What do I stand for?

It’s pretty sad when it boils down to standing for Trade day. However, as trade day has become a culture over the years, a place of gathering and a place to pass some time with friends then perhaps it is not such a bad thing to stand for. I have passed many hours discussing everything from the mundanities of politics to the meaning of life at Trade day. I have made may friends and aquaintences there. The gospel is spread at Trade day, as well as the devil. There’s a man who gives away bibles, and a man who sells them. You see peoples treasures from years gone by. You see the things which people have bought at a high price that they didn’t need and they are selling it for a pittance. For centuries the centers of power in the world have been at markets. Maybe standing for Trade day is not such a bad thing after all.

Exclusive or Inclusive

I’ve been thinking about life and I’ve decided all things in our human culture can be defined by the two words above. Exclusive or Inclusive. Maybe really….all inclusive.

Think of humanity as one great big club. The club of humans. Now consider that the great big club is subdivided into a whole plethora of smaller clubs. All of those clubs will fall into one of the two categories I’ve listed above.

A person can belong to any number of subdivided clubs. Some are in many. Many are in some. There’s a lot of overlap. A lot of people belong to some of the same clubs, but not everyone belongs to them all. You play professionally baseball….exclusive club. Certainly not all inclusive. Your a Catholic ? Exclusive club….not as much as professional baseball by any means, but still beholden to a particular set of rules. Not everyone can be a Catholic, not everyone can be on the San Francisco Giants.

Don’t think things work that way? Take any “club” you belong to and try to think of it outside those two categories. Where do you end up?

Is America exclusive or inclusive. Russia? China? What makes them the way they are? What makes any “club” the way they are? Are there any clubs besides the club of humanity that’s All Inclusive?

I hope that in the future, humanity can work more and more towards inclusiveness towards all. Not matter what our beliefs. We cannot, of course allow lawlessness or violent actions of one person against another, or one group of people against another, but if we love and become more inclusive, I believe most lawlessness and violence would stop. Most.

Somebody once said: “It’s one big old club, and you ain’t in it”. When you find yourself excluded for reasons you cannot control, it’s not a good feeling. There are not good outcomes when people feel that way. Let’s open our hearts and learn to include. Let’s add and multiply, instead of subtracting and dividing.

After all, who wants to spend eternity someplace with someone who wasn’t “in your club here?”

What’s Important- From 2015

A busy day, the end of a busy week. We have been with all the “little” Grandbabies at different times this week. They are tiny tornadoes…but they are our babies. Eli, Rue, and Evie. I couldn’t love them more.

They remind me that once upon a time, my other grandchildren were also babies, but are growing up and out of our “sphere of influence” My first Jessica Brown is a beautiful young woman now, in faraway Huntsville most of the time, working hard on her new job. Auttie Bowers my Blondie, is a junior. Going to the prom tomorrow (praying for no storms) Tyler Holland is married and working hard on the road. I passed my 16 year old Chelsea Holland out playing tennis this afternoon with Max, and had to stop my walk and try to show off. Then there is my little teeny bopper Olivia Livy Brown who is getting prettier every day. I know I’m an embarrassment to them, but just can’t help it.

I raised my three children the best I could. There were hard times, financially and emotionally. I commuted to work out of town all my working years, and had less time for my kids than I wanted with them. I bet I have put in at least a million miles between 1978 and 2011…my “driving” years. I got to know Ludlow Porch, NPR, and Neal Boortz really well over the radio airwaves. I listened to more country music than a Nashville producer.

My wife was with the kids more when they were little. I know that her presence helped them tremendously. Their Grandparents were a big part of their life, especially my “larger than life” Daddy.

My kids are my friends now, although I am never beyond still giving “parental” advice and serving as a gravel hauler, furniture mover, fashion supplier, taxi service and much more…all very willingly albeit grumpily sometimes. There is nothing I wouldn’t do…well almost nothing, for them. They know it. My family has always come first.

