Monday, March 20, 2006

Occasionally it is programmed genetically into my feeble mind to take back roads to places that it makes no sense to take back roads to. Much to the chagrin of my wife who sits next to me, teeth rattling and wondering, “Now why is it that we aren’t out there going 75 plus miles and hour on that expressway that the state has paid millions of dollars to build and maintain?” She tries, but I know she couldn’t possibly fully understand what causes me to do such things. I’m not even sure. I don’t dislike it at all, I enjoy every second of it, but I don’t know exactly why it is that I do this.

The other day I drove from Fremont to just east of Hesperia. A trip that would normally take one about fifteen minutes, took us a bone jarring, clock staring forty five minutes to conquer. For those of you who are not familiar with this area, or are and still don’t know where I am talking about, just read this and imagine where it might be. It’s not that important to know where I went, but if you know where I went, you’ll appreciate it even more.

First I left Fremont via Green Avenue and headed north. Then I turned right on one of those 44th, 32nd, whatever streets that run perpendicular to Stone Road and Maple Island Road, I just wanted to get over on Stone Road so I could drive past the old farm I grew up on and see how it’s changed.

By the way, they cut down the gorgeous White Pine (hello, state tree?) that was in the yard adjacent to the blue pole building. Those of you who have been there remember it as a haven from the sun on a hot day during a good basketball game. Others will recall the day dad chained a full load of railroad ties to it and drove off in the truck. Much easier than unloading them by hand, and way more fun to watch, too. I bet the people living there now always wondered what made that crazy scar all the way around that tree.

Past that we went straight at the corner of M-20 (One Mile) and Stone, curving around past Baron’s old place, past the octagon house and finally north on Green Avenue again over the Green Avenue bridge (famous for a nice cool shady dip, jump off the bridge if you dare, after haying all day, or whatever the occasion). Someone who reads this might remember when we all took off in a hurry to get there and I forgot to strap down the windshield frame on my Jeep and just as I remembered to…SMACK! It uprighted itself. Good times.

So then we went up to oh say Three Mile and headed west past John Muckey’s and the Norris’ holy-crap-they-got-a-huge-dairy-farm and over to Dickinson Road. North on Dickinson, here’s where the fun began. I went straight (you heard right—read right, straight) at Glomb’s Corner toward (now you who don’t know, don’t laugh) Mountain Hill. I have climbed Mountain Hill many times. The difficulty in continuing on Dickinson through to Five Mile is not Mountain Hill; it is after Mountain Hill, at the top. Ruts, mud, rocks, you name it, they’ve got it. Now don’t get me wrong by thinking that Mountain Hill is not a challenge. To the guy in a stock Jeep, which I have repeatedly been up it in, it is a formidable opponent. But the real trouble does start at the top. You’ve got a better chance coming back down Mountain Hill than going on through to Five Mile, and I’ve had trouble getting down Mountain Hill too.

Needless to say, I did not subject my wife and sleeping baby to Mountain Hill. The first road to the south of it, I headed west again. Fortunately I have four wheel drive because this road, Five Mile I think, was pretty bad.

But once down this road a little, we got our gem, the reason I take back roads. Well, the second or third reason anyway. I will describe it but you have to go back and look at the pictures to understand.

We’re out there. We’re several miles from any town, and a small one at that, and here up on a sloping hill to my right, I observe what appears to me to be a cave, no, a man made cave, more of a pile of rocks with a large, distinct hole in it. But next to it was a large rock.

We might have just driven past if not for my sweet redneck radar and vast back road skills. I turned around to verify my suspicions. Yes, it was what I thought it was: a replica of Christ’s tomb complete with a brightly painted cross nearby. For what? I’ll never know, unless someone who knows why (knows, not suspects) reads this and tells me. Then I’ll tell you. Promise.

No matter what the reason, it was just one of those “what the…!?” moments that really make me raise my eyebrows, tilt my head and say…nothing. But what do you say?

This my friends is merely one example out of hundreds I have of strange and bizarre things I’ve found while out taking the back roads. Is it me? Do I have good/bad timing or and just happen to be in the right place at the right time to find things like a huge sign for a daycare facility in the middle of the woods at a deer camp? I have probably forgotten more bizarre discoveries from back roads than truly interesting ones that I have seen on “main roads.”

Taking back roads is easy for me. I know which direction I need to be and I just sorta guess my way along until I get there. Map? Of course. I’m not a canine. I need help and when Jill gets that look on her face (actually the side of her face or the back of her head as she turns and quietly asks her window why we are doing this), I need to have a plan B. An “out” if you will. Hence, the map. Don’t be afraid to head out.

So as I bring this all together, of course I’m gonna draw a parallel and get all philosophical on you. Sorry. If you don’t like it, simply enjoy the comedic (if any) value of this.

