Cold America

Cold America.  The United States of America.

Entitled States of America, if you’re in a certain percentage of people, or a certain color of people.

The America where ordinary people actually think they have the power of the “vote” to change things, but in actuality are led around like fuming and pawing bulls with steel rings in their noses, by men with a rope composed of disinformation, lies, half truths, innuendos, and confusion.

Perhaps no….not bulls after all.  Nothing that powerful.  Perhaps only like lambs.  Lambs to the slaughter.

Cold America.

It’s not what our founders intended. Of course the could never in their wildest dreams foresee what type of society we have become. We are like a people with a mouthful of sand, and we are grinding our teeth on it.

When, if ever will we realize that we must spit that sand out, rinse our mouths with fresh water, and start yelling loud enough to be heard. Yelling and screaming to high heaven that we want a nation and a world where love comes first, justice is served fairly, and the motto of all people is live and let live.

Soon I hope, before Cold America freezes beyond our capability to thaw it.

Frederick…

Frederick Douglas provided a great statement on individualism after the Civil War was over in explanation to his former master: “I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you,” wrote Douglass. “I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them.” You see, said Douglass,

I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.”

My own opinion is that In being “free thinkers” we must also be fiercely protective of the rights of the individual. While we must all depend upon each other to some extent, we have to be careful not to go too far. We give over too much now in the way of our individual thinking to the collective “aura” of those who control us through money.

MY Opinion.

Everytime I hear the national anthem, I still get chill bumbs and tears still fill my eyes. When I see the flag of my country flying high from a flagpole, I am so proud to be an American. I hate to see it abused, I have reported municipalities and schools in the past for not taking down the flag and taking care of it. I also, cried like a baby when Johnny Cash sang “Ragged Old Flag” before the not so “Super Bowl” a few days back.

Most of my ancestors have been in this country since the earliest of early times. I have half a dozen who fought in the Revolutionary War, and a dozen who fought in the Civil War. I have Native American ancestors by the dozens also. My roots go very deeply in this beloved soil we call America…and I call my home.

My Daddy fought in World War II and Korea…and went into the fog soup of radiation on a Navy ship right after they tested the Atomic bomb at Enewetak atoll in 1946. I’m certain part of his health problems later in life were due to this, but he never got a dime. He never asked.

I grew up with many of you who are my Facebook friends. We were close in Trion. Most of our experiences were practically the same. We had the same teachers, the same “mill town” environment, where most of our Daddy’s and Momma’s worked their rears off in the cotton mill to raise us kids. To give use things they never were able to have during their depression years of growing up.

I graduated with many of you, I have worked with some of you over the years. I went to college with some of you. Some of you I have never met, except through Facebook.

I have been a religious man over the years. I was baptized when I was 8 years old, in a Southern Baptist Church. I spent 52 years as a member, including 12 years as a deacon. I became disillusioned about 6 years ago and now keep my own peace…but I respect the beliefs of everyone, as long as their beliefs are peaceful.

I have hunted, with bow and with gun. I have fished the rivers and the lakes…the streams and the creeks of this wonderful country.

I don’t care how many guns you own, as long as you are careful with what you got…and you know you are responsible for how they are used.

I don’t personally believe in abortion. I would counsel any family member or friend who comes to me against it. However, I do not believe it is my responsibility to tell other people what they should or should not do. (see three paragraphs back)

I’m an opinionated man. Anybody who knows me well, knows that. My opinions are not shared by a lot of people. I know that. For many years, it has been much easier to keep my own counsel concerning things I believe and don’t believe, and how I believe. With the coming of “social media” it has become harder and harder to actual have opinions, and have them ON “social media” without it causing hatred, hard feelings, name calling, and other myriad of bad things. Things which cause emotional and physical reactions, which a man with my problems doesn’t need. It’s hard for me to not make comments and share my opinions. It’s almost impossible for me really. I think it goes back to the old “blank page” syndrome for me….in which if I open Facebook and start reading stuff I just have a compulsion to open my mouth and say something….or write something on my timeline….my own “blank page”

Some of it may be the chance to finally have somebody “like” what you write….but unfortunately also have many “hate” what you write…as it pertains to politics, and perhaps also as it pertains to religion. I’ve tried keeping it mostly to photograhy which I love..but which I’m not that great at, and also some “homey” writing…which I also like to do, but which is mediocre for the most part.

