Wisdom in a “Button Jar”

I want to introduce you to a couple of folk today. No, neither one is in the books, but each had a profound effect on me as a person. Neither were flashy, brash, or loud in any way. As a matter of fact, they’re lives came and went, and the world scarcely took notice. It does that, (the world), fanfare, and accolades are seldom showered on the humble, the quiet, the loving in heart and spirit. No… now-a-days folk look to the loud, the colorful, and oft times obnoxious for inspiration.

A few seconds… that’s all you need, just a few seconds on the “interweb,” or evening news and your heart and mind are assaulted by this new normal. Folk cain’t seem to get enough of it. We want more, we want faster, we want cheaper, we want no limits, we crave excitement, we’re addicted to the rush and we want it “our” way.

That’s why this post is so important. It appears we’ve lost our way, and a great many have forgotten the lessons left to us by our elders. We live in a time when many need a handful of pills to silence the voices at night, followed by another handful of pills to wake those same voices come morning. We’ve forgotten how to stop, be silent, and listen to that “still small voice.”

So dear friends, allow me to introduce you to Otha and Naomi Henry, I think you’re gonna like em.

Otha and Naomi were known to family and friends as Dadaw and Mamaw. They lived in a humble farmhouse that, to the best of my knowledge, he had built by his own hand in Townsend Tn. That home saw several children and for the most part they mirrored the same strength of character and wisdom of they’re parents.

Otha married the love of his life and from the beginning they were inseparable. I came to know them late in they’re life, Naomi was bed-ridden at this point. But every Sunday family would gather in her bedroom, there they would find her wrapped in home-made quilts and sitting up against the headboard with a broad smile on her face.

Otha tended to her every need with joy, time (as time does) may have been unkind to their bodies, but the spirit…well that was still bright as ever. The Lord finally saw fit to call Naomi home, and suddenly Otha was left without his “help me” as old folk call them.

But he still found a way to care for his dear wife. You see, every day he rose early and drove to the cemetery, there with nothing but a simple shovel he began to rebuild the stone wall that protected her resting place. To him, it was simply “the right thing to do.”

I pulled into his drive one day and found him sitting in a lawn chair beside a stump. On that stump sat an old cobalt blue button jar. He had poured the buttons out into a pile and was sorting through them. His white hair and neatly trimmed white beard hovered over the stump in deep concentration. I watched for a second or two as his finger slowly separated the buttons into groups known only to himself.

“What-cha doin’ Othie” I asked. He was quiet for a moment; his reply was profound. Oh…talkin’ to Naomi, he said. Those four words spoke volumes then, and they speak volumes now. He knew there was comfort to be found in the solitude, that’s where she waited for him. That’s where they talked and shared memories. I came to realize the need to stop, just stop for awhile and “talk” to those we love, past and present. The wisdom of the ages lies hidden in quiet contemplation. I visit that summer Sunday often in my dreams, he’s still there, sitting next to that old stump, talking to his beloved Naomi.

He finally finished that stone wall. Funny thing, it wasn’t long after he laid his shovel down, the Lord called him home to be with his beloved Naomi. Such a wonderful ending to such a wonderful romance. Why cain’t we find that same peace now a days? I’m sure I’m not smart enough to have the answer to that. But I do know this…it’s not the loud, obnoxious, over the top things that make a difference in our world. Most times it’s the small, the quiet, the humble acts that shake the ground and leave a lasting legacy. I know it did for me. Think about that for awhile and share this story, I’m sure there is someone in your life that needs it about now.

One last note…I’m not sure where that button jar is today, I’m certain some family member has it. I hope they know it’s significance, and I hope they have it sitting in a place of prominence. I sure wish I had it, I might just play with the buttons and talk to an old white haired man by the name of Otha Henry.  

Ode to the lowly Whistle Pig.

My fellow TCC members. Most of you have gotten used to the fact that some, if not most of our stories, are a bit on the odd side. When I say most, I mean all and let’s be real, all of you possess an uncommonly high degree of common sense elsewise you wouldn’t be here.

But for the time being, let’s all lay aside our Heavenly bestowed overabundance of smartitude and talk about one of the more mundane and somewhat boring of God’s creatures. The lowly Whistle Pig (Groundhog for the uninitiated).

Firstly, they fry up rather nicely and taste a lot like squirrel, which tastes a lot like rabbit, which in turn tastes a lot like chicken, which in turn tastes a lot like…(vicious circle best saved for another story).

Aside from their crispy goodness, I have never stopped to consider their uncommon knack for problem-solving, comradery, and common sense. That was until just a few short years ago when I purchased an old farmhouse, complete with its very own (well-established) Whistle Pig community.

They were cute enough to begin with; mornings were spent with a hot cup of coffee while I watched their comings and goings. My neighbor joined in on my little nature watch, sitting on his rear deck watching the wonder of life unfold before our eyes. I soon discovered each critter possessed a unique personality and character, and soon the leader became evident. All was good at the old farmhouse until that fateful day, a friend came to visit.

He listen patiently as I shared the details of my Whistle Pig neighbors until, at last, he was able to fit a word in edgewise.

You do realize those things will destroy your house, don’t you?

What? I couldn’t believe my ears.

He went on and on, filling me with terror as he shared tales of my foundation sinking, my neatly kept lawn full of holes. By the time he was finished, I was certain those cursed rodents had to go.

Que the “Caddy Shack” theme song.

Photo by Russell Combs on Pexels.com

I now had a mission, a Holy calling, so to speak. I was gonna rid my property (and save my house) of those evil varmints.

I began humanely, of course; I procured a few live traps from I don’t remember who, and placed them near the entrances to their burrows. Once set, I gave myself a well-deserved pat on the back, secure in the knowledge I was doing the proper thing in sparing their tiny lives.

That didn’t work; as a matter of fact, I’m sure they were sitting down there in their little hole in the ground, snickering and laughing at my expense. I was certain my neighbor was doing the same.

As I told the boys at the local hardware store of my plight, I was inundated with countless homespun, surefire methods to rid myself of my ne’er-do-well squatters.

Mothballs works every time; trust me, they said, that’ll get ’em. Mothballs it was handfuls of ’em, under the house, around the house, down the holes. I even went as far as to open a box and place it next to their front door (hole). I then warned that neighbor of mine, get ready, I said, they’re coming to live with you in just a couple of days.

Did it work? NO.

Photo by Adrien Stachowiak on Pexels.com

The little jerks even stole the box I had set down; to this day, I have no idea where that daing box went. Once again, they sat there in that little hole of theirs, laughing at me; I was certain of it. The daddy groundhog went as far as to parade back and forth in my backyard, rubbing my face in my failure.

The rage began to boil inside me: ” If his chest had been a cannon, he would have shot his heart upon it.” Sorry, borrowed a bit from Moby Dick there.

Leg traps, yea, that’s it, brutal, yes, but I was losing myself in my rage. Leg traps it was.

I retrieved some old fox traps from a friend’s barn; I chuckled to myself maniacally as I cleaned and oiled the medieval things. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop me; I cursed them each one as I set the gruesome traps. Some errands needed running, and I smiled as I drove into town confident my problem was near an end. Did it work?

As I pulled into the drive, the rain was heavy, but it didn’t phase me. I leaped from my truck, making a bee-line to the traps. In the pouring rain and darkness, I saw a lone figure lying in the grass; I had him. My heart raced as I closed in, only to crash in utter defeat; a rather pitiful old Tom-cat stared back at me. What had I done?

With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I removed the cat’s leg from the horrible trap and lovingly carried him to the porch. I gently dried his fur with a bath towel and doctored his bruised paw. The old cat gazed into my eyes, and I felt the love, we were having a moment that cat and I, then suddenly, THWACK.

With a soul-curdling howl, a left hook landed hard on my cheek, and the claws dug in, almost instantaneously followed by a right hook. His rear feet dug into my chest as he catapulted into the yard and disappeared into the dark, leaving me battered and bleeding on the porch.

I slunk into the house and collapsed into a chair like a wad of chewed gum, completely defeated, and certain my house was doomed to a groundhog burrow. (Exit stage left)

The rain was over and the sun was bright come morning; I watched through the kitchen window as my neighbor took his usual spot with his usual coffee. I had accepted my fate, the birds were singing, and all was right with the world, But there he was.

