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

Location: Kentucky, United States

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Happy Birthday Blog!

Today is the first anniversary of my web journal. So many positive things have come from persevering with it - keeping in touch with friends, finding several new ones, learning about myself from writing and photography. I like what it has done to me. I look forward, God willing, to another year of discovery and learning. Thank you for reading this, for helping to motivate me. Thank you for [Shut up and cut the cake!] Have to go, thanks again.


Sunday, July 27, 2003

Beverle thought of the day #5655

There is a moment when we kiss before our lips touch, where I can feel the softness of your mouth on mine, like the sun on the back of my eyelids in the heat of the day.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

I must fly

My notebook lies open on the table like the mouth of a baby bird.

C-130 from Fort Campbell Kentucky

The noise comes up from behind. It swells like a wave, passing over in a rumble that vibrates the back of my throat. I don’t see it until it is right overhead. It looks like it is brushing the tops of the trees. It is too big; it keeps passing, and passing. The mind can make no sense of what it is seeing. I’m holding my breath waiting for the sound of the impact as it explodes against the hillside. Nothing happens, the noise just recedes, fainter, until it is gone, and I remember to breathe.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Fly Soup

His name is Fly Soup. At least he goes by that name. The story, a local legend, says that when his father was on his deathbed, as a nose thumbing gesture at society Fly Soup promised he would never work a day in his life. One day he was so hungry, he caught flies, boiled them and ate them as soup. Proud of his ingenuity, he told a few people and the word spread, all over the county. He’ll tell you that Fly Soup is his name.

He sits on the benches surrounding the old courthouse in the public square. Cars circle all day; it is the center of his earth. He has sat there for as long as I can remember. As a child, he scared me. I did not understand the man who stared at us as we circled around the courthouse. He was always filthy, unshaven, unkept. I would watch him watch us as we drove by. I still do not understand. I guess he sees himself as some modern day Thoreau, whose Walden is an island in a circling river of cars, people floating by, trapped in their currents.

That was several years ago. Now he is swollen with congestive heart failure. The filth is worse, much worse. He still comes everyday to sit on the square when the weather allows. He is not homeless. He is just a small town eccentric, one who has set out to do nothing. It is almost artistic in a way; it is quite an accomplishment, or lack of anyway. The shear effort never to put out an effort for all those years is a monument to apathy.

One day I sat on the bench and watched the cars circle the courthouse. It was very peaceful setting there and interesting to watch the people drive by, and wonder what they were thinking and where they were going; but the call was insistent, and life is more than watching, so after a few moments I got up and plunged back into the stream, happy to feel the current pull me along.

On the way to work

Mist, the windshield keeps fogging up inside and out. I have the defroster and the wipers going trying to fight off the dampness pouring from the ponds on the side of the road. It is three-fifteen in the morning and I am technically still asleep. It will take a pot of coffee at work before I can make full sentences. I am driving fifty-five, okay sixty-five, on curvy, country roads that drivers from the city won’t go over thirty M.P.H. on. Coming up on the right, two deer standing on the shoulder, I brake hard, down shift and swerve to the left in case they bolt the wrong way. As I get by, I accelerate, hit the windshield wipers again, and then shift up. Just then, a black cat runs into the road following the path of the headlights. I brake hard to less than twenty. The cat is still running down the center of the street. I swerve right and honk. The cat disappears into the weeds. I top a hill and meet a truck going faster than I am. The truck has only one headlight, and it’s on bright. I can’t see the other side of the truck. My right wheel drops off the shoulder. The truck flies by. I pull the right wheel back onto the road and exhale with relief. Next up is a possum, a baby, running crossways in a curve. No time to go around, so I straddle it and hope for the best. It was small. He looks confused in my rearview mirror, but okay. I finally make it to work, only five minutes late, not bad considering.

Another country morning commute.

Who needs video games?

Monday, July 21, 2003

Dinner and a show

The lighting bugs in the field across from the house are putting on a fireworks display. Explosions of cold fire dance in our eyes as we watch the show. No one seizes the day better than these do. Existing barely a week before they are gone, they blaze with desperate passion. We watch in slow motion, our fires smoldering in the summer heat.


I am driving down highway 54 when the rain comes. I roll down the driver’s side window and let the water come in. My tension fades away with the first breath of damp air. Kentucky rain is a perfume no bottle has ever captured.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Puppy update

Five puppies, yes she had five. We thought we were getting one dog and instead we got six.

