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Many years I’ve had an idea in my head.  I knew what I wanted to do.  I simply had to find the right pieces.  Today I found what I thought would be the ones. I couldn’t wait to get home and start to work.  It was scalding hot with impending thunderstorms.  I gathered my tools and set about the task at hand.

 

I had barely started when this big dark cloud drifted overhead. Sure thing it let out a loud clap of thunder and started to rain.  Well that put a damper on things for now.  I gathered all my tools and brought them back into the garage. I decided to sit there and listen to the Braves game on the radio while I enjoyed the rain. Quite impressive was the lightning.  The smell of the rain is always refreshing. It reminds me of when I was a kid.  We would play in the rain as long as there was not any lightning. I can still taste the salt from my skin being washed into my mouth by the rain.

 

After a span of time I decided to step inside and watch the end of the game.  I passed the time online as I waited for the storm to pass.  Finally it was safe to go back outside and continue.  Now I had done preliminary testing to see if there was room enough for the addition.  Yes, it seems as though there is.  I continued to drill and attach the bases.  Yes, I do believe this will work.

 

You see my little project was placing some lights under the tailgate of my old Dodge.  Years ago I had done the same of a couple of trucks.  I know it’s silly but it gives me pleasure to relive some of my past.  Picture this if you will. I was wearing one of the headlamps I recently picked up. You know, like I wore Coonhunting.  Here I am sitting behind my truck out in the drive drilling and screwing these lights on.  Once I had them all mounted it was time to reattach the tailgate.

 

Everything thus far had gone rather smoothly. Well, it didn’t last. It seems that the lights mounted in the center didn’t allow enough clearance for the tailgate to be lowered completely.  Upon further inspection I found that the tailgate was curved.  That slight curve was enough to catch on those center lights.  By this time I was sopping wet with sweat.  Frustrated, I decided to call it a night.  Tomorrow I’ll see if I can adjust the location of the center lights enough to allow the tailgate to operate properly.

 

Thus, my little project is put on hold.  There was a time that I would have been rather angry.  Tonight I simply laughed at my predicament. I’ll get something figured out.  I’ll find a way to have these lights.  They will symbolize the dim glow of my past.  Being mounted on the rear of the old Dodge will remind me of where I came from.  It’s important to always remember where you’ve been.  Though not as bright as where you’re going. The dim glow is always there to remind us of where we came from.

Here we are basically a month away from the start of hunting seasons here in Tennessee.  I can’t wait for the opening of squirrel season.  I have grand visions of working my two Mountain Feists a few times a week.  I’ve seen some encouraging signs from both of them over the summer.  Not to mention what they showed me during our spring squirrel season.

 

Although it can and will be frustrating at times, I’m looking forward to seeing these two grow and mature.  Jordan being older is doing very good on general commands and obedience.  Buster on the other hand, well he’s getting there. He’s younger and hard headed.  We’re working on that.  I can certainly tell when I skip a day or two working on things.  Honestly I’m not sure who’s teaching who. One thing is certain, these little dogs show you plenty of love.  They really want you to be happy with them.

 

Along the lines of getting back to my roots I’m toying with another idea.  There was a time many years back in which I trapped.  I’m leaning toward trying my hand at this age old outdoor skill once again. Granted it will only be on a very small scale. Nothing more than a hobby undertaking at best. However it will give me another reason to enjoy more time spent in nature.  Nonetheless it will be challenging in many ways.

 

In the not too distant future it will be time for  our deer season to begin.  Looking forward to harvesting a couple this year for the freezer.  The land I have to deer hunt is very peaceful.  Not to mention it’s way out in the middle of nowhere.  The type of place in which you can look up into the night sky and feel as though you could touch the stars.  There aren’t many places left around here these days that don’t have so much light pollution that you can’t easily see the heavens at night.

 

Most people think the reward in hunting is the harvest. I disagree. The reward is the time spent in nature.  Learning from the wildlife how to better one’s own way of living. Hearing the glorious chorus of birds as the sun begins to rise over the eastern horizon. Seeing the playful nature of squirrels and they race around through and over the land via the trees. Seeing a flock of turkeys bugging on the buffet of insects provided them through nature’s food chain. Watching a bachelor group of young bucks wandering around strutting their stuff like a group of teenagers. These and oh so many more things are the rewards of hunting and spending time in nature.

