Greetings to All and Welcome to the East Wing

Did ye ever really mess things up on a computer?  Now one of the big fears that adults have with computers is, “I’ll mess things up, I’ll make a mistake, I’ll loose the stuff.” Well I just did. I messed up, I made a mistake, I lost stuff.  Now that’s not supposed to be. I know ‘bout these little machines, these things we call PC’s.  ‘Cause back in the day, when these little fellers were young, I bought one and took it apart, put it back together again just so I’d understand how it worked, and I learned. I know ‘bout ‘em, these  little PC’s. And have know ‘bout ‘em for a long time. I’m not afraid of ‘em like many people my age. I tell people “don’t let these little things get ya frustrated. If ya get mad at it, pull the damn plug outa  the wall, or shoot it, which ever one makes ya feel the best.”The more ya know  ‘bout anything the more apt ya are to make a dumb mistake with a piece of equipment. A mistake that will cost ya dearly. And so it was that  cold, gray  day in the East Wing. The same reason that farmers get killed while operating complex machinery, complacency, familiarity, and knowing how it works, and  not appreciating  its fallibility. Familiarity with mechanical devices, and some how they become our trusted friends, incapable of doing harm. 

It’s never the new farmer that gets killed with the corn picker, the combine, or the tractor, it’s  the older farmer who’s  operated this complex machine for years, just trying to save minutes in solving a problem with the equipment.   The one who took the shortcut, the one who bypassed the standard operating protocol. The one who was the most familiar with the equipment. The farmer who did not shut the equipment off when a problem developed,  it was that  farmer who died.  

I’m glad to say that nothing as dramatic as that happened in the East Wing, but I did loose a really good story, one that can never re replaced.  Just a dumb laps of memory of which key to push next, and the story’s gone for ever.  Ya gota  keep in mind that most people don’t know how to loose stuff on a computer with a keystroke,  but I do, and did.

There will never be an effort on my part to retell the story. I can’t. It just doesn’t work like that from the East Wing.  Me and the cat, Sophia, we set and tell the story from the brain to the fingers to the screen. The cat checks the spelling and I tell the story. When it’s done, it’s done. I have no ability to recreate the story.  I don’t know why I can’t tell a story twice, I just can’t. I only remember concepts,  and the cat can’t remember either, or won’t  tell if she does.  Damn Republican Cat.

It wasn’t a great story, but was a good story, I talked ‘bout Spike and his growth from a little frightened kitten into his present position as Man Cat of the house. How he portrays  the “Lion Walks Tonight” when the sun goes down. Spike as a 12 lbs Man Cat, it’s a site to behold.

There were stories ‘bout the loss of a cousin, Burl Cole who passed away a week ago. Of how he was a special cousin living next to me at TipTop. One of 12 cousins, so poor they only had one dog to share among 12 cousins. And my family being much in the same boat. But I had my own dog, which my mama made me share with one of the cousins. Of not knowing any of Burl Cole’s children. Of never telling them all the stories I know ‘bout their Grandma and Grandpa Cole when we all lived at TipTop.

I even talked ‘bout maybe going to Kentucky and telling the family of Burl Cole, a family I never knew,  the stories of TipTop. The stories ‘bout my Aunt Mag and the Ginger Bread.  I’d tell it to not only the children of Burl Cole, but also to his grandbabies, the grandbabies I  also didn’t know. But I’d tell ‘em the stories.

I even remembered where that Cole Clan lived, out there on Kentucky State Road 30. Between Salyersville and Jackson. Right there by the Bud Keith Tabernacle. That Baptist Church, along the way to Jackson, on Hwy 30, just before ya get to the Breathitt County Line , which is up there at the top of the mountain. Up there by Bob Allen’s horses, at the County Line of Magoffin and Breathitt.  Up there where ya look into one county and turn ‘round and look at the other county. Pretty country, up there at the top of the hill by Bob Allen’s horses.

Talked ‘bout star gazing into the cold of January Nights ,a story that got lost by the wrong push of the computer  button, and how much fun it was, even in the cold weather, to stargaze.  Of the extraordinary January new moon, and how much it stood out from the rest, ‘bout the  difference from the summer full moon and the January full moon, ‘bout looking at the January full moon with not the telescope but with the binoculars.

Even talked  ‘bout the nighttime cold of the full moon and how much fun if was be outside when ya didn’t want to, but ya were just ‘cause ya see stuff that most people wouldn’t  see in a live time, and how that’s  really cool.

