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Friday, December 20, 2013

Reflections of the Future

I wrote a long post this morning at work but they have this site blocked so I could not post it.  Perhaps that is for the best.  I tend to find most of my disappointments are for the best when looked back upon.    Today, though, has been a trial.  Things I can and things I cannot talk about have come together in a symbioses which does not lead me to sunlight.  I won't go into details as those are nobody's business but my own.;  I will only deal with the results and not the causes.

Today was a very long day for me.  I was at work but I could not work.  I just monitored the clock counting down the minutes until I could safely leave.  Too many days like that have become the norm for me.  I used to love work and find comfort and solace there when home was some place I did not care to be.  That is not the case any more it seems as work is also a place I do not want to be.  If fact, there is no place I want to be that is within my power to have.  Just the way it is.

 I have spent the day in contemplation of life and death and the desirability of each.  I find that when I was young the seesaw of percentages favored life by an extreme margin.  As I've grown older the ratio has changed.  I won't say it has tilted in favor of death but I won't say living holds much attraction for me.

I suppose that could be because genetically I am insane.  The only thing keeping me going is drugs and I don't always take them as  there seems little point.  Its a thing called depression.  You can read all there is to know about it.  But, unless you've been there, you still know nothing at all.    It is a time in your life when the desire for life or death resides on a razor's edge and can fall either way at any time.

I've always thought suicide was not a solution as most problems in life are temporary and suicide is permanent.   Permanent solutions to temporary problems seems somewhat extreme.  Some days I'm much less inclined to that point of view.  But, I think that is more genetic than something I really feel.  My genes are not the best and in a orgy of non-responsibility I have passed them on to children of my own who never asked for this shit.  Yet they have it.  I love my children.  I love my grand children.  Yet, had I to do it over I'd have gotten a vasectomy at age eighteen.  No one has the right to inflict this kind of  punishment on an unborn child.  It is as virulent as aids but it does not kill your body it just kills your soul.  I'll leave it up to you to decide what is worse.

I suppose "holiday blues" contributes to it in some form or fashion.  I know how meaningless these times are.  They do not honor Christ who could not have been born anywhere near December 25th.  They only honor, greed, ingratitude, and the smug feeling of self satisfaction if you actually lower yourself to help someone who has less than you.

I cannot condemn too heartily as my family would always come first yet there are so many "good Christians" who  view themselves in such a self-righteous light just because the donated a few bucks to the United way.  They sit at their table and stuff themselves on all the good things while their professed brothers and sisters wander the streets looking for a place to keep warm.

In many ways I'm no better as I do the same thing with the exception that I realize the hypocrisy of the whole situation.  We are all pretty much the same.;  We look at TV and go "tsk, tsk" when we see so much hate, need and want in this world.  Then we celebrate the purely pagan holiday of Christmas with it's focus on greed and self-indulgence and pat ourselves on the back for being saved.

I have a question for you?  Are you really saved?  Supposing your beliefs are true and there is a heaven for the "saved" and a hell for everyone else, Just what makes you think you're going to heaven?  You want to find a hornet's nest of racism and hypocrisy just go to any church.  They are all the same.  Full of self-righteous hypocrites who do good not from the goodness of their hearts or because it is what Jesus taught but because of the charitable deduction on their income tax.  And so they can brag to their rich friends at some country club how good they are to those who have less.

How about Luke 3:11?  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.  Just how many "good christians" have ten coats and twenty pairs of shoes and turn their heads to drive by the homeless man with the sign "will work for food"?  At least I now I'm not a good person and a "good Christian" and I don't profess to be.  If there is a heaven I have a feeling it is going to be a mighty lonely place.






   
I suppose it is because heaven is made for the greedy.  Streets of gold, mansions, (hey, who are the servants to take care of those mansions?)  It is all designed to appeal to the greed in humanity.  And, boy, are we humans greedy!  And stupid.  Why don't you realize that something that tells you to be subservient to those placed over you and you'll receive your reward AFTER YOU DIE is a con.  Good lord (yes, I realize the incongruity) I can promise you anything after you dies and what are you going to do when I don't deliver?  Yeah, just as I thought.  Nothing.  You're dead.

Religion, today, is just a tool for those in power to keep those not in power in control.  How sweet it must be to promote a system that tells you to obey your masters and expect to be rewarded after you die?  Then we have those multi-millions great fools willing to kill and die for that.  Makes me wonder if god did not make a mistake in giving Noah blueprints for the Arc.  

Well, I'm depressed.  I can't blame it completely on the season and the stupidity of "man".  I can't even blame it on my defective genes.  I can't blame it on growing older.  Maybe it is a sum of all those and other things I don't recognize or admit to.  

Today has not been a good day.  But, it has been an average day.  I don't expect good days any longer and I try to embrace them when they come and not get too far gone when the opposite days present themselves.   Today is a day for shaking my head and laughing (without humor) at the humans of this world and what they consider important and then ignore completely because it is inconvenient.

Personally, today has been a day for remembering what might have been and should have been but never was.  In other words a day for deep depression.  It is almost midnight and my wife is in bed and asleep and I have no urge to join her there.  I have no desire for the dreams I know I will have nor the feelings I will have when I awaken and realize they are not real.  

I have long said, "life's a bitch then you die".  I think I have the first part down pat.  I'm ready for the second part any time.
 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

+Its Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Perhaps it is not fair to Christmas to blame my holiday depression on it solely.  My depression is more genetic than external.  Yet it is always worse at the holidays.  Perhaps it is just my normal reaction to anyone telling me how I should feel or act.  Holidays are wonderful times and one should feel all joyous and happy.  My normal (is that a contradiction in terms?) Van Hoose contrariness kicks in big time and I refuse to be happy, joyous  or anything this fake holiday demands. 

I just cannot believe how even intelligent people fall down on their knees to worship at the altar of greed and excess demanded by our possession driven society and perpetuated by the very church which should be up in arms debunking it.   But, then, I've known the average human is too stupid to live any how.  I should not be surprised how fully and easily they fall for the  hokum and embrace it all with joy. 

Really, though, I guess the fake holiday season had little to do with my depression.  It's roots run far deeper than just that shallow pool.  No, my depression goes much deeper than any external influences can explain.  It is a part of me as are my eyes, my ears and my (unfortunately) active mind.  There is a reason why genius and short lives go together.  They (we) just get tired.  Tired in a way the body never can.  Not really even a tiredness of the mind.  Just a general tiredness.  An all embracing tiredness where there is no prospect of rest.  Just more tiredness.

Seems like a mighty poor future.  LOL.  One not worth hoping for I'd say.


Ghosts of Christmas Past

It is less than a week until Christmas and not quite two weeks since my 60th birthday.  Seems like as good a time as any to reflect on those sixty Christmas'. 

