Lisa’s Private Thoughts October 12th, 2011 “Vintage Clothing, Nathan, and Burlesque”

Uncle Nathan is the coolest guy ever!  

Back when we’d been in Europe, he’d promised to take me to some places that had vintage clothing and today he did just that.  It was a raining today, so we didn’t have to worry about the sun bothering him as we drove around.  At the first place we stopped I found this really nice-looking old bustle skirt in black that fit just perfect.  Unfortunately, it was a little out of my price range, but not Nathan’s.  He bought it for me.  

“It looked perfect on you,” he explained.  “And I would know, I spent a lot of time looking at women from the front, from behind, all around in fact.”

I gently slugged him on the arm for that one and called him a pervert to which he replied, “Excuse me, I did work in theater for a coupled of decades doing a lot of different jobs, including helping with people’s outfits.  I had to make sure they looked right before they went on stage.”

“Sure, you did,” I teased back.

“Right, that does it,” he announced and took me to a theater that was running a burlesque show.

Now before anyone freaks out, the show wasn’t going to be on until later.  So the only people there were a couple of the girls who were rehearsing and the troupe’s leader, a woman named Olivia.  Much to my surprise when she spotted Nathan her face lit up and she came running over to give him a big hug crying, “Uncle Nate!  Oh, how I’ve missed you.  Hey, everyone Nate’s here!”

I swear one of these days I’m going to find out exactly how many people are part of his ‘extended family’ besides mine.  Back in Europe there were quite a few, but now I’m beginning to think that the the actual numbers are much larger.  

In this case it made sense.  Apparently a number of friends and cousins were in charge of this burlesque troupe.  I don’t think all of them know his real secret as a couple of the people mentioned how unusual it was to see him in the day.  “You usually only come around at night when we have a show going,” one mentioned.

Uncle Nate merely waggled his eyebrows and said, “Well, you have to admit the sites around here are much more interesting at night.”

While everyone burst out laughing, I was given the grand tour backstage while Nathan was giving people a hand here and there with the backstage equipment and event he costumes.  Apparently he was telling the truth as several of the girls asked for his opinion and help with some of their outfits.  I think a few were trying to flirt, but mostly they did want his advice and help.

It was interesting to see all the inner workings of a theater backstage.  I’d never been behind the scenes before, so this was a real treat for me.  

Plus I got to see inside one of the dressing rooms where they kept all the clothing and make-up.   One of the things they all stressed to me was although I wanted to go for an authentic look I should also keep in mind, be able to move and breathe.  

“We don’t just get out there and start stripping, we’re dancing,” one girl told me.  “We do splits and a lot of other acrobatics.  And some of us are wearing corsets and those can be constricting so if you’re not careful you could make your life really miserable.  So choose items that allow movement and fabrics that breathe and you’ll be okay.”

I thought this was great advice, because the theater teacher at my high school has been complimenting me on my outfits lately.  She says I have an eye for style and authentic looks and has been hinting I should maybe join her class.  I told her I’d think about it and now I really am.  This could be a great experience for me and open up some doors down the road.  I may do it since I have more time to myself these days.  Marisa is still being distant, but at least now I know what’s going on.  Her dad is fighting cancer and she’s spending as much time with him as possible in case things go bad.   

I’d love to be there for her, but my parents say I should respect her wishes to be with her family more, so I’m giving her her space.  I’m still going to try and be there for her as much as possible, especially at school.  But I’m going to do as my parents say and giver her her space.  I just hope things go well so we can start hanging together again.  I really miss her.

Nathan’s Private E-Journal, April 12th, 2014 – “Fathers and Sons”

I was making my way back to “The Crypt”, after having visited my family’s plot tonight.  Everything was just as I’d left it a few months ago.  Except for the weeds which I made short work of.  And of course the flowers needed a little freshening up, so I circled the graves and released some of my green mist, which brought them back into a healthy bloom.  

Went inside the mansion briefly because I thought I saw a figure at one of the windows.  A small figure… holding a… never mind.  I didn’t find anyone inside, so I headed back towards town.

Naturally, my thoughts drifted to the days of my youth, before I left for the war.  Unfortunately, not all my memories were happy ones.  Mind you I have a lot of good memories, but there are a few involving my father that still sting from time to time.  He loved me, of that I have no doubts.  Heaven knows he told me and showed me enough times, but there were some days when I could see and sense his disappointment in me.  I wasn’t always the son he really wanted me to be, but I had limitations that he couldn’t understand at the time.  Of course, I no longer suffer those problems these days, but it would’ve been nice to let him see how far I’d come.

