Sunday, January 30, 2011

We are What We Read

We are what we read. First of all, I Thank Jerry from Gently Said      who a couple of weeks ago posted a blurb about “The Momma Lou’s Diaries”. He included a quick link to jump directly to my post. The result was that I had more page visits than any other post that I had written. Thanks Jerry.

I was sitting at Starbucks this morning, reading the “news” and pretty soon I was thinking about a list of things that aggravated me. It seems that you can’t even go to Wendy’s without the possibility of having an all out brawl over French fries or Diet Coke. It goes on and on. This is a bunch of ba-lon-iiee, so I clicked over to my Blog Dashboard and started scrolling down the list of the people that I follow. Everyone on my list rolled through my mind like a Rollodex and each elevated my “happy thermometer”. Sometimes it seems that the happy catalysts are taken for granted and soon we are reading the opposite.

To each, I extend a Thank You. I plan to continue on both reading and posting, but I wanted to share this thought before I get back in line for a refill. Dorky you say? Ok,,,so what.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

HELP, I need HELP!!

Will someone ( If you can) please try to expalin this and ,,, well I am at a loss of how this gets on the air and a lot of other "stuff" gets canned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whadd Ya Reckon That Is?

The split rail gate gave out a crash that sounded like a clap of thunder as it slammed against the latch post.

“Dusty, all the horses have been rounded up after that horse thief tried to sell them off in Abilene .” The sun was touching the horizon as they both walked back into the bunkhouse, ready to eat some chow and get ready for a new day tomorrow.

“Now, go get in that bed, Boy. We both have a big day tomorrow.”

In the morning they were going to the river and set out some hooks. Listening to the Daddy read the pulp fiction western book had made the Boy tired and relaxed. His imagination followed every move Dusty had made chasing those horse thieves down and getting the herd of horses back to the ranch. It was time to hit the bunkhouse. Standing in front of the steel wood burning heater, one body side would get warm while the other side got cold. The secret was to turn slowly and evenly warm all sides. All toasty, it was a short run and jump across the unfinished wooden floor boards. Years of wear had rubbed the surface to a butter slick finish. The bed springs let out a creak and groan as the Boy came crashing down and scooted under the covers. The Daddy reached up and turned the switch that “cut out” the single hundred watt light bulb that hung at the end of a cloth braided electrical wire. The room went pitch black and then slowly the red glow of the coals, peeking through the damper holes in the front of the heater, radiated a warm orange glow throughout the “house” part of the log cabin.



“What are they gonna do with that horse thief?”

“Boy, get quiet and go to sleep. You ain’t gonna want to get up in the morning.”


I still believe one of the most relaxing sounds is the sound of fire burning. The crackling and the sudden flare of light as the wood opens up and falls into smaller chunks of embers. The metal wood stove was working its magic.


“What, Boy?”

“Did you throw Tom any scraps out after supper?” Tom was an old three footed tom cat that stayed around the place. He had come up and half of his left leg was missing. The Daddy said that it looked as if he had got it caught in a pretty good sized trap and the trap either cut it off or the cat chewed it off in order to free himself from it.

“Yes, why?”

“I thought I heard him squealing out in front of the porch.”

“Yep, but that ain’t Tom. I have been listening too and it ain’t Tom. It is too loud.”

It started as a deep rumble that sounded like rocks being rolled around in a hollow log, and as it continued, the sound changed into a high pitch screech that echoed across the creek branch and traveled on across the iron ore gravel road and up into The Mountain. The first volley was followed by a second, maybe louder, and then-quiet.

“Daddy, what is that racket?”

“I reckon it might be The Black Panther.”

For many years there had been stories about a black panther that roamed the river bottoms and back woods of the northern part of the country. No one had actually verified they had seen the animal. The stories were consistent in the fact there were a lot of “almost” sightings. Daytime seemed to quell the roaming of the panther. Nighttime was when it seems to emerge. One such story, a local resident was camping in the bottom and as he was coming back toward the camp from running his hooks, he heard something stalking him. As he hastened his pace so would the noise. Finally he took out in a dead run but could still hear the underbrush thrashing behind him even though he was gaining speed. He carried a two shot 32 caliber derringer pistol and he fired both barrels over his shoulder without turning to see his target. The noise stopped and when he got back to camp, it was quiet for the rest of the night. In the light of morning he retraced his trail and saw drops of blood in what he thought was the area where he fired the shots, but there was no animal.

“Will he get us?” The boy found little comfort in being inside the cabin. He had heard all the stories way before now.

“Naw, I don’t reckon. It probably smells those pork chop bones I threw out for Old Tom.”

