I Won’t Back Down

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)
And I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I wont back down)
Hey I won’t back down

(I won’t back down)
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
(I won’t back down)
Hey I will stand my ground
(I won’t back down)
And I won’t back down
(I won’t back down)
No, I won’t back down
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – I Won’t Back Down

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My father was born on April 28, 1929 and he would have been 88 today. At precisely 12 noon, I buried him. It was a simple ceremony with an honor guard playing taps and the formal flag folding. The young soldiers were very serious and precise, a fine example of the men that represent the best this country has to offer. When the officer presented the flag to me and thanked my father and I for his service on behalf of a grateful nation, I could see true sorrow in his eyes. I will forever be grateful to him and his service in my time of need.

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My father was laid to rest beside many others that paid their dues so we could live a life of freedom and happiness. Safe we are behind the walls of this republic, the foundation set in the founding documents of this country that so many have fought and died for, and many take for granted. Would they feel the same had today been about their father? Would they burn the flag to spite the fallen? I for one believe they have that right BECAUSE of the sacrifice of my father and all the others, and they can choose to exercise that right if they want, but I feel they are misguided.

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My father was never one to follow politics. He had his beliefs and ideals he followed throughout his life, viewpoints about this story or that, but it was always tempered by the feeling that we should all be equal in our treatment of others. Yes he shared opinions of this group or that, sometimes even a little prejudiced in it’s manor, but he was not openly hostile towards others in public as we see on an almost daily basis now from some younger people in this country. These people take protesting too far and approach the border of anarchy. They are not fit to walk the same soil as my father but I would not take away their right to.

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As I walked down this path I felt the crush of sorrow for those who left this world in such a tragic way. Many didn’t even truly understand what they were fighting for, but they did their best for their buddies and us and I will forever be grateful. Freedom is not given, it’s earned. Earned by the sweet of our brows when we work for our pay, when the soil is tilled to grow crops to feed the many, when we help another that can’t help themselves. But the largest payment for our freedom has been paid by the military and the men and women who paid the ultimate price.

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I placed my father in the cold ground today with what was his favorite possession at the end of his life, his Korean War Hat. His mind was so muddled towards the end that a simple hat meant more to him than anything. I protected it for you dad and made sure you got it back. I cant look at that picture without breaking down, without feeling some guilt for not trying harder at the end of his life to have a closer relationship. This was the hardest day of my life and I will spend this evening alone with my dog and reflect on a life now gone and what it meant to me. Goodbye Dad, I’m sorry for everything.

Lightning Crashes

Lightning crashes a new mother cries
Her placenta falls to the floor
The angel opens her eyes
The confusion sets in
Before the doctor can even close the door

Lightning crashes an old mother dies
Her intentions fall to the floor
The angel closes her eyes
The confusion that was hers
Belongs now to the baby down the hall

Oh now feel it, comin’ back again
Like a rollin’, thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from
The center of the earth again
I can feel it.

Lightning crashes a new mother cries
This moment she’s been waiting for
The angel opens her eyes
Pale blue colored iris
Presents the circle
And puts the glory out to hide, hide

Oh now feel it, comin’ back again
Like a rollin’, thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from
The center of the earth again
I can feel it.

Oh now feel it, comin’ back again
Like a rollin’, thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from
The center of the earth again
I can feel it.

Oh now feel it, comin’ back again
Like a rollin’, thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from
The center of the earth again
I can feel it.

How much control do we really have over our lives? Can we overcome anything that confronts us? We like to think we are the masters of our fate, our decision making powers provide us with the ability to take charge of the circumstances that present themselves to us, the forethought to have prepared for the worst. We are going to make our mark in this world before we die, we can make a difference that will leave a lasting change in the fate of others. But what if were wrong? What if there’s no rhyme or reason to it?

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Will this be the last sunset I ever see? If so, can I savor it in the here and now with the knowledge of whats to come? I think not. I think we have no idea of whats going to happen in the future with any certainty. Oh we can plan for this contingency or that, prepare for bad times with the hope of skating by with little damage, but I truly feel it’s mostly just dumb luck.

