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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Where have you gone, dear David?

David Stevens
7/19/1947 - 9/14/2017

Rest in peace, my little friend.

I do not remember when I met David.  Time means very little in my world and marking time is not something I do well.  I know I met him when I came to First Congregational  from Christ Congregational and I know it has been 10 years or so.  The important thing is that I met him and he made an impact on my life in a way few men have.  David was special.

David was special in more ways then one.  He was a big man, but I can not say how big as the wheel chair he was confined to did not allow one to measure.  I know his hands were big and he loved his cowboy hat.  I do not know how many years he was in the chair, I just know I never seen him without it.

He lived in a home with other people and he liked to help them.  I would like to say I met him when he came to our church, but I am not sure he wasn't there before me.  At our church we have a microphone which we use to let the congregants make announcements or report on someone in need of prayer.  David loved that mic!  Any Sunday he was in church he would pick up the microphone and tell us that his parents and everyone were in heaven, but he had a new family and that was the members of this church.  We were his family now.  He would tell of his former church where he used to be a greeter, but now he was a greeter in this church and that made him very happy.  He was an usher and while he could not manipulate the wheelchair on his own, he smiled as broad as any man and enjoyed being a greeter in his church!

And you know what?  That made me very happy.  David was a simple man, with simple needs and he always put others before himself and isn't that what it is all about anyway?  A lesser man would have been sad to be confined to a wheel chair and to be taken care of everyday.  A lesser man would have perhaps rebelled at his lot in life.  But not David!  David started counting the days until his next birthday on the day after his birthday.  He looked forward to that more than Christmas, I think.

I am sure that David is up there (wherever up there is ) telling God that he used to be a greeter at this church and that we are his family.  He is probably explaining to his mother and father that since they had gone, he had found a new family and they should not feel bad because he did that because he missed them so much.  And I bet that is one happy reunion around that dinner table, but David, if you are listening, know that while we miss you, and our church will always have an empty place on that back row, we are very happy that you are where you are and we want to thank you for taking care of us for the very short time we had you.

Rest in peace our little friend and know that you were loved and you are sorely missed, but we are happy you are free at last!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ah, the age of innocence!

This is a picture I have that is very old and I have had for many years.  Since I have geese it seems apropos that I have it.  Along with that I have a family history that details how great grandma and  other relatives before that raised geese.  They also raised sorghum and made molasses.  This may actually be a picture of me.  Probably not, though.

Here is another one by a different artist.  This one is a print.  The title is To New Pastures.  Either picture by either artist is basically the same.  This was back when leggings and boots and tending the flock was what it was.  Geese are funny little things.  You herd them.  I walk behind mine and they go where I point.  A cow, or horse or even a dog is led or at least they follow.

What do you suppose this little girl is thinking about while tending the geese?  Video games were not even a concept back then.  Running water was probably not in her home.  She may or may not have attended school.  Not all girls did back in those days.  She probably was married by the time she was 13 or 14 and had her own family before she turned 20.  Things like that do not seems plausible today, but it was a different age then.

This is my grandson.  Herding the geese comes natural to him.  On days when he is coming, I do not let the geese out until he arrives.  I carry my camera so I can get a third picture for my wall.  I guess this is as close as I am going to get!

He prefers a sunflower to a stick when it comes to herding.

Well, actually he needs 2 sunflowers!
We are pretty sure he will be ambidextrous.  And after all that herding, he needs a nap!

How different his life already is from the little girl above!  He spends grandma time watching youtube and Wheels on the bus.  He arrives in a red car when mom and daddy bring him.  A "walk" consists of a stoller or buggy.  Whatever they are called.

It is hard to imagine, but the same blood runs in his veins that runs in mine.  Will his memories be the same as this little girl?  I don't know.  I am hoping that on some level we are the same.  I feel that I have a link with my kids, grand kids, great grandkids, but do they have the link with me?  As much as my kids try to be different from me, they stay the same.  They try to branch off and become their own person, but deep down, they crave home made noodles and a needle in their hand.  

