The Leaky Roof

I look over at the clock radio/alarm, and the digital readout glares: “ 4:15 a.m,.” at me in bright yellow numbers, reminding me that I only have forty-five more minutes before the infernal buzzer that some sadist built into that machine jolts me into the reality of the day. It’s been raining poodles and Persians outside, and I subconsciously thought I heard the “drip, drip, drip,” of water into a container of some kind. I must have been dreaming of the old mill house we used to live in over on “smokey” road back when the kids were little. I lay there, and let my mind drift back to that place in time…..
The houses on Smokey road were built back in the 1880’s, and the builders used thin slate tiles which were joined together with metal hooks to cover the roof. We moved into one of these jewels back in 1974, when my little girl Kirsten was two years old. My Dad helped us with the down payment, as we had very little in the way of money, or anything else for that matter, back then. This house was a lot nicer than most of the old company houses, as there had been some
renovation done by the previous owners. There were some extra cabinets, a big walk-in closet, and a nice counter in the kitchen. Nobody had dared touched the roof, however.
You see, there is this hard and fast rule about the old slate tiles that they used in the construction of the mill houses. They will last practically forever, if you don’t mess with them. Not having thought about this kind of thing before, I climbed up on the roof one day, and walked my 190 pound frame all over those tiles while installing a T.V. antennae. I got that antennae up, and we had great reception. I was rather proud of myself until the next time it came a hard rain.
“Drip, drip, drip…” the three most dread words in the English language.
“Larry, I think the roof is leaking.” My wife nudged me and said.
“It’s just dripping out on the porch,” I mumbled sleepily, “go back to sleep.”
The next morning I swung my feet to the side of the bed to get up, and:
“Splat.” It was similar to the sound the baseball’s I had hit in the Chattooga river made.
“I told you it was the roof leaking.” I heard from behind me, as I waded toward the bathroom. Thus began a five year long battle with the ancient slate roof.

“How much to replace the roof?” I asked the roofer

“I’ll do the back for six-hundred bucks.” He speculated “But I ain’t doin’ that steep- pitched front roof for less than a thousand.” “It’s too dangerous!”
I felt sick to my stomach.
I ended up helping my Dad, and a couple of guys from the mattress company where I now worked, do the back roof one bright October Saturday. We replaced all of the decking, except on the porch area. I then took a five gallon bucket of black roofing tar up a tall ladder on the front, and covered the obvious cracks with this gooey pitch. I really laid it on thick. When I came back down about an hour later I looked like B’rer Rabbit’s friend the Tar Baby. Joel Chandler Harris would have been proud!
Everything I touched stuck to me. Pieces of paint off of the ladder, loose grass, gravel, pocket change; the garage door. I looked like a piece of walking flypaper. I was finally able to
splash enough gasoline on the gook to get it off me. It also took the top layer of my skin. Looking nice and pink, I went back into the house.
“We won’t have to worry about that anymore!” I stated confidently.

All through the Winter months things stayed dry. We had a great Christmas that year, with Kirsten, and little Larry Jr., who had arrived on a snowy December afternoon in 1975, getting lots of toys from old Santa! It appeared as though I had conquered my nemesis, the roof tiles, through hard work, determination, and a bucket of black goo. Then came the Spring rains in March:
“Drip, drip, drip…”
“Larry……..”
“I know, I know, I can hear it.” I replied catatonically.
I got up and put a pan underneath the leak so that I wouldn’t have to wade in the morning. The weather forecast was for a veritable monsoon over the next three days. I emptied that pan a hundred times, swearing all the while to find a way to stop the maddening problem as soon as the rain stopped. One sunny April Saturday, I hauled out the ladder, and tackled the problem again.
On this occasion I had spent more money, and had bought a gray gook from Ace hardware that was supposed to dry as hard as case steel. I ascended the tall wooden ladder carefully, and applied a five gallon bucket of this stuff to the afflicted area. The sun came out shining brightly the next day, and the gray gook dried as hard as side of a battleship. It appeared impervious. You could bounce rocks off of this stuff, and it wouldn’t even budge! Problem solved!
All through the Spring of 1979, stretching through the Summer and the Fall, nary a drip could be seen coming through the brown water circle which had dried on the white ceiling in our bedroom. I was confident I would never hear those three words again; so confident in fact, that I painted over the ceiling tiles to make them nice and white again. Christmas of 1979 came and went. We were expecting our third child in the Spring, it would be nice to bring him home to a warm, dry house.
In the Fall of 1980, after our son Matthew had been born in March, the remnants of some nameless tropical storm blew swiftly through our little town, bringing several inches of rain, and a corresponding amount of wind. Softly at first, and then with the resonance of a bass drum I awoke to the sound:
“Drip, drip, drip…”
“Don’t even say a word.” I cautioned as I got up to get the pan.
The brown spot came back in the ceiling, and it brought a cousin about three feet from it who hadn’t visited us before:
“Drop, drop, drop…” Another pan. Now every time my wife wanted to cook, she had to come to the bedroom to get a utensil. It was at this point I developed my “leaky-roof-Catch 22-philosophy.”
“Drip, drip, drip..” “Drop, drop, drop…”
“Larry, aren’t you ever going to fix those leaks?”
“I can’t fix them right now, Honey,” I smiled sweetly “It’s raining.”
When the sun came out, I quickly emptied out the pans and cleaned the bedroom floor of any signs of leakage. Most of the time, that worked well.
“Larry, are you going to work on the roof now that it’s nice out?” My dear wife would ask.
“ Darn!” I would say, “I WOULD do it today BUT,.. I (We) already have _(You fill in the blank with anything you want) planned, I’ll do it .” (tomorrow, next week, next month)
“Besides, it’s not leaking today!” I would brainlessly state.