I was born on December 8, 1953 so Christmas of 1953 was my first one.  Do not have a clue how it was spent as I don't remember it at all.  Nor Christmas of 1954 and probably not the one of '55 either.  That does not matter as I'm quite certain there was nothing memorable about any of them.  Holidays in my family being of no importance.

If you've read much of some of my previous reminiscences  you will already know my mother was a Jehovah's Witness and my dad was whatever he was.  So, no holidays or birthdays for us.  So, my holiday memories may be somewhat skewed from the  norm.  And, to this day, the only thing a holiday or a birthday means to me is whatever it may mean to my children and grand children.  I really do not care.  Caring about holidays and a lot of other things was eradicated from my being many, many years ago.

I'm thinking the first Christmas I have any memory at all of would have been 1956.  It is possible it was '55 and I guess it does not matter at all to anyone which it was.  I just remember we lived in the house at the foot of the hill between Martin and Lawrence counties on Route 40.  I am not sure of the dates but I believe we moved there in the spring or summer of  1955.   It could have been 1956 though.

At any rate, the only memory I have of that Christmas is my older brother telling me if I went to sleep Santa Claus might bring me something for Christmas.  AND THEN my mother sitting me down and explaining there was no such person as Santa Claus and I would definitely NOT have any presents for Christmas.  So much for waiting until late childhood for Christmas disillusionment.

After that Christmas and all other holidays becomes a blur of nothingness until at least 1961.  That is when we moved from Spring Knob tower to a house in West Van Lear so I could go to school.  I was in the second grade then having attended a one-room school on Nat's Creek where my grandparents still lived.

I guess I don't really recall any one Christmas in West Van Lear so much as just the general memories of how Christmas' went.   I was a social outcast since I was not allowed to associate with my "peers" outside of school, nor was I allowed to participate in many common school activities from saying the "Pledge of Allegiance"  of a morning to being in the Christmas play each class put on each year and many things in between.   Here lies the basis of my disdain for holidays as well as my tendency to be a complete hermit.  That is the "nurture" part of it but I'm sure there is a large, genetic, "nature" part of it as well.  I think most (if not all) VanHoose men are inclined to loners genetically.  Those who know more than one of us might be inclined to agree.

The only real specific Christmas memories I have was the Christmas of  1964.  I was in the fifth grade in Mrs. Mollette's class.  As usual, I was not allowed to participate in the class Christmas play and so I sat alone at my desk watching everyone practice.

I had no script or anything but I knew each part perfectly way before Christmas came.  And, it bugged me no end how everyone kept forgetting and screwing up their lines.  It seemed so simple to me.  I know every line for every part in the play.  How hard was it to just memorize ONE part?   I did not realize it then through a lot of lack of self-confidence and self-esteem but I'm sure that is about where I came to realize people are really quite stupid on the whole.

That was also the year I came up with the plan for avoiding the embarrassment of not being allowed to "draw names" for Christmas.  I wrote my name down as required and dropped it into the "hat" with the others.  BUT, I folded it in such a way as I could recognize it by feel.  Thus, I was able to detect and draw my own name.  There was so much mirth and jocularity (I love that expression) nobody noticed I did not have a present.  That method carried me though several Christmas'.

Then there was the inevitable January question of "What did you get for Christmas?".  It never occurred to me to just lie about it.  A lesson I have learned well since.  Becoming a great liar is very important to retaining one's sanity.  So, stupidly, I tried to explain why I had gotten nothing (zero, zilch, nada) for Christmas.  I knew the meaning of "effort of futility"  long before I ever learned the phrase.

The Christmas trend stayed the same during the rest of my schooling.  When I got married I got my wife a Christmas present more because it was an expectation rather than any desire on my part.  Add in she was very difficult to buy for and I really dreaded Christmas rather than anticipating it.

I've never particularly cared for receiving Christmas gifts.  It was a foreign concept for me and still is.   I still don't care about WHAT I get.  The only joy I have for receiving something for Christmas or my birthday is that someone thought enough of me to remember me.  The present means nothing.  It is a cliche' but for me it is truly the thought that counts.  It is the only thing that counts.  I'm just as happy with a pair of socks as I would be with a 60" 3D tv.   Christmas greed depresses me and I do not understand the pressure people feel to over extend themselves on a holiday that is to celebrate something that never happened.  At least, not anywhere that date.

It only reinforces the lesson I learned a long time ago.  People are stupid.

The only Christmas' I really enjoyed were those spent with my children.  There is nothing like the joy of a child.  And, I did find some pleasure in finding out what they wanted and finding it for them, especially when it was something hard to find.  (Thank you early internet!).  They are older now and I'm much more lazy so I just send checks and let them decide what they need and what their kids need.  But I still enjoy seeing the kids (now grandkids) open their gifts.  I hope so much for my children and grand children and on down the line to have much better memories of holidays and birthday than the ones I have.  Then don't we all wish for our children to have it better than we did?

Still, all in all, I find holidays (especially Christmas) and birthdays to be somewhat depressing.  Mostly I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, dreary as those may be.  I've always been alone in one way or another so being physically alone is somewhat comforting.  Then, again, I'm a VanHoose male and a natural hermit. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Some of the Things I've Lived Through in My Sixty Years

I was born in nineteen hundred and fifty three by the christian reckoning.  The end of the Korean war; Eight years after the end of WWII; eight years into the nuclear age.  What are the historic moments I can remember? 

I remember the Bay of Pigs.  I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I remember Duck and Cover when the country still thought a nuclear war was winnable.  I remember the day John F. Kennedy was killed.

I have been witness to the entirety of the world's space programs.  I have sat up to the wee hours to watch Neil Armstrong step foot on our moon.  I have seen robots on the planet Mars.  I have seen Voyager I leaving the solar system completely and voyaging off into interstellar space.

I have seen more progress and medicals miracles than I can remember as well as the rise of some of the more horrific diseases ever known to man.  I've seen the end of legal segregation though the reality of racism still has not ended.

I watched the University of Kentucky win its fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth national basketball championships.  They currently have eight and I've watched fully half of them.  I hope to watch a few more before I depart this world.

I've seen more wars that weren't wars and wars that were than I can name.  I'm blessed to have been in none of them though I did do my stint in the US Army.  I was fortunate enough to do it in a time of relative peace.  Though I vividly remember the nightly news body counts from Viet Nam.  Watching the fireworks of anti-aircraft fire over Bagdad in two Iraq wars. (On TV, of course).  So, far I've lived through double digit presidents and have seen the first bi-racial president.  I hope to live to see the first woman president.

I've lived though depressions, recessions and boom times.  Most of my early years were in recessions and very little boom.  But, now, in a time of no booms I've got a job and I'm thankful for it.  It is a lot more than a lot of people have.  Education is important.  Not just college but technical school.  Seems like it does not matter how much you know you can't get a foot in the door without that piece of paper.

