Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bloggers

I've spent time reading my blog-buddies this evening and I'm amazed at the talent out there.
Janie  mentioned the song Baby Blue by Badfinger in her post and it ripped my mind back thirty years.
Jilda and I had a vinyl album by Badfinger and we listened to it so many times that we wore it out. I'd forgotten how much I loved that group.  
Then when I visited  Debi's blog, she wrote about trains, which ripped my mind back in time 40 years.
Each blog I read, offered up something that was unique, yet pieces of it were familiar.
The blogging community is incredible. It's filled with creative people who spend time each day bringing pieces of their lives to the greater community....experiences that you may have had yourself. 
I find that my mind often reaches back and digs up long-forgotten memories that have laid dormant for years.
It's like the front porch of neighbors when I was a child. I could sit and listen to the stories for hours.




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tools put to good use

After my mother-in-law died, we had to clean out the basement of her house. She'd lived there with Jilda's dad Sharkey for many years. 
I've written about this before, but Sharkey collected things. He had a tool for everything and he thought it sacrilegious to dispose of ANY tool no matter how rusty or badly worn.  
The family got a chuckle as we examined all the old saws, screwdrivers, handless hammers, and socket wrenches that were so old you could no longer read the size.
One of the things I took out was what I call a clinker-grabber. It's a hollow steel bar about 36 inches long with pinchers on the end. Attached to the pinchers is a metal rod that runs through the bar and hooks to the bottom jaws of the pincher. Sharkey used it to remove cinders from their old Stokermatic coal stove.
We don't have a fireplace or coal burning stove, but I couldn't toss the clinker-grabbers.
Recently as I cleaned out my shed, I came across the old grabbers so I took a steel brush, and cleaned the crud and rust off the bar before squirting on some WD-40.  When I pulled the handle, the jaws worked like a charm. 
Now when our great nieces and nephews come over to visit and are getting restless, I bring out the clinker-grabbers.
My great-nephew Anthony came over to our house on Easter Sunday with his mom Alesha and our nephew Haven.
Not long after they arrived he was ready to go, until I showed him the grabbers. I think he would have spent the night with us had we let him sleep with his new cool toy.
I know Sharkey would have been proud that his old tools were put to such good use.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Always listen to good advice ~ My column from Sunday's paper

I could write a book on the number of times in my life I’ve said, “Uh oh, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

I seem to remember that my mom once told me the first words I learned to say weren’t “mama” or “daddy” but “uh oh.” That was a harbinger for things to come in my life. My mama swatted my backside so often that dust rarely settled on it.

The trend continued into adolescence. Once when I headed out fishing with my rod, reel and tackle box, my neighbor, Mr. Plunkett, who lived next door, was sitting in a cane-bottom latter-back chair on his front porch.

“Come here, boy,” he commanded. I knew better than to blow him off because he had my mother’s ear, and he’d rat me out. This would not have turned out well for me, as any neighborhood adult could get away with bossing me around in those days.

So I walked over to his yard haltingly. He leaned forward and spat an amber dart of Bruton Snuff between his gnarled fingers. When it hit the red clay of his front yard, it looked like a splatter of dried blood.

“You ort not go a’fishin’ in short pants,” he advised. “You’ll step on a cottonmouth.”

I wouldn’t be caught dead in long pants in summer, so I did the old, “I’ll be careful” routine.

As I stepped out of his yard and headed to the creek, I heard him say, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

When I got to the creek, not only was I wearing short pants, but I had also pulled off my shoes so I could wade in the shallow water to get at the hard to reach fishing spots.

I was moving up stream on a well-worn path to get to another spot when I came up to a dead tree that had fallen across the way. As I stepped over the log, my mind was focused on thinking like a small-mouth bass.

As I was about to set my foot down on the other side of the log, I caught a glimpse of something on the other side.

My foot was in mid air when I saw the cottonmouth moccasin, which was as big around as the calf of my leg. It had its mouth wide open and about to strike.

Instinctively, I launched myself backwards in a maneuver that defied gravity, and it’s a miracle I didn’t experience hygiene issues.

I crawfished away from the log to put some distance between the snake and me.

Thankfully, it plopped into the water, swam to the other side and slid off into the underbrush.

When my heart finally returned to my chest from my throat, I looked around for my fishing gear, which had somehow ended up in the creek.

I waded in long enough to fetch my gear, but I decided to call it a day.

Mr. Plunkett was still sitting on the porch when I walked back home, and he looked a lot smarter than he did a few hours earlier.