By using this simple but effective philosophy, I was able to procrastinate my way out of ever working on those stupid tiles again. I never mentioned that the source of this intelligence had been from watching Ernie and Bert do the same routine over and over on Sesame Street, which my daughter Kirsten seemed to watch at least five times a day. Never say that grownups can’t get anything out of watching children’s shows!
The man who bought the house from me in 1987, ended up having to have the front roof re-covered.

I think

I sometimes think, I do not believe in God. Yet I must. I cannot help myself. I must believe that each of us has a living spirit inside, which is uniquely ours and which was given to us and us alone. Nobody else possesses this tiny piece of creation.

It is ours.

I’m not sure of all the technicalities of this life we live. I feel like nobody truly knows the whole story. I don’t believe God wants us to know the whole story. We have our many religions and beliefs, and I won’t express any opinions about any of them. You believe what you want to, and I’ll do the same.

In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest came to this conclusion:

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time.”

I wonder if that’s true? I wonder too about our time here in this physical world. I’m almost 68, and so far, that is my time. It is my entire life up until now in this body. When my time is up, I wonder….where will that tiny piece of creation that keeps this body animated, moving and interacting go?

In September of 1970, my wife gave birth to our daughter Karrie Lynn. She only lived for two days. She was perfect when she was born, but got sick and died. The entirety of her life on the earth was two days, although my wife carried her inside for nine months. Her spirit was just the same in size and scope as mine, she just didn’t get as much time here. Does that fact decrease the importance of her life? Was it her destiny to only live for two days?

I think about it a lot, but I’m not sure of the answer.

If somehow after I die, I can interact with the spirit that was my daughter, I certainly want to do so. I don’t know how that interaction will manifest itself. It doesn’t much matter to me, as long as t does. I don’t think it will be as a father-daughter type meeting, but more of a spiritual reunification. I personally don’t think we will retain this “earthly” identity of what we were here. It would be kind of strange if we did.

Again, this is just my feelings on the subject. You can feel differently if you want to, it won’t hurt my feelings.

I also think that people who have lost children before they are born because of other things which may have happened, will have that same spiritual recognition. I think we will have that reunification with any and all people we have loved here, or have touched in some meaningful way.

A lot of people believe in heaven, but I’m not sure exactly the nature of that situation. Maybe it varies. I have no answer for that. I admire people who have the inscrutable and ironclad faith that there will actually be a physical residence somewhere where everyone who qualifies will gain entrance. I once believed it. But that’s not my belief anymore. Please don’t hate me, or pity me because of it. I’m not belittling your belief. I just don’t think that way anymore.

I do believe there will be more, but I think the total details will not be revealed until we breath our last breath here.

I still cannot agree with Jean-Paul Sartre though, and his existentialist view of man:

“at first, he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also what he wills himself to be.”

I believe we are something. I believe we are all very much something special and unique. That we are given that tiny piece of creation, and we are given the time in which to live it, no matter if that time is great…like my Granny Stewart, who lived to be 100, and who told me that the years were like days to her as she aged….or like my daughter, whose two days may have seemed like a full lifetime….. because after all, it was.

To boldly go….

I read an article yesterday about aliens, and the possibility of alien life. It included information about a theory called the “Fermi Paradox” named after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. It basically states that if the Universe is full of life…then where are the aliens?

