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The New Normal

My friend, Diana Preston, recently used the phrase “new normal” regarding life after her battle with cancer and life after my wife, Sherry’s, recent medical emergency. I didn’t like it. Another friend used it a few days later, then Diana said it again in a comment to one of my posts about Sherry’s road to recovery. The post is entitled, “The Same Thing… Only Different.” HA! Imagine my surprise when it hit me that “the new normal” was indeed, the same thing only different. The following is Diana’s comment, and my response:

Diana said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:33 am · Edit

I have a new normal after cancer. I think it’s true you can’t totally go back … as a person is changed after such an event…. As life is even more priceless… I have become more thankful…

charlesmashburn said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:47 am · Edit

I agree, Diana. Things like cancer and traumatic events change us–sometimes in an instant–and our lives will sometimes be altered forever. But I also believe the new normal can be an even better normal than the previous one. An example being your words, “I have become more thankful.” Sometimes the calamities of life bring us to a fuller appreciation of it, and we’re able to focus on our blessings. I’ve also learned that when we are on the outside watching our loved ones go through these things, we too are changed. We learn to appreciate the blessings of the friends and family we’ve been given to share our lives with, and we see them as the precious and valuable gifts they are.

~~~~~~~~

Yes, life throws us fastballs, curves and change-ups. The key is to know nothing can be thrown at us that we cannot handle. We might have to take a pitch or two, and we might sometimes swing and miss, but we must never give up.  We should dig in and get ready to knock the next pitch out of the park. And, hey, if your new normal is a single… nothing wrong with that. You’re on base and in the game. Maybe one of your friends/teammates/loved ones will knock it out of the park and you’ll both score.

wherever you are

 

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Obsessing Still

Obsessing Still

 

In my youth I was obsessed

The automobile and its awesome power

Owned me

Its only rival the music that

Moved me

Or… were they partners in the game 

Both have ceased to call to me

 

jbs house (2) quote

Breathing deep of the unseen rose

While gazing at silhouettes on smooth water

As daylight bows to night

 

In the void, seeking; sometimes finding

Blessed inner peace

Wanting nothing more

Hoping for nothing less

Obsessing on its promised caress

All else… scattering in the road

Behind me

 

Now and then, glancing up to the mirror

Watching… as the silent movie plays

Parts and pieces bouncing and tumbling

Into the muddy ditch of the past

Once filled with the raging waters

Of my life

 

Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

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Big Brother is Everywhere!

Sometimes the Internet really irritates me. Maybe some of you have had this happen; someone puts a post on Facebook, and you jump right in with an opinion or an example of how you agree with said post. Then… nothing. Right! Nothing! Ten—maybe fifteen—others throw out their opinions, apparently conversing with one another, but your comment seems to have been rendered invisible. What’s the deal?

A good example was a post yesterday. A friend—not a good friend, I admit—posted a concern about how it seems we just have to think about something and, BAM, we start getting ads on Facebook about whatever it was we were thinking about. It’s downright eerie, right? Well, I’ve experienced such phenomena, and so I jumped into the fray to commiserate and discuss the fact that, um, that uh, guy… you know the Facebook honcho… yeh yeh yeh… that guy, seems to be spying on us. All 300 billion or so of us.

minion cell phoneWhat’s been happening to me is truly bizarre. It’s my phone. Since Sherry’s been out of pocket, my diet has not been, well, it’s been pretty bad. Lots of Fritos and bean dip, and easy to cook stuff. You know, like… Fritos and bean dip. So, the strange thing is—the Facebook dude is no doubt behind it—and Verizon, too, I’m sure.

What happens is, every time I eat Fritos and bean dip, my phones ring tone changes, and it’s not a pretty sound, if you get my drift. What really gets me though—makes me mad, if you want the truth—is when I answer the phone, there’s no one there. And, this awful smell comes out of nowhere!

