Another Treasure From The Family Jewels

Many friends are confronted with things they don’t understand, don’t want to understand but they worry a lot.

My Grandfather (Grampy in this case Grampy Vogt) once found me hiding from something and asked if I was worried about it, “Yes.”

“Mikey” (there is only one other person that has called me that and lived), there are only two things to worry about: if you’re sick or if you’re well.

“If you’re well, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re sick; you got just two things to worry about: you gonna get better or you’re gonna get worse.

“Now if you’re gonna get better, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re gonna worse, you got two things to worry about.  Are you gonna live or are you gonna die.If you’re gonna live, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re gonna die, you got two things to worry about; goin to  heaven or goin to hell.

“If you’re goin to heaven, you got nothin to worry about.  If you’re goin to hell, you’re gonna be to busy meeting the more interesting members of the family to worry.

“So, Mikey (same threat), you got nothin to worry about.”

 

peace out, pilgrim…be well and know that you are well loved.

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Building a Community

Building a community requires a very large stock pot, water, a two to three pound stone and a heat source.

You have all the ingredients of “Stone Soup” *.   Forgive me; there is another ingredient, an invitation to everyone (apartment complex, congregation, graduating/start class, etc.) with the assurance that they are welcome to bring others and their favorite ingredient for stone soup; pasta, salt, pepper, cilantro, a carrot, tomato, peas, cabbage, beef…; but just enough for them.

As the pot boils and the fifteen, thirty-one or fifty people laugh about the preposterous concept of stone soup and a few names are exchanged…the soup is ready (prepare for this by gathering as many and varied bowls you can find, thrift store, garage sales…no two alike).  Your soup may be enhanced with a few loaves of beer bread (three cups of self rising flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 can of the cheapest beer you can find; mix, put in a loaf pan, 325 for 20 min or so)

Enjoy the very tasty soup.  Its the variety, the individuality and total lack of expectation that opens the pallet to appreciate a wonderful dish. and everyone

And for dessert; gather up the pot, when all have had their fill, and all join in sharing the gallons remaining with those that have nothing, those you forgot to invite.

*”Stone Soup” a picture book by Marcia Brown

Hell on Earth

All settled in with my B, PB, AB, AP sandwich (OK, that was tricky I know; Butter, Peanut Butter, Apple Butter, Apricot Preserves on multi-grain bread…vanilla bean ice cream on the side with dark French Roast coffee, freshly pressed); yesterday the 18 year old puppy got a glowing report from the vet after her annual check-up; the weed garden is starting to come alive, it is a great day…but…

I was thumbing through my book of questions:  How do you achieve world peace?, What must you learn from a blind, mute fool?  When does a person (it was originally written, “a man”, please forgive if I miss a word correction, I mean never to offend or in any way seem sexist, racist or any of the other “ists”) have all that they may have in this world and be in Hell?

This last question was one of the easiest to answer, I was 12.

A little history, when I lived with my grandparents, my mother’s parents, I was just past toddler, well into obnoxious and just shy of school; I lived with them during my second, third and fourth years.  Mom and Grampy were from well educated, in every sense talented, very strict German, Dutch, French stock.  The first book that Mom and I read together was “King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table (there were no pictures).  The second book were addressed was “The Prince” by Machiavelli; Mom wanted to be sure I understood what was happening in the King Arthur piece (I was approaching four, like two weeks after my third birthday).

For my fourth birthday, Grampy (a man that had once had great wealth, he retained many fine things, but demonstrated his coping with poverty but slicing pot roast so thin you could read the news through it) gave me my first book; “Bulfinch’s Mythology” which I devoured.

The story may be Roman or Greek and as I remember it may not be word for word, but…I think you might understand what it says.

Vaicott (not the name in the original story, but will do) spent his best days mocking the gods, on his worst days he cursed them, he always denied them and would beat his servants for praying to them.

As age and illness attacked Vaicott dragging him closer and closer to his end he yelled to his children, his servants, to the world: “You see, pain and pox, age and anguish are all about me.  Should I throw pence or gold at statue or priest to have your gods heal me or am I fated like all to die and rot.”  Vaicott laughed, laughed his miserable chackle until he slept.

His children, his servants and indeed most of the world, with heads lowered walked away from his house.

When Vaicott awoke from his slumber he found himself in Paradise; the gods and goddesses greeted and embraced him.  They talked to a younger healthier man, a man that could drink in the beauty, the indescribable splendor that was this world.

