Productive Sessions

The last week or so, my creative time has been rare. Partially due to sickness, a busy schedule, and a tired mind. A wise man and friend, our Pastor Denny Livingston, has taught me to know the season I’m in.

He also taught me to plant for the next one. This is true in every area of our lives, including writing, or other area of interest. When I’m in a slump, I try to follow a three step process. First, no matter how small, I try to write my idea down. I may never use it, or I might use it in another form, but I’ve learned this. It has to be recorded to remembered, and it had to be remembered to be developed.

Second, when I do feel an idea kick in, I take a few minutes and expand on it. It may be anything from a sentence to a few paragraphs, but over time they form a post, a story, or a book. Don’t try to do a final edit on a first draft, there will be time for it.

The idea may seem stupid, weak, or a rehashing, but it’s a fuse. That’s where number three comes in. Find time, when no new ideas spark, to reexamine old ones. Two post ideas may actually be parts of one blog. A plot idea may not work in that tidbit you wrote two weeks ago, but it may fit something you jotted last month.

Don’t be afraid to reevaluate an idea. You’ll be prepared for constructive criticism when you practice it yourself. Ideas, no matter how much they entertain us, are not people. They are building blocks, and like them, you can turn a house into a bridge with a few changes.

We all go through busy times in life when we wish we could do a,b, or c. Don’t get discouraged. Whether it’s a matter of time, or a struggle for ideas, seasons change. Live the season you are in, and plant for the season that will naturally occur in your life. When prepared for anything, productive sessions occur in every area of our lives. Even if we don’t always recognize the form they take.

Alaskan Silver Artemis

imageWhen an animal is running out of n the woods, being hunted by a ferocious wolf, something never occurs to that frightened creature. That, at home, this big fierce animal with vicious teeth, has a bigger, and meaner older brother. In Wynton’s case, the bigger and meaner Strand, was Artemis.

Big brother Strand was over six feet tall, with steel gray hair and eyes. He trimmed his salt and pepper mustache, and wore the finest suits. The muscles underneath had experience though, breaking any man who stood in his way.

They were different, in their approach, but equally cold blooded. Artemis wasn’t interested in politics, he built his own little criminal empire under the guise of business. He took what he wanted, bought what he had to, and tripled his profits anyway possible.

Along the way, he picked up a collection of specialists. Men and women who could do anything from burning a structure to the ground, to building it back in a hurry. One of these assorted skills was why Wynton called on family.

“You want Ortega little brother? Happy to help, for a price. (Laughs) Add about 5,000 to that and you’ve got him. Well, if you can’t afford him… I thought you’d see it my way. He’ll leave tomorrow, and Artemis, see to it he doesn’t get hurt. He’s the best numbers guy in the business.”

What scheme does Wynton need a numbers expert for? What’s so important that he ‘borrowed’ one from the one man he never wanted to owe? Find out in next week’s Alaskan Silver!

More Than Enough

imageThe solidarity of love divine, even before man could comprehend it. Christ prepared to die so we could live. Hope’s birth meant the Savior’s suffering. Yet, in spite of the pain, Bethlehem was planned, so Calvary could happen.

Why did it take The Messiah’s death? Because only a spotless life could span the gap. Sin had so blackened our record, that only Perfection could eradicate it’s stain. We rejoice because He was willing to shed, not mere tears, but blood for us.

Only unconditional love, only a selfless God could, or would go that far. His willingness to pay the price, knowing the cost, is why we are in awe. When in disgrace, before Adam’s feet had left Eden, mentally, Christ had entered Gethsemane.

Yes, we shout for joy at an empty tomb, but we kneel at the feet of a resolute God. He willingly walked to Jerusalem knowing there would be a Golgotha to climb. Jesus our Savior, loved us beyond and above measure. We worship, because He loved us enough, even when enough meant beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

Alaskan Silver Calls To Action

ascallsWhen men get anxious they can make slips, in St Louis’ business slips can get you killed. His was slight, but he knew it as soon as he made it. It was only two words, but it worried him.

He had called to report the accident to his government contact. Procedure was to disguise it as a call to his insurance man, “Mr. Arthur Fields”, and most of the call went fine. Right until the end, when St Louis said goodbye Joe.

He looked around the lobby of the hotel to see if anyone had heard. He wasn’t sure, but it worried him. St Louis didn’t make slips, he was off his game.

Edward’s mistake was that he hadn’t used a coded call. One of his Uncle’s staff members had walked in on a call to Harriet. Now the man wanted money, he was trying to blackmail Edward to keep silent.

He couldn’t pay him, but what could he do. The man was threatening to go to the newspapers with his story. He didn’t care that lives were at stake. Edward’s solution was a drastic one, he was going to confide in his Uncle.

He reasoned the man would threaten him, but not his Uncle. If the staffer hoped to have a future in politics, he wouldn’t cross someone who had the support of his party. It would quench the current problem. However his Uncle might disapprove of his actions, that endanger Edward’s entire operation.

The last phone call was Wynton Strand’s. I mentioned Strand didn’t like asking for help, being at the mercy of others. That was true of everyone, but especially true of one man. A person that Wynton never wanted to involve. Men like the Octopus view other predators as threats, even when their your own brother.

