Friday, March 14, 2008

There's Something About the Fog

There's something about the fog, something ominous, foreboding. It hangs gray, and lifeless between I and the world. A damp shroud. Hushed sounds with no echoes. Muted voices. And a steady, drip...drip...drip...

What nether world is home for that early morning shroud? Where does it flee to at first light? A dark cellar no doubt, under a cold stone fortress of Doom. Doom I say, and say again Doom! Why else would this harbinger of ill slip silently from the light, but to hide itself under those dark halls?

And who is the Master of those stone walls? Wicked I say, and say again, He's Wicked in all his gloom, and doom. And hungry...

What fruits has his lackey fog brought to that evil table? Will they feast on echoes of life, and the sharp edge of voices stolen from the early hours? It is wrong I say, and say again wrong to lurk in the shadows, and dine in the dim light stolen from the morning!

Misery and grief, are the diet of Doom...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cool Water, on Bare Feet

Last October, I notice an old pump, in a neighbor's backyard. The memories flowed from my memory well. Cool memories of water on the hot days of my youth on the farm. Hot years, no rain for months. Dust, and more dust, on and in and around everything.
But the well never went dry. The red pump, on a cool well that stood at the center of our lives in the dry years. The hard years. Years before water was sold in disposable plastic bottles that could make dust shine. Before vending machines, microwave ovens, and other means of instant gratification. I don't trust those little plastic bottles.
The well was true, the pump was dependable, and the water was always cool for those willing to take it's handle, and work it. I remember working that pump, and how I hated the burn in my arms as I worked the handle while my brother carried the water to the hogs. Hot, dusty hogs standing knee-deep in dust. And I remember the cool water that trickled across my bare feet while I pumped.
I left that farm as soon as I was able. I kept the pump in the back of my mind. And when I see an old pump, the memories flow cool like water from a deep well.
Cool water, on my bare feet. It don't get no cooler than that in a dust-bowl...

Looking down from my loft

Looking down from my loft, I watch the steady drop of bags on the belt. Pasta, moving from bulk, through packaging, and on to delivery.

I watch down as I often do, as the two 'triangles' chug out bag after bag of pasta. I'm normally trapped upstairs with my two machines, I supply the cases that pasta is shipped in.

I have one of very few jobs that allows me to stand idle, watching. My veiw from the loft is wide and far, I see much more of the plant than just my assaigned area. I have learned that most people don't look up often. Their world is flat.

The verticle nature of my job suits my ego just fine.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Friends Gather, to Support a Neighbor

In a small town, there is a small tavern. The Pine st Bar serves the residents of Steeleville IL, and the surrounding rural community.

Small towns enjoy intimacy that larger communities lack. Friends and neighbors are much more aware each other, and in this small community, they joined together to help a friend in need.

Franco was ill, and spent quite some time in a local hospital. The bills grew quite large, and he was unable to work. Franco's friends got together, and decided to raise some funds, to help the man with his overwhelming bills. That's not a rare event in small towns, that's the norm.

Franco's friends brought him to the Pine st Bar, where they had a raffle, and an auction. The price of drinks was adjusted, to suit the occasion, and the additional money generated was added to the fund.

My wife donated a basket of scented candles, and they were sold to the highest bidder for $25. I had bid $15, and was pleased to see someone out-bid me.

My wife won two shirts, and a $5 certificate from Domino's Pizza. Franco won the 50/50 drawing! That was an amazing display of good fortune, as the 50/50 drawing was designed to split the proceeds from the sale with Franco, and it turned out the he won it all! The 50/50 tickets were sold at $1 ( or 6 for $5 ), and Franco received $300!

Food was cooked outside on Bar B Q grills, and sold to Franco's friends. Braughts Hamburgers Hot Dogs, Potato Salad, several cakes, and many types of chips where offered. All you could eat $6 per plate.

My wife ate Hot Dogs, a Hamburger, and Potato Salad. I enjoyed at least 5 large Braughts! The food went well with the Budweiser, and shots of Jack Daniels that I was drinking.

It's a good thing my wife doesn't drink, and was able to drive us home safely because I got plowed! ( It was for a good cause, so my wife didn't complain. I haven't been drinking much lately, at her request, so a noble cause is served me well. )

This is Franco. He drives a truck, and hauls coal for a living ( when he's healthy ).

Although I didn't know Franco prior to the fund-raiser, my wife had got to know him well where she works ( Stephanie works at a small convenience store, that many truckers frequent for coffee, and sandwiches ). I was able to speak with him for quite a while, and found we had much in common. It would seem that his health went bad, due to overwork, and ignoring the symptoms of a serious illness.

I had done the same, years ago. My passion for my work wouldn't allow me to stop and rest. The work ethic is strong in this community, and sometimes it brings us grief.

Franco is a good, hard working man. It pleases me to see so many of his friends stepping in to help, when he needs to rest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ice Storm in March

Ice clings to the hedge, green leaves captive to a crystal coat left by a the frigid fog of Early Spring. Beneath this mantle cold and clean, the hedge waits to dawn it's coat of green.
Tender twigs with unborn buds stand shocked, in their brittle blanket of ice. Their rigid posture reveals life's unwavering mission; endure, and bloom in good time! Ironicly, the crystal coat may actually protect the hedge from the even harsher weather predicted.
Looking up past the hedge, the fog shrouds the trees. The misty gray background forshadows the impending snow sure to follow the ice. It's March in Southern Illinois, and no predictions are reliable. Only the underlying feeling of a continuing winter, and the hope for the eventual explosion of green are for sure.

Do you feel the force of life within you, perhaps it too is shrouded by this artictic adversity of life? Let the chilly blanket wrap you, stand tall, be patient. The frigid fog of desolate feelings will lift, and you, like the hedge will meet the warm Sun of New Life, when the time is right. It is the seasons, it is the times.

Your are the life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

There, and back again

One day last summer, my dogs began to bark. That is not unusual in itself, but the tone of the voices was full of an excitement that is reserved for special events. One look out the front door, a grab for the camera, and a moment in small-town America was captured! A boy, on a pony, with a dog. Three travelers, exploring their world! Three pilgrims, on a quest. Three reasons to love life, and the world we live in. Can there be anything so grand? In their minds, are they Ishmael, on their way to sea, or Don Quixote, searching for dragons? My dogs voices escorted them out of sight. As they disappered around the bend, I could hear the saddness in my dogs voices. The wanted the magic, they wanted the journey. Pepper and I have been there, and back again. Perhaps it's time for Shadow and I to take a road trip...