I had just reached the downtown area of Pointer, when I spotted a figure carrying a guitar case I knew only too well.  It was young Teddy and he was looking pretty down as he walked.  Concerned I started to quicken my pace, only to be passed by a car which pulled up next to my young friend.  Immediately, a man got out of the car and started scolding my young friend rather vociferously. 

Even though they’re a fair distance from where I’m standing, my hearing is exceptionally keen and I hear everything as if I was standing right there with them.

“I told you it could wait until tomorrow,” the older man says in a very annoyed voice.  “But, no, you have to make a scene.”

“You were already making a scene by yelling at me in front of everyone, Dad!” Ted shot back.

I wince at that.  Family arguments have never been my favorite thing to walk in on, much less be a part of.  I consider taking a different route home at that point but then Ted’s father says, “I told you not bother with getting a guitar months ago.  It’s not going to win you any scholarships for college.  Now if you’d get into football like I keep telling you…””Dad I’ve got Fibromyalgia, I don’t have the…”

“That’s a made up thing, and even if it was real, only girls and women get it,” his father yells, cutting him off.

That tore it for me.  Suddenly, the scenery on either side of me blurs and in the blink of an eye I find myself standing next Ted and his father.  

Luckily the two are so focused on each other neither even notice that I’ve suddenly appeared on the scene.  “Good evening, gentlemen,” I say clearing my throat meaningfully to get their attention.

Ted reacts first.  “Oh, hello, Mr. Backman.  I was just coming to return the guitar you loaned me,” he says in a quiet voice.

“Whatever for?  Don’t tell me you’ve given up playing?  You’re really good,” I tell him, mainly because it’s true.  But I also know what playing music does for him.  It gives him a way of forgetting about his Fibromyalgia for a while.  Everyone who fights a daily battle like his needs a coping mechanism and I don’t want to see him lose this particular one.

“He’s not going to have time to be playing music,” his father replies, before Ted can speak.  “I appreciate the fact that you let him practice with that thing, but it’s not helping.”

“Not helping?” I repeat curiously.  “From what Ted has told me in the past, it helps him deal with his condition…”

“He doesn’t have a condition, he’s just too lazy and delicate,” his father cuts in again.

I nod and reply, “It’s my understanding he has Fibromyalgia.  Is that not the case?”

“Fibromyalgia, if it exists at all…”

“For crying out loud, Dad.  Mom has it, you said so yourself,” Ted exclaims.  

“Of course she has, but it’s a condition women get, not men!” his father explodes. 

“I have it,” I say quietly. “In fact I’ve had it all my life, even when I was little.  Growing pains they called it.  Told me I’d grow out of it, but I never did.  It’s been my constant companion every day of my life.”

Ted’s father studies me for a moment and then says, “You don’t look like your sick or in any pain.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” I reply cryptically and take a step towards him.

****TO BE CONTINUED****

News and a New Tale Coming Soon…

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying the stories shared here for the past few months, even if they are re-runs so to speak. Still, I’m hoping that they have been new to a number of our visitors. 

I’m popping in today to give you all a heads up as to what’s been happening for me. I’ve been going through procedures for a back and leg problem, and have another one scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully this one might be the ‘silver bullet’ that corrects the problem. If not, then the doctors are going to have to look into some more invasive procedure options to alleviate the pain which should then allow me to return to work and being more mobile.

In the meantime, I have just about wrapped up my “A Christmas Carol” project, which will be made available to all for free over on YouTube. This will be an unabridged reading of Mr. Dickens classic tale, complete with images from Wikimedia and other public domain sites. The only thing I have left to do for each chapter is record an opening and closing where I will be discussing the novella as well as the importance of Mr. Dickens work at the time of its release. I’ll also be briefly exploring themes and why ghost stories were associated with Christmas even before the novella was ever created.

In the meantime, we have another spooky holiday coming up next month and in celebration of the season I wanted to let you all know that I am preparing a werewolf story involving Nathan and Marisa in Alaska.

So I hope you’ll keep visiting this site as my goal is to get the tale written within the next week or two while I recover from tomorrow’s procedure. My intention is to have the entire story written and then break it up into as many installments for this blog, with the finale being released on October 30th.

Until next time, take care and stay safe everyone.

