Does not color within the lines

The last few weeks have been spent screening in my front porch here at the stately manor “Rabbit Run”. As I caulked the gaps in wood that hadn’t been cut straight, an old post came to mind that covered the situation perfectly

Does not color within the lines

When I was seven and serving the first year (I’ll explain being seven years old and in the first grade later) of a six-year sentence at Summerville Elementary, a note was sent home to my mother.

“Does not color within the lines. Very messy”.

No truer words were ever written about me. Those eight simple words portended great feats to come.

Before concluding my studies at Summerville Elementary, I became a legend for an episode involving oil-based paint, a floor fan running at high speed and a room full of parents and teachers attending a clean-up day.

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Loading Your Own

Loading Your Own

JD and my second attempt at producing a hand crafted firearm was much more ambitious than our first and came about two years after the time we blew a hole through the side of his dad’s garage. Our hearing had mostly returned to normal by then, although the tan on our backsides seemed to be rather permanent. We were inspired to make a new attempt by Mikie’s dad’s brand new hobby of reloading his own shells.

This new “black powder” gun utilized manufactured gun powder thoughtfully supplied by Mikie’s dad. Or to put it another way, we borrowed a few of the several boxes of 12ga. shotgun shells he had reloaded for an upcoming dove shoot. We were under strict orders not to touch the many guns around our houses without an adult’s permission, but nothing was said about the ammunition. He was, at least, smart enough to keep the loose powder secured. The powder the #9 shot supplied was much better than the rather crude though effective type that we had made using sulfur, charcoal and nitrate for our first black powder gun.

To avoid detection, we decided to use only part of the powder in each shell so that the number of boxes remained the same. JD uncrimped the ends and dumped contents of each one till he had emptied them all. Mikie and I, meanwhile, separated the gun powder and shot into two piles, and then separated out the powder that we needed for our project. The shot and remaining powder was divided up into equal piles and we carefully started replacing them into each empty shell.

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Black Powder

I had been visiting my cousin, JD, when he developed a sudden interest in chemistry after our firecracker supply from the Fourth was exhausted . I think this was the same year that we bought the hydrochloric acid for our experiments in generating hydrogen for “lighter than air” craft. Most of these “experiments” were trial balloons, so to speak, for other experiments preformed as young adults and generally yielded the same results — blowing up in our faces. Children back then were praised for having an inquisitive mind and most everything that we did as children in the late 50’s, early 60’s was regarded as a learning experience, although we kids regarded it as merely surviving another day. And a lot of my learning experiences did involve trips to the emergency room..They were builders of character or at least a tough hide… if you survived. Now these same “experiments” would get me incarcerated.

Our experiments in basic chemistry consisted of mainly trial and error–mainly error, but we were soon happily laying blackpowder trails across any fire ant hill that hadn’t already been vacated due to our continuous harassment with a variety of household weapons of mass destruction. It didn’t take long before boredom and “what if’s” turned our interest from homemade fireworks to projectile geometry.

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Catapults; Weapons of mass distraction

I came across this post in a old hard drive

Catapults; Weapons of mass distraction

Summerville Elementary, with its vaguely green faux stucco cement exterior and pea graveled asphalt playground/ball field, would have been considered quite inadequate, if not downright dangerous even by Phenix City’s standards of the day. If we had had any standards to apply.

Six classrooms, six grades, with the Principal doubling as the sixth grade teacher.
Worn wooden board floors were gray from years of industrial cleaners and buffed to a dull sheen by countless pairs of Ked’s forming lines down the three sided hallways leading to the assembly/rainy day gym/ lunchroom. The smell of soured milk, rutabagas and greens emanating from within competed with chalk, crayons and the sweaty little bodies lined up outside for preeminence in the heavy southern air .

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The Cup

the cupPeople become attached to some strange things. These items mean the world to us. We become upset if they become missing or are by our definition, misused. The item might be an old pocket watch that loses time in an age where time can be accurate to the nano second in a cell phone. Or it could be a pocket knife that has been sharpened and resharpened to the point that there is a pronounced bow in the blade. I’m talking about myself, of course. But I’m willing to bet you have things like that yourself. These items give comfort, a familiarity that bring back memories. Some of these memories might be a little painful such a my knife post, “Careful! He’s armed”

One of my favorite items that will have no meaning to anyone when I pass from this land of the mortals is a coffee cup that I’m sipping my fresh ground Colombian bean from this morning. Oh, I have a cabinet full of coffee cups. Themed to holidays, everyday use, giant mugs, and travel mugs, I invariably reach for that humble brown cup. Coffee though is not the only beverage that the cup has contained. Over the years it has held everything from water to mushroom tea to soft drinks to almost every type of alcohol known to man. In other words, almost every drinkable liquid known to man. And some that shouldn’t be drank by man or beast.

The cup is made from a brown material that you don’t dare put in a microwave. I saw a similar cup that had been microwaved. The results looked much like a piece of particle board that had been soaked in water.

And I don’t trust the dishwasher. Oh, the cup has been handwashed which by my definition is rinsed out and turned over on some handy, mostly clean, surface. Washing it that way, the character of the cup and the subtle flavor imparted by the myriad layers of previous liquids that have dried on the inside isn’t compromised. Since it hasn’t be scrubbed clean, some future scientist could test the layers and see exactly what I was up to by analyzing layers like they are rings of a tree.

An astute observer would know I was right handed by the stain on outside rim. They would surmise that I had some tangential relation to the military by the stamped “U.S.” on the outside bottom of the cup

I acquired The Cup as a young man who still didn’t need to shave but twice a week. The Army, however, in its infinite wisdom insisted I shave daily. I followed orders and at least twice a week made sure I had a blade in the double sided razor. This example of Army wisdom was the same that dictated that I, a young man raised in the woods, swamps and rivers of a hot and humid south should not be sent to Vietnam but instead assigned to Northern Italy where I provided communications for a Sargent missile battalion in the Italian Alps. At this time we had no cell towers, no infinite fiber optics and no satellites for communications. We were somewhat limited in the fact the Earth was round and radio signals traveled in straight lines. Bouncing radio signals off the ionosphere to compensate or relay them from radio to radio to radio was our only method to communicate.

But I digress. Leaving the mess hall at Fort Knox where I was in AIT, I carried out my coffee without the Mess Sargent seeing. The Cup has been with me ever since except for brief periods that inspired irrational behavior

Shortly after GF (GirlFriend as opposed to lower case casual for the moment gf) the Cup became missing. GF says it was one of the few times that she had considered ending our relationship The irrational searches, the accusatory looks, the moaning, and heavy sighs severely stressed her commitment to being GF and brought about a longing for her old gf status. Fortunately for her, the Cup was found in the livewell of a old johnboat I was working on a week later. There was mold growing on the remaining coffee but a through rinsing restored it to it’s former glory.

What is your cup?