Sunday, September 23, 2012

Snake Bite

Over a Canyon - written by Davy Rasmussen and Sharon Rasmussen 
Song Lyrics

He blended in with the weeds so well that I couldn't see him at first.  My eyes finally adjusted and I slowly brought into focus the end of his black tail, which was creeping through the tall, purple, Joe Pie and Golden Rod that always blooms this time of September.  I stood still, trying my best to blend with nature and allow my eyes to continue to search for the rest of,  what looked like a black snake.

 I've always had a fondness for this family of snakes.   They've be touted as one of God's version of Orkin pest control.  They diet on mice, moles and rats and make a great addition to any home or farm.  I've also heard the tale that they are also very territorial and will keep away any poisonous snakes too.   Wow...who wouldn't want to have a couple of these around?  

When I was growing up we found one snuggled among our linens in the bathroom, and this wasn't just any little snake.  He was every bit of six feet long.   My Pop slipped on some leather gloves and politely walked a half mile away and set him free into the woods.   A week later Mr. Snake was back in our cabin, though this time he surprised us from beneath the kitchen cabinet.   A little research in the B-C section of our Encyclopedia Britannica library and a conversation over corn bread with Mr. Toy and Ms. Odell,  our farming neighbors,  and the next thing you know our big, black snake was given a name.  Sambo lived with us in our cabin for many years and for the most part would just keep to himself, stay hidden and feast on the rodents that also tried to move in.   Every now and then he would show up to surprise us and cause a few quick screams, a sudden stop of the heart, but then you would hear the proud yell,  " I found Sam!!".

As I was recalling my memory of Sambo,  my eyes finally focused in on the head of the black snake.  It looked like he was raised in a defensive position or ready to attack something.   It couldn't have been me that alarmed him, there was something else.    The flowers and weeds were so dense that I couldn't make out anything in front of him and then suddenly another tail came into focus.  It had green and yellow markings and   was slowly moving in the direction of Sammy Jr.   I witnessed something that I've never seen before.   Suddenly Sammy's entire three foot body lurched through the weeds and landed directly at the mouth of the other snake.  He didn't hesitate more than a second to begin the attack.  I was witnessing that moment of live or die and how I wished I had my camera with me to capture it.

Sammy Jr and the Cobra (OK, he's really just a garden snake) were locked with their mouths unhinged around each other's body.  They were both about the same size and kept twisting and trying to use the muscles in their tails to knock the other one loose.   Sammy loosened his grip and let his head fall to the ground and I thought it was over, when in fact he was just waiting for the better position.   He went for the head and gripped right behind his jaws.  His fangs held tight and the only thing the garden snake could do was open his mouth grasping for life.   The show lasted another five minutes, though was complete with an encore performance that I wasn't expecting.   Sammy opened wide and inch by inch, ate his prey.   "You've got the job Sammy" I said as I walked away.    

A few springs ago we had a family of Phoebe birds that built a nest on our back porch.  We loved watching them hatch and grow from one little feather on their bald bodies to four young birds ready to fly.  I remember the day they flew and how honored I felt to see that live or die moment.   There was something inside telling them that they could fly, even though they never did before.  There was something telling them that there was more to their life then the nest that they had grown to love.   And there was something telling them to jump and flap their wings as hard as they could.   All four made their first flight successfully with Mom and Dad sitting close by on the mulberry tree telling them that they could.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm Grounded

Everything - written by Davy Rasmussen and Lisa McHenry Stricklin
Song Lyrics

I didn't sleep well last night.  Maybe it was the full moon that brought to life all the thoughts, plans and worries that didn't want to sleep in my mind.  I woke up around 2:30 AM and began my traditional bed dance of moving from one side to the other.  Laid on my stomach,  flipped around to my back, counted sheep, thought peaceful thoughts, went to my secret place and an hour later I was still fidgeting and decided that it must mean that I need to go the bathroom.  I got up and tip toed to the jon and a few minutes later I slipped back into the covers.  "Oh they feel so good on this cool September night" I thought to myself as I sandwich in between the sheets and blanket.  "NOW... I'm really going to sleep."

Fifteen minutes later the dance begins again.   I think the last time I looked at the clock was 5:15 and wouldn't you know that sometime shortly after that was when I finally fell into that deep sleep that I needed.

The 6:30 AM alarm jolted be back from my cozy dream land and here's a little snippet of how the rest of the day follows, though I'll mention now that what happened at 7:30 PM was what grounded me.

6:30 - Wake, jump in the shower, take a cup of coffee to go
7:00 - Chamber of Commerce meeting  -  I am volunteering on the tourism committee
9:00 - Grocery shopping for the bed and breakfast
10:30 - Meeting with a local business about a new website
12:00 - Back home in time for a quick sandwich
12:30 - Mowing and weed eating around the hollow
4:15 - Repaired a broken bench
4:30 - Pressure washing the siding and cleaning porches and windows of the B&B
7:30 - Took Daisy (our dog), and a five gallon bucket with water,  on a ride on the fourwheeler to cut some of the September wildflowers that are in bloom so Sharon could use them in an arrangement and wedding bouquet.   I was quite pooped and ready for the day to end but flowers was the mission.  Sadly I wasn't really soaking in the beautiful surroundings as I was moving along through the forest.  Suddenly I saw a mass of feathers fly directly in front of me.  I came to a quick stop and almost threw Daisy off to the ground.   We sat there and watched the large Barred Owl decide whether I was a threat or not.  He peered with his deep brown eyes and finally blinked in acknowledgement that I was OK to be in his hunting ground.  I sat there for almost thirty minutes watching him hunt for supper.  I screeched out my best owl translation and he looked back and cocked his head side ways as if to say "You crazy human... you can't speak Owl."  

