Sunday, April 21, 2019

My God

I tried to find God in church today but failed.

On the anniversary of his resurrection, I wondered why he didn't protect those kids from those priests
Why has God allowed this to happen?
I've been having this communication break down with him lately and today only proved to me that God isn't necessarily in the church, God can be anywhere. I certainly don't feel close to him in the Catholic Church.

Here is where I looked for God today. I caught a glimpse of Him but I am looking to communicate with him at a later time I guess.






lazy day, dream your life away...

this tree looked like it knew it was going to die. Panic stricken.


awesome, let's go fishing...

uhhhh, let's wait

some equestrians embarking on a journey

one hell of a trail, I'd say.

I have no problems with horses, I love them, two were my best friend growing up but the damage done to the trail is hard to figure. The hooves of the horses dig so far into the mud, it makes the trail impassible. like this one.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Father and Son


"Well I walk the road of life among the strong, among the weak 
And I ask them for the shortcut to the answers that I seek 
But it seems nobody understands what is and what will be 
Oh, the questions of my childhood weave a web of mystery..."      Kansas    1976 

 
my father and his mother

Hard to believe my father would be 113 this year. 
I've decided to post a few things this father's day to rid myself of the stink I've put on him. I don't think my father liked kids much. The impression I get when I talk to my older brother (who is in his 80s) is that dad didn't like him much either. I know one thing, I didn't know him. 
At all.

My father was much older than most kids fathers.
My dad was confused for my grandfather on many occasions (that is when we ever did anything together.)
My dad had a family many years previous to the second family he raised but he didn't raise them. According to my older half brother (who is now 86), my dad walked out on them very early in their lives. Apparently he was told some story about my dad needing to move to the southwest due to his allergies. 
Anyway, it was many years before they saw each other again.
my father as a young married man (top row)

I know for a fact however, how much my father loved the women of his sons. He adored my brothers wives and mine, too. I remember when I first decided to leave the factory and follow my dream to be a "DJ". It was something that my father couldn't understand.
Follow your dream?
I think my dad in his early life did what his dad told him to do. A lot. He expected the same in return and when he got me the job at the factory, I think he thought it was going to be a forever deal. But, I wanted to be on the radio and he was absolutely furious and when my wife and I split over this decision, I swear to God, he sided with her.


One day, somewhere around 1930, in the middle of the depression, my dad took off from Chicago to LA to "find himself" as my brother told me. He left behind a family(a wife and two kids) in Chicago. He never went back to them. My older brother, who I visited in Spokane a few years ago said his mom told him my dad left for Arizona because of his "allergies". My father was allergic to poison ivy and that was it. When I went out to visit my brother Adam, (who as a priest fell in love with a nun and they both received personal dispensation from the Pope), his first remark to me was, "I hope you're not here to learn about dad, because I didn't know him, either".
Great.

Meanwhile the story of my mother and father getting together is pretty silly and involves a very drunk Friday night at the Little Cow Bell tap in downtown East Moline.
According to my mother, he was at the bar getting a cocktail after work (my dad was a machinist at International Harvester which was right down the street). My mother thought he was gorgeous and after a few herself walked over and said hello. For the few of you that knew my mother, this is not unnatural for her, she always had very large balls. After a bit of small talk, my dad said something about having to use the restroom and my mother offered her pocket. (?) She said she was feeling no pain at that time and well, apparently wasn't.
He accepted her offer.
She went home with him that night, 6 months later they were married and 9 months after that night, my brother was born.
Fertile combination.
According to mom, it didn't go very smoothly after that and they split for awhile, but reconciled.
8 years after my brother made his entrance, I came along and three years after that, so did my sister. 

My dad was raised by a pretty tough guy in rural Kentucky, where I am sure it was a sign of weakness to show emotion. He showed very little.
I saw him cry only twice, once when my brother left for Vietnam and the other time was when my sister told him she was pregnant at fifteen.
He was a very responsible man with a great deal of common sense. He managed the finances so well, there was a mortgage burning party well before the mortgage was due. He did the same job, night after night after night from 3 pm  to 11 pm. He never called in sick. Ever.
Working those hours suited him fine and I think he actually turned down opportunities to work days. See, he would have to be a father and actually make up excuses on why he couldn't spend time with his kids. Through all five of his kids, I think the underlying thought was my dad probably should not have had kids. We're very glad he did of course but it just seemed like he couldn't be bothered by the whole thing. He never went to any of my brothers extracurricular activities, nor mine, nor my sisters. He had to work, which became a great excuse.
dad in LA
When my dad left his first family, mom told me he went west, to L. A. he was a bit of a wanderlust in his early years as he was a port detective and a longshoreman  among many other jobs he held. He was also a very fine amateur golden gloves fighter there too.
I can only imagine my dad as a young man, because I didn't "know" him until he was 51.
His family harvested hemp in Kentucky and did very well by it. They lived in a very antebellum type setting and had black people for servants. My father made sure everyone new they were NOT slaves, as they could come and go as they pleased, had their own quarters and were very well treated, almost like members of the family. He was quite fond of a young black man that took care of him and his siblings. 

