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Some thoughts from Alyce . . .

The following comment was made by Alyce, a long-time family friend, on my posting entitled A second letter to Janie in el cielo. Click here to read the letter. In that post I acknowledged that writing letters to those that have left this vale of tears and now exist in another realm strains credulity. Alyce’ comment is intended to express her feelings for loved ones she has lost, and to support my method of corresponding with family members I have lost. In my not-so-humble opinion, the comment is beautifully structured and presented—her thoughts come straight from the heart and her words ring true in every respect.

This  is her comment:

When I was a child and someone that I loved died, it was easier for me to accept. I don’t know why exactly. I remember that I was very young when my grandpa died,. My mom and I walked up to the casket and she showed me grandpa, but it didn’t look like him. He had his teeth in and no coveralls on—it was a suit. I pulled on mom’s dress and asked Who is that? She said It’s grandpa, and I said No.

Since I was so small I didn’t quite understand it, but later that day I had questions and mom always had the sweet answers. After explaining the teeth and the suit she said Grandpa is in heaven now with Jesus and happy, no pain, just enjoying the Lord, and I understood and accepted the answers mom gave me. Yes, I was sad because I would not see grandpa make tops and other things with his knife, but he was happy and I knew that someday I would see him again.

As I got older it became harder for me when someone I loved passed away to be with the Lord, probably because I knew as I got older I would someday pass away and leave the loved ones I have on earth, but knowing God’s promise of seeing them again has always comforted me.

I know after my mom died I went to the cemetery a few times, but then I remembered what my mom told me to remember, that she and daddy were not there, and it took me awhile to get it. When I lived in the Valley I would go and place flowers and clean their stone and the stones of others I knew out there. I knew the second they passed on that their soul was with the Lord. Now when I think of them and want to talk to them I do it while driving down the road, or at home sitting in the recliner or wherever I might be. I will always miss them as long as I am breathing, here in my temporary place, but someday I will see them again.

Everyone mourns in so many different ways, and each way should be respected, whether we think it’s the right way or not. That’s why God made each of us different. Oh, to be a child again and think like a child, not complicated!

I wish we could all be like that.

Always remember that God gives us seven days a week and twenty-four hours in each day, and we must choose how to spend the time that God has given us.

Happy New Year to all and may God bless all.

An afterthought: Alyce is employed in one of the most stressful occupations that exist in any society. She works as a Correction Officer in a state facility in South Texas, in close contact with people that are in prison because they look on life from a different aspect than most people, and Alyce would be the first to admit that without God at her back, she could not continue to endure the daily stress under which she labors.

 

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Wylie, Texas possum saga, cont’d . . .

This posting was prompted by an e-mail from my son-in-law in Wylie, Texas concerning his running battle with possums in the attic. Other postings related to that saga can be found here, and here and also here.

Here is his e-mail:

The possum saga, continued:

Possum returns to attic after fraternizing with rabid possums and skunks recently highlighted in the news.

It takes even better food to entice possum into trap because he now knows what it is. More fruit and peanuts fail—bait escalation includes pizza, fried chicken, mahi-mahi and rack of lamb with mint sauce—still no possum in trap.

Finally $150 Chateaubriand meal from Three Forks and glass of Baron de Rothschild ’57 claret does the trick. Possum decides he is ready for another trip to visit his country cousins and enters the trap for the meal.

Brantley shoots possum while still in trap, rolls same in plastic bag and places in the trash.

I just received your e-mail concerning the demise of a possum in your attic, and I feel compelled to tell you that it was not the same possum you released into the wild “a mile away” from your house. This was definitely a different animal, obviously a female, and obviously accustomed to the finer things in life, particularly gustatory delights. Given her appetite for fine wine and Chateaubriand, she was probably a procreating Parisian possum in Plano’s possum population (I just love alliteration!).

This lady (?) possum was very likely a one-time companion—well, perhaps more than one time—to the one you captured and released. That teenage possum was in a blue funk, trying desperately to understand the loss of his one true love. That’s why he paced your attic—he couldn’t sleep for thinking of what had been, and what could again be if they could only be reunited.

Other than mere physical attraction, he had little interest in the one you summarily shot, placed in a plastic bag and consigned to the trash. She was just a temporary diversion while he continued his quest for the one trapped by your next door neighbor some time prior. The fate of that possum is unknown, but your neighbor took a snapshot of her (pictured at right). She is gorgeous, and one can readily understand why the teenager you released into the wild had such strong feelings for her!

