Thursday, January 4, 2018

Reverse Engineering

Snowbirds and Sunbirds

Vermont is known for its beautiful fall foliage, maple syrup, tidy villages, and cool summers. The major population centers in the Northeast discovered Vermont and New Hampshire as a second home destination and a place to unwind. Summers in Vermont have the reputation of consisting of “4th of July and 3 weeks of poor sledding.” This is exactly what Snowbirds want. Come late and leave by the first snow for warmer climes.

The Maple Inn Restaurant opened a 6:00 A.M. There were already a half dozen steaming pickups in the parking lot waiting for Doris to open the door. The smell of bacon and frying potatoes carried on the steam which froze at the bottom of the big windows. The early arrivals left heavy coats and rubber milking boots in the foyer. Doris gave locals the devil if they brought snow or mud onto her floor. She was more tolerant of the ski crowd.

 Clint Beebe was always at the head table. He had proclaimed himself the unofficial mayor of the Maple Inn, mostly due to indifference of the congregation. He had always talked more than Vermonters need to. Clint’s agenda consisted of two rules…no politics and no religion. Clint was responsible for the daily gossip, local, state and world news comments, and entertainment. Snowbirds made for good, light hearted fun..

“Hey, Troy, them Snowbirds of yours flew the coop, did they”? Clint asked.

“Yup, left yestiddy, with there tails a’ twixt their legs, and that Lincoln a’dragging the ground, with snowflakes a’ chasin’ ‘um out the rud!” Troy laughed. He had the perfect Vermont accent.

“How do you suppose them Snowbirds know where to stop for the winter?” Bob Lawrence asked, baiting Clint to get on with the game.

Clint began the yearly recitation. “A well, was it me a’ thinking with any sense…he waited for the laughter to subside… I’d go down to Bisbee’s Chevrolet and buy a new truck with 4 wheel drive. Second, I’d outfit it with and one of them big yellow Myers snow plows. Next, I’d go down to Jake’s and buy nice 28 foot travel trailer, pack up my knee pants and head south. When it got warm enough to drive with the windows down, I’d pull into a Wally World parking lot and wait for someone to ask me what that big yellow thing on the front of the truck was for, that’s where I’d starting looking to spend the winter”!

There were chuckles around the table. Clint had told that shaggy Dog story so many times it had become tradition. Not one Snowbird was left to hear it at the Maple Inn that morning, but there was one “Sunbird”. His name was Compton Ramey.



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Clint brought attention to the fact Comp was back for the winter to cheers all around. Comp has “reverse engineered” Snow birding according to Clint. Comp left in spring and returned for the winter. The whole town knew Comp and Bessie. They’d lived in the village for some 40 years. He was their machinist and she, a third grade teacher.

The village tolerated Snowbirds and the Ski trade. They were good for the local economy.  The summers could be a bit trying. The “social season” was always interesting, as the city folk had an insatiable appetite for tennis, Summer Stock Theater, lawn parties, and a championship croquet greens. They complained when the thermometer got to 80 degrees.

So great were the demands of the wealthy immigrants that catering. And Bed and Breakfasts sprang up as a cottage industry. The local shops had to stock locks and bagels, Coos Coos, Hummus, Perrier water, Caviar or wines and liquors with unpronounceable names. Locals were introduced to the marvels of the charcoal grill at the local Ace Hardware. Snowbird antics were fodder for the breakfast crowd at the Maple Inn. They weren’t bad people, just different. Life was changing in Vermont.

How had Comp and Bessie found this place? Comp had been a machinist in the Navy, stationed in Boston at the ship yards there. He had met a girl from Alabama. He was from Georgia. She had come north during the war, as had other Southern girls, to find work in the defense plants. At war’s end Comp proposed and Bessie accepted.

Bessie had a job in a steno pool in Boston. Comp mustered out of the Navy and began looking for a job. Kthey wouldn’t marry until he was settled. He was sick of Boston, and so was Bessie. Neither had any stomach for going South after the war. The depression was still on in most of the South. Jobs were scarce and low paying. A Navy buddy told him to come visit him in Vermont and look for work there. With bus ticket in hand, Comp headed for Vermont to seek his fortune. He never made it to his friend’s house.

