To all the jobs I’ve loved before (and some I’ve hated)

An Excerpt from a Larger Writing…..

When it comes to jobs, I have run the gambit. I have worked as an hourly worker doing hard manual labor.

I made mattresses.

And when I say I made them, I mean just that. I threw the naked heavyweight springs onto a wooden table and added the “innards” of the mattress, the foam, the cotton batting and then thicker foam and the quilted cover. (Which I had already also made on the quilting machine…I was a one man department)

I took a “hog ringer” which is an air gun which bends large metal staples through the cover and attaches them to the spring. I got my thumb in the way several times and ended up with one of those things through my thumb. Most of the time, if I just shot them through the corner of my thumb I would just have someone else take a pair of plyers and unbend the ring. Once when I shot one straight through the middle of my thumbnail I had to let a Doctor get it out. He used a pair of plyers too.

The only difference was the tetanus shot.

After hog ringing the cover onto the spring and filling up a huge buggy with mattresses, I would take them to “tape edge machine” and sew the cover to the “boxing” which is the narrow strip which runs around the circumference of the mattress. You would pick the mattress up off the buggy, throw it on the sewing table and pull it up under the tape edge machine. You would then sew completely around the mattress, flip it over and while putting pressure on the mattress with your right arm to hold it down, you would use the knee lever which moved the machine to sew the second side. The king size mattresses were about 90 pounds each. If the “boxing” was a little narrow then it required a lot of pressure to sew the second side. It was like holding down a horse to give it a dose of castor oil.

I once did nearly 100 mattresses in one day, since we were on “incentive” meaning the more I did, the more it paid.

This company worked ten hours a day four days a week, with two ten minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. During the half hour lunch I usually slept.

For the first two weeks before my body got used to it, I would come home at night and just fall onto the bed and lay there. I didn’t even feel like eating, although I ended up finally doing so because I needed energy for the next day.

There were many weeks when our orders were not very good and they started cutting our work down to three days instead of four. I was in a lazy “funk” at that time, and I did this for two years,1980-82, before moving on to the world of medical supply sales, at my wife’s highly motivating suggestion that we needed more money to raise our growing family. We did, and I got out of my doldrums and got my butt to work.

Being a Kid

Reverie

When I was a little kid, I found that I didn’t always have to have another person to play with in order to have fun. I guess you might say, I had a vivid imagination. I created my own worlds to play in, and stayed in them for hours and hours sometimes. Many times when I stayed at my Grandparent’s home I would go up behind their house into the hills alone, and stay there most of the day. I would hunt for arrowheads and many times would find one or two. I made myself bow and arrow and shot them at invisible enemies. I dug into the red clay dirt and made a cave in which me and my gang of outlaws hid. I climbed trees….not too high because I was afraid of heights, but high enough. I took sticks and limbs which had fallen from the great high oaks and hickories, and built little cabins. I cracked those hickory nuts, and ate persimmons and liked them. I lived many lives there. Only the way my Grandmother’s voice carried in the thin mountain air served to draw me back into the reality of the world of others.

At home I also had my sanctuaries. The old river dam at Trion was a second home. I fished there with a cane pole pulling out many a tiny bream that my Dad would look at and judge and then say “throw ‘em back…too small” I went on my own many times to the jagged limestone rocks which jutted out into the river at many places and jumped from one to another, sometimes making it, sometimes not. I swam at the “boat dock” sometimes alone, sometimes with friends like my ol’ buddy “Barbeque” who lived on the same street as me. Countless times before I ever played organized baseball, I would play the entire World Series in my back yard. Throwing the baseball up against the rugged red bricks on the backside of our house, sometimes clipping the siding…much to my Mom’s dismay but drawing very little ire from my Dad, who seemed to understand where I was coming from. Playing with my dogs, especially my old buddy Lobo..who was a mix of just about every kind of dog a man could think of, and about as tough a fighter and survivor who ever lived. He was near death so many times, and brought back to life with Peroxide and love, you would think he had a cat’s nine lives. He taught me a lot about the will to live, and how strong it is in every living thing.