I guess, what I am trying to say is, I think somewhere in the far recesses of my mind I have memories that belonged to my ancestors.  I would love to go under hypnosis and see if I am another Bridey Murphy.  Are there dreams that are actually memories?  

Or am I just nuts?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

4:30 AM!!! Oh, Come on God! Give me a break!

I always wake up around 3:00 AM and reflect on life for just a few minutes before I doze off until the real wake up time.  I have heard this means I will either die young or live forever.  I am not real sure but I think the dying young is already an option that is off the table.  So this morning I opened the peepers to reflect and decided to just get up and get it started.

I do believe that life is best lived in reverse because at 4:30 AM I can see very clearly what I should have done as opposed to what I actually did.  It must have been about 1973 or in that general area somewhere, when I was working at the Red Carpet Resturant in Hutchinson.  I worked nights when I started there, but eventually moved into the morning cook/baker/fry cook position.  At this particular time I was just dating husband 3/4.  Now that boy was a drinker.  (Of course they all were so that point is moot.)

I think perhaps the "drink until you fall down and pass out gene" runs in my family.  Not that it makes anything I did right, but you need to know that my learning curve spikes in a lot of places and is non existent in the other places and the spike and the curve is not always in the upward direction.  To make this story readable, I need to tell you that the night before, he and I had decided to "go dancing".  This entailed some drinking.  The laws then were that you could take your own bottle to the "dance place" so we did that.  Course we ordered chasers.  I had opted to only drink wine that night.  Wise choice?  You decide.

I started out with something called Annie Green Springs or some such innocent sounding concoction.  It was really good as I recall, but of course that bottle went dry and since I was still thirsty someone went next door on a liquor run.  I was very clear that I wanted the same brand and all so I would not lose my rhythm.  Sadly, they did not have that brand, so I receive a giant bottle of something called Rascal Berry.  It sure sounded innocent enough.  I should have known that was not going to be good.  By this time it was after midnight and I had to be at work at 5:00 AM.  At 2:00 AM or so, I decided I had the flu.  I needed my bed.  Or at least comfortable sprinting distance to the commode.  It could not have been the wine.  Wine only has a 10-12% alcohol content.  

When sweet thing dropped me off at home so I could drive myself to work, I was still wretching.  I do not know  just how romantic that evening had turned out.  As for my life the next few days, it was a blur.  My mother waited tables and thought I should go home since I had the "flu" and Francis was quick to tell her that it was self induced.  No sympathy what so ever.   The boss just glared at me, but offered me no time off to recuperate.  I was top notch at my job and even in the throes of death, I was the best he had.

The next few days passed in a sort of blur. 

Day #1  I did not hear from sweet thing and I prayed for death. 
Day #2  I emptied my system of every thing I had ever eaten in life.
Day #3 was no better.
Day #4 was the turning point.  I could keep an ice chip down.  That was the best ice chip I ever tasted.   Praise God! 
Day #5 was  mostly just shaking and sipping some sort of buttermilk concoction that I was craving at the moment.  Some where in there I must have had a day off, because a full week passed with me courting the angels of death, before I began to pull out of the downward spiral.

Now you should know that back when I was dating husband #1, my brother, Jake and I decided to have a little drink to celebrate.  What we were celebrating I will never know, but I do know that he went to the liquor store and bought a 5th of some sort of "rot gut" whiskey.  We hoped there was enough to make us happy.  Since all we had to chase it with was red Koolaid, we used that.

That little celebration was the first time I had the "dry heaves."  Ever have those?  I do want you to know, that from that day to this, I can not drink red Koolaid.  The sight of anything red in a glass turns my stomach.  When I say "turns my stomach,"  I mean since me into culture shock and there is going to be some upchucking going on with my digestive track.  Never tried that again.  I suspect it may have been more the liquor than the Koolaid, but I can never be sure. 

I guess what I am trying to point out here is that liquor is evil.  It makes me sick.  I must be allergic to it.  I realize that I am just not a good drinker.  Nor am I a happy drunk.  Any time a guy thought he would ply me with liquor and get lucky, he was sadly mistaken. 

