You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Doesn't that just get your...

A whole lotta yard work went on today. We redid the front walk: new ground cover, new rock, fixed the yard timbers. I scraped down the picnic table and Beverle painted it. We weeded out the flowerbed in the back yard and planted four rose bushes. I taught Zack how to use the weed eater.

A stray Beagle-mix dog showed up, if she behaves, we intend to keep her. She is very skittish, and may have been mistreated. She was starving and went through a pack and a half of hotdogs without taking a breath. The jury’s still out, we have never had great luck with dogs. I already know she is a car chaser, which makes for a very short lifespan on small country roads. We shall see.

Once the wind stopped blowing, I went for a thirteen-mile bike ride. This was on the hilly course. I was very slow. Near the end of the route is a short but extremely steep hill. I have hit over sixty miles per hour on this hill, fifty without even trying. I had cleared the crest and was starting down. I kicked up into the third chain-ring and started moving up the gears, third, fourth, fifth. The wind is making my eyes water. The weeds on both sides of the road are blurring by. I glance down to check my gear position. I look back up and out of the tall weeds on the right side, something moves into the road. At first, I think it is a cat, no, to big, maybe a dog. I begin to adjust my position on the saddle in preparation for evasive maneuvering. Off the saddle, weight to the rear, hands in the drops, fingers open ready to brake. All of this occurs in seconds in real time, but slow motion on the bike. Then the dog clears the grass, running hard into the street just a few yards in front of me. That is when I see the horns. Horns? Dogs don’t have horns. It’s a goat! I brake hard and power slide the rear wheel, adjust for skid, reposition body, drop to saddle and peddle. Sheesh!

A goat! As many close calls as I have had with cars, a goat almost kills me!

“It’s so sad tell me, how did Timmy die?”

“He ran over a goat on a bicycle.”

“A goat was riding a bicycle?”

“No, Timmy was riding the bike, the goat was… oh, never mind.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Hungry for summer

The tomato plants are finally in the ground. The rain has finally stopped long enough to do some of the yard work. The farmers around here are getting antsy waiting for the weather to break. The fields have been too wet to work in.

We never plant much garden. The last few years I tried it all ended up weeds from lack of time to work with it.

Tomatoes are our only constant. Beverle loves garden tomatoes. She does not consider the ones from the store “real” tomatoes, and she is right. Store tomatoes are tough and have almost no flavor at all. A garden grown, Big Boy, fresh picked and eaten while standing in the garden with a saltshaker in the other hand will ruin you to the hydroponics’ variety.

I am the plant person in the family. Beverle tells the story of her Grandmother stopping by, putting her finger in one of Beverle’s potted plants and declaring, “If there was a house fire this would be the first thing to go.”

Therefore, garden tomatoes are “flowers” I grow for Beverle. After they are picked they sit on the windowsill in the kitchen to finish ripening, slowly building our anticipation until Beverle slices a plate full to have with supper. There is nothing like a BLT made with homemade bread, fresh lettuce, turkey bacon, and fresh tomatoes so juicy you have to wash your face after eating.

Great, I’m hungry again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

A letter to my wife, on her Birthday.

Two weeks after our first date I knew. I knelt down beside the couch and told you I loved you. Nena looked in from the kitchen, thought I was proposing and flipped out. I could have proposed then and never looked back, but you needed convincing I was for real. That took another two months.

We started with a seven-year-old girl, and a six-month-old boy. I had no idea what I was doing, but I never doubted once that it was where I was supposed to be.

We had very little money and no time to ourselves. Statistics say we never had a chance, but not once in the past fifteen years have I felt anything but amazed at being with you.

If I say, “without you I am not whole.” it sounds cliché’, but that makes it no less true.

I did not want to give you a card with someone else’s words this year. I wanted to tell the whole world about you, to let everyone know I love you more now than that night almost sixteen years ago. The whole world will not come to my little web site, but to everyone who does whomever they may be, I say

You are my best friend and I love you more than life.

