November 30, 2008

November 25, 2008

Hen Revisited

I was reading a post by Fermi in which she was discussing a balanced life, between all things that comprise that which you consider to be on your plate. The post made me stop for a second and consider the balance I have in my own life.

What is there, is just there. I don't think it's ever entered my mind in any way. What sort of balance are people looking for? A balance between home, social & work lives?

At what point in life do these questions appear? I've heard people talk about these things before, but never considered them. Much as the phraseology, "finding myself"... I've heard it, but never thought about it, I understand it, but always placed it in the useless banter to justify actions category.

When things happen, large or small you just deal with it. Children? You do your best, Work, Spouses.. all of it, you just get up each day and go forward in a zombie like state doing what you can, and enjoying life as much as possible. The only key to me or constant rather, is love.

Seems to me that love is what makes it all worth it. Would I rather stay in bed every morning? Sure, who wouldn't... Would it be easier to skive off the kids as much as possible, either to a relative or have the older one babysit the younger one & take off for a night of well earned debauchery.. Sure, but damn.. I want to see them as much as possible, yes.. even when they are being completely impossible and requiring discipline every ten minutes..

Work? When the schedule calls for it you work late, travel or do what you have to... but then you work as a team to just deal with it. To me, all these things seem like life, you don't ask, you just do it... you go for what you want and keep up with what you have...

Like I said, it seems that love is what holds it all together and keeps it going forward. There is a time and place for everything. Yet you just seem to realize as time goes by that playing the grass is greener game is pretty fucking useless. Materialism, envy, jealousy, and hatred weed themselves out at a rapid pace when you simply look at whats around you and learn to appreciate it for what it is, your life, your very own little world.

To find this ever elusive "balance" just takes a second.. just a crystal clear moment of reality that lets you know that you don't have to be a bastard, a bitch or an asshole to those around you. You just love them. The folk that aren't worth a damn out themselves as such and move away leaving your path clear for nothing but bliss. And that, well that's a pretty good place to be.

November 22, 2008

Plain ass cold...

With the weather taking a decidedly unsouthern turn toward winter, I made the decision yesterday to lay in a supply of breakfast materials for this morning. This way no one would have to venture out in eighteen degree fall briskness when it was discovered that we lacked something we didn't think about, yet would surely need..

Everything was in place and set the night before and what has transpired is a frenzy of comfy chair sleeping, reading, video game playing, sausage and bacon overload, coffee swimming, and complete domestic upheaval.

I have always loved the quips about the south that transplants toss out at such times.. Especially when a thin layer of snow blankets the ground and everything shuts down... resulting in a run on bread and milk at any and all supply depots.. But hey, why the hell not? It only happens once or twice a year and we have no real supply of salt trucks or plows to deal with it, why not just stay at home, eat & let the kids run around outside for a bit... It'll be gone tomorrow and life will be back to normal...

Yes, we are easily amused in the south, a few snow flakes and we all are stuck to the windows watching it fall with childlike enthusiasm. The air is crisp and a quiet chill blankets the outside, these blurry shots from the porch were braved when it was about twenty three outside, yet the thick socks and flannel pajamas and long winter coat held it at bay. My shoes were in the bedroom and we do not disturb spousal repose for such an excuse as to suit up for picture taking early in the morning... but the books were lined up, the warm blankets at hand to snuggle under, the video games piled in playing order, movies queued up for later, coffee free flowing in gigantic mugs, and food piled high... Yep, it's been a good day...

November 20, 2008


I did something today I haven’t done in a long time. On the way into work this morning I stopped in at the corner store, situated at the intersection of highways 166 and 5 in Douglas County. Way back when, I stopped in there several times a week to get two eggs and a side order of bacon for two bucks. A bargain…

There is a lady named Brenda that works behind the counter in the store. She is loud and brash, tiny and gray headed. When I came through the door there wasn’t anyone inside except her, and she was busy flitting around refilling the food warmer with breakfast fodder. The familiar blast furnace level of heat and the smell of freshly sliced onions met me, mixed with a hint of Pine-sol. The heat and smells of this place always send me soaring back to my grandmother’s kitchen. Watching in awe as she put the finishing touches on a main dish before making the entrance to the dining room. I walked to the counter; she looked up and beamed a huge grin… she squealed out in her too many cigarettes an hour voice, “Now where the hell have you been?” “Work, home, walmart, and the book store.” Was my answer… it rolled off my tongue without a second thought. I asked how she had been, steeling myself against the tide of health issues that I knew I was about to be hit with, and she did not disappoint. When the last of the litany was tossed out ending with a long sigh, she then asked how I had been doing…”bout normal” She laughed and began telling me all about the goings on around the store for the last several months. I was a bit disturbed by how she seemed to know the exact date of my last visit, yet found a strange comfort in it.

