Another Bridge…..

My “Random Thoughts” blog took flight just over a year ago.  I have posted 65 entries; those 65 have been viewed 10,140 times.  Some of the popular bloggers probably get that much attention in a couple hours.  I don’t do it for the numbers; however, I appreciate each of you that follow my stuff.  I am not a writer, I just like to write or maybe I have a writing habit.  I like some of the things I write better than others; in fact I wonder what possessed me to write some of it (this one my fall in that category).

I honestly think this will be the most difficult one I have written, not for emotional reasons, but because I’m not sure I can put these thoughts on the other side of the keyboard.  I have written it at least fourteen times in my mind and I decided not to try it thirteen times.  As I said, I have a writing habit, so here goes.

One year ago tonight I sat in this chair, yes I am back at the lake, and wrote one of those I like.  I called it “Leave it in Hughes County.”  I talked about leaving our problems and responsibilities up in Hughes County while we were here.  The last paragraph started like this: I hope I can learn to litter the Hughes County roadways with some of the things that trouble me today.  Over the next few weeks or months I managed to do that.  I left all that stuff up the road somewhere and picked it up on the way home.

What I didn’t address or even recognize is there were things I needed to deal with that resided here in Haskell County.

Prior to Sharyl’s illness I spent a lot of time here alone, especially the spring and summer of ’08.  I had retired and we were in the process of doing a little upgrade to the lake place.  We were moving across the street into a new to us mobile home.  It wasn’t all work and no play, but normally if she wasn’t with me, most of my time was spent doing some kind of project.  If I needed to I did some laundry and I kept the dishes and kitchen kind of clean other than that I did nothing inside the house.  She did the inside things when she was here, not just the cleaning, also the hang a picture here or maybe over there.  I helped her move the loveseat but she told me where to put it.  She was a long way from being through with the inside, we all know she never got to finish and enjoy the “new place”.

That was the way we did it for the 20 years we had a lake place.  Before we went home I made sure the boats and all the outside stuff was bedded down and she did the same inside.  I continued to do things that way; I took care of the outside stuff and did a little laundry and the dishes.

A couple weeks ago I noticed the inside was pretty cluttered and looked like it could use a good cleaning.  I don’t know why it took that long for the light to come on; I needed to do some housecleaning.  I have been doing that at home more than four years.  I think at home it just kind of evolved.

Last weekend I dove in with both feet and both hands.  I realized how I had neglected the place when I started to mop the non-carpeted areas.  I couldn’t find a mop, it is just about 15 or 20 miles to a mop store and I needed some other stuff anyway.  I found one later in a closet where only Sharyl would store a mop.  I still need to do a few things but I’m getting there.

The physical part of the process was not nearly as difficult as the emotional experience.  It dawned on me that my trips to the lake these past fifteen months had been just like the past years when I came alone.  I think subconsciously I couldn’t handle the finality of accepting that role. I wanted to believe I was just here doing some projects and WE would be back in a few days and I would take care of the outside and she would do the inside stuff.

I have crossed a lot of bridges the last few years, especially the last fifteen months, and even burned a few.  I know what they say about burning them but if there is nothing left on the other side, there is no reason not to light the match.  I want to believe this was the last one but I know better, there will always be one more to cross and maybe burn.

I am doing some things inside now.  The chair that was over here is now over there, and yes that picture was on the other wall.  I am doing it like I want to, not necessarily like I think Sharyl would do it.  I’m not doing anything stupid (I don’t think) so I believe she would be OK with it and I get and respect the girls’ opinions.

It took a long time but I believe I have accepted reality and made the necessary adjustments and I can now leave that stuff in Hughes County and enjoy my time here.

I hope you understood what I tried to say.

Thanks for going down the road with me, and keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

 

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Lonesome Whip-Poor-Will

The spelling you see in the title is correct, proving again, one is never too old to learn.  I always thought it was whipporwill.

The opening lyric to an old Hank Williams song has been haunting me all week.