The bus stopped for lunch in a small Vermont town. Comp ordered a sandwich and picked up a local paper, looking through the want ads. There was an ad for a mechanic/ machinist/welder in a local repair shop. He had an hour before his bus left, so with sandwich in hand, he paid, and asked directions. The sign over big turn of the century brick structure said Gus’s Blacksmith Shop.

He walked in to find a few locals in rocking chairs, a couple of cats, and a large middle aged man pulling a rope attached to a huge bellows pumping air into a glowing forge.

“Help you?” he asked, glancing at Comp.

“I saw your ad in the local paper,” said Comp, “I’m looking for work”.

“You a machinist”? “Yes sir, I’m a machinist… Navy trained”, answered Comp.

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The man took a long look at Comp before answering. “Where you from?”

Georgia”.

“I could tell you’re not from around these parts”, he smiled.

“I’m Gus Jorgensen”, Gus stuck out a hand big as a dinner plate, “and I am looking for someone to run the machine shop”.

“I want to spend my days doing blacksmithing”, he continued, ‘the trade as I know it is dying out. I love making the decorative stuff; iron gates, fences, hinges, door hardware and repairing the antique iron. There’s a lot to be learned from the work of old smithies”. I bought a small machine shop waiting for the day the investment would start to pay off”.

Three hours later, Comp was on his way back to Boston with a job in a small Vermont village of 340 people.

He and Bessie married and moved into a small bungalow out of town. The house was in good shape. It had no electricity, and no running water, just a hand pump on the porch. Bessie demanded indoor plumbing and electricity before moving to Vermont. He and Gus finished the repairs in early fall.

Comp bought a surplus Jeep. It was pretty rough: no heat, canvas top that leaked, no doors and hand windshield wipers. It didn’t take long to put it right. It became his transportation to work, and general runabout for the shop, pulling tractors to the shop, and plowing the parking lot. Comp still had it. Bessie wasn’t enamored with it. It bounced rattled, shook and shimmied, but a ride was a ride, especially in the snow.

Gus became and ornamental iron worker. Comp organized the machine shop and got it up and running. Gus’s son was learning the machinist trade while doing mechanic work. Gus’s wife did the books and secretarial work for the business. The shop became the “go to” repair center for the outlying villages. Bess became a school teacher. Life was getting better.

Christmas was a quiet thing.  The village green had a big Spruce tree. It was decorated with garland and decorations made by a couple generations of school kid. A big spotlight lit the scene. School plays, church suppers, dinner with friends and other small town doings made the early darkness a little brighter. There were three small boys in Comp and Bessie household by then…lots to keep up with.

Some 20 years later, Gus retired and sold to Comp. Ten years later Comp sold to Gus’s son and a partner. Comp still helped in the shop when he was needed, but spent most of

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his time hiking, fishing and driving to Atlanta to see grandkids. The drive became harder to make, and getting the kids to Vermont was nigh impossible.

The solution was to rent the Vermont place to the Snowbirds, and buy a “lake place” in the North Georgia Mountains, nearer the grandchildren in Atlanta.

Opening the lake house took a week or so at Easter Vacation. His sons and grandkids came to get the boats in the water, and clean up winter leaves and downed branches. The wives and Bessie made house livable again, unpacking linens and making beds, vacuuming and washing window. The reverse happened just after Thanksgiving in Vermont. It just took Bessie’s touch to make there Vermont home a cherry place again. The renters even left a fire laid on the hearth.

When school was out, the grandkids came to the lake, and stayed and stayed, for “just one more week, Mama, please”. They pretty much spent the summer with Comp and Ma Bess. There were six of them, ages 4 to 10. They learned to swim, fish, paddle a canoe, and generally run the mountain behind the house like “a pack of Indians”.

The kids didn’t beg for company; there were a mob of “lake kids” to run with. Wherever the mob landed at lunchtime, they got fed,  watered, and moved on. The younger ones, worn out from the morning rambles, would fall asleep after peanut butter and jelly, and be deposited on couches and beds for naps. The older ones moved on to other adventure.