And I’m sure he was fed up with the Parisian possum’s constant whining and complaining about his inability to satisfy her materialistic needs, such as a bigger house, better food, etc. Otherwise, he was probably doing okay for himself in their relationship. Through an intensive online search, I found an image of a female Parisian possum, pictured at right (there goes that alliteration again!). Judging by this image, it’s likely that a friendly relationship with a lady Parisian possum would be exciting and memorable.

Congratulations on your latest feat, and I assure you that it detracts in no way from your “bring ’em back alive” status. Even Frank Buck, when faced with death or injury to himself or to others, dispatched elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers and other such wildlife to another world, far away from zoos and their natural habitat—and he probably also sometimes shot them simply because he was—well, in such instances, he was referred to as Frank “just got pissed off at ’em” Buck.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Possum in the attic . . . got ‘im!

My favorite attorney son-in-law and his adventures with wildlife—specifically with possums— prompted this posting. I have two other sons-in-law, one of which is my favorite computer whiz son-in-law and the other is my favorite truck broker son-in-law).  My favoritism fluctuates among sons-in-law depending on my needs—whether legal matters, computer related matters, or matters related to the international transportation of goods (I also depend on the truck broker son-in-law and his son—my grandson—to assist in moving weighty goods to and from my home).

A related posting, Ode to a Possum, a must–read, can be found here.

More possum info here.

And even more here.

This is the e-mail I received from the son-in-law that luxuriates in marriage with my princess daughter in Wylie, Texas:

Here is the update on our “Possum in the Attic”:

Night 1:

Trap is carefully set; loaded with peanut butter, peanuts and an old banana.

Next day trap check:

Banana is mysteriously missing, trap was not sprung, peanut butter and peanuts untouched. Trap is adjusted for sensitivity, as it is suspected the possum is very cleverly eating the banana from outside the trap or tip toeing into the trap and slyly leaving the peanuts and peanut butter to confuse the trapper (which has had considerable success).

Night 2:

After trap is adjusted, it’s re-baited with a nice bunch of canned peaches. Peanut butter and peanuts from night before are left in place.

1:00 AM:

Kelley hears a rustling in attic and suspects the possum is up and about. Brantley stays fast asleep, hearing nothing.

7:00 AM:

Kelley checks the trap and THE POSSUM IS NABBED!  Curiously, the peaches and peanut butter and peanuts are gone completely. He’s rather large but seemingly docile and even appears friendly. Kelley demands that he be set free unharmed.

7:15 AM:

Brantley sets possum free a mile or so away in the woods. Possum seems pleased and in a good mood—Brantley wonders whether a mile is far enough.

Thus ends the possum hunt.

Or does it?

I think I’ll keep the trap for a few weeks—just in case!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Ode to a possum . . .

Please note: There are several other postings related to this literary examination and elimination of possums in attics. Such problems are commonplace in our state, in fact in most states, and perhaps these postings will enable others to handle such problems more effectively and efficiently. The other postings can be found here, and here.

Oh, and also here.

Following in the footsteps of Keats, Shelley, Robert Frost and other exalted poets, I have penned Ode to a Possum. An ode is defined as, A lyric poem of some length, usually of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanzaic structure. My Ode to a Possum conforms to that definition perfectly.

As with many similar lyric odes, this one is meant to be sung. My list of preferred singers would include Toby Keith and Diana Ross—perhaps even George Jones or Whitney Houston, depending on their current medical status.

My first choice would have been Tiny Tim and his ukulele, but that worthy is long gone, both from the music scene and from this world—may he forever happily and gracefully tiptoe through the tulips.

A perceptive reader of this posting will note the absence of an O, as in Opossum, and will undoubtedly wonder why it was omitted. That’s because the prefix O is not used in our southern regions, and especially not in the sovereign state of  Texas, neither in writing nor in speaking.

A similar spelling may be noted in the name of our Irish president, Barack O’bama—the O is present with an apostrophe added, as in O’Reilly, O’Brien and other Irish names. (Thanks, and a tip of the kingly crown to Kinky Friedman, our perennial candidate for political office in Texas, for defining the president’s heritage by adding the apostrophe and for saying he would vote for him).

