Mama: November 2014

Facebook Memory: November 5, 2014.  Six months later after this posting, mama fell in rehab, hit her head, attempting to get to the bathroom, 3am in the morning. Hours later she was rushed to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage from which she never regained consciousness. She was recovering from hip surgery and it was going well up until this point. Prior to this, she had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for a few years; 2014 was a turning point as far as the severity of the disease. When I came for an extended visit to give daddy a break and spend sometime loving on mama she hardly recognized me. It was then that I truly started to grieve. I will always cherish the time I was able to be there. In spite of the heartache at times, I experienced a deep joy in loving them and pouring into them. I was very aware of the faithfulness and goodness of God during this difficult time. There were tears and laughter, but love was always in the mix. :

“Wednesday, November 5th, 2014. We went to the Senior Citizen’s Center for Spaghetti and bingo. I took a picture of the last of some of daddy’s flowers that he brought in for mama. Pretty with the yellow deck in the background. After bingo we head out the door and drive down the road to Uncle Billy’s Barber shop. We usually sit around and chat while he cuts hair. Sometimes the customers join right in with the mini ‘ family’ reunions. Laughter and tales of days gone by oft come up. I learned this day for instance from Uncle Billy, that their mom, my grandma Atwell…or granny….had no sense of smell. He said it was because of a run in with a skunk…a direct hit in the face. I love these little meetings….and I love his barber shop where he has been cutting hair for about 30 years. The building has been there since the early 1900’s. Most of the adjacent storefront shops are empty, including the Crawdad Hole where many of the locals came for years to grab a bite in the little cafe and then listen to a little bit of  bluegrass, country and gospel. Uncle Billy said this little strip will soon be a relic of the past. It truly feels like you’ve walked through a time warp into the past….a lot of history there.”


Scattershot / View From the Bottom Rung (Vander H. Atwell) Scattershot: Something delivered over a wide area and at random: Merriam Webster: ‘Broadly, and often randomly inclusive. Collins English Dictionary: ‘A scattershot approach or method involves doing something to a lot of things or people in a disorganized way rather than focusing on particular things or people’. Oh yes, one more. Ask/define: Scattershot is the name of a fictional character in something called the ‘Transformer Universe’. (Following a short research, the ‘Transformer Universe’ seems to be a creation of Marvel Comics, but with a short glance at the technical outlay of it’s complicated schemes, a spinning head indicated symptoms of vertigo and the inquiry had to be shut down). Not sure I could ever master the mechanics of it, or explain it even if I did, but. Within the Transformer Universe, the character Scattershot is described as ‘the aggressive and argumentative leader of the ‘Technobots’, who has the magical (or mechanical) ability to transform into a spaceship as well as a cannon emplacement or whichever, in accordance to the circumstance, ergo, one suspects ‘Scattershot’ comes in bits and pieces, with some assembly required–or desired. (Technobots are a subgroup of five ‘Autobots’ that transform into futuristic vehicles in the transformer universe. Got that? Simple really.)

Desperately trying to contact my Niece, science fiction writer Ms. Tracy Sue, in hopes of having this all sorted out and explained in a manner (if there be one) graspable of an aging mind not accustomed to the tech- speak of cyber civilizations; fearful though, that the key to interpretation lies with the Rubic Cube that is the politics of Washington DC.

Hmm. But I digress? Pause, whir and click; does anyone have the foggiest of where this is going? Neither do I, really. ‘Thought it featured a man with a plan, but now not so sure. Of course, readers of this column will be quick to point out that it’s not the first time the narrative showed signs of inebriation, fell apart or wandered off the reservation. A bushel of things to talk about and so little time and space to do it that fitting it all in seems beyond the capacity of one small column restricted to only a third of a news publication. But we try. Perhaps, a voice might gain greater amplification and weight if it became purely political, ran for public office and learned how to cuss.

Welst, for sure the prognosticator is not some metallic super creature comprised of several detachable parts that assembles itself, into whatever configuration the circumstance may demand. Truth is, the title ‘scattershot’ is chosen ‘cause “scatterbrained” doesn’t ‘zactly reflect the kind of lofty sophistication we strives to achieve.