This flashback went through Comp’s head in about 30 seconds. He came out of his revelry when Doris brought his usual two eggs, fried potatoes, and ham. Comp was home amongst friends for Christmas.


The village green had lost the big tree to old age. A new, smaller one was bedecked with lights that twinkled through the frost on the windows. Snow was falling, and the grandchildren were on the way to Vermont to be Sunbirds for a week. The sleds were waiting.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It is said...

It is said that a person is remembered as long as someone remembers their name.

I give my Daddy, Wayne Rhodes Shields, My Grandfather, James Roscoe Shields, my GG Grandfather, George W. (Wayne?) Shields, and my GGG Grandfather James Shields.

There were, of necessity, 4 women involved, in order of appearance: Virginia Lancaster Shields. Wayne's wife and my mother, Mabel Rhodes Shields, Roscoe's wife, Maude Ames Shields, George's  wife and Mariah (Maria?) Van Steenbergen, James Shields wife. James was an Irish immigrant.

I find that in less than a hundred years, my grandfather, grandmother and greats George and Maude on my Daddy's side have been remember by one person...my cousin Sandra, keeper of the records, it seems. She has the pictures, the stories, birth,death and cemetery records. She did not, nor did I know of James Shields, born in 1828 in Ireland, and immigrating to the U.S. circa 1836-.

I never knew or cared about my Daddy's people. They were from way up on the Great Lakes, Erie, Pa. to be exact. You can see Canada from Cousin Sandy's back deck. Summer up there consists of Fourth of July and two weeks of poor sledding.

After my dad Wayne Rhodes Shields died, there was little or no communication between the Northern Shields and the Southern Shields. That side of the family sorta' disappeared until I made contact with Cousin Sandy. My sister Sally and Sandra had been communicating for years.

Wayne Rhodes Shields
and
Patrick Rhodes Shields
in
1942
I do remember Sandy sent me a packet of information on the Rhodes side. It went on about Cecil Rhodes of Rhodesia, Rhode Island being named for a Rhodes, etc. I didn't pay much attention. Then my Mama started talking about Rio Rhodes, her favorite of Wayne's people.

Rio Rhodes married Carrie Culbertson and they had Mabel, who married Roscoe. Carrie died when Mabel was about three, and Mabel was went to be raised by her maternal Grandmother. Mabel and Rio were never close, and there is evidence that Mabel never acknowledge Rio as her father, as the only father she knew was her maternal grandmothers husband.

James Roscoe Shields
and
Charlotte Shields, his daughter
mother of Cousin Sandy
Dogs in many of the Shields pictures
Carrie Culbertson,
Rio's wife
mother of Mabel Rhodes Shields, Roscoe's wife
Carrie looks a lot like my daughter, Allison

Janice and I go to WV in the summer to peddle pottery and play music with my WV buddies. August is when the two weeks of summer in Erie, Pa. officially begins.  It's the Big Hog of 100+ in Georgia It's good time to leave the cat in charge of the farm.

Sandy and I sat down the first day of our visit to book after book of documents her people had saved. There were pictures of real people, stories of men who help Commodore Perry build the ship Niagara, that ran the British out of the Great Lakes. Suddenly these people had faces, stories and personalities. I was hooked.

I knew my son Britt's, father in law did  genealogy research on the Shields. He found James Shields, the Irish immigrant. Even Sandy didn't have that piece of information. James Shields married a  pretty little Dutch girl,  a Mariah Van Steenbergen, and left Binghamton, NY. They ended up near Erie, Pa. That's as far a the trail leads, to this point. James magically disappears after the 1860 U.S.Census, leaving Mariah head of household in 1870 and no death certificate in Pa. to be found. Ah, the skeleton in the closet.

George Shields, James' son,  married a Maude Ames, and had 5 daughters. His only son was James Roscoe Shields, my grandfather.  Roscoe hired on with the Erie Railroad in 1906 and passed his steam test, becoming and engineer in 1912.  Roscoe was stationed in Meadville, Pa. His run was from Youngstown, Pa to Salamanca NY. 