The daddy Whistle Pig simply stood there with his back turned to me, the rodent equivalent of giving me the finger. The rage exploded within my heart; I grabbed the closest thing, (a large knife) and bolted through the house, nearly knocking the front door from its hinges. Around the house I ran, coming to a stop at the corner.

His back was still turned as I crept towards the beast. Why had he not turned? Surely he knows I’m here. My neighbor stood in his housecoat, noticing the drama playing out before him. My skin tingled, my ears screamed. Why had he not turned around?

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

At ten paces, my shaking hand lifted the knife above my head, ” from Hell’s heart I stab at thee, for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee” ( Melville again, but it works). Then it happened, he turned, and with a scream lunged at his pitiful human attacker, (Melville ringing in his head as well).

I sidestepped his advance, and we both ran for the house; I knew where he was going and screamed as I chased him, knife held high above my head. We rounded the corner, his hole was in sight, but I was losing the race. I noticed another groundhog poke his head from the burrow, empowering his nestmate. I dove at the rodent in a final lunge just as he ducked into the hole; he was gone.

I lay prostrate in the wet grass, complete in my defeat. I lay there until I heard a faint sound, a clapping. I lifted my head to see my neighbor, my former friend, clapping his hands and smiling from ear to ear. He stopped and lifted his coffee cup, I was not certain if the toast was for me, or my opponent, either way, message received.

Sometime later, I sold that house, complete with its Whistle Pig community. I drive by every now and then; it’s still standing. I can’t help but wonder if they are still there. I’ve never had another groundhog issue, but my new house does have some noisy dogs next door; I don’t mess with ’em. Instead, I’ve read Melville a few times, ol’ Ahab and I got a lot in common.

Dear reader, most of this story is fact; some of it, well, maybe I added a little spice. I’m gonna leave it up to you to discern what parts have been sprinkled a bit. In the end, I don’t think it matters much; the lesson is the same (if there is a lesson). I sometimes think that, without our knowledge, we become our own Ahab, and in the heat of the moment, it can be very difficult to see who we have become.

But…that’s just my opinion; feel free to make it your own.

As always, we thank you for spending a bit of your precious time with us and are honored with the sacrifice. Please hit the like button and share with at least one person if you liked it. Comments, well, let us know we are doing just a bit of good. God Bless you

The tale of the “Tarr Baby”

I’ve been thinkin’ of late; what with all this bad news circling and swirling about. If a body isn’t careful, it may seep into your mind like poison, darkening your thoughts and dreams. Even your very outlook on this precious gift of life; the very life given each of us by a just and Holy God. I was thinkin’ how easy it is to focus on all this “bad,” all the while forgettin’ about the damage it does. Hopes and dreams broken on the ground, relationships tattered beyond all hope of mendin’. Then a story came to me; a story about two lifelong friends, tighter than ticks in a dog’s ear they were, had each other’s backs through thick and thin. Stood proud at each other’s wedding; Godfather to each other’s children, even a world war couldn’t separate those ol’ boys, yep, they were two peas in a pod. That is until the Tarr baby came.

Elmer Cox and Jew Hicks; remember those names. Cool-weather days were spent in the same one-room schoolhouse; hot summer evenings passed as they hunted craw-dads in the cool creek. When they became men, they stood at the others side as they each wed lovely women. And when Uncle Sam came calling, both honored the call.

When they returned, Elmer picked up his daddie’s work as a blacksmith and Ferrier. Jew did the same, taking over the family farm. Practical jokers, the both of ’em. Innocent enough at the beginning, and each had a good laugh, but time and age escalated their little battles. Each joke became more serious, and each response escalated the stakes; until that day.

One frosty spring morning, Jew fired his ol’ truck up and headed to town; it wasn’t long till he noticed a horrible odor. The smell became so bad his eyes watered, and his throat began to burn. Unbeknownst to him; Elmer had filled the truck’s radiator with horse urine, and the scent was well beyond human comprehension. Of course, this made Elmer so mad his neck scorched the rear of his collar. He swore through his tear-stained eyes and urine-burned sinuses there was gonna be payback.

A couple of frosty mornings later, Jew was loading his forge, getting ready for the day ahead. He filled his shovel with coal and threw it onto the fire when the most horrendous explosion filled the shop. Smoke and fire filled the small building, and Elmer was certain he was about to meet his maker. Unbeknownst to Elmer, Jew had poured a can of black powder into the coal bucket; there was gonna be payback.

Well, as you might expect, news of this little war of attrition spread like wildfire. The talk of the valley it was. Who would make the next move? What might it be this time? Each time the story was shared, the teller would add just a little spice until, at last, the tale took on a life of its own, completely unrecognizable from the simple tale of practical jokes. A Tarr Baby was born.

Elmer fumed and fumed; he puzzled and puzzled, befuddled, it came to him. Horse piss, he told the men sitting around the coal stove. More horse piss, ol’ Jew needs a bucket dumped on him when he rides that tractor of his past the shop.

Those “friends” of Elmers couldn’t wait to get down to the store and tell everybody with ears what ol’ Elmer was gonna do. The tale grew and grew; it was no longer a bucket of urine, but a bucket of whatever the teller had in mind, just to make it worth tellin’. The Tarr baby was growing fast.

When word got to Jew, he was at the end of his tether.

“What are ya gonna do?” they would ask.

“You cain’t let this go unanswered,” they would say.

I know what I’m gonna do, Jew said. You just wait and see.

The next morning Jew climbed on his tractor, slid a shotgun down next to the seat, and headed off to his fields. The “friends” gathered at the store saw him as he chugged past.

“This is it,” they cried as they all jumped into their trucks, anxious to follow Jew and see what happens when he passes Elmer’s shop.

As Jew rounded the corner; he lowered his hand to cock the trigger.

Elmer was waiting on the roof; he strained to hear the ol’ tractor as it chugged ever closer to his shop. Then, just as Jew turned the corner, Elmer jumped to his feet, ready to cover his friend with urine.

But Jew was ready; he lifted the shotgun and pulled the trigger; birdshot sent his former friend flying off the rooftop and crashing into the weeds on the other side.

Elmer survived being shot, though the birdshot took years to work its way out of the hundreds of little wounds. Of course, the sheriff was called, and the town began to take sides. Rumors flew through the air like June bugs, and gossip grew like cancer with each telling. Funny thing, the word “gossip,” you can almost hear the hiss of a serpent when you say the word; it’s truly a filthy word.

Before long, everybody in town became polarized, the was no middle ground. Who started it? What started it? Some even went so far as to insinuate adultery. You were either on this side or the wrong side, and few would change their mind.

Tarr Baby definition; a Tarr Baby is something that the more you play with it, the more you get on you. Let me say that again; the more you play with it, the more you get on you.

You see, when we get polarized on a subject, any subject, pick sides, refuse to listen, my way or the highway. We only tend to get more on ourselves; we become our own victim by default. Tar is very difficult to get off, and sooner or later, we succumb to its weight to our own peril.

We live in a time when our money is fake, our government is rotten to its core, our elected leaders have larceny in their hearts, our rights are being stripped away, and our worth as Americans is constantly under attack. Yet here we are, playing with a Tarr Baby while the important bits go unnoticed or unattended.

As a whole, I believe we can learn a lot from Elmer Cox and Jew Hicks. A lifetime of friendship, ruined over a bucket of horse urine, birdshot, and rumor. They became so lost in the gossip (did you hear that hiss) that they forgot who their real friend was, they lost sight of the strength of unity. Something so simple, so mundane killed what survived even a world war. Think on that for a while.

The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for your valuable time. I realize many will read this without so much as a like or most importantly a share, but this time, share it, please.

Oh, and by the way; turpentine removes tar, just in case you should need to know that.

HOW TO POLE VAULT OVER A MOUSE TURD, and other useless things.

