Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Snowy Coffee Clutch Morning"

Howdy Folks,

The cracked corn shouted as loud as a flare atop the ice glazed snow calling birds to fill their depleted gullets. The juncos were first to arrive, then chickadees, titmice, doves and cardinal. Settled in my chair, sipping Folgers I was taking in the show with Kessy, when the shrill cry of a blue jay bounced on frozen limbs. Again and again he called, inching his way closer to the buffet. Mr. blue jay is not a regular so he was polite in his approach, I suppose he thought he should ask permission to invite himself to breakfast. The problem with that is, a blue jay's "call note" is very similar to a red tail hawk's screech.
Kessy looking for the hawk -
His calls not only worried the gathered feasting birds, but Kessy too. She stopped munching hay and marched with purpose to look out and investigate the threat. She did this several times, once she even snorted! Usually when a red tail screeches, or other hawks are in the area, the guineas raise a fuss and Kessy learned from them her precious chickens are in danger and runs to save them. Speaking of the chickens, they slept in this morning … I had to give them breakfast in bed. They don't do snow. We got about ten inches last night, with a coating of ice this morning. I think it's beautiful, the chickens are not impressed. – Have a lovely day!
Some of the chickens did leave the chicken house, but then flew right into the barn!

Of course Kessy eventually had to check out everything.
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"We'll Sort This Out – Pt 4"

Howdy Folks,
I wrote a short story, for our Coffee Clutch friends, "We'll Sort This Out" about a boy fleeing a bad home situation set back in homestead times – You can find that story (HERE) – Off and on I've gotten requests to continue the story. Then I wrote Part 2 (HERE).  And Part 3 (HERE) Because of requests to keep the story going and I've decided to turn it into a serial like stories in old time magazines – I hope you enjoy Part 4. – We left Frank and the boy as they were just about to ride up on his homestead.
Kessy, Saturday & me writing a story
 We'll Sort This Out – Pt4

"My name's Mark." The boy hurried Blackie to catch up to Frank.

"What's that?" Frank slowed his horse and twisted in the saddle.

"My name's Mark. And he ain't our father."

Frank stopped his horse and reached over to take Blackie's reins. Mark felt his eyes trying to pull answers from him. "He's not your father? … Who is he? Maybe you'd better fill me in a bit more before we get there. Just over that knob is the house."

The boy knew where he was. He'd hidden behind this very hill many times to avoid the man's fury. He and his sister had huddled here often. They knew every tree, every rock and crevice on the slope. He'd been hoping they would find her here this morning. His worried young eyes had already scoured all their hiding places. It had been their plan, if they ever got separated, they would meet here. That had been their plan, until a day ago when the man had discovered them, and beat them both, again.

"No he's … nobody … " Tears streaked the boys face, his tiny body trembled. He looked deep into Frank's eyes. "He just took us. My sister and me, we were living with our momma." He broke a small smile. "We had a farm, like yours." Tears started again. "Then he just came, pretended to be our friend. After a few days, he beat our momma, and he just took us."
Frank swung from his horse, wrapped his arms around the boy, hugged him hard.
"We were here hiding here in our safe place, waiting for him to go away. I was gonna sneak to the house for supplies, then we were going to run away … but he found us. He knocked me down, then turned on my sister … She told me to run, Frank … She hollered for me to get away." Sobs broke his voice. "I ran to your barn … but I should never have left her."
Frank jerked his rifle from the scabbard, swung up on his horse, "You stay here!" Then started over the hill. At the crest, he stopped.
The boy rode to his side, his blank eyes surveyed what lay before them. A thick cloud of black smoke hung low over the ruble that had been the cabin. Their cow lay dead in the yard. The barn doors hung open. Without waiting for Frank he grabbed the horn and kicked Blackie to a run. He heard Frank order him to stop as he raced down the hill, but kicked Blackie on. Frank caught him, jerked the reins from his hands, then with his rifle at the ready, led them to the barn.
Together they searched the barn and found it empty. But in the mud just outside the doors were tell tale wheel ruts and tracks from a pair of horses. His sister's bonnet lay mashed in the mud.
They searched the tall grass in the fields around the barn. Mark knew all their hiding places. She was in none of them. No signs she had time to leave any messages either. Sometimes they'd left messages when hiding separately, a broken branch meant look for me in the barn, tiny twisted grass bundles meant I'm hiding behind the big oak. Today there were no messages.
Nothing could be made of the smoldering cabin. The boy was glad Frank told him to hold the horses and wait while he searched the black, smoking wood a piles of smelly junk. His heart pounded, his breath came in gasps as stood dazed, waiting to be assured his sister was not … 
"He must have taken your sister with him. From the looks of all this he came back, set the place on fire and left right after he came looking for you."
The boy's eyes spoke for him. No sounds could come from his throat. His sister. She would be terrified now, without him there to protect her. Why did he run and leave her behind? Why didn't he tell Frank and Martha everything right away? How could he have slept a night safe in their cabin, leaving her with him?
"Yes we'll set out after him. We'll find them and get your sister. But first, we've got to get back, make sure Martha's okay." Frank's eyes washed with sudden worry. They set out with all the speed the horses had.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, February 10, 2014

Grandpop – A Nation Of Millionaires

Howdy Folks,

This is the Ninth in my series of Grandpop stories. I began writing about Grandpop, June 27, 2013, with what at the time I imagined what would be a standalone short story, "Perhaps I've Just Lived Too Long." You can read that story (and find links to go on) (HERE)   Folks said they enjoy visiting with Grandpop, so I wrote more. Frankly, I enjoy him too. I hope you enjoy A Nation Of Millionaires with Grandpop. 

