Thursday, March 29, 2007


I called my family physician today to see if I have cancer! (To review, the doctor was to compare my last xrays and determine if I need a CAT scan.) “It’s been a week today,” I stress!

“Well, the doctor went home sick today,” the nurse says. What the hell?

"I'll take another note and call you on Monday," she says.

"I want an appointment Monday! I'll talk to the doctor myself," I say.

"Okay sir, but I'll be glad to put another note on my computer and get back with you." What the hell?

Anyway, I was released by my orthopedic doctor today and told to go into physical therapy. My shoulder was fine, except I had a little infection in one of the five invasive holes he left in my shoulder. So, he sees some pus and proceeds to squeeze the crap out of it, and then sticks a wooden stick about a 1/4" into the opening with some silver nitrate on it to cauterize the wound. What the hell?

So, I am settin' here into my fourth Killian, listening to some blues and wondering, what the hell - my shoulder don't hurt at all!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Well, no, I have not heard from the doctor’s office about the potential problem with my lungs. However, I personally feel like things are much better.

I returned to Riverfront Park today and easily walked 1.8 miles at a lively pace marked by tunes from the Rolling Stones! I had no breathing problems or fatigue, and could have gone much further with some companionship.

Spring continues to come to the area with more 75+ weather and late afternoon thunder showers that watered the blooming flowers. We are over six inches below normal in rainfall and the fast passing rain showers will never make up the deficit.

Now, I have got to get my mower ready for spring as well, even though my shoulder is not quite ready for the task. I do go back to the doctor tomorrow for my five-week “post op” check up. Now will come the physical therapy, which I dread, but it is the only path back to full recovery.

Monday, March 26, 2007


The electrical jobs my dad normally worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) played out several times as one dam or steam plant project ended. During these times, normally during the summers when school was out, my mom, my brother, and I followed him to out of state jobs the IBEW provided. I think you could only turn down so many job offers before the union punished you by not notifying you when work was available. So, dad took jobs in Birmingham, AL, somewhere in West Virginia and Indiana, and Pittsburg, PA in separate summers on these occasions. Mom and dad had to assess the duration of the remaining work, before school started back, in order to decide whether we moved to the new location, or stayed where I attended school the previous year.

I remember him coming home during the time in West Virginia and yelling loudly as he arrived, “I’m home from West 'By God' Virginia!” When he would get back home from further north, Pennsylvania or Indiana, it was “Jesus Christ and a couple of by God’s, I’m home!”

The language of the north always fascinated him, and us, for that matter. In those days cussing was less common in the south, with mostly simple swear words reserved for all male groups. Women rarely cursed openly, even in heated contentions over the backyard fences.

However, cursing seemed part of the culture the further above the Mason/Dixon you got. “Jesus Christ and a couple of by God’s,” was dad’s way of poking fun at what he observed. Even as a young boy of fifteen, I blushed several times for my mother as men, and some women, said things in front of her that noticeably startled her.

One summer, as I was beginning my adolescent introduction to a grown up world, I struggled to make the shift from a young boy to a developing young man. I still loved to play along the creek with my five-year-old brother, making dams, and catching crayfish, or building home sites with imaginary garages of our toy cars, and connecting roads in the dirt in the little yard we had in the new trailer park in Pittsburg.

The plan was to move back to Waverly, Tennessee when school started, so we left our trailer there and rented one for the summer. The park was not the Mockingbird, but it was full of new and strange adventures.

My brother and I ordered a horny” toad off the back of a comic book and tried our hand at raising this strange lizard. However, within two weeks we succeeded in letting the local ants kill it. I still do not understand what happened. I thought toads, or lizards ate ants, but these ants someone burrowed into the lining of its mouth and choked it to death. We had a ritualized burial, down by the creek, and soon forgot about it.

Playing with boats, cars, and “horny” toads was my way of clinging to my childhood I suppose, but I liked being a kid. However, something new came along that began to coax me into a new realm. I had been close to that strange new land before, but never before with a strange new creature known as a “teenage girl!”

I do not remember her name, but her classic Atlanta, GA looks are burned into my mind, even today. Her hair was “dishwater blonde” and naturally curly, cut just above the shoulder, with bright colored barrettes, that always matched her clothes, holding back the hair on each side of her head just above her ears.

Her sixteen-year-old skin was almond and covered in soft little hairs that caught the sunlight when she was outside, and her eyes were so dark that it appeared she had no pupils. These eyes pierced my very soul and beckoned me to edge of my moral restraints.

