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A Message to My Children and Their Children

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Of Mice and Man
Grandpa John Sutton was six foot six. Tall, lanky, and quiet except for the whistling he did as he exhaled. If he ever sang the same tune twice I do not remember. Most Saturdays we would leave our small town of Hillsboro, travel down Highway 21 in Missouri and go to the farm near Leadwood. Underneath the whole area was riddled with caves or mines and Grandpa during the week was a miner and on weekends a preacher.

On most days Grandpa puttered around his acre garden, fished in the river or was found in the barn in a side room. Here lie his workbench roughhewn of course and odd sets of tools used to create whatever he needed whenever he needed. The days of many farm animals were gone, since the sons and daughters had grown and had families of their own. The floor was dusty from many years of being hidden from the rain and a twinge of motor oil mixed with dirt filled the air since Grandpa poured a bit of it around to keep the dust down.
On any given day beside the workbench stood a sturdy tall white cabinet; Grandpa hammering or sawing away on a project never fully explained. Solid made it looked like something that should have been in a kitchen. The drawers were so large, and heavy it was difficult for a child to pull them out. If one did manage to pull them out then it was filled with heavy steel tools. The bottom drawer unless you were a teenager did not pull straight out. Inside it surprisingly was straw.

In this one place between the whistling one could hear Grandpa talking about life, loves, farming, and God. For the longest time my siblings and I thought it was whispering to the winds. My brother, Michael, noticed Grandpa when talking would look down at the slightly skewed bottom drawer as if chatting with some unforeseen being. My brother being the curious boy he was decided to investigate just what exactly was in the drawer.

Sitting one day with the drawer open my brother discovered the receiver of Grandpa’s wisdom. It was a mouse family. Every year Grandpa filled the bottom drawer with the finest sweetest straw. Every year a mouse family would take up residence. We had never searched the straw when we opened the drawer. Michael did and when he showed us his two sisters there in the bottom back left corner was a hole that allowed the mouse family to come and go at will. Underneath the straw the mice had riddled it with caverns and halls making a mouse palace of the finest kind.
Michael confessed to Grandpa Sutton about his discovery and as generous as a man Grandpa was he surprisingly asked that we would refrain from disturbing his mouse family. We did not understand what exactly the mice gave him, but we respected his wishes and left the creatures alone. After Grandpa Sutton died the next year we all went and checked on the mouse family. The mice never came back. Several years later Grandma moved into the town of Leadwood itself.
1:49 am cdt

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Give Me the Trees

Christine Matthews via Geograph

Trees have been part of my life in significant ways. My childhood home surrounded on three sides by oaks, hickories, and cedars offered hours of watching nature and play. Fallen trees in the woods worked for my gymnastic practice as a balance beam. When I got the chance at the real thing in a real gym I could do the hand stances, rolls, and a flip. Pure joy!

Bruce McKay Photography via flickr

Feeding the Birds

Winter time the two large cedar trees whose trunks one could barely wrap their arms around gave shelter to migrating birds. Scattering bird seed and hanging several feeders a few feet from our picture window front door let us watch flocks eat. Add some snow, and hot cocoa and we spent hours noting the colors of rosy grosbeaks, cardinals, blue jays, gold finches and many others too numerous to name. The small house smelled faintly of smoked wood since heat came furnished with a wood stove.

Treehouse Gallery Project via Geograph

Tree House Life

A tree house in the back in the view of my mom’s kitchen let us play house or school in style. Mud pies by the hundreds created and consumed filled my time as well as endless hours of reading and cloud watching. A few large trees in the woods at the edge of our property had wooden slats hammered that formed a ladder up into the branches giving one a bird’s eye view of life in the Missouri woods.

Ray Stanton via Geograph

Playground Tree

Even at school a tree saved me from the bullies at large that roamed the asphalt playground looking for victims to harass. The playground design came as an “L” shape. The shorter segment had the monkey bars, and on the edge near them an ancient oak that clung to the side of the ravine beckoning any child needing shelter into its large branches and roots. Playing long enough to please the teachers, I would slip over to the monkey bars for some much needed upside down hanging, and swinging in the breeze.