Rather: We shall go with Mr. Collins, English Dictionary definition of scattershot as “an approach or method that involves doing something to a lot of things or people in a disorganized way, than focusing on a particular thing—or people.”

Verbosity, that’s me to a T; an argumentative sort, meandering about provoking passion and commotion amongst commotional people. Well maybe. Want an unbroken narrative loyal to a specific cause tune to this page next week.

Actually, the old ‘scriber’ just tries to figure things out, to process a variety of information garnered from various sources, overlay it with personal experience and a lifetime of observing the landscape. Presto! Insightful perspectives into anything and everything from A to Z, dissecting philosophies we haven’t a clue about or ever knew existed. And do it all within a paragraph or two.

We do have our critics. (Depending on the politics). While words of encouragement for whatever it is that we do here on this page bolsters my ‘amour-propre’ and sparks a bit more swagger to the old roosters strut, there are rumors that for some, in some quarters of some societies, ‘verbose’ meanderings are not so greatly appreciated. Brevity, I am told, is the ‘soul of wit.’ (Not that I ever thought of myself as being witty’)

Having sat through countless hours of countless preachers holding countless pews hostage to endless exhortation, enduring long-winded lectures by long-winded Dirksenesque politicians, I am well aware of the definition of both the terms ‘verbose’ and ‘bloviate’ and completely understand why a boisterous harangue might drive those who feel lectured to ‘wits end.’ But, since the critic is also a member of a verbose community willing to dispense with due process to achieve a political end, we shall pick up the pen and press on. “Wit” so defines the dictionary, is the ‘keen perception and cleverly apt expression of those connections between idea’s that awaken amusement and pleasure.’

But: whether the writer is ‘known’ for his ‘keen perception,’ whether his purpose for writing, whether he be witty or witless, whether his ideas, opinions or philosophies awaken amusement and pleasure in the mind of the reader, does it matter at all in the process of political discourse, the style or fashion of his work in an unrelated enterprise? What has ‘a’ to do with ‘z’ in the context of a narrative other than both are members of the same alphabet? And what has a worm in the apple to do with the texture of an orange over there in another orchard? Shouldn’t differences of opinion be argued upon the merits of that debated and not degrade to an ‘up front and personal’ attack on the character of the arguer?

Verity (defined as the quality of being true, honest or real) isn’t established upon whether a person is witty or not witty, educated or uneducated, whether one has exceptional intellectual qualities or exists as a bumbling simpleton, just as factuality in a court of law is not determined by running an IQ test on the witness. Neither is distrust, suspicion, or ones emotional involvement in the process grounds enough to indict anyone for anything at all.

Whether witty or witless, what has a ‘wordy’ newspaper column to do with comments in an unrelated forum dealing with an unrelated matter, i.e. rejecting the proposed indictment (impeachment) of a U.S. President for a crime no one is sure has been committed?

This writer’s dissenting opinion appeared in a public forum the middle of May after a poll reported that 43 percent of people surveyed wanted Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. For what, they could not decide, only that he must be guilty of—something.

Call for impeachment was instigated by the usual media and partisan provocateurs all whipping up the hopes and emotions of people clueless of, or willing to override both the political and constitutional process that promotes stable governments.

Urban Dictionary defines such as ‘reality challenged’ i.e. ‘a state in which one is utterly and completely incapable of distinguishing which is fact and which is fiction, which is ‘Shinola’ and which isn’t.

My own proposition publicly stated and based upon my understanding of what America is and what it isn’t, is that impeachment is a political process that requires evidence of a previously designated offense and should not be the result of a call to crucify for political reason, for a Presidents bad manners, because certain view him as a ruffian, or that we imagine him insane. Further I opined, that as a Republican congress found much to their chagrin when impeachment charges were filed against Bill Clinton, it takes more than a President’s personal rascality to usher him out the door down the street.