I have said all of this, and have come this far with this post just to say that in my condition as a human being it’s in my best interest to continue to reconsider how I communicate on social media. There are a lot of things I am not happy with that are going on, and one of them is me. My attitude, my feelings, my need to gain more empathy and understanding for others who don’t agree with my viewpoints.

There are many who are so unreachable in the security of their opinions and beliefs, as to never be able to be persuaded by either reason or love…by compromise or negotiation, by anger or pathos, that we humans, we Americans, have so much more in common than we have different. We cannot see past our bias and our ignorance to realize that once…we liked each other, perhaps once we even loved each other, but we let it slip away and we let it go just because we HAD to be the one who was right.

I don’t have to be right all the time. Neither do any of you people. If we just realize that, then perhaps we could see a little more peace in this lifetime.

Your First Memory

I wonder, what is the first memory that anybody can remember?  Its funny how that works isn’t it. But, that’s my question for tonight.  What’s your first memory?  That will eventually lead me to my other question.

See, the reason it interests me is that I often wonder if everyone else’s brain functions about the same as mine.  Most of my childhood memories are rather fuzzy around the edges.  Do you know what I mean?  They are sort of like trying to look at something right after you have just woke up, and still have a ton of “sleep” in your eyes.  Or maybe it’s like trying to remember a dream that you had the night before, which you woke up during.  The dream is really clear when you first wake up, if you EVER want to remember it well you should take the advice of dream specialists and write it down right then.  If not, it’s going to be fuzzy in the morning.  Fuzzy around the edges, just like those earliest memories.  Sometimes I wonder if some of my memories are not really dreams.  Is that possible?  I think it might be.  As we go through life, and we live through so many different things, it may just be that some of our more vivid dreams get mixed up in our brain with reality.  That would be a hoot wouldn’t it?  I really think this is a good exercise though, because the more I have consciously thought about it, the more that seems to come back to mind.

Well for starters, the very first thing I remember is having to go potty really, really bad.  We lived in a house back in 1953, when I was three years old that was originally a duplex that had been turned into a regular house.  I remember that it confused me, because both sides of the house seemed to be the same, except the living room furniture was in one side and the bedroom furniture in the other.  I remember thinking that the rooms were the same and that when I blinked my eyes, or went to sleep (especially if I got carried from one side to the other during that time) that the furniture was rearranging itself!  Strange, no?  But, back to pottying.  I had to go really, really bad, and nobody was around to “direct” me to the correct place, so down went the pants and…..well..you can guess the rest.  The part I remember the most, was getting my rear end tanned by my Pop!   I never, ever did that again!

I also remember having a pair of Easter bunnies that same year.  Dad brought them home in a box, and we took them out back to eat grass and they got away from us and ran up under the car.  It took Daddy forever to catch them, and I didn’t know what some of the words he was using meant, but I used one of them later on when I rode my tricycle down the front steps, as those of you who have read chapter one of my book will recall.  I can’t remember what happened to those rabbits though.  I think Dad probably got tired of them making a mess and got rid of them one night while the furniture was changing itself around.

Another vivid thing during that same year I believe was during the summer we would catch “lightning bugs” (fireflies to a lot of you)  We would put them in a jar and I would take them to a dark place and try to use them like a flashlight!  Usually, we would let them go before going in for the night, but once we forgot and I came out the next morning, and couldn’t figure out why the bugs wouldn’t light up.  I didn’t realize that after being in a closed jar with no hole all night long, they were NEVER going to light up again!