Hemp was outlawed in 1937 and sent my family into a tailspin financially. Too bad it was outlawed back then, I certainly would be in a different tax bracket now.
Oh well.

My father's family hated my mother, too. She was a "floozy". She lacked the proper attributes for being a "lady". She did, however get along with my fathers mother, who, in her day was a stunning woman. Granny did not come from wealth but married into it. She could see the tough, scrappy person in my mother and maybe recognized her as being of a familiar ilk.  I think my mom and my dad's mom were tough, stubborn southern broads who took no shit from anyone. I only remember her as being very old. She died in 1967 at the age of 88.
Charles, Bette, Wilbur and dad surrounding Granny. I adored her, Bette, not so much.
I also think my grandfather was extremely hard on my dad. I think grandpa (who died in 1953 of a heart at the age of 65) was a stern, serious man. There was very little humor in that household as each of my dad's siblings were dry as toast, except his sister, who was one of the most hateful, profane woman I have ever known. She showed outward disgust for us kids. She was a smoking, drinking, swearing almost evil person who was married to the person rumored to have been intimate with my mom. Hell, I don't blame him. I hated Aunt Bette and dad's brothers were...old.
my grandfather and his sons
When my dad came back to the Quad City area from L. A., he came back to a much different reality. Things were not as he left, so he went to work at International Harvester and stayed there for almost 30 years.
Enter my mother and her pocket.

One of my very first and most vivid memory of him was when we lived on 2rd street court in East Moline. The street was a court where it would connect to third street (later Kennedy Drive) on the north and south sides. There was a small grocery store that faced the road. This was where the bus stop was and for some reason the local hang out where kids would gather. When I was about 6 or 7, I got a brand new bike and was quite anxious to go ride it.
My father assembled it and said, "whatever you do, don't go out on the highway." "Understand?"
I nodded my head in agreement and made a beeline for the highway (Kennedy Drive). I was free and therefore, I was going to ride to Carl E. Mitchell Park and ride down the steep hill that was there with the big kids. I got to the park, waited my turn and rode the bike straight down into a ravine, then proceeded to hit a rut and take a head first dive over the handlebars going really fast. Even at that early age, when I did that, I knew that I was about to get really hurt.
I did.
I saw the black lights that Muhammad Ali talked about seeing and I will never forget them. 
I remember being very woozy and having the older kids stand over me and ask if I was alright. One girl wanted to take me to the hospital.
Oh no, that wouldn't be happening. I dusted myself off, grabbed  my bike, which was all bent up and decided to walk home while collecting my wits about me.
When I came in the front door, he was waiting for me.
Apparently, he looked out the window and saw me head straight for the highway.
I had never seen that look on his face before.
Blind rage.
He grabbed me, took me downstairs in the basement and proceeded to beat me mercilessly.
He pulled my pants down, took off his belt and beat me so hard with the buckle that I couldn't breathe. After getting hurt in the fall on the bike I came home to this. He kept hitting me until I bled. My mother grabbed him and screamed at him hysterically..."Guy, Guy…Stop...Stop..."
She took the belt from him, stuck it in his face and screamed at the top of her lungs..."YOU WILL NEVER! EVER! HIT HIM AGAIN LIKE THAT! NEVER! and just exploded with rage and frustration. My mother was on the other end of those beatings by her father and that was it. No more. After had been defeated first by my bike and then by my father, I went into my room and stayed there for the rest of the day. I still remember how incredibly humiliated, how hurt I was mentally and physically  defeated I felt.
At 8.
It shaped the rest of my life.