Happy Birthday Beverle.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Yep... He's one of ours.

Our son-in-law, modeling some of the great fountains of Europe, well great may be stretching things.

Hey Rachel, is Robby ours or yourin?

Sunday, May 25, 2003

May Tricks

If you have held off seeing The Matrix: Reloaded because of the less than favorable reviews, let me relieve your concerns, the movie is wonderful. Run out and see it, preferably in a stadium seating, surround-sound theatre to get the full blast of the special effects.

Of the bad reviews I read prior to seeing the movie with the kids Friday night, most either did not understand the imagery and underlying philosophy, or they had set the bar so high no film could have met their standards.

One reviewer in particular who commented on the “excessive” dance scene completely missed the point of the “poetry of flesh” intended to contrast with the murderous efficiency of the machines.

Gandhi said “Man cannot live by logic alone, but also needs poetry” and thank God this is so. How empty we would be without our capacity for illogical self-expression.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Overheard at coffee counter

“Oh look at the cute kitties!”

Camera pans to window showing man standing by a mountain bike with two ferrets in the front pannier.

“Uh, those aren’t kittens, they’re ferrets.”

“Ooh yuck, ferrets, I can’t stand ferrets.”

“Why not?”

“Because… they’re hairy land eels.”

“Hairy land eels?”

“Yeah, they walk funny.”

“Oh, now I get it.”

Thursday, May 22, 2003

I still have hope.

When I first connected to the web, we did not have a local access number. Long distance dialing into AOL was the only choice available. The first call cost thirty dollars, which instantly put an end to casual surfing. I signed up to several topical news-groups and a e-mail chess club, which allowed me to connect, download that days posts, and disconnect making the daily charge as little as possible.

The first time I read my name in reply to a post amazed me. The woman who had written was in Australia, a stranger who just liked something I had to say about Earl Grey tea. I played chess with someone in Singapore, and someone else in England. I was astounded at the possibilities for communication that the web opened up.

When a local ISP came to our community, my family was in the first group to sign up. Now we had unfettered access to the entire world. The avenues of discussion would be intelligent and full of wisdom gleaned from experienced minds. I could not wait.

Then reality came.

The noise level was incredible. The chat rooms were filled with teenagers cussing each other and any passer by, just for the thrill of typing four-letter words. I tried Christian chat rooms and the smallest disagreement in doctrine turned into flame wars. In the Philosophy venues, who was dating whom, and what was happening at the mall, occurred more often than Descartes or Plato.

It was then that I realized the disparity between the potential and the reality of large group communication forums. Just because you can say something, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you have the opportunity to speak, doesn’t mean you have something to say. The flood of mindless chatter was not worth the effort of wading through so I settled for non-personal web sites and news channels.

It is not that I am a snobbish intellectual. I don’t even have a college degree. However, I read voraciously, and never grow tired of learning something new. If I ever won a lottery, the first thing we would do is travel, not to tourist spots, but backroads, native places to learn new ways of looking at common things. Then I would by a house in a college town, close enough to the campus that I could ride my bike to classes, and I would live the rest of my life in school. I would only take a couple classes at a time so I could devote myself to the subject. Then I would find the young minds, (no matter what the age) the ones with passion, we would drink coffee out of small cups and talk, and argue, and rail, but always come away friends.

I would just like to have some friends who share the same interests, who will not get mad at the slightest disagreement, friends who can separate opinion from emotion and know that we can disagree and still show respect. Is that too much to ask? I do not know, maybe it is.

This morning I was reading Tami’s blog and she said this:

“It’s hard to tell who reads these posts because people rarely comment. I don’t know if they are afraid of what other people think or maybe they don’t want me to know that they are readers, but let me say this: I wouldn’t have put this blog on the Internet if I didn’t want readers. Yes, I want my friends and family to stop in, but I also like hearing from complete strangers like Tim Tucker.”