When we do things the same every day or every time or the same way other people do it, it can and does get boring. Like following a map, the easy way or the quickest or the simplest, may not always be the best, most satisfying or the most interesting. Don’t be afraid to spice things up by putting your own flair into things. When I drive home from Hesperia, ask any member of my family and they will tell you there are a hundred different ways to get to or from and a million combinations of them all. And I utilize them to lower the boredom factor.

Do things differently. If your job sucks or is a blast and you want something more, don’t just be an idiot and do something drastic, change yourself or the way you do the things you do and take a back road to get it done.

I don’t know if that made sense but I just had this floating around in my head for about a week now so…yeah, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and to those who were paying attention, I finished my way down Five Mile over to Maple Island road, headed south and drove past the swimming hole, over the bridge and into Hesperia. Then we headed west again right there by Ed’s and out of town past Vida Weaver park past those amazing and incredible stone castles that someone (does anyone have any information on these?) stone castle things on the south side of the road and on out to 192nd (a.k.a. Walkerville Road) and up to my brother Dave’s house where they were waiting and wondering what took us so long because they did the same trip in about fifteen minutes. Jill was happy to be there. I was happy to have gone there.

Friday, March 17, 2006

What defines a redneck? I’m sure online somewhere—anywhere, one can find a “definition” of redneck on some joker’s website who does doesn’t really understand. Someone who sees people on TV on COPS or on CMT or even at Country Thunder and assumes instantly that they know those people’s life story, no doubt due to their vast knowledge, educated by endless (worthless?) hours of MTV, Joe Dirt and Raising Arizona to name a few schools that may have laid out the groundwork for the world to view, or begin to view, the redneck as a part of society.

Nicer and less dark than the title of “white trash”, redneck lends itself as a label from the stupid idiot type of simpleton of Joe Dirt on up to how cool and hip it can be in any Big and Rich video. The problem is that many people’s definition of a redneck includes a lowered IQ. I don’t think it is possible to simply entrap redneck as any person or group of people. I think redneck is a thing or something, and people may “do redneck-ish things” rather than “be A redneck”. Does anyone see where I’m going here? (well not where I’m going but where I’m coming from, you couldn’t possibly begin to fathom where I’ve been or where I’m going)

Even I tend to lump people who I don’t understand together with low IQ, such as racist folks. No matter what the context, I always parallel racism with stupidity, and I am even sure that there are really really racist people who are quite intelligent. Hitler was, wasn’t he? I don’t know, I’m not totally knowledgeable of things Hitler, although that would be something interesting to look up someday.

The other day while I was smoothing out the freshly poured gravel in my driveway with a snowplow attached to the front of a rusty Dodge pickup with a construction rack in the back, I couldn’t help but be self conscious of my position. As people drove by I wondered, “Do they think I’m a redneck? White trash? An idiot?”, and my neighbors, what do they think? I looked over at their rusty 1984 GMC Safari van next to their 1978 Dodge motor home and figured they probably didn’t care and in fact were probably wondering why I didn’t plow their driveway for them this winter.

Of course I don’t consider myself super intelligent but I don’t consider myself stupid either. I am still pondering this question and may never really answer it wholly. I think that I, along with so many others, am a product of my upbringing. I didn’t try and be one who said I couldn’t wait to get away, etc. I love where I grew up, I love those who affected me and still affect me today.

Because I cannot afford a sweet road grader or a tractor with a back blade and choose to use a borrowed plow truck to grade my driveway does not make me stupid or does not define me. It only shows that I care about my driveway.

The next time you find yourself putting someone into a category of any kind, stop and consider why. What is it about them that causes you to start that thought process without knowing them, “those type” of people, or any thing about anything for that matter…give it a shot and I bet it gives you new insight to yourself. I don’t know, it’s just a thought, just a blog post, and I’m just some guy.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My daughter, the dare devil. Her mom says she’ll have stitches before she’s three. The first time I ever got stitches was when I was about twenty five and I had a mole removed from my back. Not very dare devilish. Not that I didn’t do stupid stuff and get hurt. If my mom knew half the stuff I did I probably would have been to the doctor a lot and been grounded even more. You’d never guess that today.

So I don’t know where she gets it, but I hope she never grows out of it. Maybe not the whole climbing-up-on-things and jumping-off-from-things, but the whole risk taking thing? A pretty cool trait of hers so far. I may have more gray hair (I keep it short so you can’t tell right off, and it’s harder to notice my hairline at all, let alone that it’s receding quicker than claims adjusters in Louisiana) but I truly enjoy seeing her fearlessness.

Testing the waters has not been a forte of mine for many years. I used to push the envelope with my parents to get their attention but once I was an adult, I realized I am responsible for my actions, success or failure. I mostly choose the safe route, something I should do less of…(do I smell another blog post?)

I really hope she keeps it up. Not only is it a source of entertainment for those around her, it is something that will help her in her life to be a strong and confident individual. But I wax poetic. If you were the parent of this awesome little person, wouldn’t you?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Saturday. I love Saturdays. They are a break from the week. They are not the week end, that’s Friday. They truly are a holiday, one that occurs weekly. But we often, like our employers, take them for granted (“hey, we need ya ta work SATURDAY MORNING”) We who have children miss them, the sleeping in, the all-nighters, the spontaneity. You remember that which I speak of. We who ARE kids miss the “good” cartoons like Schoolhouse Rock, the Superfriends(“shape of, an ice sheet!”), the REAL Looney Toons, including Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Speedy Gonzales, and others who have been nearly forgotten.

Today however, we relived the past, as best we could. We got up before Sage (well, after she got up at 2:30 and came to bed with us (see:teething molars) and went to a couple of estate sales and the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (thank you, Amy and Tim!) If you’re going to do any work on your house or need appliances or furniture, you likely have a ReStore near you.

We spent a couple bucks on stuff we didn’t need and just had fun together. One of the highlights right off was people’s inability to spell the word accident. The first sale presented us with a sign on the door that warned “not responsible for accedents.” That was amusing. I have been to an estate sale or two in my life but have never seen a sign on the front door like that before. So, the next sale was even funnier because again there was a sign, only doubly humorous as it cautioned “not responsible for accents.” I’m not sure what that meant but it still is cracking me up.

Then we went down to a little East Town shopping district and hit a bakery for some hot chocolate and then went to some little shops in the area. Great place to go.

All this before 10:30. Then back home to finish our “to do” list. The weather has been so incredible here that it almost felt like spring cleaning. While we drove around in the sun shine today (well, we were in the Jeep, but the sun was shining on us) we had the sunroof open and the stereo cranked up to Jack Johnson’s latest, the Curious George soundtrack. (those of you who read Jill's blog will remember) We got a lot done on our list and we are starting to settle in here…I know it’s been nearly five months but now we are having fun living in a house and beginning to make the adjustment from apartment life. We can paint, change fixtures and decorate here. We’re loving it.

I am really looking forward to the summer Saturdays when we can do yard work. We have big plans for our yard.

If you don’t get the Saturday “feeling” then try to soon. Maybe it’ll have to be a weekday, but try to. Take a day off from the norm (no offense to those married to Norm) and watch some cartoons, hit a small bakery, some thrift stores, and catch up on yourself. Get your to-do list shortened (by do-ing it, not erasing half of it, silly). Don’t have a to-do list? Get one, they keep me focused, but maybe you don’t suffer from ADD as far as you know. If you’re working for someone else, you’re shouldering their dreams, their eternal Saturday if you will. Don’t forget about your dreams and your Saturdays.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The past few days I have been thinking about politics and how ridiculously inept I feel when it comes to conversation regarding politics and government. While I read (and re-read) forums, articles and papers on the status of our often untrustworthy leaders, by the time I’m done I still feel like I’ve just read Excel for Dummies, like it was easy enough for me to understand, but I didn’t. Am I the only one?

Okay so I only graduated from high school (and a very small one at that) and attended only community colleges thereafter. But it seems like less educated people have a grasp on the whole thing. Or at least they have an opinion that sounds like they know what they’re talking about. Maybe I ate some lead paint as a child? One too many blows to the head? Too many drugs? No, others who are involved or are knowledgeable on subjects regarding political philosophy have certainly had the same and worse inflictions upon their gray matter. What is wrong with me?

When I read through forums, I get dizzy from the words I read. Do these people actually spend each day reading articles from the people they quote? Do they really know these things or is it merely their opinions combined with an agile vocabulary coming out in their writing?

I realized recently that reading, responding and attempting to engage in conversations about politics and policy and issues currently affecting us today only reminds me of how uneducated and stupid I am in these areas. Not that the lack of prowess in this area is a direct result of my uneducated mind, but it seems to make me remember that I have less education, which bothers me from time to time.

I plan to continue and finish a degree…sometime, but I have no immediate plan to do so. Work, family, vacation. Too much enjoying the now to put away for then.

So what’s a guy to do? Often while reading, I get the feeling that the “right” loves me the way I am, religious, uneducated and uninformed. That way they can sneak stuff right past me. But wait, here it comes…the “left” may be working to degrade the morals of our country disguised as freedoms and liberties. Either way, it seems to me like I’m being “sold” something and paying for it later, like a Trojan horse. Neil Young said “they give you this, but you pay for that.”

Now with the voting machine stuff going on, it makes me not want to bother voting…but is that another right wing scheme to get me to not vote? Am I overly paranoid? Not in general, I don’t look over my shoulder or check behind the shower curtain when I go into the bathroom. What a mess, and what a dilemma. Let’s discuss. Do you have an opinion? I am totally lost at this point and worry and wonder where this country is headed and where it will be by the time my daughter has kids…