This is where I rant about the responsibility of the owners who dropped their pregnant dog off in the country, or I would, except the puppies are so cute. Maybe I will rant later.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Now we know

Katie the stray dog we took in a few weeks ago has revealed why she was dropped off. At this moment, she is under the front porch steps having puppies. The count is at three, but I am afraid she is not done. I will let you know.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

No, really

Zachary has joined Leitchfield Christian Academy’s cross-country team. As a home-schooled student, he can participate in Christian private school activities. He says he enjoys it, which I love. The boy is born to run, tall for his age, long legs, skinny, with a smooth, quiet stride, it is a joy to watch him. Getting him to do it is a challenge though. Running, no matter what else it is, is painful. We have been to practice twice this week and he says he enjoys it. I am trying to stay out of his way and not be an overly proud, pushy Dad. I am, really…

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Finding the true inner child

Why aren’t there playgrounds for adults? I don’t mean “adult,” I mean grown-up, big people playgrounds, with slides, merry-go-rounds, and things to climb on. Of course there are grown-up games, golf, fishing, hunting, and the like. There are grown-up toys galore, cars, off road vehicles, any number of electronic devices, but what I mean is a “get back to your inner child” playground. I think we would all be better off if we never outgrew the ability to play, and not in some pseudo-mature manner, but real, dirt eating, knee-scraping, runny-nose kid type playing. Think of all the issues that could be worked out if the world leaders had to share a playground.

A few years ago at Kentucky Kingdom, they had this playhouse for kids and their parents. It was a two level building, open in the middle, with thousands of soft foam rubber balls lying all around to throw at each other. There were bags on the floor to collect them in, and air cannons mounted on the balconies that could shoot a foam ball to any point in the building. There was a huge bucket mounted near the ceiling to throw balls into, and at certain times an alarm would sound and the bucket would tip over and spill the balls down on everyone standing underneath. There were targets to aim at that would set off whistles or sirens, and some that played Bugs Bunny cartoon clips on wall mounted video screens, but the target of choice was the other people there with you.

Children and parents were everywhere, throwing balls at each other, running, screaming, it was a blast. It was a free for all. You would see grown men and women whacking some stranger’s kid with a ball shot from an air cannon, and no one cared, including the kid, who would just blast you back. I got into furious nerf ball fights with adult men and women, plus this one little kid who tracked me around for ten or fifteen minutes before I finally drove him off with a few well placed cannon blasts.

The rubber balls had enough heft to them that you could throw them pretty far, yet were soft enough that even up close they didn’t hurt. I say that to explain this, which I do feel a little guilty about, but the kid in me is still glad I did it.

When it came time to go, I found the boys and told them that whatever ammo they had left was their last, and to meet Mom outside the door when they ran out. I was down to the last ball and I wanted to make it a good one. I was looking for a target as I walked towards the exit. That is when I saw this gray-haired, grandmotherly looking woman turn and begin walking toward the door ahead of me. So… I popped her square in the back of the head… and then walked out with this innocent look on my face as she looked around trying to see where the ball had come from.

For days afterward I would laugh at the audacity of taking a cheap shot on a grandmother.

Now that I have written this far, I have to tell you, all that hoo ha about world leaders, playgrounds and the inner child was just a smoke screen so I could brag about whacking that old lady with a nerf ball.

I have found my inner child… and he is a brat.

Who knew?

Monday, July 14, 2003

The silent moments

The first day back from vacation was very busy. I am the only technician at the hospital for most of what I do, so when I am gone work backs up. When I come back from vacation, I still have the previous week’s work to do. It takes some of the enjoyment out of being off, but last week was very nice. Beverle and I spent most of our week off setting on the deck, just relaxing. We both caught up on all the missed sleep, and ate too much just for the fun of it.

I did not follow the news or wear my watch, and I only rarely checked the web. I am way behind on reading my favorite Bloggers, and I have no idea what is going on outside of the borders of my front yard. I did however follow U.S. Postal after the team time trial. Go Lance!

On the home front, things are good. I cleaned the front deck, washed the front of the house and gutters, and installed a new air conditioner in Jason’s room. We have begun refurbishing the boy’s bathroom and shower. The cat, the bird, and the dog have been spoiled with copious amounts of attention; I have been spoiled as well.

By staying at home, there was none of that time wasted in travel to arrive at the place where we could relax. There were no worries about money, or rushing to see or do everything. Beverle and I talked and enjoyed each other, and when we ran out of things to say, we just sat in the swing and rocked, the silent moments content in their fullness. Yes, I have been spoiled.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

A "Musing"

Thanks to Theophany, I found this writers tool. It is called Musings. Every day it prompts you with a different writing exercise. This is my first try. The exercise was to write 250 words about a bird’s nest.

The bird’s nest has always been her home. Days pass without care, without want. Safe inside, her parents kept her warm and fed. The nest does not change. Its constancy is its comfort, its steadfastness a blanket that keeps her content.

She though, without knowing it, does change. She grows like the opening of a flower bud, almost imperceptively, each day a little less fledgling, each day a little less room in the nest. Her plumage begins to lose its immaturity as she takes on the look of an adult.

The nest begins to feel crowded to her. There is jostling and friction as each tries to hold their ground in the family. She feels her needs more strongly now. Her parents seem slow in providing. She is insistent, they are resistant, she demands, they respond with anger. Something must change, and something has, though she does not understand it. The little bird, little no longer, must leave. It is the way of things.

The nest now, once a place of security and comfort has become unbearable. She does not want to go, but knows she cannot stay. Her parents nudge her to the edge. They stop providing every little need. It is time for her to learn to provide for herself.

The time has finally come. She braces herself on the ledge, wings out stretched and ready. The first step is the biggest of her life. There are no guarantees of success.

She steps out into her life, free from the parent’s nest, free to make a nest of her own. She rolls down the car window to feel the wind on her face. Her father stands on the porch and watches her drive away, while her mother sits in the kitchen and cries a mother bird’s tears.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Six A.M.

Behind me, a Pileated woodpecker taps out a staccato rhythm. Across the holler, another answers the phrase, matching note for note. The first cries out an invitation, and then resumes the duet. They trade licks back and forth, each pausing to listen as the other takes up the melody.

There is a slight wind blowing, and the rustling leaves fill in the gaps. Cicada song moves in stereo from one place to another, surround sound accompaniment to the morning’s performance. It is to the front, now behind and to the left, off to the side, back and forth, round and round.

Sitting on the deck, I catch a scent of breakfast from the kitchen. Beverle is teaching Zachary how to make biscuits. Cloud like catheads, fluffy and hot, with her gravy made with the drippings from the turkey-bacon Zack skillet fries.

We greet the day and we are greeted in turn. The second day of vacation is not vacant, but full. Full to the senses, full in family, full for our stomachs, breakfast is waiting; I have to go.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Captain's Log

I am becalmed of words.

The sails are frustratingly slack.

I stare at them throughout the day, waiting for even a hint of breeze, but nothing comes.

We have provisions for yet a few days, hope will sustain us for a few more, but beyond that is grim, and we refrain from thinking on it.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Oh deer,

If karma exists, then I am set.

This morning I am up by the time Beverle gets home. I have the whole day planned, coffee on the deck, take some time to write and think, sit and read under the umbrella, maybe even get out the guitar and try to start playing again. The big chore of the day was to pay the bills and run the dishwasher, and then I would surf over to nervoueness.org and try to learn about making ATC’s.

That was my plan.

I made it to the deck. I fired the laptop up then decided I would bring the parakeet cage out so Lucy could get some fresh air. My mother-in-law drove by as I was going into the house. The bird and I were kicked back when she walked up onto the porch and sat down.

I spent the rest of the day putting up a fence around her garden to keep the deer out.

The right kind of tension

One gift I keep asking my wife for, but have yet to receive, is a high wire stretched across the backyard.

No, really, I’ve researched this. I have priced ¾-inch steel cable at a store that sells logging equipment. I’ve looked at come-alongs and posts big enough for the tension I would need to support my weight. I figure I can get the whole thing, homemade balance pole included, for around three-hundred dollars.

Okay, I don’t mean a high, high wire, I can’t afford a net, and death defying is not what I’m after here all right?

As a, (not very bright) teenager, I climbed buildings, bridges, and fire towers. I walked beams and ledges, handrails and cables were I could find them. My nickname in school was “Monkee” Tucker. My band teacher gave it to me after finding me in the rafters of the gymnasium. So this is not a wild hair or mid-life crisis yearning, I have wanted one for years. The idea really crystallized after seeing the first Cirque du Soleil film. Do you remember the tightrope walker? He played an oboe solo while walking the wire. The haunting sound of the oboe as he walked back and forth on the wire made a deep impression on me.

Personally, I think everyone needs a circus talent. I can juggle, a little. Using two patterns, I can keep three balls in the air, and sometimes throw one under a leg or behind my back without losing the whole group. Juggling requires intense attention, and mentally can wear you out after a few minutes.

Tight rope walking though, in a Zen sort of way, is very relaxing. You clear the mind so the body can do what it already knows how to do, walk in balance. The height of the wire really doesn’t matter; (yeah right) the focus is inward. Tight rope walking is about controlling your mind, not walking on the wire. You find this calm, confident place in your mind, an almost meditative state. If you think about falling, you do.

I think this would be a good thing for the boys to learn as well. The metaphors for life are elementary and easy to see. The confidence gained would help them in every area, and it is just “too stinking cool”, yes it is.

Actually, Beverle has offered several times, including this past Father’s Day, to let me put up a wire, but boring grown-up that I am, when it comes to putting out the cash I balk at such an eccentric gift. It is too bad really. Next time though I am going through with it, pictures will be posted.

If you could learn any circus skill, which one would it be?

Share it with us in the comments.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Rolling moss gathers no stone

Last night Beverle and I had dinner with my parents. Mom made spaghetti with her unique meat sauce. Actually, sauce is not accurate, this is something she made up when I was a kid and I have never seen a recipe like it anywhere else.

She browns some ground beef, and drains it. Then she adds enough ketchup to lightly coat the meat. Next, she adds onions, and chili powder to taste, stirs it all up and simmers until the spice is cooked into the beef. Scoop generously onto the pasta of your choice, stir to spread the flavoring onto the pasta, and then eat.

I usually eat enough of this to feed a small family, and last night was no exception. Desert was cobbler made from fresh picked blueberries and Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream.

After eating all that, we needed to move around to assuage our guilt for blowing our diets so badly. Dad said he needed some help putting up a birdhouse, so I held the pole while he attached the brackets to hold it in place. Then Mom wanted to go for a walk. She put the dog on a leash, forbid the cats to follow, and we ambled down the road.

We stopped at my uncle’s just down the street. He and his wife are avid gardeners. Their back yard was ablaze with hundreds of flowers. They gave us a tour, telling us the names of all the plants we did not recognize, (and there were many).

After that, we stood staring at the ducks in their neighbor’s pond across the road. We debated for several minutes before realizing the ducks were not real. He had colored the water green with something and placed two duck decoys in the middle. We don’t know why. Maybe it was just to make people ask questions. Very strange.

We walked out the road, talking about the fence line a farmer had recently cleared out, and about one of the other neighbor’s dogs who would bite if you came too close to the yard. Dad pointed out a house that had sold recently, the new owners had bought everything but “the horse and the dog”, Dad said. As we neared the end of the road I realized were we were headed. Mom had been leading us towards the cemetery all along.

Duff Cemetery sets across the road from the now unused, one room Duff Church. It is an old-fashioned country church, as you might see on a postcard; it was built in the 1800’s. A few years ago, family of the members buried there restored the church. They fixed the plank siding, repainted it, and placed a replica bell on a brick podium in the churchyard.

Although none of Mom's family was ever members of Duff Church, they have chosen this graveyard as their family burial ground. My parents have already purchased their headstone and it is in place, needing just the final date to be engraved. I saw their headstone a few months back following the unexpected death of one of my cousins. As we were leaving his gravesite, Mom pointed their headstone out. It made me very uncomfortable seeing my parent’s names there, and now we were returning to the graveyard to look at the plots again.

This time was different though; for it was not their gravesite we had come to see, but my own. As more and more of Mom’s family have bought sites in the cemetery, my parents were concerned there would be no room left for their close family when the time came. Mom came into my office at work a few weeks ago and asked me to talk with Bev about being buried there. I talked with Beverle about it that afternoon, and shortly thereafter, my parents bought us four family plots as a gift. Mom brought the deed to me at work a few days after I talked with Bev.

So after a very nice dinner, followed by a pleasant visit with my uncle, whom I rarely see, then a relaxing stroll along a country road, I ended up standing on my own grave.
Strange, very strange.