My father and mother never showed any kind of affection. I never saw them kiss each other and never can remember them holding hands or dancing or...anything like that. The old guy was 51 when I was born and 53 when my sister arrived. Needless to say, we had very little in common. I think he deliberately chose the second shift because it kept him away from us. He never attended a sporting event that his kids were in, never went to a play, never showed much of an interest in anything that concerned his kids. I remember one little league game where I caused the winning run to score. I was crying about it when I got home and his response was ..."well, quit then, shit." So, I did. 
He never pushed me to be good in school, never inquired about my grades. I never got it.
I wonder if having kids so late in life caused him to be disinterested or what. I know for a fact that my mom cheated on him. We were cruising along one day and then, out of the blue, when I was ten, we move 500 miles away to a farm. And stay there. 
Something happened and my theory is this. My father got to an age where he couldn't perform. My mother, being 21 years younger than him, is not going to go the rest of her life without sex. She was a very sexual woman and even as a kid, I could sense that. I also think it was with a family member (by marriage) and my dad found out. So, we were sent away, which seemed to be the way my dad dealt with stuff. Just leave.

My dad was a fair man although his definition of fair is still being debated. He had an underlying feeling that us kids were pretty much unable to be much. I think we were in the way. He didn't have much patience for the nuances of everyday fatherhood. He didn't understand the passion and love I had for a)radio and b)basketball, even though he had to have applied the same principles in boxing. He forced me to quit going to radio school when I was sixteen because he thought there were better ways to spend my money. I was even paying for it. I worked steadily and regularly through high school with sometimes three jobs going on at once. I got that from him. I've always worked hard and have his work ethic.

I never ever saw him look at my mother the way a husband should look. I never saw them go out to dinner. I never saw them do something fun together. I never saw them laugh. I never saw them connect. I never heard him tell her he loved her.

One thing my father gave me was toughness. I have walked through some of the more dangerous, more terrifying mine fields this life has to offer. I've been sick, I've lost everything and gained it back, I've broken hearts and had mine broken. I've lost just about everyone in my family. And I'm still here. So, while my father never really showed much emotion, he seemed to have answers to everything. He could figure out a way to get something done and if that didn't work, he would have a plan B set up.


My father loved to bowl, but at best he was very average. He was consistent with about a 163 average or so. He was the treasurer of his blowing league on Sunday nights and I became fluent in finding averages at a very early age. He was the guy that posted the up to date league standings and current averages of every bowler on the league.
Damn those Sunday nights. 
little mascots for my dad's bowling league

Every freaking Sunday night during the league we went to Sam's Highland Park Bowl in Moline where my father and his friends would drink, bowl and cuss. There were guys like Smokey Baugher whom I hated because every damn time I saw him he twisted my nipples. What the  fuck was that about? Why did guys do that back then? I hated that. There was "Red" Green. His last name was Green and he had freckles so... There was no option of a baby sitter then, so my sister and I would go EVERY Sunday night during the winter and almost choke to death on cigarette smoke. But there was dad, chugging away always somewhere in the middle of the pack. These guys were my Dad's age and my dad was just about the only guy who had his kids come with them, I'm guessing the other guys' kids were already on their own.

My mother's family didn't care for my dad. I used to win trivia by saying I have a father older than my grandmother. How does that happen? Usually the kids would wonder and not come up with the answer. My dad was 9 months older than my mom's mother. I don't think her or my grandfather ever got over that. My mom's brother Ray especially didn't care for my dad and he was a bad ass who has probably, no,  has certainly killed someone.

We moved a lot between Ava MO and East Moline.
When we first moved there in 1966, the farm was myself, my sister, my mother, grandfather and grandmother. Four miles east of Ava, Mo off county road FF. My older brother was there for a short time, became small town restless and bored and got caught breaking and entering into the drug store in town. That's one early Saturday morning I'd like to forget. What to do? Dad's 500 miles away, so they make a plea deal where my brother went into the Army. Shit. Great. It's only friggin 1966. Viet Nam was getting to be a pretty popular name back then. 
After being on the farm for a year and a half, we moved to Campbell's Island, probably inhabited by some of the most feared, bad ass guys ever. The Cannibal's Island" moniker was no joke. We went from the sprawling farm to an 800 square foot bungalow pretty close to the river. We stayed there long enough for something to happen again, and for us kids along with mom, to be shuffled off to the farm for our second "tour of duty." We had a 159 acre farm 4 miles outside of Ava on a winding dirt road. When my dad decided to retire, he finally bought the house in Ava and we moved back there in early 1968. I never felt so isolated as I did on that farm. It was a working farm, too. We had cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses and acres of planted food. August and September were "canning" months and us kids worked like dogs in the field for no money other than an allowance each week. He bought the house, but allowed my uncle Ray to live there for awhile before we took possession. Ray destroyed the house. I remember walking into the house to take it over and there was human shit everywhere. The place was a wreck, I remember specifically because it made my mom break down in tears.
We cleaned it up, dad rehabbed it (as always) and we made a home of it.
before dad got a hold of the house

