It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, September 13, 2002

I finally checked my yahoo mail and I had this waiting for me.
Natey,

Just read your blog, man. I am amazed. You do great work! You do
have to change one thing, though. Down the page you said that nobody that
reads this blog loves baseball as much as you do. As of this morning, that
statement is no longer true.

Love you, man.


Barber


Thanks buddy,
Love right back at you.
My grandfather, Minice Butler Huffman (I knew him as Pawdy) was born in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana around 1911. I say around because he was born at home, had no birth certificate, did not celebrate birthdays, and no one really knew how old he was. His father was an obese moonshiner who did not care much for him. The story that Pawdy told me most often was of a time when he was about ten years old and his father sent him out into the bayou after dinner. He gave Pawdy a shotgun and two shells. He said to him, “Minice, our family’s dinner depends on you. You have two shots here; I want you to come home with two ducks. If you don’t get two ducks, don’t come home.” Predictably, he merely wounded the second duck and had to chase it through the swamp until twilight. By the time Pawdy was 12 he had left home and his father’s heart had given out.

He fell in love with Louisiana/French girl Clara Leona Chevallier in the neighboring town of Jonesville and regularly walked the twelve miles to court her. They got married in 1937, (they were old by the standards of the day, at twenty-six and twenty-eight) had nine kids, and scratched out a living farming a small patch of ground. In 1959 they moved to Tulip, Arkansas, and purchased the farm where my mother grew up and left home.

By the time I was old enough to know him, Pawdy was a seventy year old curmudgeon, living near Arkadelphia and helping to farm 360 acres that my uncle Hidle (read: the feddle gummit) owned. He left the house every morning at daylight and worked until after dark. Sometimes Granny could get him to come in for lunch by yelling for him out the back door. She eventually got sick of that and started running a dishtowel up the chimney as a signal flag when lunch was on the table. Every night when he came in from the fields after dark, he would crumble up leftover cornbread in a glass of buttermilk for supper. He called whole milk “sweet milk” and refused to put it in the refrigerator. He left it sitting out on the kitchen table and drank it sour. When we would make disgusted faces at him he would say. “You’d do the same if you knew how healthy it is!”

Granny could cook. I mean she could really cook. Her baked duck would melt in your mouth. There was always a perfect bundt cake sitting on the table. She put the urp in purple-hull peas. She could make squirrel and dumplings that would drive a vegan to carnivorous fits. She could do the fried squirrel and gravy thing too, but don’t reach for the head. Pawdy’s got dibs on the squirrel brains. When we had a holiday meal and Granny and her girls would get in that kitchen, the resulting tablescape was such a vista that someone would have to take pictures before the kids were allowed to dig in.

Pawdy raised hogs, cows, and chickens to eat and sell. When he and Granny would butcher an animal themselves, nothing much got thrown away. I can remember cranking the hand powered meat grinder and feeding sausage into the natural casings they had harvested. When my dad and I came back from fishing or a hunting excursion, Pawdy would watch and shake his head in disapproval as we cleaned our game. When we were finished, he would take our bucket of scraps and use them to make dinner.

When Pawdy went hunting it was because the family needed meat; not for “sport,” which he despised. He always rode his old black mare on these hunting trips and refused to wear the blaze orange vests and hats that the law prescribes. His horse was very skittish and he was the only person that she would let ride her, but Pawdy could shoot a gun from her back without spooking her. This was an effective hunting method, too. It turns out that animals that are keen to a human’s presence don’t even notice a horse coming around. One deer season he rode right up to a monstrous twelve-point buck and blasted it at point blank range.

He walked behind this same horse dragging an ancient spade to plow a garden, just like it was done in the middle ages. This even though Hidle (read: the feddle gummit) had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of high tech farm equipment that he could have used, and my dad had repeatedly offered him use of his gas powered tiller.

He was part owner of the mineral rights on an oil producing lot back in Louisiana. Every year when my uncle Ronnie came up to Arkansas to visit, he would bring Pawdy a quart jar of crude. Pawdy would hold the jar up to the sun, then screw off the top, dip his index finger in the crude, and take a taste of it. His interest in the mineral rights was a very small percentage and it did not make him any money, but it was worth it to him to get to taste fresh earth every spring.

Around 1990, the feddle gummit finally came to collect the copious amounts of money that my uncle had borrowed. When he could not pay, they took the farm instead and he ran away into a north Arkansas whiskey bottle. Granny’s health was getting pretty bad, and by chance the house next to my parents was empty, so she and Pawdy moved in. Granny continued to deteriorate, and Pawdy spent the last several years of her life as her private nurse. He cooked for her, bathed her, moved her from the bed to the chair and back, and generally kept her out of a nursing home – which was where she would have been otherwise. Neither of them left the house for a long time.

Granny died on a Wednesday afternoon in the hospital in Arkadelphia. She took her last breath with my family standing in a circle around her, holding hands. We got home that night and Pawdy said, “Well I reckun’ I’ll go home and go to bed. I got to go there sometime.” And he did. He just walked home and went on with his life.

The next spring he discovered my dad’s gas powered tiller. He never had used a tiller before, why bother when he had a good horse and plow? But he quickly found out why everyone had embraced the gas powered tiller. Pawdy proceeded to plow up his entire yard and plant it in vegetables. When that was finished he plowed up my parent’s yard. By mid-summer he had the grandest suburban vegetable garden the world had ever seen. There were okra plants twelve feet high. The surplus was more than we could eat and more than we could give away.
It was so good to hear from my old friend John Barber last night. His sweet wife, Jana was in town and stayed the night with Ms. J and I. John called from their place in Baltimore to tell Jana goodnight. I took the phone to say hi (we have not spoken in at least a year, maybe longer) and I think I ended up talking to him longer than Jana did.

The best thing about hearing from John: He loves his job! I mean he said that several times. He like what he does, he likes the people that he works with. Praise God! That is amazing. He used to be just as disillusioned and unhappy at work as me, but things got better. Apparently lots better. That gives me hope that I have not had in months, perhaps years. I think I might have resigned myself to thinking that no one anywhere got to make a living doing something that they could stomach. A very depressing thought indeed.

Also we discovered that we now both work for the same huge defense company. Imagine that, we are coworkers. Colleagues. The difference, he does something enjoyable and I do something banal.

The second best part about hearing from John: While we were catching up, I mentioned this modest little blog. He happened to be sitting at a computer and surfed on over. He immediately said, “Wow, your links on the left hand side there are all of the sites that I have bookmarked and read every day.” He promised to keep an eye on my site too. Hopefully he will be a regular contributor to the comments section. John is one of the best music listeners and true fans that I have ever known. And he has impeccable taste. I am looking forward to John turning us on to some great new artists. He has already blown me away with finds like Vigilantes of Love and Over the Rhine.

This picture is for you, dear friend . . .

The Evolution of the Musician




Wednesday, September 11, 2002

I realize that I tell you people all the time to read Tony Pierce, but this morning he sets a new standard in blogging. His first post for 9/11 is a letter from President Bush to Osama. I would really like to post the whole thing, but Ill let you click over and read it instead. Here is an excerpt:
hi, my name is george w. bush.

i'm the president of the united states of america.

i have a message to osama bin laden.

osama, im calling you out.

i want to meet with you at an agreed-upon location and i want to beat your ass.

man to man.

face to face.

i'm sick, quite frankly, of this cat and mouse kiddie game of hide and seek and i am giving you one week to stand up to me as a man and take the licking you so deserve.

if you're so badass, why don't you meet me, the american white devil, anywhere you want so i can slap that stupid look off your face.

i know you're probably thinking that this is a trap, that the armed forces of the united states, or the u.n., or the northern alliance will jump out from the bushes and capture your sorry ass, and imprison you.

but i'm hereby giving you temporary immunity. you have no excuse to decline this offer.

i swear upon my word as president, on my word as a Christian, on my word as an American citizen that your safety will be guaranteed up to your meeting with me. and if you survive the single handed texas asskicking that i will deliver on your person, i will assure your safety back into whatever dusty hole you're currently hiding in.

but the only way you'll get home is through me, osama, and only you would call that gopher hole home.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

After doing without for a few weeks, Ms. J finally complained enough that I went out and found a new comment hosting service.
Please friends, click the link under whatever post you want to make fun of and comment away!