The song:  I’m So Lonesome I Could Die

The lyric:  Hear that lonesome Whippoorwill he sounds too blue to fly.

Spellchecker is OK if I don’t use the hyphens; I hope you are

At the place we called home for more than 25 years, in addition to all the routine signs of spring.  Sharyl and I learned to rely on the unique sound of the Whippoorwill.  One of them nested in the pasture very close to our house.  Just about dark we would hear the sound, if you have ever heard one you know how they got their name.  One of us would say, “He is back, spring must be here.”

We didn’t have a Whippoorwill within earshot when we relocated but in the early spring we usually mentioned our former neighbor.

I think because it is springtime I think of the Whippoorwill and because of Hank’s song, I have always connected the Whippoorwill and lonesome.

All that to say it has been a little lonesome in my world this week.

I don’t recall even thinking about that bird or song last year.  I think last spring the pain was so intense I didn’t feel the lonesome.  I am thankful the pain has subsided, allowing me to feel the lonesome and think about my old neighbor.  I can handle a little bit of lonesome.

I don’t know how long Whippoorwills normally live but if that guy has finished his time here on earth, I hope his nesting place in heaven is within earshot of Sharyl.

Love you babe I still miss you every day.

Pleas keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Storm Chasin’

Ahhh!  It is springtime in Oklahoma finally something interesting on TV.  I am Storm Chasing.  I sit here:

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I watch here:

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I see some amazing video:

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If it really gets tough it is ten steps to here:

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The guys that keep me informed are good; albeit sometimes a little overbearing and arrogant but they are good.  They have the very latest in high tech equipment at their disposal and most of the time I feel comfortable, staying in the chair, if they tell me the thing will miss me by a couple miles.

I am completely relaxed at the moment as the closest thing to me is still forty miles or so away, it is coming toward me but if it holds together I still have about an hour until it is time to get nervous.

It hasn’t always been this easy or high tech.

When I was a little kid the only expertise we had were my parents.  Neither of them were meteorologist (I seriously doubt either of them could spell meteorologist) and many times their opinions of the threat differed greatly.  Dad took the laid back approach.  Laid back was never used to describe my mom, especially if we are talking tornados. We didn’t have TV; we were totally dependent on who won the argument if we slept or if we took tornado precautions.

We had a storm cellar, I don’t know for sure how far it was from my chair or bed but it was a lot farther than ten steps.  Dad built the thing; I don’t know why he built it that far from the house.  I still have bad dreams about the 2:00am wake-up calls, the trek across the yard in a driving rain and going in that god-awful cellar.  We didn’t just stay a few minutes; we stayed until we could no longer hear it thunder.

In the mid to late fifties Harry Volkman (sp) a weatherman in OKC  began to predict when we could expect tornadoes, my mom liked Harry and had a great deal of confidence in what he did.  The midnight runs became less frequent and my life got a little easier.

Severe weather forecasting and tracking continued to evolve.  Most small towns had guys that would gather at the local football field or some other vantage point and watch for tornadoes  if they felt the need someone would flip a switch and the tornado siren would sound.  About half the people would seek shelter; the other half would go out in the yard and look for the thing.

Sharyl and I were part of that other half.  We both enjoyed driving around looking for the things and we thought we were smart enough to avoid getting in trouble, I guess we were or maybe it was luck.  As we matured and accepted the fact we were responsible for two kids we kind of quit doing that, but I always thought we would have made a heck of a “storm chaser” team.

Until the one shown above, we never had our very own storm cellar.  We went from time to time but we just infringed on some of our friends or neighbors.  If any of you read this, please accept another thank you.  We installed the one-pictured three years ago.  Sharyl was not physically able to travel to a shelter, and storm chasing was certainly not an option.  We used it two or three times in ’10 and ’11, I didn’t need it last year.  I cleaned it out today, “just in case”

It is hailing on the west side of town but I think I am going to be OK over here on the east side, however there is some more crap developing so I guess I will continue to monitor.

To put in perspective, we can do without the hail and wind but we need the rain.

