Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Long Island Medium

I’ve seen several shows of the above named “reality show.” The woman seems to be a likeable blabber-mouth of a character. I’ve noticed, though, that she never mentions a “spirit’s” name, she lets the people present “fill in the blank.” Also, despite what the people believe, most of her information can be gathered through research or careful listening. She seems to think her “talent” is a gift—from God! The Bible doesn’t say such things can’t be real, but it clearly warns AGAINST such super-natural dabbling, so it seems unlikely that God is involved in it. Just who does that leave as the source if the situations presented are legit?

Still, I have to wonder how legitimate her game is. I’m sure that she’s making money from the whole thing (another sign that God isn’t in it). For obvious reasons then, the news from the other side is always good. After all, who wants to pay for BAD news? Now, she doesn’t SAY that the dead folks who she professes to speak to are in Heaven. She DOES say that they are “at peace.” BUT, if we believe scripture (as she seems to insinuate that she does), not EVERYONE can go to Heaven. I have to wonder then that she never turns white and says, “Your Uncle Fred is coming forward. He says that he’s burning in Hell and that you will, too, if you don’t change your evil ways!” Could it be that money factor kicking in? Reality TV, eh? © 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It’s My Right!

Even as adults, we don’t like admitting when we’re mistaken, unwise, or have been caught in some misdeed. Too often, when we’re caught red-handed, our response is anger. I suppose it’s part of the old “fight or flight” reaction that we were taught about in school. Often times we cling to flimsy excuses that are barely related to the subject, or have no proof or logic to them. Sometimes, if no other option seems to be excusing our actions adequately, we use the old clich√©, “It’s my right to do as I please!” That phrase is often tied to “You don’t have any right to tell me what to do!”

Of course both of those statements can be true. If doing as you please breaks no law, then we could say that we have the “right” to do whatever we want. And, if the person being answered back isn’t in a position of authority over the first person, and the first person’s actions are such that they will have no affect on anyone else, the second person doesn’t have any right to be trying to bully others to do his bidding.

What, though, if the first person’s actions can affect vast numbers of others to their detriment? What if their actions will negatively affect future generations? What if the thing they were being “told to do” was in reality, just a statement of fact that the first person doesn’t want to accept? Then, we are faced with the sometimes unpopular fact that our freedom comes with a responsibility to others. As Americans, we are supposed to protect the rights of the individual while still considering the common good. It can be a difficult proposition, but it’s not an impossible one.

The “it’s my right” argument meets further difficulties when the adherent professes to be a Christian, for then he’s supposed to consider God’s opinions ahead of his own. We are taught that God doesn’t appreciate it when we put our opinions ahead of His. Mind you, I’m not talking about what some other Christian says, but about the about the words given by God in the Holy Bible. “It’s my right” might float a lot of people’s boats in a strictly legal sense, not so much in a moral sense. God will be the ultimate judge.
We should all be thankful that true followers of Jesus are forgiven. Otherwise, we’d ALL be in a heap of trouble. © 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I’ll Miss Her.

Most of you probably read here, not long ago, that I deleted three people from my friends list on Facebook due to their incessant rooting for Obama and hate-filled diatribes against Republicans. Understand, I am no longer a Republican myself, having found the leadership near carbon copies of Democrats. However, hate-filled rants against ANYONE grow very tiring very quickly and are troubling to the soul. Rooting for Obama, after four years of treason, strikes me as either a sign of complete immorality, or complete foolishness. More than one verse in the Bible warns us not to waste our time trying to reason with fools. Still, I truly liked one of the guys who I deleted, and it caused me no small amount of sadness to severe the connection.

And so, today, it was with sadness that I read that one of my fellow bloggers and Facebook friends had voted early for Obama, and was doing the same thing I’d done recently, but in the other direction. Knowing that I was probably in her sights already, I deleted her from my friends list. Later, she sent a message “inviting” me to quit following her blog. Strangely enough, I didn’t find myself there to delete, so maybe she found a way to do it herself.