Meet the Octopus’ brother in next week’s Alaskan Silver!

Celebrate

  In the World War I era, men who argued up until the voting booth, fought in the trenches together.  From our first to our latest conflict, opposite sides have been brothers in arms.  Even after the terror of the civil war, men hung up their blue and gray, and carried the red, white, and blue together into the Spanish American War.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t like Alexander Hamilton, and the feeling was mutual, but they helped found a free nation.  I’m not telling you whether or not to be angry or excited about your candidate.  Just reminding you that for over 200 years we’ve had the right to argue about it.

Regardless of who your candidate is, and which party you support, but enjoy our system. The past option was the birth order of a monarch. In the midst of an election battle, let’s not forget how men with opposing views gifted us with a ballot box.
So vote for whoever your choice is, but celebrate that you can.  America may have issues, but we have the ability to do something about them.  Every political platform is made up of planks from a free forest.  Supplied by men who alienated themselves from a quiet life, so we could have these unalienable rights we have today.

Alaskan Silver Storm

 Wynton liked conducting business at parties.  It caused his prey to be relaxed, and easier to manipulate.  He hated it when his plans were interupted, or thrown off completely.

The party was set for the next evening, everything was in place.  Even the gifts were delivered early and at a special table.  Sometimes men’s plans are effected by the unexpected.  No one plans it, it just happens.

During the night, a storm began. Lightning hit St Louis’ place, a fire started, and spread quickly.  Before they could put it out, the entire place was a complete loss.

Wynton’s gift was up in flames. Edward’s carefully planned base of operations for St Louis was gone.  St Louis was left with nothing to show for all the work he had put in getting it ready. Now, they all would be forced to start over.

Things like this have a way of accelerating your plans.  Each of them was tired, frustrated, and anxious. The patience they had felt days before was gone.

Impatient men do crazy things.  They try to force normal to come back in a hurry.  When the business is already dangerous, this causes extreme consequences to set in.  Three phone calls happen in the hours after the blaze.  One of them could be deadly.

Listen to the effects of Calls to Action in next week’s Alaskan Silver!

Pastel, Porticlese, And Plane Rides

   
Sometimes we make assumptions. We assume that we know what to expect, and then surprises happen.  This silly little story, and it’s designed to be silly, has a point.  We discover at times, that what we thought was random and unproductive, turns out to be a very specific path to our future.  I hope you enjoy this little farce, and that it gives you a smile to go through your day.  

Lilly Caruthers piloted a blimp. She traveled from New York State to Toronto every November. Once there, she would eat at her favorite restaurant, and shop at all the stores she liked.  

Once finished, she would make the return trip. Upon her arrival home, she would plan next year’s trip. Lilly Caruthers had been doing this since she was 59 years old. 

Lilly was now 83. She also was extremely rich, and tremendously bored. This year, Lily decided to do something totally different. The question was, what would that be? So she consulted her crew.  

Her pet rabbit named Stewart, and her assistant, Porticlese Nova Junior. The nineteen year old took his Dad’s position once he retired last year. He was allergic to rabbits, so Porticlese sneezed a lot.  

Stewart reminded Lilly of a tall man with whiskers, and Porticlese reminded her of a rabbit. His Father hadn’t looked like a rabbit, he had looked like an actor she knew. This made her laugh often for the first six months of Junior’s employment, until it began to bore her.  

Lilly needed a change, but still hadn’t decided what. So she went shopping for a new hat. Hats soothed Lilly, except for gray ones, they just made her angry.  

Lilly didn’t own anything gray, for that reason. All of her clothes, and every other item in her life, was a pastel color. Pastels made her happy, which gave her an idea.
She asked her smart phone to call the nearest person named Pastél. It found a lawyer named George Pastél. Lilly thought of all lawyers as great legal minds, arguers of brilliant cases.

George wasn’t, he spent most of his days reviewing contracts for a television network. He was almost as bored as Lilly was. They met for lunch, Lilly was instantly impressed with the forty five year old. 

This wasn’t because he was entertaining, instead she saw in him a kindred spirit. A fellow member on the S.S. Boredom in need of rescue. Lilly decided to change her life, George’s, and those around her.

She sent a text, rented a car, and bought a private plane. The trip Lilly had planned was to long for her blimp. She was about to attempt something new, and required new transportation.

The next morning, Lilly announced to her new lawyer, old pet, and young assistant, that they were taking a trip. “We are traveling to Calcutta, Monaco, and Okinawa.” “What are we going to do there?” Porticlese asked.

She smiled, “Live my boy, live. We are going to conquer new territory, claim new opportunities, and establish the starting point for future escapades. All while making a fortune. Pack as little as possible.”

George thought she was crazy, but he didn’t care. It was an adventure, and before retirement, he wanted one. He put his house up for rent, quit the television company, and bought a red sport coat.

Porticlese purchased two months worth of allergy medication. He also bought books about the cities they were traveling too. Lilly stocked up on rabbit food for Stewart, hired a pilot, a stewardess, and bought a new dress to match her new hat.