One Sunday afternoon, we played cards in her living room while half watching TV with her family. Then, as if an answered prayer, her parents announced that they were going over to my house to play cards with my folks.

It was summertime, so we could hear through the cranked out Jalousie windows as they walked the few feet across to my trailer and as they were greeted and welcomed.

Being a rookie, I did not know what to do, but I knew I wanted something to happen. Before I could make my own plans, she softly, and as matter-of-factly as could be said, asked, “Do you want to play strip-poker?”

Why, hell yeah” I shouted inside! Out loud I said, “Huh?”

If you win a hand, I take something off, and IF I win, you take something off. Okay?”

It sounded easy enough, besides I had been winning quite a few hands already. However, life never deals you a fair hand or a straight from either side!

Soon I was sitting there in my socks and Fruit-of-the-Looms, trying mentally to beat down my “tight pants point,” and dreading the fact that it was her deal.

Finally, I won a hand and there, right in front of me, was that tan little belly, all covered in fine little blonde hair that swirled in a perfect clockwise pattern, like fuzz on a (Georgia) peach, around the most beautiful “inny” belly button I could have imagined, just beneath her snow white bra. The best part, it was my deal next!

It’s been great, we’ll see yawl next time,” her father said as he came out of my parent’s trailer. “Yeah, thanks for the coffee and cake Christine,” her mom added.

Oh my God, I had about twenty-five steps to get all my clothes back on and she already sat there fully clothed again looking at me with desperate eyes, and whispering “Hurry up!”

Because I am writing this you know that I survived, but it was a close call with me jerking my pullover shirt down just as the door opened. “You kids have fun?”

The only thing good that happened that afternoon was that another little “horny” toad was born into the world. The next time that opportunity came along I played faster and I cheated!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I have been trying to get back in hiking shape again and walked the 6/10 of a mile around Riverfront Park three times the day before yesterday. However, yesterday I could not make it once! I cannot seem to get air down deeply into my lungs. I am going to the doctor today to get some answers. I cannot let this get me down.

Anyway, the flowers were beginning to bloom, bringing color back to the world.

There was also one bride out having her picture made. There was no groom around so I do not know if this was post or pre-wedding shooting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


What self respecting dudes would ever name their dogs Cuddles and Puddles? Well, I hate to admit it, but Richard and I did.

On a trip to the Florence, AL dog pound, our hearts were captured by two black and white spotted, mostly beagle, pups. They were so cute and so full of life, and almost mirror images of each other. I do not remember why we went to the pound, or why we were rewarded with puppies, but we ended up with the sisters.

Richard and I lived across the street from each other in the Mockingbird Trailer Park. From the first time we met we became fast friends and during the two years in the Mockingbird and the three years in Waverly, Tennessee we shared the growing pains of puberty.

During the summer months, we would take the opportunity of taking the dogs out at night and turn it into an adventure. We would roam the trailer park in the early morning hours, and finally return home and tiptoe back to our beds unnoticed by our families.

The dogs were also close siblings and friends and Cuddles, my dog, really missed her sister when we finally parted ways.

Cuddles lived a fairly long life, but as did the majority of my early dogs, she was killed by a passing automobile. I remember that I was home on leave, about to ship out for Vietnam, when I heard the squeal of the brakes and the terrible yelps. I ran to the highway, picked her up in my arms, took her to a neighbor’s yard, and laid her down. She was obviously having trouble breathing and I instinctively began blowing breaths into her wet nose. I must have puffed a dozen breaths into her before it was obvious she was beyond help.

I sat there for a long time, holding Cuddles, and talking to her about my memories of her and Puddles.

She was a good dog, most are, but sadly all I can remember about her is the sneaking out and the futile attempt at saving her life. Strange what we remember, but that is life.

I do not know what happened to Puddles, but chances are it was a passing car.

Monday, March 19, 2007


An old Hindu/Arabic/secular/Jewish/Russian Proverb goes something like “I used to cry because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”

Yep, that’s right, a lot of cultures lay claim to that quote. I discovered this today as I tried to track down the source.

Why? Well, I was at my family doctor’s this morning, feeling a little low from not being able to move around like I used to, when, as I was leaving her office, I noticed UT’s LIFESTAR helicopter was sitting on the pad near the Harriman Hospital. The turbo engines were whining at idle speed, and the big blades rotated flatly, as it waited for the arrival of a patient to be taken to Knoxville for intensive care at the university hospital.

The ambulance arrived and the back doors swung open and a flurry of local and LIFESTAR paramedics swarmed around a gurney carrying a very large man. The medics hustled the man to and on board the aeromedical transport. Moments later the chopper, ran up its engines, tilted the rotators, lifted off, circled the hospital, and turned east.

