Decisions we Make

Being really tired after driving ten hours today (my choice…as Paula offered) but being that tired and then eating a quick bite, I went out to walk. I don’t know why, but I had a quick and fleeting thought that I should call my Dad and let them know we got back ok……

Why did I think that?? It’s will be five years in May since Daddy died, and I thought I should call? I shook it off, and continued to walk around this old mill town. “Why did I ever stay here?” I wondered

My Dad called me, back in the summer of 1974. He knew I wasn’t liking my new job fresh out of school, and liked living in Toccoa even less. Kirsten was two and the apartments we were living in were terrible. Our cat “Hector” had gotten run over and killed. The security was awful. I couldn’t envision raising our little girl there.

Dad had talked to some people, and I had a job as a “management trainee” if I wanted it. I thought about it.

Could I make a good life in a cotton mill town for my little family? The schools were good. I knew people. I called my Dad back: “I’ll take the job” I said. So we moved back “home”

I am not sure it was a perfect decision. We have ridden the roller coaster. I know my wife has had a difficult time in some ways. I know many people here. I grew up here. She knew nobody, and in a small town that’s a problem. I am so sorry that many times she was “Larry’s wife” That’s not much of a description for the clever and caring person who keeps me straight.

I had my problems over the years with jobs, with finances, with so many things. So, I called Dad a lot for advice and help. He never once…not once…refused to help me. He chewed my ass out, yes even as a young adult, if he thought it was necessary. It was. Certainly at times it was. Whenever we went off for a vacation or a long stay he’d tell me to call when we got back. “Just for peace of mind”

So I guess that’s where that flashback came from this afternoon. Either that, or part of his spirit still inhabits this one horse town we call home. I’m not so certain that’s not so, as Rue and Eli seem to “know” him…having both looked at his picture and called him “Papa” or “Tarpy” without having been told who he was. Who knows. Not me for sure…

Easter Through the Years

My Easter Story….

I wonder if Spring is around the corner. As the calendar starts to near the end of March, I always start to look for it, start to feel it in my bones. Maybe it’s because the days start getting a little longer and maybe a little warmer. Maybe it’s because they start talking about the Baseball trades that are happening on the sports reports. Spring training’s just a few weeks away!

I tell you, spring and summer were the best back in the 50’s and 60s’. None of that year round school for us old timers! May 31 rolled around, and it’s see ya’ later to the teachers until the first week of September….Yahooo!!

I would go to the old wooden toy box back in my room, and starting digging down to the bottom, looking for my old worn out, smelly leather baseball glove with “Pee Wee” Reece’s name engraved in it. I don’t know how I ended up with Pee Wee, as I never played a lick of ball in the infield. I was always an outfielder.

I tried out for third base once, but after I had stopped the first four hard bouncer’s that came my way with my face instead of my glove, the coach thought it might be safer to put me in left field. I agree with his decision.

I liked left field. It was one of those positions where you could kind of day dream a little. Most everything that came out that way was either an easy pop fly, or a one bouncer. I was a cinch at catching those. None of that “hot corner” stuff for me.

I once was standing out in left field during a game and looking down at the ground trying to spot any four leaf clovers that might be growing there. I heard the loud crack of the bat, and looked up to see the baseball headed over my head. Way over my head. I didn’t want to look completely stupid, so I turned around and stuck my old glove out and ran as fast as I could towards the fence. The ball dropped right into the webbing of my glove. I never saw it until it did. I heard a cheer go up from the stands, and when we came in, I got more pats on the back, and attaboys then I had ever gotten before. I just said “I had it all the way” I could never bring myself to disappoint all those people by telling them it was just pure luck.

The other great thing about warm weather was spring lizard and craw dad hunting at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house. When warm weather hit, we would go up there a lot more often. It was difficult during the winter time, because there were only two bedrooms downstairs at their house, which meant the remainder of the guests, had to sleep upstairs. During the winter time, sleeping upstairs was just like sleeping outside. There was NO heat. I spent many a winter night with 10 quilts piled on top of me, unable to turn over, but desperately trying to conserve what little body heat was emanating from me in order to be alive the next morning. I always managed to do it somehow.

So, besides at Christmas, I didn’t like Winter time visiting at the old folk’s house!

