A Hole In One

Out he went with his dream to make the changes

And strapped to his waist was the old 45.

The star he wore was made of tin but his heart was gold

And from that heart his dream stayed alive.

But on that day when the sun stood still and the birds ceased their song

He drew that old black powder Colt a millisecond too long.

Oh it discharged a chunk of lead alright, about 250 grain,

But after one small ricochet it landed in his brain.

The whole town mourned for weeks and weeks o’er the grave up on boot hill,

“Here lies the man with heart of gold, and head with leaden pill.”

He may have been right you know, his heart and all that stuff,

But being the fastest draw in the West does not mean you’re so tuff.

He should made the ones he loved a safe place for to lodge,

Instead he spent his days in the sheriffs office in the the city they call “Dodge”.

Dodge he did, all his life, the bullets, cursings, kids and wife.

He was was known for keeping law, but his home was always absent, “Paw”.

 

 

Read This

Read this because you’re the type of person who appreciates writing. Go ahead and share it and recommend it to someone else who is kinda like you.  You know who I mean: the guy who hides behind the screen he writes on;  The girl who is secretly depressed and agitated about how small they feel in such a big writing community with its own stars.  Those people who are repulsed at the actors, writers and pontifical people who pat each other on the back with golden awards for who shines brightest.

Yup.  We cower in their shadows as they go on to fame and fortune while all you want to do is be heard and appreciated.  Don’t be disappointed, you are who you are and your work is your work no matter how the rest of the world responds to you and it. Keep creating and writing for it is an extension of yourself and you are valuable.

There’s a portion of us who think we have answers to difficult questions.  Some of us like to tell the world where we have been.  Others like to share their knowledge and accomplishments.  The reason we do is we are created ourselves, and the work of One who also desires to be noticed and appreciated.  Yet, He doesn’t need any of us to survive. He doesn’t survive at all, instead He is Life and Life is self-existent in and of Himself.  We have been told we are created in His image, so we are very much like Him, but corrupted by a sick, self-absorbed role model called “humanity.”

Some years ago a song written by a favorite artist caught my attention:

RANDY STONEHILL
Through The Glass Darkly

I heard God was at the Palace doing a one night stand
So I went out there to see Him with my hope in my hand
He was just a boy of fifteen without much to say
And when he started signing autographs I walked away

I was standing on a corner by the marketplace
When a fellow with some leaflets shoved one right in my face
Well he poked me with His Bible like it was a loaded gun
And I said whatever it is you’re selling man I don’t want none

All our superstar are suicidal casualties
And our heroes die in motel rooms and motorcades
Oh it seems like all out dreams are only fantasies
And I wonder if we’ll learn from the mistakes we’ve made

I bumped into Mr. Jimi at a London hotel
And he said let’s get together but he didn’t look well
When I woke up in the morning all the papers read
Jimi Hendrix overdosed last night in bed

All our superstar are suicidal casualties
And our heroes die in motel rooms and motorcades
Oh it seems like all out dreams turn into tragedies
And i wonder if we’ll learn from the mistakes we’ve made

Now I’m waiting at the bus stop for the bus to arrive
And I know there must be more to life than staying alive
Well I don’t know where I’m going when I climb in
But it can’t be any emptier than where I’ve been

     Ah, yes.  Randy has nailed it.  The world looks to super-stars that always become falling stars.  We give them our ears, eyes, time and money.  We sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the next movie surprised to find out that one of the stars had to be computer generated because they perished due to reckless living.  Instead of learning from their mistakes we make them gods and goddesses.  We continue to worship at the throne of popular opinion rather than truth.
     Some of us have drawn back.  We know we are failures and keep working so others do not make the same mistakes.  We want to share the beauty of life, the wonderful & limited gift we all share in this world.
     Some have plumbed the depths and reached for beyond the stars;  some have looked inward a far as the microscope will allow and have drawn two diverse conclusions: 1) Mankind is an amazing cosmic mystery having chance as it’s origin, and we are progressing toward perfection, or 2) Mankind is the creative result of  Divine Artist and we fail to see His signature in ourselves, and hence are degenerating.
     While the media continues to generate myths and legends out of humans with smoke and mirrors, let’s continue to create the reality of life and artistry at it’s best.  Hopefully, we will be able to give the greatest worship and accolades to the One who made us this way.
     I know you may not agree with my conclusions and that is okay.  You may feel all alone in your work and believe no one understands.  Let me challenge you to have another look.  The world with its hard work and coldness has grandeur and beauty.  Stop often and be amazed.  Tell us about it.  We already know about the hatred, the death, the sickness, and degradation.  Paint your world with the Creator’s heart in mind.  Find Him and you will find faith, hope and love.  Do you really need anything else?

