The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes

I am not sure about everything that is happening in this day and age of ever burgeoning progress….some days it actually scares me.

I will tell you that for certain.

At my age, a lot of the new technology is fascinating, but it’s like a double edged sword. I have lived through the birth of television….seeing Howdy Doody through a tiny black and white screen…all the way to being able to communicate with almost the entire world, and do almost anything comprehensible with my iPhone….but I have sacrificed my privacy, opened up the intimate details of my life and my private feelings in a way which never would have been possible in 1950. I have made available information now which anyone can access, which at many points in my life I would not have been willing to share.

I’m not always sure the trade off is worth it.

My spiritual self wants me to believe that the Universe is existential and beyond my comprehension, and created, but the scientist in me is in conflict with that theologian, and wants me to look at the physics of the way the Universe is run. Are they compatable, are they analagous?

The reader of the written word in me, the seeker of knowledge, wants to keep abreast of everything that’s going on in the world, but sometimes over analyzes or doesn’t understand the significance of what is being input and processed by my brain.

The realist in me knows that things can’t stay the same, but the dreamer wants things to stay like they are, or go back to the way they were!

The battle rages on within me every day, and some days spills out of my eyes…..

How to Make a Nail

I dreamed a lot last night. A lot of REM sleep, I suppose. I was in my Grandfather’s old “shop” down next to the old dirt road they all called “Snake Nation” road. I was marveling at all of the tools and blacksmiths pieces. The forge, the bellows, the hammers, the anvil, the tongs and all of the other gizmos that he and other smiths used to use to make things. He asked me if I could make a nail. I replied no….I didn’t know how to make a nail. Then I woke up.

Maybe he was going to teach me how to make a nail. I hadn’t thought about that old shop in years and years, and I don’t know what made me dream about it. As far as nails go though, I wouldn’t know a thing about making one. I’m not sure I could remember how to butcher a hog and preserve the meat. I’d probably have to google it, or watch a video on Youtube in order to figure it out.

Perhaps that dream was just a hint to me about all of things which have been lost over just the years I have walked on this earth. I know we have gained a lot of things in 69 plus years, but I also feel like in some respects we have lost more than we have gained. I know the people who have been lost, were treasures beyond measure, of whom I barely touched as far as their depth of knowledge and wisdom.

Damn, I regret it.

Darkness is it’s own punishment

I feel like everything in the Universe is connected. Inexplicably but undeniably connected.

I don’t know how. I’ll never know exactly how in this lifetime. But it’s the way I feel.

I feel so privileged to have been able to have a life within the confines of the Universe. To be able to think, to touch, to feel, and to remember. To be able to develop love, affection and empathy for other lives on the same journey, at the same time is awesome.

If it is a gift from a creator…one who set this all in motion, I am grateful. I feel personally as if life is that, but for those who have other theories…whatever they are or are not, life is still a rare and special thing. Obviously, quite a rare occurrence.

So, all of our memories and feelings make us who we are, but we are more than just that.

We are a heart and a spirit, bound together in a mysterious and intricate dance with all other things in existence…and isn’t it wonderful?

Remember this when others who do not realize the privilege of life as a positive thing, try to make your journey dark.

Don’t give in to them. Don’t sink to their level. Their darkness is it’s own punishment, whether they realize it or not.

It doesn’t have to be ours.

I am who I am

What can one man do to make things better? I’ve been paying close attention to this social media tidal wave since it first hit. I was on “My Space” back when AOL was the big deal, and I jumped onboard Facebook in 2009. I’ve made some friends here in the virtual world…friends I have never physically met.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say? I have stumbled upon my virtual friends mainly from a commonality of shared social, cultural, and political values. Therefore, most of my virtual friends think pretty much like I do on those issues. While that’s not a bad thing altogether, I think it has led many of us away from dealing with each other in the real world.

I have differences of opinion with people I have known all my life, and I would never have known it if not for this constant spotlight we put ourselves into. We are trapped by the ease in which we can see and read everyone’s post. We are appalled at times at what we see on this virtual page, perhaps so much in disagreement with what is written, that we are angered to the point that we “unfriend” a long time acquaintance or a family member. That didn’t used to be a big thing back in the early days of this media, but now it’s akin to a slap in the face, and a request for a duel. It’s telling someone that you have known forever that you don’t want to see what they have to say, or what they do anymore.

It’s a weird situation.

I think in all this time since 2009, I cannot remember changing anybody’s mind about anything to do with the above mentioned attributes which are discussed so much on these pages. I believe we don’t change people’s minds here on this media, but instead simply galvanize them in the mindset in which they already dwell.

I am more certain to have changed a few opinions by talking with people in person, face to face…then by anything I have written here. If it’s political especially, I’m simply preaching to one set of people, and making the other set mad.

I see on my pages, where I pledge from time time to simply stick to what I think I do best…some photos, some simple stories…but then I get sucked back into the vortex by something outrageous which happens in our country or in our world. Lord help me, it’s hard not to. This medium is designed to keep you “activated” about issues, and it has become more and more filled with people, both fake and real, whose purpose is to keep us stirred up, and divided against each other.