I’ve been practicing this writing thing for a few years now, Maybe someday I shall be at the very least mediocre. Alas… I keep pounding away at these blasted keys while rubbing a bald spot into what little hair I have left. From time to time I’ll stop, stare at the words in disgust and scream to myself (metaphorically). You’re a fraud I say, an amateur, a red-neck with no use behind a keyboard.

In disgust, I stand in a huff to storm out of my little “office” never to return. I glance at the mirror, not recognizing the man looking back. Then it hits me. Without my knowledge, I have come to resemble the old stereotypical writer in appearance. He stands there, glaring at me, shoulders bent from hours hovering over a keyboard, grey goatee surrounded by a four-day stubble. Round eyeglasses sit just beneath a bald spot polished to a shine by endless rubbing. To my horror, I notice I’m wearing a button-down cardigan sweater, and a “worlds best writer” coffee mug gripped tight in my gnarled paw. SCARY HUH?

Have I bitten off more than I can chew? The book series and the constant back and forth between agents, endless rewrites, and “please condense your seventy thousand word manuscript into one(1) sentence” guidelines. Did you know(…) has a proper name? “ellipsis,” that term means as much to me as the name of that little thing on the end of your shoelace, (yea… there’s a name for that too), and don’t get me started on the proper use of colons vs semi-colons. ( There’s a reason for this banter, I promise, just let me preach on a bit).

The Tin Cup Clan stories, Some are memories, some are mere musings containing a thinly veiled lesson. Believe it or not, most of ’em come to me around three am. This leaves me in a pickle, if I don’t get up and outline them right away they will be gone come morning. I figured out how to solve this problem and get a good night’s sleep as well. I simply poke at the wife until she wakes then tell her all the gory details, secure in the knowledge she will remember them come morning. She is not happy with this solution.

The Heritage project, this one is important. For hundreds of years, these mountains have been mined for the riches they contain. Resources taken for the love of money are far greater than simple coal. Our stories, our history, our heritage are now for sale to the highest bidder. They are being “mined” just like coal, for likes, clicks, and follows. For that very reason, we will never have banners or ads. Our elders possessed a wisdom far greater than any that can be learned from this modern world. If you go through our posts you’ll meet a fellow named Shag, discover what’s contained in a simple blue jar, learn what DWB’s are, refuse to wear pink socks, and maybe think twice before you grab that first piece of chicken, and many others. Maybe, just maybe, a little of that wisdom can be passed down through the tellin’. That is, as long as my wife can remember them come mornin’.

Back to that ol’ man in the mirror.

Two men came to mind as I gazed in the mirror; one of ’em I had met just the other day, quite by accident. He was a rather stately fellow, well dressed, and neatly trimmed beard. He was friendly but wasted little time in bragging about his life, years spent in academia had forged a quick wit that he was justifiably proud of. I told him I wrote a bit since retirement, a comment he pounced on immediately. Do you know what I can’t stand? he asked. People that misspell words on purpose. Just because you are from here doesn’t give you license to spell-like you speak.

I kept my opinions to myself as he carried on.

And people that don’t know how to punctuate drives me crazy, just the other day I was reading an article in the local paper and found three, that’s right three mistakes. Well, I immediately wrote to the editor, pointing out these mistakes. And would you believe it, he never thanked me, he still to this day hasn’t responded back.

The gentleman had a lot more to say, but after that statement, I really wasn’t paying attention.

I left him to his opinions, but as I drove away I began to feel a bit unworthy. Many times I write as I speak, I believe it gives the words warmth, a “muchness.” But I left him feeling some-what less, than when I met him. I recalled grade school many years ago when a few teachers tried to break us of our dialect, they felt it made us sound unintelligent. “You will be more successful if you learn to speak “proper” English” they would say. Thankfully, those days are gone and so is the “proper” English attempt. But suddenly another fellow popped into mind, another fellow and “mouse turds.”

In the past, I’ve bragged a great deal about my step-dad, and justifiably so. When I was a young man, things as they may often do, became too much for me to handle. He would stop me in the middle of a rant.

He was a loud crusty ol’ Yankee from upstate New York, and second, only to my mother, he made me who I am today. Michael, ( he always began that way). Michael, you gotta quit pole-vaultin’ over mouse turds. He would slap his knee and throw his head back in thunderous laughter. You chuckled just then, I know you did, but think on that comment for a second. DON’T POLE-VAULT OVER MOUSE TURDS. Lawd, Lawd, some of those academics are spinnin’ right now.

Crude, yes, offensive, well nowadays everything is. But he kept me grounded, he was also the source of the “DWBs” (you gotta check that post out). I can’t be sure, and I don’t wanna go braggin’, but I swear I could see him in that mirror, staring back at me, I could even hear his laughter. This lesson wasn’t taught from a book or learned from the interweb. I reckon you might say it was a “passive” lesson, one I didn’t realize I was learning at the time. Funny how those are generally the ones that stick ain’t it.

We may never know the effect our lives have on those around us, oft times the simplest of things have the greatest impact. Even now, especially now, I find myself jumpin’ over the small stuff. Agents and editors pickin’ through the words. A stranger, proud of his ability to find the smallest fault or “misspelled” thought. Don’t get me wrong, I strive to share quality content with each of you, I stress over letting you down and I respect you far too much to offer trash.

Humbled, and a little ashamed, I turned back to my desk, stepped over some mouse turds as I laid my pole down, and began typing. No, these words ain’t perfect, yes you will find a mistake or two, or three. After all, what do you expect of something spilled from this ol’ brain of mine? And I owe a great deal of it to an ol’ Yankee named George. THANK YOU GEORGE

George Chamberlain (late) my step-dad

We hope you enjoyed this visit with The Tin Cup Clan, time is so valuable these days we are humbled that you choose to spend just a bit of it with us. Share this little tale with someone, Lord knows there is plenty that needs to hear it. Comments, let us know what you think, kinda gives us a boost to keep going. If you know of someone for the Heritage project drop a note, we would love to hear from you.

Until next time…God Bless

The Exploits of “Hefer” the Cinnamon Queen.

I’m not often at a loss for words, I believe there are a number of fine folk out there that can attest to that simple statement. However, I must admit I’m just a smidge at a loss pertaining to an ol’ girl soon to be known to many as “Hefer.” Oh, it’s a fine story to be sure, and one with plenty of lessons hidden in the words. So, bear with me for a few moments, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get to know this fine southern lady just a bit better.

A wonderful devoted lady by any standards most would say, a loving mother to many. No…really when I say many, I mean MANY, last brood was twelve and counting. WHAT?? Oh, yea…I forgot to mention, Hefer is a chicken, Of the “Cinnamon Queen” persuasion to be exact. A chicken yes, but a chicken with dreams, dreams like we all should have. Dreams of a far-off world most shall never see, dreams of far-flung adventures most will never have. But Hefer possessed something foreign to many of us, “fire in the belly ambition.”

Hefer was my daughter’s prize hen, she was, however, the most headstrong in the flock. Any crack, any crevice, any means of escape,(no matter how small) could not escape her sharp eye. Most of the flock are free-range birds, sitting Hens however are contained for obvious reasons. But no matter the measures, Hefer would always find her way free, after all, she had dreams. Remember?

Recently we had some of our customary Tn. mountain weather. You know, seventy-five one day, thirty and snowing the next. Trees were down, power was out, cable and interweb missing. Lord knows we gotta have interweb.

Once the roads were clear, out came the cable trucks, my daughter waited not so patiently for the cable guy. Until today.

Here he came, sloshin’ up the drive, little faces were pressed against the glass, giddy by his arrival. He stepped from the truck ready to work, flung open doors containing all the pieces-parts and bits and bobs needed to restore the all-mighty cable, (and interweb).

Busy with his repairs, he failed to notice the flock of free-range poultry who had mistaken the truck for a coop. Honest mistake to be sure. In their new coop, they found a multitude of brightly colored food, they scratched and pecked at the bits and bobs, thankful for the buffet laid before them. Until the cable guy noticed.

Arms waving wildly, screaming,(“git, git, shew, shew,) birds went a-flyin’ left and right. Confident the birds were gone he finished his work and off he went, sloshin’ down the drive.

Liddy (my daughter), went to the pens to feed the hens, BUT NO HEFER!