I’ll miss the lady’s down-home poems and prose. I’ll miss her open-hearted concern for others. I’ll miss having a fellow Christian to pray for my concerns and to ask me to pray for her concerns in return. Most of all, though, I am amazed. I’m amazed that anyone can completely separate their Christianity from their business, or their politics.

There is a vast multitude of political and constitutional reasons for not supporting Obama, but how any Christian can support him is especially beyond me. The man has been caught in lie after lie. He’s decided to tow the party line and support sodomy. And, of course, he believes it’s perfectly okay to murder unborn babies so their mothers won’t be inconvenienced.

I can understand anyone’s lack of happiness with the current crop of candidates. However, the lady’s ability to completely ignore common sense and toss Christian values to the wind disappoints me. Though I’ll miss the lady, I guess what I feel most is that disappointment. © 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Francis Marion Dixson 1841-1862

You wouldn’t have heard about the fellow whose name is in this post’s title if I hadn’t learned about the cousin at work. Francis’s brother, Charles, and Charles’ wife are the great-great grandparents that I share with my new-found family member. In looking up some information on Charles, I was reminded of the story of Francis.

At the top of one sheet of photo-copied paper from the early days of that technology, the copier-smeared words “Father’s Family Record” appear in my great grandmother’s handwriting. Below, in chronological order, are the birth dates of 11 siblings, including my great-great grandfather and Francis. Francis is the only one whose death date is also listed. The entry reads, “Francis Marion Dixson born 19 Aug 1841 Died 12 of March 1862 age 20yr 6mo & 21days”. That was the sum total mention of him on paper. The rest, I had to get verbally from my grandfather (Charles’ grandson), born 38 years after the death of Francis.

I wish I’d thought to ask if Francis was named after “The Swamp Fox” of Revolutionary War fame; I suspect he was. The only remembered trait of Francis was that he was fleet of foot. So much so, in fact, that he would race other men, while gamblers bet on the outcome. He had an unusual style of running with his head down, looking at the ground just before his feet, rather than looking ahead like most runners do. (One of his great nephews has that same style.) Sadly, that style would be his undoing.

Family tradition has it that, for whatever the reason, while the rest of the country was embroiled in Civil War, Francis went to California, perhaps to escape that war. Whether he had gainful employment there, I never thought to ask. He DID, however, keep running footraces. In his final race, he may never have seen the thin wire that some competitor or gambler had stretched across the track, probably just for him. If he did, he saw it too late. The unknown scoundrel who strung the wire probably never dreamed that Francis would fall so hard that he would break his neck and die, but he did. And so ends the sad, and all too short, story of Francis Marion Dixson. © 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Small World Indeed!

Most of us have probably heard of the “six degrees of separation.” The basic idea is that you know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, et cetera, who knows any other person in the world, all within six steps. Attempts to prove the idea seem to lean toward an even smaller number. That’s why I’m never surprised that, when I travel, I either run into people from my home town, or someone who knows someone in my hometown, sometimes even someone that I know. It helps, of course, that I’m the kind of guy who can start a conversation with nearly anyone but a complete and total snob.

Sometimes, though, things lay undiscovered for years. Several years ago, I was looking through some wedding and funeral announcements that my paternal grandmother had saved form decades ago and recognized a couple names. The next Sunday at church, I asked the young man who was raised next door if he was descended from those folks and he said “yes.” After a little figuring, it turned out that the guy who’d grown up next door was a fourth cousin on his mother’s and my father’s side of our families. I didn’t tell him, but my family and his in-laws are connected at six different points, though we aren’t actually related by blood.