After the blood rush to my upside down head, calmness would come and it became time to visit my favorite playground friend the tree. Like some 1960’s spy movie, I would wait until all eyes watched the endless bouncing of some tether ball war making a champion daily to become engrossed. I would hear the whisper of the tree in the breeze with it leaves rustling over I would go to the edge of the playground.

Standing me would stare into the steep ravine scanning for arrowheads that frequently are scattered across Missouri lands. Never seeing any arrow heads, I gingerly would step on the root given by nature that bridged to branches or other roots.  One would have a choice to climb up a diagonal branch and sit in sight and watch the world go by or to crawl underneath where half the roots hung out because the clay constantly washed away from the sides of the ravine.   

 Humphrey Bolton  via Geograph

Sanctuary

Only once did I climb upward. Teachers would allow a few moments of freedom in the upper branches, but invariably they would come over and call one back into the world, and out of the tree. Instead I squeezed through two roots to a small cavern underneath in red clay and gravel. I would sit and watch butterflies, dragon flies, and beetles life happen before my eyes. Days that were damp earthworms would come down from the root dirt ceiling along with some grubs.

Fall the tree lit up in red and of course came surrounded by all the other colors. I would collect the most colorful leaves to play with in class secretly. Winter the leaves would disappear and the cold north wind would come. In my spotted leopard coat, I would crawl in the cavern to stay warm and escape the cold. In spring I would watch the wonder of renewal and recycling of life occur as dead branches developed buds and burst into leaves on a warm spring day. 

                 IMG_6998.JPG 

                      Nikolai via http://omskcity.blogspot.com   

Friends Visit

Once in a while I would invite someone to come with me who was quiet and introspective like me. We would play under the roots of the tree, but no one stayed as long as I did. Victims of bullies I would offer the sanctuary away from it all, and they would gladly take the escape route. I would listen to the same old tale of how unfair it all was, and why couldn’t the adults do something about it. Did they not see what was going on? I never had an answer just gave the person some peace. Eventually the bullies would tire looking for their victim and move on to another. The person could return to the playground.

smithwithclass via flickr

Back to Class and My Life

Somehow I had a sixth sense of when the time for going back to class would come. I would slip back onto the playground and climb on the monkey bars waiting for the whistle. Back to class I would go. For years I have pondered why the bullies never found the sanctuary or why the teachers never saw I was not on the playground most of the time. Even now when my life is in turmoil or stressed my mind will wander back to the tree and the small cave. Sometimes I still take a respite there under its strong branches and green leaves in my mind. A spot of serenity in a chaotic world offered freely by nature, let me reflect on life and its endless ebb and flow.

 

 

7:56 pm cdt

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fire in the Field
 
 

Courtesy of Creative Commons by bossco on flickr

My brother, Michael, and my sister, Dawn, were extremely close. Only a year apart they did nearly everything together until the teenage years. My sister took it upon herself to become Michael’s second mother. For better or worse those two saved each other or got each other in trouble on a regular basis. When Dawn and Michael became upper elementary age, they began to have adventures in the woods together. They would try out things they had read or seen on TV. Living in a rural area for years we did not have trash service, so we had a barrel for burning paper trash. A regular habit formed among us siblings to snitch burning embers from the barrel. We would create a small campfire to bake our mud pies at our clubhouse beneath a towering tree that had bark it shed each year offering plenty of wood to burn.

A Matter of Discipline and Safety

Of course mom and dad disapproved of such things. We thought they were over sensitive about the matter since everything else was laid back. We did not understand how dry Missouri woods could get and how dangerous an ember could be to our life and livelihood if it got away from us. After a time of continued discipline we gave up the mud cooking. Our backsides were getting warmed too often and as you enter upper elementary one naturally does not want that type of warming. It becomes embarrassing among your peers your Mom and Dad have to do that to get your attention.