I've seen the birth and the fiery death of the Concorde faster than the speed of sound airliner.  I've seen a solar powered airplane fly around the world.  I've gone from one TV station to over two hundred.  (Still nothing on worth watching.)  I've gone from before sputnick to satellites that provide world wide coverage of darned near everything and satellites that provide geographic location to about a single yard no matter where on the world we are.  Radio has gone from local towers to satellites and world wide stations.

I've had the opportunity to visit other countries, meet their people, eat their food, enjoy their culture and learn more about them.  I have had the privilege of having "my horizons broadened". 

I've gone from where the very word "sex" was forbidden to watching women in their underwear on TV at all times of day.  And, when in Europe, women without their underwear all times of the day.  Why is America so backward and prudish?

I watched us go from Andy of Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet to Married With Children, The Simpsons and South Park.  Probably a few more extreme ones I've never watched as well.

I've lived through medical advances, scientific advances, a shrinking of the world due to fast transportation and world wide communication.  I've seen more conspiracy theories than any one person can keep track of.

So, what would I love to live long enough to see?  First and foremost is great grand children.  Next would be life on other planets.  My biggest regret by far is missing out on the exploration of our own solar system then the exploration of the stars.  I would love to see when we have the technology and discover the first purely earth like extra-solar planet which has the signatures of life in the atmosphere.  I would love to see when SETI receives the first signals from a stellar civilization.

I am permanently curious about everything.  I love knowledge and the increase of knowledge and I hate that I will miss so many advances of learning in the future. 

And I'd love to live long enough to see the NCAA actually do something about that cheating University of North Carolina sports program.  That is probably the most far-fetched of my wishes.

Thoughts While Turning Sixty

Today I turned sixty years of age.  That is not really old and it most assuredly is not very young, yet it is thirty-nine years older than I ever thought I'd be.  I'll not go into those reasons her but suffice to say they seem somewhat silly now but were quite real to me at the time.

I had a very nice lunch with my younger daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson (Tyrus) at a local bar-b-que place.  It was very nice.  Only thing that would have made it better is if my elder daughter and her family could have been there as well.  Seems the older I get the more I realize how little anything matters other than family.

That makes today a day for reminiscing; for contemplation and reflection.  But, for me, that is an every day process.  I am constantly reminiscing, contemplating and reflecting as well as reassessing and adapting to those thoughts and new information.  I think everyone should do that.  What we knew at twenty is not what we knew at thirty, forty, fifty or, in my case, sixty and I would imagine it is not what I'll know should I make it to seventy.

I've seen many changes in myself and in society in my lifetime.   Some of them were very good and some of them were very bad but most of them were just changes.  That is life, you know.  Change.  So, today, I'm going to reflect on some of the changes I've witnessed in my life.

My own father was born in nineteen ought two.  He came into the world a year before the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.  He exited the world in nineteen ninety two having seen two world wars, two "conflicts" which were wars with all the horrors of war without being given the name, men setting foot on our moon as well as many of our modern wonders.

I was born on December eighth, nineteen fifty three at three fifteen in the afternoon.  I came into the world in a little, log cabin in the hills of eastern Kentucky.  And, no, I'm not Abe Lincoln.  But, that is how I came to be in this world.  I was delivered by my grandmother who was a midwife and who delivered most of her grand kids and many of her great grand kids.  We were really far back in "the sticks" and a half century behind the rest of the country.

Hospitals were not something easily accessible.  In fact there is very little that was easily accessible except hills, tree, and creeks.  And, family.   We lived in the midst of family, both close and extended.  

My father spent thirty years in the US Navy from nineteen ought two until nineteen fifty two.  I was born in nineteen fifty three when he was fifty one years of age.  My mother was forty one years of age.  They were sure my mother was too old to conceive so did not take precautions and along came me.  I was an accident and not a planned child.  This was always pointed out to me.  I'm sure there was no malice intended yet it does leave an impression on a young mind.

Then, on top of that, (so they say) they could not get me to breathe when I was born for some time.  Because of that, so my mother told me, I was mentally retarded due to lack of oxygen to my brain.  So I grew up knowing I was unwanted and mentally deficient.  In later years I've wondered what I could have done had I been "normal".

If I am not mistaken when my dad retired from the US Navy after thirty years his pension was about forty-four dollars a month.  And, with that he took care of myself, my older brother and sister as well as my mother's parents. 

Today that sounds completely unbelievable but times were different and things were much cheaper.  Plus, my dad owned our house and, I  think, my grandparent's house.  We had electricity but that was all the modern conveniences.  We heated with coal my parents dug from a small coal mine on my dad's property.  We has a well and an outhouse.  My mother raised a huge garden as did my grandparents and my day hunted game nearly every day.  We always had food of some kind or other.  We did not have a lot but we did always have food.

A good part of our local roads were in creek beds.  The saying we would do something, "Good Lord willing and the creek don't raise" was literal.  When the creek was "up" it was a path around the side of the hills or nothing.  But, it was completely normal to me.  That was what I was born into and the only thing I knew.  And, it was not a bad way of life.   Not always, at least.  I have had experiences not a lot of people in this day and age can claim.  And, I think the world would be a lot better off had more people experienced my kind of environment.  But, with more loving parents.

In other places in this blog I've talked in more detail about my childhood and how I grew up.  I'll not go into it all again now.  But, today is a day for remembering.  Not all my memories are good.  In fact, most of my memories until I was an adult are not good.   But, those things are all in the past and not worth lingering over.  What does not kill us makes us stronger they say.  I guess both my brother and I are both a lot stronger as would our sister have been had she not passed away far too young from lupus.  Still, she was strong even in her dire straights. 

But, today, I can be thankful for the many things I have which are good.  I have a good job in this time of economic uncertainty. I have two wonderful daughters whom I love dearly and who have married men whom I approve and feel will be good husbands and fathers long after I'm gone and forgotten.

I have four wonderful grand children and another grand son on the way.  All in all, I should not complain.  I have had my share of problems but there are so many others in this world who have had their own share plus a lot of other people's. 

I have a nice home, a good wife, great kids and grand kids.  I have food on my table every day.  I have clean water to drink and bathe in.  I have many health problems but I have good doctors and good insurance and modern medicine to help take care of them all.  I have not attended college but I have a good education because I learned early the value of reading and have read anything and everything just about all my life.

I have lived in a time which has come to value diversity in thought and culture and appreciates the beauty that every one of them.  I  hope I have lead my children to look for the beauty rather than the dark side which every culture also has.  I hope they will teach the same to their children and so pass it on down the line where each generation is better than the last. 