A Nation Of Millionaires  

As we like to do on rainy days, Grandpop and I drove to town for breakfast at the Tumble Weed Diner. Hard to tell if the driving rain had kept folks at home, but except for a few regulars at the counter, and two very citified fellows in business suits in the booth by the big window, we had the diner pretty much to ourselves.
After we made our rounds exchanging, "Mornin's," comments on the weather, and advice on how to survive it, we slid into the booth next to the well dressed gentlemen. I noticed they watched us, but didn't interrupt their conversation, or return Grandpop's hat tip greeting.

Sally brought us our usual, black coffee, three egg omelets, homefries with onions, and Grandpop's raisin toast. She lingered a second, as if she wanted to chat. "How ya doin' today?" Grandpop gave her his captivating smile.

"I'm okay. Guess it's the weather." Her eyes said more than her words.

"Come on, Sally, we've known each other since you were a little girl." Gandpop said. "What's eatin' at ya?" He patted the seat next to him, "Have a sit, and tell ol' Grandpop what's up."

Setting her coffee pot on the edge of our table, she slid into the booth, tossed her arm around Grandpop and kissed his cheek, "I've missed you … Well it's all good news, really. I've starting spring classes at the community college, and Cookie just told me I can have more evening hours here at the diner. I just get tired working so long and studying too. But it'll be worth it when I get my degree."

"Dang, Sally, sure does sound like good news!" Grandpop toasted her with his half empty cup and another grin.  "As I recall you started this venture last fall … business management, right?"

"Look out, Cookie," I chimed in, directing my comment toward the kitchen. "She'll be runnin' this outfit before to long." I tossed a wink to the fellows in suits. They gave me a half hearted glance then resumed their important looking conversation.

"It’ll be a long hard climb, and my dad says I'll be making sacrifices along the way, but I really want to get there, ya know." Sally tilted her head. "I'm just gonna make it happen!"

She topped off our coffees then moved to the fellows in the suits and refreshed theirs too. The fellow behind me spoke up. "Good luck to you, but you know the deck is stacked against you. Either you're in or you're out. The rich have theirs and the rest of us grovel."

I knew that would fire up Grandpop, and it did. "What line of work are you young gents in?" His big grin leveled on the tallest fellow.

"We work in DC, aids to a Senator." The cockiness in his voice was as rich as our coffee. "We're working to level the playing field so people don't have to struggle to get, nowhere. People like Sally here don't have a chance. We're working so everybody can have all they want, not just a few."

Grandpop's eyes twinkled. "Good for you! You mean everyone should just be set, have all they need and have it fair, or even as you say, without having to sacrifice, struggle and, as we used to say, pay their dues."

"You bet." The other fellow added. "There's too much unfairness in this country. That's why we went to DC as soon as we graduated college. To help fix that wrong. Everyone should have a fair share. Even!" He punctuated his bold statement with a finger tap on the table.

"Fix that wrong. Interesting." Grandpop sipped his coffee, winked at me. "So you're into this 'take from the greedy rich' and as some say, 'spread it around, satisfy everybody's needs.'"

"You don't see what we see, or you'd understand." The tall fellow explained. "There's plenty to go around if we just did things differently."

"Differently?" Grandpop pondered out loud.

"Yes, those that can should give more to help those who need it. That's all we're saying. If somebody wants to grind it out every step of the way, well, good for them. But what about all those who can't? Don't get the breaks? We just think we need to find a way to take care of them so they don't struggle. Make everyone even." He shot Grandpop a look of confidence and certainty in his convictions, and mission.

Grandpop struck a pose of deep thought. "What if you could find a way to give everyone a million bucks? ... Would that work? You said there's plenty to go around. How about we make us a nation of millionaires overnight?"

After the surprised laughter subsided, the tall fellow toasted Grandpop, "That could work!"

"Are you a millionaire?" Grandpop asked.

More laughter, "No, not by a long shot. Working week to week like most people." The tall fellow said.

"If everybody got a million tomorrow, including you, what would you do first?" Grandpop's eyes shined.

"That's easy." The tall fellow pointed out the window. "First I'd get rid of that old car and buy a brand new Mercedes, then my girlfriend and I would take some time and go sightseeing."

Grandpop sat up straight with a concerned look. "I see. Where do you reckon you'd buy that fine shiny new Mercedes?"

"Oh I know just where." He winked at his friend. "Mercedes-Benz of Tysons Corner. I've been window shopping for two years now!"

Grandpop nodded, then raised an eyebrow. "There might be a problem there."

"What?" The tall fellow looked surprised.

"Well ya see, young fella, the dealership won't be open anymore. The salespeople, mechanics and office staff are all millionaires too. Everybody's got all the money they need. Why would they bother to come and work? There's no reason. No incentive. Nothing to work for."

Grandpop stood, settled his hat on his head, picked up our check, and theirs. "You see, young fella, when you rob someone of their incentive, you rob them of much more than that. You steal their dreams too. Everyone has their own dreams and reasons for doing what they do." He paused and leveled a sincere look at the two well dressed men. "Is life fair? Or as you question, even? Of course not. But you can't make it fair by replacing dreams with easy. Have a think on that, on your way back to DC."

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

To read,  "Grandpop, 4th of July and Independence"my tenth visit with Grandpop  --  CLICK HERE