I know that I lived the first two years of my life at my Grandparent’s house.  My Dad didn’t get out of the Navy until 1952, so my Mom and I stayed with them.  I have seen pictures of myself at that age, but try as I might, try so very hard, I cannot bring up any memories of any of those times before 1953 when we moved back to Trion, where I still live today.  I wish I could remember those times.  What would really be neat would be to be able to remember anything and everything that ever happened to you.  To just be able to sit down and say, “Now I am going to remember December of 1956 when I was six years old, and what happened at Christmas that year!”  That would be a miracle wouldn’t it?  Scientists say that everything is stored right up there in that little 3 pounds of gray jelly we call our brain.  That wonderful, misunderstood and not fully understood organ that runs us.  I have tried everything from meditation to “commanding” my brain to remember, to closing my eyes and straining and squinting, like the Japanese guy on “Hero’s” does when he stops time.  I still can’t make it happen!  Are all of you folks like that, or is it just me!!!  I would like to know, so I can claim a deficiency if I am the only one.

Memory and the brain.  They really are a strange thing.  I remember one time when my Grandfather was in his last year of life.  He didn’t know anybody, or anything much.  When we went to visit him, he would just sit around and kind of “babble” like a tape recorder  randomly playing back snippets of conversation recorded over years and years of time.  Nothing made much sense.  He always seemed like he was glad to see us, and sad to see us go…but…things were just not perking right.  My Grandma was sitting there one day and talking about one of their relatives, and Grandpa spoke up all of the sudden and said: “Cleve’s dead”  My Grandma answered him back telling him how crazy he was, because she had just talked to Uncle Cleve that morning.  That afternoon when we took Grandma back home, she found out that Cleve had died right around the time we were all at the Nursing home.  So, the brain’s funny isn’t it.  I would have bet you a million dollars that Grandpa couldn’t count to ten anymore, but somehow, someway he knew his old hunting buddy had died.

Maybe not being able to recall everything that has ever happened to us is a blessing.  We might NOT be able to be selective and just remember the good things.  We might also HAVE to remember the bad things too.  There are a LOT of those things that I would rather keep shoved back into the tiny recesses and crevasses of my mind.  Yes, my mind.  When all is said and done, it is what we are isn’t it?  Even when Grandpa’s was taken mostly away, he was given a gift of sorts to replace what had been taken from him.  I guess our spirit sort of resides there.  It’s about the only part of us they can’t replace still!  Shoot, you can have a ticker transplant and go right on being yourself, but a diving accident can turn you into something you would rather not think about!  It makes you wonder about all those people who do have that kind of damage.  Have their souls, what made them who they were, already fled the premises and just left the empty shell behind?

Well, there’s the challenge for those of you who care to take it up.  Can your remember everything?  What was your first memory?  Would you like to be able to have total recall?  When our old brain is gone, like Grandpa’s was, are we still us?  I think so.

Oh by the way.  Does anybody remember a Science Fiction thriller from the 50’s named “Donovan’s Brain?”  It was about this guy whose brain was taken out of him while he was still alive, and put into this thing that looked all the world like a ten gallon fish aquarium!  They had all kind of wires hooked up to it, and had it connected to a computer looking thing.  Ol’ Donovan’s Brain could still “communicate” and eventually took over some folks, if I remember right, making ‘em do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.  It was a hoot!  I hope to heck they NEVER learn to do that.  I hope they never learn to “store” our minds on computers either.  Never able to “download” the electrical impulses from our brains onto some kind of infernal storage unit, to be put into a program so we can still communicate with the living.  I don’t wanna’ be a machine.  When it’s time for me to go, I want to go.   I wonder, what will my LAST thought be?  Whatever it is, I won’t be able to share it with any of you guys that are left behind, so I guess I better concentrate on sharing what I want to now, while I still can!!

Old Bullet

Just got back in from taking the dogs out for the last time tonight. I like the little old weenie dogs, but sometimes my mind wanders back over the years to the first dog I ever owned…or who owned me…old Bullet:

One Saturday when I was about four years old, Daddy brought home a cardboard box with something in it, stirring around and scratching, and making whining noises. Ol’ Bullet had arrived!