his "after" work

One afternoon, I was in the kitchen, Ray and dad were having a discussion out in the front yard when all of a sudden, Ray cold cocked my dad. Out of left field, out of nowhere, Ray hit him right in the face. My dad went down and all of a sudden, I had empathy for him. He didn't deserve that. I ran out but there wasn't much a 13 year old kid could do but keep him off my dad. About two weeks later, my father had a massive heart attack and in the middle of the night, we had to drive the 60 miles to Springfield to get him help. I didn't want my dad to die.
About a month after that, since an hour's trip to the hospital was unacceptable, my parents announced we would be putting the house, all the animals and equipment up for sale and uprooting us all to go back to East Moline.
I was ready.
I tested out of my freshman year in Ava and we moved in the middle of May.
I think we were all ready to go.
My father took it easy from that point on, only remodeling part of this new house on Oaklawn Ave. I installed central air and that was the first time I lived in a house with air conditioning. At fifteen.

I, for the most part, am glad I spent a great deal of time on a farm, it taught me that work goes on day after day, no matter the weather, no matter the circumstances. The basic principles of hard work were taught to me during that time.

By all accounts, my father was an honorable man, paid his bills on time, had great, long lasting friendships with people from the shop and the bowling league we went to every Sunday night. My dad worked hard, too. 

My dad could be quite comical in his own right. After he retired, he would lay on the couch, smoke cigarettes and watch TV. Since there was only one TV in the house, his viewing habits became ours and so did a couple of customs we had. Dinner was ALWAYS served at the conclusion of the second football game of that particular Sunday. On the nose.
God forbid if a game went to overtime with the food on the table.

My father could make a symphony out of farting. On command, he would try to see how many different notes he could pull off at one time. Some were like thunder, others a horn toot. He could launch acre trembling, loud, cannon farts. I swear sometimes the room would shake. Friends would be in awe of this man, because he loved to show off (embarrass) my friends.

My father was very loyal to the women in his life and would routinely take the side of my girlfriends or my brother's. My brother's wife got pregnant when he was in Vietnam. My mother busted her, my father defended her. I cannot tell you why he did that.

We lived in relative peace in that very tiny house on Oaklawn Avenue while I was in high a school until I quit high school, got my GED and started working at the local box factory Miller Container in Milan.
I worked third shift and my boss was the owner of the company's son who really worked me hard loading flat cardboard into a machine that printed and cut it so that it would become a box made to specifications. There was a bit of down time when Tom reset the machine but during the running time, we would kick ass and he pushed me so much, I started making a good living out there. We would routinely beat first and second shift and a couple of times would move through more pieces than those shifts combined. Even though I wore gloves, I would always come home with sliced up hands that healed into callouses. Tom beat me like a rented mule. I took all he had and then some. At the end of my shift at 7am, I would be exhausted from that shift and driving about 15 miles to home where I would eat breakfast that mom made, chat with her for awhile and then go to bed.
One day, I got up for dinner and dad was being a complete dick. It must have been a Friday because I had left my paycheck on the table and he saw it.
"You're making a lot of godammed money, aren't you?"
"Yeah I guess so, we've been more than hitting our goal out there."
Here is where I thought he was going to compliment me but...no.
"I think I need to start charging you rent."
"What?"
"Yeah, you can afford to pay rent here, we're not your slaves" and he kept at it.
"How much should we charge him Loraine?"
"Guy, he's seventeen, he's giving me a few bucks now and then..."
"Not good enough," Dad said and then he looked right at me. "One hundred dollars a month."
"What? You're nuts old man, I'm not paying you that to live here, I'm not 18 yet." I was about six days away if I remember right.
"OK, one hundred twenty five." he was really being dickish now.
"Screw you, old man, I'm not paying it, you can go take a hike."
And with that statement, I balled up my fists. That was a mistake.
"You want to go?" It was on and with great confidence; I took a swing at him.
The next thing I remember was laying on the floor looking up at him, he was standing over me yelling about getting it one more time. "Stand up", he said. I did and he hit me again. 
Again, I didn't see it coming.
"You dumb stupid shit." "I want you out of here as soon as possible."
My mother was inconsolable, but I was done.
One too many times...I couldn't even take him when he was 67, again I was humiliated.
I moved out that weekend and wished my mother well. She was a wreck and sobbing uncontrollably.
Thanks, dad, for making me have to choose.