Brings me back to the babies. The grandchildren of our “old” age. They will never remember Paula and I as anything other than the gray headed grandparents. Evie especially, and hopefully a brother or sister for her in a few years. Perhaps they will remember some wisps and whispers of our caring for them. And oh..how I do care for them….all of them, child and grandchild.

Many, many years ago I decided I would probably never have a profession as such, other than being Dad and Papa. I think it was the right choice.

Why I’m an Early Riser

I think tomorrow might be a good day to rest. Sunday is a traditional day for rest. I might even sleep in til 7 am if the storms don’t come rolling forth.

I remember my Grandmother Stewart was not a sleeper. If she slept five hours it was something. Many times when I stayed there Grandpa would still be snoring (I think he had sleep apnea) while Grandma was already up stirring around. Grandma made him wake up and start a fire during the winter though, and as soon as I would hear him clanking that old wood stove I would extricate myself from under the five quilts I was entangled in upstairs and come running down to the heater.

Grandma lived to be 100, so I guess she was the exception to the rule about needing plenty of sleep to live a long life. She never napped much either.

Grandma died in December 1999. I was supposed to be a pallbearer, but I’d had a heart attack and a stent just a month before she died so I couldn’t help carry her as I had done with Grandpa in 1993. They played such a large part in my childhood, but as I became an adult and had my own family my visits were infrequent. I think we all run into that pattern of life as we live it.

You regret the time you might have been able to spend with your family, much more when they are gone. I apologized to Grandma once for this, and she simply said “Don’t worry about it honey, I understand”

As I approach 71 I am beginning to also understand. We have what we have when we have it. Live it that day, that week, that month. There is time enough to love if we take it, because it does not take much time to show it in the present. A hug, a kiss, a word, a touch. An unexpected tenderness or an emotion expressed. It’s better done now than wishing it done later. Believe me, I know.

The Long Peaceful Sleep

I’m afraid from where I sit, I really don’t know much about the Universe. I’ll freely admit it.

The Universe is big beyond my imagination. It boggles my mind to even try and contemplate it. I watched one of those fantasy mock ups which takes you from our planet out into the Universe. Everything keeps getting bigger and bigger, while Earth gets tinier and tinier. There’s a star out there, they say, which will hold a billion of our suns. A billion! Damn…that just blows my tiny fist size compilation of gray matter.

It’s hard for me to believe that human beings have books that we wrote which tell us all about how the universe came into being and why. How the Universe was created. Religions say these books are divinely inspired. Maybe so. I won’t step on anybody’s beliefs, I promise you that. I’m for people believe whatever they want to believe and me believing what I believe and let bygones be bygones, and live and let live. I’m very tolerant about most things. I can’t stand loud boom boxes, and could do without constantly barking dogs, but even with those I’ll let most the instances flow by like a river as long as they are not too extreme. I despise human actions which result in harm to other human beings.

Science has come a long way over the centuries and we have what I believe are some relatively (no pun intended) simple theories about what makes the Universe tick. We think they are pretty deep and informative, but I’m not really so sure about that. What we think we know might not even be close to right. We may be way wrong. Humans are smart in a human way, but perhaps in a Universal way we are still just babies.

There’s umpteen theories about what happens to us humans after we die. We place a huge amount of emphasis on those theories. I think I’ve read about most of them. I’ve read about some of them extensively.

I lay there at night sometimes and I think, and I puzzle and I worry and sometimes I pray and sometimes I don’t. I try my best every day to do what my conscious tells me is right, especially over the past 5 years or so. I try to take care of my grandchildren in a kind way, and I love them and my children and all of my family. That’s about the best I can do.

So…I’ll take what I get when my time comes.

I expect at the very least to have a long peaceful sleep.

Dream Well

To the night…sleep tight, all my loved ones and friends. Tomorrow we will find us a better day and maybe a better world. If not, let’s make the best of what we’ve got. Be kind to someone. Give if you can to those who have less than you. Hug and kiss your family. Love if you want to be loved.

