Tag: Christmas

A Year Later

December 24, 2022 – Wilkesboro, NC After living and moving in three different locations in the past year – three different houses and a trailer, even a camper – I’m … Continue reading A Year Later

9:36… Christmas Eve…

It’s 9:36 in the morning. Christmas Eve morning. I have been awake, at the computer, since 6:30.

I should have been writing hours ago.

But, being Christmas Eve, I decided to go online, go onto Messenger, and wish people a Happy Holidays. Well, I got a response back.

Ms. B___ is a single mother of 6. She is working her way through Nursing School. And she is a miracle on legs.

Not only does she find the time to work, go to school, raise children & spend time with me on the computer early in the morning before going to work, she spent most of our conversation sharing the struggles & conflictions she has had with a man in her life having issues with Anger & Addiction.

Her friend, Mr. J___ has been in her life for a couple of years. Finally, thank God, she got herself out of that situation.

Or, I have asked myself, has she really?

You know what I mean.

There are still feelings there, no doubt.

And for anyone that has ever loved an addict, there will always be feelings. Loved ones may see the potential ofa person under the influence.

I typed-up what I thought would help her.

But what do I know?

I’m just as screwed up, if not more, than the rest of them. – Hell, I am one of them!

What was odd to me was the Role switcharoo… It was that moment – this Christmas Eve, 2021 – I was the one helping. As little as my role may have been, I was helping. By listening, by being available at that early hour, I was helping… I hope.

And I hope to help more.

LATER ON:

I was operating a CASE Loader, pushing limbs & stumps & debris into a large bonfire. I thought about my father. How many Christmas Eves did he spend running a machine? Probably a handful…

As I was moving the debris into the flames, driving through the smoky North Carolina air, I thought about the difference between tough & strong.

I am not a strong person.

A strong person has the endurance, the patience & the will to keep it together when it comes to things like jobs… like mortgages… like the hardships of everyday life I find mysterious.

Tough is being stabbed, having broken bones, walking miles & miles to nowhere in particular. Just as long as it is somewhere other than THERE.

Here being a fantasy. Here being a place you want to avoid.

Tough & Strong.

Two totally different things.

Maybe one day I can be both.

Hopefully, one day, all of us can be.

Midnight Me: Writing of the Whispers of Love Christmas Dinner

I was handed a flyer from a one Ms. B ____. It was a flyer promoting & welcoming people to eat a nice afternoon meal, pick out some gifts for Christmas (toys & coats & gloves,) & receive a bag of FREE toiletries.

No description available.

This was an event I chose to attend, and to offer my services – to volunteer to do whatever it was that might need to be done.

After all, I have been in that position of helplessness, of starvation & homelessness. I very much wanted to be of assistance in helping these others in their time of need. Especially during this part of the year. This special season when Maricals DO happen. I have been overwhelmingly blessed the past month. A month of safety & Good Health & a Home I am truly happy to live in.

Becoming even more positive, along with wanting to acquaint myself – and become a serving member – with this community, I believe, is essential for my psychological & spiritual well-being. Our community, which I can legitimately call my HOME, could use a pair of extra hands.

I’m more than happy to oblige.

We (Special Lady Friend and me) took her electric, refrigerated van to the church. We stopped at a Family Dollar, buying cases of bottled water. After not being able to find to find the building, I started feeling antsy. Social anxiety/anxiety is not a fun accessary included with conscious being. But it is something I am learning to cope with. And I’m taking medication for the disorder.

This was an event I chose to attend, and to offer my services – to volunteer to do whatever it was that might need to be done. And My Special Lady Friend was just as excited as I was to be of assistance. She was very dedicated to conjuring-up something more she could do.

Our Farm’s Logo

What started off as text messaging to the Contact in charge of the operation for more information, turned into me & My Special Lady Friend donating a little over $200.00 worth of fresh beef to the cause. Cuts of differing steaks, ground beef & roasts were Our gift & contribution to something that I’m very sensitive about. Going hungry & cold for long periods of time – hell, ANYTIME – strikes a certain appalling, protective chord in my heart & in my mind to SAVE the person from their plight.

No description available.

We walked into chaos. Everyone was rushing to move something; tops of roasters were removed, serving spoons & forks placed along side of said roasters. Bottles of soda & deserts were arranged with care. (That was one of my first tasks, handed down to me.)