Nowhere have I given ‘Mr. Trump a pass’ as thus far none of several investigations have shown he committed a crime; neither was advocated that any U.S. President at all is above the law or that inquiry’s of Russian interference in a U.S. Presidential election should end. Only that impeachment, should it ever happen, will not happen just to placate someone’s prejudiced yearnings, or because rabblerousing partisans want it to happen or believe it should happen. Is there smoke? Perhaps, but we shall exhibit a modicum of sobriety and be content to wait for the ‘fire.’

Crafty schemes, plots and intrigues:

I have always been intrigued by the eccentricities and machinations of myself, and my fellow man; how we as intelligent creatures allow our emotions to pull us aside from the narrative into the silliness of our own private foibles and obsessions. Why would anyone at all, having been countered, reach beyond a difference of political opinion and accuse a dissenter of being ‘unpatriotic’? (‘Someone that simply cannot imagine anything other than pledging allegiance to a political party’) “They are, (continuing) thankfully, a rapidly shrinking minority, lets put these ‘hardliners’ in perspective and realize that they worship their Party above all else.”

And we wonder; has due process (Fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizens entitlement) fallen from grace, are these people aware of what due process is, that it lies as the very foundation of our culture government and society, and if so knowing, do they really care? And has political angst so twisted our analytical abilities we cannot see the same faults within our own bosom we so readily attribute to others?

However it is, in the pursuit of wit, ere the column grows weary and long, I shall forthwith retreat into the Transformer Universe of Scattershot ‘till which time, there is more time and one finds it convenient to reassemble and reconstitute in accordance to the circumstance, whichever the circumstance be. Meanwhile, let us pray that those who cherish due process are not a diminishing culture, as suggested.

Vander H. Atwell….July 22, 2017 

On the Political Side (Vander H. Atwell)

This is an article (opinion piece) from‘View From the Bottom Rung’ written by my father, Vander H. Atwell, for a local Arkansas paper. Though he writes about many things pertaining to life, and his growing up in Arkansas, and America, he often delves into the political side. I don’t always agree with his views, but the majority of the time, I certainly do. He’s old school, and was Democrat for many years, until as a logger, the ‘activists’ began to put ‘pipe’ bombs and slash tires for whatever cause they felt justified in doing so. It is, in my opinion, NEVER okay to bring harm, destruction or possibly death to any fellow human being when protesting.  He is always a gentleman, well thought out, researched, and has watched in his lifetime, the spiraling down of the American way of life, as  our government began to take more control over the lives of it’s good citizens (both Democrats and Republicans have had a hand in this one way or another). You may not always agree with him, and that’s okay, but it’s a great article, worthy of reading. 

June 24, 2017: Arkansas News

The time has come the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings; and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. (Credit Alice in Wonderland.)

Seventeen years ago when I first picked up a pen and endeavored to put together a couple of sentences that made some sort of sense and incorporate them into a paragraph with enough coherency they might make it to the public comment page of the local paper, the invitation was for timely social topics, community news and views, the rule of conduct, no cussin’ and no private vendetta’s made public.

In reality the theme drifted to mean spirited attitudes, the premier topic, state and national politics interjected into the small rural venue by a culture of liberal activists up from metropolis to a person against any industrial development that might grow the city and offer jobs to a habitually economically stressed community.

Ideological lectures on a scale that would do an evangelical proud dominated public comment and in order to color (or discolor) local culture and politics, the newly arrived often brought lawyers along to litigate their complaints in courts of law.

If anyone ever wandered onto a ‘scene’ unawares, well that was me: how the new arrivals described the community, the people in it, and, indeed the world in which we live was one I failed to recognize, the outpouring of contempt against the “local yokels” sunspot hot. When the editor gave place to a conservative columnist, the discontented not only flooded editorial with protests, they confronted the papers editor and demanded the column be taken down.

It’s like that with volatile people who somehow find themselves politically isolated within cultures not to their liking, and with ideological firebrands, as here in Arkansas, a state which over the last couple of decades has slowly morphed from a Democrat cant into a Republican leaning society. This constant shifting of political fortunes is historical, represents the American experience and is accepted as part of the territory by a mature citizenry long accustomed to political grounds shifting beneath their feet. However, not so much the liberal “apparachiks” who live and die by the sword. Liberalism is the new “fire and brimstone religion.”