But with spring and warm weather coming, there was the promise of fishing, and in order to fish there had to be bait. This meant my favorite activities of digging in the dirt for worms, and turning over the rocks down in the little fast running creek in front of the folk’s house for Spring lizards and Crawdads.

The only draw back to trying to catch a bucket full of these water dwelling creatures was that they were also favorites of the snakes that prowled the banks of that same creek. I was never really too afraid of snakes when I was a kid until after my Grandpa’s Uncle “Lark” Davenport killed a rattlesnake one day that he stretched across the old dirt road leading up to Grandpa’s house. He stuck its head end in the bank on one side, and its tail end in the dirt bank on the other side. Now, that little old road was narrow, but I estimate it was at least 7 feet across, so my respect for the snakes in those parts increased tremendously after that. I asked Uncle “Lark” how he killed it, and told me he cut its head off with a hoe while he was out in his corn crib. Apparently the rattler was stocking up on some of the rats that always frequented that place. “If he hadn’t been a rattler I’d have let him be,” said Uncle Lark. I’d have let him be anyway, I think. He would have owned the corn crib after that. Rats and all.

Some of those spring lizards that we used to catch back then were as big as small snakes. Imagine turning over a big old rock, and seeing something black wiggling around that’s about a foot long. Would you stick your hand down in there and grab it? I sure did, and laughed about it the whole time. “If the bass don’t bite that,” I thought “then it might bite the bass!” Either way, we get the fish.

The crawdads were harder to catch then the spring lizards. Have you ever seen one of those little boogers take off? They are like a backwards rocket! I don’t know how they do it, but when they get scared they shoot water out their rear ends, start flapping their tails and away they go. You had to be good at estimating where they were GOING to be, not where they had been, in order to catch them. I never had the least idea that humans ate those things when I was a kid. The first time I went to Louisiana as an adult, and someone tried to serve me a dish made with Crawdads, I got kind of nauseated. After I tasted it though, it wasn’t half bad. I kind of like Etouffe’ now.

Yep, that’s how I felt today since there was a little warmth in the air. That little old creek is still there, but I don’t know what the new owners of the land would think about an old man tromping down the middle of their creek with a Styrofoam bucket and yelling yahoo every time he came up with a lizard. I wonder if there are even any left.

Gettin’ Older

When I was a very small child we made frequent trips to my Grandparents house in Blue Ridge, Ga. It was “out in the sticks” as people might now say. The road was dirt the last 10 miles or so, and you couldn’t ride too close behind another car during the dusty, hot days of Summer if you wanted to be able to see the curves in that narrow little path they called a road.

The chickens were running around in the yard to greet us when we arrived, and I knew from experience that we would be going to bed at the same time they did. Grandpa didn’t have a TV back then, and he did not like the thoughts of an electric bill of over 10 dollars. So, it was light’s out after sundown and straight to bed. I usually brought comic books to read by flashlight…after I learned to read.

The most common activities during the weekend, besides reading would be swinging in the front porch swing during rain showers, and playing in the creek if it was sunny. I’d hunt under rocks for crawdads and spring lizards. When I got a little older, we’d use the lizards for bass fishing.

We’d visit, be visited, and generally socialize with the Aunts and Uncles, and we first cousins would play with each other. The older ones would ignore the younger ones, and we younger ones would make up stuff to do. We had no electronic gadgets with which to pass the time. I used to think how boring it all was, and how..slow..time…passed.

Now that I’m 65, I’m glad my memory is good enough to remember some of it, and I wish time would make a turn around and seem to pass that slowly now. I guess people rarely appreciate anything which happens to them “in the moment” My advice to anyone would be to try.

We Need to Save the Earth

There is only one Earth, and as far as I know we are all passengers on it…or in it.

I am sure that our ancestors thought the resources of the Earth were everlasting. I am sure that our ancestors thought that there was nothing which they…tiny inhabitants of this giant world…could do to affect the Earth. In 1700 there was only 600 million people inhabiting the Earth. We didn’t hit 1 billion people on the Earth until sometime around the American Civil War era.

Now we have somewhere around 7.5 billion people as passengers on this planet.

Every piece of plastic which was ever made still exists somewhere on the Earth. A lot of it resides in the Oceans of the world. If you go down to the beach, you will see some of it…I guarantee you. As large as the oceans our world are, they are becoming gigantic trash receptacles for human waste of all manner and description.