There was chattering galore. I tried staying silent. When I speak, it’s obvious I am not from North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia… I’m a Yankee. And everyone knew it.

“Da Yah’ll drink sweet tea where ya’ll are from?”

A young girl, around 15 or 16, asked me that while I was breaking-up some chunks of ice for drinks. I didn’t know what to say. But my reply was: “I don’t know. I drink coffee.”

For some reason, people laughed at my comment.

After the teenager moved along, I asked her mother what the hell was with the sweet tea question.

“We all took trip to Colorado. Seems soon as we crossed state lines, nobody had sweet tea sweet enough for my little girl. And, honey, you a Northerner. She loves the mystique of Northerners.”

Mystique?

I didn’t pursue it.

What compliment I did receive was something along the lines of: “You may be a Yankee, but you seem harmless.”

– (Indeed.) –

The way things were set up, a person or family would walk through the line, starting with the roasters – full of ham & turkey, potatoes & green beans – next were rolls & other edibles of such persuasion, and then the dessert & drinks table, where I was first positioned, as the “BARTENDER.”

When the guests were finished with their meal, a trip into the pantry was in order.

No description available.
Leland Locke, the “Yankee” filling a box with food in the Redeemers House

It was hot in that pantry. And I did my best to keep up with the flow of traffic. I was putting canned foods, boxes of cookies & goods in glass jars, finally, at the end of the line, a large freezer, filled with meat into a medium-sized cardboard box.

After the box was filled, I was making trips to the parking lot. I loaded up the boxes of food. Boxes of toys & cloths.

I heard a lot of “God bless yous,” “Jesus loves yous,” & “You’re so kind.”

There were elderly ladies there. Young couples with babies… and there was a single man there. I was asked by Ms.__ to sit & talk with him.

Water to his trailer had been turned off.

My Special Lady Friend and I went to the Dollar General again, bought more water in gallon jugs. He had medication that needed to be picked-up. We drove to the pharmacy & got it for him.

Funny thing happened on the ride to get that poor soul’s meds. My Special Lady Friend, while driving us to the Walmart pharmacy, told me that all the ladies there loved me. And how kind & sweet her husband was.

That kind of made both of us laugh.

“Did you correct them,” I asked with a Joker’s smirk on my face, knowing the answer.

“No. I didn’t”

I sighed.

It was a good thing what we did. My heart pounded the war-drum-beat of purpose… of acknowledging the kindness BOTH of us expressed at this Whispers of Love Christmas Dinner.

But I never thought I would be doing what I did that Saturday, December 18, 2021.

It’s a far-cry away from the Youngstown, OH streets… the sickness of the past being simply that: something in the past I am healing from.

And I’m so grateful others are receiving some of the benefits of me BEING better & THINKING better.

Considering the Classics

One Christmas, my mother bought for me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. That was a first edition copy, with a flawless dustjacket. – And it should have been! The book had been published earlier that year. It was brand new! And I learned a lot about a couple of things from that book.

That is why I am rereading it, now. And, once again, I find myself in possession of a NEW copy of that very same book… it’s just a Scribner CLASSICS edition. The damn book was originally published 21 years ago! – Considered a CLASSIC, now. Now: what the hell does that make me?

Almost 40!

That is what that makes me!

Angry about it? Hell, no. A little bit confused? Most definitely. When & how the hell did it happen? I’m rereading a book I got for Christmas twenty years ago.

I’m surprised I made it TO twenty. I’m sure as hell no CLASSIC, like that good book. I may have picked up some things along the way, but I am one pathetic, far-cry away from being adult. No classic. Just… well… me.

My great uncle was a classic. My grandparents were classics. I’m just now starting to accept that maybe my parents have reached classic CONSIDERATIONS!

But they are only allowed to be considered. Not amended into any contract the would classify them one foot closer into the grave.

I know; I know.

It is a stupid & childish notion that your parents will NEVER be old. Your parents cannot die. And, when you have been blessed to have REAL parent, any thoughts of them becoming frail & fragile &, dare I say it, even CLASSIC, we – you & me, Reader – might have to start thinking about things more realistically.

For example: there was a treacherous stretch of time there, not that long ago, in fact, where I was pretty comfortable & confident that my parents would be burying me. Or cremating me. Or what-ever-the-hell they had in mind for my corpse.