 

Weather walking in a park, driving down a backroad or even flying down the interstates of this great land. We can all take a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature and the wildlife who call it home.  Look around and truly notice what’s been right before you eyes all along.

 

I’ve spent the past few days burning up the last of my vacation time for the year.  The way life is these days for me there wasn’t any big plans.  I’m not able to take any trips of substantial distance.  That’s okay with me.  I’m doing what needs to be done. The days of jumping on a motorcycle and heading off into the sunset are over.  In fact I believe my riding days are done with. That is a period of my life that gave me many wonderful memories.

 

I stopped at a little diner for some lunch yesterday.  While enjoying my meal I was thinking about the many aspects of my life.  Gradually I’m working on simplifying things.  Somewhere between the field peas, cornbread and pot roast it hit me.  Why had I not figured this out before now?  The epiphany was that I needed to live my life much the same way I went about my solo scooter rides. I have a general idea of the direction I want to head off in.  But I’ll make the decision on which direction to continue on when I come to that particular crossroad. Many times on my scooter trips I would find a hidden treasure simply by following the pull of whatever way the spirit moved me.

 

One such pull that has never left me is the pull of nature.  I grew up hunting, fishing and camping.  These are three things that both ground and recharge me.  They are things that I can certainly enjoy alone, but I can also share them with others.  Speaking of others, I think it’s high time I step away from many folks.  In doing such I’m helping remove stress and aggravation from my life.  I’ve learned that I don’t need to explain myself to others. Chances are they wouldn’t understand anyway.

 

More than likely it will take longer than I want to simplify my life.  The time frame isn’t up to anyone other than myself.  Time is a precious commodity. If someone takes it for granted they won’t be experiencing much of mine afterwords. In doing so I won’t feel pressured to do anything with anyone.  Having spent lots of time in the past reaching out to others I feel it is time to focus more on myself.  You can give and give and give and then you are give out. Once I feel I’ve reached the place I need to be internally, then it will be time to look outwardly once again.

 

The past few days have brought some surprises my way.  Some I’m still amazed about. Although totally unexpected they have helped bring a clarity to my thoughts and pondering.  Hopefully as I move forward in life I’ll be able to get the thought process flowing more freely.  I know my writing has suffered and fallen off the past couple of years.  Now I feel the fire building inside once again.  Hopefully the steam will keep the process churning.

 

Who knows what direction I’ll take next? I certainly don’t have a clue.  But I surely can’t wait to find out.

Last night i enjoyed some fruits of my labors. Vegetables to be more accurate.   I picked some squash from my little raised bed garden. Then I reached over and pulled an onion from the ground.  Soon they had been washed and sliced and put into a pot.  Add a little water and seasoning and the flavors were filling the air.  To finish out this simple meal I heated up a couple peaces of ham. 

This may seem boring to you. That’s okay if it is. But you see it’s something much deeper for me.  That small raised bed garden takes me back to growing up and helping Daddy with his gardens.  He always enjoyed growing huge gardens. Neighbors would stop to admire the rows and rows of vegetables growing in our yard.  Weeds didn’t have a chance. Between running the tiller between the rows and chopping them with a hoe, they were not tolerated. 

I’ve enjoyed watching my little plants grow.  It relaxes me playing in the dirt. Sometimes my plants don’t  produce. Truthfully I don’t really plant my garden for the harvest.  I plant it to remember. I plant it to feel a closeness to my Daddy.  I plant it for the memories it brings to me.  

Not long ago I was searching for a tracking collar to use on my hunting dogs.  I try to find the small local businesses anytime I can. In doing so I ran across a jewel of a place.  Viola Valley Hunting Supply is owned by Rodney Wright.  Rodney has been hunting for over 40 years.  His love of the outdoors and hunting is what gave birth to Viola Valley Hunting Supply.

