Archive for the ‘Critter’ Category
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
I spend so much time on the road lately that sometimes its hard to smell roses. It doesn’t always work but I do my best to manage it.
Lately I’m marveling more at my daughter. For over a decade I have blogged about her, from the time she was born to current. Off and on, tidbits, made up stories. Its weird looking back.
She’s becoming a teenager, but so far I have seen none of the stereotype Mom-and-Dad-are-idiots-hate-the-world mentality Hollywood and society perpetuates. I hope it stays that way but I know it can change. Pragmatism thou art my curse.
Back in 2009, I was just wrapping up a job in Tennessee. I had been doing a UMTS expansion throughout the state for AT&T and was heading for home finally.
It had been a rough year. I had taken the job due to some troubles my bride and I were experieincing, both me in my previous career, and she with me. So I changed jobs. We’re still together so the change must of worked.
Anyrate, my daughter was becoming enamoured with Tennessee, part of what my bride has jokingly called “brainwashing” for several years…with a laugh.
So it was that on January 22, 2009 I took Critter to watch the Lady Vols, under Pat Summit take on the local Arkansas Razorbacks.
We play video games with our kid.
We don’t play MMO games, but we do play video games. Largely they are Co-op and of a RPG nature. We three sit down and make it a point to have fun together but just as important to me is that in playing those games we try to listen to each other, work together, and communicate.
So this from Penny Arcade really struck a chord for me, because it has happened with us. Its the digital equivalent of staying the night in jail or cleaning up your room, and whats more is its happened making it all the more funny.
A long time ago my grandfather gave me a piece of advice regarding the world. I have kept it near and dear, and recited it often. I have referred to it regularly and I find it on my mind a lot as of late.
There are folks out there who will take advantage of the kindness of others. To be clear this isn’t any group I am currently involved in, as I am involved in several, but rather an interpretation of our worlds state of affairs.
While a youngster in school I asked my grandfather about buying stuff for my school fundraiser. He refused and explained at the time”
“Offer sweat when required of you, blood when demanded, and money never.”
He later explained what each meant. You can volunteer your time, you can work hard and sweat to benefit society. Sweat is free. It’s easily generated. It’s your time. Blood is for wars, and defense of the things you believe in. Money however is reserved for the safety and well being of your family, and your families future. Money can be earned by those in need. Money should never be freely given. He explained it with wild life.
If you make it to easy for animals to get food, they come to expect it. Like bears raiding garbage cans. One day when they don’t find it, they’ll come demanding it from it’s source.
We’ve been pushed pretty hard here at An Dun. Critter under went surgery and that set us back on what little savings we had after doing a tremendous amount of work here at the house. In fact we don’t have any, now. My truck required some repairs to have it meet the state inspection standards, and my wife’s vehicle has another 4k in repairs I have to do to it. But I simply don’t have it.
This isn’t a beg. Or asking for money. Just me rambling some thoughts in my mind to clear my head.
I know no one currently who is not in hard times. I find myself focusing on seasons, concentrating on getting our house and land ready for winter, preparing to build a woodshed, and chop firewood. I see myself slipping back somewhat to my youth in watching the tree’s ,the skies and the land for changes of season. It’s not a unpleasant feeling. But it is a sobering one.
We have offered our time and our blood to a number of affairs over the years. It’s been enjoyable. We feel we have made a difference. But it is harder and harder to recognize that difference as more and more people come from the wood work needing assistance through the various charities we have done work in. I find myself growing disgusted with people in general.
I want to find them, shake them, and demand them: Find Work. McDonald’s pay sucks but it is work. A job is a job is a job. Take responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming the world. Handle your life. Raise yourself, and your family. At age 32 when I first moved to Arkansas versus being on unemployment, and after being a Project Manager for one of the largest telecom firms of the last decade I took a job cutting grass at a marina for barely more than minimum wage. Because it was a job, and I had a responsibility, and I had no time for the foolishness of saying a job was beneath me.
I’m currently examining taking a second job, possibly even teaching. Most likely online given my work schedule and load. But I can’t pursue it until I graduate. Thus time is not on my side at current.
Now Critter is experiencing adversity in her school. I have a very different interpretation of the intent by the staff. We offer our sweat, our time, and our efforts. But we don’t participate in sending money or fundraisers. We already spend a large sum for tuition. We pay our school taxes on top of that. Maybe it’s my families raising but asking for more just seems greedy. My interpretation of the adversity she is experiencing I feel is a direct result of our lack of spending. I see no other basis. I confess to being a sarcastic cynic as well, however. My wife disagrees but has no other theory to offer. However, that is why she is at the parent teacher conference this morning and I am home playing Nurse Dad. I am known to be….abrasive…when riled…and make no mistake, when it comes to my daughter I will rile easily.