Then, things change. Sometimes, it’s fast, like a bullet; other times, it is slow as the poison being extracted from the Seed or the Root or the Leaf.

The important thing, for me: things DID change.

To All Those That Are Positive:

Drawing Of Coronavirus Covid19 Stock Illustration - Download Image Now -  iStock

I know, I know, I know: the past year & a half has been rough on everybody. Dealing with a Pandemic, political strife, and everything from race riots to conspiracy, Doomsday Prophets spouting-off the End of America has started probably has us all feeling a little too down, a little doubtful of a Happily Ever After.

It seems like conversations on whether or not you got a shot determining your eligibility to work or go to certain public places has become just as common as asking good Ol’ neighbor Wilson to forgive you because you forgot to return his Pyrex casserole platter.

And those damn things cost about $20!

Seriously, though, talking about COVID-19 is common. Common in an absurd way. Absurd to me, anyway. Having different opinions on what is being done is common. There will NEVER be a topic without opposing sides, conflicting views… EVERYONE feeling & thinking & believing their way is the RIGHT WAY! Or, that what they are told & fed is an Absolute.

It seems someone has to be for something, or against something.

Hell, to just not care is just a manifestation of being against something…?

And, yes, that is a question mark behind that sentence. Because I don’t know if it is right. It’s just a philosophical MAYBE! I do have certainties & convictions in my life…. but I don’t know if that is one of them.

It seems to be in the genetic make-up of the Human. Opposition. And Unity.

Now, to tell you a little bit about my world, My Special Lady Friend is a Nurse Practitioner. She has online, Telehealth appointments.

And, from what she has told me, most of those appointments involve people that have tested positive for COVID.

(I wonder how much those people are affraid?)

There is a ten day quarantine period. It’s close to Christmas, and these poor people need to be away from their families.

And my poor Lady has to be the one to tell those poor people they cannot have Christmas with their families.

But stay POSITIVE! There are still worse things in the world. Missing Christmas with your family is hard. Trust me, Reader, I know. Finding things to be negative about is easy – at times, even justifiable. Most of the time, it’s juvenile.

Stay strong for your loved ones, though. Sickness is not horrible for what it does to you. The true torture, if you really think about it, if you can get your head out of your ass long enough to see, it is what it does to family members… to boyfriends, and to girlfriends… to co-workers that laugh with you when the day is dragging on & on… to the mailman that knows the names of everyone living in the house… hell, to anyone that has been good in your life.

That is what good people are suppose to feel: concern & care & many other things I won’t spend the time typing-up.

My Special Lady Friend is not on the phone, delivering the hard news.

I think a hug & a kiss are in order, It’s been a hard day.

Guess what: she cares, too.

Leland Locke

Old Mills Acre Farm

December 16, 2021

Sadness in the Song: Bells Outside of Stores & St. Nick Hats

Sketch of falling coins, money flowing ... | Stock vector | Colourbox

I don’t do it to FEEL better about myself.  And I don’t do it out of pity.  I don’t do thinking they will stop ringing the bell.

I think I do it because I believe it is the right thing to do.

And since some of my past was no paradise, I know those funds are both something needed and wanted. Just like I know Soup Kitchens & Church Basements have their important place in the world.

Donating a dollar here, a pocket full of change there, can go a long way in making a difference in someone’s life.

It does make a difference. And I will NEVER allow myself to forget that, not that long ago, I was one in the multitude of unfortunate people classified as HOMELESS… as DESTITUTE.

Holidays can bring out something in us. Something GOOD. When I drop that folded-up banknote into the bucket, I ask myself how much of that money – donated money – had been spent on me.

According to Wikipedia.org:

In the United States, in 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that American households in the lowest fifth in terms of wealth, gave on average a higher percentage of their incomes to charitable organizations than those households in the highest fifth.[1] Charity Navigator writes that, according to Giving USA, Americans gave $298 billion in 2011 (about 2% of GDP).[2] The majority of donations were from individuals (73%), then from bequests (about 12%), foundations (2%) and less than 1% from corporations. The largest sector to receive donations was religious organizations (32%), then education (13%). Giving has increased in 3 out of 4 years since 1971 (with the occasional declines occurring around recession years).[2]

I find this to be VERY interesting. I am on a fixed income. Supplemental Security Income, to be specific. (S. S. I.) And it’s not very much. But I always have the final tally of a purchase rounded-up to the nearest dollar amount. And there is the Salvation Army bell ringers with their red kettles.