minion in thongHappened at the grocery store checkout the other day. The checkout girl looked at me funny and giggled when my phone blasted its irreverent “ring tone”, and she really cracked up when I pulled out my phone and answered it. Then—the smell, ya know—her eyes got wide and she covered her mouth and nose with a hand, while waving the other one at me like she was shooing flies, and said, “You ain’t right!”, before promptly vacating her station. I just grabbed my stuff and skated on outta there.

It’s all annoying. I’m thinking about getting off Facebook and switching to Cricket.

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Thank You, God, For Her

In the spring of 1995, I was just winding down from a period in my life when I had severely tested the boundaries between right and wrong. I look back on those days and wonder how I survived, much less became the somewhat decent man I am. I credit God for both, but he has a co-star in the latter; He sent a beautiful lady—an angel, I believe—to show me what love is all about.

I wrote the following, rather clumsy, amateurish poem a few days before the first anniversary of the day I met Sherry, and today, almost 24 years after that first meeting, the words I wrote are truer than ever. Except that is, I can truly say I no longer worry about her, because I know God will always bring her home safely to me; and I no longer have to hope it’s her, because now, I know it’s her.

Sherry will be home soon, and at the end of what’s been more than three of the most trying weeks of our lives, I know when she walks through that door I’ll say, “Thank you, God, for her.”  

God, I Hope That’s Her

 I remember when we met

It seems like only yesterday

You walked into my life

I knew I wanted you to stay

 

And it still makes me smile

Every time I picture you

As you walked up to me

In that pretty dress of blue

 

I spent my whole life searching

And wondering where you were

And the first time that I saw you

I whispered, “God, I hope that’s her

 

grin-big-earsOur love grew so fast

We couldn’t stand to be apart

We were meant to be together

We knew it from the start

 

I wanted to be with you

Every minute of every day

Every time you left me

I wanted you to stay

 

I thought about you all the time

And I wondered where you were

Every time the phone would ring

I whispered, “God, I hope that’s her

 

I promise that I’ll love you

For the rest of my life

I want you with me always

I’m so happy you’re my wife

 

Now, when you’re not at home

And it starts getting late

I sometimes start to worry

I walk the floor and wait

 

I tell myself, when you get home

I’ll ask you where you were

And every time I hear a car

I whisper, “God, I hope that’s her

 

Copyright © 1996 C. Mashburn

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Me & Tater Salad

My first wife, Evelyn, brought it up in a Facebook comment yesterday, so I thought I might as well share it with y’all along with another related story.

It was Thanksgiving—I’m going to guess 1970—and we were living with my maternal grandparents, Ma and Pa, in Moab, Utah. Ma had invited her friend, Edith to Thanksgiving dinner, and Edith brought potato salad. Well, I didn’t care for potato salad, and thought nothing of not putting any on my plate. Edith, however, noticed it right away, and thinking she’d help me out, handed the bowl to me and said, “Charlie, you didn’t get any of my potato salad.”

I said, “Thanks, I don’t want any.”

“Oh,” she said, obviously hurt that I didn’t want any of her potato salad.

A few minutes later, she said, “Charlie. Are you sure you don’t want any of my potato salad?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I don’t care for potato salad. But, thank you.”

I think this is where it became a challenge for her. “I think you’d like my potato salad. It’s very good”

She got a raised eyebrow from me with that comment. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw Pa grin at me, then quickly look back at his plate.

edith bunkerI looked across the table at Edith. The hurt expression was gone, and a glare had taken its place. This was not going to end well.

She put one hand on the bowl of potato salad and said, “You should at least taste my potato salad. It’s really good, and I just know you’ll like it.”

I put on my best smile, and said, “Lady! I don’t want any GUFFING potato salad! (I did not say guffing.)

Pa busted out laughing. Ma gasped, put her hand over her heart, then shot Pa a glare that could curdle gravy. Poor Edith was in shock. Evelyn, attempting to save the day, said, “I’ll have some! It’s good!” Me, I went back to eating my turkey and dressing.

I was wrong. It ended just fine. Not another word was said about that stupid potato salad. By the way, in later years, I developed a taste for potato salad. I love the stuff!

