I’m staring at the ceiling because I have nothing to write about. Then I stare at the lamp across the room. The book on the coffee table catches my eye. I listen to the sound of the AC running and with my eyes closed I can imagine the sound of a jet engine in the distance. Back to the ceiling.
The clock on the mantle reads 7:45. If I get going now, I might get to bed at a decent hour.
The fact that Max is curled up on the floor licking his feet and various other places around the rear of his torso is not helping. He licks loud enough to register on the upper end of the decibel scale.
His slurping is like children who whisper loud enough to be heard in the next room. If I can hear you from 20 feet away, it’s not whispering. To say that his tongue is thunderous seems like an overstatement, but not while I’m trying to concentrate.
Some days, all it takes is one good idea and a story is born. Other days, writing is like a visit to the dentist’s office.
Be right back.
Okay. I’m back.
My boots were choking my feet. I’ve had them on since 6:23 this morning. Odd time, I know. But I am a man of routine. I leave the house at 6:30 and putting my boots on right before getting ready to walk out the door is what I do. Tying the knot at 6:23, 6:25 at the latest, gives me enough time to check the thermostat and pour a cup of coffee for the road. Then It’s out the door.
Max has been with me for almost four years now, and he remains enthusiastic to go the tree farm with me every morning. He watches me put on my boots and he knows it’s almost time to walk out the door. Up until now, he’s been mostly interested in playing possum, barely moving one eye. But when the boots go on, it’s like someone sticks him with a cattle prod.
Anyway, I’m still trying to think of something useful to say to you. So far, I’d say I’m making it easy for you to think about walking outside to watch the grass grow just to have something interesting to do.
The book on the coffee table is a Lewis Grizzard book. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the early 70s, the man from Moreland, Georgia and his childhood friend Weyman C. Wannamaker, a great American, need no introduction. There’s a guy who could write a story.
I’ve tried taking lessons from some of the greats. I don’t mean real lessons, like piano lessons with Mrs. Dickerson. But lessons from observation. Paying attention to the rhythm of the words.
My buddy, Wayne, sent me a copy of a church newsletter the other day. His pastor had written a story about an American icon. At least, in my book, it’s one of the most recognizable places along the interstate and one of my favorite places to hold up for food and rest on a long trip. The way he described his recent visit to Waffle House made me wish I had written that story.
Be right back.
Whew. I was trying to ignore the two full glasses of tea I drank with my supper, but the pressure was backing up to the point of no return. It was either short circuit the laptop or go take care of business.
You see. Writing is no breeze. Too many interruptions. At least Max has finally corralled his tongue.
I’m dying here. So, what if I tell you about some of the stories I intend to write in the coming weeks. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s just that the time is not right for some of them. And it’s not like I could spoil the ending for you, because I don’t even have a full story in mind just yet.
Okay. This might work.
I got it in my head a couple of weeks ago that I want to attend Homecoming at Berea Christian Church in Hampton this year. Homecoming has been on the second Sunday of August since before Noah. I did contact the preacher just to make sure the age-old tradition had not changed.
He said, “It’s always the second Sunday in August. Some things you don’t mess with.”
I can’t be certain, but I’m guessing that this appointed day of the year for Homecoming is a carry-over from the old days of summer Revival. Before school started. After all the hay was put up. Before opening day of bird season. Berea would hold a weeklong revival in August. I was there for every one of them during the decade of the 60s.
It was a grueling week. Kick things off on Sunday and wind it up the next. Preaching every night. Folks today wouldn’t tolerate that much preaching. Preachers these days barely get them to come out for one hour on a Sunday morning. Even back then, we had homemade ice cream on Tuesday night and watermelon on Thursday night to help get the folks to come out.
The last few times I’ve been to Berea has been for family funerals. I haven’t been to a regular service there in far too many years. There are a lot of faces I still know there. I’ll probably sit where Mom and Dad used to sit if it’s not too much trouble. There’ll be plenty of food afterwards, though the tables will be set up indoors and not out under the shade of the oaks. Which might not be a bad thing in August.
So, that story is coming up.
The other story not yet written will be about my visit to the cemetery in Selma. I have one last thing to do in order to uphold my end of the deal with Beth. Though she is buried here, close to home, she was adamant about wanting a marker to be placed on her family plot in the New Live Oak Cemetery back home.
I would have done this a lot sooner, but it has taken longer to get the marker made that it took to complete I-75 across Lake Allatoona. You get everything done that can possibly be done, but there’s one little piece holding up the whole shooting match. It’s like having the entire house built and everything is done except one light fixture that’s been on backorder for the last century.
Anyway, I finally got the plaque. “IN LOVING MEMORY”, it reads at the top. I’ll drive over to Selma one Saturday soon. Visit with her sister and a few other members of our family. We’ll put the marker in the ground near her mama and daddy. I can hardly wait.
Well, the old clock reads 8:53. I’m running out of steam. I promise to do a better job next time. I’ll try to do some real writing with a real story that’ll set your hair on fire. But this is all I’ve got for tonight.
Be right back.