I can tell you that I never went fishing in short pants again.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peaceful Easter

This morning after I poked the brew button on our coffeemaker, I stepped out on the deck to get a feel for the weather. The sky was transitioning from midnight blue to a color of blue that has no name. The moon was high in the sky and looked like a half eaten biscuit.
Even though the sun was not up, I could see tinges in the tops of trees and I knew it would be a beautiful day.
A while later I slipped on my shoes and stepped down to the road to fetch the Sunday paper as the sun peeped above the eastern horizon. At the end of the arbor, I saw a single blossom from the honeysuckle bush we planted there a few years ago. It had survived the harsh winter, and the color was stunning.
Pulling the iPhone from my pocket, I snapped the picture below. No camera can capture the nuance of texture and color, but even a sad rendition is beautiful.
Tonight my lovely spouse Jilda celebrates her 4-year blogging anniversary. Pop over and wish her a happy anniversary, and feel free to click the follow button there.
I hope you all have had a peaceful Easter weekend.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Old stuff

The warm weather this week put me in the mood to break ground. I went out a few days ago to till up a spot at the back of the fence.
The tiller sprang to life but then coughed and sputtered as if it had mechanical emphysema. I stepped to the shed to fetch my tools and cleaned the spark plug but when I tried to crank it I got the same result.
I checked gas, cleaned the filters and kicked the tires a couple time just to show I meant business, but
nada.
This is not my first planting season so I knew it was the old gum in the carburetor routine. My tiller is so old that Methuselah bought it used from an antique dealer and sold it for scrap to an ancestor (150 generations back) of the gentleman who sold it to me.
I've been using my local parts supplier for many years. Some of the parts they stock are marked with hieroglyphics instead of part numbers, so I felt sure they'd have a carburetor for my tiller.
When I walked in yesterday and asked for a rebuild kit or a replacement carburetor, the clerk asked for the model of the tiller. When I told him,  he and the guy a few registers down snickered audibly....which is NEVER a good sign.
That usually means that the price of the part is way beyond what I could get by knocking off a liquor store....I'd would have to donate a kidney.
When he told me they could have one of their old machinists build me a new carburetor, I walked out shaking my head.
I brooded about it for a while, but then I decided to have a shot at working on the carb myself. What could it hurt.
So after coffee and our morning walk, I put on my coveralls, fetched my tools and set to work. I removed the carb, disassembled and gently cleaned it as if it were a newborn baby that wasn't allergic to cleaning fluid.
When I put it back together and reinstalled it on the tiller, I had no idea if it would work or not. I filled the tank with gas, crossed my fingers, and pulled the crank-cord. It sprang to life and ran as solid as the day the cavemen built it. I was so happy, the twirling tines tossed freshly tilled earth into my teeth.
It feels good to fix something that not even I thought could be fixed


Friday, April 18, 2014

It's just a phase

No matter what you're going through in your life, if you can simply breathe and just hold on, it will
pass.
One thing I've learned through the years is that life is a series of phases.
When looking at the bigger picture and consider the earth is about 4.54 billion years old, my life wouldn't represent a blip on the radar of time.
Jilda often labels her life phases in haircuts and colors. The photo to the right was taken during a time when an enthusiastic hair stylist convinced her that a shag haircut would be right for her. She realized it was a mistake before she got home. It never looked good to her, but I thought it looked fine.
Unfortunately she did get a poodle cut once, and I can tell you our home was not a happy place until her hair was straight again.
I always kept my hair fairly short but when I was drafted in 1971, Uncle Sam shaved my head as slick as a cue ball. I told myself that when I got out I would wear my hair as I pleased. And I did.
The length of my hair caused friction between my dad and me.
He didn't approve, and I wouldn't change so we didn't talk to each other for a few years.
Thankfully it was a phase, and when I married Jilda in 1974, he was so crazy about her, the he forgave me. She has a way of winning people over.
These days I don't have an option on the length of my hair unless I wanted to let one side get REALLY long and comb it over to the other side.
That's not a phase I'll be going through.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inch by inch

Tomorrow is Good Friday and hopefully winter is behind us. This year has been one of the coldest winters in memory.
When the weather gets cold, work around our small farm comes to a standstill, so by the time the weather breaks, I have a todo list longer than my leg.
We need to refinish the kitchen floors, repaint the inside of the house, replace the couch and then start on the outside projects.
When you look at the entire list, it can be disheartening and overwhelming. I burned up a calculator trying to tally up what everything would cost. But then I took a breath and broke the list into smaller chunks.  All of a sudden things look manageable.
I had a meeting in the county seat today and on the way home I stopped at Home Depot and ordered a new hood for the stove. Our old hood is over 30 years old. and stopped working long ago. When it comes in next week, I'll be able to tick one of the items off my list.
Tomorrow we'll pick up a gallon of paint and start with the kitchen.
This afternoon, I spent some quality time sitting on the bench by the firepit and contemplated life and whatnot.  It felt good not to be bundled up like a cocoon.
I hope it gets warm where you are soon.









Life Changes

This is a pre-post, post

Hey Folks,
 I'm putting together my latest book which is a compilation of my "best of" columns. I'm looking for a few reviewers.
 If you have a little time and would be interested in reviewing the book before it hits the shelves, I can send you a PDF version.
 The reviews will be on the back cover and some of the inside pages.
Thanks for your consideration.

Rick


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