And here is my lyric poem:

Ode to a Possum

In Wiley lived a possum named Fred,
That used Brantley’s insulation for his bed.
He rambled ’round the attic
Till the family grew frantic,
And wished that ol’ Fred was dead.

Brantley baited a trap with wine,
And chateaubriand quite fine.
Of each did Fred partake,
His death then did fake,
And Brantley told Kelley “It’s time.”

“Don’t kill him,” Kelley then cried,
But Brantley took Fred for a ride.
No mercy would he show,
Cause ol’ Fred had to go.
In the attic he could not abide.

Just past the limits of the city,
Brantley’s heart overflowed with pity.
Though his eye shed a tear,
Fred had nothing to fear,
And I’m nearing the end of this ditty.

Fred did Brantley return to the wild,
By handling him gently and mild.
But when Fred was free,
He climbed a tall tree,
And at Brantley thumbed his nose like a child.

The saga of Fred will be told,
By Kelley’s children when old,
How a possum so bold,
Came in from the cold,
But succumbed to a trap that would hold.

That’s my Ode to a Possum and I’m sticking to it.


 

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Redux—About the King of Texas . . .

My “About the King of Texas” page is a work in progress. I am re-posting it now as one of the first steps towards presenting a more comprehensive picture of my mother’s youngest son—that’s me, myself or I, whichever seems correct to the viewer (other writers vary, and as a group tend to use all three at separate times.

In my world when I was a child, when asked a question such as, “Who wants to go to the picture show?” we would often reply, “Me, myself and I,” indicating that all three of us would jump at the chance to see a picture show. For the edification of viewers a bit younger than I, picture show was our term for a movie. We never suggested going to a movie, or to a theater.

The term movies is derived from motion pictures, the words first used to describe the mid-19th century process of projecting images on a dark screen by passing film strips rapidly between a bright light and the screen. Motion pictures morphed into moving pictures and the truncated term movies soon followed, and that is the term most used today. In the era of my early childhood, the terms motion pictures and moving pictures were not used—at least not in my isolated rural area in Alabama.

In retrospect, I postulate the possibility that those terms had become passe’ and we had advanced to the term picture show. However, I don’t recall hearing the word passe’ at the time—had I heard it I would have probably considered it to be a mispronunciation of a familiar noun, one that had several definitions and uses (so to speak), including its use to indicate the gender of a female cat or kitten, namely passe’ cat. The gender of a male cat is, of course, indicated by the term “tom cat,” indicating a male cat or kitten).

For the additional edification of the group of the population younger than I, a group that accounts for ninety-one percent of our nation’s population, those under the age of seventy, I happily and gratefully report that I breathe the rarified air of the other nine percent. I have for a goodly number of years, and I’m still counting.

Hey, don’t laugh—we’re gaining on the young’uns—in 1950 we were only five percent!

I don’t recall our little town having a theater—if it did have one, it was never referred to as a theater. Little though our town was, we did have a picture show, one that was brightly lighted and showed films every Friday and Saturday night—it was dark for the rest of the week.

Ah, for the good old days!

Here is my current home page.

It’s not completely original—I have made slight modifications to it over the ten months I’ve been blogging, and subsequent changes will follow. This posting includes the comments that the site has garnered (a rather sparse listing).

About the King of Texas

I will complete my “About” page later (and I have a lot to say about myself), but because my daughter made me promise to post something—anything—no later than today, I’ll keep my promise with this short prayer:

Oh, Lord, please deliver me from people that use the expression “can’t wrap my head around that.” How can one wrap one’s head around something? If one has difficulty forming a mental grasp of something one has heard, seen or felt, then say it, rather than using such an inane voguish phrase.

On the practical side, should one successfully wrap one’s head around something the cranium would be horribly distorted, and the process of unwrapping one’s head could be unsuccessful—consider just how disastrous that would be.

Viewers’ responses:

1. Well said….written. I have never liked the phrase “keep your eyes peeled” which sounds pretty painful. However I do like the phrase “head on a swivel.” I’m sure the King of Texas knows (or will shortly find out) where these phrases originated. He seems like that type of guy to me. Also, it is quite convenient when people say “to me” at the end of a sentence. My 5 year old daughter says that quite often and who can argue with that—. Not I. (By itsjustnotright on March 23, 2009)

2. Dear King of Texas: You write like Flannery O’Connor, so maybe you are the King O’Texas. I am going to delve more into this blog at a later time—you know, when I can wrap my head around it. What do you think of the word “irregardless?” (By Barbara Kelley on June 13, 2009)

My reply:

Hi, Barbara—thanks for the comment, particularly for your comparison of my writing to that of Flannery O’Connor—I’ll accept it as a compliment, regardless of her propensity to lace her writings with grotesque characters. I appreciate your application of an apostrophe to my title—apostrophication, so to speak. I know—apostrophication is not a word—at least it was not a word until I created it. I couldn’t find it anywhere online or offline. I should probably apply for a patent so I could draw royalties each time the word is used.