Alcohol and me are just not ever going to get along in this world.  I may have actually been Carrie Nation in another life.  I wonder what her background was?  Now you know some of mine.  When I make my off handed remarks, they are coming from life experiences.  Several times I have been told that I should write my life story, but no one would believe it.  So I am just going to be content to tell you that
"My life would be best lived in reverse with the brakes on ."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What goes around, comes around! Or so I hear.

My fifth  husband did not last long, therefore he did not make much of an impression on my life.  I had just divorced number 3 and 4 (married him, divorced him, married him again and divorced him again so I have to count him as 2) and was really moving forward with my life.  I was working for the ex-husband  and going to business college at night and holding down a part time job to pay for that.  And just in case you wonder, I was on the Deans List and graduated head of my class.  This just proves you do not really need to sleep to function.

So any way, I was working night shift waiting tables in Bessemer ( area of town around the steel mill).  There I met HoratioHornblower.  I will call him HoratioHornblower because I want to protect his anonymity (that and the fact that it should have been  his name.)  He came in every night after work for coffee and since it was slow then we could visit.  He was very quiet and seemed to be settled in his life.  Well, you know that old saying, "Still waters run deep."  I was soon to find out just how deep that water was.

To make a long story short, I had a disagreement with the owner of the cafĂ© and walked out.  There went that paycheck, along with my dreams of becoming a CPA.  But Horatio was right there.  Marriage, that was the answer.  He took me to Clarks Western Wear  and bought me a pair of white flare legged pants which were popular at that time, a blue and white checked western shirt, white boots and and a cute little white straw hat with a blue ribbon to match.  I was a cowboy now!  I had never had a man buy me clothes before so I really felt special.  Little did I realize that was the last thing he would buy me.

We got married in the park and went home to Scranton.  I soon found that he had several grown kids.  Never did figure out for sure how many, but there were lots.  And they all depended on Daddy for the little things in life that made their life complete, like money for movies, money for gas, money for new clothes and on and on.  After just a few weeks of wedded bliss it dawned on me that there was no money forthcoming from him for rent, groceries or anything else.  He used his money to "pay bills."  Ok.  So we filed income tax together and I had always claimed married 1 so I could get money back.   He had nothing held out for income tax since he claimed all the kids, 7 dogs and an ex wife. 
Then I set back to wait for that tax check to come.  And I waited, and waited and waited.

After about 7 weeks I decided to dust the dresser in the bedroom and when I took the scarf off I found a letter from the IRS informing Mr. and Mrs. Whothehellwasthatguy that the income tax totaling $3,000.25 was being applied to the back child support payments that were garnished by law.  WTF.  Needless to say when I confronted him with the letter he had no knowledge of any of this.  WTF!  Then he accused me of falsifying that letter.  WTF!!!!!.

Needless to say I was done with that marriage after only 4 months.  I did go on to get my degree with the help of my dear mother.  Sadly back in those days, waiting tables and cooking paid more then Accounting so it was all a waste of time.  If life could be lived in reverse we would all be better off, wouldn't we?

So why did I wake up with this on my mind this morning?  Who knows.  It could be that I have learned life lessons, but I am still not smart enough to apply them.  Yesterday the boy came and I had him get the ladder out of the garage and cut a limb off the Apricot tree.  See, I learned that if the tree limb rubs on the roof it damages the shingles and I have to pay to replace them.  Life lesson learned.  Sadly, when he went home to Florence he left the ladder leaning against the house.  After cussing and fuming, I got it down and drug it back to the garage.  I should have checked before he left.  Now sadly, this is a life lesson that I will never get through my pea brain.  Always check when someone does a good deed, that there is not a knife sticking out of my back.  Love you Bret.

On a bright note, Anthony called and told me he has my fruit juice.  He goes to Sam's and he knows I like that particular brand so he always buys me a big bottle.  I watch his mom while he goes to do errands.  Fair trade.  There are people who match me measure for measure and that is good.  Maybe I will start concentrating on those people.

My momma always had a saying, "You scratch my back and I will scratch yours."  I guess that pretty well covers the life lessons and I may actually start practicing that.  There is not much sense doing for someone who does not do for me.  In my charity work there are many people that are truly thankful for my little I do and that makes me feel good.  Guess that is why I do it.  But in my personal life, some people tend to take me for granted.  I just realized something!  It is all in the spelling of the word.

