Finding Floyd

BACK

Continuation of the manuscript intro…       My mom didn’t give much thought to the fact that she had a part in the reason my Mah-mah and Pah-pah had that farm in Oklahoma anyhow. They moved back there to be close to us, her and her kids, to begin with. They ended up in northeast Oklahoma to be closer to us when we lived in Arkansas, but not too close so as to smother my mom and her family.

I don’t think my mom gave her mom and dad more than a passing thought when she saw the chance to get the hell out of Arkansas, a place she referred to as the place that God had forsaken. Sure wasn’t my idea to leave… and I was more than just a tad bit excited to go back there, or close to it, and leave the world of troubles that hounded me daily in the small town of Banning, California.

My dad was all for it, me going back to the farm to do a man’s work. I overheard him tell my mom that it was the sorta thing that separates the men from the boys. He was all for my grandpa helping make a man out of me. He knew what was in store. He’d done his time on the farm. He didn’t talk too much about his days as a kid on the farm and in the fields. Most of the stories of how they lived as dead broke cotton-picking-sharecroppers came from my uncles and a couple of aunts. My dad landed in the middle of eight other siblings and was forced to quit school after the sixth grade to help feed and clothe the other kids.

image courtesy of keithdotson.com

The only times my dad spoke much at all about his miserable childhood came when he was trying to teach a lesson. He’d say a few choice words about my shortcomings and shortsightedness, but he let his thin leather belt do most of the talkin’… and stingin’.

There was one time though, probably more than just that one, but the one time I remember the best, he hauled me into his bedroom – where all the whippin’s were done. He turned and sat down on the bed beside me. My dad talked to me, but he didn’t look at me, not at first. He was looking somewhere else. I figured out since then that he was looking back, back in time, to his childhood that he, for the most part, had tucked away into the cellar of his mind and had snuffed out the lights… or tried to.

 

4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION

It’s easy to forget the inspiration for the fireworks we watch as part of our 4th of July celebration.

Francis Scott Key was off shore, watching from afar, as the the British ships pounded Fort McHenry with primitive artillery from a safe distance in the Atlantic.

I’m guessing that watching your countrymen get what looked like being annihilated throughout the night would cause more than just a little anxiety. Seeing that they had raised a new American flag at sunrise must have been exhilarating.

That flag was a symbol to the British that all their military power and might could never defeat the spirit of the people that would fight to the death to be free.

image courtesy of dreamstime.com

I watched fireworks as a kid with awe and wonder and was mesmerized by the exploding colors filling the night sky.

These days I watch fireworks with appreciation for the blessings from God that He’s bestowed on this land. I am still in awe and wonder, but it is for the courage and heart of the people that fought like the original Americans to preserve freedom from oppressive governments; freedom to worship the God of all creation.

I ponder a group of freedom seeking Americans, a gang of nonconformists, that sought freedom over security. They knew if they had freedom security would be the natural byproduct. They trusted in God first, not man.

May this country turn it’s focus to God first again.

May this country and you be blessed this 4th of July celebration. And may God bless America.

DAD

This is a continuation of the intro to my latest manuscript from a few weeks back that was titled Sand in the Sahara. Intro grandpa, mom, dad.

Every picking season would give my grandpa plenty of provision to spin stories about later. Sometimes he’d tell them at home, sometimes on a rickety bar stool, but where he told them was like measuring the difference between the number six and a half-uh-dozen. He could make folks you’d never laid your eyes on come to life in your mind, make you feel like you were there, like you were part of the stories.

I was looking forward to meeting some of the folks that starred in his stories. Like the one young man from Tupelo, Mississippi. The kid with hair that rode on top of his head in brown and unruly locks like a hat. He showed up to work the fields in dress shoes and fine black slacks. My grandpa said he rolled his slacks up ‘cause he was too hot and the chiggers damn near ate him alive. That didn’t stop him from singing Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Franki Valli, and the Beach Boys at the top of his lungs all day long. He worked like a man possessed. His name was Doug, but he insisted on being called Douglas. My grandpa would just nod, smile, pat him on the back, and say, “Okay, Doug… whatever you say.”

Even though they were my mom’s parents, she had reservations. She wasn’t quite ready to send her son for a full summer into a life that she despised and was trying to distance herself from. I think part of it, looking back, is because I was the oldest and she was trying to fight that dreaded fight that all of us do in this life if we’ve lived long enough; wrestling with the formidable and undefeated hands of time. Maybe too, she was a little concerned about her dad. She knew he was more than a little rough around the edges. He possessed some of the sharp ones that she tried in vain to shelter my siblings and me from.

My mom and grandpa were close. She was his youngest, ‘his baby’ he still called her. My mom was young when she had me and didn’t look much older than a high school kid herself. She was in good shape and was attractive, built like a runner. She had auburn shoulder length hair, cat glasses, and my grandpa’s brilliant green eyes.

I hated the guy’s, like the manager at Safeway, that always tried to flirt with my mom. She’d just ignore them and pretend they were just being friendly and wave them off. I always liked it when one of those guys happened to run into my dad on the rare occasion he’d go into town. They looked like they’d pissed themselves and scoot clear of my dad as quickly as they could.

image courtesy of Pinterest

My dad was bigger than average, about six foot two inches, but he looked like a hungry lion with a bad disposition and carried himself like a soldier. Though the fifties were long gone, he still wore his jet-black hair combed back like he did when he was a kid. His rolled-up t-shirt that kept his Marlboro cigarettes secure showed off his biceps and rugged arms that looked like they’d been carved from stone. The old acne scars from his youth made my dad look mean. Plus, he didn’t smile much. His hazel eyes could say more with a glance than a Southern Baptist preacher could in an hour while hammering on the pulpit like he was trying to beat it into submission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YOUNG AND DUMB

Two kids,  young boys, shirtless, and as close to the likeness of stick men as you could get, were jumping their three foot long skateboards up a sizzling corner curb in our neighborhood. I smiled, shook my head, knowing that they’d be bruised and bleeding before the day was over. In an instant I was propelled back in time to the summers when we too were young and dumb.

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Like the kids using their skateboards to defy gravity momentarily, we didn’t hide from the triple digit heat. I’m not sure what it is about being young that makes kids flirt with the element of gravity, but most of us did it, even if it was just peddling a bike and fighting to keep it upright.

I recall vividly the last days of school. Summer was magic. It was the time when life was as it should be for us. School was like being a bridled work horse cooped up in a corral. When that bell rang for the last time for that school year most of us didn’t walk into summer, we sprinted at full speed like a race horse bursting into a lush green meadow.

Despite the sweltering heat, we used the gift of summer to climb mountains, scoffing at gravity, and jump into lakes from dizzying heights. We’d ride bikes, hitchhike, or skateboard to get there. Once in the big city it was doing flips off anything close to pools or jumping off roofs, risking hitting the concrete if gravity won the battle of the space in-between. Those were the pools of the privileged and well to do… when they weren’t home. We called it pool hopping. We figured fences were for dogs and adults.

Bumps, bruises, bleeding and stitches were just part of living the life we loved. Taking risks, at least to one degree or another, was part of enjoying the gift of life.

Then we grew up and the words and the urging of the elders began to mold us into their image; being afraid to take risks and live in fear. It’s one thing to become wise, it’s another to live this life in fear.

Fear is for the lost and seeking.

Having had so many summers that have come and gone like months and days, it’s easy to forget the magic of each one, the gift that they really are.

I’m guilty, like most of us, of complaining about the heat from time to time, of living in fear and dread. Sure, it’s not comfortable for us in this part of the world this time of year. We all live with adversity in and out of all seasons of life, but summer is a season of life to be cherished all the same. Kids get that. We used to get that, but then we were gifted with so many that we began to take them for granted. Kids don’t. And yet we call them young and dumb…

 

 

MY MUSE IS FICKLE

After an all out manhunt – make that a woman, girl, or female hunt, I waved the metaphorical white flag. Then I put out a mental A.P.B., (All Points Bulletin), desperately trying to find her, but she was gone… again. It doesn’t matter how well I treat her or if I follow her every whim… my muse is fickle.

It’s been another long drought. I can’t remember the last time I worked on my latest manuscript. Usually if I can’t get to writing it’s due to the lack of time. This time was different. This time was lack of desire.

image courtesy of santefetonia.com

I’ve said it often; perseverance is queen, but desire is king. Each one is a key ingredient to achieve a favorable recipe for desired results. But sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the recipe is. Without the blasted ingredients there will be zero in the way of results.

Old Mother Hubbard might be the best cook in the county, but we’ll never know since she’s got an empty kitchen.

It’s possible that the greatest writing, outside of the Good Book, hasn’t made it in front of the eyes of the masses. I’m pretty sure it’s the same with music – and the ears of those same noggins.

Creating is one thing, folks appreciating it is a whole other story, but it starts with the innate need to create. And I think there are a whole lot more people out there wired like that than most of us realize.

If that’s true, then I know a lot of other hearts can relate to mine… and yours.

In the season of the creative drought, my muse is gone like the dinosaurs… but the music recorded in my mind is alive and well and bridging the gap.

The ancient song from childhood by Donovan titled “Season of the Witch” plays – even though I know the witch didn’t really kidnap my make believe muse. Then a line from the old Aerosmith tune, “Walk This Way”, takes the stage in my struggling mind and gets stuck like an old scratched album. It sticks conveniently where Steven Tyler sings, “My get up and go must’a got up and went, duh-duh-duh-dunt-duh-duh-duh-dunt-dunt-dunt.” I guess it’s a lucky break to have Joe Perry’s guitar lick not cut off…

We bide our time and struggle anyway we can to make it back into the light of creativity.

Creativity is a small part of being made in God’s image. The desire to create was knitted into us while we were still in our mother’s womb.

We find gratification in many ways in this flesh. One of them is creating, and it doesn’t matter if our creation finds its way into the senses of the masses or not. I think it was designed for His glory first then our gratification.

Being able to live in the season of producing is a gift all unto itself. I gotta learn to take advantage of it when I can, ’cause my muse is fickle.