No matter where I am, usually on my back porch on a Friday or Saturday evening, the familiar approaching thumping, which still brings Vietnam back to mind, causes me to pause and say a silent prayer for those on board and the family waiting anxiously for help. It is all we can do – it is out of our hands.

I left the doctor’s parking lot, saying my humble little prayer, and feeling quite blessed.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Ron and I took in Bailey’s Sports Grille again Tuesday. I had my first good round of Killian and Bass in ages (it seems) along with some “hot honey” chicken wings.

Afterwards, we enjoyed our first Macanudo (he had the Maduro and me the Gold Label) in an even longer spell. Man, was it ever good to be back in the saddle.

I have now slept in my own bed twice since the operation…still a bit of a hassle, but at least I’m laying flat out for a change! And, I have another two weeks of the brace before physical therapy begins. That can't be fun either!

Oh yeah, here is a shot of ol’ Mushy all cleaned up…even tied the tie myself! What do you think…clean up pretty good for an old man, huh?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Do you remember that post? Click here for a refresher!

Well, she got her stuff today and was she ever in “hog heaven!” Look at’er…ever seen anyone so happy.

It was beautiful stuff, I’ll have to admit, and very comfy…I considered sleeping out there tonight.

Can you believe it was 76 degrees today…it’s spring time in our backyard!

As the night started closing in, there were tree frogs and lake frogs trying to out croak each other. The geese came in and cackled warnings at each other, while a duck expressed its frustrations with another. In the nearby woods I heard either a squirrel coming noisily home late through the darkness, or an anxious doe about to enter the grassy area between the lake and us to graze. But the cou’de gra was when two Barred Owls acknowledged each other across the TVA easement, between the lake and the creek to the west of our property.

All this can only mean it will be a glorious spring with life pouring forth all around us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


How many of you old buckaroos remember Smiley Burnette, or maybe “Frog Millhouse” is more familiar? He was the faithful sidekick to Gene Autry through 54 “singing western” movies between 1934 and 1942, which was the year Gene went off to war.

Little known fact is that Smiley actually wrote more than 400 songs, many of which he and/or Gene sang on screen. He is as a result, in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was a very talented man who could play more than 50 instruments!

After kicking around with other western stars, such as Roy Rogers, he finished his and Gene’s movie career with 6 more films, the last of which was in 1953. After this, some of you may remember him as Charlie Pratt, the engineer on the “Hooterville Cannonball” that stopped at “Petticoat Junction!”

His movie career over, Smiley retired, but occasionally did rodeo appearances for children through the mid-sixties.

It was during one of these occasions, around about 1962, that “Frog” spent a couple of days in the Mockingbird Trailer Park in Florence, Alabama. This is where our paths crossed!

The children of the trailer park had been told that “Smiley” was in town, but none of us had the courage to approach him. However, as it turned out it was around New Year’s and we roamed the trailer park lighting firecrackers and throwing them. This was an advanced trick and we had only become brave enough to try this particular season.

As fate would have it, we stopped in the street directly in front of Mr. Brunette’s little travel trailer. This trailer could not have been over 8 feet long, but apparently served him well as he toured the United States.

I lit a firecracker, using a punk stick, but the fuse was one of those “slow burners” with tightly twisted paper with little powder. Just as I was about to blow on the fuse “Smiley” opened his trailer door and stepped outside, startling us!

I dropped my hand to my side to prevent him from seeing what we were up to and forgot about it. “How you boys doing tonight,” he asked?

Oh, just fine sir, how are you?” one of us forced out.

Just then I remembered what had happened just moments before, but before I could look down - “BAM!”

Everyone jumped, including Smiley, and I screamed like the biggest sissy in the trailer park! My fingers were numb and two felt like they were missing!

Mr. Burnette ran to me and I held up my hand, the one with two fingers missing, by the wrist with my other hand and began to stomp around in little circles while he danced around with me, trying to see the damage by the street light.

“I think you’ll be okay son, all the fingers are there!”

I looked at my hand in the light of the street lamp and saw that all the appendages were indeed there, except that three of them were black and red from the exploding black powder. All the mouth blowing did not soothe the sting, and it did not completely stop burning until sometime the next day.

Well, long story short, “Frog Millhouse” gave us all an autograph, which I remember resembled a frog face – two big frogeyes ending in a long sweeping “g” that just spelled out Frog if you knew who had made it!