Smoking Weed

My brother and sister shared secrets. They rarely told on each other. Somehow they had developed a strong pact to protect each other from the rest of the family. We were the enemy. Of course they had a language all their own which often took some time to decipher to see what they were up too. For weeks the two had went out into the woods collecting a specific type of reed. The reed grew tall and in the fall would die and leave a stalk that if broken would show a filmy, dry, white substance in its core. It looked like the filters on cigarettes. Many of the men in our family at that time smoked cigarettes. We would grab a weed and pretend to smoke.

Playing With Fire

At some point my brother and sister decided that lighting the end of the weed would simulate cigarette smoking even better. So they schemed an elaborate plan of hijacking the embers from the barrel into a steel bucket. How they reached down into the bottom of the barrel where the embers always glowed without getting burnt is still a mystery today. Then they would high tail it out to an old overgrown field on the neighbor’s property full of brush and dried grasses. Cedar trees in the field gave plenty of places to hide the smoking. How long it went on we do not know.

I Found the Fire

One day my brother dashes inside of our humble abode, and says to my mother in the most nonchalant voice possible that he and Dawn found a fire out in the woods. He had left Dawn at the fire to take care of it, but it was getting big. Michael believed it was more than Dawn could handle so we needed to get out to the woods to save his sister. My Mom and Dad flew out of the house. Dad ran down to the shed and retrieved shovels and rakes. My Mom ran to the barb wire fence by our club house. She pulls up the bottom barb wire to let me crawl underneath easily. Just as I get under the barb wire Dawn lets out a blood curdling scream. Mom lets go of the wire which hooks on my flesh on my lower back, and I am stuck. Mom jumps the fence and disappears into the woods. Dad runs past, and he to clears the fence as well not noticing my predicament. I am stuck on the barb wire listening as they find the fire, Dawn surrounded by it, and working together to resolve the situation.

Rescuing the Damsel

To put out the fire, Dawn had found a bush with fanning brush like limbs and proceeded to splat the fire with it. Instead of the fire going out the tool she chooses was helping it grow. It had taken hold of a dry rot log and surrounded her. Mom and Dad eventually put the fire out, and rescued Dawn. Somewhere in the middle of it all I got my back off the fence.

Tell the Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Afterwards Dawn and Michael’s story changed a million times. I remember listening to my Mom discipline them while cleaning up and taking care of my back. Finally my father who was gifted with analytical skills as proven by Air Force electronic technician tests stops their rambling.

He says, “You were smoking weeds. I saw a bucket of embers out there and plants torn. So how did smoking weeds catch the forest on fire?

Surprisingly my sister answered immediately, “I got mad at Michael and slapped like I always do when I get mad at him. The weed cigarette in his mouth flew off somewhere, and we did not go look. We were smoking another one when he and I noticed a fire behind us.”

We still talk about the incident when we gather together. The story told by those two is never the same other than the slapping and the missing cigarette. It has taken 40 years for the scar on my back from the barb wire to disappear. The number of times we have argued and laughed about that memory and how we felt made it worth it, and I believe it uniquely identifies us as a family.

9:28 pm cdt

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Grapes of Wrath Baby

 

Courtesy of Creative Commons by David Wilbanks at fotopedia.com

My Dad arrived in this world in the year 1934. As we all know the Great Depression had over taken the country and my Dad often said how much his mother, Francis Angeline Sutton loved him, but he also said he must have been a worry---another mouth to feed. His mother and he were close. My Dad always felt he should make her life as easy as possible since he considered himself such a burden at his birth. In fact when the last years for Grandma came he took care of her like a baby and stayed with her to the very end. He would often tell me it was the hardest thing he ever did. Then he would tell the story of his conception.

Love Issues

Grandpa who was a Baptist preacher and Grandma, a partner in the ministry, loved each other, but nearly every year she gave birth. To get a break from all the mothering, and all the birthing she decided to put Grandpa on hold. Dad never explained exactly how she did this, but I am sure it was not hard with seven kids in the house. Grandpa understood and was a good sport about it--- for a time.

