You Just Can’t be Nice to Some Folks

imageA young fellow came in telling a rough story of his day’s work yesterday working for Grumpa’s Roofing. That must be one of the roughest jobs in the Louisiana August heat.  It would be hard to choose between that and going into an attic to get rid of bees or wasps.  Anyway, Cary is a easy-going, hardworking kid.  He’d have to be to put up with his irascible Grumpa.

Grumpa’s crew was hard at work when Cary went to the truck to get himself and the rest of the crew some more drinks.  Sweat dripped into his eyes as he staggered back under the weight of the heavy ice-chest, finally dumping it as hoisted it, spilling the ice and drinks on the ground.  As he scrambled to rescue ice and drinks, Grumpa lit into him, making the day even go even better.

Cary sorted the mess to the tune of Grumpa’s complaints.  Perhaps he was a good-hearted old guy, or maybe he was just hungry, but on a run for more ice, Grumpa picked up a bunch of gas-station fried chicken to treat his crew to lunch.  The hungry guys chowed down.  Gas-station fried chicken is just never a good idea.  Not long after they got back to work in the killer heat, one guy retched in the rosebushes along the front of the house.  Another staggered just far enough to splatter his lunch on the driveway in full view of the poor old lady peeking out the window.  As Cary climbed the ladder with a bundle of shingles, his eyes crossed and his knees buckled. Dropping the shingles, and clinging to the ladder, he divested himself of his chicken dinner just a few feet from the unhappy homeowner.  Meanwhile, the only functional member of the crew saved the day, whipping out his camera to film the whole thing for posterity.  Thank God for cell-phones!

As his sick crew gathered on the ground to recover, one insisted he be taken home.  They all joined in, feeling urgent need of bathrooms and privacy.  They’d met up and ridden to the job in Grumpa’s work truck.  Grumpa was livid at losing a half-day’s work after he’d been good enough to buy lunch.  “You’re just a bunch of pussies, just a bunch of pussies!  Can’t even work through a little belly-ache!”

The good thing about a rough day is the motivation to get a better job.  From then on you can look back and remember how bad it can be.

 

 

 

Styling on Shoes

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I am thankful I’ve achieved one of my life goals!  I got Keds!  All the snooty kids wore Keds when I was in school.  Since there were five of us to shoe, Mother showed no interest in putting us on our path to snootiness.  When the guy at the shoe repair shop gave her notice that shoes were beyond repair, she’d bring home a new pair, sized by the pencilled imprint of the lucky kid’s foot.  She always went prepared,  just in case.  We were a one-car family and there was no possibility of a special trip just for shoes.  We were whatever she brought home.  There was no chance we could claim ugly shoes didn’t fit.  She knew what she was doing.

Sometimes,  one of us tripped Mother up by having a major shoe malfunction resultingin shoe acquisition that couldn’t be put off till Thursday, Daddy’s payday and her scheduled trip to town,  in that miserable situation.  On more the one occasion, she made a panicky trip to the dry goods store in Cottage Valley and bought the only shoes available.  We hated these crummy sneakers, or “Tennies” as we called them, the ugly, red-headed stepchildren of Keds.

Girls got a style somewhat reminscent of Keds, usually white, wide in the arch, just right for duck feet. Bill got hightop, black basketball shoes with a white basketball on the ankle.  Naturally, we had to wear theses lovelies till they fell apart.  Mine were always dirty by the time I got to school, even if I were lucky enough they’d just been washed, and frankly, they weren’t washed that often.

My brother Billy got off the bus in one shoe after school one afternoon.  Mother exploded. “Boy, where’s your shoe?”

He wasted some time trying to explain and she wasted more trying to make sense of the story.  Finally, she got down to business and hauled him back to school to retrieve it from deep in a mass of brush on the wrong side of a hurricane fence.  Undoubtedly, he’d pushed it deeper in his rescue attempts.  Eventually, they showed up at home victorious except for scratches on her forearms and a tick or two.

