Crazy Charlsie Part 27

 

Mr. Grady had thoughtfully put his cow in with Ol’Bully before coming in for breakfast, an expedient decision, since Ol’ Bully would have kicked the fence to get to her in her enticing state. By the time the men got back, the deed was done and Ol’ Bully was bumping the gate, anxious to get back to the tall, sweet grass and his bevy of beauties. A fickle creature, he had no further interest in the fair lady he’d just won.

Though Robert was anxious to get to work, Mr. Grady pulled a can of Prince Albert Tobacco from the bib of his overalls. Stalling, he offered the tobacco and pack of cigarette papers. “Help yourself, Robert, lessen you got some ready roll you’d care to share.”

“No sir, Mr. Grady. I ain’t never got the habit. You go ahead. Me an’ the boys got to git to work. I hate I ain’t got visitin’ time today, but we got a long day ahead of us.” Robert had lived on the farm next to Grady for years and never been invited to call him by his first name, though Mr. Grady and his boys had always addressed him as Robert. It still stung a little, though it was the way he’d grown up.

”They is one more thing I need to ast you.  My old mule died and  I got to git my garden broke up. Kin I use your tractor, today?” Mr. Grady patted the fender of the red International parked by the barn.

”Mr. Grady, my tractor’s broke down.  This one here belongs to Miss Geneva’s farm an’ ain’t mine to loan, but I can loan you my mule.  I’ll catch him for you.  He kind of feisty since he don’t got worked a lot, but I know them big ol’ boys of yours can handle him.” Robert offered.

”Naw, that won’t help me none.   I done throwed my back out an can’t plow.  I can’t count on them boys.  Three ‘em is off workin’ somewhere’s, three’s a courtin’, and one’s down with toothache.   I can’t never keep up with them fellers.  I ain’t had time to teach young Tommy yet.  You real fortunate, a colored man with a fine place like this to work and fine equipment you ain’t got to buy.  Now, I ain’t saying you don’t deserve it, but you sure got a bird’s nest on the ground.” He didn’t look like he thought Robert deserved all that luck.

Robert knew where this was going.  He’d endured Mr. Grady’s whining before.  He had work to get to and knew it was best to stay on Mr. Grady’s good side.  “Tell you what, Mr. Grady.  I can be over about six in the morning to break up your garden, but if the boys show up sooner, just send them over for the mule.”

Things had worked out just as Mr. Grady  hoped.  “That’ll sure help me out.  Tommy, fetch that cow and we’ll get out of the way.  These folks has work to do.  My ole lady will have coffee when you git there.  Just tap at the back door and I’ll bring it out.”  He shuffled off with Tommy and the cow a few paces behind.

Charley held his question till they were out of hearing.  “Robert, why are you going to plow his garden?  Didn’t seem like he treated you just right.”

“Charley, it’s best to git along with folks if you can.  I end up plowing his garden ever’ year.  Neither Mr. Grady ner his boys is bad about workin’ and I hate to see his womenfolk do without.   You’ll see when we git there tomorrow.  Let’s git to it, fellers.  We burning daylight!”  Their day had started.

 

Hard Time Marrying Part 11

 

Fatigued almost beyond bearing, Anya’s head felt as though it would burst.  Her jaw ached and blood drained from her left ear.  Her stepmother, Bessie had deafened her right years ago, but now she’d developed a deafening roar in her left.  Barely conscious, she struggled to maintain her death grip on the cow’s halter and half-walked and was half-dragged the final half-mile to the barn. Though she couldn’t hear it, the farm dog barked at her staggering approach, but for some reason didn’t offer to bite as she struggled to the barnyard. Instinct alone guided her into the barn where she collapsed on the haystack.  Old Bossie followed her in and was grateful of the opportunity to get her feed early.  Hay drifted over Anya as she slept, keeping the secret of her presence, though in her decreasing consciousness, she had no concern for anything.  Unaware of anything except pain and fatigue, she slept late into the next day.

Anya’s mind was foggy when she awoke, only aware of pain, hunger and thirst.  The beating she’d taken left her deaf and confused. She did vaguely remember trying to fire the pistol, but nothing after that.  Her raging thirst drove her from the barn.  With the pain in her jaw, eating would not have been an option.  She made her way toward the cabin, seeking water.

Had anyone been there to see her, she’d have been a horrifying specter as she fell against the door.  Wakening to find Jack licking the blood from her ear, she managed to hang onto the wall and table till she got to the water bucket.  Slaking her thirst, she dropped painfully to the cabin floor, unaware she was in the world.

 

 

One Toe Over the Line

milking_a_cow2This is a stock photo of woman milking a cow.  I can promise you Mother never smiled like that when milking.

My mother was so rough on my poor daddy, but thank goodness, she was punished for her sins.  She was a hulking five feet tall at best, so she was well able to best for six foot three inch husband any time she wanted.  Not only that, he was so bashful he’d barely speak up for himself.  Big joke!  Daddy wore the pants in his house and made sure everyone KNEW it.  I think he’d seen way too many John Wayne movies and had no intention of being taken for a softy.