I also developed a knack of “inside the house” entertainment too. I would sit around and read comic books by the hour. Uncle Scrooge comics at first, and then graduating to Superman and Batman, and finally becoming excited about the “new” Marvel comic books which were coming out. Spiderman, and The Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, The Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man. I bought them all, just as soon as they came out and then followed them religiously. They were cheap, and it was what I spent my allowance on. If my Mom hadn’t thrown them all away when I went off to college, I might be rich today. I also loved books, and constantly had my nose stuck in one. If I was inside, I was reading. Listening to music and reading. I loved the big 33’s and bought the ones which were cheapest at the store. That means I listened to a lot of Broadway, since they were usually 99 cents versus 3.99 or more for the “Rock and roll” records. I can still sing most of the songs word for word. “Some enchanted evening…you may meet a stranger…” or “I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night and then have begged for more…I could have spread my wings…and done a thousand things, I’ve never done before” Yep…My Fair Lady, The King and I, Oklahoma, Camelot…and on…and on…I was a weird child.

I’ve done so much as a child, before my adult life started, even though much of it was on my on…inside my head, that I don’t feel like I was “cheated” during my childhood. I don’t feel deprived. I feel…normal. My adult life has been equally fulfilling. A lot of you have seen the pictures of my family. I love them as much as I appear to…believe me.

Now, I don’t know how other people feel…don’t know how they experience things. None of us do. We live our entire lives side by side with other human beings, but we have no earthly idea exactly what’s going on inside their head. We assume they process and navigate information the same way we do. That can’t be so, otherwise we would have a world full of people who are essentially alike. I think one of the things which has brought the human race to where we are today, is not our similarities but our differences. We need to celebrate that fact. We are all a universe inside the frail body of a human being, and even after that body fails us that Universe will go on. Together we will go on.

Retrospective

In the silent retrospective quiet of the night I lie here and wonder what it’s all been about. It’s strange when you think “I could go back half a century, and I’d still be 16 years old”

And I’d know it all.

This year, really the last few months in particular, have lent me both joy and melancholy. The have provided me a backdrop against which I must paint the last few chapters of my life. I really don’t know how long those chapters will be.

I found extreme joy in driving back to LaFayette from Henager Alabama last weekend. Me by myself in my son in law’s little car. I rolled down the window and immersed myself in the cool fall air. I saw the hawks in flight, and one Golden eagle. I looked at our mountain ranges…pigeon mt., lookout, Taylor’s ridge. Such awesome beauty. I know why our Native Americans loved this area so much. At one point, with the sun shining to the West of me…I thought I might just be able to take off and fly through these hills in spirit form forever….and be happy doing so. But, the buzz of the radio brought me back to earth.

Just yesterday I was driving along and got to thinking about Mom and Dad, and all of the people with whom I have shared time on this Earth, and how many are now gone. Family, classmates, friends. Heroes of mine from childhood, who I never knew or got to meet. Elvis…the first singer I admired. Paul Newman, Johnny Cash, Arnold Palmer, James Michener, and more recently John Lennon, Robin Williams, and so many others. All gone. A world constantly in change. I thought about those people, and wonder if they are at peace. Is there peace?

Yet I know In my heart that I have much left to do. I have those promises to keep that Robert Frost spoke of, and the truth is that I am a man who will try with his last ounce of strength to help my children and grandchildren, and my wife as much as I can.

I will crank the old dodge truck up, and putter up and down the road as long as I can safely do so. I love the life that I have, and I appreciate the chance to live it.

A lot of what I have seen and read on others “friends” pages and comments doesn’t seem to reflect any respect for other people, or for themselves. I really hope it’s just a temporary phenomenon.

Fake Russian Sites- be warned they are still there and strong

People have to remember that there’s a LOT of Fake Facebook sites out there, especially ones concerning very sensitive issues with American voters. Just as an example, LifeAction. It’s a confirmed Russian site that has a .com and a .org address connected with it. These sites feed fake information, baby pictures, doctored videos, fake news stories to other Fake sites dealing with abortion. Their influence, and the influence of other fake Russian sites is massive, because Facebook will NOT do anything about them. All the owners of Facebook care about IS the money. The Russian sites want to continue to divide Americans.

Memes and stories with deceptive information are easy to share. Just hit the button and boom….it’s shared. It’s a free country, and I suppose people can share what they want to, fake or not, but it’s really easy to confirm sometimes, it just takes a few minutes. Remember if it’s something that plays heavily to your emotions or your beliefs, check it out before you post it. Mostly, if you feel strongly about something, do what I usually do and use your own words. Thanks.