Monday, September 09, 2002

I have joined this ad exchange service called "blogsnob." I am looking forward to new traffic and I am also excited about the new sites that it will turn me on to. It is a text based ad and you can see it on the left at the top of my links list. They claim to be family friendly and I hope that is the case. I encourage you to click on the site that is advertised if it looks interesting to you. If not, don’t. What do I care?

I have recently discovered that I am addicted to Tony Pierce. I can not explain it. We both like baseball and we both enjoy writing, but that is about all that we have in common. I have found myself going to his site several times a day hoping for new material. If Rolling Stone magazine wanted to save themselves and regain some of that street credibility that they used to have, they should start sending Tony on the road with bands. The articles he sent back would be well worth the cover price.

This week is my first real test of the fall semester. I have two papers to write for school and a gig to prepare for this Sunday. I am going to lose it. Just thinking about it has got me all sleepy.

My hippie brother-in-law called last night and said, “Would you happen to be the leader of some outfit called ‘The Nathaniel Greer Trio?’”
I’m afraid so, I said.
He had seen an ad for Take Five Jazz in the newspaper. He said he was coming to the show. That will be great. He is an ardent supporter of the arts, and hippies are always fun at shows.
Hippie brother-in-law is actually doing pretty well these days, or seems to be. At least he has held a job for several months in a row. That makes me proud. I want to like him and welcome him around. Every little boy should get to have a hippie uncle.
I remember seeing my uncle Pete from New Jersey. He was tall and thin. His hair was receding in the front and pulled into a scraggly ponytail in the back. He smoked cigarettes (and he only knows what else) and was a great auto mechanic. One time he passed through in a big old renovated school bus with this funny hippie lady and a couple of her little hippieletts. He was helping them drive that bus cross country to Arizona, seemingly just because they needed the help. I thought that he was the coolest guy I had ever seen. I wanted to take him to show and tell.
When I was about thirteen or fourteen he came to town for Granny and Pawdy’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. He stuck around longer than everyone else and on his last day he wanted me to go for a ride with him. He wanted me to lead him to some horrible souvenir shops so he could get cheesy gifts for friends back east. Before we left I suggested that we find some good stuff in my cassette collection to listen to. He looked it over and declared Jane’s Addiction as high quality. I could not argue with that. After that one was over I played him some Ice Cube. Pete thought that was hilarious.
He said to me, “Hey man, does your dad every play you any Pink Floyd?”
I confessed that I had never heard of that dude.
He said, “Where is the nearest record store.”
I led him to the mall and he marched straight in and bought me a copy of Floyd’s “Dark Side of The Moon." Also he told me it was a band, not a dude. For that I will be forever grateful. I still have that cassette, even though it has long since worn out. My hippie uncle was the coolest.




We moved the boy, Wylie in to a big boy bed last night for the first time. He only fell off once, and that was at 7:00 this morning. Boy did it upset him. Ms. J said that it was all that he talked about all morning. He has my sister’s old daybed and we pulled the trundle out about half way so that he would have something soft to land on if he fell. Well, I heard a dull thud this morning on the hardwood floor (and when I say hardwood floor, what I mean is hard, wood floor) and skedaddled in there. He was sitting up in the floor and crying about half way across the room from his bed. I don’t know if that was where he rolled to or what, perhaps rolled off so hard and fast that he missed the trundle all together.
Ms J. and the boy had to go to the store this afternoon. Wylie fell asleep on the way home and she slipped him out of his seat with that lovin’ momma touch and carried him in the house. As she was easing him down on to the bed she said that he quietly mumbled, “No, not the big boy bed . . .” and went right back to sleep.