Sandy wrote last week saying that a brass plaque would be installed in his honor if we could find his railroad records. Thanks to the miracle of the internet and researchers, I found J Roscoe Shields, his employment dates, payroll number, and all his certificates. He, indeed, deserves to be on a brass plaque. Roscoe died when I was 1 year old. I would have liked to have known all of them, grandfathers and grandmothers alike.

Now I have to get back across the big pond to see where James Shields came from. Maybe a couple pints of Guinness will make that task easier.

I leave this open to Sandra for correction and additional info.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Do Love Spring, Mostly

When I was a youngun, Spring was the harbinger of summer vacation. It meant that school was fixin' to get ready to be finished just here in a day or two. It also meant the suspense of finding out if you had been  "passed on". I would look at Laura Alice or Carolyn, and wonder how it would feel to KNOW you were going to pass the 6th grade.

The first hint of Spring would be you didn't feel the sting of frosty wind as you stood at your post by the bike rack from 7:30 to 8:00 each morning. I was charged with making sure the bike riders put their bikes in the rack, and nobody messed with the Cushman Eagle, and Vespa motor scooters. Bike riders were bad to hide their bikes in the privet bushes so as to make a quiet get away at lunch hour.

 I was tapped to be on the School Boy Patrol, the official CIA of every school in America, I was charged with ratting on my peers in hopes of getting a trip to Washington DC.

I began to deal with peers on a one to one basis without adult intervention.  The art of deals, favors, and retribution were all part of the learning experience. A Snickers bar isn't a bribe; it's deal making.  He takes his bike to lunch, I get a candy bar. I don't tell on you and vice versa. If  you get caught off school grounds you face the music. If you rat on you, I get an ass whuppin from a "jury" of my peers. Fair enough. What starts at the bike rack stays at the bike rack. Snicker bars are good. So is not eating at the school cafeteria.

The second signs of Spring were the Crocus and Daffodils. The arrival of  Robins broke the monotony of constant blah blah blah of  Miss Lucky babbling about whatever. Robin visited the school grounds looking for worms or the discarded peanut butter sandwiches, or jelly biscuits in the "brown bag".

Miss Lucy Clarke's D's and F's were worrisome, but the Spring sun made my life brighter and warmer. I began to take the occasional book home. I figured this would counteract parental suspicions that my school work was secondary. I remained tight lipped under questioning.

I began to follow my sister's lead; I went to my room "to study" after supper.  My newly acquired Sears "Airline" electric guitar was very quiet with no amplifier. Mel Bay's Beginner Guitar Book was vastly more fascinating than Tressler's English textbook.

Finally, first "warm" morning in March when a light flannel shirt sufficed! The sun was up as I walked to my post at the bike rack each day. Forsythia, Flowering Quince and Bradford Pear made the world seem brighter and righter.

School was worrisome. My  grades were now C's and D's with no F's. It was announced were were to be subjected to Achievement Tests. These would be used to help determine pass/fail of the 6th grade. Three sharp #2 pencils and the willingness to put black dots on small circles followed by vague questions with 3 chances for a right answer was my introduction to gambling. I suppose I won.

I remember stepping off  Mr. Smith's school bus for the final time on Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. I had a report card stamped PROMOTED. It was proof I was a genius, and a better guitar player. I would see my peers next fall in a new room with a new teacher.

Spring had banished Old Man Winter and the 6th grade forever, except in memory.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Otalah

The causes of most things, good and bad, in this world are we humans. There is a case made for Divine Intervention.

 To this New World they came. They left hearth and home, friends and relatives. Some sought to escape centuries of European wars, and the great plagues. Others left for religious freedom. Many in Ireland were starving because of potato famine. All came for a chance of a new start in a new land.

 The journey was unpleasant to all. They sailed in overcrowded ships, ate poor food, breathed bad air, and disease was ever present. Worse was the apprehension of the unknown after the weathered the storms of the 90 day crossing of the North Atlantic.

 The cities into which the laden ship disgorged their cargo were rough and rowdy places. Most immigrants were simple country people and these cities was not an option. Many establish themselves in smaller villages. Even in these villages they found dissatisfaction. It seemed what they sacrificed so much to leave was simply reproduced in this land. The old prejudices, casts, and suspicions followed men across the sea.