Walking the Tightrope

WALKING THE ROPE

I feel like I have been on the tight rope lately. Balancing. We all are, to some extent. We balance on that narrow thin rope trying not to slip and fall. You can’t jump off because there’s no net. You are scared to slide your feet along the tight walk and move towards safety, because you might fall and you know…there is no net. So, that forestalls both quick action and careful action, doesn’t it? Mostly you just stand there. Balancing.

You stand there lightly, as lightly as you can and balance. Sweat pours off your forehead into your eyes, and you want to raise your arms up to wipe it off, but you can’t because you can’t let go of the pole and you might lose your balance. Eventually, we all do though. There’s no way you can last up there forever. And then we fall. We all fail.

It’s not as far as we think, and it doesn’t kill us. At least not this time. But, it hurts because there are no nets. And, the next time we go up, we will have to go higher. You can never go back to same level, you see. They always want you to go higher.

The only difference between any of us is how long it takes to heal, or to get our courage back. Some are more resilient than others. How long will it be before we are up on the narrow thin rope again? The ironic thing is, that it’s not our choice but the needs and wants of others, the spectators, that puts us up there. And, it’s our choices and our wants and needs as spectators instead of participants that put others up there. The higher you go, the more that is asked of you the next time you climb up.

I am going to be down off of rope before long. I have been balancing for a long, long time and I am not sure how much longer I can stay up. I know there are no nets, and it’s going to hurt if I fall, but it’s not going to kill me. I am still too strong for that. I may make to safety! I have been inching my way along, letting the sweat fall off and drop to the ground, and I have been ignoring the jeers and catcalls and even the cheers, and if I make it to the ladder I am coming down.

I have decided I am not going to let anyone else put me back up on the rope again, ever. I am not going back up on my on simply to go higher either. I don’t like the way it feels and after all it IS MY CHOICE whether I go or not. Even with all the pressure, it’s still my choice and no one else’s. I think I will just stay down this time and become a clown. I have been practicing juggling “things” in between falls and I found I kind of like it. The Lion taming ain’t too bad either. They are mostly just roar and no bite. With a strong enough chair, and you got it made.

I just hate the high wire. I also am not going to cause anyone else to have to walk the tight rope if I can help it. Heaven help me to help it. Nobody deserves to die from it.

The Quiet Sunset of Life

We have all seen them. Beautiful Sunrises. Mornings when the light turns dozens of colors behind a scant screen of clouds. Everything from muted purples to magentas, to bright blood red. How does a beautiful Sunrise make you feel?

For me the beginning of the day, which is signified by that marvelous sunrise, symbolizes a daily rebirth. A new beginning, a time when everything is new again and all options for doing things wonderful, useful, loving, and kind are open. It renews my soul. It tells me in no uncertain terms that I am alive, and that I have been treated to the sight of some of the most beautiful colors on God’s own palette. I give thanks for life and the chance to live it. To experience other people, people who I love and who love me. To touch another person, even to simply shake hands or to brush back the hair of my daughter and sons, my granddaughters, or my wife from their foreheads…that is an experience that I will only get to enjoy once. Just once, that I will remember in any case.

I can taste food for another day and hear music. I don’t really even care what kind most of the time…I generally like it all. I get the privilege of talking and interacting with other people, most of the time in a positive manner. All of this starts with the beautiful Sunrise that I saw this morning.

Then the other night going to take my granddaughter to soccer practice, there was a stupendous Sunset. How does a gentle sunset make you feel?

The colors were a similar palette as was the Sunrise, but the feeling was different. Day was leaving. I felt peaceful. I felt content. My list of things to do for the day was done, and I was heading towards the house to rest. Headed towards my home, my familiar place, my territory. I had accomplished all I could during the day and I was satisfied. Maybe I should have tried to do more, I feel that way practically every day. But in the awesome light of that Sunset I felt happy, tired but happy. I knew I would be glad to get home, and see the ones that I love. My tasks that others would have me do were over. I would eventually lay down that night, and rest this body that the creator gave me, happy to have seen another day on this Earth.

Life and Death are like the sunrise and sunset.

Both are beautiful in their own way, similar, yet vastly different. It’s what happens in between, what WE make happen in between that forms the legacy of our lives. It’s the appreciation of getting to see the sunrises and sunsets of other people’s lives that hopefully will make us appreciate our own and be less afraid of the final sunset that we all must come to one day. Not melancholy, but happy to have shined and to have enjoyed being in the light. I know I am.