Arkansas is a case in point: The more Arkansas morphs from its traditional shades of blue to tinges of red, the more extreme the vitriol slung at the good folks of the state and those they choose to represent them. I believe this thesis can be supported by searching out the chronicles of the more vociferous of leftist advocates lying within the archives of several northwest Arkansas newspapers. Those who aren’t being heard (fail in their attempt to halt the trend) tend to elevate exponentially, both the decibels of their voice and the bitterness of their complaints often reverting to muckraking tactics in an effort to discredit the leadership of any political association crosswise of their own; public rejection of their political doctrine is not only unthinkable, it is personally devastating.

None of this is to say that criticism of Republicans is never warranted, or that the whole “kit and kabootle of them” should be sainted; rather, that the Republicans large evangelical memberships with its strict adherence to time honored principles of personal conduct affects the party’s ethical standards in ways that are not so “detrimental” to the fortunes of the Democratic Party. Christian philosophy calls upon its adherents to strive for betterment daily, admits to human frailty, that everyone “falls short of the glory,” and that every man-jack of us are in constant warfare against a carnal debility that exists within humankind’s own nature, a philosophy grounded in a set of ethics and principles that is the primary voice evangelicals bring to the cultures and associations that they support or with which they align. Democrats not only ignore their own shortcomings, tend to dismiss that they have any, and actively propagate that Republicans are inherently evil, a cancer on our society whose initiatives will or “may” result in the deaths of thousands of American citizens.

There are, to be sure, Christian elements within the Democratic Party, but that ethic is counter balanced by groups that are virulently anti-culture and anti-Christian. And while it is true that good men and bad men are found across the political spectrum, Democrats are not so much defused by a diverse clientele less religious, and less enthusiastic of Christian concepts.

But View From the Bottom Rung drifts more to philosophical musings rather than hard-core political activism, therefore will not ‘muckrake’ by researching and reporting the party affiliations of Washington bureaucrats and lawmakers whose legislative initiatives may kill millions. Neither will it search out Democratic miscreants that have run afoul of the law; rather, since we are all of one nature as Christian philosophy advises, one suspects both sides of the aisle are well represented. Yet one also suspects that, facing the same charges, more Democrats get off the hook for crimes large and small, than Republicans do and for the same foregoing thesis: Democrats are far more loyal to the brotherhood because they do not claim, nor are they held to the same restrictive code that tends to hinder more ‘robust’ competitiveness within the Republican enterprise.

Without attempting to rewrite history, does anyone at all doubt had Nixon been a Democrat he would have went down so easily, and that, with a hefty assist from his own party? Democrats stick together like a swarm of bees protecting the queen. Count on it.

But View from the Bottom Rung does not intend to become a “bash the Democrats” column. We see enough partisan opiners, both sides of the aisle, who diligently search out the sins and misadventures of the other party while ignoring the rascality of their own. Loyalty to one’s own associations is an admirable thing one supposes, but in fact amounts to a shallow conscience indeed if it detracts from accountability to the association which binds us together and to which we pledge allegiance.

Differences of opinion aired in a public forum and processed at the voting booth is the hallmark of our society. Evil is not a part of that equation. But grievances of evil motive against other “faiths” for the sole purpose of political gain is not only an unethical activity, it is an immoral and dangerous one as well as recent events would suggest, especially if that recriminatory stance has been institutionalized by the association that finds it a benefit to its political interests. Eventually some suckered idiot will believe it and act on it.

It happens time and again, eventually some propagated soul(s) ignorant of the concept takes a gun and “goes hunting,” or feels justified in donning a mask and taking to the streets in defiant protest of authority and in fits of violent and destructive activity. Ironically, it is Democrats who have actively cultivated the suspicion that Republicans are a volatile association, that they are prone to volatile elements that present a threat to society and that their policies and initiatives will cause thousands of Americans hardship, heartache and death.

But it is that very, twisted narrative along with an SAS 7.62 assault rifle, an assassin carried onto a ball field in Virginia and took “justice” into his own hands by acting upon the liberal spin that Republicans are out to destroy the lives of millions of U.S. citizens, strip them of Social Security and starve to death countless old people, puppy dogs and little children.