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Was this pond formed for the expressed purpose of providing a habitat for the woodland animals and migrating birds in this area, or was it just because it was gouged out by a glacier during the last ice age in the correct shape to hold water? How did the fish arrive in it’s depths? I think the human mind can think up all kinds of methods or reason many ways that this or that happened, but ultimately we don’t really know for sure. We can attribute some sort of consequence that led to our existence on this planet but we have no solid proof to show for certain how it came about.

I choose to believe there is a balance to all things. An underlying equilibrium that plays into everyday life. Not fate per say, but more of a poetry of existence that shows itself in the opposites of every action. As every child is born, someone dies having lived a full life, after a forest burns, new seedlings sprout to once again showcase the splendor of nature. A storm may wipe away a desert landscape, but a fuller array of life comes forth where only sand was before.

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Like this flowering tree against a cloudy sky, life provides many contrasts, many colors that soothe the everyday trials. Our senses provide the impetus that completes the circle, the stimulation that gives us clarity of our surroundings. Each smell and taste, sight and sound, conspire to bring everyday experiences into a more concise arrangement, a palate of life full of the colors that show us how wonderful it is to be alive in this world. I for one relish every day of life and will continue until it’s last breath.

Exceptional People

I’m sitting in Carlisle PA tonight, and I will continue to Maine tomorrow and take a couple days off to rest and have my truck serviced. I always look forward to these brief respites back in the state of my birth. Even with all my travels it still feels like home.

In my lifetime to date I have met many people. Most are but a small blip in the movie reel running through my mind. Past coworkers and acquaintances left in the wake of time, some I thought were friends that have faded away. Lonely as I am, I was reminded recently that all is not lost, there are some exceptional people left in this world.

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This is the TA truck stop in Commerce GA that I stayed at two nights ago. It’s not far from Atlanta where I picked up my return load to PA. As I’ve said before I generally choose TA stops due to their cleanliness and amenities. It’s been about five months since I was last here, and I went to the same restaurant as the last visit. Only a “Chain” restaurant but I like to treat myself once a week just to keep it interesting.

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When I go out to eat I always sit at the bar for two reasons. I don’t feel the need to take a table that would serve many and I find the service faster at the bar. As I walk in I see the same young woman working that I remember from my last visit. When I sat down I could see the look of recognition in her eyes.

Mary is her name and she remembered me from my blog and the photographs I showed her on my last visit. I must admit I was a little stunned she remembered as most people in the service industry meet so many people It’s hard to remember a face after so long. They were not very busy and I showed her some more of my recent photo’s and blog posts.

When I told her of my fathers passing, and she read a few posts I had written about it, I could see genuine sadness in her eyes. It’s hard to explain how I felt right then, but I guess it borders on an understanding of how she was brought up, what her outlook on life is, what makes her an exceptional person. You might say, “How could you possibly know that in the moment”, but I say you can.

I think when you first meet someone there is a period of time when there is no mask, no false bravado or fake niceties. We tend to fall back on our upbringing and the lessons taught in being polite in society. I find this most evident in the south where family is still the most important part of the culture. Parents still take a greater hand in the raising of their children, instead of allowing teachers and modern culture impress ideals in young minds we may not agree with.

Church groups and an etiquette of modesty are more often the norm, not the look at me mentality that rules the airwaves and drunken clubs downtown. I may not be a religious person, but I can see the effect of that upbringing and the type of people it produces. I prefer them, to speak the truth, instead of the loose and free lifestyle of many younger people, or the bitter and angry middle aged souls that feel the world owes them something. I have felt the pull of that bitterness many times in the last few years but I am fighting with all my will to escape from it’s grasp.

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As I walk Vinny on a dusty patch of grass I start to think about other exceptional people from my past. Mr Lowell my high school Asst Principal, Mr Mason my Jr high science teacher, and of course my parents. The person I am today is due in part to the things they taught me as a young boy. Some I remember well, some come back to me in a given situation, but all were vital to the stable and productive person I hope I have become. And to Mary’s mother I say thank you, you did a great job!

 

My Name’s The Teacher

Well the dawn was coming,
Heard him ringing on my bell.
He said, “My name’s the teacher,
That is what I call myself.
And I have a lesson
That I must impart to you.
It’s an old expression
But I must insist it’s true.

Jump up, look around,
Find yourself some fun,
No sense in sitting there hating everyone.
No man’s an island and his castle isn’t home,
The nest is for nothing when the bird has flown.”