He knew the embrace of a goddess, with passion…ecstasy beyond his wildest imaginings, he broke bread that the merest crumb would sate any hunger, wine that was indeed, ambrosia.

He looked up from the table a figure emerged from a splendid light, the figure became clear as all the lesser gods bowed and backed away.  Vaicott saw this god of gods extend his hand and place it on it on his shoulder, “Vaicott, you shall have anything you desire, wealth, health, any woman or man you desire, anything but death and not here.”

Vaicott awoke in his own bed, he was young, healthy, Kings and Princes bowed to him.  Praise seemed to come from swine, the finest food tasted like dung, nothing on this earth could give him pleasure; the gods had condemned him to Hell, Hell on earth.

 

I don’t know if I am spending a brief moment in Paradise, but my sandwich is, was terrific, coffee stimulating and this time we’ve spent together truly grand.

Never, never mock the gods they just may bless you…for a while.

New Neighbors ‘Round the Weed Garden

 

 

Warm sunny day so the SWMBO has a honey-do list.

This winter past was unnaturally cold (for Georgia) and many of our ornamental shrubs and dwarf trees didn’t make it; most notably two fifteen year old gardenia bushes.  Each was four feet by four feet by four feet, a thick tangle of branches stripped of their leaves and brittle like old bones.

I cut back the branches to gain access to the roots.  I was set to unearth a shrub that had brought such pleasure.  Have you ever been near a gardenia bush when it is in full bloom?  These bushes were growing under the two windows in our living room, there was honey suckle growing under the kitchen window, I mean who needs Fabreeze.

Buzzing round my head were a dozen or so bumble bees.  There was not a flower to be found in all the yard, nothing was blooming in the weed garden and that was fifty feet away.  I greeted them, hospitably, and excused myself as I must finish my tasks if I hoped to survive the night (the SWMBO writes her honey-do lists in blood, mine).

One young and rather pleasant bee suspended itself not three inches from my nose, as only a bumble bee can, and when he was certain he had my undivided attention, he dropped to the ground and walked on a small piece of unearthed root.  He took to flight once more, circling the hairy twig then four of his companions joined in.

When they were certain that I got the message, they flew in mass to another branch lying on the grass and repeated their method of messaging.

The SWMBO had other plans for the garden under the window and gardenias were no part of it, but bumble bees and butterflies only talk to fairies and fools and I was sure I got the message.  Today, there are two small gardens, one above and one beside the weed garden, each contains a twig blessed by bumble bees.

And if there was any doubt that there would be gardenias once more to perfume the air as I take my morning coffee; as I watered the new arrivals; a small blue butterfly rested on each new mound and then flew directly to my mud laden boots and then to the brim of my old straw hat, flapping her wings as if to cool me.

It’s going to be a wonderful time at the weed garden; the SWMBO wants me to dig up the crepe myrtle and get rid of it, it died…I went to the little dwarf and it almost giggled as it unfolded a few new leaves.  The weed garden is going to be a wonderment.  Well…its always been a delight to me.

Weed Garden

 

I love my weed garden (there is not a single cannabis plant to be found).  I am the only human in the house that shares this sentiment.

Over the years I have planted trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials around the house and throughout the yard.  Digging here is much like anywhere in Georgia; there is red clay and there are rocks, rocks of every size, shape and mineral imaginable.  The rocks went into a pile; I called it, my pile of rocks.

On one particularly hot summer day, four years ago, I envisioned a rustic rock wall, along the culvert that made an eight foot deep cut into the little hill that is my back yard.  The culvert runs for about a hundred feet before sliding into the five foot diameter drainage pipe beneath the lane.

It was an ambitious plan and after careful thought and a chilled beverage, I scaled back my vision of a wall to about twelve feet.  Even so, it was still a lot of rocks to move.

As happens with many of my visions, things changed.  The wall I envisioned moved from the top of the hill; I carved instead into the bank and stacked the stones.

Just beyond the top of the wall was every imaginable natural, wild growth to be found in Georgia.  One year the rains carried blackberries, blackberries that grew in grand proliferation; to the delight of the neighbor’s children as they approached the brambles with buckets and visions of jams and pies.  The storms came and as storms are want to do, they brought change; the blackberries were soon replaced with fragrant honeysuckle (and poison oak, not the best year).

It was that year of the ‘fragrant itch’, in late spring the wall evolved, into a garden.  The pile of rocks all but disappeared and became three small, terraced sections, bordered by rough stone walls.  Taken as a whole, the garden was shaped like a leaf.

