Friday, August 24, 2012

The Smell of Summer Hay

Back to the Farm - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics
Even after I hit the brakes I can feel the tractor slide a little downhill. The bush-hog rotary mower spinning behind me just seems to help push me along. There is an extra heart beat or two that thumps through my sweaty shirt, but eventually the tires grip the earth and bring me and my Kubota to a stop. As I turn around to mow back up the hill, I inhale that wonderful smell of summer hay and can see me and Mr. Larry here some sixteen years ago when Sharon and I began our adventure here in the country.
Larry in the black hat, me in the red shirt 
Mr. Larry had an old Ford tractor that became one of my first class rooms. Our 85 acres joined his family farm and during the thirty years or so that our place was abandoned, his cattle and horses free ranged our hillsides. There was no such thing as fences. When we moved in we continued to let his livestock use our ponds and stay cool in the woods and in return, I got to ride as many horses as my butt could handle, got to use his tractor, became a cowboy and friends with one of the best men and teachers I have had the privilege of knowing. At first anytime I needed something done with the tractor he would just come up and do it for me, which was OK by me, because I knew that I would take so much longer to get something done. One day I was driving by and he waved me in with his two finger wave that meant "stop if you can". Just the pointer finger meant "hello", but the pointer and middle together always meant "would like to talk for a while if you can spare the time". He had some round hay bales that needed to be moved and though he could have done the job in twenty minutes himself with his eyes closed, he asked for my help so he could work with a young colt. He stayed close enough to talk me through the hydraulics and anytime I seemed to struggle getting a round bale on both the front forks as well as the back spear. I think I was actually his entertainment for the evening. Two hours later the hay was moved. By the end of our first summer here I was using his blue ford to grade our gravel road, move dirt and stack brush. We have about twenty acres that need to be mowed at least once a year and since the majority of our property is hillside, I never felt comfortable taking his tractor much past the bottoms where our farmhouse is. He respected my uneasiness and he and one of his sons would knock it out in about three hours or so.

 One day after his son left for college, he told me that he wouldn't have time to mow due to his other farm obligations, but said that if Ole Blue was down at the barn, I would be welcome to hook up the mower and take a stab at it. Well my first attempt ended quite quickly. I was driving up the gravel road from his place to ours, like I've done many times before. Unfortunately I got distracted by a deer running across the road and didn't turn the wheel in time and the next thing I knew I had one side of Ole Blue's front and rear tires in a four foot ditch. I struggled for an hour trying to get it out, but only made it worse. I eventually walked back with my head hung low and he pulled me out with one of his other tractors. Mr. Larry never let me forget that one. My second attempt a few weeks later was more successful and after eight hours, I had the hollow all cut. Well, almost all of it. My legs were so sore the next day from using the breaks and hitting the clutch to stop from running into trees and rock. There was one section though that I chickened out on. Mr. Larry laughed when I told him how the tractor started to slide and that I thought I saw my life pass before my eyes. The next day he was back up there and finished it up, though he saved the last two vertical strips for me. The school house door was back open and he taught me about how to work with gravity, how to use the bucket to help stop, how to lock one side of the brakes at a time, and when to turn the rotary mower off in the worst case. From that day on,  I was a country boy and have never looked back.

 I just finished washing off all the wild seeds and brush from the Kubota. The sun is casting that wonderful 7:30 PM golden glow on our barn. I can hear the crickets and the frogs beginning their evening serenade. I walk back towards the farmhouse and if I could jump to the side and click the heels of my boots together I surely would.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Watch for Falling Rock

Empty Spaces - written by Davy Rasmussen

 The sunset is amazing tonight.  I've got a faithful dog sitting beside my rocking chair on the porch,  Blossom (the cat) is kneading my shirt, trying to make a nest.  I look over and see the other empty chair and it's like someone suddenly unplugged the beautiful setting sun.  There's an emptiness here today.   It's a hole that I can't seem to put anything in.   Who took my pallet of paint that had every color imaginable and replaced it with only earth tones?  There's a void inside me and I know what it is, so I'll throw in my "man card" here.   I miss her....   The beautiful lady that I have gotten the privilege of spending the last 23 years with,  is away on a trip to see her father, who is in the hospital.   We've been apart many times in our marriage, but when you are as close as we are,  I think you can't help but feel a little chill in the space that distance brings.  

Now please don't think I'm walking around all blubbery and one of those guys that can't make it without having someone in his life at all times.  I actually do enjoy being alone.   I like the solitude and quietness of it and honestly it allows me to be a little lazy.   Not sit on the couch, eat fritos, let the crumbs fall over the  floor kind of lazy,  just being able to vibrate at a little lower frequency.  Does that make sense?    She'll be back home soon, so even though the sunset isn't as radiant as it usually is when we are together,  I do know that the void I'm feeling will once again be filled with her smile.

The older we grow I think our soul becomes scattered with pockets of voids and empty spaces mostly from the people and loved ones that have traveled in and out of our lives.   When I blow through the cobwebs and allow myself to enter this space, I can see these dark corners that sunlight rarely finds.   They say that time heals everything, but I wonder if it really does.  Perhaps all that changes is that we subconsciously protect ourselves by putting up trail signs in our memory pathway so that we detour around these haunting hollows.  We install curtains and guard rails in our memory so that our emotions are protected and we can function and have a sort of normalcy to our life.