 

 

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A Spoonful of Sugar

goat poopI think I’ve mentioned my cousin Corwin was interesting. He was still hauling his bottle around when he started school. His teacher made him leave it at home, so first thing after getting off the bus, he’d get his bottle out of the cabinet, fill it up, and enjoy it along with his after school snack. A hearty eater, he’d grab up a handful of Gravytrain Chunks out of the dog’s bowl as he headed out to play football with his big brothers. As a crawling baby, Corwin had started shoving the puppy out of his bowl and just kind of got hooked on Gravytrain. It added a interest to the game to see Corwin playing football with his baby bottle sticking out of his back pocket. One of his brothers or cousins invariably snatched his bottle and ran, passing it on to whichever kid was new to the game. The chase was on. Corwin carried a grudge to the bitter end and picked up a stick or rock and bash the bottle thief’s head in long after the game of “Keepaway” concluded. His older brothers felt this bit of info was on a “need to know” basis, so new kids had to find out the hard way.

When he was about five or six, Corwin decided it was funny to pee the space heater. He’d fall all over himself to beat his mama in the front door, drop his pants, and spray the open flame with a stinking deluge that spattered, steamed, and spewed up the whole house. As he sprayed from side to side, kids would be scattering to avoid the stream. Should he have any ammo left, bystanders got it. His mother made a token protest, followed by, “I don’t know what makes that boy act like that.” Daddy told my aunt he’d hooked an electric shock to the heater, so Corwin would be electrocuted. She believed Daddy, so made Corwin give it up. I was sorry it wasn’t true.

Corwin was horrible. We all hated him. To make a long story short, Corwin was so darned mean, nobody would have stuck up for him. About that time, Daddy brought in some goats. At any rate, when Corwin saw goat pills littering the yard, he thought, they were chocolate M&Ms and gobbled quite a few before he noticed the taste was off. My brother and I made sure he had all he wanted. Seemed like justice.

Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad • The Kindle Version

From the lovely Erika Kind. Thanks.

Erika Kind

Yay, the print version is available! I just ordered it! I am so excited to get the book. What makes it so special for me is the fact that I met both Linda and her mom in person! I can say this from my heart that they are two of the most kind-heartet people I ever met!

Please check out the book filled with the life of an amazing strong woman.

The Kindle Version Can Be Found Here Please tell your friends……… Also available in print version for those of you who love the feel of a book in your hand!

Source: Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad • The Kindle Version

In Love and Light

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I Will Tell You These Secrets

Reblogged on Nutsrok.

Art by Rob Goldstein

Your touch

is a

healing

caress

and when

we touch

my heart

beats within

your chest.

I think of you

each morning,

I look for you

each night,

I remember

your embrace

and savor the

memory of my

delight.

how can I express

the power

of my gratitude?

To hold you,

To know that

I am safe,

sheltered from

the pain

of these

memories

that

consume

me.

I look into

your eyes

and see

that you are

not

afraid.

I can never

repay you

for the wonder

you bring

but I can tell

you these secrets:

you kiss my lips and open my heart

you touch me and awaken my body

you gaze into my eyes and heal

my soul,

and when you hold me,

I am complete.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015

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Smorgasbord Open House – Author and Blogger Linda Bethea

Reblogged from Smorgasbord. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

New Open House

I am so delighted to welcome author and blogger Linda Bethea to the Open House today. Linda has long delighted me with her stories about her childhood growing up in a colourful extended family, told with such humour and warmth that you immediately feel as though you are part of the tribe.

Her mother Kathleen was brought up during the great depression and her recollections are part of our precious living history which needs to be preserved. Linda and Kathleen have gone one better and have compiled these stories into a wonderful book that has recently been published.  If you missed the Summer Reading earlier in the month here is a reminder with some views by the readers who have enjoyed the book.

Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad by Linda Swain Bethea (Author) with Kathleen Holdaway Swain (Collaborator & Illustrator)

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About the book

Born to a struggling farm family…

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The More Things Change (part 2)

imageAs I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into Grandma’s pillowy softness, smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder, unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. Sure, I was her favorite grandchild, I later learned the other kids thought the same things, the mark of a good grandmother.

