Like White on Rice-Grandpap’s Revery

(Take your time, these words go down better deliberate and slow…..)

 

 

Grandpap’d sit all us Goodwells down near ever night.  Jest fer a spell, he’d say, jest fer a spell.  Most always ’twas just Grandpap holding court, requirin’ only we be real good listeners and  answer the odd question, when the situation called for.  Weren’t no discussion. really,  so much as a ponderation of the world hindsight and henceforth.  Lord A’Mighty, and I ain’t cussin’, I’m callin’ down His praises, we durned reveled and delighted in these come-togethers.

Sometime’s, Grandpap,  he’d be a’totin’ his Bible. and don’t never place anything on a’top his Bible, not even a Sunday School quartlerly.  You’ll get some attention right now, I tell you what!  And o’course, them lessons was fine.  Can’t never find ana-thang askance when it comes to the Word o’ God.  Sometime other, he’d fairly poke finger holes in some disappointin’ bit in the Denton County  newspaper.  ‘Shore don’t see eye to eye with them Republican fatcats, Grandpap did not.  “See here?” he’d seethe?  “See here?”  Them lessons was more’n likely pepper hot, all us kids suckin’ in guffaws and waterin’ out our eyeballs.  

Like as not, though, he’d pull his woodcarvin’ tool out his overhall pocket, a special skinny blade give from his own Grandpap last century or so, then he’d go to commencin’ t’whittlin’, say,  a pair of hound dogs for Lewis and Lawton, or a proper shim for that crookedy dinin’ table.  All the while just a’shootin’ the breeze.  Whatever come to mind.  Them times is always, time past and comin’ a’fore, my clear on favorite.

Wudn’t never a time o’ year, nor a time o’day what couldn’t be used for the family gatherin’.  Now’days, neither.

Come Summertime evenin’s, we, all us kids, we’d stretch out on the almost-soft wide-bladed crabgrass huggin’ the base all ’round the big ol’ oak out back.  Now, Livie, she claimed grasses (and mowin’, and scads o’other things) made her sneeze, so she’d bring herself a blanket, tucked and smoothed and stretched and laid out just so.  Layin’ down flatbacked,  the rest us kids was scattered over here and over there, and near most ever’where, seein’ as there’s eight o’us children most times. We’d be a’gazin’ up at the purple twilight, maybe even chewin’ on a blade of that grass.  Mama and Daddy, they’ll slide up a chair from the back porch or old stump forgoin’ the choiceness of the yard.

Mama don’t like to dirty her dress if she don’t have to.  And Daddy don’t abide her sittin’ alone much.

And Grandpap, he’s like t’grab his ol’ three-legged milkin’ stool out the barn.  It’s a Summertime signal, that is.  We get all lit up when we see him anglin’ somewhere r’other with that ol’ thing.

Then there comes Wintertime.  Jest as heartwarmin’, with jest a little more crowdin’, seein’ as we all tuck inside ’round or near the woodstove for heat and comfort.  My spot’s just behind the parlor divan, neither too hot nor too cold, and hid from most the other children.  I had room to grab my knees and close my eyes, and jest see them tales Grandpap’d share.  Now, here, Grandpap sits in his favorite rockin’ chair, the one fairly forsaken of its fluff.  His bony backside plum wore that thing to near flat, but he does love it. And none o’us kids dare land there, ‘less he’s gone to town, plum outta shoutin’ range.   Mama and Daddy, they sit holdin’ hands like them folks down to the picture show, or like Livie used to do with that sly ol’ Nick down to the Arnold Brothers’ Feed and Seed.  I seen her. Turned my stomach upside itself. 

Springtime and Falltime, at the breakfast table, or long after supper’s been cleared, why, they’s catch as catch can regardin’ the time and location of our family gatherin’s.  Don’t make none o’us no mind, though.  Long as we got Grandpap.

Long as he gets stirred up, we don’t give no nevermind a’tall.