Another blood curdling scream ripped through the night and the Daddy jumped up and flipped the switch that turned on the light for the front porch. The single shot shotgun was resting on two 16 penny nails driven into the wall over the front door. He reached and brought the gun down and took the grocery sack paper plug from the barrel. Dirt daubers can ruin a resting shotgun. A quick flick and a new shell was dropped into the chamber and the breach closed.

“Boy, light your lantern.”

A quick stroke of a kitchen match on the hot heater and the red coal oil lantern was lit.

“Now get behind me. I’m fixin’ to open the door and look outside.” For once the Boy didn’t argue.

“Hey.” The Daddy’s voice carried out into the darkness beyond the porch light. “Hen’ugh, whuoo, whuoo.”

Nothing, and then a low slight rumble.

“Get on outta hen’ugh, fore I load you up with this shotgun.” Quite again. The Boy holding tight to his position with white knuckles holding the wire bail of the coal oil lantern; a feeling of excitement in the place of fear. “Hand me you lantern, Boy.”

“What ya gonna do with it. You ain’t going out there and leave me in here, are you?”

“Naw, I’m gonna put it out on the edge of the porch. That panther won’t like the smell of coal oil burning so he will stay away. I reckon he is already gone back down in the creek bottom.” After lowering the wick and setting back the flame, he place the little red lantern at the front edge of the porch and put the four hundred and ten shotgun back over the door.

“Come here, Boy. Let me show you something.” Sunlight was streaming through the single window behind the wood stove. There was yet a smell of breakfast but morning was in full swing.

The area directly in front of the porch was a barren spot where rain washed sandy soil down from the hill and collected in a spot about twelve fee square. Right at the edge was a print, a big print. The soft and damp dirt had maintained its shape from the previous night when the animal was standing in front of the log cabin. The Daddy held his fingers outstretched with his hand hovering about the paw print. His hand could barely cover the print.

“He was a big’un. I reckon it was The Black Panther. I wish I could of got a good look at ‘em, he was a big ‘un.” The Boy could tell his Daddy was excited. “I’m gonna take this empty coffee-can and put over it so it will stay awhile until I can show folks what came to see us last night.” The old style coffee-can barely covered the track. Each time someone stopped by to see the track, everyone would start with the tales they had heard over the years. Many times the can was removed and replaced to preserve the event. Eventually the can went into the garbage heap. The print faded back into nature but the memory of the event is as fresh as the coffee that was new in that can.

“Daddy, how come you didn’t shoot that panther when you went on the front porch, that time?” The Boy now older than The Daddy of that night was running the scene through his mind.

“I was set to, if I needed to. I wasn’t going to let you be in danger, but it turned that out I didn’t have to shoot ‘em. You take something like that now, nobody heard tell that The Panther jumped on anybody. There were tales of coming close, maybe. Set your ground and hold it but if you ain’t pushed, let it be. If you’re pushed, make a good solid move. The Panther didn’t push. “

Does The Black Panther still roam the river bottoms and backwoods? Don’t ask me. Ask other folks, I know what they will tell you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"How is the Light?"

I have never been to your place. I have been to a lot of places. Even though I may not know where I am at times, I know where once I was.

I took a trip today. A danged “cold” has been kicking my rear end for about a week now. Today at lunch after eating a quick couple pieces of takeout pizza, I took an old empty box in which our new fax machine came shipped and placed a roll of paper towels on top. I had constructed a perfect ottoman. Lights off and my space heater a’hummin , I was set; I left town.

This is how I write these silly stories. To me, it is like watching an old movie. The scenes start with an opening and then play themselves out in different directions. Sometimes I have to hit the replay button just like on the DVD remote and go in a different direction, but most of the time I let it take its own path of least resistance. I have found it a little unusual since I have been aware of how this works its way through, because the trip wants to start with a straight ladder back chair with a woven rope bottom. There were two of them, but one stayed in the lean to kitchen. This one stayed in the “house”, which is the main room of the structure. You can tell this is the main room because this is where the heater is; sitting right in front of the window. An oval shaped metal wood burning heater with a six inch thin wall blue metal smoke stack that started up toward the ceiling and then made a ninety degree turn toward this only window in the “house”. One of the window lights (pane) had been removed and an exact size sheet of metal had been fastened in its place. A hole, the size of the smoke pipe’s diameter had been cut in the center of this piece of metal to serve as an insulator for the hot stove pipe. A short horizontal run and another ninety degree turn of the pipe straight up and the smoke and vent problem was solved. The “house” chair rested to the left side of the heater. I suppose the light was better because the window would be over the left shoulder and this is where Daddy would sit and read pulp fiction western books after supper while I made “busy” with my “doings”. Many years of handling that chair with calloused hands had rubbed its unpainted surface to a mirror smooth finish. The pine trees outside the window would dance in its own reflection off the flat surfaces of the ladder-stay back supports when the light was just right. I seldom, if ever, remember when the light wasn’t just right.

