a story from my childhood: a most deadly riff that you never, ever want to hear – especially like this

IMG_0870

This is a story from my childhood and one that I remember well.  This is a picture of me near my house in Florida which isn’t in the picture and one of my many beloved hand-me-down adult bikes that would have been taken within a few years of the time of the story I’m about to tell but unlike the story which happened at night this photo was taken in the day time.  As you may surmise from the photo, I grew up in a very rural area.   I spent a lot of time working on a farm and even though I went to school like every other kid there were many nights that I didn’t get home from the farm until late into the night.  The road I took in this story was less maintained than the one in the photo.  So let’s start shall we…

a story from my childhood: a farm kid, a bicycle and a pitch black night.

I was on a dark dirt road on this particular night when I was probably around 10 years old, part of the farm from where I had been working was to my back and had some dim lights which barely broke the firm grasp of the darkness.  Me and my bike were in a dark area pointing towards what looked like a dark swamp and to the untrained one wouldn’t have recognized it as a road.  Slightly to my left was the main road which was a wide well maintained dirt road but still pitch black except in the distance you could see dim lights of another part of the farm.  It’s the road I normally take home at night when I’m on my bike and forgot to bring a flashlight like on this night.  It would have been easy to take the main road even in pitch black darkness but it was a mile and a half home that way.  I was alone and it was late on a school night and I was exhausted and just wanted to get home to my warm comfy bed.  Through the dark swampy trail, it would have been around a 3/4 mile trek though much more challenging to navigate in the complete darkness with no stars or moonlight to speak of.

Decisions, decisions.  Standing in the dark on the road with my oversized bike, I contemplated the choice in front of me and I remember not being scared of anything as I made the careful necessary calculation.  Taking the swamp trail would be very challenging; I would have to rely purely off memory from where I took the trail countless times in the daytime but never at night.  It would be like taking the trail blindfolded or with my eyes closed but in the mind of my young 10 year-old self, “no problemo!”  It all boiled down to the time savings so off on my little journey into the darkness I went.

I had to build up speed and hit the ditch between me and the trail head.  The deep ditch was full of water and was muddy which could easily stop a bike and throw it’s rider right over the handle bars.  I had learned this the hard way one unsuspecting day.   But this night there were no magnificent handle bar acrobatics and bad physics experiments in store for me.  However, my bike hit the deep ditch full of water hard and bounced violently before I made it across to the other side.  I got soaked with water and mud but it was too dark to inventory the damage so I continued on having walk my bike up a steep embankment.  I knew the path ahead of me which I could not see in the total darkness was straight for about a quarter mile and made a hard right turn.  I knew there were always deep holes almost big enough and deep enough to swallow me and my bike about the distance of 20 bike lengths.  I couldnt see those either so I decided to push my bike until I passed those hazards.  The road, well if one could call it that, maybe a goat trail is a better name for it, was mostly grass and only about the width of an automobile tire or slightly wider was the dirt part of the trail.  It was easy to walk in the dark and feel the dirt under my old worn out shoes.  When I started venturing off the road which happened a couple of times, I could feel the rough grass and weeds under my shoes.  Each time I quickly corrected my direction to get back on the road.  Eventually, I stepped right into one of the deep holes and knew I was there.  Oddly the holes didn’t hold water long after storms so they were dry.  There were large hogs in this area so I always wondered if that was their little watering holes and they drank them dry.

Now, I knew I had a straight shot in the darkness until the road curved sharply to the right.  I knew the field past the curve would often get muddy with something I can only best describe as quicksand though rarely went deeper than waste deep and also tended to harbor a great briar patch which could slice up ones skin with all it’s barbs.  I surely need to avoid running into that field I thought to myself as  I got on my bike and began to pedal.  I ran off the road a few times but quickly corrected by just feeling the narrow but smooth road under my tires.  I picked up speed and tried to remember how far it was to the curve.  While I was pedaling, I noticed an eerie quietness in the cool night air.  Nights can sometimes be loud due to the magnificent orchestra of frogs and crickets and who knows what else in the wooded areas like this one.  But not on this night.  I made a mental note of it an continued onwards since by now I had gotten a little better at navigating the road and correcting course when needed to stay on the smooth dirt.