So I took a journey,
Threw my world into the sea.
With me went the teacher
Who found fun instead of me.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Then the teacher told me
It had been a lot of fun.
Thanked me for his ticket
And all that I had done.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Teacher – Jethro Tull

I have had many different jobs in my life. From landscaping to carpentry, foundations to computer repairs, trucking to equipment operating. I have had many bosses, some good, many bad. There have been some jobs where I gave it my all, just to find I was being used and they didn’t really care. Some that care but there’s no future. But the currant company has given me hope that I have found something special.

Through all the trials of my life over the last few years they have been very accommodating, considerate and understanding, more than any company I have ever worked for. Now that my life has settled down some, I want to give something back. That opportunity has presented itself to me.

There is a tremendous shortage of qualified truck drivers in this country. Many people don’t like the idea of being away from home, the long hours, the mental strain and so forth. Many drivers have such a bad driving record most companies can’t hire them. And still more are ready to retire. Now what? Why in house training, that’s what!

This company, like many others, has decided to start a driver training program. Students that have graduated from a CDL school here in Maine will spend 6 to 8 weeks in a truck with a mentor, to help hone their skills in the safe handling of the largest vehicles on the road. All manor of driving conditions, backing situations, traffic conditions and other difficult problems will be addressed during training.

So how do I fit in? Myself and 3 other drivers volunteered to be trainers, and I should get my first student at the end of this month. When I first started driving I had gone to a school and had a mentor also. He was very thorough, patient and fun. I still remember the most important things he taught me, and I think I can pass them along to others and give them the same chance given to me so many years ago.

I hope to inspire them to give it a real chance, show them how it feels to be independent and in charge of your income. How each day, if you pay attention, you can find at least one moment that makes it all worthwhile, one moment that makes you smile, one image burned into your memory.

Like this one…

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Or this one…

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I really look forward to giving back to a company that has given me so much more than a job, they gave me a home, and I say Thank You!

Thank You 

How about getting off of these antibiotics
How about stopping eating when I’m filled up
How about them transparent dangling carrots
How about that ever elusive kudo

[Chorus]
Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How about me not blaming you for everything
How about me enjoying the moment for once
How about how good it feels to finally forgive you
How about grieving it all one at a time

[Chorus]

The moment I let go of it was
The moment I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it was
The moment I touched down

How about no longer being masochistic
How about remembering your divinity
How about unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How about not equating death with stopping

[Chorus]

Thank You – Alanis Morissette

When I was young and selfish I had no use for thankfulness. I had the world by the balls, one single squeeze and my will would come to pass. My mind was unbridled by the stupidity of foolish adults, unclouded with the brutality of realism. I knew what must be done and no one was going to stop me.

And then I woke up…

Thank you dad for being the man you were, even though I was to blind to see the wisdom of your words. You never backed down from your responsibilities no matter what. You were a great man and I didn’t deserve you.

Thank you mom for the strength you have shown throughout your life. Even with all that you have endured your steadfast manor and positive attitude are a reflection of the well rounded person I am striving to imitate.

Thank you Cheryl my sister for taking such good care of our mother. I’m so happy she has your help in the most vulnerable time of her life when the help of family is at it’s greatest need. I respect you greatly, even if you wont talk to me.

Thank you Greg my brother for all the times you stuck up for me as a child, all the days you made time for me, even when I got in the way. Though we have grown apart to some degree, I always look forward to your calls and our limited time together. You will always be with me.

Thank you Kathy my sister for all the times you took care of Cheryl and I when we were kids. Even though I don’t remember much about those years I know you were a caring and steady hand when mom needed the help. For your efforts you should hold your head up high and remember your brother is thinking of you.

Thank you David my brother for the fun times we had when I moved to Dallas to get to know you. Even though you decided to move away from the family and broke off contact many years ago, I hope you are doing well. I will come looking for you again soon.

Thank you John my brother in law. You are the only person in my life that has treated me the same no matter what. Through all the years I could count on you to help me when I needed it the most, and you always treated me with respect even if you didn’t agree with my lifestyle. That says alot about you and I have nothing but respect for you to.

Thank you Sheldon and Dave, Ryan and Alex, Andy and Scott and all the other outstanding people I work with. This company has been nothing but kind and generous to me in my time of need. They have bent over backwards to accommodate my situation with my folks without hesitation and I am in their debt. Now I may be able to repay that kindness to some degree in the near future and I wholeheartedly embrace the challenge. More on that as it unfolds!