Heat and light seem to attract life. It pulls your attention toward its energy and then gives it back to you. To me, there are many trips originating from that heater and small one hundred watt light bulb. This has not been the trip I took when today I put my feet up on that homemade ottoman, but as I alluded in some form or another, it started here. Where, often determines in which direction our journey begins and how or where it ends. Those trips will be forthcoming , if the light is just right and I seldom, if ever, remember when the light wasn’t just right.

My infant bathtub, salvaged from the era.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Momma Lou Diaries - "It'll Be Aw'right Honey"


"It'll Be Aw'right Honey"

Sometimes we see what we ain’t seeing. Now that makes perfect sense if you can see what I am saying. See what I mean? One thing that is easy to see is that when something needs tending to my sisters and I are quick to jump in and help one another out. What ain’t easy to see, sometimes, is what is being helped.

Daddy, also known as Paw Paw, depending on who read what and when, and where while I was writing about him, was spending a few days in the hospital for some tests. It was one of those trips that didn’t require any of us to “sit up” with him all night, but the three sisters and I had been there a few hours and visiting hours were about over. Any one of us has ever been bad to miss an opportunity to gather up and go out to eat at some restaurant, so we decided that a local Denny’s type place would fit our needs. It really didn’t matter much because we didn’t have much to choose from in the small town.

It was kind of late spring, maybe getting close to summer and the temperature was mild that night. I remember all this because this is the weather where my standard fashion attire is a jungle shirt and cargo shorts. I don’t like being bound up in warm weather. It had slacked off raining a little bit but it had been raining for days. The stormy part of spring had passed and these were what we called early summer “shauers”. The water could soak in the ground before it ran off to the ditches and low places. St. Augustine grass especially loves lots of water. It makes their “shoots” run wild and spread along the top of loose sandy East Texas dirt. The grass was happy because the ground was saturated.

My sisters are loud, particularly Momma Lou. Well her name is Brenda Lou so you can see the connection. She and the other two were standing in the lobby and had been waiting for the rain to let up. I think it was Mary Ann, who said,

“Carolyn Mae, why don’t me and you ride together down to The Star grill and Glenn Bert can bring Brenda Lou with him.”

I didn’t want to bother all the sick folks with any other commotion and I was ready to get out of there so no one would have any further suggestions. Mary Ann and Carolyn Mae took off and I stuck my head back in Paw Paw’s room for a last check to make sure he was doing all right. In that couple of minutes the dad gum rain started back up and Brenda Lou was hollering about “let’s go.” She is loud a plenty and she loves to laugh. I have never seen anyone who got any more enjoyment out of a loud laugh than Momma Lou.

“Come on, get your ass in gear. I don’t want to get drowned.” She was holding the lobby door open while standing out in the covered breeze way.

“Aw’right, you stay here under the awning and I will go get the car. I will run down there so I won’t get wet.”

“You take all night, but you’re gonna get your ass wet.”

“No, I ain’t. I’m fixin’ to be quick about it.”

The sidewalk ran next to the driveway down to the asphalt parking lot. It was forty or fifty yards from the covered awning to the edge of the parking lot and the car was only one row past that so this was going to be a snap. It was going downhill at a pretty steep decline and this was going to work in my favor. Sometimes, here in East Texas, in the blink of a eye a down pour will just fall out of the sky. This was one of those times. Almost instantly, the side walk was a small river about two inches deep but there was a patch of St. Augustine grass between the sidewalk and the brick wall of the hospital.

“You’re gonna get drenched,” laughed Momma Lou. She was already wound up and excited to see me have to run through that river of rain water. There ain’t nothing she likes better than to see me have to wiggle out of a tight spot.

“Hell no, I ain’t even gonna get my feet wet. I am gonna stay on the grass.” I took off hell bent for which a way. Once upon a time I ran track and could keep a pretty strong stride. This was going to be a breeze.

“Watch this.”

Spitter spatter, spitter spatter

“Ohhhh Sheeeeeee- eeeiiiittt!” About the fifth step, I hit a soggy spot. It was ok with me that my tennis shoe went out of sight down into the mud but it didn’t hang tight. I gave it the gas with that foot before it had time to sink further into the Texas mud. Equal and opposite reaction, I know, but what happens if there is no friction. My leg shot backward and my body kept its journey forward. Off balance I took another step and my legs finally got back under my ass but they forgot to stop their and suddenly they were out front. No don’t fall backwards on your butt! My mind was screaming silent coaching tips to my torso.

“EEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHaaaaaaaEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHaaaaaaa!” Momma Lou lit up the rainy dark sky. She was going to get a show. She sounded like a siren.