Do I want to be taken for granted or do I want to be taken for GRANITE! 

Have a good day and remember...What goes around, comes around.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It was a black and white world back there on Strong Street.

I see the news and it makes me sick.  We are consumed with fear and hatred of the "Radical Islamic Terrorist," the illegal immigrants, the gays, the blacks, and God only knows who else that we are killing  in the name of "peace and tranquility."  My dying ass!

We have elected a man to the white house who embodies all the hatred rolled into one ball and he does it in the name of "Keeping America Great."  I ask you just how great we are now?  And when I say "we elected,"  I mean just that.  Everyone that cast a "protest vote" or skipped voting because it "really doesn't count", or worse yet, the ones who actually marked a vote for a man who spews hate through every pore got us where we are right now!  Blame it on Russia if you so choose, but had we been United as we claim, they could not have gotten their foot in the door.

When Donald Trump was spewing his hate and "Lock her up!" rhetoric I, like most other Americans, just chalked that up to showmanship and politics as usual.  The majority of American's laughed at his antics knowing that no way would he be elected.  But the electoral college bit us in the fanny  And little did I realize the fact that this world is filled with frustration and hate that is mostly directed at our governement.  This and the fact that church attendance has fallen to a new low tells me we have a real problem  Back in Nickerson we hid our heads in the sand.

Oh, I knew that there was a "colored family" that lived outside of town some where, but we never saw them.  We also knew the Klu Klux Klan operated every where.  I never actually saw any cross burnings, but a small town is good for gossip.  I never really knew who was in the Klan and at one point I thought probably my dad was.  Seems he had a rather colorful past that was tied to the Chicago mafia, but like I said....

My mother was probably the hardest working, most honest, and kindest woman who ever graced this earth and she taught me well.

If someone is hungry, feed them.
I someone is thirsty, give them a drink.
If you find something valuable on the ground, it is still not yours.
A lie is a lie.
Some women are just born to be old maids.
Some men are just "momma's boys."
We are all the same color when the lights are out.

Most of her wisdom could be dispensed in a sentence of less than 10 words.  No sense spewing out a bunch of useless words that no one was gonna remember no how!  Gotta love my momma!

But back to my rant of today.  I live in the county where all the gardens are.  Beautiful Mesa!  In the summer the fields are alive with workers picking the crops.  On a 100 degree day I see them in thier long sleeved shirts and pants with hoods over thier heads.  They keep thier bodies covered to keep the hot sun off of thier skin.  I need shade and a breeze when I am outside.  Inside I need my central air. They move across fields in tandem and behind them the fields are empty and beside them the trucks are full of green peppers, buckets of tomatoes and bags of onions.  A sight to behold and the graneries are full.

Well, that is how it is supposed to work.  But this year is different.  I see Black SUV's driving the back roads.  I see no workers in the fields.  I see crops going to seed and not being harvested.  Way to go America!  This will teach Mexico that we mean business!  This will show them! This will teach them to take our jobs!

Sorry folks, not seeing it here.  I do not see any of the locals out there bent over picking me a carrot.  Not happening.  I do think a few of the locals may have went out to make some of that "easy money" but they aren't going back.  It is sad that the system that has worked for so many years for both farmers and workers is no longer happening. 

I hear the arguments that by taking down statues we are rewriting history.  I do not see it that way.  As far as I am concerned, the rebel flag waving off some rednecks truck is a flagrant reminder that we had to fight a war with our neighbors to free human beings from the yoke of slavery.  Ever study how this came about in the first place?  In nutshell, a bunch of rich men needed workers and needed them cheap, so they went to Africa to capture black people that were not doing anything anyway to come and live over here and work for room and board.  Far be it from their little pea brains to think perhaps that property they now owned had a mother, father, siblings, wife, husband, children or anything that mattered.  Not a pretty sight and I am pretty sure that they do not need to see a bunch of statues, flags or anything else to remind them.  Much like a statue of Hitler in the town square is not something any of us intelligent people need to remember the Holocaust.

