February 24, 2009

Tennis and Alcohol

I used to spend a lot of time on the tennis court. One fateful night a friend and I decided to play tennis after attending a party. We were kind of drunk (hammered) and one dare lead to another. I ruined my racket, but a star was born. I hit the stage and the rest is history.

Ghost Post

February 20, 2009

Rickie Lee Jones

Remember her? She's still making music...very good music. She has a voice like no other. This is "Second Chance" from her 2003 album "The Evening of my Best Day".

video

February 19, 2009

Flying Barn

Cradled in her favorite worn crimson velvet chair, legs draped over the arm rest, she traced her small fingers over the cover of her grandmother’s old photo album, feeling the raised decorative scroll work. She turned to the picture she always did. The first time she saw the photo was shortly after her grandfather’s death, less than a year ago, on display at the funeral home.

She had memorized every detail of the picture. The faded black and white photo was taken on their wedding day, her grandfather’s gentle fist resting over his breast with grandmother’s hand resting in the crook of his arm and her head slightly bent in towards her new husband with the slightest hint of a smile on her face. Grandpa was standing ramrod straight, looking uncomfortable in his new suit and vest, probably bought for the occasion and never worn again. Sara had no memories of Grandpa wearing a tie, even on the rare occasion he went to church with Grandma on Sunday.

Sara looks at the eyes of her younger grandfather, the eyes that made her feel special and always glad to be by his side, playing games, singing songs, and going out with him to the fields of his farm. The ache for her grandfather was still there, as a splinter inside her, made fresh again by looking at the old photo.
“Grandma, I’m going outside and play.”
“Well, I reckon you’d better, this is your last day here. Your mother will be here this evening to pick you up."

The wind whipped Sara’s hair as she stepped outside and looked at the mountainous cloud bank in the distance. She walked toward grandfather’s tobacco barn in the distance, the barn’s outline like a tin cut-out against the bright bank of clouds. As she walked past the dairy barn she avoided looking at the front, it’s two small windows, like staring eyes and the sliding barn door open, like a gaping mouth. The dairy barn always gave her the creeps.

Sara approached the barn where tobacco was hung to cure in the Fall, then taken to a warehouse in the city to be sold. She slid the huge door open just enough for her to slide in and drew it closed. There in the middle of the empty barn was the Minneapolis Moline. Grandpa called her Minnie. It was the tractor which killed him, falling on him when he turned onto a steep grade.

The intense farm smell filled the immense inner space of the cathedral like barn. The smell of oil, leather, twine, and soil blended together, lying upon her aching heart. She thought that the sadness surrounding her family and the farm would never lessen. The sounds of creaking wood on wood pressed by the wind made it seem as though the barn were breathing. Sara always imagined the barn to be floating above the farm, as though a barn shaped hot air balloon. She felt a drowsiness come upon her and layed down in a pile of straw.

In the dim light she was startled by her sudden awareness of a figure crouching next to the tractor, as if inspecting the wheel. Sara got up as quiet as she could but the crouching figure stood up and looked at her, freezing Sara in her tracks. Her heart started to pound and she felt the blood run to her face. The man smiled. “I’ll bet your name is Sara.” Sara was too shocked and embarrassed to speak thinking there was something about the man that was familiar but it was hard to see his face clearly in the dim cavernous barn. The man started to sing the song about bringing in the sheaves, the very same song she and her grandmother sang in church that morning. The same thought ran through her head ‘what are sheaves?’
“I think of sheaves as hands of tobacco that your grandfather used to hang in this barn to cure. It’s a harvesting song of thanksgiving to God.”
Sara asked “Did you know Grandpa?”

The man smiled with inward looking eyes, as though relishing her voice but did not answer. He motioned Sara to the door which he cracked open for Sara to look out. The barn was floating in the air high over the farm. She looked up at his face in full light and it was her grandfather’s face as it appeared in the photograph. She buried her face in his denim overalls and cried his name.
“Look over there, it's your grandmother.”

Sara could see her grandmother in the backyard far below calling her name.
“You’d better get back Sara.”
She looked up into her grandfather’s smiling eyes that seemed to be fading into nothingness and then he was gone, but not before she heard him, as a whispering faint thought. ‘I’ll be around boogie-boo.’

Sara awoke to the faint sound of her grandmother calling her name and ran out of the barn all the way to her grandmother in the backyard.
“You think Mom will let me stay another week with you?”
Her grandmother smiled.
“I don’t see why not boogie-boo.”

February 13, 2009

Savoy Truffle

I thought this would be a good song to post on a Friday. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the weekend! "Savoy Truffle" was written by George Harrison and appeared on The Beatles' White Album. Harrison wrote the song as a tribute to his friend Eric Clapton's chocolate addiction, and he derived the title and many of the lyrics from a box of Mackintosh Good News chocolates.

Six saxophonists (three baritone and three tenor) were brought in and were reportedly displeased when George Harrison decided to distort them. The Beatles recorded "Savoy Truffle" on October 3, 1968 which makes it forty-one years old!...it doesn't seem possible.

The Beatles "Savoy Truffle"

February 12, 2009

A Rerun

The eight year old boy climbed the ladder to the hayloft. His head rose above the square hole of the wood floor and his eyes slowly scanned the too quiet space filled with hay up to the small square of sun streaming in from the tiny front window. He had never been there before by himself as he was the only grandchild spending the week at his grandparents farm. The boy climbed towards the summit of hay, to the pane-less window and looking out, saw the broad flat lot ending at the farm house backyard. The breeze coming through the window cooled his forehead. He turned to his sole purpose for coming; to jump out and away from the steep incline to land in a violent spray of dust and hay below. A box of matches caught his eye, laying in the square the sunlight, as a tempting display. Even to the boy the matches looked out of place, almost as though someone had placed them there. The boy slid the matches in his front jeans pocket and jumped. The exhilaration of the momentary suspension in air came and left just as fast. The boy stepped down the ladder and went to the side of the barn and with his back to the farm house, started striking the matches, mesmerized by the sudden bright burning of sulphur and then the slow burning of the remaining wood. He heard his grandfather's voice from behind him and turned. His grandfather was leaning against the fence facing the barn and the boy.

"I was just striking these matches." He gave his grandfather the box of matches.
"Where did you get those matches?" His grandfather's face and voice was neutral.
"I found 'em in the hay loft" The boy felt a small sense of redemption for telling the truth.
"Where in the hay loft?"
"Right next to the window, up top." Even the boy thought his story, even though true, sounded made up.
"On top of the hay? Just laying there?"
"uh huh."
The grandfather went in the house and open the cabinet door in the bathroom, next to the sink, where he kept his cartons of Lucky Strikes and other treasures out of reach of smaller hands and eyes. The boy knew this is where he kept a deringer too; which he had let him hold once. He seemed to compare the box of wooden matches to the box the boy had found, then looked into space, his face unreadable.
"It's dangerous to play with matches. You can strike all the matches you want to as long as I'm around. okay?"

There are memories we have as children that are tenuous and fleeting and there are the memories that stick with you with sustained clarity. I've often thought that maybe that box of matches was placed there by someone or maybe just fell out of someone's pocket. Either way, a barn full of dry hay on a summer day would have burned down quickly and completely, at a considerable loss to my grandfather.

Four years later Freddy Wyatt and I were playing with wooden matches in my backyard and caught the dry bermuda grass on fire which spread dangerously close to the dry cornfield behind our subdivision. We put it out just in time. I guess I didn't take my grandfather's warning to heart. I know it scared the crap out of Freddy and I. I don't play with matches anymore.

The new header photo is my grandfather's barn where I found the matches.

A Log Cabin Memory


Today, 200 years ago, Abraham Lincoln was born at Sinking Spring farm, not far from present Hodgenville, Kentucky. As best as I remember, I was about nine years old when Dad took our family to see the log cabin Lincoln was born in. I remember the large number of steps up to the memorial building which housed the log cabin. I remember running up and down the steps several times, as little kids will do, probably driving my parents crazy.

Entering the stone memorial, I looked at the small cabin in awe. I remember thinking this was the real McCoy, the actual log cabin at the actual place, and they had built the memorial shrine around it. I saw a sign that read something about the log cabin being a representation of Lincoln's birthplace. I asked my Dad what it meant and after he told me I felt a disappointment that lasted the rest of the day. Happy Lincoln's Birthday everyone, America owes a lot to this man.


Lincoln quotes:

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

"A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me."

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"

"And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

"You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was."

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night

The strong winds were pushing the van around on the interstate on the way home from work. The trees looked as though an unseen giant hand was shaking their trunks. The forcast for Louisville was fifty mph winds with gusts up to seventy-five.

After dodging the power outage bullet through the ice storm two weeks ago, I thought our luck would finally run out and we'd surely black-out, most likely right before "Lost" came on. Mother Nature was going to make us pay for our past good fortune at last.

I walked out to my truck and the trees on our circle were violently waving in the wind. The sound was like an unseen freight train close by. I was expecting to witness a tree to crack and fall at any moment. "TIMBERRRRR!"

We were watching TV with twenty minute to go before "Lost" and quicker than you could say Reddy Kilowatt, we went black. In the pitch dark I heard my wife mutter an expletive. We sat in the dark for a couple of minutes, hoping the power would come back on. We called Abby, who said she still had power. We dressed by candle light and were on our way out the door to watch our show when the lights came back on at 186,000,000 miles per second. We re-called Abby and cancelled our TV date and re-dressed for downstairs TV. It was one of the best "Lost" episodes I've seen.

40,000 Louisvillians lost their power last night but somehow we managed not to be among the unfortunate. I cannot believe our luck through the past two weeks.

February 11, 2009

Poof

Yesterday the whole right column of my blog has disappeared. If I go into Layout the components are all there, my profile, my post archive...etc. Has anyone experienced this problem? When I go to Layout, they're all there and I can make changes in it. Dang it.

February 9, 2009

The Grammy Awards

Did anyone watch the Grammy's last night? The sound...how should I put it?....sucked. The audio sounded like a CBS technician was holding a Mister Microphone in the air from a seat on the 100th row. It was so bad, I quit watching. Shame on CBS.

This morning I heard the news that Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won a couple Grammy's for their album "Raising Sand". Adele won Best New Artist and also for her song "Chasing Pavements". Bruce Springsteen won a couple and Kings of Leon won for their song "Sex on Fire".

For the Best Alternative Album award, Radiohead won with their "In Rainbows" album. This is Radiohead with their trademark spooky sad sound in "House of Cards". The video is neat-o too.

February 5, 2009

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road

The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
Throws down in front of us is not to bar
Our passage to our journey's end for good,
But just to ask us who we think we are

Insisting always on our won way so.
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
And make us get down in a foot of snow
Debating what to do without an axe.

And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
We will not be put off the final goal
We have it hidden in us to attain,
Not though we have to seize earth by the pole

And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
Steer straight off after something into space.

Robert Frost

February 4, 2009

I Coughed on Her Feet

Last night my wife was sitting on the couch with her bare feet propped upon the coffee table, reading recipes. I coughed.

"Cover you mouth when you cough. You coughed on my feet."

February 3, 2009

Fed up

I'm fed up with this crappy winter weather wreaking havoc. Kentucky winters are usually mild. In January '94 the weather man predicts a dusting of snow. The next morning I walked to make coffee in the kitchen and looking through the window there is a dusting of eighteen inches of snow on the ground. That night the temperature drops to twenty-five below zero. When it's that cold it's painful to be outside, no matter how much you bundle up.

It's getting down to eight degrees tonight and I'm not looking forward to hauling my sorry @$$ out of bed to work. I have a pain at the base of my neck and I finally figured out how I got it. I got it by looking up at our trees that were massacred by the ice storm. It's a depressing mess. I yearn for Derby Day at the first Saturday in May. At this point it might never get here.

Moby

Richard Melville Hall is an American musician known as Moby. Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, is the great great great grand uncle of Moby. I consider most of Moby's music good, but sort of sterile sounding. This is a favorite of mine called "Porcelain".