 

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The Intimate Sky

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Can the sunset see us here below

As it shadows the hollows and woodland?

Does it mate with evening and give birth

To midnight’s coal dark sky?

Does it blush with scarlet hues

Because we see the sky’s intimate love song

And hear the Katydid’s soliloquies of end of day?

As stars commence to dance above

And the moon strokes it’s fiddle,

I never cease to be amazed

At eventide’s conception.

When I Rise

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In the morning when I rise,

Squinting through my sleepy eyes,

The last thing I want to see

Is this person staring back at me.

His hair sticks up in every way

From products smeared in yesterday,

The lines I note along his face

Seem bilateral and all in place,

But nonetheless I am not thrilled

To find myself so over-the-hill.

But ever since I was a kid

I tried real hard to win the bid

Of being the oldest of my piers,

And now instead of being cheered

My morning face is what I fear!

 

 

Tomorrow in the Woods

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For all the times I tramped the woods I seldom come away the same.  The same woods, the same paths and a different perspective.  A small bird landing near my stand can make all the difference.  A pair of red fox following one another softly on the trail ahead in search of something known only to them, but nonetheless united in purpose.  Perhaps a rotting stump presents my eye with a strange shape that causes me to climb down and see it closer.

The smell of frosted leaves and the sound of them falling gently to the forest floor; the color of the evening sky settling in the west; the fawn color of a young doe and the grey face of its mother all give texture to dreams I have for tomorrow’s day afield.  It will be cool, clear and the weight of my 45 caliber hawken will weary my arms as a young child wearies the arms of his father. I proudly, carefully carry it.

For a few hours I will join thoughts with men who years before me sought for meat on the pole.  I will smile as they did when the sun finally rises in the east & its warmth fall on my reddened cheeks.

I see the deer appear like ghosts through the opaque tree trunks just 100 yards away.  They know I’m in their kitchen but not sure where.  I raise the old rifle and fix sights on a doe.  She is sniffing the air and looking my direction.  She freezes, then paws the ground, looks away briefly and then back toward me.  As I draw the hammer back her ears perk and a host of white tails flag me “good-bye”.

I am relieved.  Hunting season does not require blood on the ground, just a return to roots planted deep in the soil of Pennsylvania.  An early rise, a walk in the woods and a picture painted on my mind for years to come.

Dad would have loved it.  I feel him beside me sometimes especially when I reach in my pocket for a licorice nip.  The smell of wool and canvas clothes that hung in the garage all Summer are like the smell of fresh earth to a farmer: life-giving and full of heritage.  I have had many tomorrows in the woods.

Be the Balm

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I have an itchy, scaly scalp: dermatitis technically.  I know you are repulsed to hear my deep dark secret that I have hidden for years.  This is not a crippling or life-threatening disease but it has lasted for a decade and I am tired of it.  I have tried medical prescriptions,  apple cider vinegar, olive oil, Vicks, Lucky Tiger Salve, and everything short of 10w30 to relieve the scabby, scaly, snowdrift that covers my topknot.

Today I tried something new called “beard balm”.  Truly, a millennial market has inspired this product as the younger set is into looking dapper with whiskers.  A nice change from my generation of burly, mountain man, rock & roll freaks with hair everywhere and now that we are old, in our ears, nose, and places we never dreamed of complete with dermatitis.

I’m over it for years.  My hair is short and my beard only ever gets an inch long before it is trimmed.  I like being well-groomed, or should I say well… groomed.  Beard balm smells wonderful & it is a combination of bees wax and natural oils that leaves your beard manageable, and for me who puts it in his hair, the itch seems relieved for the moment and I am a happy camper.  I feel like one of the girls I see on the hair product commercials; if only I could swing my hair and beard slowly in the air as they do.  Sigh.

