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Monday, July 10, 2017

Odds and Ends on an (Almost) Rainy Day

I was writing a grocery list and thought about needing small note pads as I'm a "scribbler" and need something to scribble on working or playing.  All of a sudden I was "hit" with the smell and feel of opening that three-ring binder filled with new notebook paper on the first day of school.  Elementary school as we did not have Middle Schools and it assuredly was not the way I felt in High School.

I know aromas can trigger dormant memories but this was not an aroma.  It was just a random thought.  I suppose it is quite normal but that mental "smell" made me think of how badly I wasted my childhood.

My childhood was not what anyone would call ideal and my fondest dream was getting to be old enough to get away from my parents.  I expect that is pretty common among kids and, mostly they outgrow it.  I never did.  I never got away from them then and, I suspect, I have not completely gotten away from them now.  Their hands reach out to my mind, my memories, my sanity from beyond the grave.

It is wonderful how sights, sounds and smells can bring back vivid memories of the past.  Seems even idle thoughts can do the same.

Those kind of moments take one back to some distant place and time as though it were yesterday.  Plants "what if" seeds in ground which has lain fallow for many years.  I know there is no going back but I cannot help longing at times for what might have been.

But that is neither here not there as the past is only real in our memories and, sometimes, not even then.

But, this just brings me to the thoughts I am having today.  I go to a psychiatrist every 30 - 60 days.  One of the questions she always ask is if I have thoughts of "hurting" myself or others.  I always laugh at her and tell her, "If I were to kill myself you can be sure I'd do it in the least painful possible".  Sometimes I hate euphemisms.

While having no thoughts or plans to do away (another euphemism) with myself I find a growing indifference to whether I wake up the next morning when I go to sleep at night.  I told her a couple of visits ago that while I had no thoughts of suicide, should I go to bed knowing I would not wake up the next morning, I would still get a good night's sleep.  Well, as long as it lasted.

Kind of like Dr. Timothy Leary I am finding I'm curious about what lies ahead.  Is it "something" or is it "nothing"? Only one way I know to find out.

Although, it reminds me of an old song, "Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die".  Seems to me there are an awful lot of people who don't really believe in Heaven though they would never admit it.  If Heaven is a real place and completely wonderful, why does everyone cling to life like a drowning man clutching at straws?

On the other hand, if one ever expects humanity to make sense, one is in for a sure disappointment.  We humans are strange creatures.  If I were god I'd send another flood to cleanse the planet and would not provide any Noah.    But, that is just me.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Listening to Watermelon Wine

A song by Tom T. Hall who came from a place in Kentucky
where I came from.  As you might guess it includes watermelon wine.

I've always enjoyed listening to this song.  But, recently, I've been listening to it in a different state of mind.  Used to be it was just a good song to listen to.  I'm now at an age where the whole song has changed for me.

They called Tom T. the "Story Teller".  He was definitely not the typical country singer/songwriter.  His songs are really just stories put to music.  I highly recommend going back through the years of his music.  Or just keep listening to the link as it goes through a play list.

I don't know if I can explain the change.  It is assuredly not the song which has changed so it must be me.   Seems to me it must be age and health.

My body and mind are going south at an ever increasing pace.  I've already stopped driving except when I absolutely have to.  I have a growing inability to focus on anything.

That includes work.  I've made more serious and dumb mistakes in the past year than in the 26 which preceded it.  I have been trying to work until I am 66.  That is a little under three years.  I don't think I'm going to make it.

Truthfully, I don't understand why they haven't gotten rid of me before now.  The way things are going I think it is now a race between retirement and dismissal.

I'm always exhausted even after a long night's sleep.  Been this way for about two years with occasional stretches of lucidity.

I don't show it much before around 2:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon.  I owe a lot to my team lead who is also a real friend.  I think she has be somewhat protecting me.  But, even she admitted to me she had noticed the changes.  Letting things slip, forgetting things.  Not complicated things, just normal every day things I've done for years.

Maybe that is why the meaning of this old song's change was due to age an infirmity.  I more and more relate to that "old, gray, black gentleman" and less and less to the song writer.

