Quick Silver … Penny For Your Thoughts

Here you go!  This is for all of you like George Barenbrock who always had their science project turned in on time.  Back in the day, when we were kids, we used to take Mercury and smear it all over a penny, to make it look like a dime. 

Then we would go to the store and attempt to purchase a candy bar with it.  Try doing that today, I bought a candy bar over the weekend, and it was $1.39 plus tax.  My money doesn’t even slow down when it gets to me. 

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Stolen Milk Money.

It is difficult for me to distinguish between being a kid today and what it was like when I was the same age.  Lot of changes in the landscape of life over the years, so making a proper distinction for me, I often find hard.  Take bullies for example, in my day they were often a physical issue type of thing, today as an adult, they are a verbal Internet problem for the most part.  Some folks have even described me as a Bully from time to time, just for asserting my position on some issue.  Most of us at one time have dealt with a bully, one way or the other, mine came to me early in life, first or second grade as I remember it.

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Take A Shot At It.

My grandson (11 years old) cannot throw a football, he does not play baseball, no Frizbee either.  He for the most part, sits in his home and plays video games.  And that to me is so sad, but as this is treading on tender-ground in the family dynamic, I keep it to myself.  There is so much more to life, so many adventures and learning experiences are out there, ripe for the taking, but he will never know them.

It occurred to me that someone ought to start a thread on the strange things or interesting adventures we have done in their lives.  All of us at one time or another have done some things that others (especially those of us that are not insane by nature) would consider strange, adventuresome, or interesting.  My Bucket List on life is for the most part empty, I have had my fair share of adventure and really feel more or less circumspect in my life at this point in time.  As it has been kind of slow here lately this has been on my mind. 

So during a lull in festivities, I made a list of some of the quirky things in my life. 

Did a snipe hunt once or twice, before I figured out that Snipes are not indigenous to Oklahoma, just to my cousin’s house out on a farm east of Crescent, Oklahoma.  On the same token, I have never stuck my tongue to a frozen flag pole in December.  Played “stomp ball at the park” in a four inch downpour and loved every dog-gone minute of it.  

When I was young, I walked thru a railroad tunnel in Niles Canyon, California.  With no flashlight to illuminate the way, no working knowledge of trains or train schedules, another guy, Jim Crossett and I walked thru this roughly two mile long tunnel.  When JFK said “every American should be able to walk fifty miles” my buddies and I, rode our ten speed bikes 112 miles in one day.  Left at 4:30 am in the morning and it was wayyyyyyy after dark when we got back.

Climbed a hydroelectric transmission tower to the very top, man man, the juice flowing thru that thing sounded just like bacon frying on Mama’s stove and you could see forever.  Been to the top of two or three volcano’s in my life all extinct, none were active.  Surfed at Santa Cruz and body-whopped Half Moon Bay.  Sat on a boat dock, in Jax Florida and ate Oysters right out of the shell and washed them down with hot sauce and Budweiser.

I found an abandoned mine in the Sierra’s once and we went back into that about 1/2 mile or so, only to discover a ceiling chocked full of bats!  Now that turned out to be a turning point in my life, as I found myself whenever I discovered one (abandoned mines or tunnels), venturing deep into the pits of a mine and exploring by flashlight, the bowels of mother earth.

We were in Spain, and a guy bet me that I would not jump off of a perfectly good aircraft carrier, so I did.  Ninety-four feet to the waterline.  But this wasn’t something all that new to me, I had previously jumped off a railroad bridge at Lake Texhoma and a public bridge at Catfish Bay, Oklahoma.

Noodled for catfish on the Washita River and went to a Rattlesnake hunt in Okeene, Oklahoma, both I would wholeheartedly pass up today.  There are safer things to do in this life, such as, digging for sand crystals on the Salt Flats or something like that.

My cousin talked me into climbing a rock face with him in Colorado and everything was just swell, until I found myself at a place where I could not go up or go down.  Froze on the side of rock cliff for some six hours, not a pleasant Saturday afternoon as I recall.  

I danced with a transvestite in Trieste, Italy, and did not know that he/she was a tranny.  That got interesting for a brief time, until I gave “her” to Harry Braid, who was from Dayton Ohio, and I assume he had never danced with one either.

Took diving lessons, learned to dive in a swimming pool with an instructor.  Then went to Florida and did a dive that was sixty-five feet.  Made it half-way down, and my ears started to really bother me, so I stopped and held onto the rope, that is until a Barracuda swam by my face, and then I decided it was time to go up (Post haste) to the dive boat.  

Went up in a small airplane three times to jump and begin my sport parachute career, didn’t happen.  I did however get out on the wheel strut and briefly looked down at the earth, some 4,000 ft below before crawling back into the plane.  Ran my Harley up to an honest 130 MPH on a country road one hot July back in seventy-four.  Rode it 6,000 miles across America over a period of some five months time.

Skinny dipped with college kids on the South Canadian River, swam in the Yellowstone River sans attire, did a river in Idaho one time alongside a busy highway.  Never have been to a topless beach but I have heard of them.  Did some class three rapids on a river in California and a girl named Debbie on lake in Missouri at midnight on a full moon night in August.

You would think that would be the end of it, but it isn’t.  Not long ago I inadvertently came across one more opportunity for adventure of sorts.