I saw today on eBay a signature of Smiley going for $300, but alas I have long since lost that little piece of history. However, Mr. Burnette lives on in this old buckaroo’s heart and mind!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I attended Opal Harmon’s funeral services tonight and it brought back a flood of good memories. Opal was my son’s grandmother, mother to his mother (simply stated – my x-mother-in-law). However, I hate calling her that because she was like a mother to me. Her and her sister’s and brother-in-law’s were precious things I hated giving up after Connie and I divorced.

When Connie and I first married, Opal and I had a few heated moments that seemed to doom our relationship. However, we were finally able to figure things out once everyone left us alone to find our way. On our own, we grew close and came to a great understanding of and devotion to each other.

The first six years of our ten-year marriage was spent within the same household. Connie worked as a beautician and I attend the University of Tennessee. The GI Bill paid for my car payments and tuition, while we mostly saved everything Connie made.

At the end of the sixth year Connie became pregnant with our son Corey and we built a house and moved out soon after he was born. However, those six years were some of the most memorable and precious to me because of Opal and Dub.

Opal was, if nothing else, a wonderful cook and her holiday meals were “to die for!” She was also responsible for my very first birthday party and, as I remember, I cried from the emotion of it all.

She was so full of love, but tended to show it through her cooking. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, any occasion were excuses to fill the house with smells that usually only come from a grandmother’s home.

I remember most the carrot cakes, the pecan pies, the divinity and chocolate covered cherry candies, the dressing, and yellow cake dough (some of which was always saved for me to eat raw), even the pinto beans and cornbread she made. All wonderful things that still make me crave, smell, and taste.

As I watched her husband, “Dub,” break down tonight, the first time I ever remember seeing him do so, I was flooded with wonderful memories of watching her cook while I sat at the bar across from her work area. Such devotion she put into everything…little pieces of her love spread throughout and passed on to those for whom she cared the most.

We spent a lot of time in that kitchen, eating slowly while watching birds dance on the feeders outside, and soft words exchanged behind smiles of contentment.

I was so blessed to have known her. Every time we met over the next thirty years after I left, I could still see the love she had for me in her eyes. I was also honored that she never missed an opportunity to introduce me to people as "my son."

I have been asked to serve as an honorary pallbearer tomorrow – honorary since I cannot lift with my right arm. I will walk quietly and proudly behind her as she is moved to her final resting place. She was, after all, like a mother to me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I still have not slept in my bed since the operation (14 days) and it is really getting old. I have started trying it lately, but I only last a couple of hours, because gravity eventually pulls the shoulder down or over further than is comfortable and I wake up in pain. Then, it is back to the couch recliner (it is a Lazy Boy Bruno). There are five recliners in our set, but I can only sleep in the ones with the recliner handle on the left side, otherwise, without help I would flop around for days, like a dying fish, trying to get up!

However, it has not been entirely uncomfortable in the recliner, and I have discovered that what I am really missing is sleeping on my sides. I wake up with my tongue stuck like a dry piece of lifeless meat to the roof of my mouth. Only after fighting for my water glass and forcing down a swallow or two am I able to get everything lubricated and moving again!

In the posted photo you can see what the “before” looked like…the arrows point to bone deposits and spurs that had to be scraped away. Further back in the socket area the rotator cuff had to be repaired where it had begun to wear through. Other “after” photos show stitches where the repairs were made and muscle was tightened up.

I have heard that this is one of the most painful surgeries, but it has not been completely unbearable. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I was in so much discomfort from the prostatitis infection and subsequent pressure on my bladder that I had little time to worry about the sharp momentary pains that emanated from my shoulder.

As you can see, I can now type with both hands, but the mouse has been placed in a lower position for comfort. I still brush left handed and still do the “Arab wipe,” although I have almost gone into a diagonal body cramp at times! Drying off is quite a feat, but I am doing better. The only real problem I have had is rising up under the towel rack and centering my shoulder with a whack that can only be described as a ball-peen hammer strike with conviction!

What is really wearing on me is that I have another full week of Cipro and alcohol is forbidden. I need a beer! I really need three beers!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Get up son,” mom said as she gently nudged me awake. “Take your pillow and quilt out to the car. Dad’s waitin’ – hurry up!”

It was only then that I became aware of the flashes of lightning and the subsequent close rumbles of thunder, and the rain hitting hard against the roof and southwest side of the trailer.

My eyes widened and my ears perked up to listen to conditions outside, as I ran toward the front door where my dad scooped me up and rushed me into the backseat of the ’55 Star Chief. Yes, the same Pontiac I have mentioned repeatedly. We had that old car for ten years and it served my family well through many a storm, and snowy trips “down home.”