We all fear the unknown, and not knowing what’s on the other side of that sunset IS a bit scary. Even to those who are secure in their beliefs and solid in their convictions. I experience that tinge, we all probably do when we think about it. I experienced it heavily yesterday. But I believe the soul goes on, and we are meant to all be together again. I am thankful for that.

Ten thousand Angels (it’s not what you think)

I’ve recently read where several “preachers” in Southern churches are calling for a “Civil War” if Donald Trump is impeached. A major league Umpire said the same thing. I’ve heard several people at places where I go, say the same thing.

Makes me wonder if a Civil War starts, how are they going to tell who to shoot? Are white “liberals” going to wear blue hats and the “conservatives” gonna wear Red hats. Are they just going to shoot people of color, or people of different religions? Are they going to gun down LBGTQ people? (Will the gay people wear rainbow hats)?

I personally wish people who have positions in which they are supposed to be positive role models, or are supposed to be leaders in a church would remember what a Jesus said in Matthew 26: 52-54-

But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus never advocated violence to solve political problems. He told the Pharisees to render unto Caesar that which IS Caesar’s and unto God, that which is his. The only time I can remember Jesus getting mad was when he found people at church (the temple) cheating other church goers (the money changers). He turned their tables over:

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”

The one time he got really mad….

While he was on the cross dying, he did not once even consider asking his Father to send those ten thousand angels to kill his enemies and save him….and believe me, they would have done just that.

We humans, we followers of Jesus need to try and be more like him, not more like corrupt politicians, no matter who they are.

Mirror of our lives

I think our lives and the way we live them are like reflecting pools. We see in others the good we want to see in ourselves…the good we have in ourselves, and we act accordingly with love.

Either that, or we look at others and see reflected back the hatred or dislike that we feel for ourselves, and act accordingly with something which is less than love.

All the qualities of love and hate are contained in each of us and what we see in the mirror, in our reflection, depends on what we are searching for.

Books

While there are still libraries which are open to the public, and book stores where you can go to buy real physical books….while there are still vintage books at yard sales and flea markets, and while one can still buy said books online, I recommend that people get them. Especially young people.

I know a lot of people will say that we no longer need those “clunky” books because we can download them online and read them on our kindles and iPads. To that I would say…yes we can….for now. But, I foresee a time in the not too distant future when we will not be able to get what we want, but instead only get what those who control the information want us to have. It honestly wouldn’t be that hard to accomplish.

I beg people, especially young people, to start a collection of books. Buy classics, buy instruction manuals, buy medical guides, prescription guides, save all the old Mother Earth news magazines, buy poetry books, political books, for God’s sakes buy accurate history books too.

One day, if every copy of “David Copperfield” or Platos “Republic” or “The March of Folly” or “The Bible” are gone….one day if or when there are no physical copies to be found, anything can be put online representing any of those books, or the many millions more…and you will have to take their word for it. Or it could just be nothing except for meaningless propaganda.

I know….you think I’m crazy. Raving lunatic.

All I know is that all of human existence from the time humans discovered how to write, has been based on the ability to accurately transmit certain aspects of knowledge from one generation to another…via books. (Scrolls, tablets, etc., you get the point)

There were the dark ages….when not so many books were being written, and civilization was miserable…..but out of that period came the renaissance.

I hate to see humanity degrade into a permanent age of darkness, fueled online by only these tiny pixels we now take for granted as being the written word. They aren’t written, they are pecked. There’s a lot of difference.

Go to library book sales, and start your own private library. Please.

Having Hope

My Daddy once told me that unless a man had something useful to say, he should keep his mouth shut. As most of you realize if you know me, or have read my writing it’s obvious that I should keep my mouth shut most of the time. I just can’t help it though, useful or not I have to say what I think.

What I am opening my mouth (or keyboard literally) to talk about today is hope. That’s right, hope. I have to have it. It has to be there, like a piece of driftwood in the vast ocean when you are drowning. Something to grab hold of and stay afloat. My hope is for the future. The future in which I will be missing, but my children and grandchildren and whatever descendants that I may be blessed with (who will never know I existed,) will know.

Right now, it kind of looks bleak, and that is why I have to have hope. I don’t think there is any way that the members of my generation, the baby boomers, can fix the mess that we are in now. It’s not just one mess, but MANY different messes going on simultaneously which make things so complex.