Slow down feet. Let my lard ass catch up and balance out. I ant’t falling flat of my back. Ahh , here we go, straight upright again.

“WoooooHHHOOOOOO Haaaaaaaaa.” Momma Lou was about to lose her breath. “HHHHEEEEE,,,ArrrkkkArrrrkkHHarrrkkkkk, Cough Cough,,, EEEEEEEAAAAAAAaaaaa!”

Come on feet, extra push here.

Right foot, extra thrust, this was going to work. Leg muscles gliding like a well oiled machine, it started on its backward journey. See, I told you this would work. My right leg now fully extended rearward; my left one hesitated. My body’s algebraic formula was somehow out of equilibrium. My upper body was still headed way to forward. It was inevitable, I was headed earthward; the question was, how am I going to be graceful about this?

I suppose every kid has had or wanted one of those lawn water “slicky slides”. I never had one of those but it always seemed like it would be fun. Now was the time to try out my technique. I was already headed forward and it was simply a case of assuming the Super Man stance with hands extended forward and jump. The ground was soft and the mud was “slicky” and downhill. My forward speed caused the splash to be minimal but the hyrofication and saturation of the St. Augustine grass covered soil permitted the maximum speed of my forward progress. Water and mud was spraying to each side looking like that antique Chris Craft speed boat cutting thought the waves at Lake Forest Park Lake. Two different times I had to wipe the mud from my glasses because I knew there was a concrete parking bumper at the end of my runway and I wanted to see what might happen. The hedge bushes were flying by like a picket fence. I once thought that I would reach out and grab one for braking purposes but I had to wipe my glasses again.

Whhoooooohhhoooooooo HHHHaaaaaHHHeeeeeee Hhhheeeeeeeeeee,,,, Shhhheeeeeeiiiiuuuuuttt. Momma Lou was coming unlatched. What the ffffffuuuuhhhhhhhheeeeeeee Heeeeeee… OOOhhhhh myyyyyy Loooooorrrrrddddyyyy.

I ain’t never going to live this down. Where the hell is that parking bumper? Oh, there it is. Spit, spit, spit. Damn mud. I should be slowing down by now. Picket fence Picket fence. I am headed right toward that parking bumper. Dig in with your left toe. I was talking to myself now, but I did just that; works just like a boat rudder, I was veering to the left.

“Goooooo Glenn Bert, you silly shit.”, OOOhhhhhhhh hhhehh Heeeeeee.

I stopped. The black asphalt and concrete parking bumper gave my hands a firm foundation in order to stand myself up right. I slowly cleaned my glasses with my finger one more time as I turned and looked back up the hill to where Momma Lou was standing. She was leaning over with her arms and face resting on a brick wall that bordered the covered area. I could hear here spewing and huffing from all the way where I stood. She looked up just in time for me to flash the international hand sign for “I ain’t happy” and after catching a quick breath, put her head back down on her arms and continued with her wailing. I turned and headed for the car.

“It’s aw’right Honey. It aint as bad as it seems right now.” Momma Lou had gained a supporter. An elderly gentleman walked outside from the lobby and came across a scene of wailing and carrying on like he had never seen or heard tell of. He was surely anguished by the misfortune that had fallen upon Momma Lou. It wasn’t Momma Lou’s misfortune that had come crashing down, but she was having a hell’uv a time trying to get the nice man to understand just what the predicament was.

Wheezing, “Ohhh my Gauwddddd, Ohh me. I can’t breathe. Lorrddyyy help me breath.”

“Oh Honey, just try to relax, I promise it will turn out better than you think.”

“Nooo Nooo,” with a limp wrist wave of her arm and partially extended pointing finger she tried in vain to give the nice gentleman an idea of the calamity.

“Oh yes, tomorrow the sun will bring a brighter and better day.” With hands clasped and a most solemn look, he stood as a picture book perfect statue of concern and caring.

Through streaming tears a quizzical response, “ what the h…” Heeeyyyyyyaaaahhh shheeeeaaaattt… pointing was being wasted.

“Oh myyyy you poor thing.”

In all honesty I have never seen more concern on the face of an individual. I think he would have been taken from us himself if I had not pulled up into the covered area of the drive way at that very moment.

“Get your butt in the car.” I pushed open the passenger car door and Momma Lou fell into the front seat, heaving and gasping for air.

“Ohhhh Myyyy,, hehehehe, wadden gonna get wet. AAAahhhhmmmeee.”

A look of confusion overtook the sympathetic and caring stranger.

“Shut the door, and don’t you go telling Mary and Carolyn about this, act like nothing ever happened.”

I shouldn’t have said that.  As I “peeled” away into the night, the windows of that 1983 Chevrolet Caprice rattled for fifteen solid minutes and she ain’t let me forget this episode ‘till yet.