Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some Folks Call It The Blues...

I just close my eyes & let it call to me ...
and if I called it anything it wouldn't be a color,
it would be something edible...


Monday, February 18, 2008

Flashback: The 57 Chevy, the Children of God & A Bucket of Money

While out of it, I thought I'd leave this flashback for you to enjoy...P&L

1977... I learned the powers of persuasion while in the back seat of a 57 Chevy in a Food Lion parking lot.
That year, like many others, had been a rough one for my family. But, as usual, in My World, things weren't so bad.

Dad would often be MIA, as he was hitting the bottle pretty hard, was still having a difficult time landing a job, & I think was in general overwhelmed with the curved balls life had thrown at him. Two sons having seizures, one with diabetes, one with Down's Syndrome & seemingly unsurmountable financial woes. Our most valuable blessings in life often carry the greatest risk & cost, be it financial, emotional &/or spiritual. For most parents, I believe their greatest asset is their children.

Anyway, Dad was MIA & Mom was heading the household. My oldest sister was 19 & had moved up & out, which left Mom with only 4 of us, when the sh*t hit the fan in her parents family. That has no relevance, other than the fact that my Mother had to leave town unexpectantly with nothing more than a penny and a prayer for an undetermined amount of time. She had no choice but to call upon my oldest sister to tend to the rest of us...which she did.

After spending a day or two at the house, she quickly realized we needed food. No skimping on the right foods allowed when there is a fragile juvenile diabetic kid in the mix. Bless her heart. She was able to get a fifty dollar cash advance from her boss & with that she loaded all of us up in the '57 Chevy & off to Food Lion we went. Every item had to evaluated & re-evaluated before it made it's way into our buggy. Some things gots put back.

I remember shopping with Mom, we felt good to average 10 dollars a bag (they were a
ll paper bags in that era). My dear sister managed to average about 5 dollars a bag and as I calculated this in my head as we were checking out, I became quite excited about how well we were doing on our shopping excursion. Meanwhile, my diabetic brother was getting excited about the sheer volume of food & my youngest brother, who has the Down's Syndrome, began to get stressed with all of our excitement. When he would get stressed, he would often hit himself or begin to smash his head into his surroundings, be it a wall, the floor or what have you.

As he began to take position, indian style on the floor of the Food Lion, to begin the ritual of crushing his forehead into the tile, my eldest sister scooped him up & put him in the vacant buggy. As the cashier was still ringing & the bag boy was quickly bagging, she frantically pulled the fifty dollar bill out of her bell bottom blues' hip pocket & passed it to my middle sister...advising her that she was taking us on out to the car, along with half of the groceries already bagged.

Out we went into the glorious sunlight. We had four or five bags of groceries already & more on the way. About half way to the car, we were approached by a young man, sporting some kind of beanie cap & toting a silver bucket on each hip. One bucket was filled with beautiful flowers & the other with a great mystery, which I would later discover. He pulled a flower from his bucket and was trying to hand it to my sister. She thanked him and politely rejected his offering. He advised us that it was a gift because she was a child of God. As she was encouraging my older brother to 'just get in' the car, I could sense her irritability growing & I didn't understand why.
This man had the greatest job ever...standing on street corners in the beautiful daylight passing out pieces of God's works of art, flowers...for free! Whew, that's what I wanted to do when I grew up...much better than being indoors all day!

As my sister was trying to pull my 5 year old baby brother from the kid section of the buggy, I accepted a flower from the beanie wearing, peace-loving flower child of God. I wanted to be a gracious Child of God. No sooner had she gotten my little brother secured in the center section of the '57 Chevy's back seat, when things changed. The air of love that had emitted from this fellow turned into an evil eye.

As my sister pulled herself back out of the back seat, he was telling her that he was due a ten dollar contribution.
She was livid...'what for?,' she popped.