Ol’ Bullet was my first dog, a half-German Shepherd, half Collie mixed breed which my Dad had gotten from the Kellets. The Kellets were farm owners who supplied us with “whole” milk and fresh eggs. “Whole” milk being defined as that milk coming directly from the cow’s teat into a shiny metal bucket, and from the bucket into a thoroughly washed and cleaned glass milk jug, without being pasteurized. Fresh eggs were those which had only that morning been up the hen’s rear end. At that time some people, including my folks, still thought these kinds of farm fresh goods were better for young growing bones. You could also work out a trade with the Kellets. (Try going to Walmart and asking to trade something for a jug of milk. I don’t think they would even know what to say.) Although I think there may have been some kind of law against selling it that way, the government didn’t have a big enough bureaucracy back then to check everything like that out. Back then, I don’t think the IRS even had a dozen people working for them. At least it didn’t seem like it.

I think all those fresh things are making a comeback nowadays, although there is some controversy about the milk….I have a cute little girl who brings me a dozen pretty brown eggs a week!

Me and Bullet took to each other like green to grass. Every time I hit the door, Bullet was faithfully waiting. He quickly learned the parameters of our yard, and it became his territory. He instinctively knew from our attitudes toward people who belonged at our house, and who didn’t. If you didn’t belong there, Bullet would give you one warning in the form of a low growl, and bared teeth. If you didn’t heed this warning, you had better be faster than a speeding bullet! Needless to say, we didn’t have to worry about anything being stolen from our yard or our house with Bullet around.

We had only had Bullet for a little over a year. I think it was one of the best years of my life. One day when I went outside to play with him, Bullet was acting strange. He could barely move, and he crawled over to where I sat on the back steps, and put his head on my leg. “C’mon Bullet, let’s go boy,” I encouraged.

But Bullet could barely raise his head. He wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Finally he got so sick he couldn’t move at all, and Daddy rushed him to the only veterinarian in the county. The Vet told Daddy somebody had fed Bullet rat poison in with some food he had eaten. He would have to be put to sleep to keep him from suffering. I can still remember how I felt when I got the news. I couldn’t breathe, nor could I utter a word. It was as if some giant, choking hand was stuck deep in my chest squeezing my heart like a vise. Finally when that little heart couldn’t take it anymore, it broke in half, and the tears started spilling out of my eyes, like water over Niagara Falls. Why did Ol’ Bullet have to die? Who would do such a thing?

We never found out who poisoned Ol’ Bullet. I am certain of one thing, however, and it is this: neither God nor Providence like people who would poison a little boy’s pet! He might forgive them, but somewhere down the road, somehow, they will have to pay for what they did. I still believe that.

Crow Dance

I have an affinity for finding things in nature which have been left behind. Many are times that I walked the trails behind my Grandparent’s home in Blue Ridge and found arrowheads and other implements. I still have on particular arrowhead which I still keep in my little keepsake chest which is a white quartz point with blue and red veins running through it. I find sticks of different shapes that look like things to me. I am always on the lookout for different plants and animals. I have always felt a special affinity for the birds. Anybody who has followed me on Facebook for any amount of time at all has seen bird photos.

Hawks seem to always be sitting on trees and power lines watching as I drive down the road, or walk by the rivers.

Lately I have been attracting Crows. Lots of them. They follow me around like they have something to tell me. Cawing and talking to me. I think they are telling me that I am doing the right thing. “Stay in shape” “Keep on keeping on” “Live long and prosper” Oh wait…that’s Spock, never mind.

A lot of people don’t consider crows good luck. They actually represent death in some cultures, I guess probably because of their dietary habits. (They eat dead stuff…for Gosh sakes) The Hindus believe crows are go betweens of the worlds of the living and the dead, carrying messages.

The Scottish have a saying about “going away up the Crow road” denoting death.

But…the Native American blood in me tells me differently:

contrary to popular belief, crows do not symbolize death in Native American culture. Instead, they are seen as omens of good luck, with their intelligence being their defining characteristic. This is why they are often portrayed as tricksters in Native American folklore. Omens of good luck.

I choose to believe in the good luck. I choose to believe in being a trickster.

I’ll keep the crows as walking companions as long as they want to come along…..

Good life Bad life.

