Archive for Mostly true

No Tall Trees For Me!

A tornado tore through Longview, TX on May 8, 2019, doing an incredible amount of damage. I’m guessing the number of downed trees was in the thousands, many homes and autos were damaged, and some residents were without power for two weeks. We lost no trees–we don’t have any large ones in our yard–but we were without power for six days. However, damage was severe all around us. Six weeks later, the tree trimming and removal crews, and city crews, and the residents, have almost completed the cleanup, and now it seems some homeowners are taking steps to see that they don’t suffer damage should another storm come through. I’ve seen several within a few blocks of us having large trees removed from their yards—most of them are tall pines. Only thing is, some of there nearby neighbors aren’t doing the same.

storm 5-8-19 2

And, by the way, when we were shopping for a house in Longview, tall pine trees were on the “absolutely not” list. And that included the houses around the ones we were interested in buying. We don’t needs no tall trees!

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What Did He Say!?!?

angelI don’t think anyone will argue when I say, Charlie ain’t no angel. I don’t have time to list all the bad things I’ve done, said, or thought. Take the “said” thing for instance. I’m not proud of some of the language I’ve used and let me assure you that though I use the past tense, it’s more recent than I want to admit. Like, oh, an hour ago. Yep. My daddy wasn’t no sailor, but when it comes to cussin’, I couldn’t have had a better instructor. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.

My most recent outburst occurred this morning (twice), when I messed up the jalapeno bread (twice). In retrospect, it was comical. Except for the water and jalapenos and cheese, I put the ingredients in the bread maker last night. Then, at 6:00 A.M., I added the cheese and jalapenos, and started the machine. It takes four hours to complete the cooking cycle; rest, mix, rise, mix, rise, mix, bake. But as the machine began to mix for the second time (two hours into the process), I noticed it didn’t sound like it normally does at that point. As I was opening the lid, I saw the water, still in the measuring cup, sitting beside the machine. I didn’t use all the words the old man taught me, but I think I got most of them in.

So! Off to the store I went to get another jalapeno! Got home, cleaned the machine, and put in another batch. Thirty minutes later, when the first mix began, something—AGAIN—didn’t sound right. I opened the lid, and it was apparent the mixing blade was nowhere to be found. I’m fairly sure I got all the words in that time. Dad woulda been proud! Or, not.

Finally found the mixing paddle in the trash with the first “dry” ingredients, and put it in, started the machine again, and I’m hoping the bread will turn out okay. We’ll know in about three hours. And if doen’t, I’ll put together another batch. Won’t be no more cussin… today.

Like I always say, “I’m gettin’ better.” But I sure ain’t no angel.

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Drifting

Maybe it’s a good thing—this new way we’re living. Actually, we’re not even sure it’s a new thing. Maybe, like my grandpa used to say, it’s the same thing only different. It’s kind of like riding a makeshift raft down a slow-moving river. Bumping into the shore now and then, sometimes spinning slowly, then finding the middle of the stream and moving on. We’re not sure where the stream will carry us to, but we trust it will be a good place. Our faith is strong—most of the time—but we admit it fades now and then. We explain away the dimming of our faith by saying it’s merely wondering. Wondering what lies ahead, not afraid of it really, just curious. That’s what we say—but only to ourselves; in our thoughts. But when the raft bumps hard on the shore or spins ‘round too many times, it’s hard not to grab onto the edge and even harder not to shout out. But…

lazy river quote

They were there when this journey began. Too many to count lined the shore, wishing us safe travels, telling us it would all be good—whatever it was—and wherever we landed. “We’ll pray!” they shouted as the current pulled us down the stream. And I’m sure they did. But they’re gone now. Or maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re the ones that left, and maybe we want it this way. We’ve always loved to travel, leaving the past and moving on to the next thing. And the next. Taking no one with us, but promising to stay in touch, which we seldom did.

Well… at least the current is slow. And… we don’t have to worry about daylight savings time.

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Beautiful Exiles

beautiful exiles

Beautiful Exiles

I’m currently reading Meg Waite Clayton’s, Beautiful Exiles, a novel about Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn, also an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.

I’m paraphrasing the following from a passage in the book, simply because it rings so true to me. Especially regarding my autobiography, Just A Boy: When a writer, more so if he’s an amateur like me, lets go of a book, he does so, knowing all the wrong in it will forever be wrong. And even the bits—and it truly seems it’s only bits—that are good and right leave your soul ripped out of your chest and placed on the page to be examined by anyone who cares to read them.

This—to me anyway—rings even more true today than it did in the days of Hemingway and Gellhorn. Thanks mostly to the Internet, which has given license to “perform” to anyone—me included—who dares take their shot at writing, singing, comedy, art, et al. It’s a good thing but also a very bad thing. Good, in the sense we can take our shot, but bad in the sense that so can millions of others, and the odds of being “shot down” are high.

I’m not complaining, or excusing my lack of success, I’m merely trying to convey how this feels—this writing thing. I’ve often said that to write, one must be either very intelligent or somewhat insane. I’ve decided I’m just smart enough… to be fool enough… to write.

Here’s a list of links to my published works:

Just A Boy

Just A Man

Be Still

Juli

Shelter

The Devil’s Dust

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I Can’t Stop the Bleeding

At that moment I was twelve going on twenty. I’d jumped so far forward in life my head was spinning but, in a strange way, it was all starting to make sense. But it was making sense in a way that made no sense at all. As I looked across the table at my mom, her tears dripping onto the Formica-topped kitchen table, I wondered about love, I wondered about God, I wondered what life was all about. And as all these things raced around in my mind, they began to form the new me—the soon-to-be-a-man me. I suddenly realized, and I admit a tinge of fear accompanied the thought, that I had to—somehow—protect my mom, my brothers, and my sister. From my dad.

~~~~~

The above is an excerpt from a book I began writing last November. I abruptly stopped writing the book, due to a very unexpected circumstance. Most of you are aware of what happened but if not, you can read my post, The World Stopped Turning, for the details. But there’s more to it than that. I simply didn’t, and still don’t, know if I can write the rest of this story.

But, a few days ago, I began reading a book, not by but about, Ernest Hemingway. As I read it, I was inspired, not by his talent, or his person, but by his pain. He was a tormented man, and he was not afraid to display his frailty to the world. He said this about writing:clouds and mountains HemingwayI’m certainly no Hemingway, but I bleed, and I cannot stop the bleeding. I’ll let you know when the book is finished.

Just A Boy

 

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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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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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