I laughed at being called a complete stranger. I’m not sure; maybe this is as close as I will ever come to being a complete anything.

Then I realized that I am still looking for that sense of community on the web. I am still hopeful for friendship among strangers, to intellectually touch and be touched with acceptance, despite our differences, to learn and grow together, to look into another's lives, not as a voyeur, but as an absent companion.

Blogging has become the best possibility for coherent personal communication on the web. Among the better journal-blogs consideration is taken before posting, thoughts are mulled and meditated over before being let fly into the world. That is what makes web logs so exciting, slow, thoughtful discourse among people of like minds exchanging experiences and ideas from a multitude of backgrounds. This is the greatest potential the web has to offer. It is not in commerce, or cheap entertainment that the web finds its purpose, but in bringing people together, to learn about and from one another until we see that there is no them and us, there is only us.

I still have hope.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003


It has rained so much lately that the earth seems weary from the weight of it. Puddles lie around the yard like pale oval mirrors reflecting the overcast sky. The discouraged sun has forgotten us it seems; overwhelmed by the battle he has moved on to better climes and has left us sodden and dejected, awash in unremitting twilight.

However, I remember the promise I made that summer, the summer without rain. The grass turned brown and died and the trees all held their breath, waiting. Everyone went about his or her day with a feeling of nervous expectancy. Conversations were broken with sharp glances at the sky, pauses that listened to the sound of the wind, and lips unconsciously tasting the air. Glasses of water were chosen at meals instead of tea, or cola, and sipped slowly, pondered, like an unfamiliar object, seen again for the first time.

When it finally came, I was at work, indoors, under fluorescent filtered air. I had to flee. I stood unashamed in the parking lot, face up, arms out to receive an epiphany of large lazy drops of rain. I promised to never again complain of the presence of this friend, this comforter, and to be thankful that the drought in my soul is now past.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Im a poet and dont know it, but my feet show it cause they smell. No, thats not right--exactly.

I have kept an interest in poetry since I was a freshman in high school. Once during Literature, when I was supposed to be doing the assignment, I wrote a one-sentence poem.

A terrible twisting invader that runs wild,
ripping and scratching
till the body goes limp,
and the soul goes free.

I showed it to my Lit. teacher to get her opinion. She really liked it and tried to have it published in the school Annual. It was not accepted, but it was a great encouragement for a shy teenage boy to have a teacher’s support. That and she was hot.

I was really into Poe at the time and she prompted me to write short stories and poems. I tried, but they stank, and life moved on.

My best friend in high school wanted to be a recording artist. We tried writing songs together. Only two of the lyrics I wrote were put to music, but they stank, and life moved on.

I met the girl who would become my first wife and wrote her several poems in the Rod McKuen style that was popular at the time. Most of them stank, but my brother held on to them for a while. He is seven years younger than I am and did not know at the time what poetry was supposed to sound like anyway, and life moved on

Occasionally I get the urge to write a poem, (almost like a gas pain) and I let one rip. That is probably the best metaphor I will find to describe the results. I once wrote about why I cannot seem to finish a poem and the sad, truthful answer is that as long as it is not finished, then it could get better, eventually, maybe. It is best to leave some things obscured.

Part of the problem is my confusion as to what makes a poem, poetry. I have read several books about poetry and none of them has given me a satisfactory answer as to what modern poetry is. There does not seem to be structure or form to modern poetry like the sonnets, odes, ballads, etc. of the poets of the past. I read an editorial in Newsweek on The Death of Poetry. The author said that poetry has lost its place in modern life by becoming too elitist, and incomprehensible to modern readers.

No one seems to speak in the language of ordinary people anymore. Today’s poems all seem to be secret code that makes no sense unless you have the key to decipher the hidden meaning. Like the emperor’s new clothes, the critics are afraid to admit they do not understand what they are reading. They just agree the more enigmatic, the better. So modern poetry is like modern painting, only the experts decide what is good and what is not. They cross their fingers and hope that some one has not tricked them with the work of a child or an elephant, brush in hand or trunk or a monkey typing away at a keyboard.

