Hope For Mankind

Written in 2018 on the fiftieth anniversary. Are there parallels between 1968 and the present day? Do we still need a “giant leap for mankind?” Do we need something positive to rally around or have we turned corners that make that impossible?

Ravings of a Mad Southerner

1968 had been a bad year and early in 1969, the world had not recovered from its sickness. Much of our pain in the United States derived from the war in Viet Nam or from the Civil Rights unrest. The two-and-a-half-month Battle for Kha Sanh began along with the Tet Offensive. Three college students were killed by the police in a Civil Rights protest in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert “Bobby” Kennedy are both assassinated. Much, much more would occur before we watched a glimmer of hope in July of 1969.

The country, and the world, seemed to be coming apart at the seams. Student and civil rights protests and riots, not just in the good old USA but all over the world. Cronkite said what many of us feared and others denied, “the war is unwinnable”. LBJ announced “I shall not seek, and I will…

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My Southern Heritage Doesn’t Require a Flag

…or a monument.

Summer is upon me.  According to John Phillips, “The Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime.”  I know the summer humidity is as sticky as molasses…just like discussions about my heritage. 

The steamy humidity is a part of my heritage, as are lightning bugs and mosquitos, or violent thunderstorms, and the refreshing cool afterward.  Cutting sweet corn off the cob and salting it with the sweat off my brow.  Seems much of my heritage runs the gamut between opposite poles of good and bad.

My Southern heritage is being debated across the far reaches of this country…again.   The left is celebrating a statue of General Lee and Traveler, along with Stonewall Jackson being whisked off to a museum and the Right continues to debate the evils of Critical Race Theory, a theory I believe most have never studied…including me.  CRT is a graduate school or law school course that has been around for some forty years and is beyond the scope of what is being taught in grade schools.  Some people are confusing the truth about our checkered past for CRT.  I notice the folks crying the loudest about General Lee are also crying the loudest against CRT.  Maybe they aren’t confused at all.

These statues were erected to glorify men so gallantly in their Confederate gray or butternut.  Many monuments were bought and paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy.  Statues bought and paid for by our grandmothers and great grandmothers can’t be bad, can they? 

The problem is many were erected in the badly segregated South of the Jim Crow era, celebrating men who caused the deaths of so many and who brought havoc and destruction to the South.  Erected by those who advanced a segregated society for another hundred years after the war. I find nothing to celebrate on this issue.

I believe there is much to celebrate about my Southern heritage. What I celebrate doesn’t increase the resentment associated with enslaved people bullied and beaten by gun bulls and patty rollers on tall horses.  The enslaved whose present and futures were lorded over by Southern aristocrats whose propaganda led poor whites to their deaths on distant hillsides.  Our heritage doesn’t have to involve a Battle Flag that flew over an army in the employ of a rebellious cluster of Southern states intent on keeping and expanding their “peculiar institution.” A “country” that only lasted for four years.

Is there nothing else we can celebrate regarding Southern Heritage?  Is there nothing else to be proud of?  Is there nothing more than flags flown from pickup trucks and belt buckles and bumper stickers proclaiming “Forget, Hell!!!!”  Are we simply the sum of our rebellious past?

We have a rich culture that doesn’t have to harken back to “old times there are not forgotten.” If you are going to lionize the exploits of soldiers on a battlefield, why look past the Revolutionary War?  More Revolutionary War battles were fought in my state than any other and some of the greatest military leaders of the war fought here.  South Carolina born and bred, Sumter, Marion, Pickens, and Moultrie, along with adopted sons like Morgan, Greene, and Shelby left their mark, not only on my state but on the nation as a whole.

Wait just a “cotton pickin’ minute.”  Weren’t some of these men slave owners? Yes, some were and despite this fact, we should neither purge them from history books nor should we discount their contributions.  As some of my right-leaning friends have told me, “It’s history”.  I agree, it is history and history should be taught warts and all.  It shouldn’t be sanitized, nor should it be taught as propaganda like my eighth-grade Cold War Civics class. History is simply what was. We shouldn’t cover it up and we shouldn’t hide from it.

We have a rich Southern culture and heritage going back centuries despite our “peculiar institution” and resulting Jim Crow…let me rephrase that…” including our peculiar institution and resulting Jim Crow.” It’s history.  We don’t need a flag or statues to worship under any more than we should deny the existence of mosquitoes and high humidity in our travel brochures.  They are facts we can’t or should not attempt to escape.  Facts are facts and history is history.

We have a rich and diverse heritage in my state alone.  Gullah language and art from the coast to Appalachian culture in the mountains and foothills and to German Lutherans in the “Dutch Fork” middle.  Native American tribal influences from the Catawba River, across to the Savannah, and down to Pee Dee just to mention a few.  We have art, music, and literature that sprang from slaves and sharecroppers. Beautiful cities and small towns.   Architecture, music, visual arts, cuisine, sports, a heritage that shouldn’t include praise for men enslaving other men or men who fought for them. 

When I say “shouldn’t include” do I mean we should ignore it?  Certainly not.  We shouldn’t heap praise upon the heads of my long-ago, dearly departed great, great grandfathers for fighting under the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia.  Whatever their motivation, they rebelled in the name of supporting slavery. If there was any honor in that flag it was lost when it was co-opted by the KKK and like minded white supremacists while we or our parents did nothing.

My grandfathers were poor men with little education.  Maybe they bought the propaganda about the state’s rights that included the right to enslave.  Maybe they believed in an unfair tariff that was placed on goods raised on the backs of the enslaved.  Maybe they believed it was a War of Northern Aggression.  I doubt they thought much past the surface.  Wars are started by rich, old men and fought by young, poor ones.  Still, they fought and died under the wrong banner and should not be memorialized or immortalized. 

No, I’ll stick with being proud of a heritage that includes BB King from Mississippi singing the Blues, a Southern invention.  I might sip a bit of Jack Daniels from Tennessee with a bit of Coca-Cola invented in Atlanta, Georgia.  Maybe later I’ll select from a menu that includes Cajun or Creole food from Louisiana or BBQ from anywhere in the South or shrimp and grits, from my state.  I’ve eaten enough Soul food to cause my arteries to collapse.