The other day at work, I was talking to a woman who I’ve worked with ever since I’ve been there and discovered that we were related on our mother’s side of our families. A couple questions to my mother that evening and it became apparent that the lady and I are third cousins. I’ve always wondered why I saved so much family history when I have no-one to pass it on to. It turns out that she knows almost nothing about her ancestors, so I’ve got a ton of information for her. She may find it neat to know that we’re descended from scores of average Joes and a couple more interesting folks like Samuel Stalnaker and Henry William Stiegel. I’ll hate to part with it, but since she has kids and grandkids, she should have the big old cast-iron “spider” of our great-great grandmother’s that came here from Staunton, Virginia in some sort of covered wagon just after the Civil War. Like the song says, “It’s a small world after all!” © 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ya Just Don’t SEE That Around Here!

I drive a bit slower than most folks, so it was no surprise when the quarter-ton with the Illinois plates shot around me. The driver certainly got my attention, though. It wasn’t because of his goatee, his youth, or his handsome (yet almost delicate) good looks. It was because he was black. Ya just don’t see black guys driving pickup trucks in my neck of the woods!

I think that’s because, in my area, pickup trucks are equated with the farmer/country-boy/red-neck/hillbilly side of our local culture. For whatever the reason, we have no black farmers to speak of in all of West Virginia. Maybe they just have more sense than the rest of us, or maybe, when their ancestors were finally freed from forced farm work, they left the countryside as fast as their legs could carry them. You couldn’t blame them if that was the case.

Regardless, as I was growing up, vehicles belonging to blacks fell into three categories. First was the same-as-everybody-else-has working-class car. Second was the Mercedes and such that were preferred by those blacks who had “arrived” and wanted everyone to know it. Us white folks have plenty of the same type of folks; for a long time, we called them yuppies. Third was the furry-dashed, fuzzy-diced pimp-mobile. Being a small town, we probably only had about three of those in the whole town. One thing we didn’t have, though, was blacks in pickup trucks.

I was 28 years old the December that my dad and I went to D.C. to clean out the apartment of my deceased aunt. Driving through Virginia, for the absolute first time in my life, I saw black folks driving pickup trucks! My dad, who was a little better travelled than me, found my amazement amusing. “We’re in farm country,” he said. “What would you expect a black farmer to drive?” I pointed out that I’d never seen but one black farmer before, and HE drove a white Cadillac!

It’s been nigh 30 years since that time, and I’m not sure that I’ve seen a single pickup in my area driven by a black person in all that time. Yes, I’ve travelled a little since back then, and I HAVE seen such things in other areas, but not locally. I don’t know if the young man was a farm-boy or not, but he DID have Illinois plates, and he WAS heading west. I guess I live a rather narrow existence here, so maybe it’s good that I get rare reminders that my area doesn’t necessarily represent the rest of the world. © 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Random Thoughts

Ever notice that cops rarely stop luxury cars, but seem to concentrate on poor folks instead?

How is it that each day at work drags by, yet the week seems to fly and the weekend ROCKETS past?

If you can judge by TV reality shows, Alaskan cops average much, much nicer than cops in other states, and especially nicer than those in large cities.

They’re spending mega-millions to move and display the space shuttles. I wonder how many hungry children could have been fed with that money.

I get a mite curious when waiters and waitresses try to pretend like they’re so much better than the people they’re serving. Just who is working for $2.35 an hour? Furthermore, considering that they depend on tips to make decent money, why would they want to insult the customers in the first place?

I wonder why it is that the more people that read my blog, the fewer comments I get.

Since our money is so worthless that a penny made before 1982 is worth two cents in junk price, maybe we should go on a copper standard. Oops, no, the government would make it illegal to own copper then; wouldn’t they?

Did you ever notice that half the policemen out there are so psycho that they shouldn’t even be allowed to own guns, let alone carry them. That sure makes things bad for the other half.

My great-aunt used to always quote HER aunt who said, “The time to be savin’ is when you have plenty.” My grandmother, on the other hand, was always telling me how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I remember that whenever I see some bleeding heart liberal trying to force the world to do things HIS way.

Why is it that the least qualified person always wants to be the leader?

Aren’t you glad we don’t get all the government that we pay for?

Sometimes, the difference between quality and junk is only a few cents, or a few dollars. Buying junk NEVER saves you money. © 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Resting Place

This was written several years ago, obviously, before the post about burying my old friend. It was the second in a trilogy. The first seems to have disappeared over the years. It's a lot longer than most things I post, so I'll understand if many of you don't read it. I'd been saving it (and the other post) for a book, but decided to share them with you, in case I croak without them being published.

Dream as we may, our lives seldom follow the trails that we plot in our youth. That's especially true for those of us who grew up on the farm, and had hoped to spend our lives there. Yet, we who are lucky enough to still have access to the old home place, can often restore our sanity by taking a hunt up the hollow, and a walk down memory lane. Those bittersweet pilgrimages are made all the more enjoyable if an old friend is there to welcome us home.

As my little flatbed growls up the steep gravel driveway, my old friend waits impatiently at the top of the hill, prancing and wagging her welcome. Pulling beside the Civil War era farmhouse where I was raised, I open the door slowly so as not to hit her. As soon as the crack is wide enough, her head is against my left leg and nuzzling my hand. I then scratch behind her ears and we exchange a few pleasantries.

Asked if she’s “ready to roll,” she jumps backward and clear of the truck, her answer obvious. Driving slowly out the hilltop, I watch her loping happily alongside. We pass the big white barn where our Polled Hereford cattle used to spend their winters, and then cruise by the rusting sawmill where my father and I used to make a large part of our living. Finally, we stop at the edge of the Christmas tree field, abandoned only a couple years earlier, but already starting to revert to native fauna. After climbing from the cab, I pull the old Iver Johnson from behind the seat and uncase it. She gets excited at the sight and prances and jumps for joy. She’s learned that the appearance of a tool or gun means I’m going to stay a while.

She gets lonesome since I left the farm and went to the factory. My mother works through the day and feeds her morning and evening, but she doesn’t pay much attention to her. Her life was better back when I still worked here nearly every day. My presence gave her something to do besides lay around and wait for supper. My work here ended when the state’s out-of-control deer herd put me out of the Christmas tree business, since my one-man sawmill operation wasn’t enough to pay all the bills. Now that I punch another man’s time-clock, my old friend and I are lucky to see each other a couple times a week.

After slipping a low-brass #6 in the chamber of the 12 gauge, I start walking methodically through the tree field while she runs everywhere at once, nose in the air, as she seeks any scent. After a few minutes, a rabbit explodes from under my feet, but my old friend hears it and is on its heels before I can get a shot. She promptly chases it onto the neighbor’s property, only 75 yards away. She soon trots back, proud to have driven off the “wascally” trespasser.

Having passed to the far side of the field, we slow the pace as we slip into the small wooded hollow. Having burned off her excess energy, she now seems content to just poke along with me, rather than range ahead. She busies herself sniffing the forest floor as I scan the tree-tops for squirrels.

Reaching the sycamore den tree, we turn up the main hollow. In years past, I’ve taken many a mess of squirrels from the oaks and beeches ahead, as did my father before me. I notice that the small rock dam that I made twenty-odd years ago is still in place, though its pool long ago silted in. At the ginseng patch, a few wilted stems still show among the fallen tree leaves. A few more paces, and we’re surrounded by coon sign, left by the occupants of the rocky out-croppings of the steep banks above us.

High overhead, two grey squirrels zip from limb to limb in a huge beech. The shotgun is nearly to my shoulder when I realize that I may be too close to the unseen house of a relative to be legal. This was always my most dependable squirrel hunting spot before the black-sheep cousin of the family built his home just out of sight over the far rim of the hollow. Since his wife is a dedicated bunny-hugger, I hold my fire rather than embroil some hapless conservation officer in a family feud. After mumbling a few unkind words about possum-brained relatives and bureaucrats, I continue up the hollow.

My old friend and I part company when we come to the gorge of solid rock. She wisely takes the high ground while I choose the more difficult path up the stream-bed. As I struggle along, she watches smugly from the bank, as if to remind me that she's the smart one of this pair. Our paths rejoin where the gorge runs out and the old logging road crosses the hollow. We still-hunt the overgrown road as it winds its way upward through the oak woods, but, there are no more squirrels to be seen. Perhaps the cry of an unseen hawk gives a clue as to why none are moving.

We're almost to the top of the hill when we enter the pear orchard with its lone, century-old pear tree and its thick crop of broom sedge. From here, we follow the farm road out the ridge top, as it curves to the left around the head of the hollow. To the right, I see the spot where my first buck fell. Deer were scarce back then and I was the first in the family to take one. I don't know who was more proud, I or my father.

Next, we come to the peach orchard. There hasn't been a peach tree here since my father was a lad, but, I've pitched many a bale of hay in this field. It was here that I got my first good look at a fox, thirty-some years ago. As my late father and I each sat on a hay bale, catching our breath in the long evening shadow of the half-loaded truck, a red fox entered the field, searching for meadow voles. Moving from bale to bale, he gradually came to within thirty feet of us. He might have come closer, had we not loudly voiced our displeasure when he hiked his leg on a bale.

In my youth, a row of ancient York Imperial apple trees marked the far edge of the peach orchard. We follow that now non-existent row to the old horse road over the hill. It, in turn, leads us to a bench which overlooks the spot where we first entered the hollow. My old friend looks tired, and since this is a pleasant spot, I sit down, my back against a white oak. Her gait betrays her age, as she comes from behind and sits beside me. Leaning the shotgun in the fork of a small maple, I begin to massage her back. She sits quietly for a few minutes, giving me an occasional appreciative glance over her shoulder.

Her tongue no longer lolls and her breathing has slowed, as she slowly sags to her side, head resting on my knee. Recognizing her request for a belly-rub, I gladly oblige. Looking at her face, her collie/golden retriever parentage is obvious, and I wonder if that sensitive nose tells her that other old friends are resting here with us. Within a few yards lie the remains of other generations of farm dogs. No stones mark their graves as in some pet cemeteries. Here, only second-growth timber and a soft carpet of fallen leaves can be seen. Chipmunks and birds scamper and chatter as they go about their daily business of survival. Yet, since each dog here trod this peaceful ground many times, it seemed a good place to lay them to rest.

As my old friend further relaxes, her head slips to the ground. Continuing to rub her stomach, the thought comes to me that very few years will pass before I lay her, too, beneath this leafy carpet. My eyes mist with the thought, and I know it's time to be moving along. We've been here over half-an-hour, soaking up the sights, sounds, and scents this sunny autumn day. When I ask if she's ready to go, she rouses; the rest has restored her, at least in part. Her eyes, full of fawning adoration only a moment ago, now show a spark of excitement. Stroking her head a couple times as she rises, I wonder whether that excitement is for the thrill of the chase or the idea of heading back to the house. Glancing once more at the scene around me, I'm reminded of the little churchyard a mile down the road. There, lie three generations of family who've worked, and loved, this land before me. With no-one left to follow in our footsteps, I ponder the fate of this place when I fill the empty space beside them.

I pick up the shotgun and start out the trail that leads back to the truck. As we both saunter stiffly along, the sparkle in my old friend's eyes lifts me from my melancholy. Looking around me, I silently thank the Lord for this chance to take my gun and walk the farm, for the beautiful autumn weather and, especially, for a beloved old friend with whom to share the day. © 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting Old And Cranky

Several years ago, I gave Kroger’s entirely too much information and got one of their “Kroger Cards.” Otherwise, I would’ve no longer gotten sale prices on anything in the store. It also saved me five cents a gallon at their gas pumps. Within a year or so, the savings at the pump had dwindled to only three cents and I realized that most of the things on sale inside weren’t things that we should have been eating anyway. They still have the highest quality meats and vegetables in our town, but at the highest prices as well. And so, we’ve been doing most of our grocery shopping at Walmart (I’m sorry to say) and I’ve been buying my gas at BP, since it’s the only place, locally, that sells American-made gasoline.

This evening, I was going by Kroger’s on my way home, when I realized that I needed gas. I swung by a West Virginia-owned station first, but it was full-up. So, I went back to Kroger’s and scanned my card at the pump to get my three cents off, only for the pump to tell me that I needed to pay in advance or swipe my credit card. Now, they already had my name, address, telephone number, checking account number, probably my driver’s license number and maybe even my yearly gross income. Still, they wanted me to give them the $50 bill in my hand before they’d turn on the pump.

When I went to the window, I asked the young fellow running the booth if, indeed, I had to pay in advance, even though I had a Kroger Card. He assured me that was the case. I handed him my Kroger Card WITH the $50 and told him that if that was the case, I didn’t feel the card was worth carrying. I then asked him if he would be kind enough give his boss the card, explain my feelings and tell him that he (the boss) could put the card “where the sun don’t shine.” He grinned and told me that he would be very happy to pass on my message to his boss. Now, I realize the situation isn’t the boss'es fault either, but SOMEBODY has to be the channel for such information.

When I was done pumping gas and climbed back into the truck, I told my wife what had transpired. She laughed and told me that I was getting old and cranky. I must be doing SOMETHING right, I reckon, I used to be merely middle-aged and cranky! © 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Random Thoughts

Every day, I try speaking to folks who came here from Mexico and opened businesses without ever bothering to learn our language. I realize that most seek only to do business with their fellow Hispanics, but I’d never dream of going to another country and opening a business without at least having enough knowledge of their language to carry on a simple conversation!

On a related note, there’s a house along the river road between Billsburg and Marysville that proudly flies the German flag. I wouldn’t go to Germany and fly the American flag every day (maybe on the Fourth, though). If your heritage is that important to you, it seems that going home would be in order. People USED to come to this country because they wanted to be Americans. If that’s not what they want these days, maybe they should stay home.

The Lord makes salvation so simple. Why do we insist on making it so difficult?

Why do some folks insist that they believe in God, yet refuse to believe a word He says?

With all the new handling options these days, it’s aggravating that bananas go from too green to half-rotten even faster than they did in the old banana-boat days.

Diesel requires less processing than gasoline, explaining why it used to be about half the price of gas. Now that it’s more popular, it usually costs MORE than gasoline. I just wonder why that is?

The best-tasting food tends to be that which you get the least. If you never dine out, restaurant food probably tastes wonderful. On the other hand, if you HAVE to eat out all the time, even a simple boiled potato is fantastic.

Have you noticed that when they bring out a simple, affordable automobile, it’s only a few years before they add so many bells and whistles that the cars are no longer simple OR affordable?

I don’t know if you’ve compared modern merit badges for Boy Scouts and “ribbons” (or whatever they call them) that the Girl Scouts give compared to the old days, but the times have certainly changed. They no longer seem to value the old idea of roughing it and being prepared. Most things are mostly modern stuff and social-agenda city subjects.

My great aunt used to quote an old saying, “A whistling girl and a crowing hen come to a bad end.” (She was a whistling old maid by that time.) I wonder how many people would even understand the meaning these days?

Most bullies really ARE cowards at heart, but not ALL of them.

Nearly four years of sitting on my backside, talking on the telephone has given me bursitis in my right hip. That reminds me of the old fellow who used to live across the road telling about the old men who used to sit in the neighborhood country store so much that they “had corns on their arse.” © 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Embarrassed My Wife…..Again

Feeling like there might be a few dollars to spare this pay period, I took my wife out for breakfast at a mid-price restaurant this morning. About mid-way through our breakfast, over some people talking way too loud and an over-amped popular tune on the PA system, I heard what I thought was a rather boisterous ring-tone behind me. Then I realized that it was mostly talk and non-rhythmic. Turning around, I saw that the lone young man (20 or so) behind me was watching a video on his phone. I said, “Son, do you think this is the place for that sort of thing?”