Thank you to all the friends I have made in the blog world. Your encouragement and support has helped me open up more in the last 2 years than I have in the 50 before! It truly has been a blessing to “Unload” all of this from my mind and gain a better perspective.

And lastly, Thank you to me for realizing it was time to embrace who I am. No more hiding behind false bravado, trying to fit in with people I didn’t really agree with, living a lifestyle that led only to grief and sadness. Thank you for coming to terms with all the pain, some self inflicted, that I have been living with and realizing it’s really all part of what makes me who I am. I now like who I am. Understanding I can’t fix all I have done, just strive to be a better person with the time I have left, make a difference that is worthy of the gifts that were given to me. I am the Weird Guy With The Dog and I am happy about it!

This Way And That

I spent the night at the TA truck stop in Southington Connecticut last night. I try to frequent the TA chain more than others as they have better shower facilities, they are generally cleaner, (at least on the inside!) and I receive points for every gallon of diesel. Most chains give points but I’m not setting foot in their showers! Eww! As I walk Vinny this morning I am treated to a brilliant view.

First the truck stop looking west…You can just see the nose of my truck on the left.

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Now east!

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Enjoy your day and stay safe!

In The Meantime, I’ll Wait Right Here

And in the end we shall achieve in time
The thing they call divine
And all the stars will shine for me
When all is well and well is all for all
Forever after
Living in the meantime wait and see

We love the all the all of you
Where lands are green and skies are blue
When all in all we’re just like you
We love the all of you

And when I cry for me I cry for you
With tears of holy joy
For all the days still to come
And did I ever say I’d never play
Or fly toward the sun
Living in the meantime something’s gone

We love the all the all of you
Where lands are green and skies are blue
When all in all we’re just like you
We love the all of you

Well that sounds fine so I’ll see you sometime
Give my love to the future of the humankind
Okay, okay, it’s not okay
While it’s on my mind there’s a girl that fits the crime
For a future love dream that I’m still to find
But in the meantime

We love the all the all of you
Where lands are green and skies are blue
When all in all we’re just like you
We love the all of you

We love the all the all of you
Where lands are green and skies are blue
When all in all we’re just like you
We love the all of you

We love the all the all of you
Our lands are green and skies are blue

Just like you
Just like you
Just like, just like
Just like you
Just like you
Just like, just like
Just like you

In The Meantime – Space Hog

A journey through time my life, joys and sorrows to mark the passing
Months and years fold into one, melting into the composite portrait
A portrait of a being, a person becomes what experience shape’s
Captured in the colors, arranged on life’s canvas

We put forth effort, the will to meet the challenge strong
Ever searching for answers, never finding all
In the shadow of doubt we stand, fear sometimes rules
Control we must, the weakness of flesh

And so we follow the path, the vision of a life fullfilled
Mindful of the perils, we seek the wisdom to carry on
The day approaches, seeds sown and harvest reaped
But in the meantime, I’ll wait right here

Reset In Maybrook New York

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Like most every reset I like to take a walk with Vinny my dog. Today we are at the TA in Maybrook NY. I was told by someone who works here of an old farm that used to be in the area, so we went to take a look.

Here’s the stone entrance he spoke of.

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Whats that smell? The smell of death is never mistaken for anything else. Here is the carcass of a dear and other trash dumped by someone.

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A little further up the road and one would think they arrived at the town dump.

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Even more around the next corner. Many people have no respect.

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Some of the trash has been here a long time. When was the last time you saw one of these?

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A little farther in I found the old farm well and what looked like a large stone BBQ.

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Here’s the remnants of a cement block barn, and even more trash!

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Past this point I come into an area that looks like it was open pasture some time ago.

 

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As we are walking back to the truck I notice something shiny in the crotch of a tree. What in the world is that doing there? You never know just what you will find at old homesteads.

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As we walk back into the truck stop, I thought it fitting that this truck came out hauling hay.

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Well Vinny, time to kick back, pluck all the ticks out of my socks and your fur and take a nap. Goodnight all!