Afterward, I might go sit on my front porch, a Southern culture trait in itself, while smelling honeysuckle, jasmine, or gardenia with a Pat Conroy, Ace Atkins, or a James Lee Burke novel.  All notable Southern authors who follow a lineage of fine Southern authors from Faulkner, Walker, O’Conner, and Williams to name just a few.

Depending on the season I might watch my favorite sports teams, The Braves from Atlanta, The Tigers from Clemson.  I might catch a NASCAR event, a sport begun in the South that sprang from moonshiners and dirt track racers.  We have a Southern heritage attached to our sports teams and college football is a recognized religion with an attending congregation in the millions on any given Saturday.  Why can’t we Southerners be proud of that?

Again, and with fervor, my Southern Heritage doesn’t involve a battle flag or statues saluting dead Confederates.  My Southern Heritage is too rich for that.   My Southern heritage is about beautiful and historic homes and cities, sharecropper shanties, and Sears cottages. It’s about kudzu, cotton, and long-abandoned textile mills.  It’s about old men, white and black, plowing behind a mule on the river bottoms.

It is about rich music from Nashville or Muscle Shoals and even richer food from New Orleans, Atlanta, or anywhere on the coast. It’s great literature that can be as heavy as Southern humidity or as light as the scent of Jasmine.  My Southern heritage is about beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, and cotton fields bursting white in the fall.  It is about sitting on the front porch with family and friends after church and a Sunday dinner. 

My heritage is about friends and families of all races.  It is about celebrating diversity.

If I haven’t turned you off, further works by Don Miller may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0A3XCeFAUGkHotYyrBgt6V-v3Rl-6mVzt2hmVK3o_4rtITkiH874sjYQs

Image of Lee’s statue by Paul Mayer, Office of the Mayor, Washington, DC.

Stories I Need to Tell My Grandchildren

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

An Introduction

The time and place of my birth and early life seems alien today…the middle of the Twentieth Century in a Southern, rural, farming community. There is little resemblance of my childhood world to the modern one. A Baby Boomer, I might have grown up in a foreign country…or another planet. I did grow up in a different century. It is certainly not your world, my grandchildren, my loves.

I feel the need to tell stories. Hopefully you will recognize the language, hopefully you will learn that your roots run deep.

The hands of the clock moved slower then…there had to be more than twenty-four hours in the day.  Not because we were bored but because it seemed we did so much in the time that we had. Days so rich and so filled, there had to be more minutes in the day than the 1440 we have now. 

In the time of my youth, cotton was still king with cotton gins and textile mills running at full capacity.  Pulp wooders were still stripping the hills of pine trees to feed the hungry paper mill just across the river from my home.  John Deere tractors pulled disc harrows or hay bailers toward the river bottoms. There were more cows than people, when “backyards” included vast pastures and mixed forests. There were no traffic lights and few stop signs.

Dark-skinned truck drivers were still carrying huge loads of red clay past our house to Ashe Brick Company in distant Van Wyck.  Distant…which was just down the road a piece but might as well have been on a different continent.

Little white boys with crew cuts and flattops standing out in their yard giving the black truckers a universal sign of pumping fists they smilingly returned by blasting us with their air horns.  They seemed to never tire of it, I know we didn’t.  Huge grins blindingly white against dark complexions.

My little brother playing in a sandy ditch using his voice to mock the trucks as they shifted through their gears, pushing his Tonka Toy Truck as he did.  My parents worried he would destroy his vocal cords if he didn’t quit. I might have wished that he had…but just a time or two.

Sitting under a huge pecan tree on a hill above a two lane blacktop, watching the sparse traffic and being able to recognize the cars of friends, family, and acquaintances, some by their distant sound.  There was always a stir when a new model cruised by. Knowing who the occupants were just by the cars they drove. Everyone waved and smiled.  It truly was a different era.

It was a different time because my family was still intact, and the place of my youth still existed.  Family and place are important. Two hilltops and two ‘hollers’ filled with extended families.  Grandparents and Great Grandparents, uncles and aunts, all making sure we always toed the line. The old Nigerian proverb ‘Oran a azu nwa’, “it takes a community or village to raise a child,” certainly was true.  

Cousins to play with even though I was between generations.  Younger than one generation and older than another, I sat dead in the middle, alone. It didn’t matter.  My closest friends of the same age were just across the road or just up the road apiece, all within walking distance.  I am amazed at how long an hour of playtime was during those days.

Forays through our mixed forest into the piney woods across the “crick “ to the Morris’ home or across the road, walking past the scary kudzu shrouded ravine to the Jackson’s.  An active imagination wondered what might be lurking there. What animal or monster, or if the kudzu might reach out and kidnap me. An unofficial club house in a privet shrouded share cropper’s home that sat abandoned next to my house.

If we had a penny we might trek to Pettus’ or Yarbrough’s store for a small Sugar Daddy or BB Bat. “You be careful crossing that road, now, Stop, look, and listen.” Traffic was sparse but our parents still worried.

There were few families in my little world I wasn’t related to.   If the last name was Griffin, Pettus, Perry, Rodgers or Wilson, our family trees probably merged at some point…sometimes becoming quite tangled or maybe without limbs at all. An aunt on one side of the family was also an aunt on the other side of the family, and also my third grade teacher. I need to ask questions because I don’t exactly remember how that came to be. The last name, Miller, was a rare one but then my Dad was a transplant from Fort Mill, thirteen miles away.

Playing football or baseball in the stubble of harvested hay, or corn, or cotton in the field across the road.  At least we didn’t have to worry about avoiding cow patties, but we never learned to hook or popup slide, either. 

Corn cob fights around the corn crib and barn where we did worry about cow patties.  The forts and tree house we built on a bluff above a stream that led to the distant Catawba until cut by one of Bowers’ lakes…not so distant after all.  Playing war in the eroded red clay banks between the cotton and corn fields.  Our parents threatening to tan our hides because of the ruined clothes, once white tee shirts forever stained by the red clay.

Walking or riding my bike down the dusty “river road” to Bowers’ ponds teaming with blue gills, largemouth, and the occasional catfish.  On to the river that seemed so distant then…probably no more than two or three miles away today. Could it have moved closer?

