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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Author Spotlight - Nelson Pahl!

Hello Friends,
Please enjoy this excerpt from Nelson Pahl's book Bee Balms & Burgandy!

Bee Balms & Burgundy
Nelson Pahl
Chapter IV Excerpt
Copyright © 2008 Nelson Pahl

I arose at ten minutes after ten St. Paul time. It’s always so strange for me to awake in the place where I grew up. While the memories supply warm reminders of family, friends, and productive youth, they are, at the same time, somewhat disturbing. Memorabilia reiterates a lifetime already lived, a phase completed and put in the books; it demands a step down the evolution ladder. I’d always defined my life by my ability to progress beyond what I’d been “given” to that which I’d “chosen” for myself. In this respect, the Twin Cities acted as the inherited, Vancouver as the earned.

To my amazement, the sun shone through the curtain less windows just beside my bed. My mother had redone the wallpaper and carpet in the room—my former bedroom and now the guest bedroom—prior to her Christmas visit to see me eight months earlier, and, for some reason, had yet to adorn the windows with proper tapestries. Perhaps she waited for me to do it, or perhaps she just had too many other things piled upon her plate.

I made my way downstairs and into the kitchen. I noticed the windowsill included yet another limp chickadee. This had become a running joke at my mother’s house. Although she felt sincere empathy for the adorable little creatures, she couldn’t help but question the animals’ intelligence. Like clockwork, my mother would clean her kitchen windows and within hours another chickadee would attempt to employ the hanging plants as a resting perch, subsequently cold cocking himself against the glass. Sometimes, the bird survived the first bid but didn’t get the message. After knocking himself silly, he’d come to shortly thereafter. Then, he’d give it another try, only to discover the futility in a second attempt. My mother could’ve placed the plants elsewhere. In fact, she’d tried to find a “safer” location several times. However, the plants needed sunlight to survive; therefore, they belonged window-side. The chickadees yearned to alight upon the plants; hence, they’d meet their fate. My mom and I expected PETA to show up at the door any day and demand that we kill all her plants to save the chickadees from themselves. Then, the Sierra Club would come calling.

I stepped through the sliding glass door, and picked the chickadee from the windowsill. I threw him in the woods, then headed back inside and proceeded to wash my hands. A note from my mother lay next to the sink. She was “running errands” until noon, and she wanted me to take a package to the next-door neighbor’s house—the Lawsons’ house. The parcel itself sat on the counter. So did a twenty-dollar bill. No matter how old I got, no matter how wealthy I became, my mother had a difficult time grasping the fact that I, at age thirty-two, could provide for myself. I thought it a cute gesture, but…

I pulled a glass from the cupboard and the Aloe Vera juice from the fridge—which my mother stocked exclusively for my visits, as she hated the stuff. I poured and drank, then headed up to the spare bathroom to take a shower.
I rang the doorbell and knocked on the front door several times, but no one answered. Yet, a car occupied the driveway. I made my way around the house, through the fence gate, and into the backyard.

At once, beauty deluged my senses. I recognized the wafting sachet of sage and chive. I couldn’t decipher, however, the abundant accent aromas—they teased me from every direction. A two-layer musical arrangement serenaded me; chickadees on vocals tracked over the sensuous-yet-flirty rhythm of breeze caressing leaves. And the colors…It looked as though Monet had used the yard as his test canvas. Everything bloomed at once. Up and down the flowerbeds, the red-to-violet magic thrived.

In my opinion, the Lawsons’ backyard hinted at what an urban rainforest might look like up close. Large antique elms and oaks towered over the plot. The mid-morning sun oozed through strategically placed narrow shoots amongst them, creating a spotlight effect upon the parcel’s far side.

The lawn itself measured a half acre—an inclined dog leg, with the dog’s foot pointed toward the fence gate through which I’d just stepped. Weathered four-by-six-inch oil-treated railroad ties embraced ascending and descending flowerbeds that created a natural staircase shelf throughout the pitched yard. A six-foot cedar fence ran the lot’s entire perimeter.
I made my way along the stone path and through the arched tree-limb tunnel that sheltered it—almost expecting a committee of parrots, monkeys, and panthers to welcome me. I stepped to the deck, and headed toward a bustling flowerbed at its far end.

She stood with her back to me, tending to the many blossoms that enveloped her bare legs. Ani DiFranco’s “Here for Now” resonated with moderate volume from a small, portable CD player set upon the deck. She wore a pink bandana on her head, faded denim shorts, and a forest-green Minnesota Wild tee shirt. Although five-foot-six, she couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds.

I’d known Mia for what seemed like forever, although I hadn’t seen her in almost two years. We’d grown up next door to one another, two school grades apart. With me being an only child and Mia much younger than both sisters—who’d married wealthy brothers and now lived out east with teenage children—we’d served as a mock step-sibling duo for much of our lives; I assumed the big brother role, and she portrayed the little sister.

I’d held an affinity for Mia since our friendship’s first hour. She truly qualified as the best person I’d ever known. She gave her time to everything; a woman who brought home a stray anything then spent the next week in a frenzy trying to place the animal with just the right family. Afterward, no matter her age, Mia would always cry when she had to bid farewell to her furry little friend.

I pulled up behind her. “Hey, stranger.”

She turned around, pruners in hand, gloves stained with dirt. “Nicky.” She swiped her forehead with forearm. “God, I haven’t seen you forever.”

I stood with crate in hands, at the flowerbed’s edge. “You out for the weekend?”

She studied her pruners as she fondled them. “Um...” She looked to me. “I’m living here again.”

“Oh.” Odd, my mother hadn’t mentioned anything about Mia moving home. “Listen, the UPS guy dropped this with my mom for some reason.” I handed her the wooden, breadbox-sized parcel.

“Thank you.” She shook it. “Wonder what’s in it.” She inspected the crate for a moment, then grinned. “Guess we’ll find out later.” Mia stepped down from the foot-high bed, and set the crate on a small three-plank bench mounted upon the deck. “God, how are you? Your mom told me you were coming home for a few days.”

“I’m good. And you?”

Mia giggled, as she looked down at herself. “Skinny, as you can see.”

“I guess so.” I didn’t know what happened to her weight. Mia had always been an avid runner with a slender physique, but I’d never seen her this thin. While her legs remained relatively toned, her torso appeared to have withered. I just couldn’t picture her, Mia, with an eating disorder.

“Are you in hurry?”

I shook my head. “Not really.”

“Please stay and chat for a while. I’ve been looking so forward to seeing you.”

“Ah…OK, for a bit.”

“Look, my bee balms are blooming.” She glanced beyond her shoulder.


“Yeah, look.” Mia pointed the pruners toward the bed from which she’d just stepped. “They’re my new favorite flower—and they’re blooming! It’s the most beautiful sight I’ve seen in a long time.”

Hmm. To me they looked more like scarlet-hued tarantulas being electrocuted atop an eighteen-inch stem. Nonetheless, I played along. “Great.”

Bee Balms & Burgandy available Now! at NelsonPalh.com

Well folks, hope you enjoy this Author Spotlight on Nelson Pahl and his book, Bee Balms & Burgandy.

I'll be chatting tonight at Love Romances Cafe @ 7pm CST and I'll be giving away a pdf of my novel, Tempered Hearts to some lucky participant.
Hope to see you there!
Until later...be BLESSED!

"Inspirational with an Edge!"

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