We were in New Mexico having breakfast at Clines Corners.  Two local guys pulled in with a pickup and horse trailer and then unloaded three horses to rest, and tied them to the trailer.  They came in and sat down in the booth next to us and ordered breakfast.  I inquired of one of them, “How come you have three horses, but there are only two of you?” and this guy smiled and says, “Charlie was out all night long chasing skirts, and did not want to get out of bed this morning.  We decided to come on without him, we had already loaded the horses.”  

He then looks at me and says, “Can you ride a horse?” and his buddy kind of chuckled.

I replied with, “You betcha, I can sit a horse, no problem.”  

He then said, “You wanna go up in the hills with us and bring down some cattle today?” and I looked at the wife and said “You be okay, here in the parking lot?” and she just gave me that look that I know so well after all these years.

Now it is your turn.  What is the strangest or most interesting thing  you have done in your life?

Take a shot at it.


Minus Twelve And Holding

Another winter storm has come roaring in and taking its collective pound of flesh.  Either it is old age or just me, but I am tiring of it, I want some spring time and I want it now.  That is the way it is when you live in The Heartland … Oklahoma.

I remember the journey to Oklahoma in my childhood,
On two lane blacktop roads
Full of country smells
Long days under a broiling sun
Friendly handshakes
Backed up by broad warm smiles.

So even as a small child
I knew that Oklahoma would be good to me
It had tall wheat elevators
Plenty of room
But most of all
The people who lived there,
were different
Down home kind of folk
Warm and friendly.

Oklahoma I cannot possibly say
How much I miss you when I am gone
How I yearn to expierence your hot humid summer days
To feel your warmth
Long after the summer sun has gone down.

I miss your bumpy dusty roads
On their meandering paths across the land
As they cut checkerboards of progress
Laced by the homes of the farming man.

I miss your cottonwoods
Stirring in the August wind
The gentle breeze before a summer storm
The slap of thunder
Across the contour of the land
Rain on the driveway
Even tho’ it is incredibly warm.

If anyone wants to pump me some sunshine, please avail yourself of the Email feature at the top of the page.


Dawg-Days Of Summer ….

Another day of August, the “Dog Days” as some refer to them. The hot sultry period of summer between early July and early September in the northern hemisphere. A period of stagnation and inactivity. In order to get through the steamy dog days of summer, doctors recommend drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding overexertion.

My kind of doctors.

So taking their expert advice, I am sitting on the front porch, glass of sweet tea, and lounging around in my new outdoor chairs that I bought this week at “the end of summer sale” at Academy Sports, $15.99 marked down to just $10.

(I am now ready for my smart shopper tag, but I bet the wife will not allow it)

The lady down the street is “hovering over her children” again. I don’t understand this at all, when did we start raising our kids in bubbles? It is as if a kid has no right to go outside, to run, to hide, to blow off all that explosive energy that children seem to have.

When I was a kid, we were allowed to run free, to experience life, to learn, to go outside and play without adult supervision. It was my mothers’ favorite mantra ……. Jeeze Don just go outside and play!

It was outside where we did our favorite child things. Climbed trees, fell out of trees, smashed our little heads. We got into fights and every now and then that crazy old guy from down the street would walk by with his raincoat on (when it was not raining) and do really weird stuff!

Outside I not only learned that “I did not have SuperMan powers and amused my friends by jumping off the roof of my fathers house, with my mothers best bathroom towel wrapped around my neck.”

Outside is where I learned to climb a utility pole, walk thru a railroad tunnel in the dark, abscond with the neighbors Christmas Lites and listen to them explode when tossed like a hand grenade.

Outside, playing and wrestling with our dog, is where I learned if he licked you in the face, you wouldn’t die, as my mother had told me previously. At the park on Saturdays, with all my buddies, I learned I could not hit a curve ball. That swinging on a swing set with a girl, wasn’t all that bad, and walking them home from school was kind of cool.

If you played your cards right, outside was all right indeed.

You could go down to the creek, catch a bunch of tadpoles, take them home in an old fruit jar, feed them the scrapin’s off burnt toast and watch ‘em turn into frogs. You could secretly keep a pet snake in your room until your little sister snitched you out to Mom and Dad. Put your tooth in a bottle of Coke and watch it disappear on the windowsill.

This new generation of parents we have now do not allow that kind of freedom in a kid.  They are pampered, protected, watched over like they are some kind of breakable fine china or something. This gal down the street from me does it all the time.

Kids should be allowed to simply be kids, to laugh about nothing in particular, just for the sake of laughing. You ever notice that. They just crack up for no apparent reason … A rule of life when you are a kid.

Half of the kids today are not allowed to ride their bikes out of a parents visual range, or allowed to climb a tree in their own yard. Most kids are inside, fully supervised, playing video games or whatever. Over-protection of a child, in my opinion, is unhealthy, it sucks the joy out of living right out of them.

Keeping your kid on a tight leash is selfish; it does the child absolutely no good whatsoever.

It seems that the only permanent thing in life, is change. And things changed. We just had baby strollers or buggies, now they have these four and six wheeled monsters that somewhat resemble a Porsche or a fine tuned sports car. It’s unfortunate, but we seem more interested in “projecting the right image” in this country, instead of raising our children right.

The gal down the street doesn’t know it. But I have been secretly teaching him how to catch and toss a Frisbee when she isn’t looking. It isn’t much, but it is the best I have to offer right now.