I wish I had asked my grandparents more questions. “What was it like during the depression?” “What did it feel like to see your first car?” “What was it like to work on the railroad.” “How did you make your biscuits so moist on the inside and buttery crisp on the outside.” Hopefully these stories will answer some of your questions after my soul joins “The parade of souls marching across the sky.”

I’m going to tell stories that will be alien to you.  I hope you will take the time to read them sometime.  Hopefully, they will be educational.  Hopefully, you will want to read them.  Maybe you should read them to your mother and father, too.  Some will be humorous, some painful, some will just be.  All will be written with love.

An introduction to Stories I Need to Tell My Grandchildren, a work in progress.

***

Don Miller’s Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0jXxoLIhO8m6Oz6EZ3yUhX3TS3YHpsX0ldPJIFZxBDXQNB8JiA4in1Sgw

Quote from Goodreads.

Image produced by Canva

Quote “The parade of souls marching across the sky.” from the song Wheel Inside a Wheel by Mary Gauthier.

A July Flies’ Sweet Song

…or everything you thought you wanted to know about July flies but were afraid to ask.

Heard my first July fly…I know, some of you have been dealing with the Brood X Cicada for a while now but this is significant. Yours are dying down, mine are just beginning to sing. I heard my July fly on July the First.  Significant, right?  I lead a simple life. It is significant to me!

His song singing might be a little early by the calendar, but I don’t think July flies worry much about the calendar. Probably something about his circadian rhythm.  Maybe daylight savings time screwed his up his rhythms as it did mine.

I’m pretty sure this was an annual cicada and after nearly a year underground as a nymph he was probably happy to see daylight.  The little big-eyed monster was singing to beat the band.  I hope little Suzy Q was listening. It was neat to hear an individual cicada’s distinctive voice. One voice seems to get lost when a million are singing. Individually it sounded more like the rapid clicks made by one of the old “cricket” clickers from my childhood. Very rapid I might add.

PLYMOUTH CRICKET Vintage Metal Clicker Toy Noise Maker Chrysler Car Advertising
Toy “clicker” used to advertise Chrysler products. Press it, it clicks.

I know this cicada was a male because female July flies don’t sing.  They don’t have the ability because they don’t have something called tymbals, membranes on the cicada’s exoskeleton used to produce sounds. All the females can do is flick their wings to make a faint clicking sound…or maybe they are just playing hard to get.

Noisy Cicadas Are Widely Misunderstood
A Brood X hanging out. Getty Image

Male July flies on the other hand have several tunes they sing.  For instance, they have the cicada equivalent of “Hey Baby!  You lookin’ good.  What’s your sign? Come on give me a little wing.”  If the female flicks her wings, she is answering, “Hey big boy, how ’bout you come over and see me some time.” If he accepts the invitation, and he will, it is time for faire l’amour.

The males have a defensive song; it is the one you hear when you pick one up.  Sounds like a bee as in, “I’m trying to fool you into thinking I’m a hornet. Put me down this instance!” 

Then there are the male’s most favorite song, the “Ooh Baby, Baby. That was great, how was it for you? Cigarette? Wanna make me a sandwich?” song. 

I have been using July fly and cicada interchangeably because I grew up calling the cicada a July fly.  Something about my Southern upbringing I do reckon. When I Googled July flies to make sure, I did not get a definitive answer.  Some places call the cicada locusts, others Jar flies, or Dog Day flies, still others call them Harvest flies. I’m pretty sure they aren’t locusts because we have locusts too and they look nothing like my childhood cicadas/July flies. As a child, I played with enough cicada shells to know the difference.

Cicada Shell

I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties BAC. BAC as in, Before Air Conditioning.  Oh, it had been invented, it just hadn’t found its way to my abode on Route 2, Highway 521, Fort Mill, SC.  Cicadas, on the other hand, had found their way there and in quantity.  Over the sound of my sweat glands trying to drown me and a window fan, I remember the cycling sound of gazillions of male cicadas singing to their one true love. They usually reached their peak in mid to late July and early August.  I tend to relate them to the hottest days of summer.  The days of ripening corn, tomatoes, and armpits. The Summer days of a gracious plenty of humidity and mosquitoes.

When my bride and I first moved into our “little piece of heaven”, air conditioning hadn’t found its way to our ancient farmhouse in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, either.  My five-year-old daughter came down from her bedroom rubbing the sleep from her eyes and made a whimpering sound as she asked, “Can you turn them off?”  

“Turn what off, Sweet Pea?”

“Those thing-ees, outside my window.  They’re so loud.”

It probably wasn’t the last time I failed her.  July fly choirs are loud reaching ninety decibels which is the same decibel level as a lawnmower.  “Sorry baby.  I can’t turn them off.  Try to think of it as a lullaby.” 

When their singing crescendos in late July, their song seems to cycle into a clackety-clickety, clackety-clickety, clackety-clickety resonance.  The cycling reminds me of dark mornings when I stood outside of a cotton mill weave room waiting for the light to flash foretelling eight hours of what I thought of as hell on earth.   The seven hundred and fifty Draper looms cycled the same way from a distance.  When the weave room door opened, the cycling was replaced by a den of sound with no boundaries.  I doubt many of you know the sound I’m talking about since weave rooms are far and in between these days.

The July flies only live for a few weeks so I will not begrudge them their singing.  The males will sing, the females will click their wings and lay their eggs in twigs and leaves.  In a few weeks, the eggs will hatch, the nymphs will fall to the ground and burrow in for another one, thirteen, or seventeen years.  The “cicadian” cycle will begin again. 

Side trip: “You say circadian, I say cicadian. Let’s call the whole thing off.” It turns out I have been missaying “cicadian rhythm” for years…since I first mis-learned the word. I understand I’m not the only person confused. While cicadas have circadian rhythms they do not have cicadian rhythms. The term “circadian” stems from the Latin “circa” (which means “around“) and “diem” (which means “day”). It has nothing to do with cicadas despite their own rhythms and my own faulty hearing.

A second side trip: “Cricket clickers” were used by paratroopers in World War Two to identify each other after a night jump such as the night before Operation Overlord, the D-Day landing. A single click was to be followed by a double click. If it wasn’t, someone might end up dead. That was the plan at least.

