Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Last year, during the period of Lent, I shared my daily writing called WORD OF THE DAY. That particular exercise was based on something Pat Pattison taught my songwriter friends and me years ago. Here are a few of the basics for that exercise:

- Choose a word (usually a noun)

- Remind yourself of all your senses, so you can write using all of them and therefore make stronger images

-set a timer for 10 minutes (so you don’t take all day writing. I sometimes ignore this part)

- start writing, allowing the WORD to be the jumping off place, the stimulus, so to speak. Stop when the timer dings.

I did WOTD (Word of the Day) writing for years with my friend and fellow songwriter, Tom Shults, among others. The first one to the computer in the morning selected a word and emailed it to the other, not for evaluation or comments, but because sending it to someone made us feel responsible and somewhat obligated to participate (which for us was crucial).

One day the WOTD was “tricycle”. This is what I wrote:

June 25, 2004 tricycle

On a simmering August morning last year, when my body had done enough healing to allow my legs to handle the gas pedal and brake, I happened upon a handwritten GARAGE SALE sign tied to the tailgate of a truck. Along Main Street, where Kaysville gives itself to Layton; just down from the Chinese fastfood that used to be Arctic Circle and looks as natural as I felt in Chinatown last weekend, a yard full of treasure hid behind a four foot hedge. I have a homing device. It turns my head from perfectly logical things to such signs. Since I reformed from the garage saler's disease I can logic myself past them now. But months of being bedridden altered the balance in me and I could not pass by. My sluggish reflexes awoke, my numb foot found the brake pedal and a good 1/4 inch of my tires melded to the asphalt. As I turned in to the driveway, back behind the 100 year old hedge, I fixated on a tricycle napping on the sidewalk, its front tire cocked to the side like a pigeon on a statue. It was red. 1950's red, with solid black rubber wheels and fully enfolding handlebars that begged me to be little again. It was mine. It was mine 40 years ago when I circled Vickie Jerrimello's carport on Elm Street. My legs were 15 months longer than Libby's, and when she rode it she had to stand on the back bumper step and push herself along with one foot. But my legs were 4 years old, and they could reach the pedals. I hurled back to Idaho, way back to when everyone I knew loved me and I didn't know it was bad to drink Dad's beer when he gave me a sip. Mama Jerimello was warming tortillas on her heavy black woodstove just inside the kitchen door. Her rolling pin beat like a drum against the kitchen table, and the heat of the summer fire wafted through the doorway as I pedaled by. Perhaps it was an early music lesson there in the driveway, Mama Jerimello keeping the drum steady, and my legs pumping up and down in time, the squeaking of the ungreased tires adding melody to the rhythm. We discovered, Lib and I, that she could stand on the back and wrap her arms around my waist and both ride! Her happy cheek pressed against my back, giggles bubbling from her lips, her fully alive red hair falling over my shoulder. Vickie had her own trike and no sister to share it with. And hers was smaller and so much less interesting.

So here it was, my trike. Well, just like mine. Just exactly like mine. Just completely content to sit and wait for some little legs to set it in motion. Only two months before I had been born into grandmotherhood, just stretching myself into the role. And Timo was so teeny. That middle aged woman in me told me to walk on by, it would take garage space and probably rust out completely by the time he could ride it. But the old woman and the child took hands and squished the stuffiness out of that middle aged beast, and the child held her still while the ancient one found $20. It is happy in my garage. And it will wait.

Tomorrow is Libby's 45th birthday and she can no longer wrap her arms around my waist! But if she could, I believe she still would. I am quite sure I would let her, if we could find a trike big enough.

Here’s what Tom wrote:


Don't remember having one. But, I remember the day I got my first bike. A black, Gene Autry piece of pure speed. I have a flashbulb memory of begging and begging with eventual success. I could ride as fast as the wind with a script that evolved with every turn. Dirt roads out through the fields, dirt jumps, skids and shifts. All day and into that warm June night, all summer and into the fall. Cards in the spokes, streamers from the handlebars, Indian headdress with shorts cowboy boots and a vest for the Burley parade. I bet it's still in my
parents shed.
I could just imagine little Tommy Shults on this bike:

Then I wrote this song:

The King of the Burley Parade

He wore an Indian headdress with shorts and a red vest
A six shooter slung at his side
His boots were like pistons pumping the pedals
In the heat of the Fourth of July
And the asphalt was soft
And the band up ahead
Made the whole parade stop
So he circled instead
And his handlebar tassels all blue, white and red
Flew to the music they made
As he rode in the Burley Parade
Yippee Ki-yi-yay he is the king of the Burley Parade

It was a genuine Gene Autry demon of speed
With a top coat of shimmering pearl
It had all of the horsepower a cowboy could need
To go out and wrangle the world
It was a gift from his folks
On a bright Christmas morn
He put cards in the spokes
That clicked when they turned
He was seven years old with a summer to burn
As he rode in the hometown crusade
In the heart of the Burley Parade
Yippee Ki-yi-yay he is the king of the Burley Parade

Well he found it this morning out in the tool shed
He’d come home to find what was there
Forty years in the desert, it wasn’t frozen or rusty
Just dusty and needed some air
So he lifted it up
Put it out in the sun
And all of those years
From a boy to a man
He just washed them away till it sparkled again
And the memory was fondly replayed
When he rode in the Burley Parade

Yippee Ki-yi-yay
Yippee Ki-yi-yay
Yippee Ki-yi-yay he is the King of the Burley Parade

Here’s how the song sounds:


  1. each day i say, "oh that's one of my favorites!" and think you have made your best entry. and then i read the next day and say, "oh, now that's her best entry." i then realize that all of your entries are the best!
    thanks for making my days better!

  2. Thanks for making all of our days better!!

  3. I LOVE this lyric. But in my head, I took the song itself in a different direction, musically. I had it kickin' with a western back beat. So I was surprised when I heard it. The rhythm of the lyric is so dance-able. And the second I started to read it out loud to G, I wanted to send it to my editor - because the first two verses would be the coolest of all read-aloud picture books. The third is too grown up and nostalgic. But can you picture the colors and the line of the illustrations? All of those new bikes they have that look so old? I want them all because they look so cool. But then I remember how badly I wanted to be shed of that old, heavy red bike of mine - a DE_RAILER!!!!! That's what I wanted more than anything.

    Now I think of my own tryke days. Of us, one foot on the back runner, the other pushing like mad, zooming around the single-post clothes line in the middle of the little side patio - then back out onto the driveway again.

    And I think of my kids, and the trykes we tried to save. I wonder where they are? (Like i know where ANYTHING is, just now). Wonder if the rubber has stood the test of time? Because Scooter is coming up.