If you want anything from briar proof  clothing to boots to lights to leads and collars, Rodney is the man to see.  He not only sells these products, he uses them himself.  He took the time to show me how the tracking system worked. He didn’t just take my money and shove me out the door. Customer service is tough to find these days.  Rodney gives you that service.  He also adds little extras.  The tracking system I purchased he had already uploaded the topographical map. That’s the sort of extras I’m talking about. 

Give Rodney a call at 931-212-4256 or visit his website at violavalleyhuntingsupply.com

Driving home tonight took me back to those cool spring nights from when I was a boy. I covered some backroads that aren’t so backroad anymore. Riding with my window down listening to WSM on my radio felt right. The cool night air filling my lungs with good ole Tennessee countryside. I think of when we could pull off the road and drop the tail gait to exercise the hounds. 

Hearing the clear crisp sound of Jack echoing throughout the rolling hills of middle Tennessee was oh so therapeutic. Now the memories are every bit as therapeutic. It wasn’t lost that the dog box I was carrying in the bed of my pickup truck was the same dog box used all those many years before. Magnum, Jack, Blaze, Utah and Reble are but a few of the many hounds that traveled to and from the woods in that old dog box. 

Now days I don’t have time to hunt coons with a bawl mouthed Bluetick Coonhound. My new four legged friends are the Mountain Feist. It’s been a learning experience for sure. Second guessing myself causes me to wonder if I doing things the right way. Visiting with a well versed Mountain Feist man over the weekend has reassured me that I’m on the right track. Now it’s up to me to put in the time and effort to help my two Mountain Feist reach their full potential. 

Along the way hopefully I’ll get some exercise. Not to mention enjoying the beauty of my beloved Tennessee natural resources. The companionship and love shown by these little Mountain Feist is addictive. They certainly take a hold of you. 

Sitting here thinking about the past few weeks has been nice.  Doing a bit of fishing has brought back many fond memories. The beauty of nature is so relaxing. Feeling the tug of a fish is as exciting as ever. Seeing a juvenile Bald Eagle in flight was mesmerizing. Spending time with a few friends has been wonderful. Some visits were far too brief. However it was uplifting being able to hug and kiss someone I love.  Baseball was enjoyed. My Braves sweeping the Reds was nice. 

Enjoying the lost art of conversation with a couple of fine folks into the wee hours of the morning did wonders for me.  Many old stories were shared. Finding out some similarities was pretty neat. Talking about music, radios, cars, baseball and life in general was just what the doctor ordered.  Slowing life down and working my memory is a wonderful thing. 

One final thought. Home made Apple pie from home grown apples.  My oh my!

Many years I’ve spent drawing a good sharp knife across a stick of cedar.  From an early age whittling captivated me. Some folks say it’s an art form. Others say it is merely a waste of time.  For others, myself included it is soothing.  Time was that you couldn’t round a city square without seeing old men sitting on benches whittling away. Each day they made huge piles of shavings.  I’ve done this for nigh on forty  years.  All this time I’ve been missing something. That is until today.

Today was like most any other. I came in from work, tired. I had a few errands to run. Some of the ever present list of chores to take care of around the house. I stopped and did my Aunt’s grocery shopping first thing.  Next it was time to haul off the trash. I even finally remembered to take some of the cardboard boxes off to the recycle bin as well.

Once home it was too nice to go to sleep. I needed to get outside and do a little something. Believe me when I say they’ll always be something to do around here. I’ll never get caught up. Today I soaked up some much needed vitamin D. I built a little fire out back in the fire pit. Burning up some old limbs that I’d cut from a tree. Nothing big. I kept it small on purpose. In between feeding the fire I decided to spruce up the ole fire pit a little. Added some larger border to encircle the flaming embers.

Once that was completed it was time to play with my two loyal companions. Bella and Jordan. My two dogs.  It is amazing how relaxing it was simply sitting on that folding stool and watching the dogs and the fire.  I took the opportunity to do a little whittling.  That always takes me back. So many memories of sitting around a show ring watching a Friday or Saturday night Walking Horse Show.  Then there was always the Celebration in Shelbyville.