I rarely saw Mother even bother to tangle with Daddy.  She understood her life was much easier if she just went along with his demands.  From time to time, she was forced to take a stand, like the time she kicked him.  Before you get all excited and set off to congratulate her for getting some gumption, it was strictly accidental.  She gets no points.  To set the stage, you need to know, Mother did all the milking.  According to Daddy, the Bible forbade men to milk a cow.  “Thou shalt not take what thee cannot give.”  He often invented Bible verses in time of great need, not bothering to quote chapter and verse. The Bible never was a big part of his day unless he needed to make a point anyway. 

As always, Mother put biscuits in the oven before she went out to milk the cow every morning before daylight.  One morning it was sleeting as she trudged toward the barn in Daddy’s boots and barn coat, making the job even worse than usual.  Just as she finished milking, the cow slapped her with its poop-encrusted tail, kicked over the milk bucket and stepped on her booted foot.  Mother hated that damned cow anyhow.  They’d traded insults through their whole association.  Furious at the hated cow and the loss of the much-needed milk, Mother worked her agonized foot way out of the boot still pinned under the cow’s hoof, kicked the cow as hard as she could, falling down in the filth in the process.  The cow showed little interest, just lifted her tail and splattered Mother with her most abundant resource. 

Mother hobbled to the house coated in manure.  She had to strip and clean up the best she could before starting breakfast.  Her two babies, one an infant and the other under two were just waking up demanding attention as she pulled the biscuits out of the oven.  Daddy yelled at her from the bedroom, “Come see about these squalling babies.  I don’t have but a few more minutes before I have to get up and go to work.”  Somehow, he lived, but they didn’t have more children! 

By ten o’clock every night, Mother was whipped.  Like all mothers, she was chronically sleep-deprived.  She always had a cup of coffee to relax her before she went to bed, but had a hard time staying awake long enough to finish it.  When Daddy got ready to go to bed, he got up, went to the bathroom, and hit the bed.  When Mother said she was going to bed, she hung a last load of laundry in front of the fireplace, hoping some of it would be dry by morning, put a load in to wash, made a last run through the kitchen, filled the tea kettle and put coffee in the pot so it wouldn’t take too long in the morning, made sure Daddy’s lunch stuff and clothes were ready for tomorrow, scouted out kids shoes, books, and coats, and a few other little things.  Finally, she’d check on the kids, and head to bed where Daddy was snoring away.

This particular night, she’d just gotten to sleep when Daddy rolled over on her long hair.  He slept like the dead.  She pushed and yelled, but couldn’t make him stir.  In desperation, she kicked him, forgetting she’d already hurt her foot that morning.  The pain was excruciating, but Daddy never woke.  She was finally able to hold get her feet in the flat of his back and shoved him off.  The next morning, he reported a restful night while she hobbled around on a bruised foot, the toe obviously battered.  Till today, she still has to buy shoes a full size larger since her great toe points to Heavenward.

 

Poke

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Flip Side of a Coin

imageWaiting to see a doctor can be tedious or fascinating depending on the humanity sharing that space and moment. One one recent visit, I waited with an open lively, old woman and her young granddaughter as well as a geriatric couple. The wife was obviously fatigued by the demands of caring for her husband who suffered from advanced Parkinson’s Disease. He had such a pronounced tremor, he had to clasp his hands on his knees to come control the shaking.

Bored, we all sat as though mesmerized, zoned in on a commercial featuring a cow when little Susie, the granddaughter asked Granma if she’d ever milked a cow.

“I milked me many a cow!” She laughed. “Why, one time when I was about your age, I was a’staying with my granpa and he set me to milking. A big ol’ hog slipped up to that cow on the other side and he was a’sucking that cow’s back titty while I was milking the other side. I was just a’laughing, but didn’t stop my milking. Granpa heard me laughing and knowed what happened and came in and run that ol’hog out. Grandpa said that ol’ hog tricked him and stole milk that way many a time.”

She had the complete attention of all those waiting as she finished her tale. Meanwhile, the man had taken advantage of his wife’s distraction to attempt to pick his nose. He was intent on the task, made more difficult by his tremor. Using both hands to guide his finger to his nose, he’d almost completed his mission when his wife whirled and caught him about to claim his prize. Disgusted, she slapped his hand away.

I loved the the old lady’s story while I felt bad the old man had to live that way. They were the of an age but their situations were so different.