When the last detail of the store owner’s machinations for world domination were spilled and my bacon and eggs were prepped, bagged, and waiting, I reached in my pocket for the two dollars and fifty cents (the price went up in my absence). For no reason at all I asked her, “Where are you headed in life Brenda?” Without missing a beat she replied, “Just waitin’ for that glorious morning when the alarm clock goes off to find me already gone and walking hand in hand with my husband wrapped in the grace of God”

That just simply struck my soul. I stared at her for a moment as her eyes told me that she seemed to have said something a little too personal… Years of dealing with construction workers had honed her wit and prepared her mind to be ready to hear all manner of foul speech bantered back and forth around her. Yet, she was obviously not prepared for words that might slip from her own mouth. After a couple of seconds she attempted recovery by taking a stab at a joke, “You see, nobody could dance like Rodney, and darlin’ it’s been a long time since I went dancing.” But that seemed to push her farther into a place she wasn’t comfortable being near in the presence of another person. She looked quickly down at the counter and took out a napkin from her apron pocket, I took that as my signal to grab the paper bag of breakfast and head out.. As I reached for the door knob, she mumbled something to me I couldn’t understand, I looked back at her as I opened the door, stepping aside as people came in. She didn’t look at me, but with amazing speed recovered from her emotional moment with a skill that would’ve impressed any seasoned thespian. She raised her head and greeted the group with a loud, “Hey y’all, what are you up to this morning?” You would’ve never known the depth of emotion that had just encased that room.

I walked out of the door, but couldn’t help stopping in front of the big window to glance at her through the hand painted words. She looked back at me and smiled, slowly shaking her head… then bit her lower lip and gave me a rather good stink eye as she pointed at me, shaking her finger in admonition for my breaking through her wall of toughness. I smiled and gave her a helpless shrug as if to say I’m sorry… She just shook her head and turned away to get the orders being shouted at her from the counter.

The look she held in her eyes as she thought of her husband is something that I will carry for a long time to come. A secret to guard close for use as a shield in times when I think there just is no love left in this world.

November 11, 2008

Bless Up

When the day turns out to be one of those long, drawn out affairs where Mr. Murphy is proving to be a worthy adversary. It comes as a definite heart warming event to arrive home to a surprise from a very special voice in the Caribbean.

Lady Roots was kind enough to bestow upon me a rare gift of talent and love today. As I walked in the door Patrick met me and told me that a "guy came here today and made me sign for a package all the way from Jamaica!" When he handed it to me, a smile broke out across a weary face. When I opened it and saw the bracelet she had sent me I was very touched.

I send a very heart felt thank you to you Lady Roots for your gift of talent and your message of truth. Thank you, Sistren, thank you indeed. Your gift shall certainly be repaid in kind.

If you cant make out the envelope in the photograph the message is

"Idren Clay,

I said a prayer as I chose each bead, for Jah to meet your every need. Wisdom, compassion and vibrant health. For these are measures of true wealth.
Bless Up, Lady Roots"

How can you not end your day with a grin after receiving such a bold and loving gift as this? The only dilemma I face now is that I truly don't know which item to cherish more, the bracelet or the envelope...

November 08, 2008

Piece of mind

As Ralphie so poignantly stated, "My mother hasn't had a warm meal in twelve years." I have seen the evidence of this down through the years. My mother, along with countless others, has suffered from this malady that seems to afflict most women who have given of themselves and reproduced.

In recent years I have begun to watch this same syndrome take hold in my own little world. Fourteen years ago when Patrick arrived I was the typical consummate father; I did nothing... The baby is awake? Well go get him... He needs feeding? Well go feed him... You're tired? Well I've got a lot of important television to watch... Don't get me wrong, I changed plenty of diapers and I did quite a bit, more than most of the guys I knew. I have been the chauffeur, school parent, problem solver and disciplinarian right there with her, at least until my ability to accept stupidity in stride reached it's limit and I would simply walk away from the situation, and expect Julie to take over.. She's graceful that way. My problem was that I just didn't think about it. No sense of propriety at all. What was important was what I deemed to be so.