It made me feel bad to loose a good story, not a great story, but a good story.  A story that ya might’ve  liked. It was not a great story, but a good story. The kind someone may have enjoyed reading. Lost forever in the magical world of cyberspace.

Now this cyberspace stuff is what they call it in  computer talk  when ya make mistakes and Sh…t.  happens … It just does. Things that go away in the blink of an eye. It’s kinda like that bump in the night thing ya remembered when ya were a kid. That kinda scary stuff, that ya never wanted to admit ya were afraid of, but ya were.  I was too, them bumps in the night, they scared me too, sill do.

It was a good story, but not a great story. Lost forever somewhere within the twilight zone in cyberspace, lost somewhere between now and then, forever suspended somewhere between yesterday, today, and tomorrow, never to be read for the first time, a good story, forever lost simply when finger action was disconnected from a brain and  a keypad that just happened to be available.

It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “reach out and touch someone” Forever lost, a story.  A story forever not to be judged on its merits, it was not a great story, but I thought it to be a good story, we’ll never know for sure. Cyberspace, just anther word for  the vacuum  cleaner for mistakes of fingers and brains, when keyboards are throw into the mix.

As another tax filing season starts my world gets crazy again, as has been the case for a long time.  And I love it!   Early in the tax filing season, those who know they qualify for or otherwise have a large refund want their taxes files as fast as possible. Those who are most desperate for their money go to one of those fly by night operators who offer an “instant cash” refund on the spot. I don’t do that. For one it’s illegal, and for two,  those folks  doing such shady business are taking advantage of people in need, and I choose not to do so.

Last Tuesday I encountered a husband and wife so desperate for money that they offered to allow my to collect their $6,900.00 tax refund if I’d only give them $1,000.00 that day. I didn’t take the deal. But I proposed to loan ‘em $1,000.00 until the got their refund, which was going to be ‘’bout nine to twelve days. The reason for my proposal was simple, I knew, I just knew, there are somebody out here in Starke County Indiana who’d do such a thing, take advantage of these people here in Starke County

Now don’t get me wrong on this deal, I’m not trying to come across as “look at me, am I’m a good boy or what” I’m just saying when ya do people wrong in this life, ye pay for it, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but ya pay for the sins against the least of our brothers.

I’ve never been able to do that type business during the income tax filing season, and it presents itself every year. Maybe I’m just too Baptist, or maybe just too Catholic, or maybe I’m just too Baplic.  I don’t care what the reason, Ya just don’t do that kinda stuff and sleep well at night.

Ya might count the money, but ya might go to hell as a result of the money count.  I’m sure someone’s   gona  say, there he goes again, that’s the Baptist preaching stuff coming out. And it might be so.   But do ya really want to run that risk? What if I’m right?  Hell’s a long time ya know.

Those folks agreed to the loan.  So I filed their tax return and wrote ‘em a RHCO check for the $1,000.00. They assured me that when the refund check arrived they’d come directly to my office and repay the loan. I believe ‘em. Without faith we’re nothing. I had a good day, that Tuesday, as well as the rest of the week. Just putting faith in another person, and believing that they tell ya the truth, that  makes ya feel good. It makes me feel good that day and the rest of the week. I had a good week.

Remember those little angels I told ya ‘bout one time, that sit on my shoulders, well that little feller on the left, that little red devil angel, said “you dumb hillbilly, no wonder ya don’t have anything in this world, you’re  too stupid to know a good deal when ya see it, that’s why  you’re forever doomed to be poor white trash”.

That was just before the little white angel on my right shoulder reached ‘round behind my head and damn near knocked the little feller off my shoulder with the most amazing left hook I’d ever felt behind my head as she whispered in to my right ear, “he knows what ya do” Little angles, they keep ya thinking, right and wrong, they keep ya thinking. They help keep ya on track. Devils and angels, they’re part of the plan. Right and wrong. Our freedom to choose, right from wrong, truly a gift from God. Little angels with left hooks, WOW ! Right from wrong.

Ready or not, Groundhog Day’s coming! Will the groundhog see his shadow? I don’t have a clue, but I do know that  behind the Groundhog Day deal is a rather odd bit of science trivia that I know ‘bout.