Good life, bad life. I thought about it all weekend. I finally decided that it all comes down to attitude. Your attitude is what makes the difference in whether you are having a good life, or a bad life. Attitude is either your best friend, or your worst enemy. It’s your greatest asset or your worst liability.

 

It’s easy to say that you are going to change. I have said it many times before, and then I find myself becoming negative. That old pessimism that has been prevalent in my life starts to creep up on me like a swamp gator sneaking in for the kill. And when it gets close enough…BOOM…it springs. It’s not easy changing your attitude. Of course, nobody can stay positive all the time. At least I don’t think that’s possible. I have known some pretty positive people, and even THEY get down every now and then. I think the magic trick is picking yourself up quickly after you DO get down. It’s not an easy trick to learn.

 

The older you get, the more you have to reflect back on and I think now looking back down the pipeline of my life that even the bad days were good. I have had some pretty dang bad days, I will tell you. But, I learned something from all of them. I know that I don’t SHOW it at times, but I did.

 

One thing I really appreciate is having good kids, and I am grateful for the people they have chosen to live their lives with. That’s one of the things I really didn’t think about back when I was trying to raise my children. I didn’t realize that instead of 3 kids I was going to end up with 6 one of these days. (and some great grandchildren to boot!)

But, anyway I am getting off the track. Back to good life, bad life. Attitude. Is there anyway that anyone knows of to stay more on the track of being on the positive side? I think sometimes I go up and down more than a roller coaster. It would be better to stay up at the top of the hill but I am sure that there are no easy solutions for doing it.

 

One way that helps though, is to put your thoughts down on paper…even if it is virtual paper.

Reach out to the Universe

In all the Universe there are probably no other beings like we humans. I know that science has found there are many Earth like planets out there, but Earth like is not Earth.

When you think about the fact that we alone may be the only intelligent life in the cosmos it is a daunting thought. I realize that many people don’t believe we are “alone” in the Universe, but so far there is no proof to the contrary…Star Wars and Star Trek notwithstanding.

It leads me to think that humanity has a huge responsibility. We have an obligation to find a way forward to peace. We have almost a sacred trust to preserve our species.

There is either meaning to life, or not. We can believe that this tiny sand grain sanctuary of living things in the huge beach which is the Universe, is just an accident comprised of some chemicals and some warm water and sunshine, or we can believe there is meaning.

I believe there is meaning, perhaps the ultimate meaning in our existence.

Until I see some alien spaceship come flying in, or see a spiritual manifestation telling me differently, I am going to assume our meaning and our purpose is to settle our earthly differences and then “go boldly where no man (or woman) has gone before”.

Go boldly and discover the truth.

Life

LIFE

I got to thinking. What is happiness, what is satisfaction as it applies to out life here on Earth? What does it mean? How do we get it?

God it seems so very impossible sometimes, especially in this day and age of division and subtraction.

And then, I thought some more……and I dreamed, and had an epiphany of sorts…along with some very strange and sinister nightmares. But I thought first of the epiphany…..

If I have ever done or said a kind word to someone when they needed it, then I am satisfied.

If I have ever given good advice to my children, whether by pure accident, as would be the case most of the time or by chance of experience then I am satisfied.

If I have ever kissed my wife, and she was persuaded that she had married the right man, then I am satisfied.

If I have ever sung a song that brought out an honest emotion, or written a word that sparked a thought in someone’s mind, then I am happy.

If I have ever fed a hungry animal, whether is was a bird, cat, dog, squirrel, or any other living thing that God has created, then I am satisfied.

If I have ever thought a thought that was pure enough for God to appreciate, then I am very happy.

If I have ever cooked food for loved ones, or strangers that they enjoyed or that made them happy, then I am satisfied.

If I ever told a joke that got an HONEST laugh, then I am happy.

I have seen the Ocean on both sides of this wonderful country and walked in the sands and didn’t do it for the first time until I was 16 years old. It was so wonderful, I was so happy. And I have that same thrill and feeling now, everytime I look out over the ocean….

I have stood besides ruins of a culture in Greece which was over 2500 years old, and I was happy.