 

Fragile Lives, Shattered Dreams

When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Jamie had a chance, well she really did
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids
Mark still lives at home cause he’s got no job
He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

Jay committed suicide
Brandon OD’d and died
What the hell is going on
The cruelest dream, reality

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring

I was just sitting in a truck stop restaurant having dinner and I overheard two young women, both in their early 20’s, discussing their lives in the booth behind me. One woman was very animated in describing her unhappiness with her relationship. She went on and on about he did this, he did that, he never this or that. I thought to myself how silly her complaints seemed to me, but is it just because I am male, or because I’m much older?

Why when her friend said just leave him and she countered with “but then I’ll have no money or car” did I feel like she just didn’t get it? She didn’t seem to realize how petty and shallow that sounded. Is she just that immature or does she see relationships as a way to get things? Is her self esteem so low that the thought of going it alone seem beyond the limit of her ability?

I will admit I was very much like her when I was young. My self esteem was so low I really didn’t understand my worth in this world, the value of my life was lost in the simple thinking of day to day existence. Without a goal, without a plan to achieve it, I was open to the influence of others looking to use me for their gain. Just as that young woman was using him for his car and paycheck, he was using her for sex most likely. I hope she wakes up sooner than I did and realizes the benefit to the world she could be if she just believed in herself.

I think the dreams of youth can be inflated by pop culture, social media, ideological professors, disconnected parents and other outside influences that can cloud a young and fragile mind. Too often we read stories of young “Snowflake” millennial’s that can’t adjust to the world outside of the collage cocoon, no “Safe Space” to run to so they wont be hurt by words or ideas they don’t agree with. Just because you have a degree in some social science dreamscape does not mean you will find a six figure salary your first day after graduation, or ever for that matter. I don’t feel bad that you now have a huge student loan, it’s your responsibility to pay it off not the government or the taxpayers. Welcome to the real world!

I don’t feel you need a degree in this world to make a difference. We all do our part to make things better in some way, even something as simple as holding the door for others has an impact. You don’t need a degree to check on your elderly neighbors instead of thinking “Meals on Wheels” or some other agency will insure they are fed and safe.  All the big ideals of Globalization has caused us to ignore the people in our small sphere of influence. We forgot what it feels like to truly help another individual on a personal level. I’ve done this in the past, and I’m going to do it again.

Every time I see a politician or celebrity on TV talking about this government program or that charity, how the children will suffer or the homeless are dying, it really makes me mad. I wonder if they ever directly bought some food for a poor family, brought a homeless person into their home and fed them? You can bet that NEVER has happened! No, they donate their time for the adds, hold a fundraiser for a charity, or just write a check. They go back to their gated community and congratulate themselves on how they made the rest of us look uncaring and mean spirited.

I’m afraid modern society in many ways has forgotten what it means to be a good neighbor, what it means to help someone directly. Oh there are those who volunteer at a soup kitchen or even join the peace corps and travel to Africa to help starving children. To them I say thank you for really giving it your all. But why can’t you start right here at home? Are not other countries responsible for their own destiny for the most part? Why should we neglect our own while sending billions overseas, sometimes to people who hate us? Am I wrong or does that just seem stupid!

I don’t hold out much hope that anything will change in the near future. Our leaders are so power hungry they are blind to the plight of ordinary people. They are so removed from reality that our voices are nothing but the incessant buzz of a house fly to be swatted. The saddest part of it all is that it’s our own fault. We keep blindly voting the same group back in time after time, even though we complain about the lack of results. Sounds like the definition of insanity to me!

What’s In That Trailer?

I’ve hauled all types of paper, food, booze, construction supplies, live plants, bagged mulch, wood shavings, and on and on. If it will fit in the trailer we pull it all across this country. When leaving Maine it’s almost always paper, and today was no different. The paper this trip is tissue in it’s basic form. This was made at the Baileyville Mill.

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I picked up this load in Hermon Maine today at a warehouse, but I was at the mill a couple weeks ago during a snow storm. Wood chips are brought in large trailers from area wood lots. The unloading process is to back the trailers onto a ramp, unhook, then watch as the entire trailer is tipped up and dumped.

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The chips are processed into pulp then pumped into the paper machines.

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Here are the finished rolls in the warehouse. They are huge!

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Can’t tell just how big they are? Compare them to a forklift.

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They are so big I can only fit 5 in my 53 foot trailer!

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The next truck you see ask yourself…whats in that trailer?