Soon after I left, my sister got pregnant at 15 with a guy I despised.
This shook my father to his core. It rocked his foundation.
This was such a surprise and a remember being there when Vickie told him. He was mortified and broke down in tears. I had NEVER seen him cry like that. He loved his girls and my older brother but, for some reason, he never felt that way about me. I was just someone who lived in his house once.

My parents moved out of the house on Oaklawn Avenue right after my sister got married. They found a nice place right along the Mississippi above the lock and dam in Hampton. I think this was the first time my parents actually got to spend some time together by themselves, but my mother's drinking frustrated him very much.
This was about the time I decided to quit my job at John Deere foundry and try my hand at radio. My father was furious. "You are throwing all of this away for a pipe dream!"  That scenario is still in my head today. He rallied my wife at the time to try and talk me out of it. "I worked in the factory for 30 years and made a good living, you can do the same,” he said. It was at that time I said something to my father that I immediately regretted. 
"Yeah, but I don't want to end up like you," was my reply.
I think that hit him as hard as he hit me that fateful day. He was stunned, turned around, walked away and we rarely spoke from that point on.

One of my last memories of my father was actually a good one. Funny thing about the radio deal. After it was all said and done and the pieces of my life were being picked up after having my wife leave me for choosing a radio career, my dad mellowed. We were sitting on the porch of his house on the river and it was late summer of 77.  
He was reading the paper and just turned down the page to look at me and he said, "what's this Randy Lee shit?" After doing a shift on one of my very first radio jobs, I came over after and found him on the back porch with my country station on. That was odd, he didn't care for that kind of music. He was reading the paper and he said from behind it…"was that you on earlier today?" "Yes, that was me". At the time, I needed a "radio" name, so I called myself Randy Lee. “Well dad, I don't think anyone uses their real name on the radio, so at least I used my middle name."
"Use your real name; I want people to know that's my kid."
Now, I was stunned. He actually listened.
That was as close as I would ever get to getting a compliment from him and he seemed to be more at ease with it from then on.

There wasn't much of a "then on" as not too long in the future, he came into the extra bedroom while I was taking a nap, kicked the bed and said "get up, I'm having chest pains".
Shit. It was 30 minutes to the hospital, we made it in 17. Maybe the ride to the hospital killed him, but he never came home. As they wheeled him in, I heard over the loud speaker ”code blue, code blue in Emergency.”
I knew what that meant. He died about two weeks later, after waiting for one of his kids to get to the hospital. For a person who didn't seem to care much about kids, we all knew he waited for Carole to get there. 


He's given me my DNA and as I get older, he appears to me more and more when I look into the mirror. Physically, I'm becoming him. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, he's not the man I am, but ironically, I wouldn't be this way without the not normal childhood I went through.

While yes, he was a very cold person who really never said or did much, he was a man of great character and when my father gave you is word, it was done. While growing up was incredibly uneven and mostly disappointing time, the only thing I can do is filter out the bad stuff and keep the good. And while the bad was more than the good, hanging on to the good has blessed me with having walked through the minefield with three kids of my own.  

Jess is so tough and is such a great mother. She has faced the hardship of raising an infant while finishing college by herself. Her day is yet to come. Paul has the mental discipline to do anything, as first diagnosed by his refusal to put the Nintendo game down until the enemy was destroyed. He's now working for Google in San Francisco. Emily has such an old kind soul but has her grandmothers "fuck you" attitude. When she finds her niche, she'll rule at it.

This exercise will hopefully eject the bad juju I have had for my father for years. Couple his aloofness and unemotional behavior with my mother's alcoholism, and it was a very lonely place to be. But, I made it. 





Ultimately, I tip my hat to him and say..thanks, Dad.

And what I wouldn't give right now, this instant to say hello to you and ask you how I'm doing.
I'd only need a heartbeat to know.

Are you proud of me?



Monday, April 15, 2019

Lint In My Cuff...