Dad slammed the door shut and ran back to the trailer for my mom and baby brother. I raised up and watched them running back to the car and saw them illuminated in several flashes of lightning, and hid my eyes as the close thunder shuttered the vehicle just as they closed the doors with synchronized slams.

It looks like it’s coming from the southwest,” dad told mom. “I think we should go toward Florence.” Mom shook her head in agreement and pulled the blanket up over my brother’s head.

Every time there was a flash, I hid my head under my grandmother’s quilt and pressed my hands against my ears. In that backseat, under that quilt, I felt safe. It was so strange that I had not heard all the excitement before being awaken, but that was generally the case. Dad, or possibly mom, had the keen ears and usually had the family on alert if the conditions seemed threatening.

We should be safe here,” dad said as he pulled under an overpass, pushed the lights in to the parking position, and tuned the radio to any sound he could find. There was little real-time weather coverage on the radio then, but the sound of other voices from the midst of the darkness comforted my mom and dad.

As fate would have it, we often found out the next day that we had in fact driven toward the worse part of the spring storm and were in much more danger where we ended up than if we had stayed put. However, dad felt like he was protecting his family in the only way he knew how, and that makes it okay with me.

Today, I am the one that awakens at the sound of the first branch hitting the metal roof, the large drops of rain hitting the window, or that eerie roar the wind makes in the treetops near the house. I used to depend on dad to be on vigil, but Vietnam’s frequent rocket attacks moved me into a life long state of readiness. I now waken briefly some nights to ensure the distant roar and vibration is just the Southern working its way south some half-mile from our house. Once I am satisfied, I think back for a moment on the tornado chases of the past, pull my grandmother's quilt tightly up under my neck, and slip off again.

We should be safe here,” a distant voice whispers.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Man has always and will always kill each other over differences in religion. There is no escaping that fact. No matter how hard we pray for peace or victory over those that oppose us, we will always mistrust and hate others for their beliefs.

I do not discuss differences in religion anymore, looking instead inside for the basic faith, not caring what the differences are. It makes no sense to argue the fine points when we all love and worship the same God. With the exception of Hindus and Buddhist (at least as far as I can tell), the Christian, the Jew, and the Islamist worship the same God.

Who are we to interpret God’s mind – it is impossible. Therefore, since we will not know the truth until we are in His presence, why do we insist on thinking we are the only ones with the right interpretation.

I remember as a young boy asking a playmate about him being a Catholic. He could not tell me much, not really knowing the ideals of his parent’s church. However, I knew that during the week he cussed like a sailor on shore leave, but after Saturday or Sunday Mass he seemed somewhat reserved until mid-week. Confessional seemed to bring the importance of being “Christ like” back in his demeanor for a few days.

He also called everyone he did not like a “FARMER,” which must have meant something really bad to him, but since my grandparents were “farmers” the phrase did not seem very demeaning to me.

My mother is Catholic, having married a Scot-Irish immigrant after my father died. Through this marriage I have a stepbrother who is a priest. I have learned quite a lot about their particular faith since then.

I also remember spending long evenings and early morning hours, sitting in my friend’s ’49 Chevy pickup, smoking cigarettes and discussing the finer points between the Baptist and Church of Christ faiths. He argued his church was the proper church since it was named for Christ, while mine was named for an area of our town! He also thought his was better because they did not use musical instruments in their services.

I suppose there were times when in frustration, had I been a half-bubble off, I would have wanted to smash both of those guys! However, I did not and would not. I have grown very tolerant of people and their faiths. I simply do not care about your faith – no – that is not true! I do like to hear different viewpoints, finding them very entertaining and enlightening. I just do not care that you have a different opinion. If it is the one god, then all is fine. We will find out the truth, standing side-by-side one day, and we will feel ashamed we tormented and killed each other over something so trivial.

I suppose Lennon had is right about the world being better off if there were no religions or borders, but it is a pipe dream. Only the second coming could ever make that happen, but it is nice to imagine sometimes.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


The old Mushroom is feeling pretty good most times, as this photo my granddaughter took can attest, but there are other times I need help from my little friends!

I’m living better through chemistry!

Right now, golf seems a full season away!

Oh yeah, here is my precious little angel.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


We got our tickets! Hopefully, my right will be limber enough by then to hoist a few!

An Evening with Roger Waters

Philips Arena
Atlanta, GA
Tue, May 22, 2007 08:00 PM
5 American Express Cardmembers Presale
209 E 8 - 4 PRICE LEVEL 2

Seats could be closer, but are what was available. Makes my arm feel some better.