I have taken this week to honestly and truly try to judge how this media takes people that I know are good people, and turns them…turns me…into agitators against each other. I’m sickened by what I’ve seen and read. I’m so repulsed by a lot of things which I have read and seen just on my Facebook friends pages, that it’s hard to express. I really hope everyone will take a look at what you post and share, and think about the fact that many, many people see what you share and use it to form an opinion about the type of person you are, regardless of if you really ARE that type of person. I could site specific examples, but Lordy…I’m not going there.

Remember that if you share something, lots of people see it. You may not get a “like” or a comment, but it gets seen a lot. I know some people don’t care, but I do. I want to get off of this train of constantly having to keep up with posts and comments, and stories….which, while many are important…few are things which I can personally change. I’m tired of feeling like I have to toe some kind of line with my friends, out of some kind of imaginary obligation to let them know I’m right there behind them, to back them up. It’s exhausting. It’s also unnecessary. None of y’all need my opinions to make your day. By now all of my Facebook friends know about what I’m for and what I’m against.

I’ve said all that simply to say this: We are all different, and have different opinions and philosophies. I hope we can try to spend less time arguing about them here, and instead spend more quality time with our loved ones, and our friends with who we physically deal. I’m looking forward to our 50th class reunion party in July, where I hope to be shaking hands, hugging, and speaking about old times with some people I love dearly. To any of those people, and really to most all of the people who I know, I offer my sincere wish that we can continue to discuss life, but do it in a friendly manner.

I remain as I am, and will be…yours truly.

Thought in Philosophy

I know that there is spiritual good in the Universe. I have felt the pull of this Universal light more and more lately. I will have to say that I don’t believe mankind is correct in most of their thinking about how things are really composed.

I believe the truth is as far outside our realm of understanding as our intellect is to an earthworm. Lord how vain we are to think our importance is so central to the story of the Universe itself. I’m not sure if we will ever eventually know the secrets of creation either.

Whether we do or not, I continue to believe our purpose is linked to relating with other humans in a positive manner, so that there continues to be a human species with which to build a future, so that we can reach out and seek the answers to our inquiries about life, and why it exists.

Free will.

Without it we would simply be puppets on a string. God gives us the privilege of choice, and our choices have effects on all others around us. We cannot even or ever know what the ramifications of our choices are. We our not guided by predestination. We cannot be. What God would be so cruel as to give us the false feeling of freedom, when our lives were already mapped out on some Cosmic scale. So, be very careful what choices you make because your choices are your life.

My Town


It was a fine hot day today. One of the kind of days we would have snuck up to the old boat dock and went swimming in the Chattooga river. That water was nice and cold, even in July because it had spring water running in it not too far back up stream. A lot of us boys spent time there. From the time I could swim at ten years old, until I left to go to college I went there once or twice a year.

We practiced baseball twice a week and had two games a week to play. I hated Saturday practices after I started playing golf. By the time morning practice was over…You were hot and sweaty, thirsty and tired. We still hiked up to the Trion Golf course and played nine holes though. Our Daddy’s were members through the mill and we got to play for free. We’d come back home…most of the time one of our Dad’s would come and get us…as it was usually after four when we finished.

On the weekends, we went to Chamlees Skating rink. We hung around, listened to the music and tried to get the girls. Sometimes we did something right and ended up skating holding hands with one of the girls. I so remember the songs on the “box” “Runaway”, “Tellstar” ,”Teen Angel”, “Leader of the Pack”, “It’s my Party”‘ and on and on. Songs which, if I hear them now transport me directly back there in time and space. It was a wonderful place…a refuge for kids in a small town with nothing else to do.

I would go fishing in the mornings at the river and sometimes stayed all day. We dug our worms from under the wagon bridge, big old juicy green colored worms. We fished for catfish and carp….My Uncle called them “bugle mouth bass” We took our catch up to the black folks in town and sold them. I know several of them told us they loved the carp. They loved us boys, and we loved them. There was no animosity or fear and hatred…just kids selling their catch to somebody who wanted them.

All the yards in our little town were cut neatly, with neatly trimmed bushes and flowers, and well cared for vegetable gardens in the back yards. The men would be out in their yards in their sleeveless t-shirts cutting that grass every day. They used to run a contest called “The yard of the month” for the neatest, most well kept yard. It was an honor to win…not a joke. My Dad won it one time in the years they ran it. He was happy as a pig in slop, and hung that little metal sign right out in the front yard. “YARD OF THE MONTH” emblazoned in blue letters on a white enamel background.

Summer seemed to go on and on….catching fireflies, chasing low flying bats with sticks trying to knock them down. Neighbors actually sitting on each other’s porch and talking…getting to know each other…their troubles, their joys, their hope for the future.

Fall would eventually roll around, and I was excited about going back to school, seeing friends I’d missed all Summer. We’d take a special trip yo Rome so I could pick out new school supplies. One big multi subject notebook, pencils, one or two good pens, some three ring notebook paper. The tension was palpable the night before the first day of class. Who would be the teacher for my classes, who would be in the classes…especially which girls. How would life be for that school year? Truth is…I loved trekking up and down those old wooden halls. I loved the camaraderie of my close friendships. The hard day’s, the easy days…I loved them all.

