My Mom and the Dreary Days of Winter

“Dreary” my Mom would say as she looked out the window, “such a dreary day.”

Mom used to look out the windows a lot during the Winter, and she hated the dreary, rainy days like we are having lately. She didn’t much like winter at all after Christmas was over and done with. I have to admit, I’m much the same.

On sunny, warm days Mom might go around with her dust rag, polishing the coffee table and end tables and hum some country tune she heard as a child. She could sing on tune and in key if she wanted to, but would never let anyone hear her if she could help it. She would clown around most of the time, and act silly with it when she sang.

She once told me she wanted to be a country music singer when she was a little kid, but her Daddy had made fun of her once when she was singing, so she never sang for anyone after that. It was a shame, because in the unguarded moments when the sun was shining outside, I could hear a spark. I loved it when the sun was shining as a child, and Mom was happy. It didn’t happen too often, because Mom’s personality became dark very early on due to mental illness, and stayed that way off and on until she died.

As far as the singing goes, she had done the same thing to me when I was little also, but probably hadn’t realized it. I had heard Elvis singing on T.V., and stood in the doorway of our home on Simmons street and belted out my version of “Hound dog” Mom burst out laughing at me. I think it was because she didn’t know before that moment that I actually could sing. I was embarrassed. I wouldn’t sing out loud for anyone after that, until the year I was in the eighth grade.

I was in “Glee club” at school and we were singing as a group with band director John Corruth as our director. It was at Christmas and we were doing a version of “White Christmas” I was really into the song, and with the seeming anonimity of others around me singing, I was belting out my best Bing Crosby version. “Hey Bowers” said Mr. Carruth. “I want you to sing the first verse of that song at our program as a solo”. “You sound pretty good.”

My face went bright red, and I almost ran out of the rehearsal area, which was at the front of our Elementary school cafeteria. But…I ended up doing it, and although I was extremely nervous, my voice didn’t break. I went on to do a lot more singing during High School. If it hadn’t been for that one situation with Mr. Carruth though, I may not have.

My parents didn’t come to that program. I can’t remember them ever coming to any of the “minor” activities we did at school. It’s not that they weren’t interested, but it was more that the programs took place during the hours in which they worked. I wish they could have been there sometimes.

As my Mom got older, she was beset by a bevy of health problems which finally took her away in December of 2010.

But sometimes during the dreary days of winter, like the one today, as I dust the bookshelf or the T.V., I can hear her gently humming a country tune…..

The Cost of Kindness

How much does it cost? Think about how many times you have said those words, or heard someone else say them. We pretty much base our whole lives on the asking, and the result of that one question. You may not think so, but we do.

What does it cost, really? The things that we need, and have to have. Food to eat and clothes to wear, and a place to live. That is basically all we HAVE to have isn’t it?

Oh..but there are the things we think we want..or the things other people say we have to pay:
Credit cards (galore!) Taxes,…oh yes there are taxes! I wish I had space to list them all, but I think my space is limited to a few billion pixels of room!! There is always that tenacious gnawing need for money, money and more money. But…

But..what does kindness cost? What about love? Love can cost us some heartache for sure, but when it’s good, it’s good… Kindness may cost us some thought, but it sure seems a heap better than turning your back on someone who needs you. Pity,..whatever happened to that one? Nowadays it seems like it’s against the rules of our society to have pity on someone. God forbid you should show such an outdated emotion. Some people in this country will tell you, if you can’t make it here in this land of the free and home of the brave, you sure don’t deserve any pity! I pity them!

Sympathy and empathy? What’s that? I got a hundred things to do, I got no time for sympathy for anyone else! (What’s the cost though…really?) If we took 2 minutes to bear someone up who needed it, would we really miss our next important meeting or appointment? Can you count the times someone has passed you in their vehicle at a dangerous spot on the road, and almost hit someone head on, but you end up behind them at the 1st red light in town? What could the cost have been for that unintended tie?

The emotions that we were given by our creator, and the ability to apply them to other people, are the most important gifts we have been given. I really feel as though the reason we are here is to be tested to see if we can learn how to use those gifts. Are we failing or succeeding? Are you failing or succeeding? Do we always have to have something we oppose? Do we always have to have something or someone to hate? Is it innate in us as human beings that we cannot just try and love…to love each and every other human being on this Earth with the love of one friend for the other?

