Back Then

I was a youngster in the days of 2 snowy television channels or 3 if you were lucky and you did not have to run to the top of the mountain to check the antenna line.  We had rotary dial party lines if we even had a telephone.  We swam in the river and caught crawdads from the creek to use for catfish bait in the same river.  The best memory was lying back beside a fire on a hilltop staring up at a zillion stars and listening to hounds chase something through the woods.  In my mind, I have always kept the image of that amazing star filled sky.  I am going back to that hilltop someday just to sit and look.   I know exactly where it is unless there is a Wall Mart there now.  We would choose up sides for Cowboys and Indians and chase each other around in the woods.  Nowadays that would certainly offend someone.  We played tackle football wearing nothing but jeans and a tee shirt.  Our Little League baseball team rode to games in the open back of a pickup truck.  If we won the game, we rode through the neighborhood in the same pickup standing and yelling at the top of our lungs, “The Yanks beat the Reds!”  We always beat the Reds and no one ever fell out of the truck.  We would climb hills and rocks.  We would go into caves knowing that we were going to find some treasure or a skeleton never once imagining the most likely case of encountering a cornered wild animal of some sort.  The black bear is our state animal.  Every day during winter, we hoped for snow.  We would ride our sleds straight down the snow covered dirt road that wound its way up the hill.  We also got snow days because the school bus could not make it up.  This encouraged us to ride more and make the snow pack even more treacherous.  Shorty, my cousin Preston and me would drag a piece of roofing tin up to the top of a hillside pasture and ride it back down the hill.  We had to bail out at the bottom just before reaching the barbed wire fence and the creek.  We always made it.  When it was time for a Christmas tree, we would go into the woods and get our own.   We would ride an old push car left on the rails into an abandoned coal mine.  Before that mine closed, the train operator would come out with cars filled with coal and toss big lumps to us.  We would put them in our sacks and carry them back home for our coal stoves.  During the summer, we worked a little in the garden – as little as possible, fed the hogs and chickens, filled up the water buckets from the well or pump and then be gone the rest of the day.  We would drag back in around dusk and suppertime having survived the day on adventure, green apples and blackberries and occasionally we would climb the mulberry tree at Shorty’s house and eat until our hands and faces were purple.  We would coast a bicycle without brakes down a long hill that ended up by crossing the two lane blacktop.  Never had a casualty unless you can count the time Grant went over the side of the hill and through a briar patch.  Grant could be heard all over the neighborhood when his momma started doctoring all of his scratches with Merthiolate.  The only automated game I can recall was a football game where you lined up the players and flipped the switch.  The players then vibrated in every direction except where you hoped they would go.  Occasionally one would head in the right direction and then fall over right before getting to the goal line.  And by then I was not yet 12 years old.

There is more that I can probably dredge up from the cranial hard drive and I think I would trade all of my modern gadgets for a replay.

I do believe that is the longest paragraph I have ever written.  Hi CG.

© 2016 J. D. Pendry

According to Suzie-Q

I ruined her life.  At least that is what she told me.  It had nothing to do with me ripping her from the arms of her teary eyed mother and dragging her half way around the world.  It was much worse than that.  Suzie-Q and I have been together for 45 years and married for 44 of them.  Since she is typically cheerful and often tells me how handsome I am, (love is most assuredly blind) I surmised that she meant I disrupted her long established daily routine.  For all of those married years, I went to work every day.  Often the days were long and too often a day at work turned into a month or two.  During that time she worked some outside the home but mostly she was and still is, thankfully, a homebody looking after important things including our son.

This summer past, I retired for the second time.  You old Soldiers know that being a two time no-go is a bad thing so I am intent on not becoming one.  I fully intend to survive and succeed at retirement this time.  It is hopeful that Suzie-Q can also survive my retirement.  We took a month’s time traveling.  With vacation over, it slowly began to set in that I was unemployed.  Then Suzie-Q had a rotator cuff repaired.  I am about out of house projects, but before I can move forward into my final career (it is a secret and has nothing to do with the rumors about me being considered for a job on the Trump cabinet), I have to get her through her physical therapy and have her ready to move back into the starting rotation by spring.  So, I have been hanging out – probably too much – and helping out with the house chores.  Occasionally, my work passes the scrutiny of Household 6 (HH6).  For the non-initiated, HH6 is the call sign for the household commander.  It is the well-deserved term of endearment for the anchor of any military family.  As I am sure my son would agree, most certainly the anchor of ours.  My retirement has disrupted her routine for a time, but probably falls just short of ruining her life.  She is a career Army wife.  She will improvise, adapt and overcome.  Or she will restrict me to the garage until I learn how to act.

Quite some time ago, I bought an Internet radio.  Actually we are on our second one.  I have pre-set a number of radio stations.  Being of the hippie generation, my first choice was a 60’s rock and roll channel.  Because now that I am retired, “time is on my side, yes it is.” This is the channel where Suzie-Q first heard here favorite 60’s tune.  Can you guess it?  Suzie-Q by CCR and that is why I call Mrs. Chom Su, Suzie-Q.  After that a 70’s and 80’s channel, prime country, outlaw country, southern gospel and some talk radio.