Salvation was at hand to some. There were big men with stories of lands to the west; fertile land, ruled only by wild beasts and wild men. The more determined packed their meager belongings and went in search of what they hoped to be true freedom. Bands of hardy souls left the last vestiges of civilization to follow the shallow rivers upward into the mountains in the distance.

They did not travel alone, for they were watched by those who had lived in these mountains.

A group of four families, 17 in number, found a small fertile valley typical in the Southern Appalachians. There were rolling waves of low, flat topped mountains running north to south from New York to Georgia. The flanks of these ancient mountains were eroded by water into forested coves that ran gently into larger valleys between the mountains. These coves were fertile and protected from harsh weather. 

These new settlement had brought with them a yoke of oxen. Huge beasts they were, docile, strong and capable of most tasks put to them. Together and separately, these oxen plowed, dragged logs from the forests, pulled stumps and sleds of huge rocks pried from the fields. They were well cared for, and truly the life blood of this budding settlement.

The natives viewed the oxen with wonderment. One man could encourage them to do great things, yet small children rode their backs with no fear. Many an evening was spent recounting tales of these oxen, and their deeds.  

There was one in the native village who heard stories of these marvelous creatures. He decided to see for himself. A young boy of ten years slipped away from his village before first light on a cold December morn. He took with him journey food of dried meat and cakes of acorn bread. He dressed in his best and warmest garments. Tough moccasins rubbed with bear grease and stuffed with dry grass donned his feet. Around his neck hung a small gift for the beasts; a carved soapstone figure. It personified how the beast must look from the descriptions of those who had seen them.

His journeys took him eastward from the village as the sky lightened. Mid morning, he turned north, following landmarks of those describing the location of the small settlement. At noon he ascended to the top a low flat topped mountain and turned eastward again. Along the mountain flanks, coves fell to the long valleys to the north and south. It was at the end of one of these southern facing coves he saw the smoke of the settler’s fires.

He watched the small enclave of log structures and sheds from a rock overhang halfway down the mountain. Just before dark, two boy of his age, led the oxen from the stable to water. He gasped at there size, color and huge horns. He determined to present his gift to the red beast.

The moon rose as he slipped over the log walls of the stable. The oxen paid him no attention. The red one had horns as wide as the boy was tall! The stable was warm, though you could see your breath. He crept nearer, remembering that children could safely ride the oxen. The red one turned and lowered his head to sniffed the boy hand, rubbing the curly hair between its horns against it. The boy scratched  huge head, and slipped the carving from around his neck and over the great horn.

The visitor was found by the young boys doing chores the next morning. He was not nearly as surprised as they. Startled, they ran back to the cabin, and breathlessly told their parents of a dark-skinned young boy in the stable with the oxen. The father took down the long rifle, and told his wife to bar the doors. He oldest boy accompanied his father.

Dark, calm eyes gazed at the man and his rifle, He smiled, turned and stroked the shaggy head of the red ox and said "Otahla". He sat down in the straw never taking his eye from the red ox. Minutes later the entire settlement was murmuring around the barn. Men looked grimly at one another.

If there was surprise in the small stable, there was pandemonium in the native village. A boy was missing. Had he been taken by a bear or wolf? No one had seen him all the day before, not even his playmates. His family was distraught, the elders puzzled, the warriors uneasy and the chief suspicious.

 The small settlement posted lookouts. Work in the village was suspended. Children were kept close by wary mothers. What was meaning of the stone carving hung around the horn of the red ox. The boy was pleasant and respectful. He accepted food but from only the boy who had discovered him. What, they wondered, was the meaning of this new dilemma.

After some deliberation, the native village mounted a search party. A small party of men, including the father of the boy, an elder, and the best tracker left the village in a light snow. They had an idea of where they might find the boy.

It was December, and in the center of the rude cabins, a spruce grew. They children had decorated it with small bits of bright cloth, and shards of painted pottery they found around the big spring. At the top of the tree was a star, one of the few things brought from across the sea. It reminded them of a home, hearth and loved ones they would never see again.