He pointed at me. Nose to the rose, I recoiled... just in time for big sis to yank it from my hands & hurl it back at him. 'Here! You take this rose back!'
He shamed my sister, pointing out that we had several bags of groceries and a running vehicle while people were literally starving to death around the world. My little brother began to rock backwards & forwards in the car. If the tensions continued to rise, soon he would be in another fit.
The Giver of Gods gifts & my sister were blocking my entrance into the car and I could see my other sister now exiting the store with her buggy of groceries. I pointed her out to my Big Sis and she yelled for her to 'Hurry Up.' About then, this Giver of God's Gifts began his approach towards her, along with her buggy of food. As she buggied towards the car, not knowing what was going on, both my sister & the Giver, were racing towards her. My 19 year old sister was yelling 'You leave her alone, she is just a child. She has no donation for you!'

That kind of teed me off. She was not being selfish... we did not have ten dollars. Yes, we had groceries, but they were on borrowed dollars & we needed them...there were no twinkies, no cereals, no sweet treats in our bags. We had oil, flour, sugar, bread, milk, eggs, pasta etc and we didn't know how long we would have to make them last. Ugh, I got into the car with my brothers, as my two sisters continued to move the remaining bags into the trunk & the Giver continued to berate my sisters for our ungodly, self-serving ways.

My door was still open, as we were in Central Florida & it was hot & I was beginning to get scared...Chanty boy was quickly entering an autistic fit & my older brother was having an increasingly difficult time easing him. My little brother was talking between his two hands, rocking in place and making the croaking sound of a frog. a sign of things to come. As my middle sister jumped in shotgun, barking at me to close my door, my eldest sister took a final position with this Giver of God's Gifts.
In an almost subdued voice, leaning across me to check my little brothers belt & brush his hair back, she said 'Lemme ask you something Sir.'
He s
aid 'Yes?' as she pulled back out & began to close my door.
She said 'Just exactly where do your donations go?'
He quickly replied 'to Gods Children.'
With that she quite emphatically responded, 'Gods Children!? Gods Children?!'
Before I could blink she had grabbed his smaller silver bucket and tossed it into the back seat with us...Oh My! It was filled with money! She said 'Thank you so much! You see, I have Gods Children right here in the back seat of my '57 Chevy!' She ,now, was tossing his bucket of flowers in through the window.

He was speechless and dumb-founded, frantically trying to reach through the window to retrieve his goodies.
She barked at him 'YOU?! Not giving to Gods Children! You should be ashame
d!?' Her words! They mirrored this man's words from just moments before.

I continued to roll my window up on this scary man & for a moment he seemed stunned by her words. She jumped in the drivers' seat, slamming the door shut. Before I knew it, the good ole '57 Chevy was cranked & rolling, with him running alongside us, through the Food Lion parking lot, smashing his palms against my window.
I was terrified, shocked, proud, excited and confused. As we had to stop before pulling out onto the road, my sister said 'Honey- quickly roll down the window & throw his stuff back out to him when I stop.'
I protested, telling her that there was money...dollar bills. She said 'Yes, Darlin' I know, but RE
ALLY it's NOT ours and we don't need it. It's dirty money! We're all together & we'll be OK, really.'
As we stopped, I frantically crammed everything out the window. Seeing the bucket of change & bills spill onto the hot pavement didn't bother me so much, as seeing that man stepping all over those beautiful flowers to pick his money up.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tommy-Knockers & the Bare Moon Rising

'Whatchoo doin?'
'Lookin' at the bare moon & thinkin' bout you...'
'yeah, you know no matter where I am and no matter where you are, the moon still shines on both of us, so I look at the moon & I think of you. I wanna come see you.'

Three weeks later...

'I'd love to see you this week-end.'

'Yeah...take you somewhere special.'
'Under the bare moon?'
'Ok, I'll pick you up Friday at seven.'

At a quarter before six, I pelt through the door. Feed the dogs & kick off the heels. Crank up some Stevie Ray Vaughn & hop in the shower. The work week is over & the bare moon is rising.
'Hey, I'm running a little late. I'll be there at 7:30'
I swapped out the Stevie Ray Vaughn for some Jimi Hendrix & got lost in time, daydreaming about a joker & a thief.
'Hey I'm running later than expected...I should be there by 8.'
'What time is it?'
'Quarter til.'
'Oh, ok...so you are on your way?'
'Ok, just remember the moon won't wait on us...'
I popped open a bottled beer & padded around the house.
I looked at my watch, 7:55...