There are certain unplanned triggers though that will cause the curtain to rise or the trail marker to point the wrong direction.  Out of the blue you find yourself standing in the middle of the void, helpless and with a large lump in your throat that in an instant can release the dam of feelings, tears and memories that have been quietly tucked away.    It's been almost seven years since my Pop passed away, and for the most part now I smile when I think of him and our times together, but I know there is a corner where I had to stuff and cram some tears and feelings just so I could move on.   One ordinary day, I go and see my younger brother perform in his high school band, and I think how I wish Pop could be here to see him.  I feel a little sad, yet proud and happy that I am here and that some of Pop's musical genes have magically passed on to his young son.  And then like a head on collision, I'm fighting the lump, I'm square center in the void, I'm vulnerable to my emotions, with a waterfall of tears ready to tumble down and all because I heard the sound of my brother playing a marimba.    Pop was an excellent mallet player, taught at a university, played marimba, xylophone and vibes in countless bands and symphonies.  He even tried to teach me, which was quite the task.  I think something was genetically passed on to my brother, but for me it was always a struggle.   I remember trying to learn the "flight of the bumble bee" and after months of lessons and practicing, I gave up and declared that I wanted to be a guitar player instead.  Unfortunately, that was the last music lesson I had with Pop.  Little did I know many years later I would be sitting in an auditorium watching his young creation wear out the mallets and how could I have known that this one event, and that one, distinct, musical sound would break the dam.   Time for some new trail signs "Warning Cliff Ahead",  "Falling Rock"  "Detour"  "Stay the He(*&ll Out!".   It's all good now though.  I love to watch and hear my brother play.  He is amazing and talented and I'm so blessed to have him in my life.  

I have fallen off similar ledges unexpectedly with other voids too.  After the crash I just install more ropes, make a few new signs and travel on.  Though maybe somewhere in these unexpected breakdowns is the place where we find a little healing.

I just got off the phone with Sharon and she's on her way home a few days early.  Lucky me,  we'll get to watch the sunset together tomorrow night.  Oh crap!!!  Time to find the vacuum cleaner and suck out all those fritos from the cracks in the couch.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Island

A New Day - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics
I've taken the little pill they prescribed so I should be relaxed now.   I lay my head back in the dentist chair and listen to the footsteps patter behind me as I try to focus on the light classical music being pumped into the sterile white room.   The assistant comes in and slips on my face a pair of sunglasses that looks like something Elton John would have worn in the 70's, she covers my hair with a piece of plastic that resembles something between what a  food worker would wear and a shower cap.   To top off my morning attire, I am draped with a polka dot cloth from head to toe.   I'm singing to myself... "I'm sexy and I know it".    The nurse swabs my mouth from top to bottom with some numbing cream, hooks me up to a heart, oxygen and blood pressure monitor and says "the Doc will be in here soon".  

A few minutes later I hear "hey man, glad you made it.   Are you ready to do some work on those gums of yours".   There were a few things I needed to talk with him about before we got started.  I opened my mouth and all that came out was "blaa blaallsl shahsa;ljas  aoooooaalo"   He and the nurse laughed.  "Looks like the numbing cream is working.  Let's get some novocain in you and then we'll follow that up with a little sedative IV drip, so open wide.  Say AHH"   I felt the first prick of the needle in my mouth, but didn't feel any of the 12 others.  I felt the IV go in and then the Doc looked over at the assistant and said, "this music has got to go. "  He looked down at me and said " How about a little classic Rock?"   By this time the only thing that I could make my body do was to pull my hand out from under the gown and give a big thumbs up.   "Right on" he says and then I drift away to Led Zeppelin singing "Whole Lotta Love".   I hear him say "Open wide for me" and I would try to come back to the room and be semi conscious every time he would say something like that, but for the most part I just closed my eyes and took a wonderful journey during my operation.

 I wish I could remember everywhere my mind traveled.   I dipped in and out of so many thoughts and dunked my head into countless pools of possibilities.  It became overwhelming at times and sometimes it felt like I was lost and running in circles in a dark forest of my past and future things and then something suddenly would lift me up above the trees and a gush of peace would blast me in the face.  From this vantage point I could see that everything was in order and all I needed to do was to calm myself, relax and just continue moving in the flow.  

Somehow during the journey I landed on a little island where all I could hear was my breath coming in and going out.  It was so soothing.  Just the rhythm of my air and the steady beat of my heart.  I smiled knowing that these two simple sounds are the core to my existence.   I laid there for what seemed to be days and finally I stood and said to myself  "This is where I must start from.  I must be the change.  It's a new day".     I walked into the water and as it encircled my neck, my feet began to float and I started to swim.  "Open your mouth a little wider for me David"  I heard in the distance, but I kept swimming.  One inhale, one exhale, one stroke, one kick at a time.   Nothing but me, the ripples of water flanking off my body and the words "it's a new day" going over and over in my mind and finally my toes touch sand.   I felt my body being lifted up and as my eyes slowly opened I could see the doctor smiling.  " Everything looks great.  I'll see you back in about a week....".  I tried to interrupt him and tell him about my "out of body adventure" and all I could get out was "blaa blaallsl shahsa;ljas  aoooooaalo"  He and the nurse get a good chuckle and he walks out of the room saying " don't worry, that will wear off soon."  He steps back in a few moments later " Oh, you may have some pain for a few days while you recover so I'll write you up a little prescription."   I smile and think to myself  " HEL-LO Island.... I'll be back soon".

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I'm Turning Around - written by Davy Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics
"Hello everyone (long pause)... my name is ...("crap, what is my name", she thinks to herself) oh yea, "My name is Molly (longer pause) and I'm an addict."   "Hello Molly" the group answers back.  "Tell us what brought you here today".   She squirms a little, takes a deep breath, lets out a sigh and begins.

"I've always loved it.  From some of the earliest times I can remember it was a part of my life.   When I was younger it was just the thing to do.  We all did it.  My brother and I started together actually.  It was that thing we couldn't resist and when one of us didn't have any, the other would somehow find some and share.  It was mostly just a release and for pure pleasure at the beginning, though I remember that day when they separated us from our mother and how we used it then just to make the pain go away.  I'm not sure when it became out of control, but slowly it started to happen more and more in my life.   When they split my brother and I apart,  I began using it as a crutch and a way to hide.  The next foster home I was in was extremely strict and had too many damn rules.   They didn't understand me.  They didn't know the shit I've been through and yet they judged me and forbid me for partaking of my only vice.    The day the new foster kid arrived and became the golden child, I had my first over dose, which promptly led me to my next foster home.

I've bounced around from home to home and some where meaningful, good people and some were trash.  I'd clean my act a little and try to get my emotions tucked away and then the littlest thing would trigger an itch.  I would miss my brother, I could see us playing as kids,  I wondered where my real mother was, and slowly these haunts would lead me back down that dark road of addiction.   I would start again with a little nip and tell myself  "it's ok, you've got this under control.... a little every now and then... no one will know".    But eventually they do and eventually I find myself out of control,  back in the system and heading for another strangers home.

The last home I was in I got pregnant by one of the other fosters living there.  Believe me, love didn't have anything to do with it.  It was just sex and it came with a price, a huge price.   My foster parents were kind enough to let me stay through my pregnancy but soon after,  I think the novelty of me and my crying baby was all they could take.   One day we were all going for what seemed to be a nice country drive and the next thing I know, I am being dropped off at yet another home.

I remember looking down at my little creation that day and thinking to myself that I've got to do it right this time.  I have something to live for.  I have something completely dependent on me.   When I met my new parents I could tell there was something different about them.   There was something different about the entire place and home.  I had never seen so many flowers, never smelt such good, clean air.  It was quiet.  There were birds flying everywhere and I thought I would loose myself  when I saw what seemed to be an endless path leading into an endless forest.  Maybe this was heaven.

My first week or so I was on the top.  I was confident in myself.  The foster parents were so easy to communicate with and there seemed to be a bond growing between us.  The thoughts of my addiction hadn't even entered my mind since I arrived.  They had a couple other foster children living there too, though actually they got adopted by them early on.  It took awhile for them to trust me and open up, but eventually the three of us seemed to be getting along too.    Everything was going perfectly until that one day when everyone left and I was there alone.   I knew they had some there.  They didn't hide it.  No one seemed to have a problem or an addiction, it was just a social thing.  But there I was, left with my own voices and my own demon.  I couldn't help myself and finally I just had to take a nip.  Once I did, I instantly stopped and that was all I did.   Several more days went by and everything was cool and I thought maybe that was all I needed.  I think what happened though,  was that I awoke my sleeping monster.

Slowly I started hearing the voices.  Every time I would walk by it, my skin would get flushed and I would feel my heart beat a little faster.  "Take Me" "Indulge" "You Deserve It" "It will make you feel so good", kept getting louder and louder and finally I caved.  That night they were all asleep and I crept out to just have a little.  That first nip was so good, but this time I had to have more.  The voices were cheering me on.  I could see my brother in my mind and together we were going to party.  I grabbed that cushion off the porch chair with my teeth and started yanking it back and forth like there was no tomorrow.  I could see my bro on the other end giving it hell right back to me.  Oh this felt so good.  And just when I began to feel that wonderful drunk feeling something even more scrumptious occurs.  Like a burst of chicken bones breaking in my jaws, this sealed green cushion gives birth to an explosion of white, fluffy, beautiful stuff.   Eu-ph-or-ia!!!!  And I thought just tugging on them was a buzz.  OH... now the party is really going to begin.  

Needless to say I overdosed in a BIG way that evening. "  (Long pause)   "Well, today I'm turning around.  I'm going to live my life over.   I've been sober now for 3 days, but I know I can only do this one day at a time.  Thank you for listening.   Oh... my name isn't Molly, that was what they called me three homes ago.  I think these folks are calling me Tulip, or Turnip, or something gardeny like that.  Humans, they are so funny.  "