Thursday, May 10, 2018

Where is home?

One kid in California, another in Montana, and three more in New Mexico along with a grandbaby! My whole family is still in South Carolina, and that is where I was born, my wife's family is in Southern California and she was born here, but she is really close to my family in... Yeah it's like she and my sister are sisters.

A man and woman with a surprised look on their faces, she is pointing forward and he is holding a map.
(Image Source)
One of these days we are going to be forced to decide if we are going to make a move. Do we stay or do we go? This is where the question I am about to ask arises from. Where is home?

I know that home is where you are living, you know the old saying "Wherever I hang my hat is home!" and my hat has hung everywhere from both North and South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, and California and I have not been completely unhappy anywhere I have ever lived, although home always tugs at your heart.

I have discussed my opinions with you on what to do if you find yourself living in an unfamiliar town, when I told you of My Home in the past, I said:

"Home is where I am right now and if I live out my life right here I will be home, also if I move anywhere else I will be home because that is where God has led me to go and live, Cindy is a big part of my life as you all know, and as long as we are together no matter where we are living I will proudly call that place Home."

So if we someday are forced to relocate, Where will our next chapter begin?

With family spread out so widely, how do you make a decision like this?

A woman and man walking arm in arm towards the front steps of their home.
(Image Source)
My opinion is wherever we land we are going to be OK! If we end up moving, for Cindy and I all we need is a smaller place than we have now. One that is easy to maintain, somewhat rural with no more than half an acre of land, close to town so Cindy can get her fast food fix every now and then, a good healthcare system to keep Bentley (my defibrillator/pacemaker) in tune, and a reasonable cost of living in a low crime rate area. Does a town like this even exist?

We are not going anywhere anytime soon, but we feel tugged in so many directions, so many that we don't have a clue where we will land, but the question is always in the back of our minds lately.

If you had a chance to relocate, where would you want to go? A lot of you are already settled into your perfect place, but if you could do it all over again or if you are dreaming of "someday soon", where would you want to go to live?

A home sweet home welcome mat in front of a white door on a red wall.
(Image Source)
Tell me about where you live, and what the positives are about your area, and where you think the best place to retire may be. I have a list of locations that we are considering if we ever move and I'm curious if any of you would consider the same places as we.

What's your idea of the best location to live?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

It'll grow on you

Kudzu or Skudzu as some of the old timers called it when I was a kid is something that I miss seeing since I left the South. I know that most everyone that I grew up with, was raised by, ever saw, heck I'm thinking that everyone who is from the same area as me hates Kudzu! They fear Kudzu! Don't even want to see it, don't even think about bringing it into my house!

I love Kudzu myself, but my Granny Cooper is another story, she once had a basket made from dried Kudzu vines, and at first she was reluctant to even bring it into her house, but she did and it wasn't long until she was in a panic trying to dispose of it since it had started sprouting leaves and shoots that would indeed turn into vines, it was like this basket was possessed coming back from the dead. I would have loved to have had it for myself, but one day it vanished from it's spot on the shelf to never be mentioned again. The Kudzu basket was replaced with a flower pot that had previously sat inside the basket.

Kudzu is a vine that was brought into the United States back in 1876 from Japan, later it was introduced to the Southern United States to help prevent soil erosion, especially after the Dust bowl days, it was also used as a high protein supplement for cattle to feed on.

Brown and white goat with a mouthful of weeds
Goat eating leaves (Photo Source)

Animals and livestock are useful tools today in helping to control kudzu, in some places you can even rent a bunch of goats to come in and work on the problem, but it will take more than once to kill it off because kudzu does grow that fast.

Kudzu has nearly overtaken some of the Southern States growing at a rate of about 12 inches or more per day under ideal conditions, yes folks one foot or better per day this vine can grow.

I have mentioned Kudzu many times in previous posts and I feel sure some of you may remember the tales I am telling you now, but for those who haven't heard of kudzu,  this vine seriously can cover everything in site if ignored. I remember helping my Granny cut Kudzu back from the edge of her garden, only to come back the next day to find new vines had crept in and completely covered the previously cleared ground.