With all the problems of life I know I have truly been blessed.  And, I do appreciate it all.  I would like to live long enough to be a great-grand parent but nothing is promised us.  If I don't it will not be a tragedy for the world.  I am just a microscopic spec in the grand scheme of things.  Stick your finger in the water in a bath tub then pull it out.  That is the hole we leave in this world when we depart it.  Really, all we have is to love those close to  us and enjoy the love of those who do love us.  Wanting more if futile.  No matter what else we may have we have  nothing more valuable than the love of our family.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Storms

We have some pretty good summer, thunderstorms here in central South Carolina.  We had some yesterday afternoon.  Sitting here in my cube at work I could hear the thunder rumbling off in the distance and an occasional, sharp bang that comes when something gets struck by the lightening.

It started me thinking about storms.  See, I enjoy a good thunder storm.  I love being outside (in a safe location, of course) when it is raining hard, the wind whipping the tree limbs around and thunder and lightening fighting it out in the sky.

I guess the thunderstorms that set the tone for my love of storms happened when we lived at the Spring Knob forestry tower.  The top of that hill was not immensely high but plenty high enough to where the bottom of the storm clouds was down the hill from the house.  We were located right up in the clouds close up to all the thunder and lightening.  I can recall some storms where the thunder was so close and so loud the windows would rattle and the house would shake. 

During the storms the air had such a special feel and smell you get no other tiem or place.  That air is the reward for being outside and braving the storm.  Of course if you were not careful where you were outside to brave the storm you also had a chance to be struck by lightening.  I liked being in a house by an open window, on the porch under a roof or out in the woods in under a rock overhang.   The rock overhang was best.  There one not only had the fresh feel and smell of the air and the noice of the thunder but the wind was whipping all the branches in the trees around with the rain pattering as it found its way through the trees to the ground.  I've had some really nice times sitting under a rock with a little fire built just sitting, thinking and enjoying being out in the storm.

I think most of those special places are gone now.  Victims of strip mining which has torn the tops off most of my childhood hills.  The top of the hill there at Spring Knob is now a couple of hundred feet lower than it was when I was a kid living on top of that hill.  Many places are gone in fact though they live on, fresh and clear, in my memories.

I still love the storms.  I don't get out in them like I used to do.  But, there are times, the air still feels and smells just like it did when I was a kid.   Those are special times filled with good memories.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Gravy

I don't get gravy (no, not turkey gravy or brown gravy... just good breakfast gravy) much anymore.  Really, it is what I find at the cafeteria at work.  I've tried at Lizard's Thicket (local meat and three joint) and Cracker Barrel and their gravy sucks.  Basically, every restaurant gravy sucks.  But, we have a manager at our cafeteria who thinks he can cook.  It is sad to say but the darned bagged,  heat and serve gravy is far superior to his "homemade" gravy.  I have come to the conclusion people no longer have the first clue how to make good breakfast gravy.

So, as a public service I'm going to elucidate on the method of making gravy.

First step is to decide if you want "regular" gravy or sausage gravy.   Regular gravy is made with bacon grease (drippings for those who watch the Food Network) whereas sausage gravy comes from sausage grease with some crumbled sausage added in.

The first step is to fry the bacon/sausage.  (Iron skillet preferred.  Say what you might there is NOTHING that beats a cast iron skillet for any frying and a lot of baking.) 

Take the bacon/sausage out of the skillet.  If you have a little too much grease (this is just a matter of experience and the number of people you have to feed) dip it out and put it to the side to save. (It is a mortal sin to waste bacon grease.)  Then you put flour in the grease.  Don't really matter if it is all-purpose or self-rising as it is not going to raise anyhow.  Stir continuously until the flower forms a paste and turns brown.  Tastes vary but I like a very dark brown color.  (Food Network calls this a roue).

Once the flour/grease paste is the desired color add milk while stirring continuously. The amount of milk to roue is also something that just comes from experience.  Keep stirring the gravy as the mixture heats.  Stop stirring and the gravy sucks.  Keep stirring.  When the gravy comes to a boil, let it boil until the desired thickness is reached.  I like a thin gravy but a lot of gravy I've eaten is wallpaper paste.  (Ok, you young people might not even know what wallpaper paste is.  When I was growing up and we were putting up wallpaper we did not go to the store and buy an adhesive.  Mother made the wallpaper paste from flour and water.  Tasted about as good as modern store-bought gravy does too.)

Our beloved cafeteria manager makes wallpaper paste gravy with unbrowned flour.  Not the best but it is edible unless he gets creative and does something stupid like using whipping cream... Managers should manage and cooks should cook.  As an aside he can't make an 'over medium' egg for sh%t either. 

Once the gravy reaches the consistency you prefer it is ready to dish up if you are making gravy with bacon grease.  If you are using sausage grease now is the time to crumble sausage into it and stir in good before dishing it up.

Good gravy is not hard to do.  Just takes time enough to stir well and BROWN the damned flour.  The difference between well-browned flour and raw flour is amazing.    Add in some biscuits and eggs (done to your preference) and you have a great breakfast.  Working men have thrived for ages on this breakfast. 

I hate to see real country cooking disappearing from our land.  Believe it or not, when properly used real hog lard is healthier than all the crap you read about as a "healthy alternative".  I was not too fond of my childhood but, damn, I did have some good food made by my mother and grandmother.  And they never screwed up the gravy or biscuits.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mulberry Trees

I used to have a very small garden plot out in my back yard.  I'd lug bags and bags of topsoil and composted cow manure around there each year and dig it into the garden area.  Until I got to where I could no longer do that.  Now it is just another part of my back yard and covered in grass.

Of late I've been thinking of putting some kind of dwarf fruit tree back there.  All that good dirt and hard labor should not go to waste on grass nobody but me and the lawn care man will ever see.  While perusing the offerings on the Stark Brothers website I came across a listing for a Mulberry Tree.

Now, those trees are much too large (some times) and I doubt they would do well in our central South Carolina climate.  But, it got me remembering other Mulberry Trees from back in my childhood days in Kentucky.  I loved to eat Mulberries so I knew where all the local trees were growing.

The two most prominent Mulberries I can recall  were one that grew beside an old coal bank (mine) just up the Julie Fork (of Nat's Creek) and one that grew on a small bank in what used to be the garden at my sister and brother-in-law's old house and where they put a trailer later.

That Mulberry tree up in the first little hollow on the right up the Julie Fork was the place to be in May when the Mulberries got ripe.  They were also the favorite food of squirrels.  One could get there before daylight and find a good sitting spot up the hill from the tree so the top part of the tree was about eye level and just keep shooting the sqirrels as they came to the tree for breakfast.  In May there were a lot of young squirrels as well.  Perfect for frying.

Now, May was no where near any hunting season but hunting season was just two meaningless words when I was growing up.  Food was more important than game laws.  We never hunted during the mating season and when game was pregnant but later on it was all over for young animals.  And when one got all the squirrels that came to the tree or all one wanted there were always plenty of berries that had fallen from the tree to eat.

