Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Mother the Human Jukebox

I'm lying there half asleep, in and out of REM when the phone rings. It must be 4 a.m. I lurch out of bed and stumble as fast as I can to the phone. A phone call at this ungodly hour will always get your adrenaline pumping but fast. It can only be dire news. It has to involve my elderly mother. I sense this and dread answering the phone. I get to the phone just before the answering machine kicks in, on ring 4. "Hello" I croak, my throat is still constricted from sleep.
The voice on the other end confirms my worst fears. It is the hospital. It is the voice of a woman, a nurse,I didn't catch the name as my mind is racing in anticipation of some tragic news. I hear, "Mr. Swampcritter, this is Emergency Services at PRMC. Your mother was just transported here by ambulance, we are calling to notify you that her condition is at this time critical. Could you come soon?"
I stammer, "Wh-Wh-What happened? What's wrong with her?"
Then I hear the reply, "Well, Mr. Swampcritter, you may not believe this, but your mother has turned into a juke box."
"Oh Okay," I hear myself say. "Just unplug her if she gets too loud." I hang up the phone and go back to bed. It's a dream, it has to be.
It's too true. My mother has become a jukebox. A series of recordings forever locked in the past. Today my wife and I drove her into the hospital to visit my brother. On the trip in all I heard from the backseat was the "Golden Oldies." Finally out of desperation, I turned off my hearing aid.
It could have been Great Aunt Leone's penchant for lonely soldiers, or how about the time she went to nursing School in Baltimore in 1949, and how unsafe the streets are in Glen Burnie now vs. then.
It's maddening listening to the woman. She's turned into such a collection of tape loops that it's impossible to make small talk with her, and I hate small talk too.
I tell her, "Mom, you need some new tunes. I've only heard this one twice today already." I'm trying not to hurt her feelings. Instead I hear"Oh your Grandmother Godfrey was like that, she never talked about anything current, that woman lived in the past. You remember her don't you?" Anything I say is like pushing a button, I can almost hear the pop and hiss as the needle wears into those grooves. Do I hear the theme from Antiques Road Show faintly playing in the background?
"Just like she never left, Mom." I say. Thank the Lord she lives under my brother's roof. I notice I am driving faster, I need to get rid of her sooner rather than later. My wife is laughing at me. She knows what I'm going through.
My Mother, The Human Jukebox.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January Post

Well hello again Faithful reader(s) and generators of comment.
January is named for the God Janus,usually depicted as having two heads, one facing left and the other facing right. Actually they represent one head looking left into the past year, and the other looking right into the new year. Neat huh?
So much for mythological symbols. It has been a busy time for me thus far this month.
Some of you folks may know I live on a tree farm, so this month I am having some 90 acres of pine trees thinned and marketed as pulpwood. I have larger timber that could be harvested, but since the timber market is so poor these days I will have to wait. So to enhance the quality of the timber and at least derive a little income the trees are being thinned. A lot of impressive machinery has been rolling through the woods here. The canopy in the forest has really opened up and looks quite good.I will try to post some pix shortly.
Today I went to Pocomoke and took a friend out to breakfast. He is 83 and lost his wife back in August. He has had a hard time of it. We had a decent enough breakfast at Our Place in Pocomoke, and then went back to his place near Stockton and talked for a spell.
Left there and headed for Powellville, picked up my Mom and went into the 'bury to PRMC to visit my brother who had surgery the day before. He's doing well considering he had 8 inches of his bowel removed.
Then it was back to Powellville to drop off my Mom and I finally got home around 1 o'clock. I fell out and woke up to my daughter calling from California to wish me a Happy birthday. Yes today I am 57. It's not a big deal with me anymore. I would have liked for my birthday this year a less busy day.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Day 2009

Yessirree! It's New Years Day 2009 ! Happy New Year visitors, gawkers and everyone else!
Now that 2008 is history I must ask, will anyone look back on this past year and remember it fondly? I imagine you will if you voted for Barack Obama, but will anyone else?
No jobs, no money, equity eaten alive, good riddance 2008! Let's hope and pray, and work together for a change so things will get better.
Am I optimistic? Well give me a few months and I'll let you know.
Did anyone eat black-eyed peas today? I did, and I admit it's been many years since I did, but man were they good. When my Daddy was alive you were expected to show up at the house on New Years Day and eat black-eyed peas and corn. If you were a no-show you heard about it let me tell you.
My family is pretty far flung these days, and the ones close by are none to keen on tradition, so this year it was just me and the Mrs. that partook of the black-eyes. Here's to our family coming together again, and family traditions. May they long endure.
And here's to 2009, may it be better than last year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Balloon Farm