I offer a big thanks to the guys and gals that do an excellent job of telling me when I need to take that ten-step journey.

Relay for Life is rapidly approaching, an excellent time to donate to cancer research.

Please say a prayer for me.

It is too early for Good Night, but never too early for God Bless.

Dave

The Big Muddy

Springtime at what some call “The Big Muddy”.  There is no place on earth I’d rather be.

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I may burn that brush pile tomorrow and then again I may not.

I stopped rocking long enough to snap the pic.  The other chair is empty.

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Some days are still a little tough.  Today is one of those days.

Thanks for the prayers.

Dave

Good-Bye My Friend….

About eight years ago this guy became part of our household.

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I know it’s a chair but, it is my blog, if I want to call it a guy, I can.  That is one of the neat things about having my very own blog.

He took up residence in the Living Room, and we were paired together.  At first the relationship was cordial but very casual, I still worked for a living, and Sharyl and I still had an active social life.  Our time together was limited to a Sunday afternoon nap or maybe a couple hours 2 or 3 evenings a week while I watched TV or visited with Sharyl or guests in our home.  Not much time to really get acquainted.

In the fall of ’08 some new guys moved into our Living Room.  Sharyl didn’t think my guy played well with the new occupants, so he was ushered into to the den, his old living room buddies retired and moved to the lake.

The den, in our home, has always been kind of “my room”, maybe a man cave before that was a word.  He and I spent more one on one time after that move, but the relationship was still casual and carefree.  We normally read the paper or watched a ballgame or some of the other stuff on TV, seldom did we engage in serious conversation or thought.

That winter troubled times came to our home.  Our relationship suddenly became very close and very personal.  For the next 4 ½ years we spent countless hours together a lot of those hours it was just the two of us.  He was always willing to listen; he never offered advise, he just listened, sometimes that is just what I needed.  On those occasions when I shed tears (yes grown men cry) he always had my back.

I believe one year of a dog’s life is considered equal to seven human years, I don’t think figures have been established for recliners, but my experience leads me to believe that number is about one recliner year to ten human years especially those that carry the load this guy carried.

The years and the workload had taken a toll; it was a tough call but I decided it was time to say good-bye.  I couldn’t just dump him; this week I took him to one of those places that will find him a new home.  I asked them to try and find someone weighing 140 or so and is only home a few hours a day.  Maybe with those conditions he can enjoy a few more years.

I will miss him.  Those very personal and private times we shared will remain with me forever, however I think it might be good to distance myself a little bit from those memories,

This week this guy moved into that favorite corner of my den.

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We are just starting to get acquainted.  The relationship is still very casual but so far I am comfortable with him and he seems to be comfortable with me.  I hope our time can be limited to a few hours a week and spent watching a ballgame, reading the paper or just in idle conversation.  If there are tears I pray the majority of them are tears of joy.

Please consider a donation to your comfort level to the cancer research organization of your choice.

Please include me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Nine to Five……

Contrary to what the title implies this isn’t about my new job.  I don’t have nor do I want one of those.  It isn’t about an old Dolly Parton song or movie.  It is about my bucket list.

Before I talk about my bucket list I’m going to bore you with a few thoughts about bucket lists in general.

Merriam-Webster says the first use of the word(s) bucket list was in 2006.  I guess my dad didn’t have one or if he did he called it something else.  The definition is simple: a list of things one has not done before but wants to do before dying.

I frequently credit Merriam-Webster as my source for definitions.  I have their app on my IPad and IPhone, it is free and if you need that sort of thing I highly recommend it.

I think the list should be a mental list and should not be written.  I think it should be fluid; new things added and stuff that for whatever reason is no longer important removed.

Over the years my personal and professional travels took me to a lot of places across this great land.  One day I got the grandkids crayons and a blank U.S. map and colored the states I had visited.  I guess I really just did that in my mind; anyway I had been in 39 of the 50.  I made a bucket list entry to visit those other eleven.

They were scattered; two southeast, two a way out west, three northeast and four up north in the Great Plains and Midwest.