On the second day of the boy's appearance was Christmas Eve. Traditionally, a large brush fire was built. The families gathered around as the huge yellow full moon rose over the mountain. Prayers of thanks was given for past and future blessings. They began to sing the old carols, as they had at home. The boy in the stable of the oxen had never heard such, and crept toward the fire, staying just in the shadows.    

The singing carried on the cold night air. It was heard by those in search of a boy. The native group walked cautiously toward the group of unsuspecting caroler. They appeared, ghost like, in the circle of light given by the fire. The singing stopped. The native boy retreated to the stable. He had seen his father. 

No one on either side spoke. One native man pointed to a boy, the one who was assigned the care and feeding of the oxen. He spoke. No one understood him. Again he spoke. This time the boy seemed to know exactly what this man wanted. Calmly, walked toward the stable. Inside, he clamored up the pen and onto the back of the  red ox. He beckoned the native boy to join him.

Into a circle of firelight came two small boys atop the red ox. The natives stepped back in awe. The boys slipped off the beast and stood together in front of him. The ox dropped his head and rubbed against native boy, almost knocking him down. He laughed. “Otalah”, he said, looking toward his father. He turned to scratch the huge beast between the horn, looked up at his father, laughing again.

The tension faded. The native boy took the small carved figure from the horn of the ox, walked to the decorated tree and hung it on a snow crusted bough.  He turned and walked to the side of his new friend, took his hand, and led him toward his father. A smile overcame the father's stern face. “Otalah” he said, pointing to the beast. The fair skinned boy nodded and took the man’s other hand, and together the two boys led him to meet Otalah, the great red ox.

 After some time, the native guests gathered up the found boy. The father spoke words that could have only been “thank you”. They smiled, and walked away into the cold, their footsteps crunching snow.

On that mid winter’s eve, a native boy found what he sought. A father had found what he had lost. A light skinned people from far away had made contact with there neighbors. No longer would they be isolated from one another.


Somewhere, on midwinter’s eve, a small soapstone carving of Otalah, the great red ox, is taken from a safe place and hung on the cool green bough of an evergreen tree, as it was all those years ago. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The news of my demise has been greatly exaggerated...

No...I am not dead, or even bad sick.

A lot has happened since I last wrote you, dear reader, but I can't really remember a whole bunch of it. I have and excuse...I'm 75 now.

Mama is fine, had another birthday since I last wrote...98 and counting. she doesn't remember a lot from today, but she's hell on the years before 90. She does "pretty well for a woman who's soon to be a hundred!"

Janice Faye is fine, keeping me in line. Making beautiful pottery and good food. I'm doing just fine on the old chuck line.

Brother Bob is having another mid life adjustment at 71. Pulling out of his sea side digs in ST Simons Island. He done built him a house on Lake Rabun, Ga., and back to selling high dollar houses to high rollers. He's still got the pool and spa business, North Ga. Pecan, several rental properties. He has emailed  Donald Trump to bring back Reaganomics, for some reason. He's doing much better than he was when Reagan was in the Penn House.

 My sister Sally is doing well. Goes to bulb shows in Holland, Buffalo round ups in Wyoming, and has a job as a master gardener for folks that can't...but can afford one.

Last years garlic crop was alright...too many small bulbs, but they'll eat, too. Better than the Chinese junk, (no the boat). I've got some great garlic left, for those who are garlic deprived...Christmas is coming on and there will be a few social function that would benefit from garlic breath.

The new crop is in the ground...12 rows of 2250 plants each. Thanks to Coralee Hardman and her patient, nimble fingers...and my darling daughter and friends for help. My old knees and back will still do it, but I'd been New Years getting it all planted.

I'm beginning to feel like old Squire Hines in WV. He always said if he could plant a row of corn he'd live another year...I'd plow him a plot every year...he was still alive and well when I left WV.

Hmm. Just a row of garlic. Immortality on bad knees? I don't know...well, maybe I could still play mandolin.

It didn't rain a lot this fall...none, in fact...43 days with VERY little rain. Too dry to plow, breath, swim or do much else. Nice beautiful 70 degree days, 50 degree nights until this last week or so. The rains have come, cold weather will follow. The wood pile will begin to dwindle...got to do something about that this week.