That thirty minutes of rest and observation re-connected me to My Everything.  Nature has always been one of the wells that I have to dip my bucket into to find center.   When I take a cool, slow sip of the earth and all the critters and beings that scurry around, it humbles me, slows me down and reminds me that I am just a spoke in the wheel.    That reprieve seemed to bring life back into my sails and open the shades on all my windows.  Driving back I watched a Doe and her fawn raise their white tails as they jumped over a wild rose thicket.  Countless songbirds flew in my path as if they were leading me back to the farmhouse.  I picked up a turtle and rubbed his belly and moved him out of the way and when I pulled in and turned the fourwheeler off,  I was greeted by an orchestra of coyotes singing in the distance.
"Ahh... now I'm connected."

8:00 - Cooked supper with Sharon.   We had okra fresh from the garden,  wild rice and shrimp scampi.
8:30 - Dinner and wine
9:30 - Reply to B&B emails
10:00 - zzzzzz  - Now I'm REALLY going to sleep good tonight!

The song that I'm sharing this week was written many years ago by me and my first real high school sweetheart.   I think we wrote it after being a part on our first summer break without each other.  It's quite simple, though the message of someone, something or some place being your everything, seems to transcend time and relationships.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Graveyard - written by Davy Rasmussen
Song Lyrics

I received a letter from a friend that has been in and out of my life for many years.  We have one of those relationships that had a few bumpy roads in the beginning, back in my early childhood.   Some of those bumps caused us to part, actually for quite some time.   Somehow the trails seem to always bring us back together.   Even though many years pass in between these crossings, each time we find ourselves in each other's life, my friend always feels like it is necessary to bring up the bumps.   It's like he's caught in the past and has to relive it each time we come together.   The truth is.... I've completely forgotten the details of those days and even if I could recall them perfectly, I know they are from the perspective of my mind in that early age of live and really aren't even relevant at all today.  Of course the letter quickly goes from the pleasantries of  "Hello,  how are you,"  into "So, I was thinking about what happened between us and I just don't think you understand......"

 "How sad,"  I thought to myself.  "He's still there, living in yesterday."  I crumbled the letter and tossed it into the trash and took a deep breath of today.

The next morning, I pulled into the driveway of a house, that from the outside looks like it is in the present day.  "Please excuse the mess," she muttered under her breath,  as I entered her home to see the bed frame that she had listed on craigslist.   "OH MY GOD!!!"  I thought to myself as I walked down the literal path that led from the front door through her living room to the "guest room".   She stopped half way and must have felt my gawking eyes trying to soak in the aftermath of what looked like a tornado that had hit her livingroom.  "It ain't as bad as it looks," she said humbly.  "It's actually an organized mess.  Ya see my Ma lived with us for several years and when she passed I just couldn't bring myself to throw anythang away."  In her slow southern drawl she continued explaining.  " I'm slowing goin' through it though."

 "I'm so sorry for your loss,"  I said.  "How long ago did she pass?"

 "It's been almost ten years now, but wait to you see the room where the bed is."

I tripped over a box and started to feel my claustrophobia kick in when we reached the door knob to the room.

"I call this...," she paused and then stretched her wrinkled lips wide into a grin.  "My Memry Room!"  The door slowly opened and from floor to ceiling on all four walls are old pictures, shelves filled with dolls, little chotskis and knickknacks,  posters and memorabilia from the days when her mother was alive.  The floor space was filled too with every kind of furniture imaginable.  The only space for us to stand was actually in the doorway and even that was a bit cramped with her two dogs and cat sniffing and rubbing my legs.   She pointed to the bed, which had a mound of stuffed animals and pillows scattered across it. "The bed wasn't really Ma's," she explained.   "So it ain't 'portant to me anymore.  My daughter's grown and gone and I wanna make her room all about the memry of Ma."  

There was no physical way that the bed would make it out of the room, much less through the "un"living room without the help of the National Guard, so I politely said that it was beautiful but didn't think it would work for us.

She patted my arm and said "Well that's ok darlin'."  Leaning over, she picked up a photograph. "This here is Ma when she and Daddy met at the pallet factry in Lavergene...."

A few hours later I drove away feeling so sad for this lady who had a daughter still alive, but chose to stay living within the bones of the past.

Later that night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I  let my mind travel down some of my own back roads and found myself looking at me about to graduate high school.  I could see the cap and gown and the proud expectations all across the faces of  my family and friends.   I was going to be somebody one day.  Little did I know that for many years I was going to struggle, be considered a failure and that I would never bring light to those dreams and early wishes.   I rolled over to see my sleeping, beautiful bride and smiled.  Wow!  I'm so thankful that I didn't stay living in that graveyard of lost dreams.

 I wake this morning to a glorious sunrise and vow to keep my mind facing East.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Love Stains

White Ring - written by Davy and Sharon Rasmussen
Song Lyrics

So I'm standing naked in the checkout line at home depot.   I can feel the eyes of everyone staring at me too.   It doesn't help matters that it's midsummer and most of my body is tan from the sun, except for one obvious section of skin.  There it is, poking out there for the world to see... My left hand.   So I'm really not naked, I just feel that way without my wedding band on.  Last night Sharon put both of our wedding rings in a cleaning solution and guess who drove off without his on?  I give the cashier my credit card and it feels so strange not seeing the ring I have worn for twenty two years.  All everyone can see is the white skin from where it use to be, like a little love stain.

This song is about that day when a marriage is over and you are left with that white ring reminding you of what went wrong.  The song is a bit sad and depressing, but I liked the hook so much that we wrote another version of the song that takes place about six months later and from a completely different perspective.   I'll get that one on here in a few weeks.