Tuesday, November 29, 2016

You Think You had it Tough!

You think you had it tough. I grew up in the middle of the woods. When I told my dad I wanted a set of Lincoln logs, he handed me an ax and said, “Go cut ‘em yourself.”

I once told my dad I wanted some Play-dough. He told me, “That’s what mud is for.”

You think you’ve seen cold winters. Most of the time when I was a kid, if I wanted a drink of water I’d have to climb up on the local glacier with a tin cup and a magnifying glass and melt my own.

When folks tell me I act like I was raised in a barn, I say, “I wish I’d had it that good.” I grew up in a dugout in the side of a creek bank. I had twelve brothers and sisters originally but 7 of ‘em washed away in floods. The rest of us had learned how to swim by watching the beavers.

We learned to use every part of our food. For example, you didn’t throw away the hulls once you got the hickory nuts out. They were good mattress padding. (If only we’d have had a mattress to put them in.) Whenever we had fish, we used the spine for a comb and made shoes out of the scaled skin. My sister had a fish eye necklace that was the envy of every kid in school.

I may have grown up poor but at least I had a lot of pets as a kid. Dogs, cats, raccoons, possums, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, grasshoppers etc. Of course, they never lasted long. Acorn and bark stew only goes so far—when you can get it.

I remember we tried raising chickens once but in those days the chickens had teeth and razor blade feathers so it didn’t work out well for us. I’ve still got the scars from trying to gather eggs from those bad hens. We finally just let ‘em run wild. I’ve always believed our chickens were the source of all the Boggy Creek Monster legends.

One of my mom’s best dishes was chicken pot pie. Of course, we never had any chickens to put in it. Just the pot. But if you cooked it long enough and you were hungry enough, it was delicious—if a bit chewy.

I’d have killed to have four and twenty blackbirds baked into a pie. We always had to do with five or less. and mostly that was just the beaks and feet. Course, the feet were darn good eatin’. There’d be a pretty good scrap among the brothers every time one of us got hold of a bird foot.

Almost every kid makes mud pies but we took those things seriously. It was the only dessert we ever got. I liked to spread the froth from the creek on top of mine as meringue. I was always the master chef of the clan.

Thank goodness for the thick Arkansas fogs when I was a kid. Cut a slice and spread it between two dead leaves and you had a heckuva sandwich.

I remember one bad winter. It started in 64 and ran through 67. Everything froze so hard you couldn’t burn nothing for warmth. Fire was too cold to start anyway. Thank goodness for family. Especially my brother Bo. He had a bad case of the farts that year and that was the only thing kept us warm.

When I was growing up, the only thing worse than the freezing winters were the broiling summers. Back in 62, it stayed above the boiling temperature for water for three straight weeks. And that was in May. Some folks said it was the hottest summer on record, but 59 was worse. I considered the summer of 62 to be a cool front.

The nearest big city to where I grew up was called Charleston, Arkansas. It had a population of well over a thousand people, if you can imagine that many human beings in one place. I remember once we walked into town and I spent my whole time gawking at the incredibly tall one-story houses and the streets made of stone. They even had these fancy contraptions called au-toe-moe-beels. My brother Pabe got run over three times before he realized they was capable of movement. Fortunately, the wild conditions we’d lived in had toughened up his hide a mite. He ended up a bit lopsided but not much the worse for wear.

After visiting the big city, Dad decided we should get TV. We couldn’t get it to work until we plugged it into an electric eel. I never got to watch it, though. I had to stand on the roof  of the dugout with forks taped to me so we’d have an antenna.

Somebody seemed surprised that we could afford forks. We couldn’t. Our forks were hand made from old discarded beer cans. I still have a set for use on special occasions.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Blogging Slowdown

Not sure what is wrong with me of late. Life in general has been pretty good so I don't have that as an excuse. School was very busy the last few weeks but I was off most of this week for Thanksgiving. Yet, I still didn't blog until today and scarcely even visited other blogs, something I used to do religiously. It's also not that I haven't had ideas. I've had lots of ideas for blog posts but it just has seemed more effort than it's worth to put them in actual words.

I've actually not been doing much writing either. I've half a dozen projects part way done and I've jotted down dozens of other ideas, but I just haven't gotten the bit in my teeth on any of them.

Slow downs are inevitable. Maybe it's just that. Blogging seems to be slowly dying away anyway so maybe that is part of it as well. It's always so easy to post a quick line or two on facebook, but you lose something at that short length.

Hopefully I'll get back to blogging soon and with some more substantial posts. I should have some good news to share soon so I'll definitely want to blog about that.

Until then, hang in everyone.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Dream Night to Remember

 Dreams 11-11-2016:

Weird how some nights I remember my dreams very well and other nights not so much. Last night was a good one. I had three dreams that I remember.

First dream. I had rescued a black bear that had lost its mother.  He was very sweet and affectionate. He was cuddly and loved to rub noses. At one point, we were out in the field walking and saw another bear, a big adult male, attacking our cattle. Terrified, I grabbed up the little bear and hid behind a fallen tree. The cows were able to defend themselves, though. A group of them struck back against the bear and two held him down while one sat on him. I took off for the house, carrying the little bear, and reported the incident to my mom and dad. End. (In the dream, the cows sitting on the bear didn’t seem odd to me. I imagine this dream was inspired by the book, The Bear, which involved an orphan bear and which I read a couple of weeks ago.)

Second dream. Don’t remember many details about this one. There was a young girl who was possessed. At one point I saw her sitting in a pond with her head down in the water. As I watched, she  lifted her head out of the water and her long hair was matted over her face. She hissed from beneath her hair, which creeped me out. (I’m sure this was inspired by a piece of the sitcom Blackish that I watched last night, where the grandmother believed that one of her young granddaughters was possessed and evil.)

Third dream. I was a security guard at a big company. My partner was Colin Farrell. We were in a car cruising the grounds when we saw a door open into the building. It was a door of metal bars set between two brown stone columns. I called attention to it and we went in. There were a bunch of empty rooms. I pushed open the door to the bathroom and saw a shadowy figure move quickly behind it. He was missing his eyes but there seemed other things wrong with him.

I backed away and called to my partner. He came in and I asked for his gun. I didn’t have one.  While I was doing this, the figure darted out of the bathroom and around the corner into another hallway that I couldn’t see. I started to approach that corridor and a couple of people turned the corner and looked concerned or confused. I knew they’d seen the thing. One particular man I remember was  dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. Some other folks came from another direction and were also milling around.

Suddenly, the figure burst out of the hallway he’d gone into and came charging toward us. He was on fire. I yelled something about it being a zombie and shot it. I didn’t shoot it in the head but it went down. People were staring.  I stepped back outside for a moment and saw Colin Farrell pacing back and forth, looking upset. I figured it was because he’d never seen anyone shot before.

I went back in. There was a young kid sitting not far from the dead man. Suddenly he looked up at me and his face changed. His eyes got huge and turned completely full of black. He looked a bit like a Predator from the movie of that name. When I saw the kid change I knew the zombie effect was starting to spread. Then I woke up.

(The kid looked almost exactly like a photo I saw a day or two ago on facebook. It showed a big guy who’d been arrested who had dreadlocks and resembled the Predator in some ways. That was the caption beneath it too.  The zombie on fire was probably from the video game Doom, where you see these kinds of things. I was playing it a bit last week.)