I thought it was a pretty good question. Our planet and solar system are fairly new in terms of the age of the universe. Fermi figured it would take a dedicated Imperial civilization “only” about 10 million years, given decent rocket technology, to conquer an entire galaxy. Why then, aren’t there joints like the interstellar bar in Star Wars all over the place. There are a lot of explanations, one of which is: we are the only ones home. We’re the whole ball of wax, the ball game. Wouldn’t that be something?

If we were the only advanced civilization in the known Universe, wouldn’t it be incumbent on us, wouldn’t it be our sole imperative, to reach out to the stars and populate this empty Universe?

Is it the purpose for which we will can even were created, if we were created? And even if we weren’t, shouldn’t we be obsessed with doing it?

Isn’t it a shame that we Earthlings are trapped by our own biases and prejudices here on our own planet. Isn’t it shameful, with so many Earth like planets having been discovered out there in the last few years, that we’ve barely even explored our own moon, and just scratched the surface of our other planets?

Hopefully in the coming decades as AI becomes more prevalent we will find someway to “boldly go where no man has gone before”.

Did you see Jesus today?

Did you see Jesus today? Was he the person in line in front of you at Wal-Mart who had to put some items back because they were short on money?

Was he the person with the sign at the intersection which said “will work for food” who really just needed a couple of bucks? Was he the prisoner down at the jail who needed a visitor to bring him a Bible? Was he the sick person at the ER with no insurance who was having a heart attack, or the kid at home waiting on that Summer sack lunch because their stomach was growling.

Did you see him in the Hispanic people wanting to learn English with nobody to teach them? Did you see him in the Meth addict with the rotten teeth who just doesn’t know how to get off the stuff, or in the waitress at the local breakfast joint who you just left two dollars when you could have left four.

Did you see him in the mirror?

It’s easy to see Jesus on Sunday in a Church full of other Christians, and give your 10% and be done with it, but maybe just a little harder on the other days of the week.

I know I need to open my eyes a LOT more, because Jesus said however I treat them is the way he’s gonna treat me…..

What I think?

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius

As I posted on another firend’s page, a wonderful person who was worried that they could not make a difference….one little candle lit in darkness can be seen for miles away. Now, that’s figurative and not literal. It just means that we all need to do what we can do. If it’s something little, something small…like giving a hungry man something to eat, or donating ten or twenty dollars to a worthy cause, then we need to do it. We need to do it for any person, regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, the job they do, the political views which they hold….anybody, we need to do what we can do, for anybody.

If we ever get in a position where we can do something large, like a Bill Gates, or a Warren Buffet…then we do something large. Change the lives of thousands if possible. Educate people, give them sources of water to drink and food to eat.

Confucius was right, because enough small good acts done on a regular basis eventually become something great. The mountain will be moved, but only if someone starts with the small stones.

And if you don’t care for Confucius then go and read Matthew 25:31-35, and think that information over.

The 4th

It’s foggy, humid morning for the celebration of our Independence from England. I am always so amazed when I look at our history and realize our cobbled together Republic was able to defeat the most powerful country in the world at that time.

We have always been a tumultuous and divided country, but yet have managed to survive and thrive. We have fought and killed our own brethren in a War between the States, and have fought our way through two World Wars.

But, the crisis of divisiveness we now face is probably the most serious ever in our country’s history, because it is a battle which is being waged against the vast majority of Americans by a minority who want to control and dictate to all of us.

They keep us divided through media misinformation and financial manipulation. They have poisoned our minds and have brainwashed us into thinking that we…We Americans are each other’s enemies.

They have chosen divisive social issues to camouflage the fact that they are taking away our freedom. We must, we MUST quit bickering over things which matter very little and begin to take our country back from the super rich. Don’t use Fox News or MSNBC as your source of information. In this day and age we have the ability to research vast amounts of knowledge for the truth which is out there!

Don’t take what you hear on TV as the truth, nor what you see on Social media because it is the information we are being spoon fed to keep us duct.

Teac your children well

We should tell each other “I love you” not just on special days, but every day. If there is anything which will save the future of this world it will be love. It all starts with our families and radiates outward. I think there’s just not enough love one for another in our world, and that’s where many of our problems lie.

Everyone is someone’s Father, Mother, sister, brother, child or grandchild. There would be fewer crimes and acts of hate if people were raised to realize this. There’s so much complexity in our world now that it’s extremely hard to put yourself in someone else’s place, or in their situation. People tend to hate and fear those things and those people who are different.