Then just as I got comfortable with my blind bike riding adventure, I ran through the curve into the field full of weeds.  My feet instinctively landed onto the soft muddy ground and kept me from falling and I paused a moment waiting for the strong sting of briars but it never came.  Wow, I thought I’m lucky these waste high weeds aren’t briars or I’d be shredded. I stood for a moment to see if I sank into the potential quicksand.  But tonight was my lucky night – no razor blade weeds and no quick sand.  Things are looking up for me so I by using nothing but the feel of the ground beneath my feet,  found the curved wannabe road that I had failed to recognize earlier on my bike and climbed back onto my bike.

I tried to make sure I was oriented in the right direction and not go back in the direction from which I had came and get well positioned on the road before I started pedaling.  This entire area was surrounded by thick forests so I couldn’t use any lights from the farm or from my house to help guide me.  I took another moment to calculate the distance of this leg of the obstacle course.  I knew the path ahead of me was straight for a little over a quarter mile and then veered left into a very swampy and wet area of the road that was usually under water.  I dreaded the thought of having to navigate that area as I’d likely have to travel through water on my bike.  I figured I’d wind up wading water on foot which didn’t sound at all pleasant to me.  I was still wet from the ditch encounter earlier.

I then paused and once again briefly noted how strange it was that it was so quiet on this night.  I don’t recall that ever happening before so it kind of creeped me out.  Other than that creepy feeling I remember not being scared of anything.  I got on my bike and continued on and by now I was pretty good at navigating this road in the darkness.  The road felt smooth under my tires and by now I rarely even ventured off the road into the grass.  So for a while I felt at ease in the quiet total darkness on my bike feeling the cool damp night air pass across my face.  With more speed I could hear the air passing by my ears slightly breaking the silence and the quiet pitter patter of mud from the tires hitting me in the back of the head and back of my shirt from where I ran into the muddy field and none of the adult bikes I inherited as a child had fenders to block the dirt and mud.  I continued on without many cares or concerns of what may or may not go wrong.  Little kid minds like mine at the time just don’t think of those things in great detail it’s more like as a kid we live minute by minute or second by second and don’t really ponder how a bad quick decision could go wrong and potentially affect you for the rest of your life.  A quick bad decision like I made on this particular pitch black night to take a narrow trail without a flashlight through a swampy area.  Anyway things were about to go very bad for me and I don’t remember what came first whether it was running over something big in the road or the sound, the piercing sound that I knew so, so well.  It was a natural riff played by one of the most deadly creatures in an arsenal of bad creatures also known as venomous snakes.  I could see nothing and all I had to go on was feeling something very evil under the tires of my bike and the piercing sound that now echoed against all the big trees that I couldn’t see.  And obviously by now a whole lot of adrenaline for a little kids body.  I heard this sound often in the daytime for which I never had a healthy enough dose of fear from it but in the day time I always knew where it was.  But tonight as I heard the loud dire warning, I had no idea where its lethal head was and for once in my little invincible kid mind, I was scared.  I think anyone can recognize the fear inducing sound of a very large rattlesnake, it’s almost like the fear response is coded into our very DNA.

Anyway, in the split second from the time I ran over the large creature and the instant warning sound, I instinctually pulled up on the handle bars to keep the bike from stalling out the forward speed and falling directly on top of or at least near whatever the offending object was.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, however you look at it, I had well rehearsed this response after some very nasty accidents in the past including some that irreparably damaged some earlier bikes.  I learned physics at an early age I suppose. So back to our story where at this moment the snake would have  been between my front and back tires and well within striking distance of my little legs and feet.  I pedaled hard knowing I had to make sure the back tire of the bike made it over the large lethal venomous snake that  I could not see but I could hear and sense quite well.  Imagining back I’m surprised I didn’t pedal with enough force to throw the snake backwards at least a 100 feet.  But I felt every bit of the creature under the back wheel and I was never happier to feel the bounce of the bike and continued forward motion.  I don’t remember taking inventory of my legs to see if I felt any large puncture wounds but for the 2nd half of the trail including the part of the road that was under water took no time at all to finish up.  I got home and as usual no one was waiting on me and no one would have missed me at least until the next day probably if I hadn’t have made it through the field that night.  I had a strange childhood with almost no rules, no curfew, and no supervision.  But I made it home that night without getting bit or breaking any limbs and without a flash light.  I don’t think I ever took that short-cut again in the dark without a flashlight and I’ve never forgot that night even though it was so many years ago.  I don’t know how I survived my childhood because this is only one of many stories just as bad as this one.  But I did survive it and I’m glad I’m able to write about it and laugh about it now.

 

 

Advertisements

learn to take control of your happiness and creativity and build truly great things

IMG_0738

learn to take control of your happiness and creativity and build truly great things

My name is Jason and I live in Florida.  I’ve always liked to create things whether it was art, music, stories, crafts or video games – and that’s the short list.  🙂  I have a lot of appreciation and respect for other people who create things also.  I think too often people are overcritical of themselves and their work and sometimes they don’t see the beauty within themselves and in what they create.  I include myself in that group.  I’m trying to learn to be more open minded and appreciative of things around me because it’s easy to take what we have for granted when in reality everything around us is fragile including life itself.  I hope that you try to be all that you can be and encourage others around you to do the same.  Life is too short to stay stressed out and always worrying about what others think of you or your work.  Be happy with who you are and what you create and learn to draw happiness from within.   And I honestly believe that during your amazing journey you will learn to create truly remarkable things.   I chose the single word sun for my site tag line because of it’s enduring warmth and brightness and because it’s Summer time.  The pictures on this post are from my sunny walk at the park today during lunch.  Enjoy.

time’s apprentice

a stern teacher and a willing apprentice

an early lesson counting with tiny thumps, followed shortly by tiny wisps of air

sights, sounds, tastes, feelings and scents in a wild wild world, they are all there

curiosity follows, exploration, crawling, walking, falling, and walking with care

playtime begins with so many toys and friends and ends with a torn yellow bear

days with hours of numbers and letters and two long bus rides in the bully’s lair

then emotions lots of them with no where to go and what’s this, arrgh, chest hair

then a new close friend and sadness that she’s gone and realizing how life is unfair

out of despair a new friend and a new little family is born with many memories to share

days turns to weeks to years and decades and loss repeats itself almost to much to bare

finally time’s final lesson hugs and kisses some real and some not and a final prayer

 


It’s not great but it’ll have to do i suppose.  It’s not all about me except the torn yellow bear was when my beloved Pooh bear was chewed up by dogs.  They tore his ear and I kept the bear for many more years.  LOL.  The new close friend was about a friend of mine in high school that was murdered by someone robbing her house.  Luckily they caught the guy and I think he is in prison for life.   😦

 

 

the mouse in the willow and the fry in the lake

drew-collins-142287

the mouse in the willow and the fry in the lake

The sad young mouse looked out of his tiny window in the willow tree down at the lake below.  He saw a tiny creature in the water and asked his mother what it was.  She said that is a fry.  “Well, how does he breathe under water mommy?”  His mother looked at him for a moment and then said, “Well, you see son.  The fry’s mother has great magical power and she passed some of that magical power to her son so he too can breathe under water. ”  The tiny mouse said, “Wow.  I wish I had magical powers.”  She looked at him and smiled and said “Everyone is magical in their own way.  Even you.  ”

The next day the mouse was on ground next to the lake and saw the little fry crying.  He asked the little fry why he was crying.  “Some tall creatures, came and took my mommy,”  the little fry said sobbing.  The mouse remembered what his own mommy had said about the fry’s mother being magical and told the fry it would be ok.  Your mother will be back soon enough little fry do not worry.  But the little fry continued to cry.  It wasn’t long before the tall creatures returned and the little mouse hid behind a large plant by the water.  The tall creatures released the fry’s mother gently back into the water and he noticed she had some new colorful adornment on her with strange markings.  After the tall creatures left, the little mouse went back to the edge of the water where the little fry was jumping with excitement after being reunited with his mother.  “Mommy, mommy, there is the magical mouse I was telling you about.”    After hearing the fry’s kind and intriguing words, the little mouse smiled widely, his first smile in many days.

 


 

I felt like writing a little story tonight.  The daily prompt words have been challenging lately.   LOL.

 

the pearl opaque, the clam half-baked

the pearl opaque, the clam half-baked

It seemed like a good day for a non-sequitur. Some time ago we amassed a noble dog army to help fight the evil snake empire.  Today the snake empire injured two of our little brave warriors, Nala and Wilburt.  We think Nala took the brunt of the venom so she’s sleeping in the little dog hospital tonight with an IV drip, antibiotics, and benedryl.  Wilburt is still here on blueberry hill toughing it out.  The dog doctor aka vet called us an hour or so ago and gave us a bit of good news that Nala’s swelling doesn’t appear to be getting worse and her heart rate is still good.  The same cotton mouth moccasin bit both of them.   Wilburt is pictured below – it’s difficult to see it from this picture but his left side of his face and neck is swollen.  He’s getting doses of benedryl.

wilburt

We’re hoping that both our little brave warriors live through this ordeal.  Nala is the main one we are worried about because her head and neck was extremely swollen.  The snake is dead but the evil snake empire is getting an early start since the warm season is just beginning.  Sargent our biggest and toughest warrior has already killed one of the snake fighters a while back all by himself – he really hates snakes.  He’s a blue heeler and he’s already survived a direct hit from one of the vipers last year.  The only thing that scares him is lightening and bad weather.  LOL.

About 10 years ago I killed over a dozen ground rattlers in one season.  I opened our sliding glass door that same year and happened to catch something out of the corner of my eye and it was one of them trying to slither into the house.    He didn’t make it.  Hopefully between the dog army, the new chicken army, and Midnight the Ninja Cat we can beat back the evil snake empire from blueberry hill.

you got to be jolting me

jeremy-bishop-72584

you got to be jolting me

So today on the way home from work I stopped and picked up some Chinese food, including chicken and brocolli which was in brown sauce that had gotten on the plastic bag the plate was in.  And predictably the unavoidable happened, the brown sauce got all over my right hand.  I scrubbed my hand incessantly with a napkin because I knew I had to make one more stop on the way home.  I had to get my new baby chicks a chicken feeder and waterer so I could keep their cage cleaner than it is with the temporary bowls and such.  So i went into the farm supply store and grabbed what i needed and then some additional items so I could get out quickly.  The girl at the register was very nice and chatty.  I told her i had just bought 8 baby chicks from them a few days ago so I needed to buy them a feeder and waterer;  she held up the ceramic eggs i had also bought and gave me a strange look.  She said wow they grow up fast don’t they – meaning the ceramic eggs are used to encourage fully grown hens to lay eggs in a nest.  I smiled and said well I have older chickens too that are already laying eggs.  And I explained my purpose in buying each additional item as she scanned it.  I paid for all the items and she reached forward to hand me my receipt and she snatched her hand back initially with a quite “shocked” look on her face and carefully handed me the receipt as to keep her distance from me.  Her chatty demeanor had changed also and she wasn’t interested in conversation all of a sudden.  I kind of looked at her with a puzzled glance and shrugged my shoulders and walked out.  As I was walking out the door I saw streaks of peculiar brown sauce now partially dried on my right thumb.  Apparently in my rush to wipe all the Chinese sauce off my hand and finish my errands I had missed some.  I felt like i should go back in and explain the situation at once but I was too embarrassed so i continued onward to the car and drove off quickly.

measure once, cut twice – old carpenter’s proverb

IMG_9519

measure once, cut twice – old carpenter’s proverb

I used today’s Daily Prompt word of “measure” as an excuse to take a picture of some of my dad’s woodwork and talk a little about him.    We lost him to lung cancer on Nov 1, 2004, less than a week after his 65th birthday.  He always looked forward to turning 65 so he could receive his retirement check (Social Security).  He didn’t get to enjoy that check as it came in the mail a few days after he had passed away.  That year, I had just started a another semester at Florida State University working towards my Master’s degree when he told me he had just found out he had cancer, and we had his funeral before I finished that same semester.