It seems Hefer had used the confusion to stow away in the bucket of the truck. A fact that went unnoticed until the repairman stopped at the town’s ballfield, at that point she exploded from the bucket, scaring the pants off the poor feller, then took off runnin’. There’s that, “fire in the belly” part.

Picture in your mind; a grown man chasin’ a chicken around a muddy ballfield in the middle of town. The sight caused a number of folks to pull to the shoulder to watch the entire spectacle from the comfort of their vehicles. This went on for God knows how long, until at long last she caught a break in the brush, escaping capture. Hefer was livin’ large, all the hope, dreams, and patience had paid off. She was now her own woman, (in a chicken sort of way).

Well…Liddy was understandably heart-sick. Her favorite hen was gone. I gotta throw in the “flown the coop” metaphor. She took to social media in a drastic attempt to locate the ol’girl. She was soon inundated with “smiley face” emojis and comments. Please, if anybody sees her let me know and so on.

Now you may think that was the end of the Hefer debacle, (but wait, there’s more). This is a small town in the mountains, we do things differently here. Perfect strangers began looking for Hefer, all with the same goal, getting the ol’ hen home.

And you know what? They found her. That’s right, friends that Liddy didn’t know she had, contacted her. Hefer was safe. Now you might think it’s just a chicken, but that chicken could teach us all a powerful lesson. Never give up on a dream, and never underestimate your friends. Yep…we’re a little different here, but that’s just how we do things. In closing, a shout out to the wonderful folks of Corrington Tn. and Thank You on behalf of “Hefer” the Cinnamon Queen.

As always: Thank You for spending a bit of your valuable time with The Tin Cup Clan. May God richly bless you. Remember to hit a few buttons at the bottom and share this story, and comments, we love the comments. Yep, That’s a picture of the REAL Hefer. The Tin Cup Clan

“CHRISTMAS” in a CARDBOARD BOX

“Christmas gifts in short supply,” “Shop early to avoid empty shelves,” The black Christmas of 2021.” The headlines go on and on. If a body allowed themselves, all this bad news can really drag a person down, make ’em believe Christmas and all it stands for can be contained, held captive on some random cargo ship floating just off the coast somewhere.

But don’t you think on it, no sir, don’t you think on it one bit. I got some good news for us all. They may be tellin’ us the holidays are being held captive, but they’re wrong! Let me tell you why.

The Owens family are the stars of our little story, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Owen’s and big David from the book snippets. We join them on a very special day, up early, cleaned and pressed, David’s hair combed and oiled, his four sister’s hair carefully brushed and garnished with pretty bows of left over fabric. His Ma had the entire clan ready to go before sun up. The girls, bubbling over with excitement, picked, poked, and giggled at each other, all the while David looked to the Heavens and rolled his eyes. He couldn’t let ’em see his excitement, after all, while his Pa was at work he was the man of the house. This meant someone had to be the voice of reason.

You see friend: before cellular phones and tablets, before designer purses and Nike shoes, before those robot vacuum cleaners and that creepy Alexa lady who talks to you at home even in the most private of situations, before Atari, PlayStation and X-box. There was something more… a simple dog-eared cardboard box, but contained within that humble box, well… contained there was everything Christmas was about, everything Christmas promised and everything Christmas was, and as kids they looked forward to it’s yearly return with as much excitement as Santa Claus, maybe more.

Since it was Christmas basket season, that meant anything was possible, maybe even probable. Most folk have been fortunate enough to have never seen one, and that particular memory, like so many things from our past, seems to be slowly fading into obscurity. But to David and his sisters, all the magic and wonder of the holiday season was waiting for them inside that box.

Oh it’s all there…you just gotta know what to look for, the Christmas story in it’s entirety. From the simple to the sublime, the mundane to the magical, the humble to the most high. And like all good things (I mean really good things), very little, if any, money is required.

David and his sisters didn’t know “poor”, to them it was simply”life” and life needed no special words to quantify it, it simply was, and that was that. But… it was a different time and folks defined “poor” differently than we do now.

There they were, like a momma duck and her babies, all waddlin’ up the narrow road into town. If they were lucky, a neighbor would stop and offer a ride, if not there was plenty to talk about on the five mile hike. All the children could talk about were those boxes and what wonders waited inside. Each shared tales about what they hoped to find within, minds raced and imaginations soared as tales of last years treats and which ones were favorites flew though the cold air.

Before they knew it, the lodge came into to view and they could see the line of folks wrapping around the building like a black snake, all patiently waiting their turn. Now before we go any further we need to get one thing straight friend…this weren’t charity. Around here folk look out for each other, we share the gift as well as the burden. We didn’t need the government, we didn’t need a handout, and we didn’t need some politician deciding what our folk deserved. We had neighbors and friends who cared, and felt the pain of hardship like we all did.

The sights,sounds, and smells in that building were in a kids eyes, beyond words. Boxes packed full of holiday greatness were stacked floor to ceiling. The aroma of chocolate, citrus, cinnamon, and other treats unknown floated about the room before simmering into an aroma that brought goose-bumps to the skin. The roomful of voices and excited clamber mixed just as easily, composing a soothing hymn. This must truly be what Christmas was all about, those children were in Heaven and never wanted to leave.

A booming HO, HO, HO, snapped them to reality. The three girls pulled and tugged at David’s shirt, begging to go see Santa. David shot his ma a pleading glance.

Oh fine, she replied. Take your sister and go see Santa, I got some things to drop of at the tables anyway.

Without waiting on their brother, the girls ran to the short line of children, all waiting to tell the Jolly ol’ elf their most private of wishes. David knew it as soon as he laid eyes on the ol’ boy. The yards of red velvet and white fur trim couldn’t hide the tin toys and whistles dangling just below Santa’s coat. The ivory pipe he held clutched in his teeth could belong to no other, it was ol’ Shag Branch in the flesh. The wonderful ol’ man sat there, his lap full of children. From time to time his head fell back as a thunderous laugh filled the room. Shag was in his element, he loved those children and they loved him in return. Christmas seemed to fit Shag, his well worn stories of travel to far off and exotic lands were replaced with reindeer tales, and elf updates, the intricacies of toy manufacturing, and flight zones. The children (young and old) gathered round him as usual, mouths wide open and eyes star struck as they absorbed the tales like raindrops on dry clay.

Mrs. Owens used the opportunity to finish some business. She placed a large basket on the table under the watchful eyes of the chief and mayor. A loud gasp was heard from both as she laid six fresh baked “cornmeal” pies in a neat line. Quit that she scolded as she swatted away the mayor’s hand. Those are for the raffle, you want a taste then go buy ye’selves a ticket.

Grumbles were heard as the two men turned to go in search of the ticket table.

We’ll be back Mrs. Owens replied Mayor Weaver, yea said the chief, with winning tickets too.

I hope so boys, she answered, I hope so.

To be perfectly honest; each family was to get just one box, but the men behind the tables, well… they knew things, the kinda things only a small town knows. With a wink, a finger to their lips and a quick shush, a box appeared before each of the children. The girls could scarce wrap their arms around the treasure. Once the boxes were held tight against they’re chests, they were quietly scatted outside.

Ma led her little band of ducks to a large sweet-gum tree, there beneath the gnarled branches they examined they’re spoils.

One large frozen roasting hen

Cans of pumpkin, green beans, corn and untold other vegetables

A bag of flour, cornmeal, and sugar

A large bag of tree nuts

A bag of pretty ribbon candy, creme drops, horehound candy, gum drops, and a box of Cracker Jacks

A large poke of oranges and a few grapefruit

But the best lay hidden at the bottom. All four filled their mouths with gum drops and began to dig. I found it yelled the youngest, soon followed by the other three. Four pairs of hands lifted the prize into the air. A brand new pocket New Testament. Still cold from the frozen chicken, leather bound with gold letters on the outside and red letters on the inside. (The red letters are the important ones).

Mrs. Owens let her little ones enjoy their newfound prizes for a few minutes before giving word that it was time to make the way back home. David secured each girl with a their own box before picking up his own. The little band began the journey back home.

The journey home was dominated by tales of Santa and the things he might bring. A thankful grin lay across the face of both David, and his ma. The hope and dreams of the three girls lifted they’re hearts and made the steps lighter.

