Wednesday, October 18, 2017

 

Boys Riding The Storm

By: Donovan Baldwin

Kids do stupid things.

Okay, maybe not so much stupid, as out of ignorance of consequences.

The recent hurricanes reminded me of some of the dumb things I did in Florida as a boy. Not just hurricanes, but, when other storms blew in, my friend and I would go swimming in Pensacola Bay.

I don't know what the attraction was, unless it was that moment in a storm, or just before, when the water is flat, unmoving, dull gray like lead, not quite shining like mercury, surreal, framed above by storm clouds.

I sensed something when I saw that. An odd feeling of something strangely different from the day to day experiences of water and life. The bay was usually blue or blue-green and moving, constantly moving. Before the storm it got flat and still.

Somehow that spoke to me of some awesome power that could make water, that water, be still, especially from some unknown distance.

My friend and I would climb slender trees, and hang on, riding them in the wind, swinging our weight in rhythm with the wind, at least having sense enough to head for home before that wind got too strong for mortal boys.

We didn't experience the powerful hurricanes you read about recently, but, still, wind and storm enough to strike fear and create havoc.

We were too young and, well, ignorant, to realize the forces we were toying with. Yet, wouldn't trade a moment of it.

Strong forces, plus a hint of danger, a dash of adventure, plus lots of ignorance equals some grand memories. Had a pretty good boyhood.

Don't know how I, or my parents, survived it.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

 

The Pleasures Of Reading The Old Stuff

By: Donovan Baldwin

I read almost anything, but, I still enjoy reading "the classics", at least in bits and pieces.

I go back, and dip into the Iliad and the Odyssey, Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers, Tale of Two Cities, old Roman poetry, and so on, for many reasons.

One reason, of course, is that I had the good fortune to have had a bit of a classical education.

Three years of Latin at Pensacola Catholic High School: Caesar's Gallic Commentaries, some Cicero, etc. Confession; flunked third year Latin. Sorry, Mrs. Semmes. You did your best.

Most of it just remains jumbled bits and pieces these days, pushed out of my cerebral cortex by hurricanes, elections, practical college courses, tech manuals, too much alcohol on too many late nights, and life in general.

But, that's one reason I like to read the old stuff.

Before there were jet planes, cell phones, or men on the moon, there was a Moon, and men and women who enjoyed entertainment, thought about "stuff" even if not fully understanding it, had conversations with one another as they tried to understand themselves and the world around them, and the "stuff" in it.

Reading old stuff, not just "classics", but writing from earlier times, is about spending time with them...people...like you and me...in their time. Dressed funny, and talking weird, and probably drinking really bad wine, but, still, like you and me.

Old friends.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

 

Poem: If Children Could Understand

By: Donovan Baldwin

I long again to see,
The white sands I walked,
When but a boy.
>
Then, but a child, I knew not,
How deeply embedded in my soul
Was every grain of sand,
Each whisper of the wind,
Every roll of wave, and
The bending of each tree.
>
Now, half a century, and
Many hundred miles
Downwind from boyhood,
I see each sight,
Smell each smell,
Joyfully recalling,
The place I felt so happy,
To leave so far behind.
>
If children could understand
What the world they so little love,
Will mean to them in later years.
>
Perhaps then, they would live
In happier circumstances,
Enjoying at home
The passage of each day,
Rather than one far day
Longing to return,
To a time and place,
They truly loved.

NOTE: Photo was taken by me in 1971 of the Pensacola Yacht Club, from across the mouth of the Bayou Chico

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

 

My High-Heel, Pointed Toe, Cowboy Boots...

By: Donovan Baldwin

I was once guilty of animal cruelty.

Sorry about that, but he started it.

Here's how it happened.

I used to go horseback riding in Pensacola, Florida. This would have been about 1966.

The area is car dealerships now. Back then, there were fields, pecan orchards, and a riding stable. I went riding every week for several months.

At first, I rode wearing tennis shoes, until one day they gave me an ill-tempered horse, who had a habit of turning his head and trying to bite your feet.

They warned me. Told me to just kick him in the mouth and he would stop.

Well, seems this horse didn't mind if you kicked him with tennis shoes. So, I rode him up to their store, went inside, and bought a pair of pointy-toed, high heeled, cowboy boots.

Got back in the saddle.

He tried to bite one more time.

I kicked him one more time.

Problem solved, resolution achieved.

Of course, in those days I had no more use for the boots, except when I went riding.

However, I thought they made me look cool.

When the army sent me to Germany, I found they had a certain appeal to some Germans...especially of the female persuasion.

A lot of times we do things that seem to make sense at the time.

Sometimes, when the real reason has passed, we find other reasons to keep on doing what we do. Sometimes it doesn't really matter.

I could have switched horses, I guess, and never bought my fancy, pointed toe, high heel, cowboy boots.

Although they generated interest, I really didn't pick up more chicks, and they hurt my feet.