One cannot teach hate without messing with the minds of hateful people. That fact is made transparently clear in the caustic rhetoric of partisan news organizations and the imputation of evil purpose by Democratic lawmakers into conservative thought, and of the entertainment industry with its classless exhibitions of assassinations and beheadings; all of which served to create an atmosphere of social hysteria that contributed to the attempted assassination of a dozen Republican congressmen by a distorted soul driven mad by the cacophony of it all.

Some are hoping that the attempted assassination of Rep. Scalise and fellow congresspersons will result in a sober reflection by both Parties, of where the white-hot heat of partisan rhetoric is taking us and expressing hope that the incident will usher in more respectful attitudes and cooperation. When pigs grow wings.

But virulent rhetoric is a fundamental tool in the Democrats seven-month effort to subvert the Trump administration, a road with no apparent end; it’s not likely to change anyways soon but the fact that members of both parties now feel threatened by the violent fallout of unbridled vitriol may serve to dampen the rhetoric and encourage a little civility. Maybe its time the conversation departed the boiling hot seas of political acrimony and drifted to such mundane topics as ‘shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages and kings.’ If the “Donald” can wax conciliatory in the wake of a politically inspired assassination attempt, perhaps there’s hope that others may also.

Van, the Mandolin Man

When I was a little girl I remember daddy buying one of our first pieces of furniture (I say that with a smile, not sure how mom felt about that)…a blonde Fender Guitar and Amp. From that time on he was hooked. He would practice all the time, and over the years he eventually traded his electric guitar in for a mandolin, not that he stopped playing the guitar entirely but the mandolin became ‘his’ instrument of choice. He began playing with some country fella’s in California but it seemed ‘bluegrass’ was what he really loved. I remember some fellas and a couple of gals, gathering around mama and daddy’s small living room when they lived in California; banjo, mandolin, bass fiddle, acoustic guitar and fiddle all joining in the fun. He traveled the circuit and played as often as he could at different events and venues around the surrounding areas.

When my folks decided to return to Arkansas, after living in California for over 50 odd years (mama called it their last ‘big’ adventure), daddy had no trouble finding others to play bluegrass with. His younger brother, Billy, played bluegrass as well, and one thing led to another and soon daddy was off and running. I wish I knew this song they are playing, but suffice it to say we all had a great time that night, and the highlight for me, was of course my mandolin playing ‘pappy.’ My sister once said to me, (both of us having no appreciation for bluegrass or country much when we were growing up), “Listening to daddy play bluegrass is kinda of like having a spiritual experience.” I’m not sure about that, but I got what she meant as only sisters can and do.

View From the Bottom Rung (by Vander H. Atwell)

Vander H. Atwell is my father. He is soon to be 84, and pretty spry for his age and downright puts me to shame. Longevity runs in the family, the oldest member of his family is 90 years old, my Aunt Pluma, then there is Aunt Oleta, and Uncle Billy. Daddy, is the third born. He is a widower, and now a newlywed by about a year at the writing of this. He is an amazing man, not perfect, and there are a few things we don’t agree on, but he is and will always be my ‘hero’. He’s a writer, philosopher, professional quality mandolin player, retired logger and mountain man, and more. I love him with all of my heart, and if you can’t tell I’m bursting with pride.

He writes an opinion piece called ‘View From the Bottom Rung’, at least twice a month for a local paper in Arkansas, The Press Argus. Though it can sometimes be political in nature, he most often writes about life, and especially how it was days past. He was born in Arkansas around 1933, the third born out of four siblings, two older sisters and one younger brother. His father, Roland Atwell, a Baptist Preacher, and his mother Minnie ‘LaRue’ Atwell, were also farmers and lived in Crawford County, in the vicinity of Mountainburg, Arkansas. In those days they would have been called ‘Hillbilly’s, which was not considered a compliment by many. Today, it’s often associated with Bluegrass music and good ole, down to earth country folk, pot lucks and so forth. In fact, I am quite proud of my ‘hillbilly’ roots and the wonderful people I call ‘the salt of the earth’ kind of folk.