Kudzu covering an abandoned car and Ford pickup truck
Kudzu covering trees and vehicles
Most people I know see this vine as a nuisance, they work really hard to keep it cut back from their property, because it can completely cover anything that is ignored, like an abandoned house, cars, trees, actually anything in it's path in a short amount of time. This is why Kudzu is now considered an invasive plant.

Kudzu is fondly known as the mile a minute vine, or as the vine that ate the South, some have even claimed that kudzu will take root and grow on a concrete block with no dirt at all.

Kudzu vine climbing power line over a roadway
Kudzu using power lines to cross the road
Although I haven't seen this myself, I have seen a kudzu vine grow up a power pole guy wire, and then follow the power line across the street and then back down the opposite side to continue it's path of destruction.  It goes without saying that most people are creeped out by this vine, and rightly so.

But with me I view it as a beautiful part of my past, a reminder of home,  just a simple green vine with a purple flower, that even though it slowly covers abandoned properties, fields, cars, and houses, I still see it as part of my childhood.

I've told you the story before of when my cousin and I actually found ourselves in the midst of a bygone era so to say when we sort of fell into a property hidden underneath this vine.

My cousin Brian and I were picking blackberries and muscadines, when we found ourselves in a thick patch of blackberries, nice blackberries I tell you, big as basketballs...not really but they were nice ones, and after fighting our way through the vines we ended up in a batch of Kudzu, so we started kicking our way through the kudzu just to see where it would end up.

We should have known better because as fast as kudzu grows, if one of us had tripped then it would be possible that we would be completely surrounded by kudzu vines before you could get back onto your feet, wrapped up like a boa constrictor taking his prey...OK that wouldn't happen because kudzu doesn't move that fast, but it actually can with an active imagination.

The next thing we knew, Brian and I had walked into a green darkness, we were now walking underneath the kudzu. I felt like we were in another world. There was no sound other than our footsteps, it was like walking underneath a green canopy, in another world completely hidden underneath the kudzu vines draped throughout the tree limbs overhead.

Brian and I just kept walking, talking about how cool it was when we stumbled onto what looked like a driveway, I'm not sure if we had walked a mile or a few feet but what the heck, we turned left and followed the driveway.

Kudzu vine covering an abandoned house, trees, and area around the home.
Kudzu overtaking an abandoned house
At the end of the driveway there was an old grey looking clapboard house with a covered porch across the front, I swear that the rocking chair on that porch was moving backwards and forwards, I could almost hear it creaking. There was also an old Model T Ford pickup sitting right there next to the house, I still wonder what we had stumbled upon.

Brian and I looked at one another and back at the house, we again looked at one another and then at the Model T, back to each other and then at the rocking chair that was slowly moving back and forth on the porch. Then we did what any red blooded teenage boy would do in this situation...We both turned and ran as fast as we could through the vines back to the car and hightailed it out of there.

To this day I am not sure that I could find exactly where this little house buried in the kudzu is located, nor do Brian or I know exactly whatever happened to all of those fine blackberries that we had picked, because somewhere along the way they vanished.

If I had it to do over again I'd like to take a closer look at what we had found, but then again it may have been a good thing that we ran...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dirt Wars

Ok let me start this tale with a disclaimer:

The story you are about to read is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent...and the guilty, mostly the guilty I suppose, because the only innocent bystanders in this whole story is Cindy and I, we are definitely not involved and plan to keep it that way. If you happen to feel this post is about you, then just think it could possibly be! You may be guilty of something so Grow Up and stop being a bad example for how to get along with your neighbors!

Our neighborhood is a rural area with houses spaced a decent distance from one another, most people have animals, anything from chickens and horses, to goats and sheep, or a mixture of them all. We all have been known to jump in and help out one another when needed just like neighbors should.

