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Monday, December 28, 2015

VanHoose's Devil Worshiping music

A good many years ago, back in the late 1980's I worked as a "night writer" at the Separation/Transition Point at Ft. Jackson, SC.   We worked nights writing the separation papers for soldiers getting discharged the next day.

I had a "boom box" with earphones and duo cassette players I listened to all night.  I can recall one night one of the NCOs said everyone else has let us listen to their music, what do you listen to?  So, I just pulled the earphones out and let it go.  From then on it was just VanHoose's Devil Worship music.

It is not Devil Worship music at all but it is about 100 times better than some of the explicitly non-devil worshiping music.

"Paranoid" by Black Sabbath.

"Iron Man" by Black Sabbath

"Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin

"Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd

While it is definitely not "Devil  Worshiping" music it does tend to reflect some of my attitude toward our world and all the people who have wrenched control away from the citizens in  favor of the wealthy elite.

But that was a long time ago.  Now, I'm still an uncooperative prick in the eyes of some because I don't buy of on the BS presented to us by  our politicians.  And, that is fine.  When I die I'd rather it be as a rebel for a good cause as opposed to a good, little sheep, just waiting on the axe.  It is ok if they harvest my wool but when they come for my chops it has gone too far.  Seems our politicians want our chops for their elite slave masters  these days.

Well eff them.  I'll just rely on my history of Devil Music and rebellion.  When I start kowtowing to the Political establishment it is time to start shoveling dirt in my face because all that is really  me has died no matter what the body is still doing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Black Walnuts

Back almost a half century ago I can recall us going out to feed sacks full of black walnuts  from the many walnut trees in the area.  It was a job to hull them as the thick, soft, outer hull contained the black walnut stain.

No matter how much care one took by the time all the walnuts were hulled we were all stained walnuts up to our wrists.   Those stains were pretty much permanent and would only disappear once the skin had been replaced.

I can recall one or two years when after we had gathered all the sacks full of walnuts, my brother would park the car near our grandparent's old coal house.  Then he'd jack up the rear, right side (drive wheel) , start the care an put it in gear to leave the wheel which was off the ground spinning.  Then the adults (I was much too young then, surprising as it may seem now) would toss walnuts in front of the spinning tire and it would strip off the outer shell.

Then we'd carry all the hulled walnuts to put in my grandparent's old, steamer trunk.  Memory fails me now, but I think they must have had two of those old trunks.  One was left on the front porch to be filled with coal from the coal house on a regular basis.  If I remember correctly my grandfather paid me $2.00 a week to keep it filled.

But there was another trunk upstairs in the attic where the walnuts were stored.  My grandfather had an oblong piece of metal which we used to crack the  nuts on.  It seemed so large to me at the time but looking back it could not have been all that large.  At a guess with failing memory it might have been 3/4 inch thick, 2 inches wide and 4-6 inches in length.

I can readily recall sitting in front of the pot bellied stove in the living room/bedroom with that piece of steel on my lap and with a hammer cracking those walnuts and gobbling up the nut meats.

It is one of the great mysteries of aging, but I can clearly recall things which happened over a half century ago far better than I can recall things which happened last year, last month, last week or yesterday.  It always puzzled me when my parents and grandparents talked about this phenomena as well as the experience of time passing at an ever increasing speed.
Now, I'm quite old enough to understand what they were talking about.  And it is very true.  My days, weeks, months, years slip by so quickly I just can't keep up.  Still, I have so many memories from the time I was around two years old up until just a few years ago.

I don't know why I'm so nostalgic about black walnuts since they always gave me "fever blisters".

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Brown Eggs

This morning I was making an omelette for breakfast when I got the eggs out of the refrigerator.  Organic, brown eggs.  Organic is mostly because of my wife though I do agree with only buying "free range", "cage free" eggs.  But the brown eggs are my choice.  Why?  Just my childhood.  See, I do understand the color of the eggshells have more to do with the color of the hen's ears than anything else and all color chicken eggs are equal nutritionally.  But, my parents preferred brown eggs so I do also.  Nothing to do with any real positive for brown eggs.  Just something unconsciously learned from my childhood.

Made me wonder just how many things I do which really does not make any sense but are just things I learned in childhood and I choose because it is "comfortable"?  I got to thinking about it and find maybe I don't really have that many things I do just because "that is how I grew up".  But "how I grew up" makes some things "normal" and "best".  No matter what nutritionists say.

Like, no breakfast is complete without bacon.  But the best breakfasts have bacon, sausage and ham.  That is what my grandparents had every morning.  Eggs are best "over medium" so I can melt butter in the yolk before eating.  That was leaned from my now deceased brother-in-law, Homer.  Still the only way I want to eat eggs.

Redeye gravy.... different things different people consider redeye gravy.  Most think it needs coffee.  My grandmother must made it by putting water in the pan where the ham was fried and "degassed" it so the water turned red with ham fat.  Put regular gravy over my eggs and crumbled bacon then a couple of spoons of "redeye" gravy on that...  Yum!