The last good run Sharyl and I made before she got sick was in the summer of ’08.  That trip took care of the two down in Dixie.  That reduced the magic number to nine.  This week I reduced it again from nine to five.  Hmmm 9 to 5 that sounds like a good title for a blog post.

I removed Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota from the bucket list.  A recent addition to that list was a visit to the Surf Ballroom.  See the previous blog, visiting the Surf is no longer on the list.

Taking care of those bucket list things was just a little gravy.  The real reason for the trip:  I needed to analyze some things; I do that best when I am running down the road.  Most people probably don’t need to drive 2000 miles to perform an in depth personal analysis; I am not most people.

I’ll get the serious stuff out of the way first.  I am proud I made the trip.   I needed to do this one alone.  I like who I am, and I am OK with where I am.  I think I need to continue to make my little world bigger.  I think I am on the right road and going in the right directionWhen I compare where I am to where I have been I believe I am doing OK.  I think I drove way too far to see something so obvious.  I should have been able to do figure that out on my way to the grocery store.

All right, we got the serious stuff out of the way.  I’ll try to cover a few of the highlights of the trip.  I mentioned in Sunday’s blog, I left home late Sunday afternoon.  Old habits are hard to break; that is the way Sharyl and I typically did when we traveled.  We would get on the road get three or four hours behind us and find a hotel.  Sharyl didn’t like to make advance hotel reservations but “by god” I better find her a bed before ten or she wasn’t a fun traveling partner.

I didn’t have a plan or a schedule.  I had three things on my agenda.  I wanted to visit those four states and the Surf Ballroom; it is in Iowa.  I wanted to gather my thoughts.  I figured I would know when it was time to come home.

I spent the first night in Joplin MO.  If you are ever driving an Interstate through MO and you aren’t sure if you are there; if you haven’t passed the big firework stores, you aren’t there yet.  Likewise if you wonder if you are still in MO, if you haven’t passed the big fireworks stores again you are still there.

In Des Moines, Iowa I saw a personalized license plate “61YANKS”.  I have never been a Yankees fan but, you gotta love that ‘61 bunch, it was a special year.  Roger and Mickey both were chasing the magic 60 homeruns in addition to all the typical Yankees hype.  I maneuvered through some noontime traffic to get a look at the driver.  I believe she might have spent the summer of ’61 carousing with The Mick, Whitey and the boys.  If we had made eye contact I would have given her a “thumbs up” or maybe not she might have thought I wanted to do some carousing.  A term some of you will recognize; she looked like she had been rode hard and put up wet and she looked like she was OK with that.

The only scheduled stop, actually it was about the only stop on the trip was at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.  I don’t recommend driving 700 miles just to see it, but if you are ever up at that end of I 35 give it an hour or so of your time.  I think everyone that was anyone in the music business from the ‘30s, until the big name acts started using the 15,000 seat arenas, played the Surf.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has a museum dedicated to Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.  There are also hundreds of autographed pics of the other performers including Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Maud Oklahoma’s own Wanda Jackson.  Willie Nelson will play there sometime this spring.  If you want to know more about the Surf just check the Internet.  It is a very neat place especially for an old Buddy Holly fan.

I spent Monday night in La Crosse, Wisconsin, (or is it West Consin).  I had been in three of the four states and visited the Surf Ballroom; all that remained undone was North Dakota and the analysis.  I started to drive some two-lane roads up through Wisconsin to Duluth Minnesota.  I wanted to see if there is a sign that says I 35 ENDS.  I have seen the one at the west end of I 40 in Barstow CA. and some of the other Interstates.  That might have started a whole new bucket list; there is a lot of Interstates and they all have two ends.

I drove a hundred miles or so of 55mph speed limit two-lane and was finally on I 94 for a few miles. The sign said it was just 326 miles northwest to Fargo North Dakota. As I said a few paragraphs ago I figured I would know when it was time to come home; it was time.  I said goodbye two-lane US 53 and hello I 94.  A few hours later there was a sign welcoming me to North Dakota.