My father, upon finishing the 8th grade, did not return to school, though I know not why,  I would assume it was to help out at home and the family farm. I think it always bothered him that he had not continued on in his education at the time, but it actually spurred him on later to take educational courses through the mail. He is a natural born story teller. When he writes, he often paints a vivid picture of how it was as a young ‘lad’ back in the early days of his childhood. His lively hood until he retired several years ago was that of logger, timber faller. He grew to love the mountains of California, and much like a professional sailor longs for the sea, my daddy still , at times, longs for the mountains. My siblings and I were able to visit the camp sites at times growing up and I still love the smell of the pine trees in the mountains. One day I hope to compile many of my fathers writings and stories and put them in book form. He’s a brilliant man. I will share more about my mother and father in the days ahead. It will be random as there is so much. I will highlight my fathers various articles, and other writings on my blog as well as feature video’s of his musical past time.

The following was written by my dad and posted in the Press Argus Newspaper, on April 29, 2017. As I read this,  images came to my mind as if I was watching the movie ‘Old Yeller’ as I envisioned a much younger boy growing up in a very different time and era, running through the backwoods of Arkansas. You can find the article if you google it…but I was unable to get the link to work…(still a newbie on here unfortunately).

By Vander H. Atwell  

Arkansas in springtime is a beautiful place to be. Yes, it amazes that even through the stifling heat of its sweltering summers, the timbered hills and spreading flatlands retain their prideful green luster. in all my 55 years in Northern California surrounded by the state’s vast evergreen forests, nothing like the constant and consistent sea of green that is Arkansas in season.

Even though the Lady’s beauty endures through the scorching summers of the hot humid U.S. South, there is an extra special richness of color in the state’s springtime awakening; a soft, lush chlorophyll driven glory that reflect the miracle of birth and the promise that comes with renewal of life.

How I loved those idyllic times when the budding of my own life blended with an Ozark spring; lazing in a sea of cool green grass gazing up at pillowed clouds wandering like sheep against a backdrop of deep blue sky. Small islands of “pushups” (miniature flowers of white, pink and blue) thrusting themselves up through a soft green blanket spread out over hill and dale, various insects crawling or flying about, most of them new to the world as me, scurrying about in their industry much too preoccupied with their own society, their own exclusive little universe to pay attention to mine.

It was not the spreading blanket of green or patterns of miniature flowers growing thereon that caught the fancy of my faithful sidekick “buster” the family dog who always seemed at my heels on those idle moments I wandered about soaking up the wonders of the earth ‘neath my feet and the heavens skyward of my searching eyes: It was an ant or some other creepy crawler scurrying just beyond the forward thrust of his resting paws that caught his attention and ‘bugged’ him no end.

The dog lay quietly at first, adverse to confrontation but as the insect charged his position, shifted ever so slightly and was soon intently focused on the critters determined industry shifting his head side to side, wrinkling his brow in puzzlement as the cerebral processes became increasingly stressed. Most times creepy crawlers were allowed to pass without incident, but other times, depending on the dog’s patience, or lack of it, came a snap and a bite in which case the unfortunate interloper was caught up and spit back out in a somewhat wet and disheveled condition.

Buster was a brown mixed breed male that showed a pit bull lineage. His first years were prone to terrifying seizures, or “fits” as we called them back then, but eventually outgrew them and by the time I was 6 to 8 years old considered the tenacious beast invincible and trusted him explicitly. A nervous sort exploring the countryside alone might find himself a bit intimidated but not with the pit trotting alongside exploring every brush pile rabbit hole or rock fence along the way. The tenacious animal once tackled an upset Hereford bull that walked through a fence onto our property, grabbed an ear and survived the ‘ride’ bruised but not beaten. Often pranked by his young human pals yet always forgiving, in my time, for my time, my Lassie, my ‘Old Yeller’ together exploring the mysteries of a world only recently discovered.