Sunshine Monday here in rural Mizzourah
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I was walking to the grocery store ( I walk just about everywhere here), and a fairly young woman pulls up to me and says, "Hey, you need a ride?" I said no thanks, I was just getting some exercise, and she then said, "You sure? I'll take you anywhere you want to go...."
Hmmm...I haven't heard of a "Sedalia Slasher" or anything like that but I guess I was flattered.

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I am violating a radio rule. I am actually looking to buy house here. My GM said to me the other day "you have to be a freaking moron to get fired from here. Do your fucking job, have a decent attitude and you will be here forever." I think I can do that. Haven't really felt something was fun for a long time. This is starting to feel like fun. Looking for places out side the city. I have about a 25 mile radius where I'm looking.
Once I buy something though, the tectonic plates will move and we'll all die.

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I really like Mayor Pete. I don't think a gay man can become president, but I didn't think a black man could either. He is actually younger than one of MY kids. That's really weird. He is actually younger than one of MY kids. That's really weird. He seems like your favorite kid who did everything right and still turned out to be a decent human being. I get that from him. He's thoughtful, articulate, smart, brave and calm at the same time. Maybe this is the millennial's JFK. Lord knows my generation fucked this thing up.

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sounds of Silence




depression



"Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping..."



Goddamn this fucking depression.
Just when you think you've made four steps, this fucking thing just wants you to stay in bed all day and it knocks you back three.

All day. 

Struggled just to get out of bed.
Struggle to make coffee, struggled to act normal and humanlike.
Struggle should be my middle name.

Just as I thought I was getting out of my two year funk...not supposed to be this way.
At this point in my life, I was told I'd be happy and retired.

Are the best years behind me?
That's all I want to know...

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Great Unknowns


Jimmy Ryser "Same Old Look"

A great unknown song.

I played this when I was the program director of the rock station in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Me and a handful of others outside Indiana.
I just thought this was going to be a huge song, but like many things in the music industry, for whatever reason, it wasn't.
Why this song was not a hit, I have no idea.
Apparently, he's fought his demons and seems to be winning.
Just for that one song, I'd like to shake his hand.
And again for winning the race.

Jimmy's battle with addiction (click here)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Driven To Tears

Welcome to St. Louis.

We hope this driving booklet will get you familiar with the rules of the road here in the Gateway City. We're just a little bit different in our interpretation of how driving is perceived, so just remember to follow these rules and you will blend in nicely with the rest of the drivers here.

Rule one. On the interstates and freeways, go as fast as you can. Don't worry about the Police because they are NEVER looking for this type of driver. The posted speed limits are for fools and wienies. If your car can do it, so must you, so go for it.

Rule two. If you are making a right turn, make sure you get as far into the left lane as possible. Do not signal or brake. This is known as the "St. Louis Right Turn', and it's very rarely practiced anywhere else.

Rule three When you see a "yield" sign floor the accelerator. think of yourself as owning the road because...well, you do. Hell you pay taxes on it, right? Be bold. Make a statement. The other drivers will salute you.

Rule four. If you have a cellular phone, make sure you make countless useless cars while you are in traffic. It is also required you pay NO attention to your surroundings as you "have this.". It is certainly permissible to sit through an entire traffic light, because dammit, your time is so much valuable than anyone else's. Go ahead, talk your eleven year old daughter through dinner. We'll wait.

Rule five. On a related note, falling asleep at the traffic light is also recommended. You worked hard today. Why shouldn't everyone else behind you know that? Wear that tired bitch like a crown. If you do wake up while the light is cycling, make sure you make a left turn in the intersection at least ten seconds after the light has turned red. We here call that the "L.A. Rule". This maneuver keeps everyone on their toes.

Rule six. When coming to a four way stop, make sure your wheels don't stop entirely. that wastes gas. If not sure who has the right of way, get all drivers from the intersection to draw cards. High one wins. If someone draws a higher card than you, get out your concealed weapon and shoot tyem. That won't be against the law by the time you go to trial.

Rule seven One special note to eighteen wheelers, your job is to scare the beejeebers out of the other drivers. Make sure you are in the left lane doing ten miles under the speed limit. Also make sure you are less than ten inches away from the car in front of you and when the other car pull off to the side of the road with a heart attack, flip them off. That send a strong message.

Happy motoring.

summer sun

Another entry from the journal...