About ten miles from Fargo I told the GPS I wanted to go home. The thing adjusted on the fly.  I never looked at the entire route, all I knew is I should take I 29 south and if I didn’t stop I would be home at 4:36 Wednesday morning.  Thirty years ago I would have probably shaved an hour off that GPS estimate and got home about 3:30 AM, today no way, if it would have said 2:36, I might have got home about 1:30.

Hotel reservations are not an option the way I normally travel.  If you travel the Interstate system finding a suitable room or at least one with clean sheets and a hot shower is not a problem; unless you happen to be running down I 29 through the Dakotas and Iowa (I will explain later) I drove about 3 or 4 hours longer than I wanted but I did find a room and I was still in Iowa, just barely.  It was one of those places where I think the sheets were clean and the shower was hot; Sharyl would not have been happy.

Wednesday morning the GPS said six hours forty-seven minutes to this place I call home, with an estimated time of arrival about 3:00 PM.  About 2 miles of that was in Iowa, about 65 in Nebraska, the rest was “been there done that” Kansas and Oklahoma.  I saw a lot of snow on the ground up north but the only snow I saw fall was up near the Kansas / Oklahoma border.  Like the GPS said, I got home about three.  I was tired but I felt better about Dave than I did when I left.

This one is getting long but I have to rant just a little bit.  I have added an item to my very long pet-peeve list and moved an existing one up several notches.

The new entry is the no billboard law in some states.  If you freelance like me you depend on the billboards to find food, lodging and other services.  I know they have those little signs about a half-mile from the exit, with maybe 8 hotels, restaurants and gas places on a small sign.  I don’t think the guy that dreamed that up ever traveled alone and tried to read those at night at 70 mph, make a decision get slowed down and safely exit in that ½ mile distance.  I would gladly trade an unobstructed view of another cornfield for a big billboard telling me there was a Comfort Inn and another one telling me about a Cracker Barrel at exit 122 four miles ahead.  The Dakotas and Iowa do not have billboards; they do have a lot of cornfields.

The existing pet peeve that moved nearer the top of my list is an issue I have with those little signs telling me there is five different fuel stops at this exit.  I exit and when I get to the stop sign at the bottom of the exit ramp, the signs tell me 2 of the fuel stops are 4 miles east and the other three are 7 miles west.  If you are going to tell me I can get fuel at this exit I should be able to get fuel at the exit not 4 miles east of the exit.

The preceding 2 paragraphs are the reason I drove about fourteen hours Tuesday.  I know places like Sioux Falls S.D. and Sioux City Iowa have hotels but you just can’t tell by looking at the exit signs where they are.  I feel better.

There are still five states on a reasonably long bucket list.  It would be totally out of character for me to have a plan in place to visit them.  I do have a couple hair-brained ideas that might get me to the two out west, Nevada and Oregon, and up northeast to Maine.  The other two are Rhode Island and Delaware.  It would probably be OK to leave this world with some things on the bucket list.

In the course of reading this one you have probably already said at least one prayer for me so I won’t ask.

Good Night and God Bless

Dave

Reminiscing.

A typical winter day in 1958-59 usually found this high school junior and his peers dressed in button up Levis (riding very low), a cotton shirt with the collar turned up or more than likely a white tee shirt with a pack of Lucky Strikes tucked neatly in the sleeve.  On our feet were white socks and penny loafers or wingtips; a few guys had white bucks or blue suede. We all had those horseshoe steel taps.  The girls wore penny loafers or saddle oxfords, jeans or a skirt.  Maybe it is my memory or maybe South Pott. County was different (please hold the comments) but the older I get the more popular those poodle skirts were. I really don’t remember many of them.

Our music was this new stuff called rock and roll; our primary source was static filled AM radio.  Every radio was either tuned to KOMA 1520 or WKY 930, some had, in addition to the standard front speaker, an extra speaker installed in the rear package tray with a little switch allowing us to listen to front, rear or both.  Stereo would become part of our vocabulary a few years later.  At home or at parties 45s or those new 33 1/3 LP albums provided the music.  At the local hangout, for us it was Ms Allen’s all night café at Pearson; we listened to the Juke Box. A dime would get you one song or you could hear three for a quarter.