By my calculations, I was 5 years of age when my parents settled on the narrow Boston Mountain spine called Burkett Ridge; in those distant times the “world” consisted of two 20-acre plots joined, one belonging to my father, Roland Atwell the other to my mother’s uncle, John LaRue. Neither of the plots was ‘move onto’ properties at the time of purchase but had acreage ready for cultivation and room for expansion into parts of the land not yet cleared of brush and trees.

Each built a two room log cabin, the material to build including logs and wooden shingles for the roof were taken from the surrounding forest; the windows, glass and frame, ceiling and flooring of tongue grooved pine boards about the only pre-processed material used in the construction.

The kitchen took up one full room, cooking was done on a cast iron wood burning stove while heat for the un-insulated shanty was a light-weight sheet metal wood fueled stove called a King heater. The King’s thin sheet metal sides were often forced red hot in an effort to warm the airish two-roomer, especially on those frigid days’ temperature dropped so low it produced ice crystal skies, buckets of drinking water froze solid during the night and dampness inside the house turned to ice-glazed walls ere the dawning. Stoked to such intense heat the King burned out over the winter and each following autumn had to be replaced with a brand new store bought. No direct heat was had for a two-room lean-to added to the house later on: air conditioning to relieve the misery of the sweltering dog days of summer was doors left open.

The worse the misery of a cold hard winter cold, greater the joy of springtime.Rebirth of stubbled fields began with miniature wildflowers pushing up through seas of new grass; it came with the arrival of butterfly meadows, lush foliage of newly leafed forests freshly painted with the green pigmentation chlorophyll tempered with a dusting of yellowish pollen; the freshness, the wonder of it more than compensation for being cooped up inside for weeks on end by winters wicked bite the cold misery of evening chores and sleeping beneath tons of quilts and blankets while the sweep of cold nighttime winds wearied one to sleep with weird vibrations, mysterious rattlings and ghostly whispers from the dark cold abyss.

Sanitary conditions were nigh onto primitive those first years on the ridge. The positive of it, was that the immune systems of the ‘hill people’ were so robust from exposure to various vermin any disease that attacked was at serious disadvantage. Got sick you ‘rode it out’ on the back of ancient remedies handed down generation to generation. One survived albeit, not much for the relief of pain and suffering endured.

Not only was there no running water in the old “cabin on the hill” there was no well from which to fetch it, rather, spring water from a robust “seep” a couple of hundred yards down over the slope back of the house. Inconvenient at the least since water for drinking, cooking and bathing had to be carried a distance up-hill in two-gallon zinc buckets or in empty one gallon Karo syrup cans.

Eventually a well was sunk back of the house and beyond it an open-side storage shed/chicken shelter. The shed, constructed of scrap lumber, was used as a place to discard used-up junk that might later be salvaged for heretofore unseen purpose and to accommodate the dozen or so yard hens that served the table with both eggs and meat.

Later still, ‘volunteer’ peach trees sprouted and grew from seeds thrown behind the shed, which, betwixt the shed and the foliage afforded a bit of privacy to replace that lost as the old outhouse, set off a ways to the western most side, weathered, withered and finally collapsed into the ground.

There were other than the comforting presence of an old dog, and a stretch of grass mixed with low growing flowers on warm and sunny afternoons to occupy the time of a lad newly introduced to the general creation. Nearby was a section of ‘new ground’ cleared for cultivation the year before, or the year before that. In springtime a field of small “saplings” grew from the stumps and roots of cut trees and each spring before planting time, the acreage was brushed, sprouts cut, piled and burned ere a plow point broke the ground or the plot given over to pastureland.

The springtime ritual of cutting, piling and burning was a favorite chore, if any labor at all might be viewed favorably by a youngster who’s feet coveted the freedom of game trails, and whose hands sought their own creative devices. Rather the mind drifted to the idleness of day dreams and adventure; amongst the sprouts we cut, piled and burned were saplings forked at the top, excellent to cut and use as slingshot stalks (back when automobile tire tubes had the ‘snap-back’ elasticity of real rubber) and from short pieces of budding hickory shoots one could unsheathe his old ‘Barlow,’ slip a section of bark and carve himself a wood whistle slick as store bought.

Wicked little darts were made by attaching a needle like pin and paper rudder, (fore and aft) to a matchstick, a ‘tractor’ that moved on its own from an empty spool of thread, a piece of bar soap, matchstick and rubber band, a Jews Harp of sorts from string and a small pliable branch. Ground snakes, lizards, salamanders and June bugs were a part of a lad’s youthful distractions, foraging for dew berries, black berries, huckleberries and black haws, part of the action.

As my youthful friends and I grew older the more daring became our adventures the more dangerous became our creations. How we survived climbing trees, scaling rock outcroppings, swinging like monkeys through stands of persimmon, jousting wasps and exploring snake dens may be best attributed to providence. Looking back, how else to explain it?

Today the honey locust over the back fence here at my home in Alma blossoms the whitest of white while, in stark contrast of color, swarms of large black bumble bees the size of a mans thumb gather pollen. Beds of Iris’ ring the lower yard roses dominate the upper, a low cover of small orange wildflowers push themselves up through a cover of Irish green lawn. An ideal place for a boy and his dog to while away a lazy summer afternoon.

Yes, we may dream our way back to yesterday and yearn for worlds of un-ending springtime: but the old dog is gone, the time of making slingshots and whittling whistles past: The magic of the seasons is still there but then was then and now is now and lawns have to be mowed.


My precious mother passed on May 21, 2015. My last entry about her on Blogger was taken about a year before she passed. There is so much more to the story but this was where we were at, at that time. I sure do miss her and love her. Love my daddy too, he’s no spring chicken, but he’s busier than most youngins’ these days. Mama had Alzheimers, and this link to the blog is just part of the journey.  I love the pictures I posted too, and will probably rewrite and transfer that blog on here at another time. <a href=”


Not the greatest quality picture, but this was my mama at her best. She had the most beautiful smile, graceful hands and ways about her. In her younger days she was a bit of a tomboy, but you sure couldn’t tell in her latter years.  Daddy and Mama grew very close the last few years of her life. I would say they ‘fell in love’ all over again but it was a deep, compassionate love. Daddy would say, after she passed, ” I think I needed her, more than she needed me.”





Precious and timeless memories. Just living life, one day at a time, one moment at a time before it quickly fades away into the distant past. There’s so much in my heart, so many memories of the good times as well as the difficult times that I’m not even sure where to begin in these pages. There are times a memory will pop up at the most unexpected and surprising moment. This happened one day as I walked out of my doctor’s office, it was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had such a strong urge to see my mother who passed away in May of 2015.  It hit me suddenly, out of nowhere, this longing in my heart.  One solitary tear slowly rolled down my cheek as I looked up and said out loud, ” I love you and miss you, Mama!”  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not usually a melancholic person, I’m quite the opposite, though I have my moments.  I can confidently say, God’s mercies are NEW every morning, even in the challenging times there is and has been much JOY!

This is a video I made on my phone, having no computer access, as I was spending time in Arkansas with my folks. For several years as my mama’s health began to decline, physically and mentally, I would take extended trips to be with them. I would take picture after picture and recorded a plethora of  video, which I often posted on Facebook on my private page, much like an online journal. Although, mama would get a little irritated with me at times (as well as others, truth be told ;), I would just smile or chuckle and keep on clicking. I’m SO glad I did. What I captured was more than just memories of my time spent with her and daddy the last few years of her life, but the last vestiges of a generation quickly fading. I grew to cherish and love my paternal side of the family, as well as the people and traditions of the surrounding area.

As much as I miss my precious mother. my sweet mama, I know she is in a timeless place, and the memories I have I cherish. I love and appreciate my family more now than ever. Life is so fleeting here, but we who know and love Jesus will have eternity in heaven and that’s something wonderful to look forward to.

God Bless, Karen

A legacy of Love


The Door

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Deep in my heart of hearts there is a room with a special door, that oft’ these days I choose to open, full of precious memories.

Precious memories, unseen angels,
Sent from somewhere to my soul.
How they linger, ever near me,
And the sacred past unfolds.

Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness, of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold. Continue reading