A young boy yelling at his sister while she leans back with a look of confusion.
Just like kids fighting (Image Source)
That is until it all went to hell in a hand basket up the street:

Ole Wishbone and his family has lived on five acres of land since back before dirt was invented. Wishbone is now all grown up and in possession of said property, he keeps it really nice in spite of having a whole herd of horses, kids, dogs, and cars. In other words Wishbone and his family are excellent members of our neighborhood.

Now add in Festus and his cast of characters who moved in next door to Wishbone, they have been there several years now and mostly keep to themselves and stay really quiet. They do have an occasional weekend gathering of the full cast and crew, but to the whole neighborhood's surprise they have never been too loud nor have there ever been any problems whatsoever from these gatherings of the cast.

Ok suddenly Festus decided to build himself another house on the backside of his property, the only problem with this is there is a low spot right where he wants to build, and there are no utilities for that area.

Festus brought in a backhoe and commenced to dig a hole for a septic tank, this was early one morning and right on the property line with Wishbone's land which ended up being right on Wishbone's property, the backhoe scared one of Wishbone's  horses running him through a gate and setting him free...this is where Festus should have shut down the tractor and helped to round up the injured horse, but he didn't, he just continued to dig. That is until Wishbone stepped in and stopped the whole shebang. As far as I know an apology still hasn't even been offered either.

That very weekend Festus had a gathering of the cast and crew, which is never a problem, but...yes you all know there is always a but and most times a butt!

Festus's crew started anchoring banners and signs to fence posts with string, they always do this but the posts are on Wishbone's property. Wishbone immediately requested that they untie the signs and to stay off of his property, knowing Wishbone this wasn't a request either and I am sure he was rude about it. This lead to a screaming match, insults, and a statement from Festus that Wishbone didn't even have a proper fence!

An old rickety looking wooden picket fence.
Good fences make good neighbors.(Image Source)
Cutting to the chase Wishbone has now installed a 6 ft picket fence on the property line, and not a new picket fence either, a used one that someone was taking down and disposing of, he installed this rickety looking fence, ugly side toward Festus's place and if that's not bad enough, yesterday large dump trucks began dumping loads of dirt next to the fence on Wishbone's property. Wishbones's wife said the dirt was free from a construction project and "All we are doing is building up our property to keep it from flooding our side when it rains."

OK to retaliate Festus stopped one of the dump trucks and had a talk with the driver, and for the rest of the day dump trucks hauled in dirt first to Wishbone and then to Festus, back and forth all day long. I'm telling you this is getting really deep and it has been a bit entertaining watching the trucks alternate from property to property dumping dirt.

Later on Ole Red our neighbor that gave Cindy her chickens and Little Joe who lives on the other side of Festus, were standing on side of the road watching the action. You need to know that with all of the dumping of the dirt on the other side of Little Joe's that if we ever get a big rain then Little Joe's back yard will be flooded immediately.

Little Joe then stops the dump truck for a little talk, which isn't always a bad thing because we always talk to most anybody in our neighborhood, but next thing I know Little Joe opens up his gates and in comes dump trucks dumping dirt...

They asked if we needed any dirt to which we politely declined!

Seriously if you have a problem with your neighbor it is easier to talk it out in a normal voice and try your best to eliminate any potential problems. You don't have to allow anyone digging a septic tank on your property and if you scare someones kids or animals, stop what you are doing and let your neighbors know so they can take care of their kids or pets. I had a tree trimmer who shut down their machinery and came to knock on our door, simply to let me know that he was scaring our horse. I moved the horse to another part of the property so he wouldn't be frightened and the tree trimmer finished his job. This is how responsible people act in my opinion.

Apologize especially when you are at fault, take responsibility for your actions, and keep your cool when approaching a difficult subject.

One upping someone does nothing but make you look bad, if they are doing something stupid then you try to one up that, just how smart are you really being.

Yellow dump truck bed dumping a load of dirt.
Dumping dirt.(Image Source)
Once you start gathering dirt and continually try to make your pile bigger than the other guy's, just remember you really aren't solving anything and all that you are going to end up with is a big ole pile of dirt.