I think about my friends and classmates who have passed on. I miss them, even though I seldom saw some of them. We all shared something very special during all our seasons here in Trion. Most of us started out together in first grade, and went all the way through graduation. You don’t see that much. We were brothers and sisters, best friends, worst enemies, boyfriends and girlfriends…And most of all kindred spirits of what it was like to grow up in a little cotton mill town in Southern America, USA.

More thoughts on Time

Time, time…time; time.

You cannot stop it. You cannot get it back. You better be careful with what you got….

But none of us are.

In the end, we run out of it. It’s more precious than gold, more difficult to explain than the theory of relativity.

I need to give it a lot more respect, although I try…I do.

I used to keep up with it on a timex that I had to wind. Then they put batteries into my watches. Then the devices I use to track my steps, my sleep, my exercise and every move I make, have a clock on them.

But I still wear my timex indiglo at night, because if I wake up I want to know the time.

Does anyone ever wish we could go back and uninvent some of the things we’ve added to our lives in the past fifty years?

I used to have a lot more time to do other things. Now it takes up a lot of my time fiddling with all the new gizmos that have been invented. Emails, and FB posts, and fake phone calls, and computer games…and God don’t even get started with Pinterest.

I sat down next to the footbridge yesterday and stared at a little black and white tile that came from an old torn down gymnasium, for five minutes. That wasn’t a waste of time in my opinion, as it brought back hundreds of memories.

I held my granddaughter for an hour and a half nap today, and slept about thirty minutes with her. That’s definitely not a waste of time! One day she’ll quit napping and that’ll be the last of the last…..

Well, time to wind my watch and sleep.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Father’s Day…a writing from 2006

Tick, tick, tick. That’s one second per tick. It doesn’t seem like much does it? The bad thing about it is that it constantly keeps going, it incessantly keeps moving! On and on. Like Mother Nature’s Chinese water torture device. It can be a blessing….or a curse.

It’s a darn funny thing isn’t it? What other thing can you think of which can drag on so slowly, but whiz by so quickly it’s almost a blur?

It seems like such a short amount of ticks ago that I was just a child. Sitting out on the old wooden front porch of my Grandfather’s house and listening to his Kentucky influenced, Georgia Blue Grass, Back Mountain Baptist, Hoedown Revival Banjo playing and Back yard singing. Whew. Not many ticks at all.

Even fewer ticks ago, my first daughter was born. She died 172,800 ticks later. That’s only 2 days. Seems like a lot of ticks doesn’t it? It wasn’t. That was the day I became a Father. I really didn’t get to enjoy the actual holding of a child of mine until sometime a couple of years later. My second daughter Kirsten was born. That was 1972, so I have been a Father for many ticks since then.

My oldest son was born in 1975, and my youngest son in 1980. Nothing has been more fulfilling then being a part of these three wonderful personalities over the ensuing years. Perhaps with the exception of sharing all these wonderful ticks with my best friend and partner, my wife Paula.

I also appreciate all of the ticks I have had, 70 years worth of them, with my Father. I fail to tell him that as much as I should.

In any case, Happy Father’s day to all the Dads out there. Hope you have many more happy ticks with your kids, your parents, and your wife.

Enjoy them, like the old Native American saying goes: “Nothing lasts forever, except the mountains and stones.” Even those pass away after a while!


Chapters of Life

Chapters. Life is made up of different chapters. Some are longer than others. Some are sweet and some bitter…and some are bittersweet. The story of our lives runs in many different twists and turns, and goes off on some unexpected tangents. The plot seems never to go as we would write it. There are very rare and few perfect manuscripts.

Sometimes you know when one chapter is going to end, and sometimes it is unexpected. Some good ones, just like the good ones in your favorite books….you don’t want to end. I expect also, that the final chapter and the end of the story itself is a downer! But who knows?

As I look out over the next few months, and into the next year….I wonder what lies ahead, and I think about whether it is time to close this long and wonderful chapter in my story, and move on towards the end under my own power, instead of being carried later on!

Chapters….that’s what life’s made of….some are difficult to conceive, much less to write.

Spring Lizards and Summer Days

Spring Lizards and Summer Days- 2007 (re-edited today)

Nowadays at my age, the long hot summer days are just not as much fun as they used to be when I was a kid. Back then we really had nice long breaks from school. None of that six or seven weeks out, and then right back in the school building. Back in “the old days” we had three FULL months out for summer break.

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!! Heck, that was so long, I forgot most of what I’d learned the year before in school! I think that’s why the first six weeks every school year back in the good old days were “review” weeks. “Reteaching” weeks for some pretty good school teachers. But, we made it through, and I wouldn’t take anything for the memories of those long, hot summer days back when I was young.

I tell you, spring and summers were the best back in the 50’s and 60s’.

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 feel today with all this heat in the air. I remember how cold that creek water was, even on the hottest of June, July and August days. I remember how I would even dare to reach down and bring a handful of that pungent water up to my mouth and drink it in deeply.

My blood is partially made from that creek water, and my soul is partially lodged in that mountain land.

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?