Grape Hunting

Grandpa came home one day from work a couple of months later. He had talked to some men who had discovered a field of wild grapes that twined in the trees in the county. The land happened to be public, and so anyone could use it. Grandma loved wild grapes and loved to make jelly. Times were hard and she decided that grape hunting would be a great thing for the family.

Grape Hunting We Will Go

The next day she packed picnic lunches, the buckets, and all those children. The family headed out to the patch of field and of forest where the wild grapes grew. Missouri lands come mixed with small fields interspersed with hardwoods. If the field had been farmed and the soil exhausted then it filled with cedar trees. As they pulled up to the grape field it was hardwoods and millions of juicy Muscatine grapes draped through the smaller trees. It covered nearly an acre. In Missouri such land with such free bounty is considered paradise.

Out of the vehicle they spilled, Grandma got them organized, and the grape picking began. Now these children were farm kid’s use to taking care of each other, and use to a fair amount of independence. They understood the woods, and the critters that lived there. Once turned loose they were given instruction on how far they could go, and what time to be back. A spot was set up for dumping the bucketful of grapes.

Splendor Under the Grape Leaves

For a while Grandpa and Grandma sat on the grass and talked which came rare since so many children lived in the house. Grandpa convinced Grandma that a set of grapes at least a hundred yards away near a babbling brook were the largest, the finest, and the sweetest. So they told the kids they were going for a walk, and when they had their fill of picking they could play.

Conception

At this point my Dad would say this was his beginning of “the grapes of wrath baby”. He would pause with a grin. It seems Grandpa had scouted out a lovely shady somewhat concealed spot near the babbling brook for love making. Off through the woods they went and Grandpa did not lie----there were mighty fine grapes around that mossy, leafy love bed. If any of my older aunts and uncles were around and the tale was told they would state it was not until they were much older that they realized what their parents were doing out in the woods. The oldest Velma would let everyone know that she knew when my dad, Calvin had begun.

Oops! Oh Well.

Anyway my grandparents came back in an unusually good mood so noted by the children. Several weeks later Grandpa came home, and they have a fight. This scared all the children because in the Sutton household that was a rare event. It truly was not a fight, but more Grandma’s exasperated expression that every time Grandpa touched her she got pregnant if she was not breast feeding. The truth be told Grandma could not resist Grandpa, and more babies came even after my Dad.  When asked if she ever put Grandpa on hold again the answer was a quick, but firm no. God was kind though. The later children were spaced out more. God has a great sense of humor so I suppose he took care of Grandma for willingly making love in the grapes in the late spring in the woods with the man she loved. In the end the grapes of wrath baby was the one that helped her transition to the next life.

                   

11:10 pm cdt

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best and Worst Winter Wrapped Up Into One
 
 
 

Missouri centers in the middle of the United States. All four seasons happen distinctly. Winters for the most part are mild. Once in a while the forces of nature converge and Missouri will have an unforgettable, cold and almost blizzard like spell usually starting in December and lasting until March.

                One winter the snow started before Christmas and the weather stayed cold. The snow did not melt which is not normal for Missouri. So layer by layer it built up. Christmas came and it was white and wonderful as the song says. We had a stove that burned wood logs. We lived surrounded by woods. So as the bough would break so to say Dad and Mom would have us gather wood. Our home was small so it did not take much to heat it. We spent our time looking out a picturesque window on our front door.

                The house was frame by two large cedar trees. We would sweep out from under them and spread bird seed every day. It was a tough winter and food was scarce for the birds. Many species came that had not come before. Rosy grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, golden finches and redwing blackbirds by the hundreds started to stay in our woods and near our feeders. We would draw them since the snow and cold kept us inside except for chores.

                January came and the snow stayed, but now became accompanied by bitter cold. The kind of cold when one breathed out icicles formed from the moisture that was in your breath. Your hands would numb despite the covering of gloves. The snowfalls became more often and the amount was more with each storm. Now the paths became passageways with walls of packed snow on both sides. I remember it was the first and only year we built shelters in the snow like all the mountain movies showed. They were surprisingly warm.

                February came and it warmed a bit though it stayed below 0 degrees Centigrade. An ice storm came of a proportion Missouri rarely has seen. The storm started on night and instead of snow it was drizzling rain and sleet. Instead of getting colder the temperature stabilized. All night it drizzled and it lulled all into a sleep except my Dad who knew what it really meant. He would periodically go out and salt the walkways and drive way. The morning showed everything coated in ice and yet it continued to drizzle. It was one of the few times my Dad stayed home from work in St. Louis which was 35 miles away.

                He began to read stories to us. The readings were mostly westerns and a few history books which were his favorites. As the day wore on he told family stories and stories of unusual weather in the past. Near the evening the electricity went out since the power lines from the weight of the ice began to snap. We began to hear the snapping of tree limbs from the forest that surrounded us. The world of the woods was groaning under the weight of the ice it was not use to or prepared for. And yet inside with our wood stove we were warm and comfy. My Mom put our items that had to be refrigerated out in the snow since it was cold there and simply cleaned out the refrigerator. As night approached Dad lit candles and used a flashlight to read to us. Eventually a puzzle was brought out and we did it.

                The morning the next day dawned bright and glorious. The ice that coated everything reflected the light in a million directions making everything glow nearly as bright as the sun that created it. My Dad went to  work and we knew not if he made it since the phone lines had stopped working in the middle of the night despite being a landline. With the storm over I suited up for the cold weather.

                Outside I went with some dirt from a potted plant to throw across the path to make the ice not slick and later a bucket of the ash from the wood stove. As the bitter cold day wore on the lure of the forest called. The woods had become a fairy land crystal palace with such beauty and stillness I have never experienced since. The forest glinted and gleamed like the surface of water on a summer day. Reflective stars came and went like the flashes of photographers taking pictures on some Hollywood red carpet of some star.

                I traveled the now salted, ash, and dirt path to the woods. In my hand I held a broom. The ice had cut off nearly every food source available. Down a well-worn deer path I went breaking through the ice and sweeping where ever I could make life easier and better for whatever life was out there. Every bush, every blade of grass, every bough had an ethereal beauty as the sun light struck it and the light began to multiply across the forest. Rainbows would come and go to create such a surreal feeling of the unexpected. Magic was in the air. I fully expected some mythological figure to pop out and give some sage advice to me.

                 I traveled down a path to an old rock spring that had once been the source of water for a dairy farm. Parts of the gravel road that horse pulled wagons had crossed long ago still was visible through the forest underbrush. I broke the ice that had formed on top of the spring and noticed many deer prints around who had been able to access the water. For a short time I sat on the solid rock and looked at the large tree that surrounded the spring and appeared to be the source of life for this part of the forest. I took in all the beauty I saw and placed it in my mind so I would never forget this event. The forest was a crystal palace where anything could happen and be.

                I have never experienced such since. I often in my mind travel back to that day and moments of beauty I experienced so intensely.  It was the worse winter storm ever recorded and yet it was the best days of family, love, peace and magic I ever experienced. Dad came home in the evening—one of the few who made it to work. His description of what he went through and the problems along the way brought us all back to reality. The electricity came on and in a week all the snow and ice disappeared. The memory of it lives strong in my mind and someday I hope to see that again.

6:45 pm cdt

Friday, April 27, 2012

Crickets

I gave birth to my oldest son Jake and as all fathers do my ex husband was admiring his creation by counting Jakes fingers and toes. He was in awe of what a miracle a baby is.

Jake and him were lying on the bed. Earl was on his tummy with Jake in front of him held in his father’s arms. I stood by the bed. From somewhere in the room a black cricket lands on my arm.

Prior Circumstances

Six months earlier Earl had gotten out his deer clothes for hunting. He went hunting and when he put on his hunting pants—a brown recluse laid waiting and bit him just under the cheek of his ass. Brown Recluses are poisonous spiders. The poison is insidious. When they first bite only two holes like a vampire bite appear on ones skin. Then a burning sensation starts. Depending upon how much venom was shot in  is the amount your skin and muscle turn black and rot. It is an extremely painful process and there is no cure. The flesh rots as far as where the poison reaches. Support measures are to cut out the flesh that is the problem. Of course that left a large white scar and it was painful to walk for months. Severe headaches and stress on internal organs because of the toxin also caused issues. 

Shock and Awe

Imagine a venomous spider bite fresh on your mind and a cricket landing on your new born son—your first son. I reach down to capture the cricket and he springs off and lands on my ex husband’s face on his cheek low enough so that when he glances down he sees a black blob outline. Pure fear enveloped him so much so he screams a primordial scream and throws my baby in the air. He then catapults straight up toward the ceiling. I dive and catch my baby who giggles because he knows not what danger he is in. My ex-husband at the same time is now doing a sideways flip in the air and he lands on his back beside the bed on the floor.

Mama Bear Arises

The cricket who had of course sprung off my ex husband now lands on his nose. To say the least the poor cricket almost did not survive since my husband furiously begins slapping the air around his face trying to hurt the cricket. After getting off the bed with baby on my hip I reached down and gently took the cricket off his nose. Then I had my first BIG MAMA BEAR fit at my ex husband who realizes Jake is no longer in his arms. I am peering down at him with the wrath of God in my eyes. 

The Way Things Were

I am a highly unusual woman. I am well aware the female species of human have a tendency to have sharp tongues which I find if not used constructively offensive. My ex husband had a dysfunctional family so I rarely griped or nagged at him. I whispered sweet some things to him and kissed him every chance I got trying to undo that negative tape in his head. Motherhood kicked in and what poured out of my mouth in protection of my baby was as searing and burning as it comes. If he could have dug a hole in the ground he would have. 

More Positive Ways to Get a Husband's Attention

Since I was not good at nagging and did not wish to learn that I developed other techniques to get his attention when needed. Most of them involved telling him a story about someone else who had a similar problem to ours or asking him a series of questions. I found letting him wade through his negativity and comparing it to the story’s theme or answering the questions let him process much more than the present problem at hand. It served our marriage well for many years and kept him at peace with his past and in balance. I am human. When he irritated me enough, little spiders would show up in his lunch kit which he was deathly afraid of and occasionally a cricket or two would show up in his pockets. ( You can buy them at any store that sells bait for fishing.) 

I would listen to his tale of the insect or arachnoid infestation along with the cursing about it was out to get him. I would smile a smile of such contentment that such a small harmless insect could so fully get his attention and make my point without me ever getting involved or saying an unkind word. He would think about his ways and choose to change on his own.

Do Us All a Favor Minimize the Negativity

He ended an ex husband because some where along the way a set of negative voices that did not emanate from his family or his parents became louder and more important than my voice and his son’s voices telling him what a good man he was, how important he was to us and that we loved him just the way he was warts and all. Even one last Momma Bear explosion made no difference in the end. Instead in the last months I cooked all his favorite meals, bought him a theater chair with all the bells and whistles so he could rest his weary mind and soul in after a long day at work and made him a special Thanksgiving meal despite our imminent parting. By that point it was no longer romantic love but agape love. I hated the path he was taking and yet just like the day the cricket came his values were obviously different from mine. A week later while I sang Handel’s Messiah at a concert he refused to attend without a word he left and I came home to an empty house where he had removed his things that were important to him and had no idea where he went.

Full Circle

Twenty years earlier at the end of my Momma Bear explosion that day, I with Jake on my hip took the cricket outside and released it to live another day. I never asked Earl why killing the alleged spider who turned out to be a cricket was more important than protecting his son. I chalked it up to the inexperience of being a new father. To say in his favor, he was the rest of the years except in those last years of the marriage a good father to the boys. Unfortunately, after the marriage he has not quite lived up to that level as of yet.

Here is to the crickets who have caught me many a fish, entertained me with their songs in the evening, at times give me hope and taught my ex husband a lesson for a while that he did not forget. 

