Saturday, August 28, 2010

September Songs of Autumn Sunday Drives

Families enjoy their country drives and Sunday picnics,
When the Autumn breeze turns so cool and crisp.
Packing up toys and pets; blankets and drumsticks;
To play in meadows, picking flowers and lakes to fish.

Sunshine painting laughter, igniting precious smiles,
They play until the clouds of blue turn to orange skies
Chasing daytime butterflies to catching neon fireflies
Collecting many blessings from simple country drives.

All along the winding lane they talk of future dreams.
Little noses smashed on windows, hopeful just to see,
Carefully watching every tree blowing in the breeze
To glimpse a baby eagle, sitting under scarlet leaves.

I hold a framed aged-old memory; babies on a seashore.
Salty tears rain down; remembering how they've grown.
To serve the greater cause our soldiers marched to war.
I beg of God for mercy, bring our heroes safe and home.
To have a chance to live, to love, to picnic in the sun
And Autumn Sunday drives with families of their own.

- Terri Bonney

ritten in honor of my son who serves in the U.S. Army as a Medevac Pilot.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Some days I’m not so sure what’s ahead for me.
Others are paced in positive steps toward a definite goal.

So on and on, the life, it goes
Forever making gardens grow.

Today, as usual - like any other Monday thru Friday - the alarm sounds off as expected at the appropriately set time of 0445 hours. As always, I just start singing along with whatever song is currently playing on the radio. I hate that! I wish my head was wired to recognize the fact that I’m not in a rock band; I’m not the one singing that song - I’m dreaming! Unless, the volume is set to maximum level, daring the speakers to blow out; I just snuggle in deeper and dream away.

I’ve tried all kinds of alarms. When using a wind-up, Big Ben ringing bell: most times, I hear the screaming of big, long, red-colored fire trucks racing their engines down the road. Which to my sleeping brain, this is okay. Why, because those trucks traveling at high speeds, ringing out the piercing warnings are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Putting out a fire! Somehow, the fire has incorporated into my sleeping brain. A nightmare by any standard, this strange scenario has become the object of my dream, containing a high-speed chase that has become a thrill-seeking rush to put the fire out!

Being the music lover that I am, it really doesn’t matter what station is tuned in on the alarm. I’m always a singer in that band! And, why is it, whether I’m awake or dreaming, when I sing along with a song inside my head, I know all the words; I can carry a perfect tune, and I am always on key. In fact, I sound just like the artist. However, if I were to sing the song out-loud: I would not remember one word, I would not remember the tune, and to tell the truth, I can’t identify a musical key from a door key?

I’ve tried several alarms at once, but then I dream I’m living back in the heart of Dallas. The blaring chaos somehow makes me happy as I listen to the ‘life’ that is marching on. Everyone having a different drummer is somehow poetic to my sleeping mind. You’d think this would be a disturbance, but no, this too will get worked somehow into a dream.

Even my dog has to threaten me with extreme growling as his massive front paw punches and scratches the side of the bed. If I had a rooster out in the yard, maybe the crowing would wake him up and then I’d be out of bed on time, or at the very least when the sun came up! However, there are some fundamental problems with this idea. I don’t want a rooster! I’m not even sure I like roosters. But, the dog can’t tell time unless you count ‘potty-time’ nor does he care when the sun comes up.

By nature, I like to live life somewhere around the midnight hour. By habit, I’ve tried to twist my waking hours into conforming to the daylight hours. I love the outdoors, well the outdoors in my backyard where my garden grows. Even with the heat and humidity, I love to watch things grow. So, I’m out there in the marvelous sunshine with all those bees and butterflies. Buzzing around, fluttering, floating to and fro, roaming about doing their jobs, looking for the sweet sustenance of nectar, and pollen, as well as the lady who sprays water on them, upsetting their mealtimes. Confession: sometimes, I do enjoy that activity when watering my garden.

Every spring I plant a garden, almost all of it in containers. Why all those expensive, large containers and not the actual ground when planting perennials? Because of a kind of dirt, actually mined for roads and such. This red, earthy, full of rocks, harder than concrete stuff, is called chert, and we bought two acres of this lovely stuff! According to the website, the pioneering people used chert to make tools and weapons. If the chert is of a darker color, it is often called flint. But, nonetheless, getting back to my garden, it’s full of flowers, various herbs, and an assortment of tropicals, and a variety of small, potted trees. Even though, the aforementioned bees go for the pollen of much tastier flowers; I usually plant one tomato bush which will never produce fruit. My garden requires watering every single day, especially since the summer’s average daily temperatures are ranging in the high 90’s. Therefore, it’s a lot more enjoyable to water in the very early, somewhat cooler hours of the morning. I love all my flowers and plants growing in my garden and can’t stand to see one plant perish or wither under the heat because I was too lazy to get my butt out of bed. Consequentially, most days I can drag myself up and out, simply because, I do love and enjoy my garden.

Another reason for me to get up when the alarm sounds-off: most businesses are open during the daytime. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, an occasional grocery store, gas station or pharmacy will be open 24/7. But, have you ever tried reaching a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer, or buying a bottle of something containing alcoholic spirits closer to the 0100 hour. It’s just about impossible to conduct any type of business after the 1700 hour.

However, there is one thing that has never failed to get me up in the morning: my husband (literally) will make the bed with ME in it. You see, I really, truly dislike making the bed. This particular responsibility is a horrid, mundane chore, and I have thought so since I was a child and learned the skillful art of bed-making. Moreover, I hate walking in my bedroom and seeing a messy, unmade bed. I swear my mood will drop faster than a pebble in a hundred-foot pond! My husband knows this secret and tragically, he has experienced it. In addition to this, he knows that I would rather loose sleep than make a bed.

So long, long ago, my sweet husband invented a beautiful large white furry rabbit, (something akin to Jimmy Stewart’s Harvey) we affectionately refer to as: “the bed fairy”! The only coin required is to get my big butt out of bed and run as fast as I can to the bathroom sink. I’ve never caught “the bed fairy” but while I am brushing my teeth, that rascally rabbit always visits and leaves me a gorgeously made bed.

So, in summary, singing alarms don’t work so well for me, neither do the Big-Ben bell-ringing-wind-ups, nor does an assortment of differing alarms all set for the ‘let’s ring-out’ together scheme. They just seem to spur my over-active imagination and keep me sleeping peacefully over in dreamland. The dog, he isn’t reliable, just annoying, so he’s automatically cut from the running. The alarm I like the best is the ringing-bell-sounds of the snapping and flapping of the duvet cover as it is jerked away from my tightly fisted hands.

How lucky can a girl be who’s really too old to loose a tooth, except by root canal from a dentist?

Seriously, having two fairies
in one life time is a wonderful gift.
How’s that for extraordinarily good luck?

Now, all I need is to find the “Big Diamond Fairy”.

-Terri L. Bonney

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Rodeo

The conversational atmosphere in our employee breakroom at work is usually light of topic. Those of us who share this small room are careful to avoid philosophic discussions, but on one occasion, we slipped into the realm of religion quite by acci­dent. To most people the Mesquite Championship Rodeo is as natural and all-American as apple pie, baseball and hot dogs, but for Vinnie it is an unthinkable abomination.

My very colorful and much thought of friend, Vinnie, is extremely different. Vinnie is of Indian descent, not Cherokee mind you, but from the country of India, as in the Taj Mahal or Gandhi. Born wealthy, the oldest son from a very affluent Hindu family, Vinnie was reared to believe that when you die, you are reincarnated according to personal karma. Hinduism is the oldest known religion and has many complex laws and dieties. It is believed Vishnu the God of preservation has appeared from time to time in the form of a cow; therefore, these particular animals are deemed the highest of all that is sacred and holy, and must always be protected.

The red blooded, all American, blue-collared employees were gathered around the table in the small break room laughing, remembering the events of the company picnic held at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo the previous weekend. Each one telling their favorite episodes about the bullriders or calf-ropers. Most of the gang sitting at the table were born and raised in the Dallas area and very proud of their wild West heritage of the open plains. We were either red-necked (belligerent, tobacco chewing, bossy complex) or some modification of the urban cowboy or cow­girl who wore Ropers (boots), big silver buckles, and Stetson hats for dancing (only) in the boot scootin', buckle rubbin' fashion popular to the Dallas country and western bar-rooms. Most all of us were raised on the "rollin', rollin' rawhide" theme song that accompanied the trail hands, Rowdy (Clint East­wood) and Gil Favor (Eric Fleming), while they rode tall in the saddle herding the large head of cattle to the railroad station for sale, in the popular television series "Rawhide". Right up there with "Rawhide" is our biggest idol John Wayne, who roped all our hearts with his lasso. To profane any one of these men is an unspeakable thing.

You could have heard a pin drop as we turned to see who had entered into the break room but not yet joined in with the gaiety of the loud scene. All eyes were on Vinnie who stood frozen with the awkwardness of the moment. Suddenly without shame we were embarrassed for something we truly believed to be the gospel truth according to our Christian backgrounds. Cows are not Gods, nor are they beloved lost family members reincarnated; there­fore, not sacred or holy. So it is perfectly fine to ride 'em and rope 'em and have a darned good time doing it! After several seconds Vinnie sat down to join us for the afternoon break, but to say the least, the conversation was a bit stilted and slow going until after our scarlet blushing was over with.

Out of respect for Vinnie's religious beliefs, we attempted to define the art of rodeo. We tried to explain to Vinnie, who did not attend the company picnic, about the fun and thrills a person would have enduring a ride for eight seconds on one of the wild Brahma bulls. A few of the guys at the table had actually rode the huge bulls in the rodeo competitions, not just a mechan­ical broncing bull in a dance hall somewhere around Dallas, but the long-horned and fiercely mean, rodeo bulls. Around the table, our genuine cowboys tried to explain to Vinnie from their view­point, of how it made you feel like you could master the whole world if you could find the guts to ride the animal for a few short seconds, of all the dangers involved, and of the unfailing respect for the massive beast required to participate in the highly competitive sport. We all took turns and expressed how simply viewing the games from the grand stands was like riding the creature yourself, of how the bull riding and calf roping captivated and spellbound all your energy as you focused on the overwhelming, awe-inspiring feats being performed by these men so full of courage. As a group, we unanimously deemed these rodeo men as symbols, the rough and rugged, western heroes, the true Marlboro men of the nineties, who keep risking their necks for the ritual of bronco busting and bull riding inherent to our civili­zation. Each of us gave this effort of persuasion, which was directed totally at Vinnie, our best shots. Every one extended to Vinnie an invitation to come as our guest to the Rodeo and see firsthand for himself; but Vinnie would not, for the sake of his mother, agree to watch a sacred idol of his religion be blas­phemed. After all the convincing arguments were exhausted, Vin­nie's beliefs remained the same, as did ours.

Except for Vinnie, the rest of us left the break room that particular day with a new and somewhat different outlook on a few of our American traditions we took for granted: a thick, juicy porterhouse steak; a tough, salty piece of beef jerky; and our ancestral, western rodeo games. As we filed out of the break room on our way back to our respective jobs, our thoughts were almost audible. One of us was wondering how a person could actually desecrate a cow, while most of us were wondering how could a person actually bow down in worship to a cow.

--- Terri Bonney

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Homeless Old Man

The old man jerked his bicycle toward the curb. Clearly, I had startled him. I drove my car across the street and rolled slowly alongside him before making a diagonal stop to cut off his path. I was a few feet in front of him when I first called out to the old man.

Apprehension was written in the old man’s cowardly body language. There was no mistaking his uncertainty of my actions.

He stole a glance before looking down in an effort to hide his face. Unsure of my intentions, he turned and started to drag and pull at the bike. Although a snail could move at a faster pace, the old man was trying valiantly to get away.

“Sir, it’s okay.” I felt guilty for approaching him. I was sorry for scaring him. Didn’t the old man know I was fearful too?

I didn’t understand the fear his actions were demonstrating. I assumed, he would be excited by the prospect of receiving free money.

His distrust of me increased my determination to see this through. I had to; it was the only way to quell my own fears.

The handlebars lacked the rubber grips to cushion his weathered hands. Grasping the ends appeared dangerous, as if bits of corroded iron and rusty flakes would puncture his frail fingers that tightly wound around the ancient metal.

“Please, sir would you give me a moment of your time?”

Old, gray eyes, sad and tired, lifted momentarily to take in the vehicle that blocked his path to the street as if to say he felt cornered. I got the feeling he was bracing himself for a verbal scorning as if he expected me to hurt or belittle him.

The tightness of his clamped jaws continued to hold his pale, chapped lips in a crooked slash mark, serving only to contort the bottom of his face. The resistant, shabby, old man was making it very difficult for me to be altruistic.

It was dusk. The sun was hanging low on the horizon. Bright rays found their reflective targets, bouncing like lasers on mirrors within that perfect range of points that made visibility disappear. I had driven across to the wrong side of the street in order to intercept the old man. The decision to ignore traffic laws was quickly being second-guessed as an oncoming car was cementing my careless judgement. I held my breath hoping the other driver would see me and compensate for my awkward position in the middle of their lane.

The passing car allowed me a chance to look the old man over. His age was hard to judge. He looked worse close up. He was emaciated. Bones poked at the skin that barely covered them, and his frame, once tall had stooped and become hunched. Scars etched criss-cross patterns and lined every facet of his face, exposing evidence of destitution, the naked proof of a rough life. Although you could smell the effect of malnutrition oozing from his pores, a bath and a new set of clothes would help remove the acrid smell emanating from the old man. His clothes, almost indistinguishable from the filth concealing his skin appeared ragged and torn, smeared with layers of dirt and stains from personal soiling.

The sight of him shocked my sensibilities. I choked on a gasp of air. My reactions were an embarrassment, and I hoped the old man had not heard.

I stretched my left arm farther, extending the folded bill so that it was plainly visible to him. “Sir please, it’s okay. I just wanted you to have this.”

He shifted his weight and shuffled sideways. His balance wobbled with indecision. His eyes were veiled by a milky film, and revealed dull reflections of grief, pain, and agony before he stole a brief glance to my hand then averted quickly back to my face.

Realizing his fright had eased somewhat I tried again, “Sir, if you would, please take this from me. Don’t be afraid, it’s okay, you can take it.”

He stared openly, reminding me of a wounded old dog just before they surrender to a pat or two of affection. The initial anxiety and relentless tension of a few moments earlier was now waning. The sun was setting lower, its angle perfectly aligned within his line of sight. Tilting his head, he shielded the blinding rays as he hobbled closer, dragging the floundering fear with him.

His silence spoke loudly as the old man’s shoes scratched across the concrete, inching the bicycle another step. Its wire baskets clanking back and forth, the grinding of rotten tires on the street, the hollowness of the moment: I would never forget these sounds. The lack of hope was thick making it difficult to breathe, similar to a dense fog hanging in the golden silhouettes of sunset illuminating the layers of his despondency and sorrow. My own fears were suffocating, dying as I silently willed this old man closer to my hand, closer to the money.

My heart was breaking. I had no idea that our little town had homeless people. I didn’t know how poor poverty could be. I was uncomfortable. Desperation wasn’t pretty. Tears threatened my composure as my ego-centered reality broke under self-scrutiny. Facing the petty selfishness that governed my life hurt immensely.

Still, I could not stop thinking how this old man had changed my life. I wanted this to be finished, and yet I knew in my heart, it was just the beginning. Was that the bottom line here, the real reason for my uneasiness?

He stopped inches from relieving me of my burden. Confused, I searched his appearance to find an answer as to why he hesitated.

I felt guilt that made no sense. I sat at a loss for the next move. Should I just say “forget it, I tried,” and move on? No, that was not the answer.

Within the time span of a few short minutes, the sun dropped lower and the shadows disappeared along with my naïveté. In less than an hour, my world had changed. Snatched away were the shady corners that blocked my view of innocence, of homelessness.

I sat quietly waiting on the old man to take the offered gift. I counted and reviewed the steps that brought me to him. I perceived a shifting in my soul; I was different now. Somehow changed, humbled by his unfortunate circumstances.

Half an hour ago, I had stopped across the street to pay a water bill when I first caught sight of the homeless old guy. Clinically observing and pressing details into memory, filing them away for future use. Thoughtlessly excited over the possible source of fodder to use in some story I had yet to write.

I glanced at the money I had placed on the console, a reminder to pick up a prescription on my way home. Wrestling self-centered needs, I battled with self-interested narcissism.

Giving the old man the money was an uncharacteristic and impulsive urge borne of selfishness on my part. Shamed by repulsive greed, I knew the steps I had to take. In order to retain my self-respect, I would not pick up the medicine, and I could not leave with the ten dollars. There would be no mercy, no forgiveness if I did. Certainly not from God, nor from myself.

From my hiding place in the parking lot of the utility company, I had watched the old man propping a weathered, broken-down bicycle next to the dumpster. Unlike a pack mule, the bike’s cargo looked heavy, out of balance. Wire baskets attached to the front and sides threatened to spill their contents to the pavement.

With a crab-like gait, he half-walked, half-dragged himself to the side window of the dumpster. He pried the metal sleeve back to reveal the square opening and peered in. Shock reverberated into my bones as if the ground had just shaken from an earthquake. I sat spellbound and watched the old man make his next move. He grabbed the sides and slowly pulled his upper body into the dumpster. Tears fell wetting my cheeks, and I wiped at them, never taking my eyes off the old man. I felt like an enemy spy just sitting and monitoring full-blown poverty. The homeless old man disappeared to rummage through the contents of the garbage bin. I was astounded by his ability to choose sustenance over safety and hygiene, fascinated by his resourcefulness.

Prior to this moment, homeless people sat on the street corners begging, or lay in the alleys clutching their liquor bottles. They built fires under bridges next to their cardboard houses. They looked cold and unkempt under their paper blankets; but they never actively searched for food or clothing, an item or some article that could possibly help them survive. They were neither abandoned nor forsaken. Homeless people were not up close and personal to me.

The old man finished his shopping task, loaded up his newfound treasures, and started pushing the rusty bicycle, clattering toward the street.

It was time to leave. I was not ready. I was still struggling with the giving my money away.

And now, less than an hour later, I sat and waited patiently for the old man to take my money. Recounting the recent events of the late afternoon, totally absorbed in remembering every detail, I wondered where the old man slept when the weather wasn’t as pleasant. I became aware of the many blessings I took for granted.

The evening breezes were beginning to form and I was grateful for the sweet smell of honeysuckle floating through the car’s interior, erasing the heavier, more pungent odor. Lost in the moment, contemplating if the old man gazed at stars too, I did not notice his soundless move to take the money. I felt the bill as it slipped from my fingers.

The old, tired face lit up for a moment as he pulled the money closer to his eyes, not sure of what he had been given. A toothless grin hid his cheekbones as he realized the denomination of the bill. Curious, cloudy eyes peered into mine, and in a flash, his lost dignity appeared only to leave just as quickly. Cowering he took an unsteady move to step away. It appeared that shame had taken control of his emotions, as he turned his gaze from mine and dipped his head toward the ground.

In one quick second, I held a glimpse of the former man. I’m not sure the old man knew it, but pride had injured the both of us with its ruthless sting.

The wrinkles on his face held a lifetime of hard work, sunburns and faded smiles. His story was sketched into his leathery brown skin, and without uttering a word, the life he lived, the truth of hardship and the consequences of bad luck were clearly visible in one brief encounter. Too many hungry, cold, unsheltered and unfriendly nights had solidified what he had known for a long time. What I just now understood: he was overlooked on purpose; he was disregarded, forgotten; he was the refuse of our society. He was the old homeless man.

His smile of gratitude, however brief, however slight, touched my heart.

As I nodded a good-bye, and shifted the car into drive, the irony of this chance encounter struck hard, causing tears to once more, slip down my face. A short time ago, I was not ready to give the old man the time of day, much less my last ten dollars. Now, the money firmly in his hands, it was time to leave and return home; and I found, I was not ready to go. I did not want to leave the old man.

I rolled away from him as slowly as a car could possibly move forward. Watching not the road ahead, but the road behind me. I kept the old man in my mirrors, once again watching him with intense curiosity until he finally disappeared into the sheltered alleyway, unnoticed under the cover of darkness.

I drove a few blocks and turned the corner. One more time, I pulled the vehicle slowly to a stop. I sat and cried. This time, I did not try to disown nor hide my emotions.

This time, I let the tears fall freely and bowed my head in prayer.

A Short Story by Terri L Bonney

Weather Guys - The Very Best In The Art of Slinging Bullshit

The weather guy said to dress warm because the temp’s aren’t supposed to get out of the 30’s; 39 is supposed to be the high for Columbia and Nashville is supposed to be colder. All temp’s will be determined by the amount of cloud cover we will have throughout the day. The cold, north, Canadian wind is what is fueling the frigid temp’s and that is also supposed to be determined by the cloud cover, as well as the effect of possible southern winds coming up from the gulf. Now, if that’s the circumstance, we may just be making snowmen because of the moisture in the southern wind-blown clouds. Of course, this too will be determined by the location of where these two fronts collide into each other!

Yeah, go figure that out! I think they (the meteorologists) just couldn’t accurately outline the weather pattern so they decided to blame old Mr. Wind and how far he might blow the clouds around. When the cameras aren’t looking at the weather guys, can’t-cha just see them pacing nervously, biting their nails and desperately hoping that we’re in the market to buy this forecast! But, if we don’t, then they know they can always fall back on their computer’s unpredictability to analyze weather conditions!

This is what I think beyond a shadow of a doubt; I can honestly say by far, the very best bullshit artists are the meteorologists. If you really stop and think about it, they have to come up with not only new, but believable as well as scientifically sounding reasons as to why or what might and/or could happen with the weather patterns that perhaps may possibly make their predictions go south, so to speak. Plus, on top of all that, they have to creatively package it so that we will keep tuning in every day to buy their gorgeously wrapped articles of ‘Grade ‘A’ Approved’ Bullshit, all tied up in pretty ribbons and bows for the station’s ratings. Now, I ask you, “Who bullshits better than that?”

Do you think that at the “Weather Guy Conventions” they have a seminar on “The Artful Techniques of Slinging Bullshit ”? Do you ever wonder if they give out awards to those certain few whose skills have been perfected and polished in the “Balderdash Arena” category? Would the trophy look like a big, golden, cow patty dropping from the ass of a bull’s lifted tail? And do the weather guys actually covet that trophy? Do they smile and cry when they win it and give sappy speeches thanking their parents along with everyone else who helped them to achieve this coveted and honored award?

Yeah, you just have to admire them for the commitment they obviously must put forth every single day in order to keep us hooked, lovin’ it, and buyin’ it! Clearly it’s this dedication and hard work that keeps us tuning in to our personal favorites every day; even if we don’t or won’t believe a word they’re forecasting!

Terri Bonney November 21, 2008