First the folklore side of the story. Look at the legend that has had brought folks  to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania ever since the late 1800’s. According to the story, if Phil the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow on February 2, it means there will be six more weeks of crap winter  weather. If not, the rest of winter will just melt away into spring in a few days.

Now basis of this story originates  from European Folklore a long, long  ways back. Since medieval times, people watched hedgehogs, badgers, bears or wolves to see if they saw their shadows on Candlemas, February 2. Once people settled in America, the local groundhogs took the place of bears, badgers and wolves. And maybe ever lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Now this groundhog day thing really took off when in 1887 a newspaperman wrote ‘bout some locals who got drunk one day, dug up a sleeping groundhog, cooked the damn thing, and had a groundhog barbecue while drinking rye whisky . To embellish the story, the newspaper guy threw in the forecasting skills of  the  ole groundhog, called him Punxsutawney Phil. And ya know the rest of the story. To come up with a storyline  like that the feller must have been a democrat, ‘cause republicans don’t drink rye whisky.

Now the Science behind the Groundhog Day  is kinda interesting too.  ‘Cause when people continue a weather tradition, it is usually because it contains at least a little bit of truth. And that little  bit of truth for the Groundhog’s Day in America is related to the El Niño weather pattern that develops  from time to time across, not only North America, but the whole Earth.

The El Niño, an abnormally warm Tropical Pacific current,  that warps global wind and weather patterns. In North America, it usually produces a warm winter starting along the West Coast and expanding eastward. By mid-winter, the warmth of a moderate to large El Niño weather pattern usually reaches the Great Lakes and Midwest. Then, as the El Niño weakens, the warmth retreats and normal winter returns to the East.  But the real story ‘bout Feb 2nd is not the Groundhog. It’s the Pancakes. Yes the Pancakes!

For the rest of the world, Candlemas, February 2, has a particular smell, and it’s not Groundhog.  It’s the delicate scent of pancakes being cooked for family and friends. Whose turn  it is to flip the pancake with a neat flick of the wrist, deftly maneuvering the pan with the right hand while holding a gold coin in the left.  It mustn’t fall, stick to the ceiling or come back down in shreds. They say that to  achieve this little acrobatic feat successfully will bring happiness and wealth. Perhaps no one really believes it, although everyone tries, tempted by the promise of money for the coming year! Hey for the promise of money, I’d flip pancakes too. And I’m sure, given a choice of possible money, so would you.

In fact, the old superstition went a step further, besides just flipping the first pancake while holding a gold coin, the pancake then had to be rolled around the coin. This little package was then carried in procession by the whole family and placed at the top of the wardrobe of the eldest member of the household, where, it was said, it wouldn’t mould. The remains of last year’s pancake were then removed and the coin inside given to the first poor person who passed by.  Among the Acadians of Prince Edward Island a collection was taken up on that day for the poor of the parish.

Just in case ya never heard of the Acadians, think Cajuns. Yap, the Cajuns, they  have their roots in Prince Edwards Island as well as else where, they’re French Canadian, those Cajuns.   I spent some time with a large Cajun family one time in Louisiana. It was such a fun experience, a truly fun time, me and the Cajuns.

We ate stuff that I was afraid to ask what it was, ‘cause I didn’t recognize what it was on the plate. It didn’t look like stuff I’d ate before, and I’d been told don’t ask questions ‘bout food, just eat it. And I did.  It was good stuff, that Cajun food.  Not recognizable, but good stuff.

File Gumbo comes to mind. Cajun stuff. The kinda food ya just don’t eat in Indiana. Not only was it the kinda food ya don’t eat in Indiana, it was the kinda food ya don’t eat north of Shreveport LA.  Now  I’m telling ya that stone cold Cajun. Real Cajuns consider  Shreveport up north.

Those Cajuns called me a “Coon Ass” I didn’t know if that’s good or bad till they told me Coon Ass meant  “my best friend”. Me and them Cajuns, we got along, we ate crawdads and other stuff.  I’m glad I got to know the Cajuns. Those  Coon Asses of mine down there in south Louisiana, many, many miles south of New Orleans. Out there in the real delta country, where the Coon Asses live.  Maybe where road kill and file make Gumbo. I love Cajuns. They talk funny, but they said the same thing ‘bout me.  My Coon Ass Cajuns.

Stay Safe in Afghanistan.

From The East Wing, The Lost Story, Starting The Tax Season, Little Angles,  Groundhog Day, Pancakes & Cajun Coon Asses.

I wish you well,