That tree was pretty tall.  The one that was in the old garden out from Homer and Mary Jane's old house was pretty small.  Best I can recall it was around eight to ten feet tall.  I'd go stuff myself on berries every spring until they moved in the trailor and got rid of the little Mulberry.

Honestly, I don't even know if I'd like a Mulberry now.  I don't know if it is me or the berry or a little bit of both but I can buy all the blackberries, raspberries and strawberries I want but they just do not taste the same as when I was a kid.  Maybe it was because berries were such a treat for me that made them taste better.  Maybe it is because of the way they are grown, harvested and shipped now them make them so tasteless.  I don't know but those berries in my memories were so much better than any I find today.

Mirror Thoughts

I  don't know when it happned
But, the man in my mirror changed.
The person I see staring back at me
Is not the person who should be there.

He is not exactly my grandfather.
He is not exactly my fatherer.
He is not exactly some stranger.
But, he is exactly not me any more.

I see him staring back at me
And think Ishould feel like him inside.
I don't know what he might feel
But, I know I am still me in there.

I guess everyone has this awakening
To the harsh realities of passing time.
I'm just not ready to be awakened.
It was only yesterday I was just a kid.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

When I was young the thought of dying was horrifying to me.  But, as I get older it does not hold the same level of fear for me as it once did.  I guess that is Mother Nature's way of preparing us for the inevitable.  But, this is not a piece about my own mortality but of all the people I've known who have preceded me in shuffling of this mortal coil. 

I think the first experience I had with some person dying was when Spicy's husband died when I was around three or four years of age.  I don't remember her last name.  All I ever knew was Spicy.  They lived on top of the hill right at the Martin/Johnson county line and that little piece of road was known as Spicy Gap.  See, back in Kentucky there were a lot of places named after someone who lived there.

I don't remember much about it except that my mother took me to the burying.  I remember this (to me) huge hole in the ground and asking my mother what it was.  She called it a 'bury hole' rather than a grave and said that was where they put people when they die.  I don't remember being upset or frightened of it but I do have a sense of unease when I remember it.

The first dead person I saw was Quiller Huff.  He was a man who lived up the hollow (holler) from us when we lived in West Van Lear.  The area where we lived was  called "Burglar Holler" though its real name was "Burger Hollow".   He comitted suicide when I was somewhere in the vicinity of eight years old. 

My mother made me go to his funeral though I cried, begged and threw a hissy fit not to go.  I did not want to see a dead person and, to this day, the sight of a corpse bothers me.  I'm not frightened.  I just would prefer not to be there. 

I really did not know Mr. Huff except by name so it was not all that personal to me except for being forced to attend his funeral.  The first people that dies that I actually knew were an elderly couple who lived across the little creek from where Mr. and Mrs. Huff lived.  I don't remember their names for sure but I think the woman's name was Bessie.  They were somebody my parents knew and my one memory of them while alive was of visiting the home with my mother and Bessie making me a hamburger.  I refused to eat it becaue she had "touched it whith her hands".   You need to put this in perspective since I loved hamburgers more than Wimpy on the Popeye cartoons. 

Anyway, one day they came home from the hospital and both lay down to take a nap and neither of them woke up.  Carbon Dioxide from an unvented gas heater did them in.  Just after the funeral my dad rented their house from some of the family.  I did NOT want to move there.  People had DIED in that house.  I threw another crying, begging, hissy fit and it did me just as much good as the one I threw about going to the funeral.  We moved anyhow.  In the end I'm glad we did.  It was the only house I lived in until I was married and moved to Paintsville that had indoor plumbing.  All in all the nicest house I lived in until I bought the home I live in currently.

From then, up through my early teen years I don't recall being impacted by death of a person.  Not to say I was not familiar with the death of a loved one but those loved ones were dogs that were pets until my dad killed them.  But, that is another whole story.

We left that nice house in Burglar Holler when I was thirteen and moved back to Nat's Creek so my mother could help my grandmother take care of my grandfather.It seems like ages but it was only around two years before he passed away.

I cannot think of my grandfather's passing without thinking of the two coffins he kept out in the "smokehouse".  See, he had Virgil Boyd to cut a large poplar tree on my dad's land and then had it sawed into boards and Virgil built two coffins from those boards.  One for my grandfather and one for my grandmother.  They were lined and cushoned and had a little pillow on one end to support the head.  I was told my grandfather even climbed into his to test it out for comfort. Sounds exactly like my family.

I don't remember the funeral though I do know where the grave is and I do know he did use that homemade coffin.  When my grandmother passed away though they gave her a "store bought" one.  Fancy coffins seems like a wast though.  Just going to lie under the dirt and rot away with time.  Its not like we believe, like the ancient Egyptians, in the need to preserve the body to ensure an after life.

I was fifteen when Poppy died.  I'm trying to remember who was the next to go in the line of people I've known but I think it was my aunt Burnice.  She was a diabetic and in her days there was not much in the way of treatment.  Then it was called "Sugar Diabetes" or just "The Sugar".  It was not as well understood then and there was very little treatment except to not eat things with sugar in them.  The country people did not realize all carbs turned into sugar in the body so she did not stay away from gravy and biscuits and other breads and starchy foods.  I recall she lost one foot and before she was released from the hospital she died.  I don't recall how old I was but according to my dad's bible she was sixty-six at the time of her death.

After I got married when I was nineteen there have been far too many deaths to go into detail about.  Trying to think of just how many.

Both parents.
Both Grandparents I knew.  My other grandparents died before I was born.
Both aunts and uncles I knew.  The ones on my dad's side I never knew.
Two of Aunt Burnice's children I knew well and another two or three I really did not know.
Two of Aunt Dixie's children and two of her daughter-in-laws.
One sister.
Three cousins in my age group I can remember.
One brother-in-law.
Ex father-in-law and mother-in-law and some assorted sons and daughters-in-law
A few of Aunt Burnice's sons-in-law.  I can't think of just how many.
One kid I went to grade school with in West Van Lear.
One high school fellow student I know of.  Could be more.
My best friend from high school's father.

Quite a few.  I'm probably leaving some out whom I'll remember later.  Comes from being born to aging parents and living to get to 59 1/2 myself. (So far).  Even the ones who are still living from my cousins are pushing anywhere from sixty to eighty.  Should I make it to eighty myself I'd say there are going to be very few of my family left to go to my funeral.  Does not really matter though as I won't know if there is anyone there or not.,

But there is going to be no "bury hole" for me when I go, however old I might live to see.  Even though I know I would not be aware at all I just cannot stand the thought of being confined in a small box under the ground.  Just give my body to the clensing flames when the time comes. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

There is No Place Like Home (Click, Click)

A couple of things have gotten me to thinking about home and what home really is.  There are plenty of definitions from, "Home is where you hang your hat" to "Home is where they have to take you in when nobody else will.".  Like most things in real life, cute and witty sayings are pretty superficial. 