A Merry "Murky" Christmas

Merry Christmas to my visitor(s) and commentor(s) out there in the civilized world beyond the swamps! Today Mr. and Mrs. Swampcritter took a Christmas Day cruise over to scenic swamps of Dividing Creek.
For those of you a little rusty on your local geography that would be near where Worcester and Somerset counties meet. It is mighty pretty country.
As we drove up out of the swamp on Fleming Mill Rd. off to our right on Harry Riggin Rd. we were very pleased to see this little Christmas balloon farm display. It is owned by Rick Adams and his fiancee'. I first saw this last year and thought it was great, hopefully you will too.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finally The Rains Cease

I admit it. I am sick to death of all the rain we've been blessed with lately. In the past day and a half, we have received 3 plus inches. The Swampster appreciates his environs but I don't want them to wash awy either.
The road closed sign you see here is a common enough sight on Porter's Crossing Rd. in Worcester county whenever you get an appreciable amount of rainfall.

The house in the background by the way is where my grandmother was born. In the top picture you see see some brave and intrepid scofflaw negotiating the flooded road. The general rule of thumb is if you can see the lines on the road, the water is not so deep that it can't be driven through. Don't ask me how I know that.
I can tell you this. On more than one occasion I have been canoing on this section of the Pocomoke River and have actually canoed over the road. Water that high over the road usually occurs in the spring after a heavy Nor'easter. Today I'm enjoying the sunshine, even if is cool.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Somwhere Col. Saunders is Smiling

Yes indeed the Kentucky-fried Colonel is smiling somewhere today. Just look at this. We have here in this picture 10 chicken houses, all brand new. Several are still under construction. This is in eastern Worcester County. The Swampcritter and his brother cruised down that way today and happened to take Five Bridges Road and were surprised to see this, to say the least.
Now 10 chicken houses may not seem like such a big deal, but from this side of Worcester county you can almost spit into Somerset county. That being the same Somerset county that had all the issues with wells running dry only recently.
How many gallons of water do you suppose these chicken houses pull out of that same aquifer every day? A small house will use 3000 gallons daily, and these are not small houses and keep in mind there are 10 of these. Am I being an alarmist here? I ask this because less than five miles away over in Somerset county there are another 15 chicken houses as large as these. I can't imagine that they use less water. Water here on the shore is fast becoming a finite resource.
The Worcester county commissioners have apparently taken note of this but have thus far only expressed a token concern, but take note Somerset county is still intent on Ethanol production which will require millions of gallons of water to be pumped from our aquifers.
The Swampcritter is of the opinion that Ethanol is an ill-conceived solution to our energy problems, and even though I am an Eastern Shore native I don't believe we need to see poultry production on a scale that jeopardizes resources. I know from whence I speak, my dad worked in the poultry industry his entire adult life as a serviceman. He was very good at it., and was very pleased to see positive changes. Somehow I don't think even he would have been pleased to see this.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Waiting on the BBT

The BBT of course is The Big Brown Truck, also known as UPS. I'm waiting for it's arrival as eagerly as any kid at Christmas, even if Christmas is 3 weeks away. I've ordered a new guitar, which I really don't need as I now own 4 plus 1 banjo. This one will be the exception as it is an electric guitar. I'm buying it used since it's no longer in production. It was made by Cort, which is a Korean company. It is a Matt "Guitar" Murphy signature model. If you've never heard of him I'm not surprised, but you've heard him play if you listen to Howling Wolf, or the Blues Brothers. Matt is a sideman, and a very good one at that. His discography goes back into the 1940s. He's been around that long and is now 82 and still playing, and playing good. Most of his career he played for people like Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters and the Wolf, but he has done some of his own stuff too. I'm going to try to get back into electric blues music. most of what I play now is acoustic. Now I need a band. Maybe they'll come on the BBT too.