~~~~

Several years later, I was single, and visiting Pa, who had retired and moved back to Fritch, Texas. It was the early eighties, Ma had passed in the late seventies, and Bunk (Pa’s nickname) was baching it too. Evelyn had gotten tired of following me all over the country (I was –still am, I guess—a gypsy of sorts.) And so, we went our separate ways. Well, I went, she stayed put.

Any way Bunk and I went down to what was, I believe, the only bar in Fritch, where we played some pool and drank a few beers. It was late, maybe about eleven o’clock, when this drunk guy came busting in, looking like he wanted to fight, and not caring with who.

The guy was a couple inches taller than me and outweighed me by probably sixty-seventy pounds. He stood in the doorway, glaring as he looked around the room and, since the only other person in the place was the old guy behind the bar (Pa was in the men’s room), his glare landed on me. I smiled politely as the big guy lumbered toward me but kept a firm grip on my pool cue. You know, in case he didn’t want to be friends.

First thing he said was, “You know who I am?” He had a funny way of saying things, so I thought he was joking. I grinned at him.

I heard the men’s room door open, and Pa laughed out loud then said, “Tater Salad!” The big guy looked past me, his face lit up, and he shouted, “Bunk!”

I said, “Tater Salad?”

The big guy ignored me and as he strolled toward Bunk, said, “Just the man I want to talk to.”

“Tater Salad?” The guy still ignored me.

“Well,” Bunk said, shaking the big guy’s hand, “Buy me and my grandson a drink, and we’ll talk all you want.”

The guy glanced at me, grinned, then yelled over his shoulder, “Boo-Boo, Give us three Crown and Coke!”

“Don’t call me Boo-Boo, Tater Salad, or you’ll be drinking through a straw for ‘bout a month.”

They all laughed—Bunk, Tater Salad, and Boo-Boo. I said, “Tater Salad?”

We climbed aboard stools at the bar and Pa said, “What’s up, Ron?”

I said, “Ron?”

“I’m fixin’ to go into stand-up comedy, Bunk. And I got some ideas for routines, but I figure you must have some I can use, too. Can’t nobody tell a story like Bunk Stringer.”

So, Bunk told him some of his best stories, and Ron “Tater Salad” White soaked ‘em up.

When Bunk had about run out of material, I looked around him at “Ron” and said, “Tater Salad?”

ron whiteHe grinned a drunk-on-his-butt grin and half snarled, half laughed, “You just ain’t gonna let that go, are ya? Ah-right, here’s how it goes.”

He told me the story about being drunk and getting arrested for driving on a sidewalk in Fritch. The cops knew who he was so when they asked him his name, he—being the smart aleck he was—said, “They call me Tater Salad.” And, a legend was born.

When he finished, Bunk laughed and elbowed me. “Charlie, tell him your tater salad story!” And so, I did. Ron got a big kick out of it and said he might use it in one of his routines when he hit the big time. He never did. Use it that is. He hit the big time, big time. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

~~~~~~~

Please check out my remodeled website and my latest books:

Just A Boy ~ A childhood memoir

Just a Man ~ A book of encouragement

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My First Video!

A cute little ad for “JUST A BOY“, put together by the publisher. I need to learn how to make one!

Available in paperback or e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Nov. 10, 2018:

carole singersYesterday, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items–bread, milk, etc.–and when I walked in, I heard them, and then saw them. Three young women—one with a ukulele, singing Christmas songs. They weren’t bad, but not that good either. Someone had obviously told them they sounded “just like” Lady Antebellum. To say the least it was irritating, so I quickened my step and hurried toward the other side of the store. They followed me. No, really.

So! l ducked down the bread aisle, where things went from bad to worse. I tried to grab a loaf of bread as I went and, of course, wound up with a “loaf” of something one molecule above rice cakes. Didn’t care, and only discovered after I got home that it was some kind of 98 grain (none of which were flour), gluten free, no sugar, no salt, no ANYTHING, organic “loaf?” What? If it’s not bread, don’t put it in the bread aisle!

They found me. I looked back as they were turning down the aisle, singing, “All I Want For Christmas is YOU”. They seemed to be shouting now, and their eyes were glowing. Smoke was coming from the ukulele strings! When I turned to flee, the aisle was completely blocked by carts, each of which had a little old lady behind it. They were all glaring at me like I’d yelled BINGO and was only playing with one card! I was trapped!

I must have blacked out.

As I stood in my kitchen, reading the ingredients list on the crushed loaf of whatever it was, wondering where it had come from, the doorbell went, doo-oon-guuh. I really need to fix that.

One of the policemen—there were four of them, two waiting at the curb, probably in case I tried to make a run for it—was very understanding—he had a great smile—and said no charges would be filed by the store if I’d go back and pay for the loaf. His partner said it would also probably be a good idea if after that I stopped at the music store and picked up a ukulele. He said the owner of the one I’d run over with my pickup—several times—would probably be willing to drop the assault charges if it was a premium model. He said the Santa hat she’d been wearing had saved her from serious injury.

I’m not gonna shop at that store again until after New Years.

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