I have touched the skin and felt the warmth of every person who I have loved the most on this Earth, and I am so satisfied.

I have eaten my Grandmother’s suppers, and have been filled and fulfilled.

I have listened to my Grandfather play the banjo and sing, and it made me happy and it made me part of who I am today.

I have found many an arrowhead in the fields of my youth, and thought about the people who once populated this land, and was genuinely sorry for what they had to go through, and I was saddened.

I have seen a Golden Eagle in flight. It was a dream come true.

I have listened to the Beatles, Elvis, Mahalia Jackson, Percy Faith, Perry Como, Rod Stewart, Johnny Mathis, The Blues Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, Ray Boltz, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Laura Fabian, Eva Cassidy, Judy Garland, Jerry Lee Lewis, Clint Black, The Everly Brothers, and on and on.

I listened to Leonard Cohen sing “Hallelujah” last night on youtube, and watched Prince play the most awesome guitar solo ever on George Harrison’s “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” and I was happy. God…I love music so much. I will miss it one of these days, or it will miss me….

I have watched Meteors pour from the sky at such a rate that no one could have counted them. It was a once in a lifetime thrill.

I have seen an eclipse of the Sun and the Moon, and have seen a Comet in the Eastern sky during the early morning.

I have caught the tears of my children and tasted them. I have touched them when their skin was so soft and delicate that my whiskers made little red spots. Now I do it with my Grandchildren….and it has made me so happy.

I have played my guitar in my younger days until my hands cramped and my fingers bled, and oh what a catharsis it has been for me. Bless the person who invented it.

I have eaten wild onions and smoked rabbit tobacco. I hated them both but it was a matter of pride.

I have given money to many a homeless person, and have never told a soul (until now)

I have been in the middle of Storms of Nature and Storms of life that I did not think I would ever survive, but I did. And I am satisfied I passed the fire of that forge.

And the list could go on and on forever.

I have loved this life, and the souls of the people that our creator has chose to populate the bodies of the ones I love. I love it still every day. I want it still every day. I am afraid of it still every day. I never want it to end, but I know it well. I lay in bed at night and imagine it and dread it, but at the same time I know that it will bring peace and not torment.

I have witnessed things every day that I could not have imagined when I was a child. I witness them now every day, and I am in awe and wonder at what has come to pass.

I have seen the wonderful side of mankind first hand, but have seen his terrible wrath firsthand also, not as much as many…but enough for me to know I don’t want to see more, and I don’t want others to have to experience the awful red anvil of war and famine and death.

But strangely, I understand these things are also is a part of life we must know in order to appreciate the blooming of the delicate flowers of spring, and the birth of a child.

I have cried many tears, and I have asked for forgiveness for the sins I have committed. But there are those that won’t or can’t.

I don’t know what will happen on the day I leave this earth. There are not many who will know or care.

But if it is today, or in 25 years…I am happy, I am satisfied, and I am content.

What are the Crows in reality?

In the bad dream I had last night, I had just awoken from being knocked down, or knocked out. I had a rag or some kind of headband around my head, and blood was dripping down into my eyes. I was walking….through I neighborhood I knew, but not one that I know.

My left leg was stiff, and I was limping badly. I had a walking stick and was leaning heavily upon it. The air was smokey and dank. Heavy with moisture of some type. Not rain though…something chemical and harmful.

I could see the buildings in the area, and they looked terrible. They didn’t looked like they had been blown up. They looked extremely old. They looked like they had just been standing there “disintegrating” over a long period of time. The sun was trying to break through the smoke, and it looked huge and orange in color.

As I limped very slowly down the hill, towards a valley with a lot of old, tall and dead trees, I saw a huge covey of birds rise up out of the center of that black forest. At first I thought they were blackbirds, but as they came closer, I could hear the “caw, caw” of their rough call, and knew they were crows. My nemesis. Crows.

I thought: “they have been following me for years, and now they are here to kill me”

As they flew closer, I raised the walking stick up into the air and discovered that it had turned into a shotgun! I began to shoot..and shoot…and shoot…

Then…I woke up…