The first real thoughts of this that I had came about when James was born. Julie had a rough time with the pregnancy. Patrick was easy, she only missed one day of work. James was a monster from the moment of conception.. something that still hasn't changed... Yet his strong spirit comforts me some how. Watching Julie's struggle in making it through the pregnancy and delivery made me realize just what this woman had to put up with. So I set a plan in place and stuck to it. I was simply there.

Julie was on maternity leave and kept up with James during the week as I went to work. I would take over during the evening for a while, until it became time for bed, then she was back on duty. On Friday evenings I took over completely, until Sunday night when bedtime rolled around again. These weekends were generally spent wrapped up in diapers, bottles, crying and hoping for sleep... oh, and James was pretty needy too. Julie hit the bedroom and wasn't seen again until Sunday, which was fine with me, she needed the rest. Truth be known, I had a hell of a good time.

When maternity leave was over and Julie was itching to go back to work and get out of the house, we did the alternating nights thing. I still kept the weekend duty, I grew to love it. My mother had told me stories of being up all night with a sick or ornery child, passing them off to the morning shift, and going to work. I became a veteran at this. I lived in the big, comfy, lopsided chair in the front room. I had pretty good experience running on little sleep, but there's a big difference between losing sleep over the eternal chase of women and liquor and losing sleep for the love a small child that looks to you for their every need to be met. Although the end result is pretty much the same.. Zombie hood...

Over the past five years the game has been the same as it was with Patrick, they are different kids sure, but overall, it's the same patterns. Where the ball is bouncing now is the "mama, mama, mama, mama, mama" stage... and that's just me.... When you add a surly fourteen year old and a rampantly active four year old to the mix.. well, it gets pretty steep. It's the male gene that can't remember what it is that we have, or where exactly it's located at the moment we need it, even if we, ourselves, put it away. It's also this same gene that makes us stand in the middle of the room and break into a snarling fit when only one damn sock is located, blaming the little demons from walmart for following you home can only go so far.

These constant needs to be helped cause the dreaded phrase, "Mooooooooommm!" to pierce throughout the house at all hours of the day. Yes, I myself say that now, just so she will listen, she's become seemingly deaf to the call of her name, or the sound of my voice... She has but one request... "Just let me have five minutes so I can read more than one paragraph, PLEASE!"

I will run her out of here from time to time so she can gain these precious moments in the cave like solitude of the bedroom. That is bittersweet for two reasons, one - I can't see her - yes I'm infatuated, I admit it.... And two - she falls asleep in the quiet and still doesn't get past that one damn paragraph. Things have been rolling at full speed for some time so it's been hectic, yet pleasant. The list of priorities have shifted and it feels right. Karmic wheels do at last seem to be swinging toward a good direction. Yet there is still work to be done to shift imaginary responsibilities from Julie to the actual people who need things and can simply put forth a bit of effort to find the shit for themselves, but it's coming around...

Outlooks and attitudes have changed quite a bit over the last year, there seems to be an air of love and tolerance. Endless streams of talking heads on the television have been replaced with a loud raucous need for music, spidery evil gits have been replaced by people who radiate love and hold friendships close to their hearts where they deserve to dwell. Fences long unattended have been repaired. Fun, laughter and life seem to be everywhere. All it took was for eyes to be opened and hearts to listen, that was it, pretty simple stuff when you get right down to it.

November 02, 2008


I was reading the copy of Dracula that the Great Pumpkin so graciously left in my Halloween stocking, when I heard the report of a gunshot. This is a standard sound to hear when you live as deep in the woods as I do, especially given the time of year (deer hunting season). The disturbing factor surrounding this one was the proximity.

When the report sounded I was stretched out on our bed... laying on my left side, propped on my elbow, with the book lying on the bed, after having been properly assaulted, breaking the back & bending the hell out of it so that it would lay quietly open to the page I desired without any of that pesky mystical page turning or movement. I looked at the clock at the same moment the thought of, "That was a bit too close" entered my mind. Six thirty nine a.m., what the hell?