Tuesday February 3, ’59 started like most other school days but by about 2nd hour the news was spreading.  “Did you hear about Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens?”  “They were killed in a plane crash last night.”

The three of them and some other performers had played The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Big Bopper was 28, Buddy was 22 and Ritchie was only 17.  Those three and the pilot were the only people on the plane.  It crashed on takeoff from Mason City, Iowa.

Buddy was the “rockabilly” kid out of Lubbock, Texas I have talked about in previous blog posts.  He was my favorite guy then and he has remained my favorite.

I continued to listen to Buddy and when Sharyl and I became a couple we listened to him.  I don’t know if I converted her or if she was already a big fan.  His stuff kind of became “our music”.  As we matured and the family came along we expanded our musical preferences and our time for music declined but Buddy was always there. We had moved from records to 8 tracks to cassettes and CDs; when I retired one of the personal items in my desk was a Buddy Holly CD; I also found a couple when I went through Sharyl’s things.  I still have several of the LP albums we bought about 50 years ago.  The pictures below are of one Sharyl bought before we were married, if you look at the close up you can see her name.

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For the last fourteen months listening to Buddy Holly and some other guys from that era has again become part of my routine.  I think I have used it as a way to relive and hang on to the memories of a happy and carefree time in my life or to be completely honest I should say our life. I think hanging on to those memories is good; I also think it is possible to use those memories as a crutch.

A couple days ago I visited the Surf Ballroom.  I wish Sharyl could have been with me.  If I’m going to wish I might as well wish that Buddy had been there too, we good have enjoyed a live performance together.  Maybe he and Sharyl have gotten acquainted.

I think I placed myself in a venue that allowed me to “figure it out”; I think I can once again enjoy listening to some “Maybe Baby” or “Peggy Sue” and just cherish the memories.  Another little bit of the healing process.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

 

PS:  I am home from the trip.  More on that in a few days.

 

 

Round Two Begins……….

Round two in a couple of ways.  I hadn’t really thought about it but I did my first entry on this Random Thoughts blog one year ago.

The round two I really had on my mind is one of those “they say” things; you know the one when they say “it gets easier” and I still don’t know who “they” are.  I have previously mentioned the three holidays our family is always together and do our traditional things.   I should also include birthdays, anniversaries & Mothers Day.  Easter is the first one of those we have seen a second time without Sharyl and Conner.

I really don’t know what I was expecting, but for some reason I was surprised when my morning started as one of the bad ones, those are becoming less frequent but I still have them.  For some goofy reason when I put the ham in the oven; it hit me that it wasn’t my job to put the thing in the oven all I did was slice it and eat at least my share.

They didn’t say it would be a great day, they just said it would get easier.

They were right.  We were all at our house for lunch.  The food was very good (even the part I did) and as usual we had way too much of it.

We have always colored some eggs and hunted some eggs after lunch.  We did that today.  I’m not sure who hid the things.  Most of us think we are too old to hunt them; today Luke and Lori hunted.  I think Luke found more eggs but it is possible that Lori had more fun.  I know I had enjoyed watching Lori have a little fun.

Yes, we all saw the empty chairs, and I’m sure we always will but it was a little easier.

I am including a few pics.  Please give me a break they are just quick snapshots; I didn’t have time to edit them.

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I have been talking about a little road trip to get my thoughts together and also to take care of some bucket list stuff.  That trip has begun.  About the time the kids got out of the driveway today; I packed a bag and hit the road.  I am doing this from a cheap hotel in southwest Missouri.  I hope the trip (probably 3 or 4 days) provides enough interesting things for a blog or two.  What I really hope is that I get things figured out, I don’t know if that ever fully happens for any of us.

I hope your Easter was everything you wanted it to be.  Please say a prayer for me and please consider a donation to the Cancer research organization of your choice.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave