The Trouble with Pink Socks

Once again I find myself apologizing; I’ve really let you folks down with the posts (or lack of) lately. Things have been a little hectic around the Tin Cup Clan’s new domicile. So busy in fact, I’ve found myself thinking of little else. That was until today…when for some unbeknownst to me reason, I found myself thinking of “pink socks.”

Wow…I heard the collective sigh loud and clear. But bare with me for a while and let me preach on, it’ll all make perfect sense, I promise.

Now back to this pink socks epiphany. The whole thing began innocently enough on a cool spring morning, on picture perfect New England beach.

The good Lord has blessed me with the honor of calling a great many places in this great country home at one time or another, and I loved calling the new England coast line home for a while.

One of my favorite things to do was get up early in the morning so my wife and I could stop by the beach on the way to work. There we would sit on the rocky coast, enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the lobster boats go out as the sun peeked his head above the horizon.

So…there I was, sitting on my special rock, sipping my insanely over priced coffee, while watching a lone fishing boat as it slowly disappeared into an early morning mist. (Yea, got ya hearin’ that sappy background music right about now don’t I?)

Then suddenly, harshly, and without warning, (cue the needle scratching across that background record.) “Why are you wearing pink socks”?

In that instant I forgot about the sunrise, the fishing boat, the ocean, I forgot it all as I looked down in horror. She was right, some how in the early morning dark I had picked up a pair of her socks and there wasn’t enough time to go back and change. To some guys this wouldn’t be a problem, but to a strapping young buck like my self this was an utter and complete catastrophe.

All I could think about throughout the entire day were those damn girly socks which I was certain were eating away my ankles.

Here comes the lesson. My point is simple, that morning and everything that led up to it is a treasured memory, but everything after the sock statement is gone, but more likely it was never there to begin with. I was focused on those socks. How many firsts did I miss that day? How many once in a life time moments. Was there a special cloud I missed? Perhaps some one needed help and I didn’t notice? I could go on and on.

My point is…sometimes we all have “pink sock” days. Oh they may seem harmless at first, the guy that cut us off on the freeway, that snob that cut the line at the store, but what they steal from us, well…that’s something we’ll never know. We may spend the entire day stewing over ’em, and never take time to notice the fishing boat, or the sun set on the way home. We can never measure what those little burrs cost us, but we know the loss is there. We feel it some how, not the weight but the absence of weight, the “muchness” of it all. Deep down we may feel a little… less some how. Life gives us gifts daily, but even gifts come at a price. That price is our attention, and our gratitude for the small things. After all…those are the things we remember. All this from a pair of pink socks.

Friends… most times it’s not the big things that derail us. Oft times it’s the smallest, and that small size makes them truly deadly. Don’t let ’em do that. Forget about that guy on the freeway, stop thinking about the line cutter at the store. After all, they certainly ain’t thinking about you. So quit letting people or things live rent free in your head, and remember…watch the boats, soak in the sun rise, enjoy the coffee, and always, and I do mean always check those socks before you put ’em on.

As always The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for your valuable time. We’re honored that you chose to spend a bit of with us. If you liked it, make our day. Like and share (especially share.) Leave a comment, we sure do love the comments.

God Bless…..Thank You…The Tin Cup Clan

Did Ye’ wipe Ye” Feet ‘fore Ye’ Got in the Bed?

It’s been a while since the last post, but I got a good reason I promise. You see, a few years ago the little Mrs. and myself moved off to the beach for a while. Since then we’ve been blessed with no less than seven grand-babies. These damnable treatments combined with the travel distance made moving back to our beloved mountains a “no-brainer.”

We bought ourselves a little farmhouse nestled in the hills of north east Tennessee. I love it here, I’m close to the kids and the blessing of a post card view greets me around every corner. Praise the Good Lord I’m finally home. But Lordy mercy this place needs work, not just a little work naw sir. I’m talkin’ sittin’ on the pot whilst starin’ at the floor joists kinda work. For a far more detailed explanation of this; please refer to the story about the “Outhouse,” just search back a little you can find it. Yea… that’s the one, but a more “grown up” version.

We have no choice but to live in our little construction zone. We keep telling ourselves we can do this and encourage ourselves up by remembering “This momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory.” Kinda paraphrased the Good Lord there, but I’m sure he won’t mind, considerin’ our givin’ situation.

I was gettin’ ready for a well deserved night’s sleep when the little woman ask me a question. It was the same question she’s been asking almost every night since she was lucky enough to marry me. Only this time it made me stop and think a bit.

“Did ye wipe ye feet fore ye got into bed ?

Now I’m certain I’m not the only one what’s grown up hearin’ this same late night question right before shovin’ those freezin’ tootsies ‘neath the quilt.

There’s a logical reason behind it you see. The simple act of walkin’ to the bedroom (no matter how clean your floor may be), attracts any and all manner of microscopic pieces of flotsam and jetsam. It seems dust bunnies wait for that very instant you walk by with nothing but a good slumber on your mind. Like Ninjas’ they attach themselves to the bottoms of your feet. Then by some miracle, seem grow to five hundred million times their original size once they make it under those covers. Once again…at night

Then…it hit this ol’ noggin of mine, (Are you ready? Here’s where it get philisophical).

I figure the same rules apply to Life. Think about it for a bit, really think about it. As we walk through this grand scheme we call life, we cain’t help but get things stuck to the bottoms of our feet. Oh sure…as the day goes on we don’t give ’em a second thought, a harsh word to that certain stranger, a cold shoulder when a loved one needs our attention. A missed “Thank you,” or “You’re welcome.” We’re just to busy right now. Sound familiar? Things that simply happen during the normal passin’ of the day. Stuff to small to matter. Right?

These things stick to us, alone they’re small, undetectable, nothing really. But they matter, they accumulate, they have weight and sooner or later they begin to burden our steps. Funny thing, the burden builds so slowly we don’t recognise the weight. Without knowin’ we begin carryin’ the ponderous heft of a life time of microscopic schmutz.

But when we sleep… when we shove those toes under the sheets, those burdens begin to feel like broken glass to our bare “feet.” Minds race, thoughts scream at us, we wake in the morning feelin’ like we’ve never slept at all. To often…folks don’t know why they’re so uncomfortable, so burdened when they turn in for the night.

Won’t you do me a favor when you sit on the edge of your bed tonight?

Don’t forget to wipe your feet before gettin’ in the bed. Then stop for a second…take a deep breath, and think about your day. Then lower your head, close your eyes and wipe those “other feet” as well. You may be surprised at what’s stuck there, maybe even a little embarrassed. But boy howdy you’re sure gonna sleep better, I promise. Never know…you might wake up in the mornin’ and feel rested for the first time in ages.

Just thought I’d share this with you folks. I’m sure it ain’t gonna change any lives, or bring about world peace. But hey…it might help. Just a thought from the Tin Cup boys.

Once again as always; The Tin Cup Clan thanks you for spendin’ a bit of your time with us. Times as they are, we’re sure you have more important things to be doin’ and we’re humbled that you choose to spend some of it with us.

Don’t forget to hit a few buttons below, share this with a friend or two, maybe even go so far as to leave a comment. Thank You and God Bless.

Do You Have a “Loser’s Limp?”

I reckon I need to begin with an apology. Things have been a bit busy of late and my posts have suffered. I find myself answering E-mails inquiring if I am still among the living. Well believe it or not, I’m still kicking. But I fear there may be one or two out there that may view such news as depressing to say the least.

Of late we have been talking about the word “normal’ and how it applies to each of the boy’s families. Personally I don’t care for the word, boiled down to it’s simplest meaning it’s little more than a unit of measure, and a poor one at that. Relative in it’s definition and subject to the opinions of the person holding the measuring tape.

This week we visit Mikey and his family. Remember when I talked about how Chucky’s family circled the wagons when hard times hit? Well…Mikey wasn’t so fortunate.

Excerpt : Chapter (1)

It was cold in the house, not freezing cold, just cold enough to make a person miserable. The kind of cold that seeps into your bones like wet mold, making every joint painful and slow to move.

The kerosene furnace had once again died during the night. Seems like the only time the ol’ girl decides to give up the ghost is when she can cause the most discomfort. Mom had the oven door open in a desperate effort to get some manner of heat into the kitchen. It didn’t do a lot of good really, the trailer had so many air leaks we might as well be camping in the great outdoors.

But as usual, there we stood; holding our hands out in front of the open oven door, pretending the glowing coils were a campfire. The two of us rubbed our hands together and slapped our arms shaking off the chill. If it was really cold, she would pull a chair to the front of the oven, there she would sit, waving heat into the room with a piece of cardboard. Once her arms began to ache, we would take turns.

I’ll work on the ol’ girl when I get outta school I said.

Though young, she looked worn and battle weary. A hard life had carved deep furrows into her worried face, and the elegant brown hair of youth was now polluted with streaks of weathered grey.

“Do we have any kerosene left” she asked.

Yea. I think there’s another five gallons or so out back I replied.

I was used to working on the ol’ girl. Heck, I’ve had her apart about a million times. I knew every nut, every bolt, and every mood swing. Yep, we kinda got a love hate relationship that stove and me. I hate to work on her, but I swear she loves the attention.

 But enough of that, we had a schedule to keep. Missing the bus weren’t an option, not that we couldn’t walk to school naw sir. Missing that bus meant I’d end up missing out on school breakfast, and that was something I just couldn’t allow.

You see…Mikey’s normal is him and his mother, the wagons didn’t circle for them. When times got tough, his dad left. I don’t discuss the matter much in the books, he’s gone simple as that. This was a time before government checks, before safety nets and federal programs. School “free lunch” program meant taking your turn working in the lunch room washing dishes. Oft times, needed groceries were bought with a signature in the store ledger. and more than once, the electric bill was mysteriously paid by persons unknown. That’s Mikey’s “normal.”

I’m not Mikey, but he and I are a lot more alike than we are different. I remember those times, I remember mom coming home late at night so tired she couldn’t eat. I remember no heat in the winter, and my sisters sleeping in the living room floor while we waved heat from an open oven. And I remember Christmas baskets, and the smell of apples, oranges, candy and spices as I held the box tightly to my chest. This was our normal.

I once read about something called a “loser’s limp.” I don’t remember where, but I believe it fits today more than ever. Whenever a ballplayer loses the ball, flubs a play, or strikes out, watch him as he walks off the field. Most of the time you will notice a limp, slight yes but a limp just the same.(Go ahead, look for it next time). I’ve heard folks call it a physical manifestation of failure, others call it a plea for sympathy. I’m just gonna let you ponder it and make up your own mind.

You see…we have choices in life. We can walk around with a “loser’s limp,” blaming our childhood, our circumstances, our whatever. It’s not my fault, they made me this way. Or…we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and walk off the field with our head held high, damn the limp. We can choose to show our scars, they tell a story. We can choose to remember the time the electric bill was paid by that unknown someone. Then, if we are blessed with the means, pay it forward. Then sit back and remember the smell of that Christmas basket.

So dear reader…I reckon Mikey’s “normal” is my “normal” after all. My mother was both parents and I think she did a fine job. She’s a proud Appalachian lady and she taught us to work with what the good Lord blessed us with. She taught us the value of hard work and humility (a trait in short supply today). From time to time I find myself limping, sometimes it just happens. Sometimes I have to remember sitting in front of that stove to snap out of it. I am proud of my “normal,” what’s yours…think about that for a while, after all, there is no right or wrong one.

I’m not sure what the next post will be about, I think I’m in the mood for a story, a funny one. I got one about pink socks, yea…maybe pink socks.

As usual dear reader, I’m gonna close with a heart felt Thank You from the Tin Cup Clan. I know you have more important things to do and we’re honored you chose to spend some of your time with us. Please remember to hit a few buttons and share or like…maybe even tell us your thoughts. There is also a Tin Cup Clan FB page stop by for a visit and be sure and like that as well. God Bless.

“Stumbling Blocks” or “Stepping Stones”

As I write these stories my fervent hope would be; they become as real to you as they are to me. I want you to know the boys,see they’re home town when you close your eyes, even feel what they feel. That statement may seem a bit “campy” but please dear reader, do me the honor of hearing me out. So far we have visited the home of “big” David, a warm quintessential mountain home. Complete with a loving Christian ma’ and pa’, brothers and sisters. The kind of family that may come to mind when you dream of the perfect family. David’s reflects his home, slow and deliberate in his actions and thoughts, and mindful of his reputation.

Then we looked at Stick’s family, hard working ma’ and pa’. His pa’ works a dangerous job seven days a week, making sure the ends meet. His ma’ running the home as efficiently as a major corporation, all the while keeping those ends tied. Each has a place and each has a responsibility. Little time is left for worship, work has replaced the church as the center pin and character is measured by the strength of one’s back. Stick is the product of this “normal,” strong in his opinion, always quick with a joke and lives by the motto “if you ain’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.”

But now we look at Chucky. Life (as it often does) has not been so kind to them. His father worked at the local Mill since he was a boy, just as his father and his father before him. But times in mid-century Appalachia are hard and it’s left it’s mark on them, perhaps harder than any other family in the area. Without warning the Mill cut back, Chucky’s pa’ prayed that seniority would spare him from the chopping block but that wasn’t the case. Before he knew it, he was out of work and the family home was lost. I think many of us can relate to this.

Soon they found themselves dependent on friends, and blessed beyond measure with a small town. You see…folks around here help each other, lift each other up so to speak. When help is offered, declining it was seen as “insult,” and when you recovered, not returning the favor and helping another family was beyond consideration.

During such a crisis families have two choices. Circle the wagons and fight, (or as often is the case), split and go separate ways, leaving yet another family shattered and lost in time.

Fortunately, (I prefer to think by God’s grace), they circled the wagons and trusted that help was on the way. I’m not saying it was easy mind you, far from it. Some times the best you can do is dig your heels in and weather the storm…and the storm came for them dear reader, it came in the worst way.

Excerpt : Chapter : (1) The Unlikeliest of Hero’s

Chucky’s dad works the belt and washer, just as dirty, if not more, but maybe just a little safer.

The pay’s not near what the hole pays, but he’s lucky to get it. He used to work at the mill, but when they cut back, he was one of the first to get the axe. Big David’s dad pulled some strings and got him on at the Blue Diamond mine. He ain’t been there to long so he’s still playing catch up as far as money goes.

Excerpt : Chapter (6) “It ain’t Much but It’s Home”

“Chucky’s place is about a mile down the road. He don’t like us coming by his place much. We all figure it’s because he’s kinda embarrassed by it. It’s been tough for him, his place ain’t much really. His Pa lost their house to the bank when he lost his job at the plant. No warning or nothing, just went in one day and found a piece of paper with his time-card. Right now they’re rebuilding, they all live in a Shasta camper with a room built onto the side.

The room’s not very fancy, just boards and tar-paper topped off with a rusted metal roof. Just stuff his dad could scavenge up I spose. He ain’t never let any of us inside yet, we don’t say nothing about it. Out of proper respect I reckon.”

So…this is Chucky’s “normal.” His family was (blessed) in a strange way. Often you got to lose everything, before you discover you’ve had everything all along. Family, friends, community, and all the gooey stuff that comes along with it. Now…dear reader you know Chucky. Is this “your” normal? If so, look around you, you may find things aren’t so bad after all.

Next time, we visit Mikey’s family. I’m afraid the wagons didn’t circle this time. How does a single parent raise a young boy in times such as these? Well…we’ll talk about that on our next post.

Once again The Tin Cup Clan would like to thank you for stopping by, and we are honored that your choose to spend just a bit of your time with us. As always God Bless and please hit a few buttons or share with someone that may need to stop for a while and read.

Sincerely : The Tin Cup Clan

The Troublesome Red Head and his Family

David Byrge; Better known as “Stick” by most. We’re gonna look at his family next, what forces came together too forge such a personality. As parents, I believe we often forget that our kids are (for lack of a better comparison), tape recorders of a sort. They spend their young lives constantly recording anything and everything around them. Parents and family are the main characters though friends and daily acquaintances play a major role. But the family, that’s where you find the biggest influence. At some point (no one truly knows when), life switches them from “record” to “play.” When the switch happens, that’s it, very little can be done.

“It’s impossible to straighten the bend in the Oak, the crook that grew in the sapling”

The person of “Stick” and his family are in most respects, the complete polar opposite of David and his family. His proclivity for dirty jokes, loud outgoing personality, and comic behavior seem to simply be, well…(the recorder switched to play). But there’s a good heart there, a loyal heart, and a friends heart. He’s for good or bad, the product of his environment, the life of the party, “normal” just like the rest of us.

“Stick’s” Pa drives a coal truck, it’s a dangerous job, as kids we saw those guys as fighter pilots. The loud sound of “Jake brakes” echoing through the hills and hollers, sending animals running for shelter and leaves falling from the trees. Everyone in town knew, a truck was coming off the mountain.

Excerpt : Chapter 1 The unlikeliest of hero’s

Stick’s ol’ man drives a coal truck.
Takes a special kind of stupid to climb on top of sixty thousand pounds,
then try to control the beast as it barrels down steep mountain roads and sharp as a razor switchbacks. It takes years to learn how to operate and control one of those things, sorta like hillbilly bull ridin’ but twice as dangerous. They’s been quite a few lose their lives on those mountain roads. Once the truck leaves the top of that mountain she takes on a life of her own.

If she gets loose on the way down you got two choices, step out on the tanks and look for some soft dirt before jumping off. Or try to save your rig by holdin’ on and ridin’ it out, prayin’ you’ll find a soft shallow ditch before she gets too fast. Either way they’s a good chance of dyin’, simple as that.

The secret is pickin’ the right gear at the top and leaving it there. Once you try to knock her outta gear and shift down, the brakes are gonna get hot and she’s gone for sure. If she goes over the edge, the ground’s to steep to get her back up out of the holler. A man’s entire life’s work, doomed to lay where she fell, dead to the world. The mountain side is littered with dead trucks, overgrown with weeds and rusting away. The woods are quick to claim the wrecks, Kudzu vine covers them with a green quilt, right where they landed.

We go up there a lot, scrappin’ for parts, playin’ on em, and gatherin’ spilled coal. We’d all get a beatin’ if we got caught, we’ve been told a bunch of times how dangerous it was, but nobody’s been hurt yet.

Death is always hanging about in coal country. A constant companion for most. For the most part we’ve come to accept it, learned to live with it. Most folk deal with it by pretending it ain’t there. “The Lord calls and it’s my time,” they’ll say. Resigned to a “preordained time clock” a life with the finish line known only by the Lord himself.

Others allow it to follow them around through their entire life. “Ol scratch”hangs over em like a spirit that lives in the hills and hollers. They’re easy to spot, those folk. They carry a heavy appearance, like they’re never really happy. Just kinda going through life, waiting for him, looking for him, almost dead already.

“Stick” inherited his family’s “Devil may care” attitude, and it keeps him in quiet a bit of trouble. The next excerpt is a prime example.

Excerpt: Chapter 3 “Stick’s big mouth and Mark’s big plan.”

This morning I reckon ol’ Stick was in an unusually good mood. When his
name was called, a sharp “Yo” rattles through the room. A look back reveals
Stick standing at attention, eyes focused straight ahead. A sharp military
salute causes a quite snicker to pass through the room, and a smile to come
across every-body’s face…including Burton’s. Stick, not being one to turn
down attention, reclines back in his seat with an obvious look of satisfaction.
The three of us had a hunch ol’ Stick was gonna pay for that one.

Before we start, I need all you cats to pass last night’s homework to the front of the room. A loud groan followed by the sound of shuffling paper fills the class. Suddenly a loud “Daing-it” pierces the shuffle.

Stick didn’t do his homework again.

Burton looked up. Again? He barked.
We go through this at least once a week. What do I need to do Byrge; call your ol’ man or what?
“Good luck with that shit” came the reply.
The room is suddenly filled with a collective gasp.
The three of us sat there, mouths open in dis-belief. Holy crap! He didn’t?
Stick gave a look about the room, pleased with himself for the comment.
Dave leaned over towards me and whispered.
“He’s gonna git it now fer sure. Burton cain’t let a challenge like that go
without answer.”

You see? This is Stick’s “normal.”

Bold and brassy, living by the mantra,”If you ain’t living on the edge, you’re taking up to much room.” It’s a far cry from David’s family, and that’s OK.

Do you see yourself in the skinny red-head and his family? Well…congratulations, that your “normal.” If not…stick around till next time when we visit Chucky and his family. Times are a little tougher for them as his Pa tries to rebuild after the plant cut back.

When something like that happens to a family, only two things can happen. They’re either gonna close ranks and support each other, or they’re gonna split and go separate ways. The next post will be an important one. I think all of us will find a bit of ourselves in Chucky’s home life.

Well…that’s about it for now. Thank you friends, for spending a little time with the Tin Cup Clan. Like I always say, I’m sure you got better things to do, and we’re humbled that you’re here. Go ahead…leave a comment or hit a button or two, we could sure use the support.

Till next time…God Bless

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