The horse won in the long run, I guess.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

 

When I Was A Fool...

By: Donovan Baldwin

A few years ago, there was a time in my life when it seemed that everything I did, everything I thought, was "wrong".

People told me, and life demonstrated, it seemed, that I was a fool.

I wanted to argue my case, "prove" that I was right. Even more I wanted "them" to know that they were wrong.

Finally, I hit on the ultimate solution: I was going to outlive everybody! That way the time would come when I could laugh at them because they were dead, I was alive, and I was "right" by default.

Over time I came to realize a couple of problems with that plan.

First, being alive didn't make me right, and, them being dead sort of took all the fun out of being right...if I WAS right.

See, that was the problem.

Ninety-nine percent of the "rights" and "wrongs" in the equation were "beliefs" and "opinions"...not facts.

It was then I began to see the real solution. Proving that my "right" was the "right" right was impossible. In fact, I could even be wrong!

That wasn't right!

Then I figured out the real solution.

I can only live and enjoy life doing what I BELIEVE is right. It doesn't really matter what others think or say about my honest beliefs.

So, they can be right, I can be right, even though one of us may be wrong.

As long as I do what I think is right, I don't need to worry about what they think is right.

Right?

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Opinions Are Like...

By: Donovan Baldwin

Some of my recent posts, and, some of my older ones, have occasionally stirred up hornet's nests of controversy.

Unintended on my part, but, bound to happen upon occasion.

When I write, I seldom really write about "facts", factual things which can be proven. I write about my thoughts, which are usually within the realm of opinions, and, as they say, "Opinions are like (fill in the blank). Everybody's got one."

I try not to claim that MY opinions are "right", or the only possible opinions...just my opinions, beliefs, thoughts.

Of course, not everyone else is going to see things exactly as I see them. In fact, their point of view may be diametrically opposed to mine.

I used to get really upset when some of this opposition surfaced. It bothered me, and, I tried to find arguments and excuses.

But, over time, I came to realize that the commentator with the opposite view had just as much right to his or her "opinion" or "belief" as I did, and, I was just getting miffed because I wanted to be right, and, like most humans, wanted everybody to agree with me.

Well, the fact is that there are many times in our lives that "most humans" won't...agree with us, that is.

That's human. So's being upset by their open disagreement, and/or inability to see facts...or opinions and beliefs.

So, I'm over it...until the next time, of course, and, that's my opinion on that.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

 

My Words Are Fair Game...

By: Donovan Baldwin

Got slightly "bummed out" earlier this morning reading some responses to a couple of my recent ramblings on a social media site.

Chose "bummed out" as a play on one of the discussions since it dealt with hobos, bums, and tramps.

That choice means I'm reaching the point where I can laugh and joke about it.

Point is, when people go in a negative direction after one of my posts, I feel badly. But, that's part of the deal.

I publish MY thoughts, which are not always going to be everybody else's thoughts. Once I put my thoughts "out there", using the words that make sense to me at the time of writing (i.e. before fully awake, or on a flood of emotion), they are fair game.

Part of what I do when I write is expose myself, at least some of my thoughts, hoping that, while people may be amused, they will also think.

If they think they have other opinions, I welcome that, and respect it.

I usually welcome active discussion, even if it deviates from my original narrative or thoughts...which, sometimes, IS just a story.

However, if I write about having ice cream after having my tonsils out, someone who doesn't like doctors, or ice cream, or tonsils, may say something that I feel is negative.

Well, I'm the one who chose to set up the situation in the first place. I did it because I am who I am. How can I stay mad at them for being who they are?  N

ot everybody likes rainbows and unicorns ALL the time.

Okay, where's the leprechaun with my coffee?

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

 

Strange Things Hanging On A Family Tree...

By: Donovan Baldwin

Some of us have strange things hanging on our family tree.

This thing in the picture is one of mine.

It's a blackjack, or "cosh". It's made of leather, has a spring handle to enhance the effect, and a weight in the end. Its purpose is knocking people in the head.

It's okay, my great uncle on my father's side, Appleton Calhoun 1867-1926 (hence my middle name 'Appleton') was a security guard, I believe for the railroad.

There's a chance that he used this well-worn little head knocker to convince tramps and hobos (different people) NOT to try to get a free ride in a railway car.

I used to have his gun too, a .32 Smith & Wesson Model 2, but, lost that to medical bills for my daughter many years ago.

It's a nasty little thing, but, still, when I uncovered this in a tub in the garage this morning, I was happy. It's my only link back to that side of the family, and it was nice to know I hadn't lost it...despite the injuries it may have caused in the past.

That's one thing about links to the past.

The past may not have always been that great, but, it was real. We cannot overlook the reality or turn our backs on it.

Pretending it was something it was not, ignoring what it really was, is re-writing history to make yourself feel better.

I'll just forgive my family for being who they were at that time, and not condemn them because they aren't what I want them to be now.

Hope you'll do the same for me. I will if you will.

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