Does anyone remember back when Vietnam was happening and we had all those refugees?  Different
nationality, same reception.  America has always been a melting pot, so to speak, but we tend to forget that our ancestors were the first to be integrated in this land!  The people that were here when we landed on Plymouth Rock are the only ones that really belong here.  Call them Native Americans, Indigenous people, Redskins, or Indians they are the real owners of this land.  Sadly they made one mistake.  They took pity on the pious immigrants who came here on the Mayflower to make a new life.  They fed them.  They helped them survive the elements of a brutal winter in a strange land.  Then they were killed by them.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Sometimes I am just not as proud of America as I should be, but then I remember!  I can only control the thoughts and actions of one person and that is me!  So I shall take my optimistic little self and keep waving my banner and hearing the chants that have been echoing down through the years. 

"Remember Stonewall!"  "Hell no! We won't go!"  "Black or White, all is right!"  And all the ones I have forgotten. 


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Catalpa Trees, Clothesline, and Muscovy Ducks

Now what do all three of these have in common?  Oh, I know!  There were all an integral part of life at 709 Strong Street.  They are also things we do not see much any more.  For instance, the clothesline.  Back in the day it was used at very least once a week.  The clothes were washed in a washing machine with an agitator.  Whites were first.  The hot soapy water was wrung out through a wringer and the clothes went into rinse water tub number 1.  The second rinse contained a drop or two of "bluing".  Now the bluing was a very important addition as it gave the whites a bare hint of blue which actually made them appear more white!  This was important in case anyone saw your clothes hanging on the line.  If the whites were not white you were going to be discussed around the supper table that night!

The wash water was always one degree below boiling when the wash was started.  After the whites came out, the light clothes were put in and that was followed by towels and such which was followed by darks.  The last load of clothes were dad's overalls.  If there was any water left at that point we could throw in blankets or rugs.

As each load came through and ended up in the basket, it was taken out to the clothesline and hung to dry.  There were more rules to the hanging of the clothes then even I can recall.  Underwear were to be hung by the waistband with the crotch facing any direction except the road as a pervert might see them and loose control!  If the said underwear had a hole, the item must be folded so the neighbors could not see it and know we were poor.  Shirts, blouses and overalls were hung by the bottom.  Dish towels were never hung by clothes.  Baby clothes were washed and hung very first as babies were delicate.

When the washing was all done, the drain hose was called into action and buckets of dirty water were then lugged to the back yard and dumped in an area that was designated as "the water dumping area."  This is when the Muscovy Ducks were in high heaven.  I do not know if you have ever seen a Muscovy Duck, but they are nasty.  They are usually white and black with a green sheen to the black.  The males are huge with a neck as big as my arm and the females are very small.  I seen them breeding one time which was enough for me.  That was nasty and I am not sure my perception of the Muscovy is not influenced by that experience.

Any way, they would get in the muddy water and root around with thier beaks, seeking God only knows what and that made them very dirty and seemed to make them very horny.  As I side note here, they are the only domesticated duck that (to my knowledge) can fly.  They also chatter to each other.  I hated wash day for that very reason.

Our kitchen had a "pitcher pump" and a sink for the washing of dishes and such.  The drain consisted of a pipe out the bottom that made a hard right angle and disappeared through the wall and drained into the back yard.  You guessed it!  Another hang out place for those damned Muscovy Ducks!

Ah, but my solice lay in the front yard.  In the front of the house by the road that ran by stood 2 tall Catalpa trees.  I have noticed in later years it is fashionable to top them short and they then have a ball on top.  Ours were "ala naturale".  They were both the same height and appeared to be twins, but they were vastly different.  The one on the left had lots and lots of little limbs and it was impossible to climb.

But the one on the right was my friend.  It had only smooth branches.  I would get a bucket and stand on it making it possible to reach the first branch.  I would grab it and hoist myself up, throw my right leg over the limb and survey my kingdom below.  From the bottom branch I would grab the next branch on the left side of the tree and work my way up the left side of the tree.  When I reached "my place" I would set on a branch (always the same branch) and be alone in my head.  At this point I was probably 25 - 30 feet off the ground.  I could see down Strong Street and up Strong Street and I could while away the hours dreaming of things and places I would someday see.  I lived a very happy life in my head.  Had I but known where my life would lead me I would have never come down from that tree.