And in your dreams, you may find solace…and occasionally perhaps a glimpse of wisdom. You may find true love, conflict and maybe betrayal. You may dream the idea that changes the world, a new paradigm for a new age….but then awake, and forget it all. Dream well this night…

The Reservation

THE RESERVATION

by Larry Bowers

Children crying, smoke is rising,
Smell of whiskey in the air.
Relief check coming,
Widow thumbing,
Through her tickets for the fair.

Another day on the reservation,
Remnants of another nation,
American genocide,
We don’t try to hide,
The scar on the face,
Of our creation.

Old dog growling, Coyote howling,
Pale moonlight shining down at night.
Once proud band, Roamed the land.
Now stuck in a terrible plight.

Another life on the reservation,
Constant pain and aggravation.
American genocide,
Slow death or suicide,
Only permanent cure for the situation.

Our Self Reliance

I have been following a YouTube channel of a guy in Canada named Shawn James for over a year and half or so. His channel is call “My Self Reliance” This guy has bought some land in the back lands of Ontario, bordering the Queensland’s, and has built his own cabin and other buildings in an effort to become more off grid and self sufficient. One of his things he was going to do this year was to become more food sufficient. In his video last night, he was talking about a few things which I have also been thinking about lately.

First of all is the fact that there will soon be shortages of food, especially fresh vegetables and fruits. The growing season is just now starting and farmers who usually plant vegetables are not going to do so. This is because they will not be able to get the seasonal workers (mostly from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc.) because of the current pandemic situation. Most of these farmers will instead plant “cash crops” such as wheat, barley, feed corn, etc., which can be planted and harvested via automatic machinery. Additionally in the United States, prior existing fruit farms will not be able to get the seasonal help they need, so fruit will either rot or very little will be harvested and therefore prices will be sky high. Also, Dairy farmers are now pouring milk and other dairy products down the drain, because the demand is just not there anymore with schools, restaurants, etc. closed down. Milk might immediately be lower priced in stores, but once these farmers reduce their output accordingly, then all dairy products will soon go up.

We can expect it to be this way probably not just for this season but for next year also. It would therefore be a good idea for everyone who can to plant and harvest their own vegetables and fruits in their own space.

Another thing he pointed out, with which I agree, is that the “great economy” that we were enjoying in the United States, as well as in Canada, was a “window dressing” type economy. The only people who were and are benefiting from the economy were the people at the very top of the chain. The billionaires and multi-millionaires. The fact that this pandemic has shown that the VAST majority of people cannot go past one or two paychecks without becoming economically bereft and not being able to pay their bills, or buy food, means that the “great economy” and all of the low unemployment was just a sham economy, as far as most of the people who were working and doing the day to day jobs go. There was not health in the almost total “consumer based” economy, that especially the United States has been running for so many years.

I see the news clips almost every night with cars lined up for miles and miles with people waiting in line to get food at food banks. This is happening in almost every state, but especially in the South and the Midwest. What happens when the food banks run out of food and people get desperate for something to eat? Ask yourself that question and extrapolate out an answer in you mind. What happens if our truckers and our grocery workers get too sick to work….supplies break down. What if Amazon and Walmart online cannot get supplies and send them out? What happens when your prescriptions, which are mostly made in India and China don’t make it to the drugstores? I realize we are not there yet in these areas, and I pray that we don’t get there.

The government passed a Covid relief bill on March 27 and this is April 9th and so far not a penny has gone out to anyone that I can tell. I’m sure the bill was passed in good faith, but there wasn’t a lot of thought given to the detail of how the mechanics of the bill were going to be carried out. Banks which were bailed out in 2008 by taxpayer money now don’t won’t to take a “chance” on loaning small businesses money to keep then going because they are afraid they will be left “holding the bag” They were not too afraid to take that bail our money though. Also, they are having hold ups and problems figuring out how to get the 1200 dollar relief money to citizens. I have read that some people won’t even get their “relief check” until September! They can’t figure out how to disperse the money from the first Covid bailout bill and I hear they are already wanting to pass another one? Really? Every politician in Washington, both Democratic and Republican should be voted out of office and replaced with some of the people who are being heroes now in our time of need. Doctors, grocery workers, soldiers, veterans, school teachers, truckers, etc. These are the people who need to hold public office. The majority of the people who are up there now are only there to enrich themselves. How else do they become mulit millionaires in a period of a few years on a 170 thousand dollar a year salary? How is it we have Senators and Congressmen and Women who will take insider information about a coming pandemic and use it to dump stocks and buy stocks instead of worrying about the welfare of the American people? What a joke our Federal Government has been and is.