Drop some $ in the kettle.

You may not feel better about yourself if you do. It may not, in the large scheme of things, change what can not be changed. It may not even make you a happier person. But that is not the point now, is it? It will make SOMEBODY feel better, in a certain way.

It sure as hell won’t harm you to drop a dime every now & then into the kettle… into the jar… or a bucket.

Sunday Bliss: December 12, 2021

A Charlie Brown Christmas | Charlie brown christmas tree, Christmas tree  images, Charlie brown christmas
Charlie Brown’s Sad Christmas Tree

It is Sunday, December 12, 2021: early afternoon. I have already cleaned out the standing planter’s pot… I’m going to buy some kind of plant, today. Don’t know what kind of plant. It may be the South,, but it is still winter. – It still gets cold at night. On occasion, it snows. I don’t think there is anything that has flowers that woiuld survive. But I really want a plant. Or, I just want something to do outside while the weather is nice.

Messing around in the dirt is something I’ve been doing since I was playing with RAMBO toys & wearing short pants.

During the spring & summer, pulling weeds was something of a test of your grit. There always seemed to be a China Man from Hell holding onto the roots of some of the weeds. After college, I moved to Houston, TX, taking a job with a Permaculture Design company, which is just a fancy way of saying I played in the dirt, planting bushes, spreading gravel & installing “water features”.

My Special Lady Friend had to drop an order off to one of her customers. Beef & Pork.

Now: I was tired.

I had spent almost all of Saturday Night/Sunday Morning messaging an editor I met online – trying, unsuccessfully, for her to be my Literary Agent.

I wanted Sunday to be nice, though. I want ALL days to be nice. This Sunday I wanted very much to be special. As the days get closer & closer to me going back to Ohio to visit family, the more emotional I get. Putting more & more meaning to my days has become a requirement. It’s like I fear I won’t be coming back to North Carolina. Like I will be left in Ohio.

I know that will NOT happen. Never would happen.

Now: I have expressed several times the beauty within the people of the South – how warm their souls seem to be with a certain resposibility of expressing joy at making others feel welcomed & special. Ms. D__ is VERY Southern. Not only did she take an interest in me & my work (writing – she said she would start reading me) she had homemade chocolate cookies ready for us when we pulled up to deliver her meat order. Little, puffy, powdered-sugar chocolate cakes that melted in your mouth.

They were delicious!

Afterwards, lunch was in order. – It was that time. And both of us were REALLY hungry. I think the cookies just exacerbated hunger.

But they woke me up. Being around Ms. D__ woke me up.

We decided on Applebee’s. Not only was our mood good, but our server’s mood was good, as well. She told us about “collecting” liquor bottles. About how she did not drink the booze, she just thought the bottles were pretty. At the end of the year, she throws a big party for her & her friends. As long as they leave the bottles, she’s happy. I HAD to give her a hard time about THAT line of B. S. Or, maybe, it’s not B. S. Maybe she does save that booze all year long.

It must have been 2:30 when we were at the restaurant. Our server had been there since 11:00. She did not get her first customer until 1:30.

We tipped her well, wishing her a Merry Christmas on our way out.

Next trip: Shopping! And I was not worried about it the way I would normally worry it. I was actually looking forward to it.

(I got to have a say in something My Special Lady Friend was buying that almost FORCED me to overlook my anxiety in Public Places: her undergarments! Her unmentionables! Her particulars!)

Charlie Brown's Christmas tree & the Author with his Special Lady Friend buying a Christmas tree.
Writer: Leland Locke & His Special Lady Friend

What made the trip to Walmart worth the wait of the check-out line was Our choice of plant: A Christmas Tree! A Dwarf Alberta Spruce. We have not figured out where we are going to plant it. It maxes out at 15 feet tall; growing two-to-four inches per year.

It’s going to be OUR Christmas tree; hopefully, it will thrive. That we will decorate it for years to come. This year, we chose red as the principal color.

Who knows what next year’s colors will be…?

That’s something no one knows.

What the colors will be.