I miss the long philosophical conversations me and him used to have and his funny witty jokes.  I’m not sure how he got to be so good at checkers but that’s one game I never beat him at.  After the Internet became a thing, he loved to play checkers online where he finally found some decent competition and his rankings in the game were quite envious.  He loved vegetable gardening and the outdoors.  But he also loved watching tv; when I worked at a movie rental company, I kept him supplied with movies and I was thinking there was no way he could remember watching that many movies so I occasionally and purposely gave him one I had brought to him before and he would always catch it and he would say he watched it again but he thinks he had saw that one before.  LOL.

In the picture he made the shelf, the wooden box, and the little church coin bank.  Me and my daughter made the little white dalmatian.  We’ve did several of the little 3-d wooden animals and I’ll post more of them on other days.  My dad didn’t make a lot of figurines as he thought most items should be functional and not just for looks. I got the gazelle from a flea market and the stone items from Pier 1 imports many years ago and snagged the matryoshka doll recently from Amazon.

The wooden bowls I bought from a kind old man who was selling his wooden wares beside the highway.  He showed me a some old tattered Polaroids of his wife and her pet raccoons.  I could tell he loved and missed his wife very much even though he said he lost her many years ago.  I’ve always had a lot of respect for woodworkers and carpenters and I figure most of them like my dad believed strongly in the old carpenter’s proverb.  Measuring once and cutting twice not only can save money but time and can cut down on waste.   All of them that I’ve ever met take pride in what they do and have an appreciation for hard work.

the timely refrain from life’s domain

jordan-whitt-54480

The Timely Refrain from Life’s Domain

walk, speak, run but don’t no don’t look back
the dry grass high the distance far
the wind soft the trees stretch high

walk, speak, run but don’t no don’t look back
time creeps no sneaks elusive it peaks
from behind every valley atop every hill

walk, speak, run but don’t no don’t look back
you can’t escape fate life bestows
don’t try you’ll fail then weep so deep

time time hide hide not now not now
not ever not ever one more day one more day
old frail silent heart i miss thy song
old frail silent heart i miss thy song


Whew.  Didn’t mean to go all existential and such.  Not sure if it’s grammatically correct and makes sense but decided to play with words today.  I had a hard time coming up with something with the word “timely” geez.  🙂  I started not to add a picture because i wanted everyone to read it in their own way.  Hopefully I’m not plagiarizing any of it because I kept thinking some of it sounded familiar but I googled several parts of it and didn’t find any hits.

 

 

learning to let time heal

The four-year-old me picked up the sharp straight hoe and looked around to make sure no one, especially nosy adult eyes or tattling play mates,  were anywhere near me or saw me acquire my new-found toy.  Nope, I was alone, just me and the magical relic and oh the fun me and my new toy were about to have.  It could be anything I wanted it to be, a magical spear to fend off dragons, a digger to dig up buried treasure, or a baseball bat with a very sharp end.  That day, it would be for dragons, so I embarked on my magical journey and within only a few steps the fiery fiend was upon me.  I swung the large-handled implement back and forth and I jabbed and parried (a word my now forty-something old self knows but my four-year old self didn’t).  We both fought with courage and skill but I finally bested the vile beast.  The beast was wounded and on the ground and what a passer-by may have mistaken for a fallen pine that had been skinned with the large tool I was holding (so as to make wooden posts), make no mistake this was indeed a giant, magical, fire breathing-dragon and was still incredibly dangerous and in need of finishing.  So finish I did (the fight unfortunately not the beast), chopping it with straight down jabs over and over beside my little bare feet.  When finally one jab bounced off the pine err I mean dragon and sent the sharp tool deep into the top of my soft right little foot followed by a tsunami of warm red well you know.