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Our House

imageFive kids

In response to The Daily Post writing prompt “Our House”

Our house, was a very, very, fine house, I thought. The center of my world….a small, white frame house surrounded by a picket fence sitting under a huge shade tree.  For many years it was a three-room house till Daddy added two bedrooms and a screened-in back porch to accommodate his growing family.  I played in the deep, soft sand with my brother and sister on hot summer days. Honey-colored pine floors warmed the rooms, walls covered in cedar paneling.  Yellow and green tiles in an alternating pattern covered the kitchen floor.  The stove, with a pan of left-over biscuits for snacks, its door propped up with a stick, stood at one end of the kitchen, the refrigerator at the other, while cabinets ran along the outside wall.  We all crowded around a red dinette set with a high chair pulled alongside.  Mother’s wringer washer and the big deep freeze were housed on the screened-in back porch that had been pressed into service as a makeshift utility room.  She suffered terribly doing her wash in the cold till the screens were covered with heavy plastic coated hardware wire and a space heater was installed.  Clothes hung on lines strung across that room on rainy days.  Our house was noisy with the shrieks of children at play, my mother’s laughter, and the joy of rowdy children.  It was unusually scattered and looked like a tornado had ripped through not ten minutes after Mother finished cleaning.

The house was cold in winter, hot in summer, though the big attic fan lulled us to sleep on hot summer nights.  On sunny days, leafy shadows danced on my bedroom walls and floor.  Sometimes on hot days, I napped stretched out on the cool pine floors. Other times, I slept on a pallet of quilts with my cousin when company stayed nights.

Mother got up before we did to light the space-heaters that inadequately heated the house.  We’d back up to the heaters and roast our behinds while our fronts chilled till the house finally warmed up.

A wonderful two-story barn filled with hay stood in the barnyard behind the house.  On rainy days, we raced out to play in the barn, never to be held captive indoors.  It was heaven to play in the stalls and climb in the loft to build forts in the hay.  On fine days, we were free to roam the pastures and woods.  We climbed trees and dropped off on the backs of cows dozing in the shade, for short but exciting rides.  Sometimes we were lucky enough to lure a horse close enough to a fence to get on his back and get a bareback ride till he tired of us.  My brother still has a grudge in at me for jumping off as the horse headed into a stall, leaving him to be scraped off by the low roof.  It was a perfect way to grow up.

It pains me that today that house is about to fall down.

People Ought Not to Have to Live That Way

imageAfter his father died , Daddy told of his family moving in a battered old shack sitting in a open field occupied by a bull and herd of cows.  It was really not much better than a barn, just unpainted planks with unfinished walls inside, tin roof visible above the open rafters. The  cows offered little threat, but the Jersey bull raged when the cows were in heat.  Mettie and the kids had to always had to keep a look out for him when they stepped outdoors to do laundry or fetch water from the well.  Mettie kept the little girls close by in case they had to make a run for the house.  She and the older boys made sure he was nowhere around before starting across the open field to the road. Continue reading

Bossy, Budgetting. and the Raffle

CowI hate to give the impression I’m countrified, but I won a cow once!  How many people can honestly say that?  Way back yonder, when I first got married, I dipped deep in my grocery money to buy a two dollar raffle ticket from my little sister-in-law.  Her 4-H Club was raffling off a heifer.  She hadn’t had much luck peddling her tickets, so we sacrificed for her pride, left the pound of ground chuck ($.89), four ounces of loose tea leaves ($.29) ketchup ($.29), and a bottle of imitation of vanilla ($.69) off our grocery list. That brought us close enough that we managed to stay under twenty dollars, but I had to really shop the specials.  Mother helped out by giving me a dozen eggs, so we may have even come out a little ahead!

A couple of days later, I got the good news!  I won! I won!  I’d never won anything before.  My win including having my prize hauled to the farm of my choice.  Since I had no farm, Daddy said my cow could board with him, a fine, generous offer.  As I gloated in my victory, I got another call.  Tragedy!  Bossy had jumped out of the truck and was lying on the road with a broken leg, getting ready to become hamburger.  Fortunately for me, Farmer Brown, the original heifer donor was kind enough to put her out of her misery, scoop her up tenderly with his backhoe, haul her to the meat processing plant, and pay for her transformation into over five hundred pounds  of steaks, brisket, roasts, stew meat, and hamburger.  I loved Bossy so much.

The Great Cow Hoist

The Great Cow Hoist has been an ongoing argument between Connie and Marilyn for years.  At the risk of alienating one of my sisters, as a true witness, I feel obligated to set the record straight.  Mother was there as well, but everyone knows how ditzy Mother is.  Additionally, she tries to be impartial, so she sees the story both ways, depending on Continue reading

The Doctor’s Office, Lady, Pig, and Cow

The time in our doctor’s waiting room became unexpectedly enjoyable as we sat with an elderly lady and her family. No one had said much beyond “Good morning” till the elderly lady asked her daughter to push her closer so she could admire the ornaments on the tree Dr. Irby had so generously decorated for her patients’ pleasure. She laughed and said, “I am eighty-three years old. I’ve come all the way from chopping wood to people walking on the moon. Oh, I’ve chopped lots of wood.” As she talked on, she cackled as she told this one. “I’ve milked many a cow in my time, many a cow. I remember one time, I was ‘a milking two titties and a pig was ‘a sucking on the other side.” She had us all laughing along with her. We would have loved to spend the rest of the day with her. What a wonderful visit we had!