Gone Writing

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I’ve been in a writing competition since March, producing something every week or so, and I’ve somehow made it into the top 100 of this thing. Hard for me to believe. My friend Katie had suggested it to me a long time ago and then again before this round started and I thought, Well, my life isn’t too busy right now. Heh.

There have been long weeks and short weeks. The short weeks appear to be occurring more frequently now and that’s making me nervous. I’ve already used all my “byes”, not even for any good reasons. Well, maybe that one leading up to me being on the plane headed to London was legitimate.

I’m producing all of this stuff. Some of it I’m proud of, some of it was totally phoned in, last minute, “Please don’t vote me off the island” stuff. Everybody has a bad week.

But it’s doing something. Stirring up things on the bottom. There is churning and it’s weird and good. When you’ve gone a long time without dipping in to that part of yourself where things are alive and happening, then you do…eek. I mean, it’s scary but it’s also wonderful. It reminds me of the time we cleaned out the fish pond (a cement well house that had an attached “cement pond” — no idea how else to describe it) at Granny and Paw Paw’s. We found an old rubber ball and all manner of things that had fallen into it over time. That pond had been smooth like glass as long as I could remember. Even though the bottom was dark, everything had settled. Then we started to clean it and everything churned up into this disgusting mess.

It was all fun until I decided to sit on the edge staring into the water like Narcissus and fell right in. Twenty years of fish pond sludge is enough to make anyone cry.

The Road Trip

While we were recording an episode of Pickled Okra a few months ago, Jolene and I started talking about the possibility of her coming out to visit again over the Christmas holiday. I had a similar desire for a little vacation and all of this talk morphed into us planning out a road trip from western New York to Oklahoma.

We kept talking and planning, but there wasn’t much real planning because we were both so busy. We both knew we wanted to do it and booked my ticket to New York and before we knew it, there were about 2 weeks left before it was supposed to happen and we hadn’t figured much of anything out.

I spent an evening researching restaurants that sounded appealing and places to hear some live music in Nashville. Jolene found us a hotel in downtown Nashville and we figured out the route we were going to take and called the whole thing good.

We left the plan open so that we could stop wherever we wanted to along the way and the only place we had to be by a certain time was our Nashville hotel on Saturday night. It was a little strange for me to get on the road without hotel reservations anywhere, but we were able to locate good accommodations all along the way.

Thanks to Misti, we had ourselves a hashtag (#OkraToGo) and I tweeted throughout the trip with it.

I could give you a detailed recap here, but since it’s already been done, I’m going to point you in the direction of our podcasts that we recorded during the trip. We recorded one episode of Pickled Okra while sitting in the car waiting for a table at a restaurant, another once we made it back to Oklahoma, and then another over coffee at my kitchen table. You’ll get a complete picture of the trip there. Enjoy!

Episode 10 – Slips, Trips, and Blazers
Episode 11 – Emotional Outbursts
Episode 12 – Coffee Chat

Five Minute Friday: Tree

Paw Paw carried me up the hill as he looked out across the pasture for a mama cow and her new baby calf. I don’t really remember this part, only that I was out with him that day to check the cows. I think he’d taken me to give my mom a little break (she had a new baby — my brother, Kyle).

We got to the top of this hill and somewhere along the way the mama cow was located and she was none too happy to see us. Paw Paw knew he was going to have to run and he knew it wasn’t something safe or smart to do with little 20 month old me in his arms.

There, on top of the hill, was a tree. One of its branches was low enough that he could reach up and set me down on it. He put my tiny arms around the trunk of the tree and told me to hold on and not let go. I don’t think I was scared just then, but I knew he was serious. Maybe I should add that I was speaking in full sentences at this point, so it wasn’t like he was sticking a tiny baby up there with no clue what was going on. I was a toddler though and we should probably be glad this all happened in the 1980s and not now, otherwise I might have ended up on the news.

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Paw Paw told me to sit still and hold on tight to the tree and that’s exactly what I did. I trusted him absolutely. He went to lead the mama cow away from me and to find her baby. I don’t know how much time passed, but the next thing I remember, and the strongest, earliest memory of my life is what happened next.

Running up to the tree where I sat high above the ground, here came the mama cow. She ran right up underneath me and the top of her head brushed the bottom of my little bare feet. I hugged the tree tight and squalled just as loud as my lungs would permit. That scared the cow and she turned to run away from my bellowing cries.

A few moments later, after what felt like forever, Paw Paw returned and rescued me from my perch. I recall telling this story, especially the bit about the cow rubbing my feet, to anyone that would listen. I know Paw Paw can tell it better, so maybe I’ll ask him to refresh my memory on all the details. And maybe I’ll go find this tree.

Photo above was taken around the time of the cow adventure, maybe even the same day. I feel like that might have been the outfit I was wearing when it happened.

I’m participating in Five Minute Friday and you can, too!