 ***

Cicada painting by Louise Holland

Books by Don Miller may be published at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1Smn0AExgDblqvTnANFmKq44x7fzmXw07t9WNlbgdBSpzqv4-X7Pt1EfE

A BACK PEW BAPODIST

I wish I had never become logical…mostly logical…wishing I were logical.

When I became logical, I began to question.  I miss those days as a child when I took things at face value…especially as I move from my autumn years into the cold reality of winter.  But, I mean, at my age, I should cover all my bases, right?

“Is this what old people do?”  Do old people begin to question their beliefs?  Or do old people discount any questions as an assault on their beliefs?  I don’t know what old people do; I’ve never been old before.  “With age comes wisdom” might be the worst lie ever told.

I am habit driven and as soon as I complete my morning ablutions, I step out into the dawning morning and try to complete my absolutions or metaphorical self-flagellation.  Equal parts prayer and meditation, I try to find the moon or Sirius to focus on.  I can usually tell what kind of day I’m going to have if I can focus at all. 

I give thanks for my many blessings, ask for forgiveness of my many sins, “past and future, real and imagined.” Finally, I discuss those things that bother me so or as Buffett might sing in “He Went to Paris”, “Looking for answers to questions that bothered him so.”  I’m not going to Paris unless it is Paris, Texas and so far, my discussion is quite one sided, my questions unanswered which is quite bothersome.

My issue, problem, concern is the lack of answers forthcoming for old questions which simply create more questions de jour.  The silence is deafening.  Except for night birds, tree frogs, and a raccoon rustling in the periwinkle, I hear quiet, a hush, a stillness.  It is tranquil but tranquility is not my goal.  Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions and now I’m hearing the buzzing of mosquitoes.

I grew up in the church…a conservative, Welch’s Grape Juice and Saltines at Communion, Methodist Church.  Little Donnie in his Sunday best, shoes polished, Bible in hand, sitting in the pew designated as “Oh, don’t sit there, that’s the Miller’s pew.”

I joined the church when I was a pre-teen, I still have the Bible they presented me, a Revised Standard, my name etched in gold leaf. I even thought I might become a man of the cloth…although it was more what my mother wanted.  Sorry Mom, I know I disappointed you more than once. 

Left home the fall of my eighteenth year for a conservative Lutheran school of higher learning in the late Sixties and married a Southern Baptist woman…a couple of Baptist women.    Went through the public dunking to join the Baptist Church before sending off an email to become a Dudeist thirty years later…now a Dudeist priest I might add. “Mom, you got your wish!” Some might say I have retreated from the “light.” I say I’ve become a “recovering” Baptist. Is there a twelve-step program that includes giving up your casserole dish?

There are some Christian sects (cults?) (denominations?) that would not use Methodist or Lutheran and Conservative in the same breath.  I counter, in my little church, there was a gracious plenty of hellfire and brimstone preachin’ and long, long alter calls until someone finally stood up and made their way to the front of the church. Are preachers paid according to the number of people who answer an alter call?

Give me that old time religion” singin’, Bible thumpin’, Amen shoutin’, and summer revivals kind of church.  Pretty much I found myself inside my church’s four walls three or four times a week.  That’s a lot for a Methodist. Singing in the choir, progressing from going to vacation Bible school to teaching vacation Bible school, to teaching Sunday school. Dear God, at what point did I fall off of the straight and narrow and onto the primrose path. Another story for another time.

A side trip. I find it interesting as early as 1873, when “Give Me That Old Time Religion” became a standard in Protestant hymnals, people seemed to be dissatisfied and were singing and wishing for “that old time religion.”  Some modern day Christians still sing it but I am unsure what “old time” they are embracing. Many around my little piece of heaven seem to be combining their old time religion with “Old times they are not forgotten, Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixie Land.”

Today’s question de jour, I have a problem with the “Wrath of God”.  I’ll take it one step further, the “Genocide of God”.  I’m not a fan of the Old Testament unless it is Proverbs or Psalms.  I don’t understand how a somewhat more “loving” God of the New Testament could be so harsh, angry, and vengeful to completely annihilate entire city-states in the Old. That’s one of those questions “that bothers me so.” It seems “He’s not the same God” is not the answer but that statement has its own set of questions.

In Deuteronomy 20:16–18, Moses gives these instructions: “As for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded.”  Men, women, children, and animals.  At times, it seems the Old Testament God, Yahweh, didn’t care about proselyting, opting instead for mass carnage of non-believers and I see too many embracing this mind set around the world. “Resistance is futile. Assimilate or die.”

When I was young, I was awed by the triumphant Israelites as they dispatched their enemies. I think I associated them with the triumphant Allies over evil in World War Two. Abraham, Moses, Daniel, David, and Sampson became Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz, Halsey, and Patton. What I didn’t associate was the annihilations of entire city-states.

Trumpeting the fall of Jericho, banners flying.  Glory be to God, all in the name of God. Afterwards, Ai, then the people of Makkedah and Libnah and Lachish and Eglon and Debir—every man, woman, and child slaughtered and dedicated to God. In the end, the entire populations of thirty-one city-states were destroyed…and their animals. Shades of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki but their destruction maybe more in line with Sodom and Gomorrah as “hellfire rained down from the heavens.” More questions?

I see too much of the Old Testament anger and vengeance in some of today’s so called religious folks.  Not just Christian folk. I still consider myself a Christian, just a lost one. There are very outspoken groups that spew hatred toward those who believe differently on the one hand and lament the loss of membership on the other.  I wonder if those two outcomes are related.  I guess what I consider hatred, they consider obedience to their God. That is not my cup of communion grape juice.

Too much of the world’s violence is created by religious beliefs, I think, sometimes doing more harm than good. Look no further than the Middle East. Too many wars fought with a religious component of my God is better than your god.  Too many songs like “Onward Christian Soldiers”. I’m not attacking Christianity. Well, may be I am but I’m sure other religions have similar tunes to rally them to their religion’s ideology and I am attacking them too.  I worry most for those who attach their religious leanings to their political and military leanings. At least in Christianity you can walk away without losing your head.

Worse, I have a hard time dealing with a New Testament God that would allow The Holocaust, mass shootings, the rape of Nanking, abortion, plagues, poverty, and hunger galore. I see no Divine hand at work, just the evil in the heart of man.

I’m not a theologian and not likely to be but I can’t buy it as a just God’s plan. I can’t relate to “that” God. Maybe the old Deist were correct. God set the Universe in motion like a clock and walked away. I’m sure he is shaking his head, wondering what went wrong…or maybe the joke is on us.

My next question, “Did I just sign my lease for a flat in hell for questioning God?”

Note: Dudeism is a religion/philosophy based on Taoism that preaches non-preachiness and practices as little as possible. It is the result of the movie, The Big Lebowski. It is not related to Deism which believes in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. Maybe they are related.

Mellow out, man

Don Miller writes on many subjects, good, bad, fiction, non-fiction. Rants, raves, etc. https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR31n_M2GoO3Us0peAwKvRMb001kyhZbwgGbY5MnU5wTKq_hy19h6qdbtiY

Yelling God image from Canva.

A Smiling Possum with a Corn Cob

All is not well in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. We’ve found our little piece of heaven comes with unintended consequences. 

As the area around us began to build up as others decided to carve out their own little pieces of heaven, we made the decision to turn ours into a wilderness preserve.  Ninety acres of mixed forest, rolling hills (that’s a lie perpetuated by a realtor, more like small mountains), and wildlife galore. 

We can live in harmony with most but some of the wildlife are…well…quite brazen.  The bear that periodically tears down my fence and scatters the trash comes to mind or the deer that samples my Hosta.  The brood of chipmunks who make me laugh until they dig into the flower pots and seed bag. I can live with them.  It is we who are encroaching on them.  I can pick up the trash and the Hosta grows back.  The chain link I don’t like anyway. 

Our latest issue is a raccoon.  Brazen little….  He began raiding my suet cakes until I acted.  He is not a happy camper.  Tonight, he stood upright looking through the window into our sunken den.  My bride was enthralled and tried to snap a picture.  I knew this wasn’t going to end well. 

Raccoon hanging on our window screen waiting for a peanut butter sandwich |  Animals, Raccoon, Critter
Hey, is that a peanut butter sandwich? Photo from Pinterest.

“Oh, he’s hungry.  What can we feed him?”

“Nothing, he’s a wild animal and besides, there are berries everywhere.” 

“We have that old dogfood, do you think….”

In a very conservative friend’s voice I thought but didn’t say, “He needs to get off his ass and go to work.  See what free handouts get you?” Believe me it was my friends voice, not mine. I have not problems with handouts for the needy.  I didn’t say it because my bride had already walked out the door with dry dogfood. I hope Rocky Raccoon doesn’t have a family.

I fully expect this little bandit to knock on the door and ask, “When is supper served? Should I bring a red or a white?” 

I now bring the suet cakes in at night and if he figures out how to reach the bird feeders, I’m sure I’ll have to bring them in too. He doesn’t seem to like sunflower seeds.  Lord help us if he figures out the door handles.  I see him rifling through the fridge and writing out a shopping list.

As the morning dawned, I stood in front of the kitchen sink playing the previous evening’s festivities over in my mind.  Dawn was just breaking, and I turned off the light to get a better view of the flat and creek behind the house. Colors were still mostly muted blues and gray with a hint of green but light enough for me to see.

I caught movement from the corner of my eye and saw a possum waddling by. He was inside of the fence, a fresh corncob from my compost bin was held in his mouth.  The possum paused looking up at the fence as if to say, “A preposition is anything a possum with a corncob in his mouth can do to a fence.  Go over it, around it, under it, or through it.”  My fourth or fifth grade English teacher should be proud but he won’t go through it with the corn cob.

I tapped on the windowpane and the possum turned toward the noise, dropped the cob, and grinned. “Like a possum eating persimmons”, I thought despite the fact we are months from ripe persimmons.  When I tapped again, he grabbed his booty and slowly made his way over the fence before disappearing into the Tiger lilies.

I fell into a warm memory.  Warm now, not so much then.  My beautiful puppies, Mattie and Tilly, would bring me gifts in the form of possums they had caught climbing down from the persimmon tree.  Caught but in most cases not killed.  It is called playing possum for a reason.

I can see them clearly in my mind’s eye, sitting and puppy dog smiling, tails wagging as they waited for their “good puppy” treat.  A possum laying at their feet as if sacrificed to their puppy dog god. Damn, I miss those puppies.

One possum revived itself and tried to make an escape through our dining room door causing a scene from the “Keystone Cops” to play out as we attempted to chase her into a pasteboard box.  Success was attained but it was a near thing.

Another worried us to death because of the eight babies latched onto her back.  Worried until the critter opened an eye and winked.  Not to fear, she wandered off after being deposited outside of the fence, the babies hanging on for dear life.

Many is the time I have said prayers of thanks that their gifts were possums and not skunks.  I’m sure we have them too, but sometimes good fortune can’t be explained. 

Sometimes all it takes to brighten a day is a grinning possum with a corncob.

Figure 2. Juvenile opossums hanging out.
My favorite possum picture. Credit: Frank Lukasseck/Corbis, backyardzoologist.wordpress.com. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

 ***

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2L-7MYr7YwIZvXAu4uKWCZ-MWUeCQ3hBRpraJcjGpH8yJ7KPVmbMgPVRI

Flower Moons, Bream Beds, and Cooter Soup

The May, full “Flower Moon” had risen just above the tree line along my southeast horizon. Big with a pinkish tint, I watched it rise although the warm pre-dawn felt more like July or August in the foothills of the Blue Ridge than May.  Temperatures climbing to the low nineties didn’t sound bad if you live in south Texas or Arizona but as you are aware, “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humidity”. The humidity seemed to be building despite there being little chance of rain. 

It has been drier than my first wife’s sense of humor for most of May and the weather liars allowed there would be no relief soon…maybe the early June weekend.  They predicted wide spread showers by Thursday but we’ll see…they have been known to lie before.

My garden is suffering despite the hose and sprinkler I pulled from my house.  Even my crabgrass seems droopy, and the row middles are harder than baked brick.  My tiller bucks and kicks up dust but doesn’t dig deeply enough to remove the crabgrass. Dry, windy air is not good for my garden…or my psoriasis…or my mood.

Not too dry or hot to walk.  It is a habit I look forward to and the world might quit spinnin’ if I were to miss a day.  I have three routes I use but recently I’ve have stuck to my lake route.  The three and a half mile trek is cooler and there is plenty of shade…and plenty to see.

I paused on the lake bank and watched the activity ten or twenty feet from the shoreline.  Dozens of pothole bream beds were visible in the shallow water.  Dark torpedo shapes darted in and out.  The bream seemed to be playing a child’s game of chase.

Full moon, wind favorable.  Might be time to dust off the rod and reel.  It has been a while.  This lake is catch and release but that’s okay.  My freezer is full of food, I don’t think I’ll starve. I’m also not fond of cleaning fish.

I used to fish every chance I got until I lost my fishing partner.  I heard my grandmother’s voice in my head, “Can’t you smell ’em? They’re here close by.”  She’d drop a squirming worm on a number six, gold hook from a cane pole and be rewarded.  I couldn’t smell them then…still can’t but I could see them guarding their beds, dark shapes silhouetted against the sandy bottom.

My grandmother taught me about fishing.  How to tie on a hook and work the worm on to it.  “Make sure you get the tip covered. The breams is smart.”  “Fish facin’ the sun, so they don’t get spooked by your shadow.”  Except when they are on the bed.  They’ll bite about anything on the bed and don’t really care about shadows…mostly out of anger, I think.  Once she ran out of bait and used a flower blossom successfully to catch “just one more.” I’m reminded of “shooting fish in a barrel.” Don’t rightly seem fair but then my grandmother didn’t fish for sport, she fished to eat.

Nannie fished without a bobber mostly and only the smallest split shot weight.  Slowly moving the pole tip back and forth, changing the depth up and down.  Moving up and down the bank until she locked herself in mortal battle with a warmouth or bluegill bream.  She didn’t throw any away.  The smaller ones made it to the garden as fertilizer, the “eatin’ size” into a frying pan.  I’ve tried pan frying and can’t seem to get it right. I’ve just about quit trying.

I walked out before sunrise the next morning carrying an old Zebco 33, a pail with redworms, and a pocket filled with a few extra number six hooks, red and white bobbers, and split shot weights.  The Flower Moon was still visible in the dark western sky. A mile and a half there and a mile and a half back, I could have been ten years old again walking down the river road toward Bower’s Lake, my grandmother and Trixie the puppy leading the way.  Maybe Miss Maggie would be with us too.

The Zebco wasn’t much different than the one I saved up for and bought at Pettus’ store sixty years ago.  If memory serves, it’s my fourth 33.  It’s a cheap, no frills reel perfect for a cheap, no frills guy. It is also beat up despite not having been used much in the past decade.  The cork handle of the rod is peeling, and I noticed I had made a hasty repair on an eyelet with electrician’s tape.  Whatever works.

The fish were active and the action swift.  Pumpkinseed and blue gills, some bigger than my hand, battled for the opportunity to hang themselves on my hook.  In an hour I probably caught two dozen keepers, some I probably caught more than once.  I know my grandmother was spinning in her grave as I let everyone of them go. 

An alligator snapping turtle paid a visit as did several Eastern water turtles.  I’m sure they were looking for a free meal from a stringer that wasn’t there. We called them cooters back in the day, from the West African word kuta.  With a modern change in usage I have to be careful when using the name.

The beast’s shell was as big around as an old-fashioned Caddy hubcap.  Again my grandmother spoke in my head, “Don’t let a snapping turtle bite you ’cause it won’t let go till it thunders.” I don’t know about that Nannie, but I know he’ll take a finger off.

I made the mistake of casting near him trying to scare him away.  Despite his size he was quick in the water.  He submerged and took the worm and hung himself on the hook.  I tried to keep him from heading to the bottom expecting him to break my line.  The line didn’t break, instead he stripped the gears in my old reel and hunkered down on the bottom to wait me out.  Looks like I’m in the market for a fifth Zebco. 

My grandmother would make cooter soup from the turtles she caught or those that happen to wander through her yard.  During those days, Southern farmers who survived the depression days still prepared cooter soup, or catfish stew, or fried rabbit. I think they did it to remind themselves of the bad, old times…the “worser times.” At least she stopped short of possum. She said it was too greasy. I’ll have to take her word that it is.

I understand turtle soup is now considered a delicacy. Don’t believe my grandmother would agree. To her it was a free meat when times were hard.

I remember a big iron pot on an outdoor fire boiling water to dip the cooter in to loosen its shell and skin. It was a lot of work to crack open the shell and skin and bone the meat, being careful to remove the eggs and liver. Rich looking dark meat ground like hamburger, sautéed with onion before being cooked like vegetable soup.  Soup heavy with tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, and okra to thicken. Maybe celery or carrots thrown in for good measure. Basic soup with a twist.  Everything harvested from her garden, sometimes even the turtle.  The old cooter tasted like chicken with the consistency of beef…or was it the other way around?

How long can a cooter stay down? Still waiting after a half hour, I tugged on the line and felt the load on the end move. Hand over hand I hoped the line wouldn’t cut me if he ran. He didn’t run and I took out my MacGyver knife and waited to get him close. I cut my line as close as I dared and watched my line and the old mossback disappear into deep water.

Walking back home I carried no fish but there was a spring in my step as I thought the best of life has to offer sometimes requires a lot of work…and provides sweet memories too. An evening in late summer came to my mind. Two old women in flour sack dresses and wide straw hats and a small boy sharing a load. Carrying three stringers full of hand sized or better home and sitting out under the privet bushes and stars next to the garden cleaning them all. Nannie, Miss Maggie Cureton, and a young boy. Listening to them laugh and tell stories of the “worser” old days that didn’t seem so bad. Enough fish for three families to feast on the next day. A memory to feast on for life.

Don Miller writes about various subjects, nonfiction, fiction and some with elements of both. His author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3MGRivTC9YRWjMTAbB1FsY7cD3V0OLEHDQLxd3M7T2ka0A4gkmY5YWW-g

Psychedelic Tangerine Dreams

I’ve awoke with a start.  Another one of those dreams that I usually reserve for nights after too many Margaritas and seafood tacos.  I can’t tell you the last time I had a Margarita…or a seafood taco.  It wasn’t last night. 

This dream was too vivid, and it wasn’t the first one. Good news, it wasn’t a nightmare…maybe.

There was once an old man who walked the two-lane road in front of my house.  My dream included him.  His name was Bap.  My guess…Bap was a nickname.  Being young I referred to him as Mr. Wolfe.  After rubbing the sleep from my eyes I remembered what the old folks said about Bap, “He ain’t right in the head.” Maybe I’m not either.

Dressed in bib overalls and a dusty, sweat-stained fedora, he would walk until approached by a car.  As the car drew near, he would recoil, clearly fearing the car might suddenly lose control and run him down.  His eyes were dark and brooding, boring into the driver as if Bap could somehow create a visual barrier that might protect him from being squashed flat like an unlucky possum.  His head followed the movement of the car until it was well past. Thankfully there were few cars during those days but I don’t think Bap had much to do anyway.

There were stories told around campfires by preteen boys that claimed Bap had been kidnapped by nefarious teenagers up to no good, taken on a wild ride in someone’s jalopy and let out far from home.  Somehow this had translated into a fear of cars instead of a fear of nefarious teenagers.

When I asked my father about him my dad simply replied, “Ole Bab is just a quare bird.  Don’t worry, he’s harmless.”  I guess he was, I remember him only as a reluctant and fearful walker and no threat to society. 

I dreamt about him last night.  Bap, not my father.  I’ve had a series of dreams that, while none are exactly the same, my series follows the same theme.  I’m lost and as the dream progresses, I get more lost and quite anxious about it.

Last night was the sixth in the series since the beginning of this month, a variation on a theme once or twice a week. Having reoccurring dreams is not new to me but I feel something is amiss, I’m a bubble off plumb. More so than usual I should say.

Why am I dreaming in psychedelic tangerine and blue paisley?  Why am I having a dream that includes a man long dead, a man I haven’t thought about in decades? Why am I having dreams that include unicorns and oiled up body builders hitting a bell with sledge hammers.

In the dream I can see my destination clearly in the distance even though I don’t really know what my destination is.  I just know it is there. I’m on a high hill under a haze filled sky with a brightly lit city spread out below.  I see my destination but  somehow, I get lost.  I see it again and again from different vantage points. 

I see it over and over and over and over again its location changes and I’m further away.  Short cuts avail themselves, but they turn into lengthy long cuts as I find myself in mazes that include textile mills, construction sites, athletic complexes, even a cruise ship. 

I find myself in dimly lit corridors or brightly lit shopping malls.  In one I open a door to a disco lounge complete with shiny disco ball, swirling women in dresses made of ethereal fabrics, and John Travolta in his white suit.  At least the Bee Gees aren’t singing in the background, “Staying alive, staying alive, oh, oh, oh….” Instead I hear Jimmy Buffett singing, “My whole life lies waiting behind door number three.” Great, Monty Hall may be in my next dream.

I open doors and am led further from my destination or to rooms with no exits.  In one, Bap stands against the wall staring at me with the look he reserved for cars, no white suit just bib overalls, a dark stare above a mouth formed into an “O”. 

All along the way there are people, in many places there is a crush of bodies.  People from my far past like Bap or people from my near past.  Friends long dead, others quite alive.  Family members galore. Folks I haven’t spoken to in decades and others I talked to yesterday including the little blond runner with the bouncing ponytail.  No rhyme or reason in psychedelic colors.

If I were an electrical media device, I’d attempt a hard reset.  For some reason an engine seems more appropriate. I think my timing gear is off and I might be missing on a couple of cylinders. I’m in need of a tune up, BIGGLY!

Despite so much color in the dream I have awakened feeling like a threadbare cotton tee shirt, its logo faded from view.

I awake and remember the dreams vividly…and the colors I dream in.  The colors are psychedelic. Tangerine and pink acrylics in a swirling paisley and that’s just the unicorns walking around an azure blue lake in the middle of a football field.  Did someone sneak LSD into the corn salad I made for myself last night? The oiled up body builders beating the bell with sledge hammers? Turns out my alarm was going off. I don’t know why the resemble Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

I don’t know what the dreams mean…do they mean anything?  I’ve always believed dreams to be the discharge of random, unneeded data…a cleansing of unneeded (unwanted?) memories.  Freud and Jung would disagree, I guess.   

Most of my dreams fade over time. Not this one. The tangerine is still quite bright. 

I should be happy.  They are not nightmares…at least not yet.  My concern is probably much to do about nothing and I am actually looking forward to meeting up with people I haven’t seen in a while…even in a dream.  I should take the stance that you really can’t be lost if you don’t have any idea where you are going anyway. Maybe I should go ahead and have a spicy fish taco and a tequila drink…or three. Who knows how lost I might get or who I might meet up with.

Door Number Three sung by Jimmy Buffett on the album AIA.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR02mav138M8WD5XAa0evj0FzgjRW4oesksttngRRqYeqHwSRc-6AoUmN4Q

Best Laid Plans

Or the Midas touch in reverse.  Everything I touch is turning into something other than gold.

What did I do to deserve this?  Early in the week my tractor went down, just deader than the preverbal door nail…what is a dead door nail exactly?  I can’t answer the question because my iffy internet is down…and back up…and down again.  Wait it is back…thank you William Shakespeare.  “A nail driven into a door that has been clenched or bent and therefore unlikely to be resurrected for further use.” I’m still a bit confused.

I’ve tried jumping the tractor but that hasn’t worked…nor has checking the battery, jiggling wires, or saying prayers to the gods of John Deere tractors and burning a cigar in hopes of evoking good Ju Ju.  I’m almost sure it is a neutral safety switch but repairing it is beyond me.  Anything beyond “shakin’ wars” is beyond me.  Can you shoot a tractor and put it out of its misery?

Probably not.  I backed the truck into it because it died where I don’t usually park it.  You guessed it.  No damage to the tractor.  My bumper however is scarred for life as am I since my bride saw it. I tried to play dumb, an easy task, until she saw the green paint. She watches too many Crossing Jordan and Rizzoli and Isles reruns.

This is the time of year I really need my tractor.  I can hear the grass growing and pretty much see the kudzu creeping toward my garden.  It is hard to run the tiller or bush hog without it.  I don’t mind picking up a hoe, but I’ve got too much to cut for a sling blade and I’m really afraid to try and crank my weed eater.