Try and put yourself in other’s place. Try and understand before acting harshly.

Tomorrow is the day after Father’s Day, and just like the day after Mother’s Day, or Christmas…or Thanksgiving, I’m going to turn on the TV and hear about a “mass killing” somewhere. It doesn’t have to be that way in the future.

“Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by”

My journey

I thought today about some of the things I believe, and about some of the things I have believed but have forsaken.

I thought about the idealism of youth and how easily it is lost in the shuffle of the “mission creep” of aging. (Oh how I love the invention of that phrase!) I thought about how aging itself affects the human psyche.. particularly my own.

My memory is becoming weird. On some things I’m razor sharp, on others I’m blunt as a brick. My mind is like a block of unsliced Swiss cheese, sitting where a good aged gouda should reside. Very holey at times, and unexpectedly dense.

So, my thinking process takes unusual paths. But it still functions.

I find I believe that happiness requires a personal commitment and cannot be handed to us by other individuals, or groups of people pushing any certain philosophy. I have waited practically all my life to have the secret of true happiness revealed to me, when all this time I have had it packed away inside.

I have been an irritant and a pest many times. I have alienated some, and confused many others. In my understanding about what passes for conformity I have become a non conformist. I’m sure I often baffle those closest to me with my actions. For that I am so sorry.

Tomorrow is a new day and I’m certain I will not be perfect. I will try harder to be happy though. Even though I hold very little in worldly goods or riches. Even though I fight daily battles with my body, and as I have stated, with my mind. Even though I realize I have fewer and fewer dawns coming. Even with the world in turmoil. Even with all these things…I am happy with the people with whom I share this journey, and these daily challenges. By having the people I am richer than a king, and by having the daily challenges I know I’m still alive and still necessary.

May the creator of all things be with you.

Giving Thanks

When we do not learn our lessons of love and kindness for others, life will keep banging us in the face with chances and opportunities TO learn. My face is very bruised but I think I am learning. To the little girls I gave handmade necklaces that my wife had made this weekend because they loved them but had no money. To the man who I bought “Church” hamburgers and cokes because he couldn’t afford them, to the lady that I bought worthless trinkets from, because she had not sold very much and she needed the money. To the folks who nearly ran me off the road, and I didn’t give them the “ugly” sign, but said a prayer for them, to the guy who nearly rammed his SUV up my rear end and I just smiled and said “thanks God” I didn’t go to Church yesterday, but I thanked God for 15 minutes in praise for his gorgeous sunrise and the fact that he was letting me live another day to see it, and for all the blessings he has given me. I don’t consider myself a great man…or even a good man, and my face is still bruised and battered from being hit with the opportunities to show love that I did not take, but….even though I am a slow learner I believe I AM learning and I give thanks for waking up today and trying to learn some more today. It’s not always the great BIG and glorious things you do that mean the most, sometimes it’s the tiny things. And if I have not taken opportunities to show that to any of my friends or family, PLEASE forgive me. I am trying…I am trying harder than ever…

Cyborgs

As we baby boomers age and die, we will likely be the last generation of human beings who would/could if we chose, put away our computers, our smart phones, and other advanced technology, and still be able to survive without the use of them.

If I chose to, and many times I wish I would, but if I made a concerted and extraneous effort, I could live the rest of my life without personally using advanced technology. That’s not to rule out the fact that it could still be used on me.

I might move to Alaska, build a cabin, and live out my life as a survivalist. It wouldn’t be pretty, probably not very long, but I could do it.

In the future, as technology and the biology of humanity continue to merge…humans will be so dependent on technology, that we would not be able to function, or simply die without it. Our phones may one day soon be so “smart” that they will be implanted in us, and will interface with us through our nervous and autonomous systems. (They will be a lot smaller, not larger as they are now)

Other aspects of technology will take over, or assist our biological systems, and we will become part human/ part computer. My son points out that we are already “Cyborgs” because machines now do much of our thinking for us.

So, I am glad I have lived in the age in which I have lived. I am happy to have been guided by my own human emotions, which have been in daily interaction with other humans like me. I am glad to be 66 years old, and not 6 or even 16. All of the coming changes, the new paradigm of which I have been speaking for so many years, may be seen as beneficial and needed for our race to survive. The coming super humans may be able to solve problems and differences which now plague us, and they may finally be able to be at peace with each other, and reach out to the mysteries of the Cosmos.

Yet, I’m glad I will have already taken my place in history.