                                          

4:31 pm cdt

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fishing, Cricket and Grandma

marycricketgrandma.jpeg

 

In this picture I am four years old. I do not remember why I was spending time on the farm with my dad’s mom and dad. I remember this day vividly. The house Grandma and Grandpa lived in was surprisingly suburban. Its gray exterior with criss-crossing black lines seemed entirely appropriate for a preacher and his wife. Set on a low hill above the flood plains of Big River the front looked out on a curving gravel road lined with peach trees. As the hill descended off to the right was a large gray tinned barn. The rest was a plateaued pasture that midways suddenly descended in its last 100 yards to a hickory and oak lined river which lined the eastern edge of the property.  It reminded me of the gentle curves of my mom when she lay on her side. Grandpa often talked about the farm as if she was a gentle, loving woman who he took care with. She returned the love by giving food for his family, a place to live and animals as companions.

On the left when one looked out from the front were Grandma’s flower gardens simply setting in the field. She loved brilliant orange poppies, multicolored snap dragons and hens and chicks. Walking past the flower gardens and heading east a strip of oak, hickory and walnut trees thrusting out parallel to the barn field from the pond field. The grass grew thicker and greener here and Grandma would explain at one time they had white horses over six feet tall that Grandpa had cherished and adored.

 Grandma loved to fish. For a trip to the pond my Grandma wore pants and cotton button shirt. She rarely wore a dress.  She took me to the porch where a wavy blonde haired dog named Cricket always laid. While she put on her black rubber boots with the red strip around the top and grabbed her pink straw hat, Cricket and I would visit. He would gently wag his tail and continuously bump my arm. I would return the favors by steadily caressing his wavy hair. Cricket was a gentle and thorough lover that never left one wanting. His eyes were dark brown, dewy and full of love.   He just seemed to know what to do when to make someone feel better. Cricket would watch and wait until one was ready to be comforted or simply wanted some loving.

 Behind the porch lay two sheds. One was Grandpa’s workshop and the other was where Grandma kept a large freezer. She headed to the workshop and on its back walls was hung a set of fishing poles. Grandma grabbed those and a large white bucket. Coming back out from the shed she handed me the poles and grabbed a pitchfork with 4 tines.  In a compost pile behind the sheds she dug and night crawlers danced and wriggled across the ground and a Styrofoam cup was used to catch them. After that we walked past the flower gardens down a gently sloping hill to the pond. It seemed secluded because of the strip of hardwoods and behind the pond were woods.  Cricket would run a few feet ahead leading the way, and checking for danger. 

The great thing about fishing is it leaves lots of time to talk and to think. Cricket would lie beside me while I fished. Grandma would tell family stories so I would learn about the brothers and more distance relatives. The other thing Grandma did so well with her calm manner she just let you talk about anything that bothered you. Bits of wisdom between catching fish happened.  Of course I learned to put worms on a hook, how to filet a fish and how to cook it. Ordinary ways done with love often lead to insight and wisps of wisdom. That was her way most of the time. Occasionally if it was so warranted just like she did with her seven brothers Grandma would lay out the truth line by line, point out a path and leave it lay.

That day when we returned to the farm house she had me wait outside. Grandma came out with a camera. She set me on that bench. Cricket brushed my legs over and over again. He would look quizzically at my Grandma. From somewhere in the house she brought out a straw hat I had never seen before or since. Grandma insisted that I put it on. I remember she took a long time to take the picture and the sun was warm upon my legs. She had me set at an angle. I have learned since in any photograph or painting or drawing a somewhat straight diagonal line is the strongest line there is. It will capture ones attention when necessary. Cricket stayed at my feet for a long time. I remember watching the sun play across his fur as he figured eight from my legs, around Grandma and back to my legs. Cricket finally went over towards the tree. Grandma told me to look up and I did. She took the picture. It is the only time I remember Grandma taking a picture.

I am camera shy and for the most part do not like pictures of myself. They never look like me. The real me lies inside and this body is simply a shell.  This picture brings me comfort and peace though I know not why.  Somehow it captured the real me for a moment in a snap. Somehow the tree, the cricket, the bench, the hat, my bare feet and my smile all bathed in sunlight are related.  The balance of it suits my soul and needs. I do miss Cricket and of course my Grandma.