At the door were a couple of guy friends with a twelve pack...just bopping in.

I told them about my date, the bare moon & the 'I'm running a little late' phone calls & was met with friendly eyes of skepticism.

15 minutes later, at ten past eight...
Bam! Bam! Bam!

It went unanswered. There was the click and the clump of heavy shoes pacing on the porch & again a knock at the door. There was talking to ones self.
'Her car is here.'
'The lights are on.'
'Why isn't she answering the door?'
Bam! Bam! Bam!
I heard the turn of the unlocked knob & could faintly hear the boots on the hardwood floor. Echoing through the house, out the doors & windows ' Hello? Hello? Are you here?' Hello?'

Back on the front porch, closing the door...more talking to ones self 'I'll go to the damn pay phone & call her.'
Inside the phone rings & rings & rings.
I jump down and run in, not to answer the incessant ringing, but to scribble a note, grab three more beers & crank the stereo.
I leave the note on the bench right outside the front door, scurry around back & climb back up on the roof...three beers, two friends & a giggle under the bare moon...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Timmy B & Me under the Leaves of the Banana Tree, Revisited

For Valentines Day... A World of Love, Once More...

Timmy B.

Can't recall his last name.
His sister was a couple years older, my brother's age. They were in school.
Her name was Shelly.
She & my brother would play guard ... sometimes.
But most of the time , we didn't need them.

Most of the time, we would climb up in the oak tree or crawl down under the docks. We would steal away to the park and most often, we would lay under the leaves of the banana tree.

Timmy B was my first love, my first kiss, my first soul mate, if you believe in such things.

He lived two doors down & we were seperated only by one house, roses bushes & orange trees.
Together we would play in the mud, swim in the lake, climb trees, & chase rainbows.
We thought we could outrun the rain. We would run & run & run...down the stree, cutting through yards and jumping fences.

We believed.
We believed in leprechauns, rainbows, pots of gold....and ourselves.
We believed in lifelong loves.

We lived in Eden & we never bit that apple.
We would kiss.
We would kiss on his slat-bottom swing & under the dock. We would kiss while tucked away in the azalea bushes & under the canape of leaves laid out by the banana trees.
We would secretly lay naked together on the downward slope of the lake & he would have his left arm cradled around my head, his hand on my elbow. I would be rub my big toes together & ask him about marriage, love, bugs, God & such. I savored the feel of the Sun against my bare skin, the thump of his heart on my shoulder & the entombment of the bubble of love & comfort we laid in.

Our world was built of love.
We blew the neighborhood kids away. They'd heard rumours.
My brother & his sister seemed to thrive on our love. It gave them comradery.
They believed in us, too & they would encourage us to tuck our way into those azalea bushes.
They would say 'It's OK, we'll guard for you...no-one will know.'

We really didn't care if the whole child-world knew.
Sometimes we would dive into the shrubs ...just to entertain them...and maybe, ourselves.
Timmy B, my first love, my first kiss, my first soul-mate, if you will, was there for me & with me for so many things...
My first big wheel, riding a bike the first time, the first trip to school, the first dealings with death, my first experinece of getting puked on, my first mud-fight, first tug-o-war and so much more ... remembered & forgotten about.
Timmy B & me
We were meant to be
...for at least 3 years or so. Before public education, through kindergarten, first grade & half way through second grade... until his parents took him away.

Oregon? Washington? I don't recall...it was far, far away from my Sunshine State.
I'll never remember his full name or at this point, even his face, but I'll always remember.
Timmy B & me...
And our little Garden of Eden under the Banana Tree Leaves

Sometimes, I still believe...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Famous Liars, Actors & Used Car Salesmen

"There are two types of actors: those who want to be famous and those that are liars."

~Kevin Bacon

Maybe all liars should be famous?