There are the changing demographics of the entire world. People of different races and cultures are traveling far and wide in this day and age and settling in places their ancestors would never have imagined. As they do this, they become familiar with each other and one thing leads to another and you have relationships being built between these members of different races and cultures. Some still try to stick with their own cultures, but inevitably I believe will fail. The children of the future will all probably look like Tiger Woods and Mariah Carey. I think at some point there won’t be any black, yellow, red and white anymore. There will be one color and one international culture at some point. I don’t know how far in the future that this may occur, and I don’t know if mankind can keep from destroying each other first with nuclear weapons but if they can then that’s one thing I think will happen. It will be a huge challenge for our descendants who are at the “transitional” stage. (Or maybe that’s where we ARE now?) It could well be that the future inhabitants of this planet will “ease” into this situation so gradually that no one will ever know it’s happening until it’s upon them. I don’t think it will be a bad thing either. One of things that continually breeds discontent, distrust and war is the difference between people’s race and culture. If there IS not difference then they will have to find something else to fight about. Maybe they won’t be able to.

There is the quickly changing face of technology. I would have NEVER in my wildest dreams as a child imagined the world as it is today. There have been so many advances in the last 50 years that it makes the 1950’s seem like the Stone Ages. What we take for granted every day now, would have seemed like a trick of magic back then. Computers will continue to advance and now that robotics IS actually taking off like Isaac Asimov thought it would, our descendants can look forward to a world where the physical part of living will become easier and easier.

There will be issues that come up, ethical issues, which will challenge the very core of the morals of our society. What about a computer program that can store the “essence” of a person on a program, and come up with a “virtual” person who is exactly like the person who is dying. Anyone ever seen the movie “Freejack” with old Mick Jagger? That’s science fiction still, BUT so was Jules Verne back in the late 19th century. It may not be that a person’s “essence” can be stored on a computer and then put back into another person’s body. I am not sure it will ever get to that point. BUT to create a “virtual” person with the knowledge and character of a real live person is but a few steps away from becoming a reality. You can “store” Grandma or Grandpa on the handy dandy virtual person program, and pull them up to talk to any time you want. How would you like that? Kind of a spooky thought isn’t it? Yet, right now people who play the high tech computer games that generate “characters” to play through (the avatar type games) are already interacting in a very close knit way with these “quasi-people.” You can give them character traits, physical characteristics, and other things which make them “almost” seem human. It’s only a few steps away until you can do the same thing with your dear Uncle Bob, believe me. Soulless, yes. Interaction there will be. There could also be a use for this type of program to reduce overpopulation, in that people who are not allowed, or don’t want to have a “real” live child, can have a virtual child which they can “raise” from a baby all the way up through adulthood. The cost would be quite a bit cheaper to raise this type of “child” too.

Medically speaking, the people who can make it 20 or 30 more years are likely to be able to live practically as long as they want. With the research and discoveries in genetics that are now taking place, it won’t be long until the genes that cause “aging” as we know it, will be discovered and neutralized. People who are well off enough financially will be able to benefit from this expensive technology and beat “the system” Dick Cheney may actually still be here in the year 2100! Hmmm…?

I think that many diseases which afflict people such as cancer, heart disease, and all the big killers will be beaten. People will have to be run over by a Fire Truck in order to die. That’s about the only thing which will do it. However, I am sure there will be a lot of volunteers to be “uploaded” into the computer program which I mentioned in the previous paragraph. After all, who REALLY wants to live forever? And you probably will still have the old aches and pains that won’t go away. (Maybe not, they may have something for that too) Besides, you might be able to do things on that computer program you could NEVER do in real life, like fight dragons, or fly. That would be a hoot, right?

I wonder if people will still be able to go out and have a juicy steak or a lobster, or if everyone will have to eat those little pills like the one that Willy Wonka invented that turned Violet, well…purple I guess. Hopefully, he will have perfected them by then and we won’t have to go somewhere and have the juice squeeze out of us.

I kind of wonder too if space travel will advance to the point where we will be actually sending people out on missions to other galaxies. Will the episodes of Star Trek, The Next Generation be a reality or a near reality at least? If we can tear enough money away from the government’s efforts at exterminating people in other countries, we may be able to give some of it back to the space program and find out!