“Watching a movie trailer?” was his smiling, seemingly completely-in-the-dark reply when he turned around to face me.

“YOU figure it out!” I replied more gruffly than I probably should have, and turned back to my breakfast.

A sort of blackness came from under my wife’s eyebrows. “Did you HAVE to say something to him?” she hissed.

“No,” I replied, “but it’s obvious that the poor kid’s parents never taught him anything about manners; so I was just hoping that he could take a hint from a stranger.” I tried to keep my voice low enough that the kid couldn’t hear me.

My wife hardly spoke to me for a few minutes, but I noticed that the volume went down on the videos. She eventually got over it, I think in the midst of complaining to me about the watery coffee. © 2012

Farewell, My Friend

This was written several years ago as the last part of a short trilogy. I just got it typed today.

Mom told me that my dear friend was too weak to eat her supper that night. Still, she wasn’t too weak to show her love for me the next morning. At the sight of my truck at the barn door, she arose from her resting spot on the cool, yellow clay inside and eased out into the steamy, summer sunshine to greet me. The legs that had once driven her high into the air in excited leaps and spins at my arrival were so weak and wobbly that she could only take a step or two at a time, tail barely wagging. Still, she came. I sat down on a chunk of firewood and stroked her head and neck for a few minutes, with an occasional hug thrown in. She seemed to be in a sort of quiet ecstasy—sitting there with her eyes closed most of the time, opening them only on occasion to turn and gaze into my own.

I took my penknife and cut the hotdog I’d brought into chunks, putting a pain pill in one piece for her arthritis, and antibiotic pills in two others for the sores from where she’d chewed at places on her legs due to pinched nerves. It was no use. She took a piece from my hand repeatedly, only to mouth it and let it fall to the ground uneaten. It was a horrible feeling to see my best friend in such obvious misery and know that there was nothing that I could do to help her. Well, almost nothing. My heart sunk even lower as I realized what I had to do. She saddened when I told her that I had to leave for a few minutes. She always did look downcast when I gave her a farewell, despite the fact that Mom is the one that fed her.

As I pulled out of the driveway to head to my house for a pistol and a shovel, the first predicted rain cloud of the day covered the sun. Arriving back at the farm, my friend once again hobbled out the barn door to greet me. Once again, the tail wagged weakly. When I dropped the tailgate and gently lifted her and placed her on the truckbed, she was happy. She always did like a ride.

The family who’d owned her for the first year of her life had three kids and two other dogs and went everywhere together. So, her first fall in the Christmas tree fields, she was ready to go home with every carload of kids. She never met a stranger, though she would bark happily and wag her tail to announce their arrival. I started referring to her as my “public relations committee.” From then on, nearly everyone’s first question on arrival was “How’s your dog?” My answer was usually made irrelevant by her own arrival on the scene.

After gently closing the tailgate, I drove slowly out the farm road, hoping she wouldn’t fall. Surprisingly, she stayed on her feet, sniffing the air and enjoying the ride. In the saddle-back of the ridge, I turned right, across the swale that formed the head of a small hollow and arrived at the edge of a wooded, half-acre flat on the left side of the main hollow of the farm. Previous generations of farm dogs, both ours and those of a couple neighbors, lay in the little flat that overlooks both the main hollow and the tree fields. It was always at this spot that we entered the woods when we “hunted” together.

After dropping the tailgate, I gently lifted her again and set her on the ground. I then sat down beside her, silently stroking her head and body as she sat there, eyes closed, enjoying the attention and sniffing the air. After a few minutes, I hugged her a couple times and told her what a good girl she was and stroked her head a few times. Her eyes were closed again as the little .22 slug made a small hole in the back of her skull and one the size of all hell in my heart.