Friday, February 08, 2008

On Lake Sylvan

On Lake Sylvan, the canoe laid tipped over, upside down, on the sea-weedy shore. We pushed & we pulled & we worked it until we saw an oar sticking out from underneath. Grabbing the oar, we tugged & we pulled until we finally had it out from under the trap of the canoe. We splashed & skimmed the water with it, ocassionaly scooping up some seaweed & slinging it skyward.
Laughing, giggling, summer-time fun.
Two tones echoed across the 12 acre lake.
My mothers' flat two-tone whistle. We climbed the bank, throwing the oar by the canoe & waved up at her. She hollered back....''Don't get in the water.'' She's told me a hundred times before. She can't swim. If something happens, she can't jump in and save me. There's water moccassins. There's alligators.
Sitting atop of the bank, I plop my foot up on the handle of the oar which is sticking up from it's spot between the embankment and the edge of the canoe. Tiny & I prattle on, like little girls do, about things like how planes are like fingernails scratching the dry surface of the sky. Wrapping my toes around the handle of the oar, I rock it back & forth with the tempo of our day...until it slips from under my toes. The oar has pushed the end of the canoe a couple of feet into the water.
Eyes go wide, mouths drop, then curl into grins.
We scurry down the embankment...and into the water. Once there, we discovered that we now had much better leverage to flip that canoe & flip it, we did! With our one oar & our collected 12 years of life experience, we headed out.
A turtle's head would bop up out of the water & we would head towards him. A fish would jump & we would head that-a-way. Finally, we chose the center of the lake as our destination & to the center we went.
We laid back, toe to toe. Talked again about planes scratching the sky. We wondered if rain was the sky finally crying from getting scratched everyday. We drifted & we drifted & finally we arose, sleepy headed, when we could hear a muted lapping of the water.
We had drifted to a far shore. A shore without houses. A shore filled solid with seaweed. We took the oar and stabbed down into the thick, magical, green slime. It was deep, real deep. So deep & thick of it, we hadn't the strength to pull the oar up with the load we had spun. We looked at each other & Tiny's eyes began to swell.
I let the seaweed sliiiiide back off of the oar...."it's just seaweed''
''It's all around us.''
''It's ok''
Then she stood.
''Don't rock the boat."
She belted out in tears & her whole body shook.
I thrust the oar into the seaweed and started stroking as quickly as I could through the thick & resistant seaweed.
She was full-throttle crying now, shaking, pointing.....''There's owl-leg-aters!"
I froze.
Bubbles in the seaweed, for an instant, did indeed look like alligator eyes looking back up at us.
''It's seaweed. We're almost back to the water. Just a few more feet.''
And in just a few more feet, everything changed.
Tiny jumped out of that canoe, tipping it & tossing me.
With seaweed in our hair, we struggled for a moment....tried to salvage the canoe, but it was as if our paddling caused it to travel deeper into the seaweed.
We had to swim. Clear across that lake.
Loosing my breath, arms and legs going numb, spitting water, shifting from swimming to floating & back again...I wondered if we would make it.

The summer before I turned seven, I had learned the importance of Sink or Swim
and I have been swimming ever since.

*current pic of Lake Sylvan compliments of WWW

Friday, February 01, 2008

These boots were made for spinning

I got my old boots out. I didn't shine them. I didn't even dust them off. I thought about putting them on, but I didn't.
I thought I needed to get ready & to be ready. I just wasn't sure about what I was to get ready for, but I knew it would involve wallowing through some shit or maybe even kicking some butt. Not in a physical sense, but maybe a spiritual sense or a verbal sense or a moral sense or some medley of them all.
Instead, I slipped on my Reeboks, my Levi's & my long-sleeve tee. And I ran. Ninety miles to nothing. I ran in circles & I ran away, until she called me back...'Do you have your boots?'
'Yeah, I got 'em, but I didn't put them on.'
'Well, you may need to ... or maybe you won't need them at all. There's only one way to find out.'
'Yeah, I guess you're right.'
'Just do it.'
And I did.

Good thing I wore my Reeboks.

I need new boots anyway...
Ones that don't need polishing but a good kick in the dust.
Ones with pointy toes.
Ones with heels that make me the same height as the average American male.
Ones that will never squeak, even on the shiniest floors.
Ones that allow me to spin & spin & spin...from just one kick of the heel.

Sometimes just one kick is all it takes