Long as we’re, all us Goodwells,  daisy-chained one to t’other.

Brings to mind that one time Grandpap settled in with one o’ his reminisces from his younger, youthful days.

He reminds us ever’ now and then his hair didn’t always be silver gray, it was once as red as Lewis and Lawton’s is now.  And Grandpap ain’t one to lie.  Still remains fair hard to believe and I give him my sideways squint when he goes there.  

This time, he just let slip a cackle and moved right on, then frosted over.  Some haze o’ historified recollection overtook his mind.

“It was ’bout this time o’year Deputy Sheriff Meyer P.D. Higham run his o’l Model T Po-lice car up to the house, hollerin’ ‘The Revenuers!  They’s comin’,  Langston, they’ll be here tomorrow!’  Little sideways grin, then,  eyeballs refocused, pinpointed on ours, “I ever give you that ex-position?”

You bet he had!  As we was, all us Goodwells, ready to re-hear it again!

Lord A’Mighty!  (And I ain’t cussin’, but don’t tell Mama.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Like White on Rice

Blogging! WHAT?!

I’m eager to get my arms around this, although this is just free-thinking.  Choosing three goals, just ASKING me to choose three goals, gives me guidance….and opens the world even more.

Succinctly, and simply, then….

I am writing a blog because I WANT:

1.  …..To remember and document our “Family Story,”  as wide and broad and narrow and minuscule and messy and precise and all-over-the-map as it is!  It may become a book.  It may become a weekly blog.  It may be hidden away in a box for the next generation or the next.  But mostly, the story can’t be lost.

2…….To share and broadcast those stories, encouraging others to think within and without the bounds of these little moments.  There’s just something heartwarming about sharing a moment without even knowing it!  My heart warms near to overheating when I DO know!

3……To get it all in!  So many stories, so little time!  I need encouragement and honest comment.  It’s gas in my tank, battery life in my phone, cupcakes in my tummy!

 

So, I shall begin.  I don’t know what I don’t know, but I’ll accept any and all comment and aid!  

Be well, friends!

 

Loaded fer Bear? Like White on Rice!

So, ’bout them visions.  Mama’d claim she been havin’ them all her wakin’ life.  Started out, she could sniff out a storm a’comin’.  Nothing special there, lots o’folks do that, I reckon.  Dogs, too, if you a’watchin’ close.  Then, she could sniff out a lie.  No big deal there, neither.  Shiftin’ eyes and itchin’ foreheads ‘r a sure giveaway.

But then, ‘ccordin’ to the story Mama tells, and her sister Aint Cloreen, once Mama hit her teenage years, why, she’d find herself faint, sit herself down a half a minute, then leap up with some picture she done seen in her head.  Aunt Cloreen, she seen it more’n once, more likely more’n a hunert times.

Aint Cloreen, though, she says she never did count.  It was just Mama’s way, after all.  And they was all, the whole family, used to it, and come to find out, they all got kind of important, predictin’ the future based on Mama’s spells.

“Lila Elizabeth!”  Aint Cloreen said she’d said when she’d see a spell comin’ on, “Lila Elizabeth?  What’re you a’conjurin’ up, now?”

And just like that, Mama’d wipe her purty brow, tuck a little curl back behind a little ear, gather herself and say, “Well, Cloreen, let me tell you!  Best you not drive down to the picture show with that boy Martin Boxer!  I just got me a feelin’!”

And if it don’t beat all, that boy’d find hisself on the wrong side of his own daddy, and on the wrong side of the road, car in a ditch.

Now, the story is true as true can be.  Martin Boxer came out unscathed, till he confessed to his daddy, that is.    Still lives down the road a’ways, big horse rancher, thirty head r’ so.  But Aint Cloreen, she counts her blessin’s to this very day, as she reckons had she’d o’been in the ve-hicle, she’d likely been crushed in the mishap.

And Mama, she’s sure of it.

But that there is history, and this here, this is the here and now.

And I got me a pre-dicament.

See, long as I been a’walkin’ God’s green earth, stuck smack dab near middle of eight Goodwell heirs abhorent, my Mama tol’ me I was somethin’ special.

No, not like them sweet somethin’s ever’ mama says, all lovin’ and cooin’ after, say, a particular star-bedecked school report.  No, this pertains to my Mama havin’ them visions ’bout yours truly, startin’ with the everlovin’ day o’my birth.

Here her tell, and trust me here, we, all us Goodwells, heard our fill of this singulatory tale, she seen stars and planets and all manner o’ heavenly orbs, a’circulatin’ my curly-headed little noggin.  Here her tell, them things orbitin’ my freshly born self indicated all sorts o’noteworthy events apt to decorate my forward-goin’ days.

Now, who knows fer sure if, in my case, it’s possible true, but I’ll not lie when I’ll admit to some odd turns in my thirteen years.

First off, I always had me an easy way with thinkin’.  Learnin’, it comes easy.  Like I already know what’s bein’ taught, but maybe just forgot for a time.  Miss Meadow, down to the school, she’s always a’raisin’ both her hands in amazement when I grasp a particular difficult set o’ problems, or quote some bit of poetry she spouted a while back.

Don’t mean much to me, jest the way things is.  But others, and Mama, seem to be in-pressed.

Then, I’m right good with animals.  Catchin’ a wild dog, spottin’ a deer camouflaged to the human eye, ‘cept o’course mine, tamin’ one o’ them durned headstrong steeds Grandpap and Daddy trade fer ever now and then, all them things jest come natural.

‘Course, none o’that pertains to bees.  I do hate bees.  And they do hate me back.

I play a mean second base, but the team, they always got me pitchin’ ’cause I can thread a needle with my fastball.   I got me a mess o’friends, faithful and true.  I can shimmy faster up a tall tree than most anybody I know, not countin’ Luce.  Folks seldom fuss with me, they just most always do my biddin’.  Most always.  Big o’ Junior Strugg gives me some lip from time to time.

But I digress.

Another thing.  And this here is the kernel at the heart of my mare’s nest.

I got me a singin’ voice, like none other.  I kid you not.

As a youngster, I reckon my voice was high and sweet.  Truth is, I can just hear a note or tone and hit it dead on.  Mama once spilled she worried my singin’ days was numbered once my voice began to deepen.  That growin’ up would suck out all the sweetness.  But all it did was deepen the depth of the notes I could hit.   I can croon with the best o’them crooners on Grandpap’s big ol’ radio.  And them country singers on the Grand Ol’ Opry, why, I got ’em all beat.  Them smooth cats, pardon my French, like Frank Sinatra and Bingo Crosley, why, they ain’t got a thing on me.  I ain’t bein’ boastful, I promise I ain’t.  That’d be a sin, and Lord knows they ain’t no singin’ in the Lake of Far!

But I know what I know.  And it don’t hurt none Mama and Daddy and even Grandpap tap they toes and smile off into space when I let’r rip and sing along with them radio personalities.

I’m happy to oblige.  Like I done said, it jest is natural.  No pretext nor pretense.

But then, like always, when you least expectorate it,  lightnin’ did strike,  this afternoon,  just.

Mama had her one of them visions.

“Liam, Son,” She come out back where I was gettin’ after my after school chores, stomping nearest thing to  a march.  She grabbed me hard by the shoulders, a sure sign she was serious as could be.  I searched my headlights right quick, had I done somethin’ I’d regret.  Nothin’ flashed.

May not have searched hard enough.

“Liam, Son, I done seen me a sight.”

Here we go.

“Son, you know I love you.”

“I know it, Mama.”

“No, Son, you know I’d love you, even if you wudn’t special.”

“I know it, Mama. Truly.”

“You believe me, don’t you Son?”

“I believe you, Mama.”

“Well, Liam, you need to know this.  I seen it loud and proud.”  She sucked in her cheeks, then blowed out hard.  “Pride, Son, pride cometh before a fall.”

Lord.  She knows.

“Now, Son, you hear me?”

“Yes, Mama, I hear you.”

“Liam, look at me, you hear me?”

I looked, eyeball to eyeball.  I felt me a quiver a’sproutin’ jest below my heart.

“Yes, Mama.  I do hear you.”

“You won’t be prideful, now, will you, Son?”

“No, Ma’am, Mama.”

“Speak up, Liam, you won’t be prideful, now, will you?”

“No, Ma’am, Mama, I won’t.  I surely don’t want to fall, neither.”

Lord.

Usin’ them piercin’ blue eyes give her by her straight-from-Germany grandpa, she bore a hole straight through the same blue eyes she give me.  Time, it purti’near froze.  Me, likewise.

But then, jest like that, I reckon she was satisfied.  She loosed her grip and popped me a little peck on the top o’ my head, sayin’ over her shoulder as she sashayed back up the stairs to the back porch, “Fried chicken for dinner, Liam.  Best worsh up soon.”

Doggone it all to HECK and back!  

Ain’t no way under God’s HEAVEN Mama’d know ’bout my enterin’ that singin’ competition.  Miss Meadow down to the school, she talked me into enterin’ on a whim.  She’s a awful good teacher, and I s’pose I said fine since she caught me toodlin’ some ditty whist cleanin’ the chalkboard.   Never once thought it would amount to anything. Never once, well maybe once, did I feel compelled to mention it to Mama or Daddy or Lincoln or anybody else.  Just tickled pink I’d a pint o’ secret joy tucked away in my heart o’ hearts.  

That Mama or Daddy or Grandpap or Lincoln, or anybody else might think me a little too big for my britches did cross my mind.  So’s, to that end, I kept my mouth shut tight.

But this very day, Miss Meadow, she called me to her desk, showin’ me a letter of my acceptance.  And a receipt for the $5.00 enterin’ fee Miss Meadow musta paid on my behalf!   Now how was I goin’ to fulfill my obligation, and not lose the $5.00 enterin’ fee Miss Meadow fronted me?  Much less get all the way to Osborne, half a day distant if I was to walk.

How was I a’gonna tell Mama and them?

“Pride goeth before a fall.”   

I’m down for the count ‘fore I even start.

 

 

 

 

Run, She be Loaded fer Bear!

 

Now, what you need to understand is, my Mama don’t never do no wrong.  Not never.  Not ever.

She don’t browbeat.

She don’t snoop.

She don’t box our ears ‘less we earn it.

She cooks up a storm, and our favorites, too, right reg’lar.

(Mine’s chocolate cake.  Layered.  With deep near black chocolate icing ‘tween all the slivers.  I get me shivers when I think of it.  Shiverin’ right now, I am!  Have mercy, I can near to smell it comin’ out the oven right this minute!)

She worshes our clothes, even when they don’t hardly need it.

She makes sure all us kids got shoes and socks and ain’t got that dirt ring ’round our necks come bedtime.

And if it don’t beat all, she does all that and more, smilin’ all over her face, even in her eyes, from sun come up to sun go down.

Known all over this county and plum into the next as the gol’durned purtiest girl what ever growed up this parts, known as the dingdong smartest in her graduatin’ class by a county mile, why, she even graduated high school, gettin’ her a diploma with honors and gold gilted writin’.  Daddy’s so proud, he keeps it hanging on a braided cord over the kitchen door, so’d we all us never forget what we can do once we aim our noses headed that di-rection.

Daddy don’t know, but Mama’s known to take it down and let us kids touch it.

Truth is, other’n Grandpap, my Mama’s near the only other man or woman in our family claiming’ such a accomplishment.  Even Daddy, like near to half ever’ other a’dult I know, was self-satisfied with graduatin’ eighth grade, goin’ off right after to ride the rodeo circuit.   Story goes, it’s how he swaggered up and met Mama.  And true, Linc and Lawrence is close to completin’.  But like ever’ other little brother, I have me my doubts.  Mama, too.

Hear her’n Daddy talkin’ late into the night right often, reckon they forget I’m a light sleeper and just the other side Mama’s purty wallpapered wooden slats, how they pray for us kids and how the world, it’s a’changin’ since the War come.  Mama worries particular for Linc, thinkin’ he may go the same way as Daddy, off to the bright draw of the rodeo.  Or off to enlist, seein’ he’s near to eighteen.  She always sings the same tune, and from the other side the wall, I can picture Daddy a’noddin’, in lockstep on how we kids need to prepared and ready.  Even Linc.

Me, I always shrug in my head.  Got no worries, least with me and Luce and Livie and the twins.  We like learnin’ down to the school.  And Miss Meadow, our teacher, she’s somethin’ else.  She’s near clear up there with Mama.  She knows ’bout plum ever’thing.

Don’t hurt she’s purty as a picture.

But I digress.

Like I say, Mama’s near to perfect in my book.  And, I don’t know ’bout you, but ain’t anybody else crossed my path got all that goin’ for ’em.

But there is that one thing, that one disturbin’ thing.

My Mama, she has what she calls “visions.”

That’s not to say she falls down prostrate or writhin’, seein’ a movin’ picture show ‘fore her glazin’ eyes and forcastin’ the future.  That’d be near demon possession, and my Mama, she’s a God-fearin’ Christian woman and leads the song service come Wednesday night prayer service.  Even claps on the off beat, which seein’ as I have my ownself aspirations to the vocal arts, it plum toasts my marshamallow!

No, my Mama gets her these ideas, these interuptin’ thoughts she says is dappled with lights and golden rays o’ sunshine like my Sunday School papers.

 Take last Sunday evenin’.

“Now Lawrence, ”  He’d be my second oldest brother, just under Lincoln, “Now Lawrence,  you best take yourself them clean dungarees I tucked under your bed.  You may just need a quick change ‘fore Vespers tonight.”  ‘Course, Lawrence bein’ Lawrence, and bein’ sixteen and thinkin’ he’s almost a man, he pronounced he would not do no such thing.  Till he did.

And didn’t Ol’ Nellie throw him clean off whilst fendin’ off a mess o’ offended bees, landin’ him splat into a freshly laid, freshly made cowpie, side of the road?

Like I done said.

Here’s another.

“Now look’a here, Livie,”  Livie’d be my oldest sister, just under Lawrence.  Luce comes next, but she’s a whole ‘nother story.  Don’t you get me started on her.  “Look’a here, Livie, that boy Nicky hangs down to the Feed and Seed, some kin’r other of Brady Holt?  I jest don’t like the sway o’ his swagger.  I reckon  you best steer clear, darlin’ girl.  Jest steer clear.”  ‘Course Livie being Livie, fifteen and near as purty as Mama and full sure knows it, she fussed and fumed and claimed he’d always been right nice to her, even treated her to a soda pop once or twice.

And didn’t the Arnold Brothers, the owners of the Feed and Seed catch that boy a’stealing rye and clover seed and forgettin’ to pay for them soda pops from the red Coke cooler?  Hear folks say ol’ slick Nick got himself an extended stay at the Youth Education Camp over to Dixon.

Like I done said.

It’s a mite worse, though, when them “visions”  pertain too yours truly.

More’n a mite.

See, trouble is, Mama, she done always tol’ me I was special, had some thing in me, ‘r on me,  r’ ’round me, hard tellin’.  But whatever it is, Mama’s durned certain I got it.  Which come to mean her “visions” ’bout me got singulary meanin’.  Meanin’, forthwith and heretofore, I best pay close attention.

Today was one of them days, with one of them visions.

Hell’s Bells.  I’d had me other plans.