Connie Vance was her pilot. Like George, she was forty five. Lilly had plucked her from flying planes for a freight company. Her nineteen year old daughter Heidi came along as the stewardess.  

Porticlese spent a lot of time talking to Heidi. George caught himself conversing with her Mother every few minutes. Lilly smiled as she read an article on the Prince Of Monaco.

Upon arrival in Kalcutta, Lilly bought a cricket team. They spent a week enjoying the city, and then, cricket team and all, set course for Monaco. That night, Lilly got sick from eating something that didn’t agree with her. She spent the next few days in the hospital.

Connie and George visited every day. Stewart kept her company in his cage beside of her hospital bed. They both enjoyed watching old movies. While there, Lilly had another visitor, the Prince.

The two of them had went to college together. She convinced the Prince to host a charity cricket game between her team and the best team in Monaco. The winner would win a hundred thousand dollars for their favorite charity.

By the time of the game, Lilly was better. It was so successful that each charity received two hundred thousand dollars. On a totally unrelated occurrence, Lilly’s team got so much press that a businessman offered to buy the team.  

She refused, and instead, bought a yacht. Lilly gave the captain instructions to meet them in the harbor near the Okinawa air port, on the day they were scheduled to return home from Japan.

In the mean time, Lilly’s cricket team played another expedition game, this time against a Japanese baseball team. Each attempted to win by playing their own sport. Lilly advertised it as a Sports Battle Royale, selling the rights to the local networks.

George negotiated the contract for her, and she bought Stewart a Japanese rabbit girlfriend, Hattie. Porticlese proposed to Heidi after Lilly’s team won the game. Lilly announced that she would have a press conference the next morning.

That night, she had her little crew come to her hotel room. For the first time since they had met the one woman hurricane, she looked tired. “Hello Dears. Come in, come in.”

George spoke first. “Lilly are you okay?” She took his hand. “Yes dear, I’m just tired. It’s been a long, and grand adventure. I’m 83, I can’t do this every year anymore. It’s time to semi retire.”  

Porticlese smiled. “Well, one thing for sure, this trip may have been unplanned, but it was successful.” Connie laughed. “It wasn’t unplanned though, was it? Lilly smiled. “No dear, it wasn’t.” 

“Everyone assumed that I was an old eccentric who did things with no purpose whatsoever, so I let them. I may be eccentric, but I’m also someone who believes in purpose.”

Lilly went on to explain that her blimp trip every year was part of a charity drive. She raised awareness of local charities along the way. Her shopping sprees were actually purchases for needy children. This ‘vacation’ was just as plotted out.

“George, I have a confession to make, I know your Grandmother. I promised her to help get you out of this rut you’ve worked yourself into. Porticlese, I promised my nephew, your Father, that I would find his son a nice girl to start your life with. Connie and I met on vacation, and she looked as bored as I was. Heidi was a smart entertaining girl who seemed lonely.”

George hugged Connie, as she showed off her own engagement ring. “So you played matchmaker? What about everything else?”  

“I needed someone to run my business enterprises, this was a test. One both George passed with flying colors. He will run the business, while training my great nephew Porticlese to take over one day.”

“What will you do?” “Connie asked. Lilly’s eyes twinkled. “Me, Stewart, Hattie, and the baby rabbits will take the yacht home to New York. I’ve got a blimp to sell, and a motorcycle to buy. I’m 83, I need to lead a slower pace now. I’m thinking a road trip cross country will be more relaxing.”  

After announcing her new CEO, and his VP at the press conference, Lilly hugged her friends. As she set sail on the yacht, they waived goodbye. She yelled to them from the boat. “Remember George Pastél, don’t be gray, be purple, or blue, or any other color, it’s far more exciting!”

Alaskan Silver Planning A Party

  While last week’s events were happening, St Louis was getting settled in his new place.  He was planning to open a small restaurant filled with music. The kind of place where people come to listen, talk, and make new friends.

It was the perfect backdrop for his line of work, musician/supposed gun for hire/U.S. undercover agent.  St Louis had to meet all of his contacts in the same place, without suspicion.  This would fit the bill, and allow him to enjoy his Grandmother’s recipes every night.

He figured he had a year and six months before the Pick Axe men wanted him to strike. So he had to establish his credibility with all sides.  His handler had instructed him to reveal his identity to his contact only when absolutely necessary.

His first party was booked by Wynton Strand. A man who did not like newcomers, even those he was forced to hire.  St Louis had been highly recommended, and it wasn’t that Wynton didn’t trust him.  It was something else. 

For all of Strand’s arrogance, or because of it, he was infuriated that he had to rely on someone else.  This was a man who wanted to be the only sportsman in the arena, fighting, clawing, and winning, with no help whatsoever.  He was smart enough to know better, but he still didn’t like it.

His consolation was that one day, he told himself, he would be powerful enough to not require anyone. Until that point, the Octopus would use anyone he needed too.  Even if it meant throwing the Mayor a birthday party.  

“Wait till he gets my gift.”  Strand smiled at his plan. The perfectly gift wrapped package was as much for himself as it was for anyone. Soon the Mayor would tell him everything, whether he wanted to or not.
Find out what happens at the party in next week’s Alaskan Silver!