 
 
11:32 pm cdt

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For the Love of Wild Morels

Patenier, Joachim. Flemish. Dinant or Bouvignes 1485-Antwerp 1524.

  • Landscape with John the Baptist Preaching (Paysage avec prédication de Saint Jean Baptiste)
  • Mushroom description: Lower left corner, group of four to five small mushrooms
  • Location: Museum of Fine-Arts, Bruxelles (inv. n° 6178)

 

  • Love the focusing on mushrooms. In Missouri my father every spring looks for the wild morel mushrooms that spring forth from the decaying leaves. The rhyme and rhythm of their birth is a mystery and so makes them precious. He has an inner urge that lets him know when to go look. He brings them home and my mom has devised a process of preserving them by freezing. They eat their fill and then put the rest away for winter’s day.

  • Morels are a gourmet item in the markets. Last time I checked the ones my Dad finds are $200 an ounce—an ounce. I have told them and they have very little money. The trip to the woods, the delight of discovering the mushrooms, the enjoyment of eating them and the stories my father tells is more important than money. And so my father does what he enjoys and is happy beyond measure---content---rather than increase this wealth and be more secure.

  •  It is a family trait we have. Talents—talents abound in my family and they are capable of most anything but the drive to be the top dog, to be wealthy, to live for money and its making is not there. Not in my aunts, uncles, siblings, parents or even me. We do what we must to have enough, but otherwise we enjoy the simple delights like finding the wild morel.

  •  I talked with Dad the other day and he was contemplating taking the walk I in the woods to begin the hunt for such a treasure---I reminded him the monetary worth of those mushrooms. He informed me he will take a large sack this time and fill it. Then he would be for a short time a millionaire and then he would go home give them to Mom and eat his wild mushrooms and smile.

4:24 am cdt

Saturday, March 24, 2012

10 Truths Old Guys Know

                          Courtesy of Creative Commons byflickr.com

 

1. They fully understand what sex is for and ain’t about the body

2. They have a large amount of lovemaking experience, understand a woman’s body and foreplay starts the moment they cast their eyes upon you

3. Their kids are raised or almost raised so they have time for you, to travel and to play

4. They most likely have their home paid off or close to it so more money for fun and the finer things in life

5. They know how to balance between you, work and play and have learned those lessons well

6.They have many ways to fight injustice or the dark forces most of which take very little energy and are extremely amusing to watch.

7.If a young man wants to fight, old men fight dirty, enjoy it thoroughly and teach a lesson young men never forget—and they tell the young man before they do it

8.They freely admit their faults and sins, tell you which ones they no longer do, which vice they choose to keep and use it all to pass on wisdom.

9.They love, love, love, love their grandchildren and are there for them, and make Native Americans, leprechauns, and heroes real

10. They know that having money, buying all the toys is icing but that the cake is making relationships and loving people—that is why they always have someone to love and play dominoes/cards with

2:28 pm cdt

10 Lovely Marvelous Amazing Reasons for Being With a Teddy Bear Man

Courtesy of Creative Commns by www.foliopedia.com

 

(not to say that skinny or athletic man are bad—it is just teddy bear men have more advantages)

 

1. He is warm on cold nights

2. Does not stand in front of the mirror all the time admiring self

3. You do not have to be perfect around him-you get to be yourself

4. He knows you truly love him—quirks and all

5. He works hard at learning all the ways of lovemaking and makes it worth being with him

6. Big, big man means you are safe from all the wolfies out there

7.You get to EAT and you do not have to listen to calorie counting, or I should have not eaten that—instead you hear ooOOOOoooo OutBack Steakhouse cheesy fries, fried Twinkies and meat

8. A round belly means he makes money because he has to keep it fed.

9. You don’t have to worry so much if you get disabled, scarred or old—he will love you anyway because he understands  about being different

10. Reasonable expectations about work/life balance

 

2:14 pm cdt

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