I pondered this for a bit and decided that I should at least listen intently outside to see if I could discern any further sounds that would indicate a violation that I hold in extreme contempt.. trespassing. I got out of bed and worked my way through the darkened maze of laundry and sleeping dogs, stopping long enough to grab my camera as the thoughts of photographic evidence of a hunter caught in the act lightly danced through my mind.

The morning air was cold, yet not frigid. The crisp feel of it left me with a desire to abandon my quest for ne'er do wells and head to the closest coffee house. I stood on the porch and listened as I pondered these ideas. There was a breezy stillness to the woods that settles in only on a fall morning, I was drawn to it and decided to head down the path behind our home to the garden.

I stopped at intervals to listen and smoke, I heard nothing out of the ordinary and there was no feel of anything foul afoot. I had to be either very quiet or ridiculously noisy as I have no orange colors to wear in the woods during hunting season and unfortunately some hunters, especially the sort that do not mind property lines, don't think twice of shooting at movement or sounds. I opted for the silent approach. There are a hand full of people that have free run of my place here, I hold no fear of them as they have been taught safety from childhood and know not to fire until a clear shot can be taken, ensuring a quick kill. They possess this skill, knowledge, and experience that leaves me comfortable here at these times, thanks to the teachings of my brother, a conscientious, expert hunter and woodsman. Yet you never know who it is that has wandered onto your place.

I made my way down the trail to the clear space that has been named the garden, although no actual garden has ever existed there, my father once had plans and schemes of a grand garden and had the place cleared, but the solitary location made it too tempting a feast for all the woodland creatures.. resulting in all of his attempts being left in complete ruination.

Distractions were abundant on the walk, the first of which made me smile... as I passed a group of deer bedding down just off the trail to my right.. they jumped up and danced off down the hollow and up the other side, touching the ground only a few times.. such grace is amazing to behold. I stood transfixed and stared at them until the light brown colors of their coats blended perfectly into their surroundings and they melted away. It would take a hunter of true skill or incredible luck to get one of those creatures to the table... I passed by the tree where the aged hobbit lives that keeps watch over the garden for us when we aren't around. He appeared to be asleep as I didn't see any fire light coming through his door, or smell any bacon and mushrooms cooking for his breakfast. I grinned as I thought about the evening before, spent on the tailgate of the truck with James, discussing all manner of topics, from tick riding bees engaging in the eternal conflict with the earthworms for dominion of their under ground kingdoms, to bringing a blanket down here for the old hobbit, so he wouldn't get too cold in the night.. I actually lamented that we never brought him one.. it's amazing what the imagination of a child can convince you of.

I stood still after I entered the sacred place and breathed deep, taking in the sounds and tastes of the garden itself. The wet, earthy smell... the creeping fog that shows up just before dawn, the scent of leaves that have just fallen, the peace and patience of those leaves still hanging in the trees awaiting the next stage of their journey here, the sound of the creek that borders the flat expanse of earth... very intoxicating. There were no hunters here, it seemed that man had never seen this place before I arrived this morning. No... there is nothing amiss here, this place is complete perfection.. I almost felt guilty for disturbing it with my blundering presence.

As I stood and slowly drank it all in with my eyes closed, my thoughts ran over all that I know and experience from day to day and I became humbled and thankful for the life I have. Never has a person had so much to keep him so satisfied. When I opened my eyes I beheld a sight that made me stop breathing... sunrise. Damn... just plain damn. Nothing man has ever created could touch the power, passion and elegance of what I beheld. Perhaps Charles Avison could have composed a piece for this moment, but he would've had to deliver it directly to me and we would've had to make a deal that no other person could ever hear it. I watched the colors turn and twist into a canvas that no one could create, regardless of talent and training. My only lament was that I was alone.

I turned and silently made my way back home, giving the old hobbit a nod as I passed him by, now sitting on his step smoking his pipe, he cocked an eye up at me and shook his head, clearly wondering about the wry grin I was sporting, he has always had trouble understanding the romantic nature of humans... Once inside, I made my way back through the clothes and snoring dogs, stopping to pull the blanket over James, and touch his head. I slipped back into bed as Julie moved around and looked up at me.

"Where have you been?"
"Dancing with God."
"Did you stay in step?"
"Not even close."
"You're weird old man."
"Yeah, but it sure is cool."