As to which Poets I like to read, mostly I peruse compilations and let individual poems speak for themselves. Rarely have I found a poet who consistently speaks in a voice that I can hear and identify with. One exception I (am embarrassed to) admit to, because he exhibits many of the problems mentioned above, (and uses R-rated language) is Richard Brautigan.

Brautigan was a dysfunctional alcoholic beat poet who reached the peak of his popularity in the 60 has and committed suicide in 1984. I think it is my reoccurring bouts with depression that lets me hear what he is saying. Maybe that is not a good thing.


I was dive-bombing the lower

emotions on a typical yesterday


I had sworn never to do it again.

I guess never's too long a time to stay

out of the cockpit

with the wind screaming down the wings

and the target almost praying itself into your


August 30

This is my favorite Brautigan poem; the one that best explains to me my mind set some days. I have posted this before, spiraled down, and was lost for several weeks before climbing back from the abyss.

I am not on that plane today. Thank you for asking.

Other poets I like: Edna St.Vincent Millay, William Blake and Whitman in small doses.

I also like Emily Dickinson, when I can make myself forget that you can sing all of her poetry to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Rats, now it’s in my head again.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

The Matrix is real and among us

A malevolent Artificial Intelligence has taken control of the earth and subjugated humanity in both The Terminator and The Matrix movie series. I think it is more than a coincidence that this theme of a sentient A.I., exceeding its programming, and tormenting its creators should be so prominent at this time in our popular media. It is as if our gestalt mind has recognized the imminent catastrophe bearing down on us, and our collective subconscious is sounding a warning by every means available. You can see it in books and magazines, video games and TV, but nowhere quite so prominently than the current crop of movies that openly reveal the plan for humanity's destruction.

In both The Terminator and The Matrix series intelligent machines seek to destroy or enslave the human race and it is the everlasting torment presented in The Matrix that I believe we should pay the greatest attention to. For it is here that we can already see the seeds of apocalypse sown in our everyday lives. Where does this evil dwell you say? Take heed, for just as in our cinema subconscious, the prototype of the plague to come is among us in seemingly innocent form.

It’s those fricken fracken dollar bill vending machines. As God is my witness, I know those dang things are alive and laughing at me. I cannot tell you how many times I have been setting in the car wash line, dollar bills crisp and new as the day they were minted lined up on the dash in front of me, a line of cars a block long behind me, and seven out of ten dollars in the machine before it becomes possessed by satan himself. It always happens when a manager is nowhere to be found, when you have no way to get change for fresh sacrificial dollar bills for the god in the machine that now has complete control over your life

Yesterday I stopped at the Post Office after hours to buy a book of stamps. I broke a twenty with a cup of coffee to have plenty of bills for the machine. I got six out of the seven dollars and forty cents needed for the stamps into the machine without a problem. Then once I was committed, it decides to play evil little games with me. Put in a crisp new dollar, wait three seconds, spit out crisp new dollar. Put in different crisp new dollar, wait three seconds, spit out crisp new dollar. After ten minutes of this, the root of the evil A.I. to come shows itself. Put in crisp new dollar, wait three seconds, spit out, no, only halfway out, now bring it back in a little, wait two seconds, spit out crisp new, no, first move it back and forth a couple more times, now, spit out crisp new dollar.

I went in to get stamps and after twenty minutes left with stamps and an ulcer. Think what this software will be capable of doing when it escapes from the vending machines to the web. It is only a matter of time. We are all doomed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Dedicated to Mason E

Harmonic Rhythm

The sweet jangling jazz of this moment unconstrained,
an improvisation…
of breathing in and out.

the inner voice:
comforting, yet fresh.
the outer voice:
hot, yet cool.
driving you, pushing you
past the broken time in your life,
toward the groove in your soul.

save the elegy, the dirge
for a distant day.
jam, disregarding the chart.
add voice to chorus,
and texture to grace,
if only for today…

for tomorrow is a gig all its own.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

I know this can not be an original thought, but have you considered The Matrix as a metaphor for the way we live our lives? In that last little bit I posted I jokingly referred to getting back to my virtual video game life, but look at the real similarities between video input, whether TV, video games, or Internet, and the virtual input in The Matrix.

Some of us spend hours each day sitting motionless in front of one screen or another, completely inactive. Studies have been done that show how brain activity slows while watching TV. Our metabolism slows to nothing and what do we do, we eat.

AdBusters recommends sitting in front of a TV that is not on and try watching it for a half hour, to try and be aware of what you are doing while watching this inert box.

One part of me is aware of how wasteful it is to take precious “life time” and spend it staring vacant eyed and slack jawed into the eye of the machine.

Another part of me just says, “cool, reruns.”

Virtually Virtuous

The comments are working again.

Zack and I have to make a Bowling Green run this afternoon. He needs new shoes again. Both of the boys are growing too fast to keep up with.

I hope to have time for Barnes & Noble. I want some poetry and some new trade paperbacks, something unusual to burn a few new neuron pathways in my sludge of a brain.

Beverle finally got her Mother’s Day flowers for the deck and yard. Part of her present is me spending more time outside the house this summer. Last summer the boys and I were heavy into video games. A couple RPG’s took up all my free time. It was hot outside and I just wanted to clear that “next” level, well, then the next level.

The boys are really into Halo right now. They have absconded with my Xbox Bev bought me for Christmas. Yes, my Xbox. In retaliation, I have taken charge of the PS2. I just do not have time to play it. I need to finish Final Fantasy X. I am near the end of the game it is just that, right now, I am into reality. Maybe after The Matrix :Reloaded comes out I will be more likely to vegitate out and plug back into a virtual reality mode, living life vicariously through artificial means. It has an interesting ring to it, does it not?

Monday, May 12, 2003


A long weekend past, but a good one. I had jury duty Friday and made it to the final cut of six before being sent home. Saturday I took Bev out for dinner in Bowling Green for Mama’s day. Rachel and Robby grilled out for Bev and her mother Sunday. I used the time to do some things around the house for Bev, (Father’s day is next up you know;). I caulked the shower in our bathroom and cleaned out the gutters and the flowerbed behind the house.

There are some new pictures up on the site. The Industrial Light series is small, (only five so far) but required a significant amount of work, (at least for me). I am not happy with the Four Towers shot it is missing something. It took the most time of the set though and I included it out of principal more than anything else.

One interesting piece of trivia about the Four Towers shot, it all centers around rust. All four of the “Towers” are the single exhaust pipe on the bulldozer that served as the subject for this series. I layered the pipes and treated each differently to bring out the rust detail. The interesting thing is that the background is taken from an enlarged section of rust on the front of the exhaust pipe, shopped, filtered, and painted, then faded to bring up the foreground.

The sad thing is that after stepping through four labor-intensive steps, I tried to do the wise thing and back up the file and it locked up my puny laptop and I had to start over. That is why I put it up although I still feel it needs work. Let me know what you think. Criticisms welcome.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Internet support group for The Users of Ineffectual Idioms

It just happened again. I have no idea where it comes from or why I do it. It must be some deep flaw in my character, maybe a rare mental disorder of some type.

“Stress Lab: this is Timmy, can I help you?”
“ Hello, this is Heather in registration, do you have a Mr. (so in so) for a holter monitor this morning?”
“Yes I do.”
“ They are signed in and ready for you in the lobby.”

Here it comes. I can’t stand to watch.

“Okee doke.”

There, I admit it. I am so embarrassed. Maybe by bringing it out into the light I can kill it. I have been trying for so long. Like a fungus that keeps coming back no matter how much you scrub or disinfect, this life sucking phrase springs unbidden from my mouth. Its lameness can only be measured in astronomical terms, a black hole of ineffectual, forceless, spine-less expression. I stagger under its weight. God help me.

Iraqi must read sites of the day

Salam Pax of Where is Raed, the Iraqi blog from Baghdad has posts again. He gives an inside story of what it was like during the fall of Baghdad.

The best read of the day though is this article from the Wall Street Journal Opinion page. Written by Awad Nasir an Iraqi poet, it is the best of its type I have found and deserves wide spread appreciation.

Thank You
An Iraqi poet celebrates the dictator's fall.

Thursday, May 8, 2003 12:01 a.m.

Let me confess something: I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Saddam Hussein's statue toppled in Baghdad.
I am a poet and know that eyes can, and do, deceive.
For three decades, part of them spent in prison, part in hiding and part in exile, I had often dreamed of an end to the nightmare of the Baathist-fascist regime. But I had never dreamed that the end, that is to say Iraq's liberation, would come the way it did.
Again and again, I watched the footage showing the fall of the statue. It was as if I was afraid it might slip from the realm of my memory. But it was not until my sister, whom I had not seen for years, phoned me from Baghdad that I was convinced that "The Vampire" had fallen and that we were free.
"Hello Awad," my sister said, her voice trembling. "The nightmare is over. We are free. Do you realize? We are free!"
It was not the mullahs of Tehran and their Islamic Revolutionary Guards who liberated the Iraqi Shiites.
Nor was it Turkey's army that came to rescue the Iraqi Turkomans from Saddam's clutches.
Amr Moussa, the Arab League's secretary-general, and the corrupt regimes he speaks for, did not liberate Iraqi Arab nationalists.
Iraq's democrats, now setting up their parties and publishing their newspapers, were not liberated by Jacques Chirac. Nor did the European left liberate Iraq's communists, now free to resume their activities inside Iraq.
No, believe it or not, Iraqis of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions were liberated by young men and women who came from the other side of the world--from California and Wyoming, from New York, Glasgow, London, Sydney and Gdansk to risk their lives, and for some to die, so that my people can live in dignity.
Those who died to liberate our country are heroes in their own lands. For us they will be martyrs and heroes. They have gained an eternal place in our hearts, one that is forever reserved for those who gave their lives in more than three decades of struggle against the Baathist regime.

It is not only the people of Iraq who are grateful for the end of a nightmare. A majority of Arabs and Muslims are also grateful.
The chorus of lamentation for Saddam consists of a few isolated figures espousing the bankrupt ideologies of pan-Arabism and Islamism. A Moroccan Islamist tells us that the American presence in Iraq is "a punishment from Allah" for Muslims because of their "weakening faith." But if the toppling of a tyrant is punishment, then I pray that Allah will bring similar punishments on other Arab nations that endure despotic rule.
The U.S. and its allies should not listen to those who wished to maintain Saddam in power and who, now that he's gone, are trying to find a clone to put on a throne in Baghdad. Those who are urging the coalition to leave Iraq as soon as possible wish none of us any good. A precipitate departure could trigger intervention by Iraq's predatory neighbors and foment civil war.
Replacing one of the most vicious tyrannies with a working democratic system is no easy task. But it is a task worthy of the world's bravest democracies.
The U.S. and its allies took grave risks and showed exceptional courage in standing up against powers such as France and Russia, and their unwitting allies in the "peace movement," who tried their desperate best to prolong Saddam's rule. We now know that many of those "peaceniks" were actually in the pay of Saddam. Documents seized from the fallen regime are being studied by Iraqis and will expose the professional "peaceniks" everywhere.

The U.S. and its allies should be prepared to take a further risk, and ignore the supposedly disinterested advice of France, Russia and the Arab regimes to salvage the political and social legacy of the dictatorship. Last February, the U.S. and Britain stood firm and insisted that Iraq must be liberated, regardless of whatever anyone might say. Today, they must remain equally firm in asserting that Iraq must be democratized. They should not leave Iraq until they are asked to do so by a freely elected Iraqi regime in Baghdad.
In the meantime Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Kofi Annan and others have no authority to speak on behalf of my people.
Mr. Nasir is an Iraqi poet, until recently exiled in London.
Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill! Whippoorwill!
Evidently, the tree outside my bedroom window is a swinging singles nightspot for Whippoorwills.

Cuppa-burnt black bean water-Joe

Who was the first person that decided to take some beans off a bush, burn them, soak them in water, and then drink it? Does that sound like a stupid thing to do or what? And how would I ever be coherent at three o’clock in the morning if they hadn’t?

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I walked up to the Med-Surg counter and laid the chart down next to the computer monitor. In my mind, I sorted through the tasks ahead, and I let my eyes roam the post-it notes on the front desk. Family call lists, shift assignments, DNR’s, and something caught my eye. DNR: Do Not Resuscitate. No life saving measures to be used by request of the patient or their family. DNR: “saving me would be worse than letting me die.”

I saw the name of a friend, someone I went to school with. Someone too young to have a DNR written beside their name, not without tragedy, life ended too soon. I thought of their kids. How old would they be now, fifteen, sixteen? I thought of their spouse. I thought of my wife, my kids. How does someone get “Grown up” enough to deal with this. I know I am not. I hope I never have to be.

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Rainbow connection

We had to go into town Sunday afternoon. A thunderstorm came up just as we were heading out the door. The hail started less than a mile from the house. We pulled off the road and tried to shield the car under the trees. The noise the hail was making was deafening and I was sure the car was being destroyed, so I opened the door to get out and look. A marble size stone hit my hand as I was getting out and convinced me of the stupidity of standing in a hailstorm to see if my car is being dented. I discovered after the storm had moved on that the car was safe, and so were we, unlike so many others who died from this same storm system.

The sun came out almost as soon as the hail stopped. It was behind us all the way into town. We saw the biggest, brightest rainbow ever. At times the refraction was so clear you could see both ends running along the ground, (yes, a rainbow on the ground, running the full length of a field) then lifting off the trees to form the arch. Unfortunately, I had left my camera at home, so no picture to share. You will just have to take my word for it that this was the biggest, clearest rainbow I have ever seen.

Brought to you by...

Vegged most of the weekend. We watched a lot of TV, way too much TV. I did not have a single thought all weekend that belonged to me.

Saturday, May 03, 2003


Make me listen.
cry out;
words that cut me,
words that heal me,
notes that bind me,
harmonies that free me
Songs without words,
without music,
a sea to drown in,
an ocean to dwell in,
living water.

Make me see.
Blind me
with light and darkness,
colors of sincerity,
and Truth.
and be known,
and be seen,
not as in a glass darkly,
but show me,
face to face.

Friday, May 02, 2003

The Hardest thing to do

I was weak and shaky yesterday from this flu or whatever I have had for the last week. Kevin from church invited me on a twenty-mile bike ride. I should have known better, but I had not ridden in almost a month and needed a kick start to get going again. All day I kept thinking about calling and canceling, but Kevin has tried several times to get a ride going and I have always been busy. Therefore, I went for a ride.

One thing I forgot to do before leaving; check the weather report. When Kevin drives up, he says everyone has been telling him about a big storm coming our way. We look around, no dark clouds, but we decide to take a shorter route just in case. Fifteen minutes later, we clear the first big hill. Oh, great! Off to the west it is really dark and ugly looking. Therefore, we shorten our route some more.

You can feel the front move in. There is a change in the way the wind blows, the way the leaves on the trees behave. The temperature dropped ten degrees in less than a minute. Then the wind came. Thirty-five miles an hour, all head wind, and it is picking up debris and smacking us around. One of those helicopter seed, pod things hit me in the side of the face and almost knocked me over.

We were tucked and cranking for all we’re worth and in my case it wasn’t much. I make it back to the car just as the downpour begins in earnest. We are soaked, the inside of my car is soaked, and I am shaking from trying to ride so hard while still weak. Kevin apologizes for me driving so far just to be caught in the rain, but I am just happy I got my butt back on the bike. Tomorrow it will be easier to get out, getting started again is always the hardest thing to do.

Rich Man's food

My Grandfather kept a Jersey cow for the milk. I remember him sitting on a small stool, working the cow’s udder with both hands. Every so often, he would shoot a stream of warm milk into the mouth of one of a gang of cats rubbing at his ankles, purring and groveling for a handout. When the Jersey was producing more than we needed, he would sell the surplus to the Avon processed cheese factory next door.

The milk we used was placed in the refrigerator and after it cooled the cream would be floating at the top, ready to be separated and churned into butter. Mamma had a hand crank butter churn with three paddles on the inside that spun when you turned the handle. She would let me start the process but by the time it began to harden into real work I was done playing with it. You have never had butter until you have tasted it made fresh from whole cream, and fresh whipped cream is a dessert all by itself.

While Papaw milked, I would play in the barn, climbing into the loft, which at the time seemed so far away from the ground. It was my castle or fort, depending on which imaginary enemy attacked that day. I would use tobacco sticks as a combination rifle or spear, and drive the evil horde away.

My Grandparents raised chickens for eggs and meat. I remember my Grandmother stretching the neck of a chicken using two nails driven into a stump. She would raise a sharpened hand ax and with one cut sever the chicken’s head, drop the body, and send us kids running and squealing through the yard as the headless chicken ran aimlessly around spurting blood. It was a lot more fun than it sounds like, really.

My Grandmother had a stove in her basement that was only for canning, and a big canning pressure cooker that scared the living daylights out of me. They told me if I got too close, it would BLOW UP! I believed them. It would hiss and rattle like the first stages of a Saturn 5 rocket straining for the heavens. I knew it was just a matter of time before it launched and I could not understand why they would want something so dangerous in the house. I did ask once why I was the only one who could make it blow up just by being near it, but they gave me one of those Grand-parental answers and I was not smart enough to see through it.

My Grandparents had, I realize now, a huge garden, four acres, and almost all of the vegetables would be canned and stored for the winter. Papaw raised potatoes by the thousands. He would use a flat bladed pitchfork to lever them out of the ground and I would sort through the dirt, find the potatoes and put them in a bushel basket. Then we would move to the next plant and the process would repeat itself. We stored them in a dark cool place in our basements. The potatoes’ eyes would grow long white tendrils, albino-misshapen arms grasping in the darkness for the smallest ray of light. They had to be broken off before you washed and cut them up for supper. The tendrils always gave me the creeps. My brother and I called the place where the potatoes were kept The Dungeon.

My Grandfather raised corn, sweet potatoes, peanuts, sweet and hot peppers, three kinds of beans, rhubarb, apples, cherries, and pears. I remember the pear tree very well. One day I rode my bike as hard as I could down a slope in the backyard trying to see how close I get to the tree without hitting it. I found out.

Sunday after church my Grandmother would pull out all the stops and we would have a feast. Fried chicken, dried beans and corn bread, (southern style of course!) green beans with potatoes, sweet potatoes in a heavy syrup with marshmallows melted on top, corn on the cob and apple pie, made from scratch to finish it off.

One Sunday I was complaining about what we had to eat and my father told me we where eating “rich man’s food.” I wanted to eat at McDonald’s, that was “rich man’s food” in my eyes. Now we eat at McDonald’s at least once a week but I just wish I could have one more of those Sunday Dinner feasts, hand raised and handmade by my Grandparents, who taught me that being “Rich” has nothing to do with money.