Friday, August 24, 2007

Beam Me Up, The Armed Citizen, -and- At Ease

Beam Me Up - thieves use car's GPS to find victim's home
The Armed Citizen - no permit needed to buy concealable gun in Missouri
At Ease - drill instructor faces 225 abuse charges

On this day in history: August 24, 1981 - Mark David Chapman sentenced to 20 years for killing Beatle John Lennon.

Born on this day in history: August 24, 1872 - Max Beerbohm (1872 - 1956) essayist, caricaturist, parodist. "The Incomparable Max" wrote many elegant essays; the novel "Zuleika Dobson" 1911, and a pictorial volume of caricatures.

Scripture of the Day: “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)

Video of the Day: Process Enacted - submitted by Danica

[While I slept] Renée, the Girl Who Hid in the Strawberry Tree

It was a Saturday morning, just after 8 AM. There was a knock at my door. It was my friend, Renée. After a brief greeting, she invited me to accompany her to her sister’s wedding. I had never met Renée’s sister. I knew that I would recognize her if I were to meet her, however, since Renée and her sister, Andréa, were identical twins. ‘I would enjoy that,” I said. “I would like to see the two of you together. That would be interesting. When is the wedding, and where will it take place?” I knew that Andréa lived somewhere in Southern Oregon, but I did not know the name of the city in which she lived. “She lives in Southern Oregon,” Renée replied. “I’m sure I’ve told you that.” “You have mentioned that she lives in Southern Oregon, but you have never said in what city she lives.” “She lives in a forest,” Renée replied. “It is a distance from the nearest city, but there is no need for you to worry about directions, because I will drive.” I had been a passenger in Renée’s Chrysler 300C several times and knew her to be a safe and competent driver. “That sounds good,” I said. “When is the wedding?” “It is tomorrow afternoon,” she replied. “We must leave now.” While the immediacy of the journey seemed odd, I did not protest. “Pack whatever you wish,” Renée said. “I will return in an hour.”

An hour later, Renée returned, and we began the journey. Two steaming mugs sat in the cup holders of her car. She had made hot tea with honey and lemon. It was a cool fall morning, and the tea was delicious and warming. Soon, I was asleep.

I awakened and saw by the clock on the Chrysler’s dash that it was nearly 5 PM! I had slept for almost eight hours! I apologized to Renée for falling asleep. “I am sorry,” I said. “I have no idea why I fell asleep. I cannot imagine why I did so and how I slept so long.” “That’s no problem,” she said. “I have made this trip by myself many times, so it doesn’t matter that you were asleep.” “Well,” I said, “it is a long journey, and I should have helped with the driving or—at the very least—kept you company.” “It’s fine,” she said. I noticed the surroundings for the first time. I had been to Southern Oregon many times and did not recognize the area through which we were passing. “Where are we?” I asked. “We are in the forest, only a few miles from my sister’s. Relax, and we will be there in no time.”

I fell asleep again. Later, I was being awakened by Renée. She said, “we’re here!” I rubbed my eyes and saw a large house. We were parked in a circular driveway. There were three other cars parked there. The area was beautiful, but it looked considerably more like a jungle than a forest. Instead of the pine and redwood trees I expected to see, the trees were coconut palm, banana, and other tropical trees. I prepared to ask Renée where we were, but she was no longer in the car. I saw her on the front porch of the house, talking to a girl who could only be her sister, Andréa, since—with the exception of attire—the girls were identical. It was an interesting scene. I had to recall what Renée had been wearing in order to tell which girl she was!

There were several couples in the house. I was introduced to everyone by Andréa. Renée appeared to know everyone. They were friendly. We exchanged pleasantries and enjoyed wine and canapés. It was becoming dark as I took my gear into the large house and followed Andréa to what was to be my room during our stay. “I’ll leave you to unpack,” she said. “Dinner will be in an hour. I shall see you then.” She smiled and walked out of the room.

Dinner was simple yet delicious: Grilled beef tenderloin, steamed asparagus, roasted baby red potatoes, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Soon, it was late. People were saying goodbye to Andréa and telling her they would see her the following day. I was feeling sleepy—despite my long nap during the journey—and I said, “Goodnight, ladies,” to Andréa and Renée—realizing that I had no idea who was Andréa and who was Renée, since the girls had changed clothing while I unpacked. I fell asleep while wondering why Andréa’s fiancé had not been present.

I felt someone gently shaking me awake. “Dress and come downstairs,” Renée—or, perhaps, Andréa—said. “Andréa has brunch ready.” It was Renée. The table was set for three. Andréa and Renée were seated. There were platters of sausage, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes. Andréa filled plates for each of us, and Renée filled our glasses with mimosa. We finished our meal, and the girls cleared the table. Wedding guests began to arrive. The people from the previous day were there—as well as several new people, to whom Andréa introduced me. We had champagne and migrated into the backyard—a beautiful area with incredible tropical flowers and plants, a large swimming pool, and a lovely white gazebo—festively adorned with flowers and containing an altar and dozens of white chairs. On the altar sat two tall, white candles in gold candle holders and an open Bible. I walked to the alter and looked at the Bible. It was leather-bound and appeared very old.

I was thirsty and wished to have more champagne. I realized I had not seen the twins for some time. I had been engaged in conversation with a man and his wife—discussing general issues. I walked to the house, filled my glass, and looked for the girls. I found them in the library. Andréa was painting Renée’s fingernails a very bright red. Renée’s toenails were already painted this color—as were Andréa’s fingernails and toenails. I was surprised—since I had never seen Renée’s nails painted previously—and it showed, apparently, since Renée said, to Andréa, “David’s surprised. He’s never seen my nails painted before.” “Really?” Andréa said. “David, when we were little girls, we used to paint our nails red and hide in the strawberry trees!” “What?” I said. “Surely you realize strawberries do not grow on trees.” “Not in California,” the girls said, in unison, “but here they do.” The girls laughed. “Go back to the party,” Renée said. “We’ll be right out.”

I returned to the party and chatted idly with various guests. Bottles of champagne sat in silver buckets on a long table, in the shade provided by tropical plants and flowers, near the gazebo. I filled my glass again. Soon, the wedding ceremony began. I thought it odd that I had not met the bridegroom. The man standing at Andréa’s side during the ceremony seemed oddly familiar, but I was certain we had not been introduced. Following the ceremony, the bride and groom walked through the house and into a waiting limousine. The limousine disappeared, as the wedding guests waved at the departing couple.

I looked for Renée and did not see her among the guests. Everyone moved to the backyard and filled their champagne glasses. I continued to look for Renée but did not see her. A girl approached me. She had been a bridesmaid, and Renée had introduced us, but I could not recall her name. “David,” she said, “you must be looking for Renée. Follow me.” She took me by the hand and led me around the swimming pool and down a narrow path. Soon, we were in a small grove of trees. “These are strawberry trees,” the girl said. “Renée is probably hiding in one of them. She and her sister often did that as children.” I looked closely, and the trees were indeed strawberry trees. There were dozens of them.

“In which tree will I find Renée?” I asked. “I have no idea,” the girl replied. “She’s hiding!”