I love it—there is probably a wee bit of Irish in all of us, including our current president. And here I must give thanks and a tip of my hat to Kinky Friedman, a well-known Texas resident and a successful writer and sometimes candidate (unsuccessful) for public office. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kinky said that he would vote for that Irishman, Barak O’Bama.

As regards—or in regard to—or regarding—irregardless:

Irregardless is not a proper word, regardless of its appearance in dictionaries and regardless of its use in speeches and writings by supposedly erudite persons. An exception might be when the user is faced with an untutored audience, one that might accept its use as proper—audiences in certain southern hilly or swampy areas, for example.

You know, of course, that the prefix ir means not, and the suffix less means without, ergo the non-word irregardless contains a double negative.

Less negates regard all by itself—it needs no help from ir.

Thanks again for your visit and for your comment. Please feel free to “delve more into” my blog—I welcome your comments, whether compliments or criticisms, and I will respond to either—or both.

3. Good morning—one day one of our officers said, “I can’t wrap my head around it right now.” I thought, what does she mean? Well, I know now. I became overloaded with projects at work and simply couldn’t take on one more responsibility. Still, I don’t appreciate this kind of expression. Why not just say, I have too much responsibility right now and can’t take on anything more at this time. Information overload is a reality in the work world now unfortunately.

Cindy Dyer is our graphic artist. She mentioned what a great writer you are. I can see you enjoy being a student of language. The world needs those who can express themselves with polish and flair. The gift of writing using eloquent language skills is fast disappearing from this world.

Best wishes, Mary Ellen

Immediately after reading Barbara Kelley’s comment, my head swelled to such huge proportions that, for a brief time, any itch that developed anywhere above my neck required the use of a back-scratcher to quell the itching. Because the swelling phenomenon occurs frequently, I keep a back-scratcher within handy reach. In this instance the swelling was mercifully short in duration. Through my use of deductive reasoning (reaching a conclusion by reducing a general conclusion to a specific fact), my swollen head quickly returned to its normal size.

I realize that probably all my viewers know the principles of deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning, but on the remote possibility that one-in-a-million is not familiar with the terms, here is an example of deductive reasoning:

First premise:

All good writers are always brilliant.

Second premise:

I am sometimes brilliant—I have teeny weenie flashes of brilliance (my opinion).

Conclusion:

I am a good writer.

The swelling was quickly reduced because that argument is not valid. If the first premise is true, that brilliant writers are always brilliant, then my conclusion that I am a brilliant writer is invalid because I am only sometimes brilliant. In order for the argument to be valid, the second premise would have to be that I am always brilliant.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Unto you this day a child was born . . .

DISCLAIMER: There is a possibility, albeit slight, that some viewers may associate this title with a different birth, one mentioned in the King James version of the Holy Bible (Luke 2:1) wherein it is said, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Granted, there appears to be a certain similarity but the relationship is purely coincidental—please be assured that this posting refers to a different child, in a different time, in a different place and under remarkably different circumstances. To those who are familiar with the biblical passage and thus recognize the similarity, I offer my congratulations and my respect.

To continue with my posting:

September in West Central Alabama is a pleasant month—a beautiful month, with foliage exploding in a riotous collage of colors. The days are cool and the skies are clear, and in 1932 the smell of wood smoke was in the air. In that era most homes in Alabama’s rural areas were lighted by kerosene lamps and heated by open fireplaces, and that would continue for several more years until electricity finally made its way to my place of birth, a farmhouse well off the beaten path, located in a thickly forested area some five miles south of Vernon, the county seat of Lamar County, Alabama.

The small clapboard house built on piers is long-gone, replaced with a modern brick-and-mortar edifice with electric lighting, gas heating, air conditioning, computers and telephones. Moreover, the locations of the garbage can and toilet have been reversed—now the garbage can is outside the house and the privy, formerly an outdoor toilet, is now inside.