As the four marched, the wind brought the scent of cinnamon and Liquorice to the nose. The aroma mixed and mingled with the scent of citrus and apples, until finally joining with the smell of cardboard and the cold of the chicken. The end result was nothing short of magical.

We all have special “triggers” in our lives, simple little things such as a TV. show, a special taste, a smell, or familiar tune. Something so small and innocuous that it means nothing to others, but to us, those “little” things have the power to instantly transport us back to simpler times and our childhood, or treasured memory. The smell of a Christmas basket is one of mine, and I’m sure, for David and his three sisters as well.

Remember when I said those boxes contained Christmas? Well…let’s talk about that a-bit shall we?

You may be, (and I pray that you are), unfamiliar with the concept of a “Christmas Basket” and what it meant to so many mountain families, not to mention children. Every year when the leaves began to change, local churches, businesses, friends, neighbors, heck, most of the whole town came together in the spirit of Love and Sacrifice. A humble yet grand effort to gift another with the simple respite from worry.

Food drives would be held, bake sales and raffles. Collection plates circulate in churches ,meeting halls, and even local beer joints. Most everyone gratefully shared what little they had, no avenue was left unchecked in the effort to fill as many boxes as possible.

Do such labors work? Do these humble actions of neighbors have lasting effect. Well…here sits an old man, typing away at his keyboard. As I write this story I smell that box,I feel the cold from the frozen bird against my face as I walk home. I feel the weight as I carry it close to my chest. The smell of citrus, chocolate and cinnamon fill my head and I’m transported back, way back.

Strip away the tinsel, the twinkling lights and greenery. Remove the silver, gold and blown glass. Forget about spending money you don’t have, to buy people you don’t like, things they don’t need.

Whats left?

Just an old cardboard box, much like an old wooden manger, both filled with hope, joy, and promise. The return of which was looked forward to every year at this special time. Remember that pocket New Testament those little ones were so desperate to find too? Oh it was there in that manger as well. Oh not a little book mind you, but nothing less than the word manifest in flesh, the Christ child. A promise made, a promise fulfilled.

Oh I nearly forgot; Remember those pies Mrs. Owens baked? There’s a lesson there as well. In my simple mind I believe God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost is best described as a cornmeal pie cut into three slices. Each separate at the surface,but the middle, the ooey gooey sweet part, is still as one.

Mary had a little Lamb, so very long ago.

Though our sins be as crimson..

The Lamb can wash them white as snow.

My sin debt was paid by that Little Lamb, in that manger long ago.

And now where that Lamb has gone, I shall surely go.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Tin Cup Clan. It’s been a wonderful year, God has allowed me to continue sharing these tales with you even though the doctors tell me other wise. We thank each of you for your prayers and support and continue to pray that the Lord bless you and your Loved ones without measure.

So…next time you hear or read of all the evil afoot in this ol’ world. Stop a second and think of Big David and his sisters, a corn meal pie, and a humble little “cardboard box.” Then with a deep breath, smile a bit and smell the citrus. God’s got this, I promise.

Please like an share this story. I’m certain we all know others who need to read it. I don’t get out much anymore so leave a comment or two as well, we certainly enjoy reading them. THE TIN CUP CLAN

Turkey Delivery

          By Michael Miller

Autumn in the hills of East TN is a very special time. The smell of fresh-cut hay hangs heavy in the cool crisp air. Hills and hollers are dressed in their Sunday best; sporting vivid hues of orange, red and gold. An elegant mist hovers at tree-top level, just as a bride wears her veil on her wedding day. Ridges and hill tops randomly pierce the fog; a high vantage point reveals an illusion of scattered islands in a distant sea.

I love walking through this wood in Autumn, it’s a delight to the senses, the fallen leaves give way under foot with a pleasing crunch. Squirrels are heard chattering in the tree-tops as they go about their day; collecting hickory nuts and other winter staples. A nip hangs in the air; just enough to tingle the nose and cool the lips.

          A few years ago, I was enjoying such a bucolic setting as this, as I recall, it was in the month of November and Thanksgiving was closing fast A cool Friday afternoon found me on my way home from work; via one of the many mountain back-roads. Life was about to change suddenly for three complete strangers, and, if I may be so bold as to speculate; I don’t believe any one of us would ever be the same.

This little story involves myself, a stranger driving an old pick-up truck, and one shall I say, soon to be mortally wounded wild Tom turkey.

          You see, Autumn in the hills of East Tennessee usually requires accommodating the seasonal influx of tourists, hundreds of thousands of millions of em, [leaf peakers,] as the locals know em.

Driving about in mass; wearing funny outfits while snapping countless pictures of our little slice of paradise. All the while managing to assault what-ever species of local wildlife, unfortunate enough to have been caught out in the open.

          The main roads are soon congested with vehicles sporting tags from all the lower forty-eight, and a few regions of Canada as well. Traffic jams ten miles in length are not uncommon; forcing tempers to run high and patience to run low. It’s an annual ritual local folk have come to expect and subsequently prepare for.

          The best defense is a firm familiarity with the countless backroads and trails known only to the fortunate folk who call this place home. Failure to provide one’s self with a proper means of ingress and egress will generally result in countless hours sitting grid-locked within a sea of vehicles.

          This particular year found me to be the fortunate owner of one nineteen and eighty-five Chevy Celebrity. A fine chariot to say the least, lime green in color both inside and out. The color was further highlighted with a rich earthy patina, providing this chariot with an aura of maturity and glamour unmatched by the likes of newer vehicles. The look was further accentuated by no less than four, that’s right, four doors.

          The interior was no less awe-inspiring, cool lime green velour seats complete with the highly sought after, spilled coffee stain option. The head-liner was covered with delaminating fabric. Sagging down and rubbing the top of my head, it clung tenaciously to the ceiling, held in place by countless strategically placed thumb-tacks in a rainbow of colors.

          Of course, at least two of the power windows were non-functional. This combined with the broken air-conditioner and coolant leak blessed the lucky driver (me) with a free sauna on the way home. “Hey, you know people pay real money for that stuff, right?

          The ol’ girl ran pretty well; even considering the fact she burnt nearly as much oil as gasoline. She even had a built-in mosquito repellent. A simple stop for traffic or red lights brought puffs of smoke from around the hood. Thereby causing the occasional panic among fellow motorists, while eliminating those pesky insects so bothersome during the summer months.

          This busy fall afternoon found me on my way home via one of the many back-roads. There I was, driving along, admiring the fall colors, and enjoying the cool fall air, with hints of oil smoke. Behind me a fellow motorist in an old truck followed at a distance.

           November meant Thanksgiving was just around the corner, so thoughts of the coming celebration filled my mind. Filled it to such an extent as to leave me oblivious to the sharp curve slowly approaching. I came to my senses just in time to set the car into a comfortable path around the bend, when there he was, out of nowhere. Smack in the middle of the road, smack in the middle of the curve.

          The biggest dog gone turkey I had ever laid eyes upon, and friend I’ve seen a few. There was no time to react, no time to swerve, the situation looked calamitous for sure. I’m certain this predicament looked even more depressing from that poor ol’ turkey’s point of view.

There he was, minding his own, having a joyful little turkey sort of day, hens were all happy, little turkey babies were all happy, by all account’s turkey life was good.

Just then out of the blue, a big ol’ green piece of what-ever it was comes careening around the curve, barreling down on this poor feller at a breakneck speed. At this point you gotta wonder, did his life pass before his eyes, were there things left undone, things left unsaid.

These are questions best left to poets, philosophers, and truth seekers alike, sadly we may never know. For a split second, I believe we made eye contact, a connection of sorts. Two hapless souls for whom on this particular day fate firmly placed them in the wrong place at the wrong time, and then it happened… A sickening thud.

I felt the poor fellers body bounce between the undercarriage and the road for what seemed an eternity, finally and gruesomely exiting the rear of the vehicle. I looked to my mirror to witness this poor lifeless bird flailing about as he tumbled down the road. Finally, coming to rest in the left-hand ditch row. There he lay, lifeless by the roadside.