Problem is I never hung out much in the kitchen.  I was either working in an office 50 miles away or in the bunker.  For the past 2 years, I worked from home.  Down in the bunker, I listened to whatever I wanted while working.  Working in total silence is not good for me.  I need background noise to dissipate the tinnitus, sometimes it is music from the media player and often it is talk radio.

If you were a fly on the wall in our kitchen, Suzie-Q would chase you down and you would meet a fate similar to Larry the Lizard’s.  What I meant to say was that if you were a fly on the wall in our kitchen, you would see Suzie-Q sipping her morning coffee and contemplating life with 60’s rock “groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon” playing in the background.  Not long after, you would see her pop an exercise DVD into the player and imitate a herd of horses running around just above the bunker – not the sort of background noise I prefer.  Later, when she is chopping up something or other or doing something at the sink her body moves to the music – all of the time.  There is something disconcerting about a woman dancing around a pile of future salad vegetables with a butcher’s knife in her hand.  But a word of caution, this is not the time to sneak up and goose her.  Experience has taught me that most times are not good for that, but certainly a bad idea when she is holding a large sharp knife.

Being an old Soldier, time and circumstances permitting, I am accustomed to heading for the chow hall around noon.  One such day, Suzie-Q was be-bopping around to her background music while putting some lunch together for us. Looking up at the wall clock I saw that it was just after noon.  I switched the radio channel.  She stopped moving and asked, “What is that awful music?”  “That is the Rush Limbaugh theme song”, I replied.  “Is he a new DJ?  I never heard of him.”  “No he’s not a DJ…” just as Mr. Limbaugh belted out, “Greetings, conversationalists across the fruited plain,”, and then I got the look.  After 45 years, a lot can be communicated with a look.  I gave here that smile she pretends to love so much and we went back to barefootin’ with Archie Bell.  As usual, lunch was great.  I thanked my Suzie-Q and slid my chair back right about the time the Animals were belting out “we gotta get out of this place…”  so it was back to work in the bunker and listening to Rush. We are going to make this work, “if it’s the last thing we ever do, cause girl there’s a better life for me and you.”

© 2016 J. D. Pendry

What sort of government is it that you believe you want?

Running around in my mind is a burning question.  It is for the people protesting the outcome of the general election.  What sort of government is it that you believe you want?  Clearly you do not accept our constitutionally guided Representative Republic.  If you did, you would marvel at the peaceful transference of executive power that is a prominent model for Western Civilization and the envy of the un-free.  The history of the world is not one of freedom or democracy.  The percentage of people who can be called free by the standard of the United States of America is miniscule when compared to the remainder of the globe.   Not one nation among them can declare that the basis for their government is individual liberty.  That is what makes us the exceptional nation, but I am sure you learned that in elementary school.

So again, what sort of government is that you believe you want?  I really do want to know what better system you have in mind.  Tell me, I will listen but have little tolerance for platitudes.  You must first convince me you understand anything about our government and our history.  I presume many of you are somewhat educated unless you are among the thugs paid to go to what might otherwise be peaceful protests and cause trouble.

I grew up in the hippie generation and collectively we were about as propagandized and ill-informed as I believe you are – by the same media actually and in our day there was no alternative.  Many of us were draft dodgers and war protestors.  The free love, flowers in your hair, and psychedelic drugs generation.  The well-connected among us got draft deferments or choice positions in the military reserve units that were bursting at the seams.  Others ran off to Canada.  The remainder did what we thought were supposed to do.  These were your grandparents.  Many of them moved into academia where they shared with your parents and ultimately you a fantasized worldview about a place they wished existed, a utopia, but it does not exist and it is all because evil America will not allow it to.

I raised a son along with parents who were children of the hippie generation.  Even growing up in a military community it was difficult to teach him that in real life there are winners and losers.  It was also hard to teach him that you gain little in life by sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to give you something for nothing.  We had our share of parents and program directors that believed every child needed a trophy, every child had to play in the game, and everyone was a winner. I think I have a reasonable understanding of your generation.  From me to you, life is not a game without consequences, a game where there are only winners.

I lost track of the stories this past week of distraught college students.  Crying circles at Ivy league schools.  People fearing they are going to be trotted off to internment camps for what they believe. Sorry, but you have us confused with North Korea, the greater Middle East, Communist China, et al.  I heard one young lady declare this is a war and there are going to be casualties, “people have to die.”  When you do not even comprehend the full meaning of words that are coming out of your mouth, you cannot possibly survive alone in the real world.  Some sage advice once given to me, “Before putting your mouth into operation, ensure to first engage your brain.”

Life is not all daisies and rainbows.  Beyond the locked doors of your home, there are no safe zones – and not even there if you are connected to the Internet.  Unless you were born with the proverbial silver spoon, life is a place where you must earn your way.  There is no president that can give you all you want.  Your participation trophy is a paycheck for work done.  Life does not run on emotion, which differs greatly from passion.  Yours may run high or they may be low, but it is reality that drives life.  Nothing else does.  Most people are respectful of others and their beliefs, but they too have beliefs and no obligation to embrace yours.