In short it has been hectic around An Dun these days, and my grandfathers words have been tested. In good news, we fixed the leaks, replaced all the doors but one, repaired the foundation and have made a lot of headway. Now I fear my daughters birthday and supplying a Christmas.
They are first world problems. I do not argue this. I always keep in mind the places I have been. The things I have seen. There are others who are much worse off than us. Who would trade what little they had to be us in an instant.
But it does not make it an easy thing, just the same. In a little more than 6 months I will graduate with my Masters degree. I don’t know that I be fiscally able to continue with my current employer, and that bothers me as well. I have not shown loyalty to a single employer since my time with the Army, it could be said I have commitment issues. But I like my job, I like the company, I like the people. I just don’t know that I will be able to continue in such vein by the time my first student loan payment comes due.
As in all things, time will tell. And in that time the leaves will change, the snows will come, and the wind will blow. But in that I will be ready. The wood will be cut, the house will be warm, the roof solid. My grandfather taught me well.
The man who survived World War II, who survived the Great Depression, who lived off the land, who ate not from a store but from the woods, and drank from streams who did his best to pass on to us how to be the best people we could be, and showed us how to speak and act with intent, and integrity. It often leaves me confused in my interactions often around others who speak from the side of their mouths as to why they feel the need to do such things.
In her adversity, I try to teach Critter what was passed to me, and how to watch the seasons, the land, the leaves, and prepare. People who demand money will always be there. Vehicles always need fixing. Adversity at school is a constant. But one’s home is one sanctuary, and one’s family is a responsibility that can not be denied.
And in that, it can be said that no matter how technology driven our society becomes, how professional I may be seen to be, or business oriented, I learned my lessons from my very Appalachian oriented family well: My grandfather taught me well.
We will persevere.
“What I mean is, things like that happen. They may seem might cruel and unfair, but that’s how life is a part of the time. But that isn’t the only way life is. A part of the time, it’s mighty good. And a man can’t afford to waste all the good part, worrying about the bad parts. That makes it all bad”
― Fred Gipson, Old Yeller
I grew up a child of Old Yeller.
Learning the difference between life and death is hard at a young age. It doesn’t get any easier as we get older, and frankly we probably understand it less.
One thing I am big on with my daughter is leading by example.
I understand that at some point in her life she will get her hands on enough booze to turn me green. I acknowledge the fact that there will be things she will attempt that I will not approve of. So what I attempt to do is show her that life can be accomplished without these things and the ones I do partake in I always do to moderation in front of her.
One the items I stress are promises. I give them sparingly and make a point of explaining to her to not make promises that she can not keep. This weekend I am fulfilling one of my promises.
A family vacation.
I had a dream this morning.
Not a Martin Luther style, but one that comes of being relaxed in warm blankets on a spring Easter morning.
I was dreaming of being a kid again in my grand parents yard.
My grandparents and whatever aunts and uncles as well as my own parents (if any of the aforementioned were home from deployment) would all be on the porch following service and playing old bluegrass gospel tunes. We kids would be scattered throughout the front yard chasing easter eggs and what not. My grandfather would tie fishing line to June bugs and Japanese beetles for us to fly around the yard. The smell of friend chicken and collard greens coming from my grandparents home. Fresh cut grass drying for hay and a morning dew so thick you could wash in it.
My grandpa had a Wurlitzer player. He’d put Jimmy Rogers on in the evenings most days, but for Easter it was always home grown. Except for Sunday service. No music was allowed during service, just voices which always struck me as odd for no sooner than we would get home then the instruments come out, the porch chairs be occupied and the music start.
It was so real, and I was so young I could feel the dew soaking my shoes and my socks making my feet squish when I would wiggle my toes. I could hear the hum of the beetles and the far off cigar tinged voice of my grandfather singing Silver Haired Daddy of Mine.
I am not a very religious person. I should be, given my luck and the guilty conscious I was born with tells me I had best be and that I need to improve vastly. But I find the dedication hard, given some things that I have witnessed and seen through the years here and in other countries. It all seems so futile sometimes. But I digress.
I won’t spoil my daughter with my terrors. For her, Easter is a day of service, eggs, chocolates, chicken and buttermilk biscuits for breakfast, and play time with her immediately family. It’s a time of home cooked meals, beautiful days with flowers in bloom.
Religious or not I can’t help but feel a bit home sick, and a closeness to my relatives whom have been called home. My Aunt Betty who had a crooning voice so suited to Hobo Bill’s Last Ride it would give you chills when she sang it. My grandfather, whose favorite song was most likely Little Log Cabin in the Lane. My Uncle Charlie who specialized in old cowboy songs and who, if I must admit, I modeled myself after in so many ways. He’s jovialness, always a smile, his ability to take everything in stride. I never had a chance to tell him before he was taken away. It always seemed so unmasculine, and immature. Now to feel that foolishness for just even a moment. He would sing the yodeling cowboy songs with a brash grin spread across his face, like All Around the Water Tank.
In my head this morning we were all rejoined, and we kids played on in awe. Now I wish I could go back, for just a moment and play, and learn from them. To cover those old songs that my peers have never heard and have no memory of. The music can’t die with us, and it can’t go with them either. We must let it play on, for as I awake I realize that every time I try to play it, they are playing with me.
As the morning sun creeps in to my room, I try in vain to return to sleep, return to those days and that moment in time.
But we can’t go back. Home is never really home once you leave, trust me on this. But it is the place your always called back to by those who know you least while knowing you most.
Perhaps one day. But for now I have my memories, which I have chosen to share with you.
My daughter loves all things great and small.
Countless zoo’s, walks in the woods, instead of kiddie movies she gets Imax video’s on nature, underwater exploration, and endangered species.
We’ve tried to make learning something fun, basically.
As such she loves nature, and has a deep fondness for animals especially.
Unfortunately there are some lessons she is learning that are hard for her to understand.
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Because she’s never heard Ray Stevens….and it is after all Christmas
One of my favorite Christmas songs
“We can’t hold back the hands of time, its just something we got to do.”
Critters first day was Monday. The morning was….interesting. She was all excited until she realized her mother and I would not be staying with her the entire day. Then we piled in to the gym. Here too, a problem arose. Critter is much like me, in not enjoying being amongst crowds. So there she sat in the middle of the gym with her hands over her ears, and head burrowed to block the noise. So of course you can guess what happened when the the Principal fired up the PA system.
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First off, let me set the stage here by saying I went to a county high school system, also known as a public school.
While not a drooling idiot, I do think my education was lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it was not the failure of my teachers. It was as much my fault as anyone else. However 30 to 45 kids in a classroom, battered text books, mice in the hallways, and trailers do not always make the best system available.
By some strange luck I managed to blackmail my way in to a position with the school newspaper staff. I wrote a rather scathing article on what I considered the hidden costs of public education as change after change was implemented in the middle of the year. Agenda’s, change in backpack regulations, attire, other suddenly “required’ items that could, of course, be purchased from the school for a novel sum.
At one point it was even speculated we would pay for our graduating diploma’s (mine has long since vanished in the years of travel. If anyone in Georgia reads this, forward it to me, will ya?)
Somethings , it seems haven’t changed, and some boundaries have never been more different.
So I have a good friend who is with the FOP in Arkansas.
It seems the state FOP has one helluva nice truck for the use in Parades in such.
Coming up soon is one the largest Rodeo events in the state of Arkansas, The Rodeo of the Ozarks.
It would appear that yours truly, and his Critter have been asked to participate in the parade for the FOP.
More her than me of course.
But then, she’s more cute anyway so that makes perfect sense, aye?
It’s time to cowboy up folks!
This weekend the city of Cassville, Missouri will host its 71st annual Rotarian sponsored Rodeo.
The event will be at Bill Hailey Arena, and tickets are $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for kids.
The fun kicks off at 20:00 each night and goes until late.
The rodeo will be hosted by the award winning Hampton Rodeo Company of Springdale, AR
Its an honest to gosh down home family event, with picnic style seating as well as benches. The folks are always friendly, and last year Critter walked away with more autographs than she could shake a stick at.
As is the Spite Family tradition, we will be present on both Friday and Saturday nights’.
Come join us!
It doesn’t seem like five years.
It seems like yesterday she was crawling all over the floor and barely able to say “Momma” or “Dadd-dee”
Walk? I remember the Domestic 6 and I coaxing her from opposite sides of the living room, and holding her hands letting her stomp her way through the house while giggling manically. She never wanted to walk. She wanted to run.
Once she learned how to do it on her own , she has been wide open ever since.
Was last week when she finally sleep through the night.
No it’s not her birthday. And many folks see it as a silly thing.
But for a parent who has spent most of his career a slave to black top and white lines this Saturday is something special.
I’ve been all over the world, but I can never wait to get home to this blond haired green eyed beauty of mine.
This weekend is one of those special times.
Living in a extremely small town is rather predictable in many respects. Everyone knows your name. Everyone knows when you come and go. Everyone knows your dog, your car, and people wave when they see you drive by.
There are also things that you do not see every day, or outsiders may not notice.
My neighbor Tom is a good man. Our politics do not mix, however he is stand up, honest, good hearted, and a stout older gentlemen of several years. I have very much respect for Tom.
About 20:30 with me laying on the couch teaching Critter how to play guitar I have a knock upon my door. There stands Tom with his pistol on his waist, and his rifle over his shoulder.
“Tom?” I inquired incredulously.