We only visited Grandma In summers, since she lived a few hours away.  I loved following her to tend the chickens where She made that praise Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough her eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, an ornery red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.  Once I had the thrill of seeing Grandma fearlessly make short work of a black chicken snake lounging in a nest with an egg in his mouth.  Unbelievably, she grabbed him barehanded and slung him to the ground, where she dispatched him to snake heaven with the shovel she always carried outdoors.

Daily, we walked her yard, shovel in hand,checking out the flowers, moving one or two that needed a better home, filling a hole here, rooting out a weed there.  She gathered tomatoes, okra, and squash from the garden, later serving them at lunch, tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Before one, we made the ritual walk to the mailbox with a letter or two.  Grandma often got two or three letters a day since she wrote to numerous friends and relatives.  She’d read these to us as a group, “Oh!  Winnie’s girl Opal’s little girl is a princess in the school play.  She’s your third cousin.  All of Winnie’s kids did good.  They were all smart as whips!” going on to tell us stories of her girlhood with the distant Wiinie.

I envied my unknown cousin, though I’d never wanted to be a princess before or since.  Sometimes, the letters included pictures, which we poured over.

As my granddaughter and I relaxed in a dear friend’s garden, I collected cleome seed to share with her sometime down the road, a reminder of this day.  I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together.

The More Things Change

 

family6Grandma slipped silently out the back door.  The last I remembered, I’d been asleep on the train.  Not wanting to be left alone, I rolled to my belly and hung off the edge of her high bed, my pudgy feet peddling till I thudded solidly to the unfinished wood floor.  Following her out into the dewy grass of the early daylight, I saw her lurching one-sidedly under the burden of a heavy bucket of corn in one hand, a shovel in the other, totally unaware of being tailed.  As I padded silently behind, sandburs pierced my baby feet.  Dropping to my round bottom, I screamed at the insult.  The grass at home was soft and welcoming.  Startled by my banshee cries, Grandma turned.  “Oh my Lord.  I thought I shut the door behind me.  You could have gotten in the road!”

Dropping the bucket of corn, she rushed over to comfort me, seating me on the shovel blade to pick sandburs out of my feet.  By the time she’d finished, I pointed out a huge yellow road grader a few yards away on the side of the dirt road.  “You want to see that?  Okay.  We’ll Go over.  It’ll be a while before the workers get here.”  I stood on the shovel blade and bent to hold the handle as she pulled me over to have a closer look, lifting me as high as she could to get a closer look at the gigantic tires.   I am still fascinated by heavy machinery. 

After I had my fill of the road grader, we went back for her bucket of corn to feed her chickens.  I liked the chickens just fine, though they weren’t nearly as interesting as the road machine.  We had chickens at home.  The barn next to the chicken yard was a different matter.  Since the grass was worn away between the two, I toddled over to have a look.  A chain with a padlock ran through two holes in the big double doors, denying me entry.  I peeked through into the shade of the barn to see a child-sized table and chairs, rocking horse, tricycle, and a red wagon.  Grandma’s little black and white dog dropped to his belly and wiggled into the barn through deep, sandy hole worn under the doors.  I dropped to my belly tunneling right behind him.  Had Grandma moved just a little slower, I’d have earned my prize.  Instead, she pulled me by my bare feet back into the barn yard. 

I howled in protest as she explained those things belonged to the child of the landlord and were off limits to me.  I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around that, having no idea what a landlord was, but I knew what toys were, and meant to have them.

Back in the house, after that major disappointment, Grandma cooked breakfast, and I met my first true love, bacon.  I have not tasted anything that wonderful before or after.

That is my first conscious memory, though I must have been familiar with Grandma.  Mother dated it to around the time I was eighteen months old.  I am older now than Grandma was then, and  like her, carry a shovel as I putter in the yard, an excellent implement to have on hand for a little impromptu digging or snake-killing.  Some things never change.

sun hat