My grandfather in the doorway of his house and Patches the wonder dog
Some of my favorite memories of childhood are about my time living on a farm in the middle of nowhere in a time when the world was spinning fast in the late sixties and the early seventies. I lived down a dirt road from a town you've never heard of. I lived four and a half miles east of Ava, Missouri off of highway 14 then county road FF not far past the King farm.. It was known as the George Pledger place for as long as I can remember. Down the "holler" about  a mile lived my grandfather.

He lived in a house that had no indoor bathrooms and a water system consisting of pumping well water out of the cold water stream outside his front yard. There was really no place to relieve yourself outside the house other than the outhouse. You had to throw rocks against the building to ensure you had no strange visitors while you were doing your duty. Critters liked to rest there for some unknown reason.

Has shack was nothing more than a wood and sheet metal, deep in the heart of nowhere, the kind of place when the weather got cold, the wood burning stove and it's smell became became a very welcome friend. Since the stove was in the middle of the living room, it was hard to ignore, but in reality, the cause of my most prominent scar. While chasing my sister one day decades ago, I fell against the stove and it broke my lip open. That is why I've always worn facial hair there.

My cousin Jim would come down every summer and I must say, looking back on this, why we ended up as best friends, I don't know but we did. He housed at my grandfather's house, we would marvel at how long we could stay outside before someone came looking for us if they ever did. It was different then, you were expected to find things to do and when the nearest house was a half a mile away, other than the wild animals, there was nothing to be afraid of.

One of my more teachable moments was when I threw kittens in the pond, expecting them to swim back every time, and yes one time, they didn't. I was about 8 and I was devastated. We threw firecrackers at frogs and when one of them swallowed a black cat, his ultimate demise was  a)a science experiment b) great fun when we saw his eyes bulged out when the black cat went off inside him. We rode horses, sometimes bareback, we caught fish with our hands. Our summers were creative, interesting and quite nostalgic.

Spending time with my grandfather was quite a trip. My grandfather in his drinking days was a mean, nasty, abusive, profane man. He beat his wife, my mother and her siblings on a regular basis. I know that's what led to my grandmother's divorcing him, long before I was here. He was a cruel human being who couldn't keep a job which led to my mother growing up in abject poverty. After he quit drinking, all the rough edges were still there, but he quit his abusive ways. I knew him during this time and really, in the only way he could, showed me his love. He could cuss, oh my God could he cuss. He would start going on something and throw in the oddest words. His creative pontifications on the world were quite verbose. Most people he didn't know were "mange covered sonuvabitchin, scum bag arse holes that couldn't piss in a can if it was at his feet."
Creative Cussing 101.
"Lop eared, long necked cock biting red on the head like a dick on a dog fuzz' ass." One of his favorites. Whenever something good happened, he would say to the effect, "well, the sun shines on a big dicked dog's ass at least once a day doesn't it?"
"Tits on a  boar, son, nothing but tits on a boar."
Through all those years, I never ever heard him say the "f" word.
Never, but everything else was game.

The nearest TV station was 65 miles away. Our house was on a hill about 2 miles closer to the station than my grandfather's place, which was down the holler and in a bit of a valley. My house got the three stations on a good day, my grandfather got two on a good day. On a hot muggy August night (the kind I dreaded because I knew school was right around the corner and Jim would be returning to his home), the TV reception at my grandfather's house was exceptionally good. That called for a celebration. In his freezer was a quart of "Fairmount Frozen Ice Milk-Vanilla" just waiting for the correct moment. It was hellaciously hot too. Air conditioning was not something my grandfather ever really knew. Especially in that house.

We were watching some kind of war movie, the three of us, when my grandfather went to the freezer and cut the quart in half, giving my cousin and me half and keeping the other half for himself. The movie was now centering on the effect of war as one of the main characters was holding a dead bird and feeling sorry for it.  My grandfather had no use for "pussies" as he called them.
"Poor little bird," said the soldier, "I wonder what happened to it?" That was one step too far for my grandfather and without any hesitation, to no one in general but the TV in particular, he replied on cue, "aw goddammit, the bird is so god dammed small, he got constipated and couldn't take a decent shit, now shoot the sumbitch and starts killing some krauts will ya?"

Of course he said this while Jim and I had our mouths full of Fairmont's best.
To this day, I have never had so much liquid go up my nose, because when you're thirteen, that shit was hilarious. What timing. My sinus cavities gave it up big time for my grandfather and something so fun turned out to hurt...real bad as we both layered his floor with upchucked ice milk that was ejected through our noses.

Oh, he was pissed about that, too.

We couldn't hear him. We were laughing too hard.


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