I turned the earth, that wonderful Georgia red clay, and added fresh soil and turned it again.  I planted… wild flowers. In a few short weeks, tall, gangly green plants had pushed through the soil and raised their heads of yellow, orange, blue and red to the summer sky; and then the fun started.  Bumble bees from three counties took up residence, along with a host of butterflies and by early July, the humming birds.

I took to having my morning coffee; sitting on the wet grass beside the garden, the new inhabitants took little or no notice of me even the feral gerbils that had burrowed their way in (chipmunks).

Today, once again, the SWMBO, informed me that the garden, like my unkempt hair was “unbecoming” and had to go.  One is going all too fast on its own, the other…not by my hand, if however she wished to disassemble it…

As it is every Spring Season, the garden is overrun with weeds and leaves from the old sycamore that had at last surrendered to the assaults of wind and lightening.  Vines of various types had worked their way up from the culvert and through the cracks in the wall; some moved the stone in sections and that part of the wall would be redone and others anchored the stones in place, like a living thing.

Familiar earth, rich and black, turning easily, as a familiar shovel blade cut into it, weeds give up their hold, for a season.  Soon I’ll sit quietly in the grass and listen to the sweet music from my little weed garden.  And I’ll smile, a lot.

Peace out, pilgrimsImageImageImage

The Major and Darcy Weaver Chapter 4 The Story

The little whirl wind came closer and I could see that it carried neither dust nor even a single leaf.  It was caressing, in dust devil fashion, a single mushroom spore; lifting the tiny seed up to the sun as the little wind parted the tall grasses, teased a rose bush and skipped over some daises as it and its companion wound their way back to the wood.

As the little spore played with the wind and the sun it began to turn a snowy white and before the little wind could make its way into the wood, the little spore seemed to glow it was that white.

The little wind seemed to bow as it bent to lower the glowing white spore to the ground then slowly moved back and was no more.

Charly pointed to a spot on the ground, near where the spore had come to rest, as if offering me a chair.  I sat. Charly sat.

We watched the spore.  The sun began to set behind the massive trees.  We watched the spore.  The birds rested quietly on the boughs of the trees.   We watched the spore.

A cool breeze meandered through the meadow and the wood, a low hanging mist in its wake.  The mist grew dense over the floor of the wood, and in the failing light of that day, it spilled out toward the meadow and swallowed the little white spore.

Charly and I waited.  I didn’t know why, but it seemed the thing to do.

In what seemed like an instant, the sunlight of a new day, painted the tops of the trees a lighter green and as it bathed the meadow, dew drops on spider webs and flower petals glistened like polished jewels.  The light and the heat of the morning sun banished the fog to deep within the great wood…and then I saw it.

Where the little spore had been, there was a teeny tiny mushroom of the purest white.

The teeny tiny mushroom lifted its head and opened its eyes.  All around him were wonders upon wonders; trees so grand and strong, flowers and grasses, such colors and shapes, in the shadows of the trees growing from the wet floor of the forest, the curly leaved ferns.

“Hello”, he said.  “Hello, will someone tell me about this wonderful place?”  The trees began their lament of wasted strength; the flowers tried to tell the bees how beautiful they were, fish swam in the stream, the rabbits and chipmunks skittered into their holes.  No one answered.

“Will someone be my friend?  Does anyone love me?” the poor teeny tiny mushroom yelled out to the beautiful world around him.  What the poor mushroom didn’t know…mushrooms, like the flowers have very, very soft voices and no one heard him and no one answered.

There were no other mushrooms near and he was just too small for any of the other grand beings to even notice him, he was alone.

He began to cry.

He was a teeny tiny mushroom with itsy bitsy tears and Charly and I watched them fall.

But…when those itsy bitsy tears from that teeny tiny mushroom touched the ground, they sounded like great claps of thunder.  Those itsy bitsy tears shook the tears, birds toke to flight, the sky turned black, thick clouds hid the sun, and winds came out of the north, cold fierce winds like none that had ever visited the land before.

Trees were calling out to one another, looking for comfort, this storm would tare them apart; the flowers knew that all their colorful petals would be ripped away.  Everyone in the land knew that this was their end.

Then a voice rang out, over the bellowing of the trees, the whimpering of the flowers and the wild chirping of the birds…it came from a daffodil.

“Be quiet you ninnies.  A child is crying, a child is lost.  Find him.”