My wife has noticed a lot of changes as well.  She would as she spends the most time with me.  Does not matter when it is, work, games, reading the news I tend to just spend a lot of time just sitting here in my home office chair rocking.  No idea about anything.  Mind mostly in a semi unaware state.

I do know about 18 months ago I had a massive amount of work hit me at once and I was the only one who could do it.  Multiple 70+ hour weeks.  Weekends were just markings on the calendar.  My MD suggested I retire if I could or at least cut back my hours.

No way I could do either.  Just the nature of my job and the expensives of living.  I really don't think I ever fully recovered from that state of exhaustion.

I don't know it that is even possible.  I do know for months and months I have been getting out of bed in the mornings just as tired (or more) as I was when I went to sleep.

I really can't do anything which requires physical effort.  Not because I'm particularly weak or anything.  I just get over heated so easily and when that happens I get completely nauseated.  And, it doesn't take much  to get me overheated.  I have a difficult time just walking through the grocery store for normal weekly shopping.  And to even survive it I have to take nausea medication before I go.

And, even with the nausea it will just hit out of the blue.  A couple of weeks ago I was taking the garbage container to the road, not a very long trip.  I had just finished a bottle of cold water and I was vomiting it back up at about every step.

Truthfully, I expect to be in a "home" withing just a few years.  Whether it is a "nursing" home or one  of the "funeral" types remains to be seen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Just Some Random Thoughts on Reaching Sixty-Three

I reached age 63 back in early December of 2016.  I don't really do birthdays.  Guess that is something which lingers from my childhood.  Never had any holidays.  Never had Christmas or Birthday anything at all.  Really, that is neither her nor there.  Holidays mean nothing at all to me.  Neither do birthday.  To me, holidays are just one day I don't have to work.   That is present enough.

But what got me to thinking in was which resulted in this post is a very dear friend of mine whom I went to school with at Mayo.  Her mother is on dialysis and lat time they discovered a blood clot in her leg which was not operable due to infection.  Her Mom had her leg amputated up to the hip.

Reminds me of both my wife and my aunt.  My aunt was a diabetic many years ago when the disease was much less understood.  I can't recall how old I was when she had to have her foot amputate and then passed away less than a month later.  But, I can still see in my mind those dark, scaled legs she walked on.  I have hopes for a better result for my friend's Mom.

It has gotten me to remember those older than me, the same age and even those younger than me who have died.

There is a photo on Face Book of a class in the old Richardson, Ky school.  Back in the days when there were still one room schools.It popped  up as history in my Face Book feed.  I sat looking at them to see how  many I recognized then started counting all of them who were dead.  Not the most uplifting exercise I suppose.

So many in my own age group, older and even younger are gone now.  Tends to make one wonder about the chances we are born into.  Those chances will influence our lives from beginning to end.  That along with peer pressure and many other factors.  Still, it occurs to me, every time you have a child you have just created a human being doomed to die.  From a child's first breath it is just a downhill roller coaster to the great darkness beyond.

Way too many at such a "young" age.  But, our family has some seriously bad genetics.   While I do love my children and grandchildren I can't help from feeling guilty in passing genes so prone to both physical and mental problems along to another generation or two.  Guess when we are young and still think we are immortal we just don't think about such things.

My psychiatrist always asks me if I have feelings of wanting to hurt myself or others.  I always laugh at her and tell her if I intend to kill myself it will be in the least painful manner possible.  I can't see why anyone would want to hurt themselves.  After all, the great source of suicidal thoughts is pain.  Mental, emotional or physical people who don't have a great degree of pain don't want to exit this world before they have to.

Suicide is such a permanent solution to problems which are more then likely temporary.  However, I can see when things are permanent with no possibility of getting better how one would do anything to stop the pain.  Cancer which cannot be helped leaving one in such pain their life is constant agony.  I can definitely see suicide for them as, not a tragedy (the disease was the tragedy) but a relief from hell on earth.

Oh well, so much for today's morbid thoughts.  Just so sad so many people who played so large a part in my life have passed on and I'm still here.  Roll of the dice or some purpose?  Interesting thing to think about.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Today I awoke to sunshine, bird song and green all over
Today I awoke to the present, the future and the past
Today is all I'll ever have
The past is gone
The future is a dream
Today is all that is real

Today I remember many yesterdays
Today I dream of many tomorrows
Today is all that is real
The past is immutable
The future only a possibility
We must all live in today

Today I woke to a fleeting moment in time
Today life whirls past me at supersonic speed
Today is fleeting
It fades into yesterday
If opens into tomorrow
I must cherish today yet let it go

Fears (Especially my own)

Fears.  We all have them.  Even those who like to pretend they fear nothing.  Some fears are very rational.  Rational fears are a good thing.  They help keep us alive long enough to reproduce and that is all Mommy Nature really cares about.  But, all of us I think, also have some irrational fears.  Well, irrational to others I guess but our fears are always rational to ourselves.

I've wondered where and how these irrational fears begin.  I'll speak of four of my own fears and the contradictions they engender.  I have guesses where they originate but would not say I'm sure where they come from.

Also, I seem to have a love/hate relationship with three of them.  The fourth would be a hate/hate relationship.

The first is death by  hanging.  I don't think we have had a legal hanging in this country for decades so the only hanging I would have to fear would be suicide or lynching.  Being Caucasian I really don't see myself in danger of lynching.  And, if you ever hear of me committing suicide by hanging myself, go to the police because it was definitely murder.

My next great fear is death by drowning and is the first of my love/hate fears.  I have fear of drowning to an unnatural degree yet also have a tremendous love of water in large quantities.  I love creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans and find the most peace I have in my life being close to them.  I enve enjoy being in them as long as the water is no more than waist deep.

The third is heights.  Another love/hate fear.  I love high places.  I love standing near the edge of a high precipice looking out over the lands revealed below.  At the same time I'm deathly afraid of falling from that high place.

Fourth is tightly enclosed places.  Claustrophobia. I love small places.  I find comfort in small rooms etc.  But, I also am requesting cremation as I just can't stand the idea of being buried underground in such a small space as a coffin for eternity.  Or, eternity til some future archaeologist digs me up to see what kind of kinky stuff people from our age buried with their dead.

Where do these fears originate?  I could understand it had I experienced any traumatic events relating to any of these fears but I have not.   I have  not nearly hanged myself, drowned, been trapped in a small place or fallen from a high place.  These fears are just in my mind.  Or, perhaps, at a deeper level in my being.

This brings me to my own theory of the origin of irrational fears.  Reincarnation.  While most people who know me well  might describe me as an atheist I am far from that.  I definitely believe in a higher power who created our universe and set our physical laws in place.  I also believe in progress of species through evolution.  Neither alone can explain, to me, all the things present in our universe now and in our universe's history.

I also believe in the existence of  a "soul".  It has been demonstrated by scientific testing on terminally ill patients (beds placed on a large scale) that at the moment of death the weight of our body decreases by a very small amount.  Something had to leave the mortal clay at that time.  What else could it be?

Some people seem to be able to recall some small or even large portions of a past existence.  A lot of these claims are pure hokum but a very few stand up to scientific scrutiny and are not easily explained away.

Transmigration of the souls is not a new or even uncommon idea.  Not just the eastern religions but a large sect of Judaism believe in that.  In fact several parts of the Old Testament make much more sense if you replace the word generation with incarnation.

So, how does this explain my, and maybe your, irrational fears?  Lingering memories from a past life or lives.  Genetic memory.  Our bodies remember things our minds are not privy to. So, I do have some guesses about past lives in relationship to my fears.

For drowning while loving the sea I must have been a sailor who  drowned in the ocean on a voyage.
The rest of them I don't know but must have been some relationship to my past lives.  Maybe some kind of outlaw for hanging.  Small enclosures and high places... I don't know.  Just conjecture might be a mountain climber who died on a climb for high places.  Small enclosures I have  no idea.  But, I do wonder, what irrational fear will this live give my next incarnation.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pies vs Pie Crusts

My mother made wonderful vanilla custard pies.  Best I've ever eaten.  Then, isn't that what everyone says about their mother's cooking?  I did love her pies.  But, what I really looked forward to was the "cuttings" where the pie crust got trimmed around the edges of the pie pan.