So…I have to give it some thought, I have to consciously try harder not to hate, not to covet, not to be bitter. I have to TRY and forgive those who need forgiving. I have to try harder not to argue, not be be sarcastic, not to base what I think of others on a few lines written on Facebook, or by a tag they put on their car, or by a photo they like, or by who they love. It’s not my business to be the boss of mankind. It…is…not..my…job! I love to talk, I like to write, I like to state opinions…it’s hard to control myself at times. Is it hard for you too?

What’s the Cost….really? Of being a human being, and not being a perpetual motion machine. Can you count it up? I can’t. I don’t want to even try. I’m tired.

Love is Not Just a Word

I cannot stress enough how much you must love the ones you love, while you can. Don’t let an opportunity pass by to tell them. Love isn’t just a word, it’s a connection of your heart to the heart of another. It’s a bond which cannot ever be broken, but it’s a truth which must be spoken.

Seek it, speak it, cherish it. Life on Earth is not complete without it, and so many hurts could be healed by it. So many tragedies could be avoided by its application.

Infinity in Both Directions

I spend some time every day looking at some things under high magnification. I do this for things I think I’m going to sell…I look through high power loops at stones and marks on silver and what not. Sometimes I use a black light with the magnification and I can tell you, what appears ordinary when viewed with the naked eye is sometimes extraordinary under magnification.

I know that scientists look at things under such powerful magnification that they have gone down to what they think of as the smallest particle in existence, which they call a quark. I wonder if it really is the smallest….or if it just goes on and on.

I went to take my dogs out last week, and the stars were coming out and looked gorgeous. Sometimes in the past I have used a telescope to stretch the reach of my eyes farther out into the Universe.

What is obscured by the light of day is beautified by the quiet calm of night.

I know that scientists have telescopes which have stretched out to the edges of the Universe and they have theories about how old our Universe is, and when the “big bang” started it out.

I truly wonder if the nature of existence stretches to infinity in both directions? I know that science fiction writers have used their imaginations many times to “stretch” the way we look at things. I enjoy those types of books.

We think we know so much, when we actually know very little. We are just scratching the surface. We need to keep scratching and see what we find.

Bleak

I’m a gray leafless tree on an icy winters day,
Branches held out to the heavens in supplication and worship
of the light which does not shine. Which will not be found,
Expectedly.

Eagles and Crows.

Why is it that the Eagle, and the Hawk are individuals, and seemingly noble hunters, while the vultures and noisy crows hunt in groups? I’ve never dreamed of a hawk or an eagle attacking me, but have had vivid dreams of the evil cawing crows trying to do me harm. I’ve run from them on numerous occasions in my nightmares, barely surviving the chase many times. Often, having to jump over a chasm or a deep precipice in order to escape.

Why is it wolves hunt in packs, tearing the flesh from their victims, but the mountain lion hunts alone? Why do the hyenas slaver and quiver in the wake of the lioness’s kill on the Savanna?

It seems that although most animals hunt their prey, we consider those who congregate in loud cacophonous groups to have evil intent. I wonder if it’s because we humans are so far removed from the true predator/prey cycle, that we don’t understand it anymore. We don’t recognize that we are part of it.

We consider ourselves above it…even though many humans still kill for sport or fun, and most of the time with a gun as our weapon. We keep the odds heavily in our favor.

With our rise above other animals on our planet on the evolutionary scale, we have mentally separated ourselves from nature’s plan.

Now recently we humans have found ourselves accosted by some of the smallest of living things suddenly preying upon us, sickening and killing us. Something we cannot kill with a gun or a knife.

I expect it will one day be one of these tiny creatures who decimates our population and brings us back in balance with the rest of the life on our planet. I don’t think it would take nature very long at all to grow over our towns and cities, hiding our greatest architectural achievements and our centers of culture.

And if somehow there are enough of us to start over again, which direction would we grow? Would we once again follow the paths we’ve walked that have led us into the mostly pack mentality we share with the wolves, the crows and the hyenas….or would we maybe make a few changes and soar like an eagle?

We may one day find out

False Prophets

A false prophet can be recognized by the fact that he or she yields bad fruit — distrust, discord, confusion, wrangling, gossip, useless disputes, and divisions within the church, Jesus was very concerned about false prophets:

Mt 7:15 Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,but underneath are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24: 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

How do we tell who is a false prophet? Jesus tells us to look at the fruit:

Matthew 7: 16-20 By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

I Had a Dream

I Had a Dream…back in 1968

Growing up in a small town of only about 2000 people, you pretty much get to know everyone. The population of the town I live in has hovered around that number for most of the 61 years I have been alive, and I have been associated with it. The people change of course, old people die and are replaced by new babies. The babies grow up and either work at the mill, or some of them break free and go off to college and end up in other parts of the world. But still the population is about the same.