Six years ago in March, a huge earthquake hit Japan. It damaged a nuclear power plant near Fukishima, which had a partial meltdown. Since then 80% of the nuclear material which spilled from that plant has gone into the Pacific ocean. Forget about the hundreds of thousands of tons of “junk” which has washed up on the shores of Alaska. That’s going to be minor compared to the damage to the ecosystem which that radiation, which continues to spill into the Pacific ocean, is going to do to our ecosystem. Try to comprehend that there are 450 or so nuclear plants spread around the world. The majority of them are very near water….the ocean…major rivers, inland seas. Let that sink in.

Did you know that the majority of the Earth’s atmosphere is only ten miles thick? Did you know that extreme changes have taken place in that 10 miles of atmosphere which is absolutely essential to the life of every creature on this planet since the “Industrial revolution” back in the 1700’s. Our climate is changing, and quickly, due to the amounts of carbon dioxide which is flowing into our atmosphere. Global warming is caused primarily from putting too much carbon into the atmosphere when coal, gas, and oil are burned to generate electricity or to run our cars. These gases spread around the planet like a blanket, capturing the solar heat that would otherwise be radiated out into space. It’s really just that simple. It’s science. Lot’s of people deny this is happening, but the numbers say it is. The Earth doesn’t like it.

I could go on..and on…and on..but you get the point by now, hopefully.

Last year when we moved to our new home, the area out behind our house was a jungle! There were vines, briers, honeysuckle, scrub bushes, etc., so thick that you couldn’t even get through it. During this winter, I have cut almost all of that jungle out. I have slashed it, and raked it, and cut it and piled it up. There’s no jungle there anymore, and over the past week I have seen rabbits, squirrels, birds and other animals out in that area eating. There are “wild carrots” coming up, with their tender shoots and the rabbits love them. There are earthworms crawling out and the robins love them.

The Earth didn’t mind me doing that little “rearranging” of her surface. The fact that new and wonderful things are already beginning to peep out into the world shows gratitude. The Earth says: “thank you” if you do the right thing.

I wish people would do the right thing. I wish there was no such thing as “fracking” which is quite simply, only a money making scheme for people who are in that industry. Read this comment from a recent post from Senator Bernie Sanders concerning the recent changes in climate policy by our government. It comes from a lady who made a comment on Senator Sander’s post. She’s talking about why they are still fracking: ”

I don’t think they actually don’t believe it. I think they don’t care. And a majority of the people in Texas and Louisiana I know that are “deniers” are just afraid that all the oil field guys will lose their jobs if fracking is shut down. It’s not that they don’t believe it’s bad for our environment. My husband was a line boss for Halliburton and he even says it’s horrible. People can’t even imagine the money made from fracking. It’s uncountable. And that’s what matters to most Republicans. Money. I’m not even a Democrat but I do believe that. Whatever will keep all their business money safe is what wins. Screw anyone else and the Earth for our descendants.”

That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? It’s all about the money for the current passengers on “Spaceship Earth” and screw our descendants. I hate to think about it, but that’s pretty much it.

There is only one Earth, and as far as I know we are all passengers on it…or in it. And when it’s gone, we are gone…all of us, all of our descendants, all of life which exists on this planet. All gone.

Mull it over for a while, and decide if some of the things which we think are absolutely necessary for life, really are.

Feelings of Home from Second Base

As I stood on second base tonight during Eli’s ball practice I had a strange feeling of unease. I looked around carefully and finally figured out why. I believe its almost the exact spot where the grammar school principals office used to be located. I’ve had my butt whupped in that spot several times. That explains the feeling I had.

I took some photos of the little kids, and in the background was the cotton mill, the railroad trestle, and other familiar old things.

I suppose this is the reason I am still here. Familiarity gives me comfort.

I’ve been to New York City, and San Francisco by the bay. I’ve been to Athens, Greece and lived in Athens, Georgia. Boise, Idaho and Bogalusa Louisiana. I’ve sang songs in Nashville, Tennessee and walked through the Alamo in San Antonio. I have cruised to the Bahamas, and visited Mickey in Orlando. I couldn’t even begin to name all the places I’ve been.

Yet I always come back to this little tiny old town. And I have often asked myself why? Why?