Nathaniel’s Blog “Gone West” August 20th, 2018

 While scouring my art studio for clean paper I found one of my old journals which I thought I’d lost.  It’s a fairly recent one with only a few entries in it.  I remember buying it just after I headed out to California to meet with some movie producers down in Los Angeles.  It had been many years since I’d last been down there so I bought some art supplies to do some preliminary sketches to be turned into paintings later on.  The journal had originally been intended so I could make some mental notes and impression, but it wound up being a travel diary after I made an unexpected stop in Monterey and wound up visiting my first aquarium…


*Note:   Yes I know it sounds weird but most places like this have daytime business hours.  I was lucky to catch this one with extended evening hours.  Furthermore, not everywhere I’ve gone has been close to the water.  A pity really because I really enjoy walking along the sea, or traveling on a ship. 
I need to do that some more.  Anyway, here goes…


Travel Journal, May 16th, 2009…Well, everything is set. The producers were happy and so am I.  Soon my bank account will be as well. Negotiations for the rights to my first two novels are set and all is well. I’ve come back north to stay with some old friends, the Cloudfoots. As the name implies, they were of native American ancestry dating back to way before my time even.  


I met Jason Cloudfoot some years back over in Connecticut, when his niece disappeared around Christmas. After helping find her, Jason and I became fast friends and I visited whenever I could. Over the years he’s told me some wonderful tales of Seneca lore, while I’ve shared many of my own personal stories and adventure with him. He’s one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met. One of those rare people who figured out right away I wasn’t all that I appeared to be… but that’s a story for another time.


I got to know his children and helped keep an eye on them they were growing up and they too know all about me and what I am.  Now they have families of their own and have moved out this way and are currently living up near Santa Cruz. When they heard I was going to be down in Los Angeles, they insisted I swing up north and come to stay with them for a few days.  


When I gave them a date they asked me to meet them here in Monterey, because they were taking their own children to the aquarium located here. Apparently, this place keeps long hours and occasionally have sleep-overs for children who wish to spend the night surrounded by the mysterious beings from the depths.  


I agreed to meet them and I’m so glad I did. I’ve never been to an aquarium like this before. To me, an aquarium is a big twenty to thirty gallon tank in someone’s living room, filled with gold-fish or whatever.

 
I had no idea what a treat I was in for.  This place was magical. I’ve practically filled my sketch pad with pencil drawings of creatures and settings I’d never dreamed existed. Oh, I’ve seen photos in magazines, but to actually be here is another thing entirely.


For one thing, each exhibit room has it’s own background sounds. There’s a jellyfish exhibit that is nice and dark (perfect for someone like me) with the most ethereal music playing in the back ground. It was so soothing and relaxing I almost didn’t want to leave that room.  The types of fish varied more widely than I ever suspected.  

Then there were the sea otters, playful furry beings who are so gosh-darned cute as well. They are also very large, much bigger than I originally expected. Some are the size of a large dog, as in 60-70 pounds big.  Yet they were so graceful under the water.

There was a particularly interesting blue room with a circular ceiling. Inside the ceiling was a series of glass windows all interconnected, with silver sardines racing about in one huge continuous circle.  It was both dizzying and breathtaking.  
I even got to see my first real live octopus.  My timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Like me, the creature is usually very shy during the daytime hours.  But tonight, he was more lively and I got to see him to great advantage.  I made several sketches of him for future use.

A part of me could have stayed in this wondrous place for days or weeks. Alas, time was getting on and the children decided they wanted to be home instead of staying for the sleepover. Too much excitement for them they said. Personally I think they were a little intimidated by all that was around them and I couldn’t blame them. Everything here inspires both wonder and awe. I could set up my easel and spend night after night painting these wonderful creatures.  This place is truly magical…

Alas, I haven’t been back there since duty has called me away to other places.  But I hope to get back there soon.  Jason is no longer with us, but his children know me (and what I am) yet always ask me to come and visit them again.  Which I will do shortly.  There are other sights and places I wish to visit, like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and a supposed “Concrete Boat”.  Jason’s son always laughs when he mentions it, perhaps it’s the incredulous tone in my voice.  A concrete boat?  That is something I have to see for myself.  I’m planning on going to see them next month.  I’ll write more about that adventure when I get there.


For now, I’m going to set up my easel and try and make up my mind which of my sketches to work from first.  I’ll either do several pieces or use the various creatures to create one large painting.  We shall see, it’s so hard to say.  They are all so beautiful and colorful.  My palette will get a hell of a workout over the next few weeks.

The Artist – August 2009 Part IX

 I/we made our way over to the plastic covered figure and carefully unwrapped it. Somewhere behind us Brian took in a deep breath, followed by the words, “Oh my God… it’s… it’s going to be one of your best pieces.”

I felt/heard Nathan share the same sentiments inside our shared head. “Agreed.”