I started off in grammar school in 1956, and there were about 50 of us in the first grade. We had three classes with about 17 or 18 each in the classes. We graduated 52 people in 1968. An ultra small Senior class for sure. And 1968 doesn’t seem all that long ago to me. It’s a relatively long time ago though. I was watching the golf tournament last week and Phil Michelson won. I thought, to myself that he is getting on up there in age to win a tournament. Then, when they said he was born in 1970, I did a double take. I had a daughter born in 1970.…so I am old enough to be Phil Michelson’s Dad…ouch.

Today, I feel really old. I have done a little painting the last couple of days and it has worn me out. I thought I felt pretty well this morning, so I went about my usual things…walking around trade day etc. I thought I was pretty energetic, but I was wrong. This evening I feel like I have been dragged behind a car for a couple of miles. I used to shake these kinds of things off a few years ago like a Water Spaniel shaking off some pond water. Now, I think I am like an OLD Spaniel. Ahh, but I know 61 is not too late to get back into decent physical shape, so I am REALLY trying, losing some weight and such.

But, in any case, I was thinking about my Senior class again. We usually try to meet a couple of times a year for a meal and to rehash old times. The only thing is, the last few times we have met, we have discussed members of our graduating class who have died in between our meetings. We were, and are a close knit class. Most all of us went all the way through those twelve years together, and it’s troubling when these people who you picture as youngsters start falling by the wayside. Heart attacks, cancer, car wrecks. This can’t be happening can it?

I once had a dream back in the 60’s that I would be the LAST member of my class to be left alive. Really, I did! I can’t remember too many details about it other then the vaguest memory that I was some kind of ancient decrepit man. And I was alone. That’s the thing I remember the most about the dream, was the being alone. Now I know, dream interpreters would say I was having a dream about the teenage feelings of isolation I was going through, but I don’t know about that. How many dreams do you remember from when you were a teenager?? That’s what I thought!! I am pulling for the rest of my Senior class to live long and happy lives, with many grandchildren. That way, if the dream was true, then I am going to get over this fatigue!

Speaking of changing things, what things about your life would you change, if you could go back and change something? If you had the power to change ONE thing that happened in the past to you or to someone else because of you, what would it be?

That would be the most powerful ability any of us were ever given, if by some magic we had it bestowed upon us. I can think of several. But, the thing about the ability to change that ONE thing would be the ramifications of changing it.

I know we ALL have heard about the ripple effect. Where you throw the tiny pebble out in the middle of the still waters of a little pond, and watch the ripples spread out from where the pebble has hit. They eventually go out to the very edge of the pond itself albeit by that time they are very negligible and barely visible. But, near where the pebble has hit, they are much stronger.

I have though about things that I could have done which would have changed my life. I am not going to name them though. The fact is that what I did is what I did and it caused pain sometimes and happiness sometimes. Sometimes just to me, and sometimes to others. I would be petrified with fear to change any of these things in the past, even if I could, because I might come back to future and find that I didn’t like what I had done.

The best thing for me to do then is to make sure I make better choices in the years I have left. I would advise everyone to try and do that. You know that we can make better choices. It’s all a matter of thinking about things logically, taking the time to sort them out and not jumping into them without a lot of careful thought. Now, I am not talking about deciding what to have for supper! I don’t think that will affect us that much, unless we decide to eat Peanut butter and Banana sandwiches with Mayo, or something. What I am talking about are the decisions that have that ripple effect. The ones that can cause other people or our self’s that pain or happiness I was just talking about.

I have to be very careful, because I often open my mouth and speak before my brain has a chance to process what I am going to say. I act hastily sometimes. I act impulsively and irrationally sometimes. Why do I do all of that? Why do any of us do that? I wish I had a dollar for every time I should have kept my mouth shut, don’t you?

Along with trying to get back in to physical condition, I think I am going to try my best to treat other people the way I would want to be treated. That’s how we should do it, regardless of what anyone else might tell you. Now…if I can JUST get a good night’s sleep tonight…..