 Life gets tedjous, don't it.

Allegheny Echoes was good. Long as they aske me to come, I'll go...nothing like WV in the summer.  I taught backup guitar instead of beginning mandolin. Always a bunch of fun. There are some incredible people to mess with in West Virginia. Most of them agree that summer time is the ONLY time to really enjoy the place. Can't see it in the winter for the road closings, snow drifts, snow days, and minus 0 temps. Really wonder why they don't have a population explosion every year about August, Sept, Oct., if you know what I mean.

There were some elections this year that worked out well for some in this country...so far. We'll see how the world feels in the next year or so.

My good friend and mentor potter Jerry Brown got called to the Pottery Shop in the sky. Bet he misses old Blue, but I imagine the Lord may have a few good mules up there to mix mud for him.

Spent some time with old friend and banjo picker Diana Runyon at the beautiful old house in Mt Lake Park, Md. this summer. Ready to go spend some time with her in Fl sometime this winter.  She was the banjo player in the old Hooker Holler Symphony.She's converting well from melodic bluegrass banjo to old-time claw hammer style. Good enough to talk me out of my 100 year old English banjo that was begging to be played. Lord knows  I can't play it... foolish pride thinking I could!

Tractor's running good, a great place to learn words to songs and remember old tunes...my hope is to write a novel on the tractor...and not ever have to write a word of it.

Well, that's all the social media I have time for...no cute pictures of grand kids and cats. No beautiful sunset pictures from Belize. Ain't no Pat Shields loves Cheese Whiz on Zesty Crackers in this profile.

Just the facts, folks. News from Strugglesville. Glad to be back in the land of the living.







Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Well, That Wasn't Easy

About a year ago I received word from my benevolent Blogs sponsor, Google, that "suspicious activity" had been detected on my blog platform. 

I was locked out of my blog for lack of the expertise to convince them I was incapable of using the change password info they posted to resolve my plight. I thought I was doing my best to follow directions, but my brain doesn't work like Google's. 

I've been vindicated! Google has FINALLY accepted, after many tries, my password. We, dear reader, are back in business.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Everything Follows the Head

When I was a young sprout, I loved to dive. I learned to do a flip off the board in some State Park in North Carolina on a family vacation at about 8 years old. I was hooked. If I could determine the water was deep enough to dive, jump, or flip, I'd go over the side. Bridges over lakes, cliffs, diving platform were the best!

I didn't know it at the time, but the physics of flipping is written in stone...your body follows your head. I got cocky enough following my head to burst a few ear drums on a full twisting one and a half off the low board.

I was a swimmer on the UGA Swim Team. I've got the year book to prove it. When the other team didn't have a third diver, coach knew I could fall off the board and get a third for the team. A better showing than I usually got for swimming. Painful as hell off the 3 meter board, at times. Nice in the air, terrible entries.

Here lately, that same axiom, "everything follow the head"  has begun to run more of my life than I like. My head is telling me I don't need to be on that ladder with a blower, cleaning off the roof. It tells me that digging ditches is for younger backs. It'll stop me in the middle of the garden and tell me to go lay in the grass and look at the sky...this has never happened to me.

I spent most of my life not listening to my head. My Indian name is probably He Who Will Not Listen. Against better judgement, I usually followed the path less traveled or rewarding. I would start out with the best intentions, only to find myself wandering off somewhere to see what was over the next hill. Shoot, I could have been a hundredaire by now, if I'd played the game even badly!

What is it about the aging process that begins to wean you off the "work ethic". I don't have time to listen to my head tell me I need to slow down; that I should be smelling the flowers, instead of planting 'em. Hog wash! I'll tell you when it's time to smell 'em. I am having serious consultations with myself and seem to be following my head, and not my nose.

Makes one feel guilty as hell. My head is telling me my body doesn't need to take care of all 15 acres, just let nature take care of the rest...she's gonna' win in the end. That ain't what Pat and John Deere think.

My head counters with, "Aw Pat, just go have fun, play another tune, don't worry, be happy".

Maybe I start listening. Just out of three weeks of physical therapy. Sore back.