“But there’s still so much to do,” I told them both, glancing over at the wall next to the sculpture. There was a bulletin board with several photos of my grandfather, at least one of them in uniform. The rest were a couple of him even younger, as well as several of him later in life. I had gathered them to try and help me capture the spark of determination in his eye, the set of his jaw, as well as the… the spirit of the man who would come out of not just one but two great wars. I wanted to capture the man he was and would become all in one shot.

But now I hesitated and looked down at my/our hands. I knew they could work the clay, but would they have ‘my’ touch?

“Of course they will,” Nathan assured me. “This is where I take a backseat. You’re in charge. Just think of your grandfather and go for it.”

As soon as I heard those words in my head, I saw my grandfather in my mind as clear as day. Clearer than I’d ever been able to remember him. Honestly, I could see every detail in his face that I wanted to capture and just knew what needed to be done. 

What happened over the next twelve hours will remain with me forever. Never had the clay felt so soothing and yielding to my touch. It and I were in harmony like never before. Had Brian not fallen asleep, letting out the occasional snore, I would never have realized how much time was passing. Nathan and I only paused briefly to allow him to take over and drink what our body needed, before going back to work. 

Every now and again, I’d start to wonder if he wasn’t helping guide my hands, but I knew better. I could sense his wonder at what his hands were helping create under my direction.  Finally, we took step back and into Brian who had been fast asleep on the couch nearby. I’d it in the studio from day one, knowing there’d be times when I would need to stay overnight from time to time. I admit it, when I get going I don’t like to let up some days.

“What the… huh?” Brian muttered then his eyes fell on the sculpt. “Oh my God! It’s… it’s perfect!” he breathed.

“You’re telling me,” Nathan murmured out of our shared mouth. I could actually feel his sense of awe which only added to my delight in this moment. I’d succeeded! But there was still more work to be done.

Walking over to the shelves I pulled out a long thin wire with wooden handles tied to each end. Then I headed back over to the piece and started stretching the wire from the head of the piece down to its base. 

“Um… what are we doing?” Nathan asked aloud. I realized this was for Brian’s sake, as he was looking as puzzled as Nathan was feeling.

“This,” I replied and pulled on the handles of the wire, which slowly sank into the clay, neatly severing the sculpture into two sections. 

“OH MY GOD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” Nathan cried, making us take a step back. But I quickly took over and brought us back just in time to catch the back half of the piece before it fell onto the table. 

Before I could explain, Brian cut in saying, “Oh… that’s so you can remove the armature inside the statue.”

Inside our head, I heard Nathan spluttering, “The who… what… where? Wait, this was supposed to happen?”

Patiently, I explained, “You don’t get two feet of clay to stay upright all on it’s own. Take a closer look. See, there’s metal rod attached to the base that runs inside the entire sculpt.”

“Okay, yeah I see that,” Nathan responded, still sounding a bit shocked.

“Well, that has to come out before I put the piece in the kiln for one thing. For another, I have to start hollowing out the entire piece.”

“Hollowing it out?”Nathan repeated, this time aloud for Brian’s benefit.

“That’s right, like this,” I gently held the one half that had come off the main piece into one hand, while I grabbed a tool from nearby in the other. From there I proceeded to scrape out some of the interior of the piece I was holding. 

Remembering to speak out loud, I continued, “Now, I’m going to remove just enough clay so that the remaining shell is just under an inch thick all around. Then I’m going to do the same to the other half that’s still on the armature. This it to keep it from cracking when it goes into the kiln. I’m also going to poke a bunch of 1/2 in deep holes to also prevent cracking.”

Naturally, I did as I promised, allowing both Nathan and Brian to see what I meant. Then I did the same to the other half. When both were nicely hollowed out and pricked, I began scouring the edges of both halves where the wire had cut them, and then brushed the edges with a water. “Since this is a water-based clay, this will allow me to put them back together,” I explained.

“But what about the seams where the two halves meet?” came Nathan’s voice out of our mouth.

“I was wondering the same thing,” added Brian, who had been watching the entire process intently.


I’ll add more clay and smooth it all out, and then rework it into the rest of the design,” I told them. 

An hour later, the piece was whole again, without the slightest hint that it had been cleaved in two. 

“So now you put it in the kiln?” Nathan asked out loud.

“Yes, but we’re going to use a low heat to dry it out. The process is called ‘candling’. Then once the clay is really good and dry, we’ll start the firing schedule,” I replied.

“The what?” Nathan asked out loud again.

I winced inwardly. Obviously, neither of them had any clue how long this was going to take. Plus, I was starting to get worried about my physical form back at the hospital. The three of us really needed to talk things out before anything else could happen.

TO BE CONTINUED…