Now here my dear friend is where that hardwired hillbilly instinct of mine kicks in. Like I said, it was almost Thanksgiving; and that was one hell of a bird lying there in yon ditch. Hunters dream about a bird such as this, most never come across one of this magnitude in a lifetime. The only ones that could possibly compare sit mounted on walls at the local sporting goods store. Yet there it lay, in a ditch, on a lonely country back road.

I threw the green hornet in park and ran to the ditch where the body lay. By this time, the ol’ boy in the truck had caught up and had stopped dead in the middle of the road to watch the goings on.

He shoved his head out the door window and yelled; “That’s one hell of a bird boy.”

I looked down at the lifeless body; then gave the head a sharp kick, all the while ready to sprint to the car with the first sign of life.

“Is he dead?” He yelled.

Yea, looks like it I said, knocked his left eye clean out of his head.

“If you don’t want im, I’ll take im off yer hands fer ye,”

Naw, I got im, I hollered back; trying my best to appear calm in light of the prize laying at my feet. Here lay some heavy bragging rights. I imagined the accolades, the atta boys, the pats on the back. Did you hear about the turkey ol’ Mike got?

Sure did, they would reply. I heard about it, big-un too I reckon.

Yep, I was gonna be a bonafide rock star.

I had been given, no blessed, with the means to supply my merry band of cracker-snatchers, with a bird the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Ebenezer Scrooge delivered the prize goose to the humble Cratchit family.

I grabbed the beast by both legs, his wings fell open as I hoisted him in the air. A five-foot wingspan if it was an inch, what a prize. With two thumbs up from my new-found friend in the truck, I made my way to the green hornet, prize in hand. Opened the rear door and chucked him into the back seat. After a quick wipe of my hands, I jumped in and resumed my way home.

As I drove down the road my heart was full of pride, my head full of, well, myself really. I practiced the story over and over in my head, honing each word until they were razor sharp. Surely, this story was destined to be repeated at all the Miller holidays for years to come. And then it happened!

Suddenly an explosion of noise and activity. I wasn’t sure where it started; it seemed to be coming from everywhere. All hell had broken loose in the back seat; and I didn’t know what to make of it.

Massive wings tore at the dangling headliner; thumbtacks flew about the interior like shrapnel. I was getting the hell beat out of me, those massive wings landed punches a prize fighter would have been proud of. The back of my neck was getting torn to pieces by the claws and what felt like twelve inch long daggers. It soon became apparent that there was only gonna be one winner in this fight, and my chances of victory looked mighty slim.

I fought to maintain control of the ol’ green car, swerving back and forth on the twisting mountain road. All the while I was being showered with turkey blood and feathers. I was afraid I was gonna run off the side of a ridge whilst I was trying to protect my face. It was complete and absolute bedlam in the purest sense.

In the midst of the confusion it dawned on me, the damn thing wasn’t dead. He had simply been knocked unconscious or playing possum. I didn’t really know or care which, but boy howdy was he ever upset. I just knew one of us had to have some relief, and it had to be quick.

He seemed to be everywhere at the same time, flapping, flailing, screaming (that’s right I said screaming.) I’m talking some God-awful screams. Well… looking back, the screams might have been mine, I’m not entirely sure.

In a split second of reasonable thought, I did the only possible thing. I slammed both feet on the brake petal and pushed with all I had.

The car came to a sliding halt; smack in the center of the road. It was all I could do to find the door handle. I fumbled about blindly, desperately, and with a final desperate lunge, jerked the handle with all my strength. As soon as I sensed an exit, I kicked open the door, and fell with a thud to the center of the road in a heap of blood, feathers, and turkey crap.

Needless to say, but I will anyway, it took a few seconds to regain any manner of composure. There I stood; alone in the middle of the road; staring at my car crammed tighter than corn on a cob with a whole bunch of raging turkey.

It was at this time my ringing ears detected a blaring car horn and the awfullest laughter I have ever heard. I turned around to see the ol’ boy in the pick-up; slapping his dash and laughing uncontrollably.

Boy he sure as hell showed you; that’s the funniest thing I ever saw.

Time after time he threw his head back laughing and gasping for air; sounding a lot like an old donkey.

He began to slowly pull around my car. Enjoy that bird boy; you might want to ask him for a ride home. I could hear the laughter as the old truck disappeared around the curve.

I stood there for a second, pondering the damage to my reputation once the driver got into town, what to do next.

Well, of course I needed to get him outta my car. I knew what to do, simply open both doors on one side and the bird would escape right? It’s common sense.

I ran over to the right side and grabbed the handle, locked, I grabbed the handle on the other door, locked, well that figures I said out loud. I ran back to the driver’s side; I knew those doors were unlocked.

When I opened that rear door that ol’ Tom shot outta that car like he had been fired from a cannon. He stopped about thirty feet away and stretched his wings, mocking me. He stood there, but just briefly, enjoying his victory, left eye dangling at the side of his head. Then turned and ran down through yon field.

I could only imagine the stories he was about to share with his turkey friends. He was about to be the bonafide hero not me. His story was about to be told to his turkey family not mine.

I grudgingly got in my ol’ car, the headliner now scattered about in pieces. Thumbtacks were scattered about like miniature landmines. Blood, feathers, and turkey crap was everywhere. I got stuck by at least three or four em. How the heck did crap get on the front windshield.

I wasn’t sure if the blood on my neck and face were mine or his. This was gonna be one heck of a story all right. And by the time the ol’ boy in the truck got home, I was gonna be famous that’s for sure. Lord, I could hear the tales now.

I put the car in drive and once again started home. Yes, we still tell stories about the turkey every Thanksgiving. My kids sit around with bated breath; tell us about the turkey daddy, tell us about the turkey. I do; and they laugh and laugh.

I’m grateful to that ol’ bird, and you should be too. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to laugh so hard every time we see a group of turkeys by the side of the road.

So… this holiday, after you and yours enjoy that fabulous meal. Tell em about the turkey, and how he…well, you finish that last line

As always the Tin Cup Clan sincerely thanks you for spending a bit of time with us. We realize you have far more important things to do and we are honored you choose to stop in for a spell. If you like this little tale we sure would appreciate you hitting a few buttons. Please like, share, tell a friend or maybe even leave a comment. We sure do enjoy the comments. Thank You and God bless. The Tin Cup Clan.

Ahab’s real name was Wendall

Ahab…the name carry’s with it a ponderous weight. Scenes of massive wooden ships under full canvas fill our noggins, if we allow ourselves the privilege, we can almost hear the overbearing Captain as he berates the lowly shipmates. With little effort we may go so far as to catch a glimpse of the massive white back as it breaches the ocean’s surface. ” If his chest had been a cannon he would have shot his heart upon it,” the quote rings in our head as a church bell…but.

Yes we’ve all read the book, (you have haven’t you ?)

Pundits and scholars have debated the various morals, lessons or inner guidance one might glean from Captain Ahab for the better part of a hundred and seventy years. But I got one on ’em, that’s right, this Ol’ hillbilly has been blessed with the opportunity to have known Ol’ Ahab in the Christian flesh, (that’s right, in the flesh) but…his real name was a bit on the humbler side…Wendall, (with two L’s), and the whale…well in this story at least, that denizen of the deep, that Leviathan of maritime nightmares will be played by “of all things,” a lowly little possum with the inner stones of a mountain lion.

“What’s that you say? Such a thing cain’t be true, he’s lost his mind. Well… bear with me for a brief while as I introduce you to a fella (and his whale) I don’t think you’re gonna forget either one of ’em anytime soon. Who knows, maybe we can even laugh a bit together.

As I recall, Wendall was an odd duck, as far as ducks go. His pasty white skin clung to his bones like an old wet overcoat. The sight was worsened by a large hooked nose and pitiful excuse for a hairpiece that weren’t foolin’ a soul. He rode an ol’ motorbike where-ever he went, he would cruise main-street, face in the wind, grinnin’ from ear to ear, and that hair piece flopping up and down in the breeze, slappin’ against the front of his helmet. Sittin’ there square betwixed his legs was the scruffiest lookin’ little mutt you ever saw. That animal went everywhere with him and possessed the same ill nature as it’s owner. The whole sight was to much to witness with a straight face.