Anyway, what I know is that the dermatitis remains & it is just soothed momentarily until the balm wears off.  In the meantime I plan to enjoy the outdoorsy smell beneath my nose and the well-groomed look of the man in the top hat, minus the coat & tails.  Thank you millennials for restoring my faith in the barber shop and all that.  It has given way to a bunch of guys who for years wanted to cut their hair and look nice, but for fear of being uncool put up with the Duck Dynasty look.

But you know we all struggle with the itch.  If not dermatitis, the falseness of having to be like everyone else in order to be independent.  Talk about an oxymoron!  Have you noticed that we seldom do things just because we want to, but because everyone else does it (trends).  When I was thirty the only people with tattoos were vets and gang members, now the minority is tattooless.  Same goes for hair color: women seldom got their hair dyed because it was so “noticeable” that you were trying to hide something.  Today even children get their hair colored.  Then there’s piercings, need I say more?!

I have started a trend by putting beard balm on my head.  Only I have done this, no one else.  Thus far I claim my independent look and smell from all the other geeks.  I am the originator of scalp-balming.  If ever you hear of someone else doing this I WANT FULL CREDIT.  I shall call it “woodticledness”.  People will see and smell you coming and say, “O wow, he’s into the woodtic thing: that is so boss!”

No tattoos; no piercings; no hair color; just beard balm on the head.  So cool.  Get it now while it still a show of your uniqueness.  Be woodtic.  Be the balm.

Old Things

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Life is good and it has hidden agendas picked out special just for me.  This picture of me and my beloved wife Susan, expresses this perfectly.  If you’re a sleuth of sorts you will notice a couple of things about this pic.  First you will see it is Christmas in front of the fireplace, and next notice I am receiving a kiss with a sly smile on my face.  This could mean many things and could be the result of any series of events that lead to “the smootch.”  Honestly, I do not remember the exact details but what I see makes me smile every time I look at this.

Sue you see, is not big on jewelry or perfume, nor does she desire to go on a cruise or visit Paris.  What thrills her heart is some little antiquated thing that takes her back to a time when life was simpler.  Simpler and harder, but much easier to define.  This particular Christmas a nut chopper, and revolving cookie cutter were among the items found beneath the tree.  Now understand there were other things to compliment these but antique kitchen utensils scored this kiss.

Our house is full of old stuff that many people pass by or even throw away.  These were owned by people who made a living instead of making money.  They grew their own food or shopped for it on Market Street, milked their cow or had milk delivered once a week in glass bottles.  They knew the value of their neighbor and treated him with respect knowing that the harvest may involve his help and his may involve them.  The little antiques were held in worn hands as smiling eyes anticipated the things they would produce from a day’s labor.  Truly, these people earned their keep.

There’s a little verse of Scripture that expresses this so well.  It is a favorite with many but few understand its context.  It goes like this:

Psalm 126:5,6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

In the day it was written the harvest brought in the wheat seeds that the family used to make bread, but it was the same seed at the time of sowing (planting) that was put in the ground.  By the time Spring arrived the seed harvested from the Fall was almost gone.  So the farmer had to plant seeds that would normally feed his family.  What a hard thing to do, knowing that the seed he had stored up would have to last all Summer long, and now here he was scattering it on the soil.  No wonder they cried, this was their living!

It is easy to see that “making a living” is not the same as making money.  There are times when resources are few even though money is available and even abundant.  No wonder Paul tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, for it takes away our faith in the Great Provider who nourishes the earth & waters it.  Man has learned to live without God and now carries an idol in his pocket called a “wallet” which carried its demi-god the “credit card”.  I have these, just like you, but know my life is so much more valuable than what these can secure.  So, God be thanked.

However, there is more to this blog than meets the eye.  I’m not focused on money as the subject, but people.  The generation before me was greater than my generation because it lived to give me the life I now live.  They sacrificed so much to secure our freedoms and prosper our lives with their love.  Yes they were tough, old fashioned, and if still alive, perhaps grouchy or withdrawn. But they knew how to live without and make do with what they had.

My Father traveled around the world and got to see the South Pacific but he wasn’t on a cruise: he was on the U.S.S. President Adams.  My mother never got her cruise but she continually travels at 93 years old: she travels back to a time when they saved soap slivers and used tin foil.  She travels to the bench of an old farm wagon that took her to church with other youth from “the Valley” where she grew up.  Her parents worked the soil, mined the coal and ran the sawmill that led to my Grandfather’s early death.

Maybe you have the opportunity of knowing one who lives in the past and endures the present.  Don’t pass them by like an old cookie cutter at a flea market.  These people have value beyond all the gold in Fort Knox.  Old things have value that inspire love in the heart.  Treasure them, bless them & talk to them.  You may even get a kiss.

 

Farmall Cub

Today I took a day off and puttered around the place.  This means I am busy doing the things I’d really like to do when I’m not at the church.  I attempted to fix a tail light on our Trailblazer only to find it needed some new electronic parts.  E-bay found the stuff and now I wait for the mailman to deliver.

I patched up our beater car where it had rotted out above the passenger rear wheel well, built a little fire in the fire ring, watched a few out-doorsy woodworking videos and fell asleep on the chair.  This is the goal of course for a man my age, at home, alone & off for the day.

When I awoke from my slumber the trees were blowing in the 80 degree breeze & I thought, “This would be a good day to work on the Cub”.  So off I went to the shed to open the doors exposing the little red artifact built sometime around the late 40’s.

Little Farmall tractors have a great personality that takes us back to simpler times.  Times when men woke before daybreak and worked the field until sundown.  Times when the sunrise meant a hearty breakfast served by a lovely wife who would later massage your tired shoulders with liniment.  Times when the smell of the soil and the mid-day sun combined to invigorate the soul of the farmer.  Times when equipment like this little tractor were purchased by the well-deserved dollars earned by men with hands the likes of shoe leather.  Yes, those were the days I remember as a lad standing by and watching the greatest generation paint the emotional canvas of my life with a backdrop of chugging engines, pipe smoke and conversations about hunts that would make Fred Bear jealous.

Of course my memory is selective & jaded.

I keep going back there.  Boy do I miss those guys.  None of them cared if I came along to the garage or the workshop.  My uncle would pick me up in his 55 F100 on his way home from the coal hole he worked in the mountain.  He’d save half a sandwich for me and I’d chomp it down thinking I was eating a coal miner’s lunch, just like him.  He’d take me to his basement and we’d make something at the workbench: anything, as long as it was there at his place with him, that’s all that mattered.

I had no idea how fortunate I was.  My Dad would take me with him to see his old buddies he’d grown up with.  They grew up together, went to school together, lied about their age and went to war together, and if they made it back alive they were friends until the day they died.  Some smoked, some chewed, some used words Dad told me never to say, but I knew if ever I needed anything any of these men would be there to protect me, show me how, or take me along to wherever they were going.

Friends are hard to keep nowadays. If they find out you voted the wrong way you’re an enemy.  If you commented honestly on their Facebook page they unfriend you.  If you have opinions about social issues that differ from them, you’re a hater, or a liberal, or some intolerant creature from the Black Lagoon.  Very few of them have Farmall Cubs & I believe that is the problem. Everyone should have a piece of the past that takes them to a place that no longer exists, but reminds them of a better time.  How blessed I am!

Just so you know, I can’t get it started, so I came inside and blogged. My Dad didn’t have choices like this.  If it didn’t start, he’d have to find a way to either get it going or do the job some other way.  His day off was Sunday which was reserved only for worship and family.  He could not quit, go inside & blog.  He didn’t have 100 television channels.  His tools were not a collection on display, but well-used instruments that always “made it work”.

He’s gone.  Uncle Rich is gone.  Pap-pap died long ago.  All Dad’s buddies, one by one left their medals, guns, and tools to next of kin.  You can find them at the flea market in a box, or at best in an antique shop or museum.  But by golly, I got the little farmall and some memories that keep them alive.  I’m not letting them go; sometimes their the best friends I have.