I grew up with big ole John Deere tractors. They truly ran like a deer. So did the first two I owned. This one is the third and it is not a charm. I’m thinking about going orange with a Kubota after I shoot the green one.

In the same week I lost the mouse pointer on my laptop which makes copying and pasting impossible for fat, clumsy fingers.  Writing has become interesting but as you can read, not impossible. 

Three sessions with “The Geek Squad” have failed to find my disappearing mouse pointer.  The little arrow is visible and then it isn’t just like a really good magic trick. Except good magic tricks usually involve the reappearance of what disappeared.  Maybe David Copperfield can help me or at least find a quarter behind my ear.

I need to cut grass, but the pipeline cyber-attack has caused gasoline supplies to dry up. The African Sahel is less dry. We are “sun high in the sky over parched ground dry”. My friends and neighbors filling up shopping bags and milk jugs, blowing their cars up. Shopping bags? Really? Eventually there will be gasoline enough to go buy more toilet paper. I see that Chick-Fil-A is running short on sauce. Quick! Go stock up and leave the gasoline alone. 

I had enough gasoline to put in one mower so I of course, riding my wave of frustration, picked the wrong one. I picked the riding mower with the flat tire…a tire I can’t get to inflate because it has pulled away from the rim.  I even tried spraying starter fluid and igniting it. I did not burn anything or lose a body part but the tire is still flat.

A tire I can’t change unless I use the tractor that isn’t running to pick it up or dig a hole under it for a jack to fit.  Maybe I can conjure up old Archimedes to help me lever the front end up.  No, I’m on a downhill drag. I’m gonna wait till Monday.

I’m afraid to attempt to crank or turn on anything else.  The Midas touch in reverse.  Nothing bright and shiny for my troubles just piles of ooey gooey brown smelly stuff.

I’m thinking I should take a break from frustration to go for a walk…maybe not, if I break something else it might be a limb.  Can I hurt myself sitting in my recliner? I’m going for a walk, I’ll check back if I’m not in the hospital.

Spirits Call on Mother’s Day

“…I believe in ghosts, but we create them. We haunt ourselves.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson

The spirits of the past call to me often. It seems as I age they call more loudly and often. They have become a choir but one or two voices sing more loudly than the rest…especially on Mother’s Day.

Usually, they sing late in the darkness of night. Mostly their songs are the sweet songs of a mother’s or grandmother’s love, long gone but not forgotten.

Light fingers touching my cheek waking me from a deep sleep in the early, still, and dark morning. It is not the witching hour but the sweetness hour. A memory, a sweet dream. A dream but I am thankful just the same.

Disjointed dreams with no rhyme or reason. Just the brain ridding itself of useless information…maybe.

Stroking a fevered brow, mayonnaise and onion sandwiches, the sound of a hoe contacting a rock followed by the thud the rock makes when it is thrown out. Sitting on “our” church pew, my brother and I sandwiched between my mother and father.

A broad smile on a freckled face because of something I did right for a change, birthday cakes, Christmas ambrosia, and Missouri cookies. A smiling good night or good morning. Breaking beans on a front porch in the August heat….or cutting corn to cream off the cob under a shade tree.

I only had my mother for a short time. She left me eight months past my eighteenth birthday. Left me, my brother, and my father. For much of the previous five years, she battled ALS until the war was lost just after midnight the second day of the New Year 1969. I awoke and glanced at the clock just before the phone rang with a message I didn’t want to hear. I never allowed myself to actually believe she would die…until the phone rang.

I try to forget those years…the years she couldn’t work, the years she sat in a wheelchair, her legs becoming more useless as the disease moved up her body. The wheelchair changing to a hospital bed. The weekend trips to visit her in the hospital in Columbia. That last Christmas together. The nights my father sat up and played solitaire because he couldn’t sleep from the worry.

I strain to remember her…I rack my brain for a wisp of a memory. I can’t hear her voice any longer and it pains me.  All my memories are fuzzy, and I am pained further. I stand in front of her paintings, the acrylics she labored on during those last years. They are silent. They don’t help me remember.

A cheap bit of costume jewelry tucked away in a small jewelry box. The first gift I bought her with my own money. A broach she wore often at Christmastime. Just a bit of paste and red and green glass. I didn’t have a chance to buy more expensive gifts…gifts she deserved.

I have photographs to remind me of her. Her curly, red hair and freckles. The alabaster skin under her freckles turning lobster red after five minutes in the summer sun. A big smile and a bigger laugh. A bit of shyness. A series of photographs from a vacation we took…when she was alive…really alive. Putt-Putt golf and lounging on the beach.

My parent’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary…but in the picture was the wheelchair.

Readying herself for work at a textile mill, a thick round of draw-in treads draped around her neck and tied like a lei necklace. I wonder what happened to her reed hooks and the tiny scissors she carried. They were always in her apron…I wonder where they are? 

I wonder why my memories of her are in her “work” clothes. A plain cotton blouse and A-line skirt…sensible shoes. For some reason, I remember the color blue and how, late into one shift, she took the time to teach me to tie a weaver’s knot and how to find a breakout on a loom. Strange memories indeed.

Mother’s Day is not a day of celebration for me, not a day of joy. It should be.  My daughter is now a mother, a good mother…the best mother. I should focus on her…I try…I fail. 

My memory moves to the small country church of my youth and the graveyard across the road. Granite memorials are all that remain. Memories of sickness, funerals, and pain.

It is a day of questions and longings. A day of introspection, searching for the memories…the dreams. A day of “what ifs?” She never met my Linda Gail; she never met her grandchild; she never met her great grandchildren. I think they would have liked her…loved her.

Today will come and go…and with its leaving, the return of sweet songs from the past played out in dreams…and a brightening, I hope.

Momma and Nannie…I miss you both every day but more so on this day…Mother’s Day. Rarely is there a day that goes by that something does not remind me of you. Mostly I smile…except when I do not…but mostly I smile.

Mary Eldora Miller before the wheelchair. Early 1960s.

Visit Don’s author’s page at https://goo.gl/pL9bpP or pick up a copy or download one of his books, maybe Musings of a Mad Southerner, at https://goo.gl/zxZHWO.