Books and Covers and Topsoil and Flat Tires

Fifteen bags of topsoil, 9 cubic feet, each just fit into Monte Carlo’s trunk.  They filled the trunk and I had to make sure they were stacked just so to get the trunk to close completely.  I was on my last trip.  I had done the math earlier in the week and deduced I needed 75 bags of topsoil.

Photo by Christer Ehrling on Unsplash

One trip at a time.  I went to the Lowe’s with an empty trunk, went to Lawn & Garden, stood in line, bought 15 bags, went back to my car, drove to the loading zone, and watched two, weary guys load my trunk.  I didn’t tip them.  In retrospect, I probably should have.

I would then drive home, back the car up to the garden fence, and unload the 15 bags, my bag aching more with each bag.  Each bag weighs 40 lbs.

I was on my last trip.  I stopped at Sonic to celebrate with an ice cream sundae.  I used most of the little bit of cash I had to tip the waitress on roller skates.

I pulled out onto Route 60 which instantly narrowed to two lanes as it approached my town of Ona.  There was nothing on the sides of the road but forest and ravines.  No place to pull over.

I heard and felt the familiar flop flop flop of a tire gone flat. 

I groaned.  And nearly cried.

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Joy to the World

Three Dog Night burst onto the scenes in the early ‘70s with the release of their single, Joy to the World – written by Hoyt Axton.  It first appeared on their 4th studio album but was released as a single in February of 1971.

I remember it fondly.  It took over the airwaves of Jacksonville, NC where I was living at the time.  I was 11 almost 12 when the single came out.  As the kids say now, it went viral.

What a glorious time of my life that was.  My world had not yet gotten dark and heavy.

The song is infectious – from the opening of Jeremiah was a bullfrog “to the refrain of Joy to World all the boys and girls.   it inspired surprise, joy, and dancing.  You just couldn’t help yourself.

My girlfriends and I were rocking out to the song in my living room one day when my mother came home from work.  Mom, uncharacteristically, grabbed the tambourine we had – the one I don’t know why we had as none of us were musical – and began beating it against her thigh and dancing around the living room.  I had monkey pod wooden fruit – a banana and a pear, I think – that I was banging together in rhythm to the song and we danced.  We were all singling loudly and probably offkey.  I can’t remember who all “we” were, but I had a group of friends and I think we were all represented that day.

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First Kiss

Gordon did a mean impression of Flip Wilson’s Geraldine.  He did.  I was always a sucker for a guy that could make me laugh. We were in sixth grade together and he was, of course he was, the class clown. He was a bit pudgy, had dark almost black hair, and big brown eyes.  He was taller than me – another trait I like in a romantic partner.  In sixth grade, it was hard come to find a boy my age that was taller than me. 

We were stationed at Camp Lejeune but living in town.  I was at a civilian school made up, primarily, of military brats.  Jacksonville was a very small town with absolutely nothing but 40,000 Marines.  My dad referred to it as the armpit of the world.

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Wicked Mean Blues Air Guitar

I play a wicked mean blues air guitar.  Usually after one drink too many.  I almost always say upon such occasions, “I could do it if I just knew how.”  And I could.  I really could.  I’m convinced of it.  So convinced of it, Santa asked me what I wanted one year and I said, “A guitar.”

Santa brought me a whole kit.  Case, stand, picks, tuners, Guitar for Dummies, and other assorted accessories. 

I couldn’t tune the damn thing.  Tried and tried.  I have a good ear, but I can’t figure out how to get the strings to the tension required.  I turn the little screws things this way and that to no avail.  I use the electronic tuner.  I don’t think I’m doing it right. 

In desperation, I cleaned my house and invited a musician friend and his wife to dinner.  Told him he not only had to sing for his supper, he had to tune my guitar. 

He did.  He declared it not bad for a cheapie. 

After they left, I tried some chords.  Damn it’s hard.  My old hands may be too arthritic to learn new muscle movements. 

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