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Cross My Heart…

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Michael O’Neal is a country gentleman…broad-shouldered and fit and strong.  He reminds me of a blond Michael Landon—but with shorter curls.

Instinctively, he seemed to know that my heart was fragile—-that it had been shattered a dozen times, at least.  He told me not to worry.  He only wanted an hour of my time.  Just an hour for a picnic at the beach.  So I obliged him.

That first meeting was a date extraordinaire.  I’ve never had one like it…..

We met at Trinidad Beach…a long stretch of cliffs and caverns.  Crashing surf.  Archways carved in the rocks.  I gazed about me, transfixed.  It was so glorious…so heaven-on-earth…The most romantic spot I’d ever seen…

Michael brought out the picnic lunch and a large book.  I eyed the latter curiously.  It was a coffee-table book and seemed rather out of place on a sandy beach—but I soon forgot about it as Michael set out our lunch…a luscious spread of sliced turkey on sourdough.  Avocados.  Potato salad.

Michael fed the seagulls tidbits as we ate and talked.  Squirrels and other critters showed up, as well.  Michael was like Dr. Doolittle to them.

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The Launching….

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It was a day we won’t soon forget. A day that lives in infamy—the Day of the Balloon.

My father called the crew together in the early morning hours, directing us to a newly-planted cornfield at the far corner of the farm. Nearly everyone was there—the kids, grandkids, in-laws and siblings. Even Grandpa came along, to keep watch over his cornfield if nothing else.

Dad hauled out his tattered treasure…a huge gray-green bag that looked more like a bloated sow than a hot air balloon. It didn’t have a riding basket, but that was a small matter to Father. Continue reading