Flowers bent into the cold north wind to search the ground around them, the grasses moved in harmony to touch the ground and feel for the child, the birds looked from high above and the trees looked from their great heights…prepared to shout out other searchers.

It was a great oak that spied the tiny little mushroom.  Even with his powerful voice, he could not be heard above the wind and the thunder, the grasses were too far away, no one could reach him and without shelter he might perish.

The old oak knew that what must be done couldn’t be done but he must try.

For centuries the oak had stood in that very spot and now he must move.  The moss and the earth around his roots began shiver and crack and fall away as root after root pulled itself out of the ground and stretched out to pull the tree closer and closer to the little mushroom until great ancient roots were wraped around the mushroom; shelter from the wind.

One branch plucked leaves from another and gently placed them over the little one like a blanket, “Here, this will keep you warm.  Now is the time for sleep, not for tears.”

The cold north wind died down, replaced by a warm easterly breeze, the clouds parted and the sun returned to the heavens.

All in the land approached the end of that day weary from battle.  It could not have more frightening; the great wood would never have endured the storm much longer; the flowers would have all they were stripped from them; all could have been lost.

At the end of that day there was a song in every heart; a flower had found its voice, a tree had walked and a child, a child had been saved.  It was the best of all possible days.

That night, while all the land slept, that sound was heard in a garden; a garden that is a far away as the furthest star and a s close as a loving hug at bedtime, home to a great builder…and he smiled.

That night he walked through the land again and the music of his sweet laughter filled the dreams of everyone.

When the sun arose that first dawn, the awoke in the meadow a new folk; smallish, with violet eyes that delighted in wonder of color, turned up noses that could recognize the signature of each flowers scent, ears that hear a petal flutter anywhere in the meadow and could sing every song of the grasses in perfect harmony.  They called themselves; Fairies.

In the wood there awoke another new folk; larger, stronger than the Fairies and gifted with the vision to create, in wood, homes, spinning wheels, looms and all manner of crafts.  They called themselves; Elves.

And near the scrubs and among the ferns there was yet another folk, larger than the fairies but not so industrious as the elves; they knew that they would tell the stories and keep the histories.  They called themselves; Pixies.

Charly reached up and taped me on the shoulder, “Time for us to go.”

“Charly, there’s so much going on and no one seems to notice us, is this but a dream?”

“Stephen, we don’t exist here, you don’t exist here…no human does.”

“Then why is that Pixie waving at us.”

“Oh that…well you see, for all of time people have wondered and Pixies, they just know.  Knowing about humans…that’s easy comes natural.”

Charly pulled the twig from his pocket again, this time he put it down behind me almost on my heels, “Remember, eyes closed.”

I closed my eyes put my hands behind my back and reluctantly jumped.

I was disappointed to immediately find myself, alone, in my apartment, looking at my closed door.  I looked down at the olive green sneakers with orange laces, the tree bark brown woolen trousers held up by purple braces, a ruffled front shirt the color of early morning mist, my blue coat and this marvelous great hat.  I stuck my hand in my pockets and in the right pocket of my coat was a twig, with four leaves that were just starting to open wrapped in a piece of paper.  I had a chance to look more closely, and it was a small branch from an old oak tree.  On the paper was written: “The Builder return to the land that night and he looked over all that was done, he smiled and said, This Land I shall call Life. and so its been called, from that day to this.  C”

“Thank you all, I am Stephen PeerleesPixie Quickstep, at your service.”

“Well, Major, at least you gave it an effort.”  Darcy said, taking a sip from her bottle of hand crafted ale.  She leaned forward, resting forearms on the small polished bar, both hands around the bottle, not looking at the Major.  In the stool next to her he assumed a similar posture, staring straight ahead.

Darcy slowly turned in his direction, “You were supposed to lose, remember?”  She turned back to stare at the relection in the mirror behind the bar.  “PeerlessPixie, really?”

“Too true.”

“I could always lose another competition.”

“You’d need another story…have you got that much in ya?”  Darcy hid a small smile as she raised her bottle again.

“I just might.  Let me catch up on some old mail”, the Major looked at his beer, studied his reflection in the mirror, smiled, tipped his bottle in a salute to the image before him…”I just might have two hidden away.  There’s got to be a loser in there somewhere.”

The Major pivoted on his bar stool to face Darcy and Darcy Weaver pivoted to face the Major, bottle necks clinked as they said: ” Here’s to the losers.”  They smiled and returned to the reflections in front of them.