Momma cleaned houses for the ladies in town and most of the time she walked to and from her jobs.  I always looked towards town and when I seen momma coming I would jump down and run to meet her. I do not know what we talked about or even if we did, but I loved my momma and for just a few minutes she was mine alone.  Of course when we reached the house I had to go get the little kids from Ory Ayers's house and momma was no longer mine alone, because those little brats were so needy!

I can close the door on that part of my life, but I can not make it stay shut.  I have heard it said that as we age we revert to our youth.  I do know people with Dementia and Alzheimer's lose short term memory first and I am thinking, maybe that is a good thing.  My childhood will always be my salvation.  It will always be the one place that I feel safe and when I die I hope I go back to Nickerson and Strong Street with my brother, sisters, and momma.

Yep.  That would be heaven!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Do you remember the WCTU? My first encounter was in 1950 ish.

I do not remember the circumstances only that it happened.  Seems like back in the 1940's and 1950's the WCTU was very active.  For those of you who do not recognize the acronym, it stands for Women's Christian Temperance Union.  They campaigned to get rid of alcohol.  Seems like there was a woman named Carrie Nation who went into the bars with an axe and did a lot of damage.  The WCTU was started back in 1874 by a woman named Frances Willard along with another lady named Annie Wittenmyer.  In later years it expanded to include labor laws, prison reform and womens suffrage.  Willard died in 1898.

Having briefly read her history, I am thinking she may have very well been a lesbian way before it was acceptable to be of that persuasion!  That is neither here nor there and has absolutely nothing to do with my journey into the WCTU at the tender age of 9.

What I do recall is that my 5th grade teacher saw potential in my poetry writing at that early age and encouraged me.  Her name was Miss Burgess and she lived with another teacher named Miss Rinehart.  (If memory serves me correctly.)  The WCTU was having a meeting at a church out in the country between Nickerson and Plevna.  I think the area was called Huntsville.  My job was to memorize a poem and recite it for the ladies.

Now back in those days, women were expected to stay home and keep the house and kids and if the husband chose to get roaring drunk and beat the living shit out of them, it was their duty to submit!  That was our mentality then. 

I do not remember the poem, but as I recall it started, "In a castle gray, by a pounding sea, on a cliff where the white gull flew lived a lonely boy and his uncle....."  And it was about a young boy who lived with an alcoholic Uncle as he was an orphan.  I remember it was very sad and troubling and after my recitation (which was perfect) the women were ecstatic and very pleased with my performance.  The poem had been so troubling to  me that I had erased it from my memory and only think about it on occasion.  It seems in the poem the Uncle either threw the boy over the cliff or threw himself over the cliff, thus showing the evils of the demon rum.

I do not recall much about the WCTU, but I do know and probably still have a piece of paper some where that states I am or was an honorary member.  I do recall thinking of that group on occasions when one of my dear sweet husbands was "in his cups" and kicking me around the room leaving me a shattered woman sobbing in a corner.  Those were the good old days!

So why am I thinking of this today?  God only knows.  Most of the time I never recall the bad parts of my life, but it seems that with the climate in our world today and the violence that people exert against each other in the name of race, sexual orientation, poverty, immigration status, and any other reason they can find to hate in  a world that should be filled with peace and love, there is something missing.  Seems like it might be compassion.

But we are all a product of our past, so I have learned to be more compassionate.  I have learned that no matter what I am feeling, I must be tolerant of others because I do not know what demons they are dealing with in their mind.  If we could all just open our eyes and learn, wouldn't the world be a beautiful place?

Some scars stay with us forever and no matter how deep we bury them, they are just a heartbeat away.  Sometimes I just have to retreat and lick my wounds because I know they are there.  Very few of my scars are seen by anyone.  That does not make them any less real.  I thought about volunteering at the battered women's center, but the very thought gives me flashbacks.  How could I look into a face that mirrors my very soul and help?  Isn't that sad?