thing I don't get hangovers! (Never have, not even on Absinthe Night in 2005.) Ian joined Mitzi's kids to set off the smaller fireworks, and also assisted the grownups with the big fireworks. He survived with his limbs intact, which is no small feat for The Most Accident-Prone Boy in Illinois. (Which is not to say he escaped the weekend uninjured: one dog bite, two cuts and blistered feet. I call it a light day.)

We returned home via REI to return our rental tent, which is now on my Big-Time Want List, and our now-traditional pilgrimage to Bass Pro Shop, where Boy leapt to the kids' fishing clinic. I snuck away for a few minutes while he was catching smallmouth bass, and when we went back out to the car he found a brand-new Brawler fishing rod on his seat. He was over the moon. He and Jimmy spent half the drive talking about going fishing next week.

Now we are home, the gear is unpacked, the icky stuff is being washed and we're taking turns degriming ourselves in the shower. In all, a hell of a weekend. Long live ArsonFest!

Friday, June 07, 2013

The roof of the City Museum

Sitting on a rooftop in a cool breeze that tastes of early summer. Watching a glorious sunset begin to settle behind the city skyline. Deep breaths of fresh air between photo bursts of the sunset, all shades of deep orange and rust-red and softly glowing rays breaking through cottony scattered clouds.

But no words. Notebook and laptop silent before me. If I cannot write here, where can I? The words won't come. Ideas, images... But no words. 

So I force them, and of course they are awful. Cliches that fall on the ear with the thud of anvils like "glorious sunset."

How did I do this in my previous life? I can't remember. The words just came. Sometimes they hid, sometimes they were rough. But never this rough, and never for so long.

I was going to write about the beast in the storm. The creature that rode into a small town on the screaming energy of a tornado, and the things it did in the night between the thunderclaps. He's a nasty beast, and he wants to be written.

Maybe if I could stay on the roof a few more days.