Drawing that blade from my trusty Buck knife across that stick of cedar it hit me. All those years seeing those old men on courthouse squares made sense.  They weren’t simply making little curly cues.  Even the ones who made things weren’t.  Uncle Buddy was a talented whittler. He made pliers and little wooden boxes with balls inside.  What I finally understood was that whittling is life.

Each of us receives our stick of wood. What we do with it is up to us. We can slowly draw our blade across and make tiny curly cues. We can hack away abruptly at it and shave of large jagged portions.  Either way we will dull our blades. Much like life, whittling takes time and work and a good knife to cut through it. We must take the time to hone the edge on our blade. Making it sharp enough to slice our way through the wood.

Nobody’s cedar stick is alike. Some are pretty red and smooth. Others are mixed white and red wood. Most, unless we’ve been given the best of the best will have knots. We have to decide what to do when we reach those knots. Will we turn and go the other way? Will we avoid them? Will we hone our knife and keep chipping away at it until we remove it?

Take the wood. That sweet aromatic red cedar is beautiful to both our eyes and and sense of smell.  Sometimes our cedar has that white, softer wood. Although not as aromatic and certainly not as easy to whittle, still we much slice away. Once we get through the soft,, white wood we’ll make it to the beautiful, fragrant, red cedar. The choice is ours. Do we work through it? Do we simply move on?

We can look at our life as a huge stick of cedar. Sometimes we split that huge stick to make much smaller sticks. Those smaller sticks are like periods in our life. There will be times when life is smooth. Our blade will remain sharp and swiftly move through the wood.

Other times our stick will be rough and filled with knots. Many times our blade will become dull. Many times we will want to say to hell with it and simply give up.  The choice is ours. As for myself I find it difficult to go on most times here lately. Years ago there was nothing that could stop me. As I age I take pause to hopefully make wise choices as to the path I’ll take. I don’t always choose wisely.  Thus far I’ve been able to continue. Working on that knotty part of life causes the need for me to sharpen my knife. Sometimes it seems as though it will take forever to slowly chip away at that knot. Eventually I’ll figure out a way to get that knot cut out.

Life often will be rough. Much like that knotty cedar stick. But if we can keep drawing our blades across that wood we will be rewarded. We can look at all those many curly cues lying at our feet. We can smell the sweet fragrance of our labors. Each one telling its own story. Each one a chapter in our life.  Let’s keep our knives sharp so that when we grow old we can look back at that pile of shavings and smile. Look back knowing that although it hasn’t always been easy we finally made it. We finally get to smell the fragrance and enjoy the fruits of all our labors.

How long has it been since you truly looked at labels when buying something?  I want to challenge you to do that the next time you are out shopping. See how difficult it is to find something made in America.

Before anyone get’s their panties in a wad, let me say I realize it is a global economy these days.  In fact I have readers to this very blog from 74 countries around the world.  I want to thank each and every one of you who takes time to read my posts. I’m humbled and grateful for all of you. No matter where you are located you can buy American made products. So try them out if you haven’t.

I suppose that I have known for years now about the decline in American manufacturing. Hell I’ve worked in transportation for damn near three decades. I’ve witnessed it first hand. But it has gone on too long. We barely have anything made here anymore.

I recently tried to find a pair of black boots made in America. The huge boot store I was shopping in didn’t have any. In fact they had very few American made boots period. I couldn’t make myself pay over $200 for a pair made in China. I could not nor would not buy them.  This was the straw that broke this ole boys back.  I decided right then and there that I would do everything in my power to find, purchase and promote American made products.

That’s where you come in. I want to know about American made products. I want to hear from you. Send me messages here on my blog. Make a comment to this post and I will see them.  We can make a difference. We can get this grass roots effort going. Let’s share all the American made products that we love and use. Let’s reward these companies for keeping their jobs here. Let’s reward them for standing on the principal  of American made by American workers. We can bring this country of ours back to the greatness that it once was.

I believe this. I also believe you do too. The time is now. Step up and do your part.  I look forward to hearing from you.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”

Viktor E. Frankl
Man’s Search For Meaning

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