So, your candidate lost.  Protests and vandalism will not change that.  Maybe you should look at why you lost.  Many people do not like being called deplorable.  People do not like “protestors” destroying property and the businesses that support their communities.  Maybe you were led down the primrose pathway by a media that amounted to little more than pure propaganda.  One that convinced you there was no way you could lose.  Four years from now you will have had time to educate yourselves.  Maybe this dose of reality will be good for you.

© 2016 J. D. Pendry

Our time is now

We the people must overcome the man-created divisiveness cancer that is destroying our land.  For our new national leadership, this is the most important task ahead.  Failure to cure this sickness makes it incredibly difficult to solve any problem or have every American embrace a vision.  The root of modern day divisiveness typically runs no deeper than the people who perpetuate it.  We can no longer tolerate national or other influential leaders who can only thrive and survive on divisiveness and negativity no matter their declared political persuasion.

Our time as a nation is now.  We must embrace America.  It is the one place on this earth that has prospered more than any in the history of the world because the people who came here embraced a single ideal that surpasses all others.  It is the ideal of individual liberty where personal beliefs do not supplant the common principle.  I know that may sound a little hokey to the younger generations or even socialistic in some manner to the slightly older, but it is not.  What it implies is that within the bounds of law we can freely practice our beliefs without fear of persecution, but we cannot force anyone to accept them nor can our government.  That core of our national identity applies to all belief systems.  It means we of varied beliefs share a commonality.  It is the cohesion that binds us and requires us to sometimes lay aside what is deeply held and agree as one to aggressively guard and defend the republic that permits us to freely practice and express our beliefs.  It is the reason our ancestors came here and it must be the core belief of all Americans and new immigrants.  It is the only true man devised utopia.  In this world, it has only ever existed beneath one flag.  For it to survive, those here and those that might come must be fierce guardians of it.

The people in the mirror have choices to make.  We can spend hours, days, or the rest of our lives trying to pin our condition or the state of our nation, whatever it is, onto one faction or another.  Or we can spend our time moving toward our common purpose.   It is the goal laid out in our charter – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It comes with an acceptance and understanding that it is the starting place that is guaranteed us not the ending place.   More importantly we must agree that we are a nation of laws not men.  We must be the place where Lady Justice indeed wears a blindfold and her scales are without a doubt balanced.   And while all laws may not appear fair and just for every individual, from our top citizen and our most wealthy down to our most common citizen, we must all abide them and those charged to enforce them must do so fairly and transparently always tinged with compassion and mercy.

Common purpose and visionary leadership can certainly propel our nation to greater heights.  We put men on the moon with technology that could not power the phone I carry around in my pocket.  We did that because a visionary leader inspired us to greatness.  We are promised now that we will “Make America Great Again.”  A slogan will not get us there.   It is true that we have many domestic problems to solve as well as serious foreign policy issues.  Solving those issues are necessary to get our nation back on the right track.  But, if we truly are going to be “great again” we need to embrace our common purpose and reinforce it with a great visionary challenge.

© 2016 J. D. Pendry

Is it morning in America again?

I believe the people who truly make this world go around, the battered American Middle Class, are as uncertain today as am I.  We deserve better than we have.  Or maybe we do not deserve better.  One thing I do know, most of us have spent a lot of time chasing the American dream without checking on the political class and the media elite snob class who through corruption and collusion are putting the dream farther from reach with every corrupt deal and every item of unreported news.  The other thing I know for certain is sometime tonight, Election Day 2016, our country will either experience a rebirth or it will die.  Countries simply do not return from Progressivism/Communism and now add Globalism.  Ask the Cubans and Chinese.  Ask the open border Europeans.

Suzie-Q and I voted early this morning.  Our polling place opened at 6:30 AM.  We arrived there at about 6:45 and there was hardly a place to park.  We have voted every election at that polling place for the 17 years we have lived here.  Never have I seen so many people out to vote.  As we were returning home, a great big orange, red sun was just up in the morning sky.  The first thing that popped into my mind was the Regan ad, “It’s morning in America again.”  Listening to that ad, it was so painfully obvious that the incumbent political party could offer nothing even remotely similar.  All we have seen from the most corrupt politician to ever seek the office was personal attacks on her opponent.  When you are void of ideas that is what you do.  I never heard anything remotely approaching it because every policy over the past 7 plus years has been a spectacular failure.  Everything from Middle East disasters, to Obama care to, Benghazi to, nearly 95 million Americans out of the workforce to, every federal agency being used as a weapon against Americans.  And all the incumbent party and its establishment cronies in Congress and the media can offer is more of the same.

I saw where Mrs. Clinton canceled the fireworks display she had scheduled for her election night celebration.  I do not interpret that to mean anything, but if members of her campaign staff start booking flights to countries without extradition treaties I will believe something is up.

We hear it every single election.  “This is the most important election of a lifetime.”  Well, this one truly is.  Go vote and God Bless America.