The dragon wasn’t dead after all and was still full of fight; it would live to fight another day and it had inflicted quite a wound on me, the little warrior.  I cried out from a pain like my little body had never felt before and a pain that hopefully most four or eight or any other kid would never have to endure if they were lucky.  But I wasn’t lucky not on this day.  The greatest pain I had ever felt at the time was soon followed by the second greatest pain the little four-year old dragon warrior had witnessed – stitches.  I don’t like stitches even to this day.  It took a long time to get over the pain and for my legendary wounds to Heal. I would eventually learn many years later and through many more painful epic battles with so-called dragons and other violent beasts some big and small (small as in kidney stones and various surgeries) that pain can sometimes be almost unbearable and with some types of wounds, some not even physical ones that even time has trouble healing them. Sometimes all you can do is try to be strong and persevere over time until the next epic battle with the evil dragon.

the boy that cried wolf

So it’s a little after 11 PM.  I stayed on the treadmill for over 2.5 hours watching Expendables 3 and talking on Facebook Messenger.  When the movie was over I looked at the goals on my fitbit and noticed i only had 6 flights of stairs for the day and my goal is 10.  I knew i could go get the mail at the end of our driveway at the bottom of the hill and walking back up gives me 2 flights of stairs or 20 feet of elevation.  Two trips down the drive way and back would give me the 40 feet of elevation to get my 100 feet elevation for the day.  As I was walking down the driveway in the cold night air nicely lit by the moonlight i kept looking back over my shoulder with the flash light for anything that may be attempting to ambush me.  You know the usual suspects, panthers, coy’otes (like the old prespector on SNL would say), and wolves.

The idea of wolves reminded me of an ongoing joke I had with a former coworker and a bizarre incident.  Years ago I made some walking trails on the wooded property here and often walked on them alone at night.  It was creepy sometimes and I tried to imagine what I might encounter here in the Florida woods at night.  I playfully came up with the idea of encountering one or more wolves and started kind of playing with the hypothetical idea trying to think of how i could best protect myself.  Some type of club, a baseball bat, a machete, a morning star, a ninja sword, or a gun of some kind maybe.  Oddly enough I do have all those items although the morning star isn’t for real use according to where i bought it.  I’m not sure what that means since i think they were originally used for attacking someone in metal armor like a medieval knight.  LOL.

Before my former coworker got another job, i used to run wild and crazy ideas by him.  Ideas like what would be the best defense against a wolf or pack wolves if i was attacked at night while going for a stress-free walk on my trails.  We had several interesting discussions on it and I think he finally said a baseball bat and go for their back legs which are kind of weak.  Some weeks later on a windy Saturday afternoon, I was picking up fallen tree branches and various debris in the front part of the property when I saw a very large dog that looked exactly like a wolf.  He kept running and didn’t stop thankfully.  Later, I went inside the house and mentioned it to my wife.  I told her it looked like a wolf but that should be impossible.  She wasn’t at all shocked like I was expecting and she said, oh it’s probably an escapee from the wolf preserve down the road.  After a moment of being shocked at the idea I then thought how cool is that, we live near a wolf preserve. LOL.  And don’t worry, I’m not going to attack them with any items from my thought experiment and they are quite used to being around people and are hopefully just as harmless to me as i am to them.

One last funny morsel related to this topic.  Much later than the stories above, my daughter, who was 8 or 9 at the time walked into my home office while I was working at my desk and where I have the decorative weapons such as the morning star and ninja sword.  She asked me if I still used the ninja sword and I stopped for a moment and said oh no, all this stuff is just for decoration.  Then I thought about it and my daughter doesn’t usually ask random questions very often so I asked her why she asked.  She said well she remembers I used to walk on the trails at night for exercise and sometimes I would take the ninja sword.  I kind of laughed at the thought and told her she was right, I did used to take the sword with me at night and use it for a defensive weapon and luckily I never had to use against any wild vicious animals.