I'm fifty-nine years of age now and I've never had a place where I felt "at home".  I had a variety of homes in my childhood and a greaer variety of homes since adulthood.  Those have all bust been places where I stayed until the next place came along. 

I have been in the house where I live now for fifteen years.  That is over twice as long as I ever lived in one single place in my life.  Prior to this place the longest I was ever in one place was six years.  Then only a couple of times.  There has always been one reason or another for moving on.  However, I think my moving on days have passed me by and where I live now will be my "home" until I no longer have any need of a home any where.

None of the many places I've lived has ever felt like "home" to me.  They are just a house, a mobile home, an apartment where I live at any given time.  So, what is there about all these places that has kept me from feeling "at home' there?  I guess the first thing one would need to do would be to define "home".

Home is not a physical place, no house, not trailer, no apartment is "home".  "Home" is a feeling.  It is a feeling of comfort, of belonging, of loving and being loved.   Perhaps a feeling of being understood, being welcomed at all times and this could be the finest mansion or the meanest hovel.  Home is definitely not a place.

During my formative years we moved around quite a bit and I never fit in any of the places we lived if there were people around.  I was always and outsider to my peers whom I shared little to nothing with except being the same chronological age. 

Being in school was always stressful to me.  Being an outcast does that to a person.  Being "at home" was really not any better as I was a chicken's wishbone caught in an endless tug of war between my parents.  Even with them I felt like an outcast for one reason or another.  Though they both confided in me they would some day leave the other and "take me away" and it would then be just "me and them".  For me, living with both parents was trial enough but being forced to live with only one of them would have  been worse.  Much worse.

These circumstances lead me to spending as much time as possible away from my house.  At least that was a different time and I was free to wander the woods by myself whenever I wanted.  And, I wanted an awful lot.  The forests of Eastern Kentucky were where I felt the most peace in my life.  I was far away from the other kids who never liked me anyhow and my parents who aggraved hell out of me for several reasons.  I ate there and slept there but any other time I preferred not to be there.

Without going into unnecessary detail I can say even after my teen years I really never felt at home whereever I happened to live.  I was noticing today on the way to work and looking over the mostly flat South Carolina countryside and feeling how alien it all looked to me even though I've lived here for twenty seven years now. 

Over the years I've often wondered what it would have been like to grow up in a "normal" family filled with love and respect for everyone.  Perhaps it is the alienation from my early years that does not allow me to be comfortable any where and to feel "at home" any where.  The things that happen to us in our pre-teen and teen years have a profound effect on the rest of our lives.  Even when we realize that we still cannot change it as it has become a part of who we are.

I lived in Kentucky for thirty two years and I don't fit in there and have never felt at home there.  I've lived here in South Carolina a further twenty seven years with those same feelings.  And, as I get older, I think I'm growing more and more  reluctant to step outside my little cocoon no matter how mcuh I want to at times.  Maybe I just need new medications.  But, I find my ability to feel anything at all is fading over time.  Love, lust, anger, hate, fear or even interest in a lot of things is quickly becoming beyond me. 

I once envied those who felt comfortable in their own skins and seemed to fit in with family and friends.  Now I don't even feel that.  Yet, in my own purely academic way, I do wonder what it would be like to have a home.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The First in My Series on Stupid Commercials on TV

It is brief.  Does not take a long time to point out idiocies in a TV commercial.  Today is Folger's Coffee.  First, we see a woman having a cup of coffee in her kitchen when the phone rings.  It is her husband calling (just how lazy have we become?) from the tent in the back yard.

Then we see her walking down the steps from the back deck with the cell phone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  Next she gets to the tent and all of a sudden she has no cell phone and TWO cups of coffee. 

Ok, I suppose she could have stuck the phone in her pocket but she darned sure did not have an extra cup of hot coffee stuck in there.    Where did it come from? 

"The best part of waking up is Folgers in  your (mysteriously appearing from nowhere) cup".

Friday, May 10, 2013

I've Always Said...

... some people are just too stupid to live.

There is a LOT of hate in this world and most of it is for stupid things.  White people hate people who are not white.  People who are not white hate white people and others who are not white but are not "black enough" or not "Muslim enough" or not whatever you think YOU are.  Those are all BAD reasons to hate a fellow human.

Now days its popular to hate people who don't have the same gender identity you choose to ascribe to them based on genitalia  Let me inform you all that is D-U-M-B.   Don't waste your time hating people who have different countries of origin, practice different religions, have a different level of  pigmentation, view sexuality through a different looking glass than you.  Hate STUPID people.  Don't BE a STUPID PERSON.

If you were born in the good old US of A and had the privilege  of attending a school here for at least the number of years until you were sixteen and had the option of choosing to be stupid you have NO reason to be mangling your own language.  You have NO reason to NOT know where different countries lie in the world.  You have NO reason to blame anyone else for your own shortcomings.  YOU have had the opportunity to succeed that millions of people in this world risk their lives to have and never get.

South Carolina is full of STUPID PEOPLE.  They just elected to Congress an admitted cheater who used state funds to visit his South American mistress.  Who was recently caught trespassing on his ex-wife's private property, who has ZERO redeeming traits.  Why did they elect him?  He is a Republican and in this state they'd elect Adolf Hitler if he ran on the Republican ticket.

I admit I generally consider Republicans to be genetically defective but South Carolina Republicans fail the test to be even marginally aware of the world around them.  Oh, by the way, South Carolina STILL flies the Confederate Battle Flag on Statehouse grounds.  How does a state so damn backward get away with flying a symbol of hatred and rebellion against the United States on the Statehouse grounds?  Because people are too stupid to live.

Stop hating people for SILLY reasons.  You can't help what the pigmentation of your skin is (unless you are pale and trying to deliberately die of skin cancer).  Unfortunately, your parents probably choose your religion and most people are too weak to decide their own way.  You can't help where you were born.  But, by <insert mythical deity here> you can CHOOSE to educate yourself and stop being stupid.

If you don't know the difference between "there", "their", "they're" or "infer" and "imply" or you casually use "your" when "you're" is appropriate  and you are American born you have WASTED the opportunity given you to be educated.  Ever wonder why you NEVER get called in for that job interview?  Employers do not hire STUPID people by choice.  Well, except McDonalds' and they love stupid people.  Both in front of and behind the cash register.

There are opportunities out there.  Take advantage of them.  Use adult continuing education, read books, don't take FOX News or MSNBC or CNN's word for anything.  LOOK IT UP!!!! See for yourselves what is going on.

And for <insert imaginary deity here> LEARN TO EFFIN' DRIVE!!!!!

Have a nice day.  :-)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grandparents and Parents

There is an old saying, "Grandchildren are a parent's revenge".  We grandparents get to spoil them rotten then send them home with their parents and let them deal with the damage.  *wink*   My daughter put up a post on Facebook about the old TV show, "Hee Haw".  For whomever might be reading this, "Hee Haw" was a variety show that featured country music and country humor.  She was saying how it reminded her of watching it with her papaw (my dad).  Since then I've been thinking of the differences between parents and grandparents.

In this case my parents and I never had the best of relationships.  Due to genetics and environment I preferred to spend as much time away from them as possible.  That is not very unusual for teens but it lasted in my life until after they were both gone.  My mother passed away when I was twenty and my father when I was thirty-eight.   So, my mother never knew my children but my father was a every-day part of their lives.    It reminds me of the Bill Cosby routine about how his parents treated his children.  My dad was a different person where my children were concerned than he was with me.

Makes me wonder about my own grandparents.  Now, in this odd case, my maternal and paternal grandfathers were brothers.  I never knew any of my father's family as they were pretty much all dead and gone before I was born.  But, my mother's parents were there from my first memories.  I wonder how different they were as grandparents than they were in raising their own children.  They have both been gone for a good number of years as are my parents so there is no one to ask about that.  I can say that both my parents and my grandparents were severely over protective in entirely different ways.

My parents feared that anyone my age I associated with would somehow corrupt their little darling.  Heaven help us all if that had happened as I have been pretty much corrupted all by myself without bad influences to blame it on.  But, I did find a love of reading because I was alone so much and that was all I had to do.  That has been the greatest blessing of my life as books have taken me places in the past, present and future I would never have experienced without them.  I can't imagine how boring life would be without books.  Be that as it may... the over protectiveness of my grandparents was of a different variety.

My parents allowed me to roam the hills all on my own since I was around five years old.  I can't imagine that happening today but it was pretty much the norm when and where I was raised.  My grandparents, on the other hand, kept me close to home and chose not to allow me to be out in any kind of "bad" weather.

I lived with them during the week when I was in the first grade and attended Preston's Gap school.  It was a one-room school for grades one through eight.  I'm trying to decide a realistic length of the walk I had to and from school.  It definitely was  not ten miles and uphill in both directions.  I'm going to say it was a good mile.  We went by foot path from my grandparent's house to the joining of the main creek with a small branch where I'd meet up with a few of my cousins.  Thence through a field (and through a barn) by foot path to where the road came back out of the creek.  We could follow it a good ways then turn off across the little field where one of my older cousins always planted soybeans for his cattle.

We had to cross the creek there and did so on a "bridge".  This was a tree that had been felled and spanned the creek when it landed.  Then the limbs were chopped off.  This was mostly the only kind of means of crossing a creek other than wading.  It had no hand rails and nobody bothered to make a flat surface to walk on.  It was just a tree (called a "foot log") used to get from over here to over there.
Then we followed the path by the creek down to the old fence and up the hollow until we had to climb through the fence and cross another field to the school which sat above the old county road that was in complete disrepair and was not used.  I only speak, now, of this walk as it pertains to my grandparents.  I do not know how many days I really ever attended school that year and how many days I missed.

I missed a lot of days because my grandparents would not let me go to school if it was raining or snowing or it "looked" like it might rain or snow.   Instead I stayed home and played in the house or yard.  I climbed the apple trees and did "skin the cat" on one of the limbs of the Quince tree.  A quince is a kind of fruit I was told but I never saw one.  I suppose it needed two trees to bear fruit and there was only one.  I don't know but that is what I'm guessing.

"Skinning the Cat" was an acrobatic maneuver where one grasped the limb (in this case) with both hands and brought one's feet and legs up to pass between the arms so one flipped all the way over.  I don't see the fun in that so much these days but back then I could do that for hours.

I don't know how many days of that school year I missed but they were considerable. Still, I made "straight A's" except for one B in "Effort".  That was pretty much the story of my educational life.  I made the grades but I never really applied myself.  That foundation was established early.

All this makes me wonder how my own grandchildren will see me after I'm gone from their lives.  Due to my own failings I don't see them as much as I'd like and as I should so I suppose I'll only be a vague memory.  Some strange man "we had to go visit" for a few hours from time to time and could not wait to go home".  That would be my own fault as I'm still pretty much a hermit and do not deal well with people.

But, now, I wish I had taken more interest in my grandparents as they were interesting people and has a lot of interesting life experiences.  My grandmother was a mid-wife and delivered most of her grandchildren and a good portion of her great grandchildren.  My grandfather was and herb doctor and made concoctions for everything.  I'd love to have the knowledge of plants their medicinal uses he had.  But, at the time that stuff did not seem important.  I wonder if I know anything my grandchildren will wish they had paid attention to while I was here.   


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Continuing the Theme of Music

I along with a lot of my family have different tastes in music.  May I flatter myself the one with the most eclectic tastes is I.  From my exposure from the late 60' up to high school graduation in 1972 we really had only two stations that were powerful enough to listen to.  One was WSIP in Paintsville which was 100% country and gospel and one out of Huntington, Wv,  I don't know if it exists still but then it was Key 100 with the top forth.  Heaven help anyone or anything that came between me and Casey Casum with his show.

We were a long way from the fights between  blacks and whites.  That was good for me as as all I knew was the name of the artist and whether I liked the song.  Every week I'd go buy the latest magazine (who's name I don't remember) with all the lyrics to every top 40 song.  I'd  learn them all every week...."Hit Parade" that was its name.  Still, this far on in life I remember so man song lyrics.  And I've embraced so many song  lyrics as I felt related to my self and my life.  I may get into them later but here are some of the county/bluegrass gospel songs that were popular Then.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X48_0_xthw0

This World is Not My Home


White Dove
Stanley Brothers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vqcUNdaMUg



Mother used to sing this... I think.  I remember sking my grandfather what was a rank stranger.  He obviously did not know it as he told me it was someone you used to know but did not know now.  Now it is just people you have never known at all.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vqcUNdaMUg

Man, I wish I could plan the banjos!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h0dpiM9c0k

Will the Circle be Unbroken....


This one is one I find to be very PRENTOUS and HOLIER than THOU.  Still, I"ve always liked it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgFCzz9wjJM


Then there are the songs from my mother I can only remember parts of but still mean a lot to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkhJLcwRfms

My Dad always loved these songs.  He had all the Hee Haw Quartet albums and played the all the time he was not reading the bible.  I always got the feeling he was searching for a loophole.  But I  did get uses to and love the music.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S2qFjf3J2s

No matter what you think about religion these guys are worth listening to for the harmonies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S2qFjf3J2s



George Jones.... Ole Possum had one of the best voices ever.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5PMTEORjqg

Ricky Skags  ( I went to high school with him *brag*)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7ujdxIzi_Y


I guess this is enough for the evening.  I'm sure more is on the way.  Being entirely nonreligious I still  love a good, ole, gospel song.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Random Music I Love

In my life there have always been two important things, books and music.  It is one of the great sadnesses in my life that I have zero musical ability.  As they say, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket.  Playing the radio pushes my musical ability to the extreme.  I have a great deal of respect and admiration for those who can bring music to the world for our enjoyment and perhaps a little edification should we choose to use it that way.

From as far back as I can recall I loved Science Fiction books and sad songs.  Despite growing up in rural Eastern Kentucky I was not a fan of country or bluegrass music.  Those loves came about later in life.  As a teen and young adult it was rock or nothing.  I'm happy to say today I enjoy many genres of music.  Take me from Ralph Stanley to Rod Stewart, from the Rolling Stones to Ricky Skaggs (I went to high school with he and Keith Whitley who's music I also love).  Even throw in a little Wagner and Stephen Foster.

There are some people who just do not understand my love of sad songs.  Heck I like happy songs, too but they are so fake.  Life is filled with sadness and travails and sad music is more true to life.  My life at least. 

But there are some songs that are not quite sad but still true.  Like this one from 1973.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNf3eHJGe70

Sometimes I wonder just how close I may have came to being like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBsXywDAmh0

But growing up where and when I did one was exposed to a lot of country and bluegrass and I can tell you that bluegrass is built on sadness and tragedy.  So many songs about death, loss and a man killing a girlfriend.  Then my life was not the most cheerful so I guess something in the sadness called out to me and I responded to it.

Here is the very first song I can remember hearing and it was one my mother sang.  Performed by a group from Eastern Ky called Goose Creek Symphony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE6cw4XY_ns

We lived way back in the sticks where "they had to pump in the sunshine".  We listened to WSM on an old, battery radio.  My brother had climbed the apple tree to put the antenna (which was just a long wire) up high so we could pull it in.  It being in Nashville and the home station of the Grand Ole Opry.  Always listened to the Opry on Saturday nights hosted by Wayne Ramey.  I always remember that name.  He stopped being on the show and my grandfather said he had a growth inside him.  All I could picture was some kind of plant like corn or beans or something.

One of the big names in the Opry was the Stanley Brothers.  Carter passed away long ago but Ralph is still (barely) kicking.  Here is a song they sung that is still one of my very favorites.  Sad but hopeful lat the same time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqpOdKMrZS0

Anybody who knows me at all can tell you I'm not at all a religious person and they would be telling the truth yet I grew up with country and bluegrass gospel music and I do for a fact love it.

I'm sure I'll continue with music as music and books are where my life has lain.


Monday, February 11, 2013

My First "Anthem" Song

I am a person who believes in music and there are many songs I've encountered over the years which seem to tell a part of my story though I know the song's writer and singer(s) have no clue who I am.  Still, the song has a special meaning to me.  Some would be pretty obvious and some are quite cryptic I think. 

This one, though is really the first.  It is not the first song I remember (That would be "Satisfied Mind") not the song I like best.  Just the first in line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9-3RZkzpwM

I think it speaks to the loneliness I felt as a child and young adult and the way people perceived me to be that had nothing at all to do with the way I really was.  This is also my first "funeral song".

This song would have come out when I was in the vicinity of fifteen or sixteen.  I can remember one day my dad and mother were both gone and it was grey, cold and rainy outside.  I was sick but I put on this 45 (old vinyl 45 rpm record) and listened to it and the "B" side over and over as the hours drug by.

The "B" side of this single is pretty good as well but really has no special meaning to me and seriously had no special meaning then other than as a song I liked.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0iA_rOcn9Y

Along about that time several rock legends were overdosing on drugs and ending their lives way too soon.  One of my very favorite song writers, Kris Kristofferson, came out with a single called, "Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again".  The "B" side though was my favorite.  Just called "Epitaph(Black and Blue)".   I loved the song from the first time I heard it and have only recently discovered it was written to his good friend Janis Joplin after her death by drugs.  I think it is a beautiful song.  I played it one day for my mother and dad and my mother just did not "get it" but surprisingly enough my dad seemed to understand.

I'd love to link it but all I can find is a cover version that truly sucks.  The song was done with just a piano playing a bare bones melody.

Her close friends have gathered
Lord ain't it a shame
Grieving together
Sharing the blame
But when she was dying
Lord, we let her down,
There's no use crying
We can't help her now,
The party's all over
Drink up and go home
It's too late to love her
And leave hear alone.

Just say she was someone
Lord, so far from home
Who's life was so lonely
She died all alone
Who dreamed pretty dreams
That never came true
Lord, why was she born
So black and blue.

If  you ever find it by Kris and not some cover be sure to give it a listen.



Funeral Songs

Everyone who knows me knows I'm not at all a religious person.  So, when it comes to the end of my time I've always said I don't want someone who does not know me to stand over my corpse and "preach" me into heaven or hell either one.  I don't rightly believe in either one and I'm darned sure there is no preacher who knows no more than I who is going to decide it after I'm gone.

So, I've decided I do not want any kind of traditional funeral.  I just want anyone who might know me to stand up and say whatever they'd like, good or bad, about me and for a "preachin" I just want a CD of songs that have a unique meaning for me played.

I think this one is going to be there.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfUEggasXwI
 
 
Many others of course.  :-)  but that one has to be there somewhere.  
 
 
Ok, I have had the hip surgery now.  January 3, 2013.  Don't ask me about the next couple of days.  :-)  Gooooood drugs.  :-)  It has been about five weeks now and I'm off the walker and just using my cane and forget it about half the time and just go waling where I need to.  Started working from home today.  With my doctor's caution I figure 2-3 weeks of this so I should be able to make it to the  office around March 1st.

So, some random thoughts after hip surgery.  DAMN! It is expensive. 

I think I've healed fairly well.  I got some "places" on my right leg and one got infected so I've been on two different antibiotics for twenty days.    The leg has cleared up, though it is not healed all the way and my incision has stopped draining so I hope that is going to be ok soon.  I'm sure my wife is tired of playing nurse as I need the dressing replaced on my hip at least twice a week and the band aids on my leg replaced every night.

My pain is substantial less  than before the surgery which is good.  Knee pain is about completely gone so I guess the doctor was correct in thinking the hip was causing the knee pain.  My formal physical therapy has been done for about two weeks now.  I'm just doing the exercises when I remember them (not very often I'm sad to say).

I need to start walking.  I do walk around the house but that is not enough.  Linda (my wife) is going to start getting out and walking around the house in the evenings.  I'm sure she is more than ready for me to be able to do everything for myself  I  know I am.   Though it is kind of nice to be waited on.  :-)

Today was my first day back to work (from home) and it felt pretty good to be doing something rather than watching cooking shows on TV and playing games on the PC.  I know it won't take long before I'm hating work again but today it was good.