Tonight it was because my Grandson’s ball team needed a little help. Tomorrow Baby Evie will need me. To be needed is good…on most days. To be necessary is even better. And there’s nowhere where it’s better to be necessary than home.

I think most humans feel this way.

A lot of my childhood friends have moved away, but I bet they still have a little space in their hearts for that spot near second base, where Ms. Ethel’s office used to stand. Or just across the road where old THS stood. Wouldn’t you like to have just one of those days back?

Yea, I thought so…

Listen for Hope

Sometimes I think that we are just standing here and the world is coming down in pieces all around us. I think that perhaps if we reach out and grab a piece it may be worth something one day. Either that, or it will be a neat collectible.

Perhaps though, I am being too pessimistic. Perhaps I am too much of a skeptic now. I think that I should go outside tonight when it’s dark and just peer up into the heavens and ask:

“Is there anyone out there?” “Is anybody listening?”

If I get an audible answer, or even a feeling deep in my heart, I will let you know.

I will be sure and let you know. You do the same.

Maybe we all should do the same and then the world wouldn’t be falling down around us. Maybe we would realize what love is. Maybe we would realize what’s really important.

Maybe…

Looking at a Hot Horseshoe

Never grab the blade of a Jigsaw with your finger and thumb after it has come out of the saw…particularly after you have been cutting some really hard wood for a couple of minutes….It sort of reminds me of the story about the little old man who was walking down the street back in the old days…the late 1800’s, and he was passing by a Blacksmith shop. The blacksmith was hard at work on a horseshoe and as he hit it, it flew out the door in front of the old man on the street…still red hot. The old guy bent over and picked it up and INSTANTLY threw it right back down! “That thang hot?” asked the Blacksmith. “Naw” said the old man “It just don’t take me long to look at a dang horseshoe” Well…it don’t take me long to look at a jigsaw blade either…

Remembrance of Loved Ones

When I walk and I remember those who are gone from this earth, I sometimes think…well I should visit the cemeteries where they lay more often than I do.

But then I consider…my Granny and Grandpa are buried 100 miles away, yet I think of them almost daily. Mom and Dad and Karrie Lynn are buried in the old Trion cemetery and I pass it almost every day, yet I don’t go in very often. But I think of them constantly.

All of the people I have loved, family and friends, still live in my heart. In my memory. In my love.

I don’t need to go to the place where their physical remains are residing. There’s nothing there. There will never be anything there…except the emptiness, pain and grief I felt the day we laid them in the ground.

I can do without that.

I’ll keep what lives inside me gladly over what’s been returned to the earth. Those memories light a candle for my soul every day.

I Believe.

I don’t understand very much at all about our creator. I know that are not here to do some of the awful things we hear about on our TV every day.

I do think we are meant to have love and compassion for other people. I believe we should treat others the way we want to be treated.

I believe if we have more than we need, we should help others who don’t have enough.

I believe we should take good care of our planet, and all of the other living creatures who live here.

When I was in High School I used to sing the song “I Believe”. It was written after the Korean War as a song of encouragement for this nation, and was the first song to become a number one hit to be introduced on our new medium, the television. That was in 1953.

I always loved the ending: “Everytime I hear a new born baby cry, or touch a leaf, or see the sky. Then I know why, I believe”.

I love babies. And the blue skies. And everything our creator has given us to enjoy during our journey here on Earth. It is not in the nature of man to truly understand God, but to just appreciate the nature of God.

No matter what you have chosen to believe as your life’s philosophy, just remember to be kind.

The Rose

I recall once upon a time a long time ago there came a perfect white snowfall. It was early in the spring and one of my rose bushes had already grown out and shared with the light of the world, a single red rose.

As the snow was falling early in the day, the rose held it’s petals tight, but by the next morning they were scattered on the ground like bright red drops of blood on the pure white carpet of ice. The first rose of spring had died.

But a week later as the sun began to shine warm upon the ground again, another tendril sprouted out of the rose bush. Once again the rose bloomed and this time the flower was even prettier, brighter and stronger than before. And the snowfall was forgotten.

Because it wasn’t the beauty of bloom which was the most important, because that beauty is temporary.

It’s the strength of the roots, and the care, love and compassion of the gardener which stands the test of time against the elements.