Throwback Thursday – April 5, 2018

All the content with half the work!

Greetings to all my Esteemed Reader(s). It’s rudyblues here, back with another edition of  Throwback Thursday! That time of the week when we meander most merrily down Memory Lane to meet a morsel from the mists of time.

ThrowbackThursdayAs some of you know (unwillingly, perhaps), Throwback Thursday is a recurring feature here at Rudy’s Ruminations. The intent is to reacquaint my gentle reader(s) with some of my lesser known earlier work. That and I’m looking for ways to keep slacking off.

Here’s how this Throwback Thursday thing works. I take this nifty boilerplate post I’ve created, add the date, add a short paragraph extolling the virtues of the previously unrecognized gem you have the opportunity to read, tack a previous post onto the end, et voila! Throwback Thursday! You get the Throwback Thursday post in your reader stream, scroll down to the previous post, and enjoy the (not so) great literary stylings of rudyblues. I get views, maybe clicks, and possibly visits. You get . . .  well, I’m not exactly clear on what you get, I was hoping to come up with something more for you, perhaps later. So here we go.

This was originally posted in December of 2015. It was an attempt at a description of a place, trying to let the reader feel what I felt when thought of the place. I think it may have been in one of the blogging classes from WordPress U. I hope you like it.

Grandma’s House – December 14, 2015

Harper's_New_Monthly_Magazine_Volume_104_December_1901_to_May_1902_(1902)_(14781045774)Grandma’s house was tiny when I returned to see it, all those years later. She moved there after Grandpa passed, when I was young, perhaps three or four. They say the old place was just too big for her to handle. As a child, I thought Grandma’s house was enormous and wonderful. I like the childhood memories best.

It was a block off the town square, on a quiet tar-and-chip street with a pronounced crown. Between the street and the cracked, uneven public sidewalk was a deep drainage ditch, deeper than I was tall. You could sit at the bottom, in the closely mown grass, lose sight of the world around you, and watch the clouds drift, puffy balls.

A massive spruce tree covered the front of the house. The boughs were allowed to grow naturally, sweeping down gracefully as if in a deep bow, touching the ground all around. The house hid behind the boughs, the ends peeking out. An alley ran along the right side of the house, two cindered ruts through close-cropped clover. Running parallel to the alley were two more cindered ruts, ending just before the house, parking for guests.

A narrow sidewalk ran from its intersection with the front sidewalk towards the house, beside the second set of cindered ruts. As it reached the house, the little sidewalk turned left and disappeared into the boughs, seemingly swallowed by the big spruce. But an equally narrow, carefully manicured break in the lower boughs, just tall enough for a human, made a covered arch for the sidewalk to wind through to the front door.

The arch-shaped break in the boughs opened up the interior of the tree, the space between the trunk and where the tips of the boughs touched the earth. It was like a separate room, dark, cool, fragrant from the pine needle floor and the sticky sap oozing from the boughs. Grandma kept gardening tools in a small shed that fit under the boughs, hidden from the world. Small children hid there as well.

The house was brick, covered in deep, dark green ivy. If the house had a color, nature had long ago replaced it with her own. The ivy seemed deep enough to swallow me, my arms too short to touch the brick through the thickest part. The ivy gave the house a soft and shaggy appearance, as if it had grown, rather than being built.

At the back of the house, at right angles to the little alley, was an aluminum carport where Grandma would park her 1963 Rambler American. Just off the carport, under a small but shady tree, was a glider swing, the kind made for two people, a fixed frame with the seat and arms and back suspended by heavy springs from the frame. And, as the heat of a summer day spent running and jumping and howling cooled, a small child was soothed by the embrace of Grandma in her apron and the rhythmic creak of the glider as it swung, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Now Which One Are You?

Identical in every way

When I was in elementary school, lo those many years ago, a pair of identical twin boys moved into our school district. It was a small district, and I don’t think there was ever a pair of identical twins in the district before they arrived.

There was really no warning for us kids. We went home for summer break, did our summer break things, and when we came back to school in the fall, there were two new kids. Identical twins.

But it wasn’t as if, by magic, there they were, side by side for all to see. They put the boys in different homerooms. Homeroom in U.S. schools is the first class of each day, where they take roll and make sure everyone is present. The teacher introduced the new student, Greg, I think, and we all said “Hi”, and then it was time for the next class.

I think I was in my 5th or 6th year of elementary school at that time. In their earlier years, students stayed in the same classroom for the entire day, and the same teacher taught all subjects. But by the 5th and 6th years, the students moved between classrooms to teachers with different specialties who would teach specific subjects.

I had to change classrooms for my next class, so I gathered my stuff and moved out the door with the other students who were changing. I looked over my shoulder and saw Greg sitting there. Apparently, his next class was in the same classroom.

I filed into the classroom next door, found a seat, and got out my stuff. As I was settling in, I looked to my right, and there sat Greg. It was as if he had just materialized from thin air because I knew he had not walked out of the last classroom.

But how could that be? I just left him in the last classroom. But there he was, same shirt, same pants, same shoes, same haircut, same notebook, same pen, everything identical. Right down to the voice, a slight U.S. southern drawl.

I would have chalked it up to inattentiveness if I had known what that was at the time. The class finished up, and I had to move to my next class in a classroom across the hall. Once again, Greg remained behind. And once again, there he was, in the classroom across the hall, identical.

This time, I mustered up some courage and said, “Hi, Greg.” He said hi back, and class went on. Class ended, and my next class was in the same classroom, so it was Greg who gathered up his trappings, said goodbye, and moved out the door.

And then, I swear, he walked right back in the door. Identical. He sat down just behind me, so I turned around and said, “Hi Greg, I thought your class was next door.” He looked at me and said, “Oh, you must mean my brother, I’m Jeff.” I imagine I was looking a little confused.

Class ended, and my next class was back across the hall. Apparently, so was Jeff’s, or Greg’s, or whoever he was. I stood behind him in the line forming to enter our next classroom, across the hall. I looked over his shoulder at the students streaming out of the classroom, and there he came. Jeff, or Greg, or whoever he was. Walking out of the classroom that he was entering. Identical.

I knew Greg and Jeff for quite a few years after that. As they aged, it became easier and easier to tell them apart. But that first year, I wasn’t alone, even the teachers had to ask, “Now which one are you?”

To All My Buddies

When are you no longer BFFs?

Just what constitutes being a buddy? A bud. A BFF. Can you be a buddy with someone you just met? Or is there some unwritten rule that says you can’t be best buds until some certain period of time has passed? Is it like a probationary period, are you like “buddies in waiting”, or maybe “provisional buddies?” And if you’re buddies, can you fall out of “buddy-ness”, like we humans fall in and then out of love?

I’ve had lots of buddies over the years. There was my buddy Peter, who lived across the alley when I was a kid. I look back on that time, and I think we were inseparable, but then, we weren’t, because I haven’t seen him for decades. Were we really buddies?

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The Stone Stairs

A short fiction piece on place and memories

The stone stairs tumbled down the breach dug into the side of the hillock, steep and uneven. Grass burst from the spaces between the slabs, moss clung to their faces. The tumble poured into the earth, down a shaft that ended at a rough hewn door, a vertical plank of wood that seemed carved in place, as if from the taproot of some massive oak tree that had once stood on the mound.

OldFfarmsteadNature had long ago curled her tendrils around the head and jambs of the door’s timber frame, trying hard to pull it deeper into the hummock, the door appearing to meet directly with earth. A rough wooden dowel poked from a horizontal slot cut in the left side of the slab, and to the right four rusted carriage bolts signaled the iron straps that held a slide bolt to the inside of the door.

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