I suppose that’s enough of a rant by now so I’ll stop. I promise no more of this in the future because there are already so many ranters on Facebook I don’t need to continue to add to the “noise” Everyone….if you’ve gotten to this point please do the things you need to do to stay safe. Stay Home, Wear Masks and gloves, and Stay our of crowds. This thing may continue until we get a vaccine or a super course of treatment. As many are saying, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Love you all people.

Banjo Man

Banjo Man

Sometimes the most beautiful things in the world are never heard or seen by other humans. There are rare times, when you stumble across them accidentally and they are so fleeting and unique that they can never be replicated.

I have written many times about my Grandfather, and how as a child I used to sit on the porch of his old house and watch and listen as he played his banjo. It’s one of my best memories.

The other day, one day this week, I was walking my regular route through town. It takes me past one of the town’s unusual resident’s house. He’s a man a little older than me who lives up on the hill behind the ballpark. He’s different. I was rounding the curve in the hill when I heard it…the banjo playing. But it was not just ANY old banjo playing. This was the Flat and Scruggs kind of banjo playing. This was blue grass roots. This was great playing. This playing made the leaves swirl in little circles in the air, and the needles of the pines lean in closer to hear.

At first I thought it was a professional recording, but then realized it was coming from the little white house on the hill with the name “Earp” on the mailbox. It was somebody playing live. Probably…most probably it was V.W. Earp, that different little man who lives there alone. I stopped there and eavesdropped on this playing. I don’t know what song it was. It didn’t matter. It was heavenly. Complicated, fast. The type of playing you wish you could do if you were a pro. I moved on reluctantly after five minutes, finishing my walk. I shook my head in wonder at the savant like talent of this man.

I had seen some of the other things he had done in the past. My good trade day friend, one of the Webb twins, (I can’t remember if it was Ronald or Donald) showed me a design that V.W. had drawn. It was a complicated and quite logical drawing of how to stop the flooding on the Chattooga River. I guess V.W. had given this to him some time back. It looked like something that Leonardo da Vinci might have done. It was a crude, but at the same time a simple and brilliant plan. Of course, nobody took it seriously. I wonder if it would have worked.

I think the Webb boys have a weekly “shack picking and playing” session somewhere, (don’t know for sure…never been invited to come!) I hope V.W. shows up there sometimes. It would be a shame for nobody else to ever hear that gorgeous music. I wonder if he has many friends. I see him out and about his house with his little white dog following him and I throw up my hand and say “hey” I’ve run into him at the local grocery store and talked with him for a few minutes at a time. Conversations which are strange and disjointed, but at the same time very interesting.

I marvel at people like this. I knew Mr. Earp was an unusual man. I grew up around him and his brother and I knew his father, but I can’t begin to comprehend this person. This outlandish “character” who on the outside is so incomprehensible to “normal” people, but who on the inside is such a talent and has such a tremendous intellect. A person who because of his eccentricities has a problem finding outlets for his talents, which will fit nicely into our societal norms. If you act a little different no matter if you cannot help it, it’s hard for people to take you seriously sometimes. There’s no doubt about it. Nowadays in schools perhaps things would develop differently. Back in our day in school… There just weren’t things available.

I’m glad I know this man and I’m glad I took that five minutes to listen to his music. I will always remember it.

Looking Back on the Pandemic from one year ago today.

That’s What you get for Thinking.