The smoke came from fireplace chimneys and kitchen stovepipes. Smoke from rich pine chunks, burning in cast-iron stoves, and hardwood oak burning in open fireplaces emerged from stovepipes and chimneys to merge and fill the air with a scent both sweet and pungent. Since fall was hog-killing time in rural Alabama on most farms, some of the smoke came from fires laid around and under iron wash-pots. The water in the pots had to be at, or near, its boiling point before dipping the carcasses of freshly killed hogs in it, a process necessary to loosen the hog bristles so they could be cleanly scraped from the skin.

Shortly before midnight on September 18, 1932 a country doctor completed the successful delivery of a boy baby, the seventh and final child of the 35-year old mother. After he congratulated her and voiced his post-natal instructions, he turned his horse and buggy around and set off on the return trip to his home in Vernon, a small town some five miles to the north. He arrived there on September 19 during the wee small hours of the morning. Though sleepy and tired from his arduous day, he felt obligated to record the birth before retiring from his labors. Because of that tiredness, perhaps, he mistakenly recorded the baby’s birth as 19 September rather than 18 September.

I was that child, and because my mother said I was born on the eighteenth of September, each year on that date I added another year to my age, a process which would continue for many years. The year 1949 was an important milestone in my life. In that year I wanted to join—nay, urgently needed to join—the US Army and I had no birth certificate, so I traveled (hitch-hiked) to Vernon to seek the doctor who delivered me. I found him in his office and told him I was in search of a document showing my date of birth.

In order to know where to begin his search, the doctor needed to know my age and the year I was born. I told him I was 17 years old, born on September 18, 1931. He found his pen-and-ink record of my birth in a huge ledger and noted that I was not 17—I was 16, and I was born on September 19, 1932, not September 18, 1931. He said that was what the ledger showed, and that was what would be reflected by any document he might issue. I was unnamed in his ledger, so he consented to accept the name I gave him (I have often regretted giving him my real name—shucks, I could have been anybody I wanted to be!).

I apologized for my “little white lie” and explained that I needed to be 17 years old, the minimum age required to join the army with parental consent (otherwise the minimum age was 18). I explained that my mother was willing—eager, actually—to sign a false document. My pleas were rejected, and I left the doctor’s office with a certified document showing my date of birth as September 19, 1932.

No matter—where there’s a will there’s a way. The Army recruiting sergeant (a very resourceful recruiter who, at that time, had successfully achieved his recruiting quota for 12 consecutive years) took a bottle of ink eradicator, and deftly using the bottle’s tiny brush to apply the liquid, removed the “2” from the 1932, and placed the birth certificate in an upright Royal typewriter (the state of the art at that time). After several tedious moments he was satisfied that he had the “1” key appropriately placed. He struck the key firmly and—voila!—a “1” appeared in the exact spot where the “2” had been, perfectly aligned with the “3” in 1932. With that one stroke of a typewriter key and its resulting imprint, I officially became one year older.

The rest, as some are wont to say, is history. My mother (my sole guardian) willingly and unashamedly signed the paper attesting to my age and thereby giving her permission for me to enlist, and I was scheduled for a swearing-in ceremony. However, before that time came the Army recruiter had made his monthly quota for that service and enlistments were closed. He told me I could wait until the Army recruiting quota opened the following month, or I could go into the US Air Force immediately.

I accepted the Air Force offer without hesitation and was duly sworn-in, and on the morning of March 7, 1949, shortly after my mother had taught me how to to make a Windsor knot in a necktie, I boarded a train in Columbus, Mississippi (note: 2-digit codes for states had not yet been developed) bound for New Orleans. In that city I changed to a Southern Pacific train, the Sunset Limited headed for California.

In the midst of a gaggle of other enlistees, I left the train at Sunset Station in San Antonio, Texas and presented myself, all 110 pounds of me, at the tender age of 16 years, five months and 18 days, to a burly military policeman. That worthy used some really colorful language to form us into some semblance of a military formation, a formation which he strained mightily to maintain while we waited for the bus which would transport us to Lackland Air Force Base to begin basic training.

My association with the United States Air Force lasted 22 years, plus several more months and a few more days. As one might expect, events of those years now threaten viewers with an infinite number of additional inane blog postings.

I’ll get back to you later with more details.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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