I thing there are things we learn as children we don't even think about later in life.  What we had as children is just the "way it should be".  Even today at age sixty-one breakfast is just not breakfast without "over-medium" eggs, bacon and either biscuits (my preference) or toast (a surrender to my waistline).  Some Fridays I still have to have gravy and biscuits with my breakfast.  Generally makes me sick but it is still worth it going down no matter how much it hurts coming back up.  :-)

Just kind of amazing how many things in our lives are determined by how we lived out lives while our ages were still in single digits.  Looking back now I can see so much of my thoughts, views, beliefs were "set in stone" while I was still quite young.  Thing is, I'm also sure those things were NOT what either of my parents were trying to beat into my head from the other end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

At the Bottom Looking Down

Looking Down From the Bottom

Today is a day I don’t want to last
Nothing I can do about present or past
Always these memories keep coming ‘round
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down.

Tomorrow may be different; I really don’t care
For better or worse I know how I’ll fare
How much longer can I stay above ground
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

At night I don’t sleep; Just lie in the night
Wondering if it’s worth it to keep up the fight
I’m a stray dog on my last day in the pound
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

I used to love reading; Now they’re just words
I used to love Robins: Now they’re just birds
I used to love music:  Now they’re just sounds
Feels like I’m at the bottom looking down

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wood Smoke and Ice Cream

The past few days I've been thinking about little things.  Things like the smell of wood smoke from a small campfire or a raging forest fire.  Wood smoke brings in images of late summer and early autumn when the leaves are dry and forest fires prevalent.  Also, of times I've been alone or with others and built up a fire under a rock cliff.  Sometimes it was to keep warm.  Sometimes it was just because I like fires.

This particular memory is when two of my cousins, Skip and Steve and myself walked through the snow  over to a small store just across the county line.  It was just a tiny, old building.  It did not have much but it did have a freezer with ice cream.  This particular time we each bought a half gallon of ice cream.  I don't even remember the flavors.

In the cold and snow we plodded back toward home but about half way there we cut over the hill and made our way through a half frozen, swampy area and up Rush Fork until we came to a nice sized rock cliff on the left side of the creek.  That area always had a distinctive smell because there was a sulfur spring on the upper end of the cliff which oozed into the creek and left long, yellow trails.

We all gathered wood from around the area and build up a roaring fire under the cliff.  Each of us opened our carton of ice cream and, bending one of the flaps into a "spoon" we each dug in.

I do not know for sure how old I would have been then.  No more than twelve I think.  I think that because after we ate all that ice cream they went home and I went to my grandparent's house.  Since we moved back to that area when I was thirteen and I did not go home I'm thinking twelve or a little younger.

Steve was about a year younger and Skip was a few years older.  I don't know what we talked about or how long we stayed there under that rock cliff by the fire but it was long enough for each of us to consume all of our half gallon of ice cream completely.  Quite an accomplishment for being so young.

And as I recall, none of us got sick from all that ice cream.  Little things like that are what we remember most.  The big things are there but they are always there.  A smell, an object or a sound can trigger the memory to recall some small thing.  Those are the kind of things I remember when I smell wood smoke.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shhhh, Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. I'm Hunting Weality

Paraphrasing one of the great intellectuals of our time, Elmer Fudd in the title.  It seems the search for reality is as doomed to failure and frustration as Elmer's search for that "Wascilly Wabbit".  It is simple enough to look around us and take what we see as the pure and simple reality but is that really the case?

It has been proven the the mere act of observation can alter reality at the Quantum level.  Light for instance acts both as a particle and as a wave.  It just depends on how the observer measures it.  Electrons act the same way.  Unobserved they act as a wave but "look" at them and they start acting as a particle.  So, if reality can be changed at the quantum level merely by the act of observation just how "real" is the "reality" we think we see?

There is also another part of Quantum Theory which states the belief the universe needs a conscious observer in order to exist.  To me that raises a very interesting question.  See, the universe is something on he order of thirteen billion years old.  Our dear, back water planet Earth is only around four billion years old and  what we could consider a being capable of conscious observation would only be several hundred million years old.  Given one is willing to accept the dinosaurs and their predecessors were conscious observers.

That raises the question of who was observing the universe for those intervening eight to eleven billion years?  Someone or something conscious had to be in order for the universe to exist according to that theory and it assuredly was not mankind or any of his/her predecessors on earth.

Given the millions and billions of years it took for even the first starts and planets to form let alone any conscious life on those planets this universe had to exist for an awfully long time without any internal conscious observers.  Would that not imply there were one or more external conscious observers?  Someone or something (singular or plural) outside what we know as the universe who had to exist in order for the universe to come into being?

To me this thought has all sorts of implications.  While I do not believe at all in any human created deity or pantheon it does lead one to speculate if there is not really a creator of our universe.  No, not the Semitic War God YWEH/Jehovah or his peace loving hippy of an abused 'son' or Osiris and his brethren and sisteren(? Is that even a word?) or any other of the human creations used to explain a world beyond our understanding that does not preclude the possibility the universe we live in did have a creator.

For 'god' did not create man in his own image but just the reverse.  Man created all gods in our own image and imbued them with all our human characteristics good, bad and indifferent.  Love, hate, intolerance and lust.  Oh, lots and lots of lust.  One thing you can say about our gods they do love a good sex life.  The kinkier the better it seems.  Just like us with all our nobleness and failings.  Really nothing god-like about our gods.

So, just leave all the human imagined rulers of the universe out of the equation.  Forget the invisible big Daddy in the sky who loves us all like the chronically abused children we are.  Think about the big picture.  Think back to those billions and billions of years before humanity started imagining supernatural beings to explain the weather and other, at the time, inexplicable events.

If the human created gods were not around to observer the universe from pre-creation who or what conscious entity or entities were?  Are we the product of some super being's science experiment?  Perhaps for some doctoral thesis at Pharoutthar U.  Perhaps just a complex super computer simulation?  Maybe just a hobby universe given to some kid who got tired of playing with it and left us ignored or just grew up and tossed us in the attic?

Maybe there are space aliens from other starts visiting earth after all.  I mean how much effort would it take for Mr (or Ms... can't be gender biased when contemplating super beings)Super-being to just "drag and drop" beings from one star onto another?  Or maybe just create them on a whim to see what would happen?

I wonder what Mr Spock would make of all this?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Creeks and Crawdads

My elder daughter posted on Facebook today about one's favorite thing to do when age ten.  Being that was somewhat over fifty years ago I had do to pause and consider.  But, first, let me tell you something about my world at age ten.

That would have been the year of 1964.  I know I was in the fourth grade for the '63 - '64 school year as I can clearly recall sitting in the sun on the porch in front of Mrs Hazelett's fourth grade school room and thinking about President Kennedy's assassination in November of '63.

Other than being historically significant with the assassination it was a watershed year for me as well for, as I recall, that was the year I made the acquaintance of three men who were to be a great influence in my life from there on out.

They were Isaac Isamov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. In case you are not familiar with those names they are three of the greatest luminaries from the golden age of Science Fiction.  Plus all were scientists themselves as well as being writers.  I suppose Asimov was the most prominent as he was assuredly the most prolific.

By the time I reached the fourth grade I was reading at an adult level.  And I was a voracious reader.  It was not just that I loved to read it was that I was also pretty much ostracized from the social activities of my peers at school and not allowed to "associate" with them when not in school.  One of my parent's few shared beliefs was anyone whom I were to associate with would be a bad influence on "their little angel".  So, books had quickly become my best and, mostly, only friends.

But, when I was not in school and did not have access to the book-mobile my reading material was pretty limited.  But, during the summer and and on many weekends my dad and I would catch the passenger train at West Van Lear and ride down to the Patrick station.  From there we'd walk up the creek and across the gap to the Nat's Creek side and follow the foot path to my grandparent's house.  I don't think my dad bought me my own shotgun and took me squirrel hunting until the next year.  So, my most common past time was playing in the creek down in front of grandparent's house.

It was not a large stream but it seemed pretty big to me.  I guess the deepest part was about mid shin on me at that point in time.  The part right in front of my grandparent's house was the deepest and slowest flowing and it had a sandy bottom.  But just above and below that were rocky shallows where there were crawdads under almost every rock of any size.

So that is what I responded to her Facebook with as my favorite activity when I was ten.  Playing in the creek and catching crawdads.  Or crayfish if you prefer.  They will always just be crawdads to me.

Being a long way from the bayous we never thought at all about eating them but they did make really good fish baits.  Bass would "tear up" the whole ones and most any fish would bite on a peeled tail.  Maybe we should have taken a note of what the fish ate and tried them ourselves.  I know I was certainly hungry enough all the time in those days where I'd have tried almost anything anyone put in front of me.  Well, except vegetable.  Was never much for vegetables when I was a kid.

That creek is wildly different now though.  It seems much smaller than in memory and the strip mines dumped so much sand/silt in it all the fish, minnows and , probably, crawdads died out.  In the years after the strip mines left it has been recovering though.  A lot of the sand has washed out and the life is returning though it is mostly overgrown as people no longer use it for a road.

Yep, I reckon at age ten playing in that creek and catching crawdads would have to rate as my favorite thing.  Unless I had a good book.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pie Crust and Oddly Shaped Biscuits

These two things may not seem to have much in common but they were both a part of my childhood I look back on with fondness.  See, when I was growing up it was back in the time when all moms were "stay at home" and all moms cooked three meals every day.  Plus assorted baking and all the household chores.

From the time I can really remember until my late teens I helped my mother with cooking a lot.  Two of my favorite treats from those times were the baked trimmings from the "made from scratch" pie crusts she made and the oddly shaped portions of biscuit dough after the biscuits were cut out.

Mother would put the pie crust trimmings in a separate pan and bake them in the oven until they were nice and brown.  I think I liked those almost as much as the pies themselves.  Same with biscuits.  Mother made "scratch" biscuits every morning and used an old jelly glass to cut out the biscuits.  As for the jelly glass that was what the biggest part of our "water" glasses were.  Mother never had a real set of drinking glasses.  We just made use of what we had.

But cutting out the biscuits this way left little strings of dough between the holes from cutting out the "real" biscuits.  Mother would group these at the end of the pan and those are what I'd eat at breakfast while mother and dad ate the regular biscuits.

I guess the reason I liked those "left over" biscuits was the greater crust to biscuit ration.  Plus they were smaller and got done quicker so they were browner than the larger biscuits.  That was the good part.  One of my (many) faults with the biscuits I get when eating out these days is they are never browned enough.  And, let me tell you this, butter on top will never brown a biscuit the way bacon drippings (grease) will.  Nor will the biscuit taste as good.

In the years between my marriages I did, on rare occasion, make both biscuits and pies from "scratch".  Mostly my biscuits were pretty good and so were my pie crusts.  Now, the "whop" biscuits (store bought in a cardboard tube.  Whop comes from a Jerry Clower comedy routine.) and refrigerated pie crusts have become so good we never bother to do it the right way.

Nothing spectacular or important about it but those two things are something from my childhood I recall with fondness.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Question Which Occurred to Me Today

It is purely theoretical and, thankfully, no one will ever have to make this decision. But, I was wondering if a group of aliens from space or one of the many "gods" people seem to believe are out there came to you in real life and told you we/he/she/it feel there are way to many humans on your planet and we intend to wipe 50% of the from the face of the earth.  But, we/he/she/it does not know who deserves to live and who deserves to die.  So, you have been chosen to decide.

Latest stats say there are approximately 7.125 billion people on this planet.  That would mean you would have to decide which 3.5625 billion people who were going to die.  How would you decide?  Who would you decide on?  What would be the criteria?  On what basis would you decide how to select over three and one half billion people who would not see tomorrow alive?

Do you do it on personal bias and hatred?  Do you take the easy way out and just name the few countries with the highest populations?   How would you decide who dies and who lives?

What if you had twenty-four hours to choose?  What if you had one hour?  What about ten minutes?  Or you have to say now?

Do you try to protect your friends, family and those who are most like yourself?  Do you kill off all the old and infirm?  What about all the children who are not perfectly "normal"?  Do you give everyone an IQ test and kill off the half who score the lowest?  What about a physical fitness test and kill of the half who score lowest on that?  Do you include yourself in the criteria?

Three and a half billion people.  That is an awful lot of people.  Honestly, I could only come up with maybe a hundred thousand who would be easy,.  That is a drop in the bucket to three and a half billion.

Maybe you tell them to just leave us all alone or wipe us all out that you are not going to choose who lives and who dies and put it back in their hands?

Think about it for a while.  No matter how many things you think you hate about this world or who you think you hate for whatever reason that is three and a half billion people.  Real, live, people with minds and bodies.  People who love, hate, have dreams for tomorrow.

Then, if you can't come up with an answer.  Ask yourself this, "If I can't come up with a list of people I hate enough to mark for death then how many of them do I really hate"?  Like I said I could come up with around maybe 100K with no problems.  I could think of a couple of other categories I'd have no problem with getting rid of.

I'm quite happy it is only a theoretical question.  I'm glad I'll never have the power to make those kind of decisions.  But there are people who have that power and it follows them around every day.  Those are the people in control of all the nuclear weapons on our planet.  Think about that for a while.

Then, maybe, think about that at the polling place.  Who would you trust to have that kind of power at their fingertips?  Think voting is not important?  Well, I think it is important to have a say who has their finger on that button.  Maybe the most important thing in the world.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

This Country Does Not Take Mental Illness Seriously

I wonder why.  Most physical illnesses I might have mean I'm going to die.  My mental illnesses mean I could die and take out a few or a few hundred people with me.  Yet it seems our country does not take mental illnesses seriously.

I just got a call from a "mental illness" facility telling me they had just received my referral request from my family doctor which was supposed to be sent THREE WEEKS ago.  The nice young lady on the  phone said they were not making an appointment for me but some "student" would be "touching base" with me to "find out what I need".  What I need?!?  I'm supposed to tell  THEM what I need?  How effed up is that?  Isn't that what I'm seeing them for?

Kind of seems relevant right  now since some depressed SOB just deliberately crashed a jet liner into the mountains and took out 150 innocent people along with himself.  Wonder if someone told him, "Someone will touch base with you to see what you need"?

OK, my problems are not dangerous to others.  But, they might be.  How would anyone know who does not at least talk to me?  Tell them what I need?  Yeah, right.  "Oh, I'm thinking of climbing to the roof where I work with a high powered rifle and a few boxes of ammo and seeing how many I can take out before I go".   I'm not.  But, I might be.  Who's to know?

OK, when I was in my teens I went through a "mass murderer" phase.  I read everything I could find on mass murderers.  My favorite was Richard Speck.  He kidnapped nine nurses and butchered and dismembered eight of them.  But the dumbass lost count and the ninth rolled under the bed and escaped because he was too stupid to know how  many he killed.  Then he went downstairs to a bar and tried to sell the knife pretending to be a Vietnam vet who used the knife to do away with VC.  Dumbass.

I'm not dangerous to others.  I'm not even dangerous to myself.  But, were I so inclined I guaran-damn-tee you I would not lose count.  And, I'm a damn good shot.  They nick-named me "Rambo" when I was in the Army for the way I shot on the range.  I can burst a fist-sized rock every shot at 200 yards with a 30-06 without a scope.  I know how to get into my office without anyone knowing.  I know the way to get to the roof.  You think I could not take out at least fifty before they got me?  You're dreaming.  I won't do it.  But, the point is, I could.  Any day.

And, if I did, you all would go, "tut, tut, isn't is a shame nobody ever helped him?"  THEN you'll go out and vote for the bastard politicians who promise to cut spending at the expense of the poor, down trodden and mentally ill.  Then guess who's to blame.  Is it the person who crashed that passenger liner, climbed to that roof, butchered those nurses or is it YOU?  You who deny the mentally ill treatment because you're more concerned with your pocket book than your fellow man? (or woman)

I have news for you.  A lot of mental illnesses are physical illnesses which affect the mind.  There are a  lot of people who have them who are embarrassed to admit it, to ashamed to seek help, too stigmatized by a society which does not understand a lot of mental illness is no different than having TB, or CANCER, or other physical illnesses we cannot help.  And, in their ignorance they just write us off as "crazies" until one of us (who could have been helped) climbs that high building or crashes that  jet plane into the mountains.

And still they go out and vote for cutting fund for mental health.  Remember babe, you reap what you sow.  And remember, I'm not going to climb that tall building with a rifle... but I could.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Something From an Old Classmate

I recently reconnected with an old classmate on Facebook.  Guy I went to school with from 1961 - 1967 at West Van Lear (Ky) Elementary.  He posted these fifty things and I thought it might be interesting to post my thoughts and memories about each of them.  That is what follows.

1. Mumbly Peg (using pen knives)
**** Yep.  Did that.  Lacey Waller taught me that  when I was around five.  I have lots of interesting memories of Lacey and one of his brothers which I may have talked about in the past and might talk about in the future.

2. Whittling

****  Yep.  Never was very good at it and never saw much point in it but I did do it.

3 Marbles

****  Another childhood endeavor I absolutely SUCKED at.  'Nuff said.
4 Jacks 

**** Tried it with the girls but mostly just 'cause I loved girls and it was a good excuse to hang with them.  Things which required  (or require) hand/eye coordination are things I suck at.
5 Hop Scotch

****  Surprisingly, I was not horrible at this.  Unfortunately, I found it boring so I did not do it.
6 Hula hoop

****  This one is almost before my time.  I can recall my elder sister doing that but it never interested me at all.
7. Kick the Can

**** ONLY time I can remember  playing this was at the Preston's Gap one-room school I attended in first grade.    Was not very good at it.
8. Tiddly Winks
**** Nope. Never.  Not any absence in my life I want to fill, either.
9. Jump rope ( especially double Dutch )

**** Rarely tried this. Sucked.
10. Stretch (using pen knives both with or without shoes)

**** I don't recall ever hearing about it.  Anyone who knows about this, please explain it to me.
11. BB guns

**** Oh year, lots of BB gun experience.  Never owned one as a kid but the oldest son of the family my mother baby sat for did and he enjoyed having me running away from him and shooting me in the a... nether regions.  Doggone, I was stupid.
12. Red Rover

**** Now, this was one game I was pretty good at.  I never tried to run through the interlocked hands but jumped on them an let my weight do the work.  Surprising how much of sports is mental.
13. Checkers (non electronic )

14. Slinky

**** Never owned one but loved the commercials.  :-)
15. Silly Putty

***** Came in a plastic 'egg'.  Still fascinates me to this day.
16. Hens and chicks

**** Another one I don't recall at all.
17. Who could eat the most disgusting thing? (Bug, grasshopper, etc. 

**** Never ate bugs.  I was big on rocks though.  Those really thin, crunchy ones were the best.
18. Handlebars with Streamers on bicycle 

**** Remember them.  Can't remember if I ever had them.
19. Balloons and baseball cards in spokes of bicycle to make motor noise.

**** Darn.. I loved this one.  If I had a bicycle now I might still do it.
20. Tie string to the leg of June Bug so it would fly around and round until 

**** Not exactly.  Still do remember catching them though.
its leg came off.
21. Little girls having tea parties with their toy dishes.

**** Did that really happen?
22 Playing horse while playing basketball with friends.

**** OK, played that until I was 32 and joined the Army.  My best 'horse' move was a drive to the basket and jump over the baseline and flip the ball over my head over the top of the backboard and in.  Can't say how much I practiced that.  :-)
23. Playing 21 while playing basketball with friends

**** Not sure of this one.  We used to play "make it/take it" to 21 win by 2.  Same thing?
24. Hacky Sack

**** Nope not me.  My elder daughter would be familiar with this though.
25. Real Jarts you still have before they were pulled from the market 

as too dangerous
**** Played some as an adult.  Never as a kid.
26. Played chicken with a coming train or car.

**** That was something some I knew might do.  I understood the math.
27. Croquet

**** Believe it or not I did a lot of this.  My mother did a lot of this and I would help her a lot.
28 Whiffle Ball 

**** Oh yeah!!!! Not so much as a kid but more as an adult with my nephews.  Wow, you could make a whiffle ball do tricks.
29. Cake Walk (To Raise Money)

**** OK, I was very unpopular in school and did not have a lot of the same experiences others did but I did do the cake walks.  In the fifth grade I won three in a row.  My teacher (Mrs. Mollette) gave me a dime to enter the fourth and I did not win.  I was crushed.  Crushed.  Still hate losing on her dime.
30 Darts

**** Darts was something interesting.  My elder brother taught me to make darts from a long "kitchen match".  Use a sewing needle for the point and folded paper for the vanes.  Played that kind of darts until I was in my 20's.
31 Solitaire (non electronic )

****  Big thing.  Hours and hours killed.
32 Hide and go seek

**** Oh, yeah!  We also had a hide and seek game called "whistle or holler".  We'd do this at night and go hide somewhere and when "it" would yell whistle or holler everybody had to.  That is where I learned to hide in plain sight.  I'd find a pool of shadows in the middle of an open space where no one would try to hide and just lie there and blend into the shadows.  Never did get found.  :-)
33. Peg Board
34. Key Punch

**** Peg Board and Key Punch?  Aren't those the same thing?  When I was in my single digit years my dad and I were walking to my grandparent's house and stopped at Sherman LeMaster's store.  He had a peg board/key punch for a cedar chest of candy.  There were only like five punches left and in my naive state I thought if we bought them all we would win.  I convinced my dad to buy them all and... WE WON!  Gave it to my mother.  I still have it.  Over 45 years old now.
35 Brill Cream (A little dab will do you)

**** Yep, I remember that.  Of course right now a zero dab will do me.  :-)
36 Race your friend just for the fun of it. 

**** Yep.  Never raced a lot but lost a lot when I did.  :-)  I remember once Susan Watkins had just gotten a new pair of Keds and we raced from the street where the church was beside our school down to the driveway of the stone church down by the 'S' curve.  She smoked my a$$.  :-)  I love her anyhow.
37. Black Salve

**** Not just back salve.  Salve and lineament of every kind.  Mostly Vick's Salve or something my grandfather concocted.
38. Refuse to buy bottled water

**** Never saw the point until recently (relatively) when I saw all the awful crap in our municipal water system.
39. Buying a whole friar and cutting it up yourself.

**** When I was younger we always raised our frying chickens.  After we moved to West Van Lear my dad would send me to Victor Conley's store on Saturday afternoon to buy a chicken (could not cost more than a dollar) for our Sunday supper. (Yes SUPPER.  Dinner is what you eat in the middle of the day!)
40. Using a meat grinder that clamps that clamps to your kitchen counter.

**** Nope never used  a meat grinder.
41. Painted your bald head with paint put out by Ronko

**** Nope... Did people do that?
42. Not shopped at Wal-Mart for 30 days

****  I might not shop at Wally World for thirty days but my wife is there about five times a week.
43. Easy Bake Oven

**** Never had one but I sure do remember them!
44. Had three days of total rest.

**** Sometimes I do that now.  Our company's silly vacation policy sometimes mandates  I do that.
45. Asked an obnoxious neighbor or family member to leave.

**** Not me.  That is what hand guns are for.  LOL.
46. Men generally are the ones who usually ask women out on date

**** Always.
Have any of you ladies ever asked a man out on a date.
47. What is the most annoying thing your husband does?

48. What is the most annoying thing your wife does.?

**** Remind me (LOL) repeatedly of something I did not do or did not up to here satisfaction.
49. What would you change about yourself if you could.

**** Health.  Really, your parents probably told you that and you did not worry about it.  Hey, it really is the most important thing.
50 What do you see as your greatest asset?

**** My complete indifference to what other people think.  Most people as really just too stupid ot live so why in the world would I be concerned with anything they think?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Can Only Write When I'm Crazy

I remember an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies" from the '60's,  Jethro (played by Max Baer Jr.) was going to be a beatnik poet.  One of the things I recall from the episode was of him saying, "a poet has to suffer".  If I call correctly he placed himself in several unrealistic places trying to suffer so he could be a good poet.  Looking back on it I find it is true in some ways and not true in others.  A poet does  not have to suffer but he/she has to live in a way there are things inside that have to be outside (other than gas after eating beans or cabbage) and,  it seems, most of those things come about from our less than pleasant experiences.

I used to write a  lot of poetry.  In fact I still have a fairly thick folder of print outs in my desk drawer. That was years ago.  Back when I was crazy.  Back when the only reality in my life for the most part was pain.  Then I could write poetry even though most of it was truly horrible.  Maybe all of it was truly horrible.  :-)  I don't know.

I finally was able to talk about it with my doctor and I've been taking various medications ever since.  Something around eighteen years now.  Since then I might write two or three poems a year.  Its not that I don't like poetry any longer it is just now, there is nothing inside which needs to come out.  Lots of the time there is just nothing inside at all.

It is a strange trade off.  Being crazy and full of pain and being able to write reams or being on medication and feeling little or nothing about anything and having nothing to say.  Then life is and always be a dichotomy.  When I start writing poetry again I know it is time to get my doctor to increase the dosage of my medication.

Now, I'm on the strongest dosage she can give me.  I've decided to allow her to refer me to a psychiatrist.  I'm kind of looking forward to that.  After telling him about my my childhood, parents and all the other crap he might write a monograph about me.  :-)  I just don't expect to be able to write afterwards.  At least, I hope not.  I can only write poetry when I'm crazy.  Having been crazy for so long I can tell you being dead inside is definitely better than a life filled with nothing but pain.  Even if I can't write poetry any longer.

The Indian's Footprint

When I was young I spent a lot of time at my grandparent's house.  I recall one time my grandfather took me up the branch (small creek) past the old barn, outhouse and chicken pen to a fairly large rock  beside the water.  On the top of the rock was a depression shaped exactly in the shape of a foot without toes.  It had a clear heel and ball of the foot.

My grandfather told me it was an Indian's footprint.  Being quite young I believed him.  it was about half a century and a lustrum ago.  For those who did not watch the original "True Grit" with John Wayne, a lustrum is five years.  But, to this day I think of it as the Indian's footprint.

Over the years I have gone back to that rock again and again to just sit on it and look at the "footprint" and think in wonder about past times.  I have always thought I'd love to be able to see the country where I grew up before the white people came and, in their greed, destroyed many of the people who lived there and their way of life.

All of that is gone now, of course.  The old barn was torn down and cut up for fire wood.  They eventually put a bathroom in the old house.  The chicken lot was there until after I graduated from high school but where their garden was was leveled out and one of my older cousins built a house there.   If I remember correctly the back of that house is just about even with where the footprint rock is on the other side of the branch.

I've not been back there for well over thirty years now.  I'd kind of like to go back once before they discard my empty husk just to sit by the Indian's footprint and wonder again.

The First Grade

Recently, in a nostalgic moment, I spent some time remembering my first year of school.  That was the 1959 - 1960 school year.  At the time my parents and I lived in a small, log cabin at a forestry tower at Spring Knob.  The tower is long gone now as is about two hundred feet of the hill top due to it being strip mined.  It is all gone down to the level of the big rock which marked the beginning of the path over the hill which lead to the homes of our nearest neighbors.  Sad, really, how many places I recall from my childhood which no longer exist thanks to strip mining of coal.

Due to our remote location my brother would drive me to my grandparent's house on Sundays where I would spend the school week then drive me back to Spring Knob on Friday nights.  I was born to older parents so my grandparents were of the "older persuasion" as well.  Best I can figure my grandfather was born in 1882.  That would have made him almost eighty when I was in the first grade.  Seventy six or seventy seven?  He was still fairly active at that time.

While we were remote at Spring Knob, where my grandparents lived was not exactly urban.  At that time the county road in front of their house was in the creek.  Actually, quite a bit of the county roads in that area were in different creek beds.  So, to get from my grandparent's house to the school house I had to walk the foot path around the hill down to where the county road came out of the creek for a short ways.  Then over the smaller forks of the creek (called branches) and through an old barn in an abandoned field.  The county road had once again gone into the creek so we had to detour to where it came back onto dry land.  Then down past the old Blessing house (Blessing was the family who lived there and not a religious thing.) to another old field,  across the foot log (Yes, someone had just cut a tree and let it fall across the creek to use as a foot bridge.) and up another small branch, through the barbed wire fence and across a completely abandoned road to the one-room school.

The school stood in a gap between Patrick creek and Nat's creek.  All the children from the Nat's creek side were my cousins.  I really never knew any of the kids form the other side of the gap except at school.

One teacher (Mrs. Cooper) taught all eight grades in that one room.  Being over half a century ago now I cannot recall the real size of the class and all the kids who might have attended.  Especially those from the Patrick side of the gap.  I think there were five or six of my cousins of various ages and myself from the Nat's creek side, four to six kids of one family who lived a good ways on up Nat's creek from my grandparent's and several kids from the Patrick side.  I'm going to say there were no more than ten to fifteen kids who attended that school that year.

Mrs. Cooper (the teacher) lived in the small, log cabin up the creek from my grandparent's house.  It was the house where I had been born when my parents lived there.  I don't remember too much about her except she was pretty young and her husband owned a jeep which he used to drive her to as close as one could get a vehicle to the school every morning.  I don't recall if he picked her up at night.  I cannot remember ever actually seeing the man.  I just knew he existed.

I believe that was the only year of school I truly enjoyed.  That is for several non-related reasons.  On the  other hand it was one of the real beginnings of my personal isolation which continues to this day. In my early years it was imposed on me and now I would not know any other way to live.

The first reason I really loved school that year was the fact all eight grades were taught in the same room every day.  I believe that is a superior way of teaching to what more "civilized" areas had and have where we segregate the kids into  grades in separate rooms and teachers instruct only the subjects and subject level deemed appropriate for that grade.  I spent every day hearing material from the first grade level through the eighth grade level.  I paid attention.

I think I learned a lot from that and I know I developed a love for knowledge.  I also found subject matter deemed appropriate for my grade was mind-numbingly boring.  I found I learned things much faster than the other kids in the first grade as well.  First grade bored me so my favorite part of the school day was when Mrs. Cooper was  teaching the older kids.

Finding school boring was something which continued all the way through high school.  I came to hate going to school.  Not because I found it too difficult but because it was boring.  As well as some other reasons I won't go into at this time.  But, back to the first grade.

In fact, I bragged to my teacher I would make nothing but As in school.  She had the last laugh on me but it took a while to appreciate the humor in it.  I did make all As in school except for one B.  In "effort".  (Yes, we did get graded for effort in those days.)  I find that quite amusing now.  The fact is should she have given me a real grade for effort I would have gotten all Fs.  I never did give much effort in school.  It was so easy I didn't need to.

The second reason I found that year so enjoyable was because of the way my grandparents coddled me like I was something fragile.  I did have to walk a good ways to and from school so if it was raining, snowing, too cold or they thought it might rain or snow I was made to stay home instead of going to school.  So, my first grade year was about sixty percent going to school and forty percent staying home and playing in the yard.

The third reason that year was so enjoyable was the absence of my parents in it.  I did not realize it at the time, of course.  Life with my parents was not very enjoyable.  Also, something I will not go into at this time.  Just say all my life I've always been happiest when they were not around.

The last reason is that was the only year of school where I felt "included" rather than isolated and alone.   Games of tag and kick the can at recess and lunch, having one of the older kids take me with him to walk down to my uncle and aunt's house to get a bucket of drinking water from their well, just being treated like I was welcome there.  It was great.

In that part of Kentucky the one-room school was not all that rare in rural areas.  In fact there were two open on my bus ride to the "city" school up through the time I graduated from high school in 1972.  

The Mirror Lies

I'm getting older.  Sad but true fact.  I can tell I am getting older because when I walk by a mirror I think my dad is standing there.  The mirror lies though.  That is  not my dad and it most definitely not me!  I don't feel like that old man I see looking back at me.

OK, I do find myself having the same failings of old age my parents and grandparents complained about when I was much younger and did not understand at all.  You know, favorite topic of conversation is my aches, pains and illnesses; who died; what any one of my plethora of doctors just charged me.

Wow, I can remember things that happened thirty years ago better than what happened thirty minutes ago.  I go into rooms and forget why I'm there.  I dress and (don't) shave in ways that aggravate my wife because, honestly, who is going to give a flying f*&%.

Yes, all that is true.  Still, inside, I'm not that old man in the mirror.  I'm me.  I'm the same person I've always been.  Well,  no, now I lie.  I've changed so many ways from who I was before I practically don't know myself.

Time, how hath thou changed me? Let me count the ways...

For close to thirty years I AVERAGED reading a book a day.  Now I can read for, maybe, an hour without going to sleep.  I used to be GLUED to anything on TV that had to do with a ball that bounced, was thrown, kicked or smacked with a racket or club.  Now I don't even watch any professional sport.  Mostly I only watch my UK Wildcats and then I often just turn it off and read about the game the next day.  Right now I find women's college gymnastics about the most interesting sport and that is not even because of the quite skimpy uniforms on attractive young women.  Just when did attractive young women in skimpy attire lose its attraction?  OK, THAT is a sure sign of old age!

To be  honest there are many things which bring home to me just how old I'm getting and how much my age has changed me.  Still, it comes as a complete shock every time I see myself in a mirror. Surely, the mirror lies.  That old  man can't be me.