Back when I was a kid, I often had grand schemes that I would think up. Sometimes good ideas, sometimes a little “hair brained” Just when I thought things were going well, something would happen and the “grand” idea would fall through. When that happened, and I told my Daddy about it he’d just look at me and shake his head and say: “Well, that’s what you get for thinking” Honestly, he wasn’t getting on to me for thinking. It was more about counting my eggs before they hatched, or about being too arrogant or overconfident. I have that irritating trait in my nature and it occasionally overcomes my logical approach to things.

I thought I had a logical approach to the golden years of retirement.

I honestly thought my “golden years” were going to be filled with good times with my family, taking care of the grand kids, going to ballgames, dances, and school functions with the little grand-kids and their parents. I think being around the family and doing things with them was my ultimate goal. It was because of them that I came through four bypasses in 2010. At one point in the first couple of days, the pain was so bad I thought I just wanted to let go. But my wife and my kids….they gave me a reason to go on. I went through a long recovery and only started to really exercise, walk, and watch my weight in late 2004. I decided I wanted to live a few more years. Was that being selfish? I didn’t think so at the time. I was on Ancestry a lot during those years and I saw where a lot of my ancestors died young. Got to be about 60 years old and “BOOM” Gone. It was only through the work of the medical and scientific communities that they had a method by the time I needed it to “patch me up” enough to keep on living. I appreciate it so very much. I appreciate what those doctors and nurses did for me. I appreciate my family helping me hold on. I’m thankful to them all.

But…back to the “golden” years. I “thought” that things would go on as they always have. Work most of the year, maybe take a couple of weeks off….go on a vacation with the family. Be around the kids and help with them. Do my “trade day” thing every couple of weeks or so. Go out to eat at Logan’s or one of our other favorite spots on Saturdays. Cracker Barrel on Sunday. All that stuff. Ordinary stuff. To me it was just “every day” life. Taking that “every day” life for granted was a big mistake. Look at where we all are now. Not just us, me and the wife….but all of the Grandma and Grandpa’s out there who love their families and want to be with them, to see them and be around them. To love, and sometimes fuss over them. To live our lives “normally”. Normally….all of you my friends wanted that also, I know.

But now, there is no “normal” like that anymore. Only the new normal. The quarantine normal. The self-isolation normal. (and thank God for my wife who keeps me sane)

“Thought you were going to glide on through those golden years, huh?” I can hear Tarp Bowers’ voice in my head. “Well that’s what you get for thinking”. And….honestly, he’s right.

How did I dare assume that there would be an in place continued normal for humanity? What gall on my part! I’ve been warning people about stuff like this for years, and it turns out that I didn’t pay attention to my own warnings. “Mother Earth will get us back, “ I said. I never expected the nasty, evil stealth of this disease that has hit us though. I never expected anything which could separate human beings so totally from the natural tendency to be the social animals we have evolved into. A sickness that has never, ever been inside a human body before in the entire history of all humanity! An alien invasion not from outer space, but from within our own world.

Now, I look up at the window and talk to my granddaughters Evie and Ellie…and their Daddy, through a screen 10 ft away. I talk to my youngest son while he’s up on the deck and I’m way down below. I await “drive by’s” from my daughter and her family….my oldest son and his family. I haven’t seen my first granddaughter since Christmas. Watched my second granddaughter who’s graduating from college this year, get married via phone video. The new normal.

Yet, I am lucky. I am so, so very lucky. I can still do these things. I still have hope that our family unit will all get through these hard times all in one piece, so that we may come together….all together again.

Daddy used to look at me at times like these and say: “Alright, quit feeling sorry for yourself”. I’m not really….. Well maybe I am. Maybe we all are a little, and if so it’s really OK to feel that way. It’s just that this new normal is so damn abnormal for me. I’m hunkered down now and resigned to staying put for a long spell. I’m learning new things, and relearning old ones. I’m storing up hugs, tears, and love for the day I’ll be able to use them again. I hope and pray that it will be soon for all of us. God bless, stay home and stay safe.