Once the pies were all ready to put in the oven she'd put all the left over crusts on a "cookie sheet" and bake them in the oven.  Those are what I really loved.  Even today, when I have a chance to have a pie (we don't have them often as we both love them entirely too much) I almost prefer the crust to the actual pie.

What memories I have of  helping my mother make the crusts.  Mostly at the house we lived in on Nat's Creek in the late 60s.  The old Charlie Blessing house.  My dad, who was born in 1902, said it was an old house when he was a kid.

I can remember that house from when I was a pretty small lad myself.  We would ride the passenger train from West Van Lear down to Patrick and walk the old road and paths to my grandparent's house.  Part of that path lead through the lower part of the yard just in front of that old house.

I can only remember parts and pieces of it now that I'm much older.  Very few memories.  Stories of my Uncle Jeff and Aunt Norie (or Nora?) when we passed that old home place.  Stumbling upon a "blowing viper" in the path just before we got to the barn at the Arnold Justice barn.  My dad was carrying an empty shotgun (not very usual) and had both his hand guns in a bundle of clothes, etc he had wrapped in an old bed sheet.

I stood there watching that snake as my dad searched through his bundle for one of his pistols.  Finally he found one and killed the snake and we continued on our way to my grandparent's  house.

When I was that age (between about seven and thirteen) I dearly loved to go there.  Play in the creek, crack black walnuts on a small piece of steel I'd hold in my lap and hit the nut with a hammer.  Putting the head of kitchen matches in empty .22 shells and smashing them on the concrete steps with a hammer to listen to them go "bang".

I suppose, as is usual with very old memories, I only remember the good things from those trips.  I think that is a good thing.  What purpose would it serve to recall  how tired I was after those long walks?  Or, any other less than positive things.  Though, there were few of those.

When I was young I think my grandparent's house was my favorite place to be.  I have so many memories from there.  Most of them are good.    A few of them will not get repeated.  But, most were pleasant.  And, rated "G".  

Most, at least.  :-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Scars (The Physical Kind)

I was speaking with a dear friend this morning about some events in my childhood which had left physical scars and how those fade with time.  They do have that over emotional scars which can hide deep within and spring out at the most inopportune times.

The physical scar I will write about today is one which is on the outside of the "pointer" finger of my right hand.  It is now about one half inch long, just at the knuckle where the finger joins the hand.  I call it my "elephant eye".  If I tuck my thumb in my palm and make a fist, the pointer finger is the elephant's trunk and the scar is just where the eye would be.

The tale of how I got it is one of youthful stupidity.  I don't recall how I came to be playing with a long, narrow pole that day.  It probably was a bean pole from the garden.  It was long and slender and I was using it to poke things in the tiny creek which ran beside the road in front of  the house we rented then.

I had wandered down the road to the little, concrete bridge which spanned the creek between the road and Nola Huff's house.  Now, let me tell you this little creek was dirty.  More than one sewer line dumped into it with zero treatment.  It had to be germ heaven.  It was definitely not like the creeks around my grandparent's house.

That day I was standing on the bridge and spotted a broken pop bottle (Hey, it was pop when I was growing up.  Soda mostly now.)  I don't recall for sure what brand but an RC I would imagine as we had an RC plant in the county seat so we did not see many Pepsi products and the only place to get a Coke was at a restaurant.

The neck of the bottle was pointed up the creek away from me.  I poked my pole through the broken back and up through the neck and raised it up out of the water.  Then I raised the pole to a vertical position and, naturally enough, gravity took control and that broken end slid down that pole at high speed and gashed a long wound in my hand.

The gash was bleeding profusely and I was quite embarrassed to have done something so stupid and feared the reaction of my parents more than germs.  So, I packed the wound with dirt to stop the bleeding.  I kept repacking it with new dirt until it bled no more.

I suppose that is why it left such a prominent scar.  Had I been able to see a doctor I'm sure it would have needed several stitches to close but a doctor was rarely an option in our family at the time.

That would have been sometime around 1965 so about fifty one years ago now.  The old elephant is going  blind as that scar fades but I'm sure there will still be a visible remnant of my, shall we say, inattention to detail (like the effect of gravity on broken bottles) until they shovel dirt into my face.