His physical appearance hid a rather odd defect of character, an explosive temper. Lookin’ back, I’m sure his short fuse was the result of a lifetime filled with constant ribbing and practical jokes, or maybe his hairpiece made his head itch somethin’ terrible. Whatever the reason, he was heels dug in and ready to fight at the drop of a hat,(dog and all). Unfortunately, he usually managed to came out on the short end of most brawls, but I reckon the few he did win kept his spirits up, there’s a lesson there, but this ain’t the story for it. No matter his flaws I counted him as a friend and was glad for it, and a truer friend I never had.

He came by my house one day, excited beyond measure. He jabbered on, hands flailin’ wild in the air, mouth goin’ a mile a minute, dog barkin’ and yappin’, he had bought his first house.

*You just gotta come see it” he bragged. On and on he went until I finally saw things his way and agreed to go see his newly acquired mansion. We jumped into my truck (there was no way I was gonna ride that scooter with him and the dog), and off we went. We rattled down an ol’ gravel road until at last he began slappin’ the dash and pointin’ to an ol’ rusty mailbox. At the end of the mud and gravel sat an ancient dilapidated shotgun house. Poison vines and ivy snaked they’re way up the wood siding, very nearly covering the entire structure, as a matter of fact the sight led me to believe the vines were the sole means of support for the ol’ house. Rusty tin covered the roof, well most of it anyways, the wind had blown a few pieces off leaving weathered grey boards open to the rain.

But it was his and he was proud of it. He hooked his thumbs around the galluses of his liberty’s and drew in a deep breath, “ain’t no kinda man if you don’t own some land” he bragged. I was proud for him too.

We set to work right away, the foundation had fallen away at one corner, the sole source of lighting was a single bulb hanging from the ceiling in each room. There were only five or six functioning electrical outlets in the entire house, and to be honest, I was rather concerned about ’em. The well pump worked depending on it’s mood, which considering it’s foul disposition wasn’t often. None of that phased him, no sir, not one bit. The two of ’em moved in that very first night, it was then and there he discovered someone else called that house a home, and he wasn’t welcome. He wasn’t welcome at all.

Enter stage right…the whale.

I arrived the next mornin’ bright and early, coffee in hand and ready to start the day. But no sign of Wendall. I walked around the porch only to find an ol’ Confederate battle flag nailed over the living room window and bath towels over the rest. I began poundin’ on each of ’em until finally rousin’ him and his dog from the bed. They looked horrible, the both of ’em. He didn’t have his wig on and the dog just looked…well…aggravated.

What in the world happened to you? I asked. The both of you look pitiful.

Both hands covered his face as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and scratched his stubble. He opened his mouth in a wide yawn, I think we got a haint he replied.

I chuckled a bit. You’ve lost your mind. I replied. Let’s git to work.

We got a lot done that day, black and white tiles on the kitchen floor, new counter tops from the local salvage yard. Heck…even that ugly dog caught a couple of rats. (the rats looked better than the dog). Pretty good day, even if I had to listen to him go on and on about the foot-steps on the porch last night, or the strange scratchin’ on the walls. Yep…we got our selves a haint alright he said, a sneaky one at that, and I’m gonna git ‘im. Gonna be him or me said, gonna be him or me.

Well…days went by, we worked on the ol’ house most week ends, Wendall came of the mind that his haint was gettin’ bolder by the night. He was obsessed with this private battle of his. He had convinced himself there could only be one winner, and it was ordained by God almighty that winner was gonna be him (and his dog). Night after night he waited for his ghost, hearing the scratching and foot steps, but never seeing hide nor hair.

I figured some neighborhood kids were messin’ with him or somethin’ of that nature. He didn’t have a workin’ firearm to speak off and I was grateful for that. He did however own a piece of an ol’ shotgun, from a distance it looked deadly enough, but in fact it was absent most of the pieces-parts needed to allow it to fire. I eventually considered the entire situation a joke, but the strain on Wendall and his ugly little dog was becomin’ more evident by the day.

Until finally, it all came to the most comical and extreme of climaxes a body could think of.

I arrived one cold and frosty Fall mornin’, usual coffee in hand, only to be greeted by a horrific and bloody (yes I said bloody) sight. The porch lay covered with broken bits and pieces of sheet-rock. Lumber and plumbing scattered throughout the yard. I panicked, dropped the coffee and burst through the kitchen door expecting to find ol’ Wendall, a victim of some horrendous crime, mangled and bloody on the floor with that ugly ol’ dog.

As I burst through the door I was met by a terrible sight. The new tile floor was charred and black, a strange circle in the center. The cabinet doors were torn from their hinges and partialy burned. It was obvious, someone had attempted to burn the place to the ground. But that wasn’t the worst of it (OH NO), areas of the floor and wall were splattered with blood. I was shook to my marrow bones when I noticed a blood soaked sledge hammer layin’ next to the sink. I just knew my friend was well and truly dead.

Wendall, I yelled. You dead? In a panic, I ran to his bedroom searchin’ for him. WENDALL.

I stuck my head in the dark bedroom to find him, blood stained and sprawled out across the bed. Next to him, watchin’ over his master was the dog, his right eye swollen shut and fur matted with God knows what. My heart fell, and I felt sick to my stomach.

What in hell are you goin’ on about? Wendall growned as he sat his self right.

Man I thought you was dead.

Naw…but he is. Wendall crawled outta bed, picked up his dog and walked past me to the kitchen.

What in the Hell happened in here I asked.

Well…let me tell ye.

He was here again last night, but this time I was ready for ‘im. I heard im’ scurrying across the porch, I figured that ol’ shotgun might be enough to scare im’ off if he weren’t already dead. Me and the dog waited for im’ at the kitchen door, then just at the right moment we jumped out, shotgun ready. It was dark and I couldn’t see nothin’, but the dog did. he came a chargin’ out, growlin’ and snarlin’ and bittin’. I felt somethin’ run ‘tween my legs but I couldn’t see im’. The dog did though, had im’ cornered behind the stack of sheet rock, you should have heard the commotion. I couldn’t let im’ hurt my dog, so I used the gun as a club and started frailin’.

It was blacker than the inside of a cow, but I kept slingin’ in the dark like a wild man. A bit of light came from the open door so I could see a bit. When i looked down I saw him a layin’ there, shakin’ somethin’ pitiful. When I looked closer I saw I was beatin’ the snot outta my own dog. Lord I figured I killed im’, but that ol’ dog is tougher than I am. Bout that time something hissed and ran past me and through the door.

I ran in behind im’, just in time to see im’ run under the sink. I looked and there he was, the biggest possum I ever seen. Sulled up in the corner, he was mad as hell. I broke the stock off the gun when I was out on the porch, so I looked around for somethin’ else, the sledge hammer. I poked and poked at ‘im, but all he did was hiss and bite at the handle, after a few minutes I figured I might try and smoke im’ out. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So…I fetched the trashcan threw some papers in it and lit a handful of ’em. But the more I poked at that possum the tighter he got. he weren’t even afraid of fire. I looked at the trash can and saw the fire was gettin’ to big, I forgot about them varnish rags we put in it.

While my back was turned a puttin’ out the fire, my dog figured he’d give the possum one more go, it sounded like he was losin’, so I ran over to help him, this time I was swingin’ as hard as I could. It ran through the cabinets to the other corner and that’s where I got my first good lick in. It was hard to see on account of the smoke so I just kept swinging and swingin’ till they was nothin’ to swing at.

I got ‘im bygod, I got ‘im.

I fanned the door back and forth for quite awhile till I got most of the smoke out. That’s when I saw all the blood and possum pieces. Me and the dog was plum tuckered out, so we laid across the bed to rest for awhile. Next thing I knew…you was yellin’ at me.

I stopped him. Man you nearly burned the house down. Tore the cabinets all to pieces, ruined the kitchen floor, almost beat your dog to death, and what for? Nothin’ but a stupid ol’ possum. How’s that make you feel?

He sat there a moment wipin’ on his bloody shirt sleeves. Then he stopped, hunched his shoulders above his head, gave his crippled ol’ dog a scratch and sighed.