She died as gently as she lived, body stiffening as she dropped to her side, the only other spasming being a slow wag of her tail. Had a sort of numbness not have come on me by then, that spasm would probably have made an emotional wreck of me. Textbooks would tell me that that it was just the spasming of muscles caused by trauma to the brain, like a headless chicken going for a run in the barnyard. But I wondered; could it have been a thank you for ending her misery, a good-bye from the other side, or an accusation for the one she loved and trusted most? Maybe it’s best that I don’t know.

I dug her grave as an oval, so she could curl up in her death-sleep as she had in life. I lined it with leaves for a bed and laid her in. Then I covered her with another layer of leaves as a blanket of sorts. After filling her grave, I covered it with small logs and brush to discourage coyotes from digging, a concern I’d never had to deal with until the last few years. I then took off my cotton gloves and laid them atop the pile, partly in hopes that my scent would further discourage coyotes, and partly as a symbol that a part of me stayed there with my friend. Then, I knelt there in the quiet woods and thanked the Lord for 13 years of friendship from the truest friend a man could have.

After getting back to the farmhouse, I loaded the decrepit doghouse onto the truck and hauled it out to the burn pile beyond the sawmill. As I drove down the rough gravel driveway to the county road, the first raindrops of the day began to fall. I remembered once overhearing a mother tell her little girl that a gentle rain is caused by tears from the angels in Heaven weeping over the sad things that they see on earth. As I pulled onto the county road to go home, I quietly imitated their actions. © 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some Will Call Me Un-Christian

I finally learned how to “unfriend” folks on Facebook using their new format. I immediately did so to three individuals. Two fellows, I had unsubscribed from (hid their posts) quite some time ago, despite their supposed Christianity, because of their hate-filled diatribes about those evil Republicans. The other was a supposedly Christian woman who just recently started taking a different tack on the same subject. The one fellow I once worked with, and I consider him a very likeable fellow (though a bit of a sad-sack), as long as you can stay off politics. The other guy projected himself as a conservative Christian, until he purposely got himself “friended” by several obviously conservative Christians on Facebook, then he turned 180 degrees and started spewing anti-conservative, anti-Republican crap on a daily basis. This just so happened to be during a transitional time when most folks didn't know how to get rid of him. I think he realized that and took advantage of it. I finally just lost patience.

While I've always seen the democratic party as the party of the angry and the ignorant (some being one, some the other, some both at once), I now find myself distancing myself from it more and more, and losing patience with its members. I find my life more peaceful if I don’t have to deal with such ignorance so much. I may not be able to avoid it in the public sector, but I see no reason to have to deal with it in my personal life. Even the Bible tells us to avoid foolish people and those given to excessive anger. From my experience, about half of the ignorance in that party is just plain stupidity, the other half is willful. Normal ignorance is sad, but WILLFUL ignorance is downright repulsive. The latter folks know down deep that what the party espouses is immoral, but they’re too stubborn to admit it. Those folks seem to be the angriest of all.

One mistake that the democrat rank and file makes is to paint the Republican rank and file with the same brush that they paint the leadership. They talk about them being rich and greedy. However, the AVERAGE Republican is usually a farmer, an hourly worker, or a SMALL businessman. Percentage-wise, very few are rich. Most are conservative, hard-working and religious, and as generous with charities as is reasonable. The guys in party leadership are often a different breed, though, and that is where the democrats look for their examples. What they don’t understand is that the rank and file isn't too thrilled with those leaders, either. Unfortunately, those leaders have quite a hold on the system and (like the democrat leaders) often manipulate things so that truly conservative candidates don’t stand a chance. That’s why more and more formerly loyal Republicans like me are leaving the party, simply because the leadership is behaving entirely too much like democrats!

There will be some that say that I hate democrats, but that isn't true. Many democrats, like my former co-worker, are very likeable as long as politics isn't the subject up for discussion. I just prefer not to hang out with folks who support a party whose platform supports nearly everything that God is against, and that actually boos the idea of mentioning God. Life is more peaceful to leave them to themselves. There are plenty of them; they won’t get lonely from my absence! © 2012