Come to think of it…makes me feel a bit like that Ahab feller we read about when we was in school.

I couldn’t argue with that.

So…that’s the end of our story. I told ya when we started, Ahab’s real name was Wendall didn’t I? I don’t reckon you need a big ol’ whale to obsess about. Nope…somethin’ as small as a possum can completely take control, if you let it. Leading’ you to destroy most everything you’ve worked so hard for. Seems to be a lot of that going around these days.

Granny always said,”life’s about moderation,” that goes for everything. To much work, to much play, to much stuff, to much worry. Just give it a think for awhile. How many things have you ever worried about, have actually been as bad as you imagined when they came to pass? Not many I’d wager. All that from a possum, who’da thought it.

Once again, The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for your time, and wish Gods blessings to you and your family. Life is so busy now a days and time so precious we are humbled that you chose to spend some of with us. Do us a kindness, share this with at least one friend, like, comment, we’d love to hear from ya. Till next time…….The Tin Cup Clan

WOPERDINGERS and ALLSTARS (Life brings us both)

I’ve been promising to write this story for some time now, just been waiting for the right time. But today is a special day, well..in our little corner of the Universe anyways. You see, today is my birthday, a small feat for most adults but given my situation I rather make every one count.

The morning greeted me with grey skies and wet weather. I peered out the window and let out a long low sigh, “hope this wasn’t how the rest of the day was gonna be” I thought to myself. There was work to be done, the house wasn’t finished and I dreaded the thought of working on it.

Sandra (bless her heart) began her morning by getting an early start on the Birthday dinner. All my favorites, beef roast, green beans mashed taters, yeast rolls, caramel cake and all.

By eleven o-clock I had all but forgotten about the glum weather. Actually feelin’ a bit content…then the phone rang.

A pleasant lady greeted me before introducing herself. She was calling from my doctor’s office. It seems my last scans had revealed some worry-some spots on my right lung. They wanted to get me in for additional scans and formulate a plan of action. Just like that, the proverbial carpet was jerked from under my proverbial feet. I’ve been playin’ this morbid game of whack-a-mole for nearly four years. A couple of moths ago the latest cancer was found on my pancreas, and the resulting radiation burned me up. Now the lungs? Well…I didn’t get much work done the remainder of the day. The big “C” was chewin’ on my brain. And speakin’ of which brings me to the little matter of the afore-mentioned “Woperdinger.”

What’s a “Woperdinger” you might ask. Well my friends, sit back and permit me to enlighten you with a little mountain folk-lore. Here a little snippet from the book.

“Just what is a Wolpendinger anyway?”  

         Chapter 33

The five of us walked to the downed fence. There it was, a footpath in the mud. The big light shining down the path made it look like a tunnel through the woods. Briars and brambles were thick as lumber along both sides.

Branches protruded into the path, looking like gnarled fingers, ready to grab who-ever might walk by. We could hear the creek roaring louder as we walked further. Big David’s light our only means of sight lit the path like a train in a tunnel.

Suddenly we beheld a sight that made our blood run cold.

Just beyond the cover of the trees. Just forty or fifty feet from holy ground we saw it. Thinking about, dreaming about it, hearing about it was one thing. But seeing it was different. Seeing it in the dark on a stormy night was entirely something else.

Our eyes strained in the dark, desperate for a clearer view. Just then a distant bolt of lightning lit up the sky. We all fell silent as the grave, fearful of what might hear us. I felt a morbid sensation of accomplishment tinted with large amounts of pure mind numbing fear. There was no color, no grass grew around the grave. Instead weeds and gnarled thickets spread around the stone. At some point, some-one or some-thing had placed stones around the grave. Clearly marking the boundary for others to see.

We all stood there, frozen in the wind and rain until one of us broke the silence. Who’s goin’ first? asked Chucky.

Not me shouted Stick, that place is chocked fulla’ Wolpendingers just waiting fer us. Waitin’ fer every last one of us, I can almost see their eyes lookin’ at us now.

WHAT?! Screamed Chucky, and you thought now, in the middle of the night, in a graveyard, at a grave owned by a witch of all places was a good place to bring somethin’ like that up?

Surely to God you don’t believe in those bedtime stories do you.

Stick was instantly defiant. And you don’t? he screamed back over the thunder. Everybody knows they’re real, everybody. They’s just a waitin’ fer the first one of use to get close enough to that brush then “whack” gone forever.

Big David had finally reached the end of his tether. With a jerk he turned to face the shaking redhead, his big hands were noticeably shaking as he aimed his light at Stick’s face.

Now look here friend: I’ve had jest about of this nonsense. Keep it up and yur about to find ye selves without a light to walk by. Besides. they’s no way I’m a gonna set my foot on unholy ground.

Ya see…a Woperdinger is a mythical creature of German decent, (or as best I can figure). And seeing as a great many Appalachian folk are of said German blood, the ol’ Woperdinger legend invariably followed. Legend has it this varmint is an ungodly mishmash of any manner of creatures, a good example might be the famous “Jack-a-lope.” But to us kids…well we just knew there was always one in the woods in the deep dark of night just waiting for one of us, dragging us away kicking and screaming to an untimely death. Our folks did little to dispel such rumors, using it instead as a means to keep us home at night. A gnawing fear of the unknown planted firmly in our brains.

Now lets get to those All-stars.

Some fifty-odd years ago the coolest (can I still use the word cool) of the cool kids strutted around in a pair of high top Converse All-stars. Of course I was never able to have a pair but that didn’t stop me from dreaming about those shoes. They were the very essence of cool, every thing from the laces and badge to the squeak they made on the varnished gym floor. Yep I wanted, no needed a pair…but I never got any. Until today!!!

Yep after fifty seven years, four children, seven grandchildren, four mortgages, countless cross country moves, and a nose weary and sore from being held against the ol’ grindstone. My daughter placed a birthday box on my lap, not just any box mind you, oh no. But a box emblazoned with that all to familiar star. Yep sure enough, I lifted the lid to find a brand new pair of high top All stars.

In a split second there I stood in all my glory, grey beard, plaid shirt, worn Liberty overalls, and a sparkling pair of navy blue sneakers. Yea…not the teenage picture I had in my head either. Que that phone call I mentioned earlier.

See where I’m going with this yet? Yep, you guessed it, on the other end of the line that ol’ Woperdinger got me. I mean reached right through the line and took hold of me. That gnawing fear of the unknown. Now I’m not saying it ruined the rest of my day, naw sir. The day was great, after all I got a lot to be grateful for. But it was there, chewing at the back of my mind, as I sat there eating caramel cake, it was there. As I enjoyed the beef stew, it was there. As I wiggled my toes inside my new All-stars it was there. Even when I talked to my grandbabies, it was there.

Friends… be careful of those Woperdingers. No they may not steal “all” your joy in life, but somehow they seem to have a knack for taking the edge off of it, dull the blade so speak. That gnawing fear of the unknown. Yes, Yes, I’m still a bit scared of ’em, but I’m learning (however slowly) to put them in their place. Our boy Stick was scared to death of ’em, but David, (being the voice of reason) snapped him back. Please…if you do anything, find yourself a “David.” Find that one person or group of persons to ground you, keep that “gnawing fear” at bay. Life’s too short as it is, no point worrying about what Woperdinger may or may not be hid just beyond sight, or in the shadows.

Me? Well I reckon I’m ready for what may just be out of sight. I spose I got little choice at this point, but I’m ready. I don’t expect to get shed of the unknown or times when the fear seeps in and you shouldn’t either. The secret is kicking it back into those shadows where it belongs, oft times that means we gotta have some help. For now I’ll just keep kicking, after all… I got me one heck of a pair of shoes to kick it with. And…quiet a few “Davids” to keep me grounded. Bring it on

Once again “The Tin Cup Clan” thanks you for your time. Lord knows there so many other things you could be doing and we are honored that you chose to spend some of it with us. If I may ask a favor; please share these stories with family and friends, leave a comment (we like those) and talk with us a bit. A like and follow would be great as well. GOD BLESS and see you next time. The Tin Cup Clan.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: