Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Warrior

I have fought a hundred battles
In my mind I've seen it all
I have raised my gun against the enemy
And seen my comrades die and fall

I have carried the armor of courage
Always wanting to do my part
On land, sea, jungles and deserts
It will always lay heavy on my heart

To my brothers and sisters that have fallen
I will always remember them well
So much sacrifice, they gave their all
In that place we all called hell

Inside the battles are still raging
In my mind I still see and hear
Mortals, shells and the enemy
In my sleep they still appear

Yet each day I try to carry on
Although I have cried many tears
If I had to do it over again
I would shed my coat of fears

And walk straight into battle
With my head held mighty high
For the freedom I fight hard for
I am willing to lie down and die

I will always be a Warrior
Even after I'm dead and gone
Please do not forsake me
Fly old Glory proud and strong

© Susie Swanson, 2018

May God Bless them all !!

Happy Memorial Day everyone

Friday, May 11, 2018

My Mother's Hands.

Not because of silver and gold
Not because of jeweled bands
Not just because they're soft and bold
Did I love my mother's hands

But because those hands once held me
tenderly close to her breast
and because those hands would point me
to the path she knew was best

My mother's hands so gladly labored
her hands were seldom still
never seeking her own self or favored
giving always her free will

But the thing with so much beauty
as she tended to each care
was her source of strength for duty
my mother's hands were hands of prayer

And my mother's hands would teach me
what is right and what is wrong
always willing to help me be
the person she raised to be strong

No matter how far I would travel
or how great the sights or grand
there was nothing to make me marvel
like my mother's tired hands

Praying hands can reach her children
when they've gone so far away
a mother knows that God will reach them
as she folds her hands to pray

Oh how I miss my mother's hands
as she lives with the angels today
I'd cross oceans, hills and other lands
just to see her again and hear her pray

But knowing she's in a heavenly place
where mothers are a chosen kind
her hands a flower with a flower's grace
gives me such hope and peace of mind

Till then I'll wait for that gentle touch
and listen to her prayers in the wind
in my heart I'll hold and tightly clutch
till I see my beautiful mother again

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Happy Mother's Day !!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Planting Forty Acres

Every year when spring time rolls around, my thoughts take me back to daddy and how he loved planting his gardens. When I say gardens I mean forty acres. That’s what mama used to call it. He’d start planning his planting and looking at the signs early as February. If it’d been a mild winter he’d have the taters, onion beds, cabbage, lettuce, etc. in the ground by the end of February. If it was a harsh winter and late spring he’d be chomping at the bits to get it all in the ground, especially the taters. Mama would tell him, “ye need not fret, them taters won’t come up none till the ground warms and ye know it.” And the signs had to be dark nights before he put the taters in the ground or he’d say, “they’ll be all vines and no taters.” That meant no full moon or new moon. So he’d wait it out till he got the chance at it. And he’d stay right with those gardens, nary a weed was allowed to grow.

My oldest brother helped him plow out the patches and it’d take em forever to get em plowed. Daddy had an old mule at one time but when he graduated to a tilter he didn’t know how to use it. My brother caught on and he mainly worked the tilter after that, especially after daddy started showing his age. But that didn’t stop him none. He kept on wanting those patches planted every year and the more the better. He’d plant enough to keep an army going, as mama used to say.

We all helped with the planting and harvesting. I remember many a day planting that corn and beans and anything else for that matter. I always dreaded it when it came time to gather the corn out of the field. Man, I hated getting stung by those pack saddles, it hurt so bad.

He always said there were good years and bad years for everything. For example, if the cabbage didn’t do any good he’d say it wasn’t a good year for it. That meant the weather wasn’t just right or etc. He always watched the signs and made sure it was a good time to plant anything. He was like mama when it came to her canning and pickling, especially pickling or making kraut.

When the cabbage came in and the signs were good for making kraut, that was an all day job. We chopped that cabbage with a cream can that daddy would take the top off and sharpen it really good with a file or sharpening stone. We’d pack the cabbage in jars after we chopped it fine enough and for every quart we’d add a teaspoon of pickling salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Then we’d add warm water straight from the kitchen faucet to it as we stuck a butter knife down in the middle and around the edges of the kraut till the water filled to the top of the rim. Mama always said the sugar was for keeping it white and she always wanted her kraut to stay white. When the cans were ready we’d help daddy carry them to the smokehouse cause they had to be put in a cool place to work off.

He always planted patches of early corn and beans and late corn and beans. They all kinda straggled in and we’d break and string beans in the summer till late into the night. Mama didn’t have anything but a hot water canner and having to can on a wood cook stove she’d save the hot water bath till morning.

A lot of the beans were pickled with corn and put in churn jars to work off when the signs were just right. We’d mix them all together and put em in the churn and add a cup of pickling salt for every five gallon of water. Those beans had to work off for nine days and we’d take em out and put em in a big pan on the stove and get em hot through and through and put em in the jars. Daddy and mama loved that stuff but I never did like em myself.

Daddy’s favorite corn was hickory cane and he’d plant a whole field of it so we could cut it off the cob and cream it. Daddy loved that corn with a big slice of tomato. We liked it too, but he wanted it every meal. The hickory cane corn was the best pickled with the beans also.
e mama didn’t have a fancy corn cutter she and I used a knife. I’ve laughed so hard at her when I’d look at her glasses and how speckled they were. Of course, we were both covered in corn and the whole kitchen as well. It even got on the ceilings.

When the summer bounty started coming in it was overwhelming to say the least. There were so many things that needed canning or pickling and a lot came in when the blackberries, strawberries, etc. got ripe. I helped mama many a day stand over that wood cook stove filling cans fast as we could. The heat was suffocating but as mama used to say, “it’ll beat a snowball any day.” Of course this would be after we’d hit the blackberry patch at daybreak. There’d sit the buckets of blackberries to put up as well. She’d can a lot of them to make cobblers but she liked to have a few cans on hand just to drink when someone got the sick stomach. They sure do settle the stomach and I know firsthand.

After we got a deep freezer the rest of the berries would be put in the freezer till time for jelly and jam making. Mama liked to wait and make it in late summer or fall. She always said it would thicken better when the humidity wasn’t so high. She never had any trouble with it thickening anytime best I remember.

All that good bounty sure did taste good come cold weather and like mama said it sure did beat a snowball. I look around today and see so many patches empty compared to back then and it makes me sad. A lot of folks still plant gardens and we try to put a little one out but as for forty acres it’s hard to find them anymore.

I bet daddy and all of his old buddies are planting forty acres in heaven again this spring and enjoying every minute of it.

                                               © Susie Swanson, 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Is It Time yet??

Is it time yet mama, can I go barefoot? That was the number one question come spring. We’d see the dogwoods in bloom or the redbud trees and always commence to pull our shoes off. The older people always said wait till the first of May or you’ll catch ye death of cold. I know for a fact my daddy never pulled his long johns off till the first of May. He still wore his long sleeve shirts till mama made him change to short sleeves. He always said he was afraid he’d take cold. It didn’t matter if it got ninety degrees in the shade and in his older years he had such bad circulation that we might see him put his overcoat on in the middle of the summer.

As for going barefoot, when the shoes came off they stayed off all summer long till school started. When we hit the door in the evening, off came the shoes. We’d toughened our feet so and stumped our toes off so bad it was hard to put on a pair of shoes and wear em all day. We walked the paved road so much going to the store or getting milk from the neighbors that we stumped our toes till there was nothing left but a stub.

It wasn’t that we didn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes when school started we just couldn’t stand wearing em and it hurt our stumped toes and calloused feet. We knew we had to make them shoes last as long as possible cause there was no money to run back and forth to the store buying a new pair. The boys were more rough on their shoes than me and my one and only sister which happened to be a lot younger than me was the biggest tomboy to ever come along. She wore out as many pairs as the boys and had her head stuck in something all the time.
We ran through the thickets and brairs till our feet were tough as a pine knot. Those mud holes just about did us in. We’d bust every one of those suckers dry and that toe itch was a killer. Mama would say, “don’t complain to me, ye know what did it.” That never stopped us none cause those mud holes were hard to resist.

I never see or hear of a young’un anymore going barefoot and it’s a shame. I even admit in my older years my feet are so tender I can’t stand to walk on the ground to save my life. I walk around barefoot in the house all day long but I gotta have an old pair of flip flops on when I go outside.

I sure do miss those days of going barefoot even if we wore our feet out and the joys of running through those big, grassy fields will last a life time. And every spring I still hear those words, is it time yet mama, can I pull my shoes off ?

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2018

                                             Happy First Day of May everyone!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Goodbye Old Friend

You were there to encouragement me to do what I thought was the impossible. You never let up till the impossible was done. You gave me inspiration every time I talked with you and told me if we only but trust God our lives would be so much better. I listened with my heart and kept on writing my stories that you loved so to read and I did the same with you. Your memories were my memories as well.

When you gave me a copy of your book “A Bunch Of Wiregrass” I couldn't wait to read it. It gave me so much enjoyment to read in your own words your childhood memories that you wrote so profound and so real and I still read it today and always find something that I missed. Although you were raised in a different part of the country than me in South Georgia called Wiregrass Country you always said our childhood was the same only the mountains separated us.

You helped to instill in me the Faith I needed to continue to full fill my dreams of writing. You often told me that my words would be fodder for others to read and not to hold back. I remember you saying many times, “Susie you need to continue writing the way you talk and from your heart.” I couldn't for the life of me understand why anyone would ever want to read the words of an old country girl . But I remember you saying many times, “write it down and don't leave anything out.” I'm happy to say I'm still writing it down and wish you could have stuck around a little longer to finish writing your stories as well.

We cherished our time with you and Cathy when you helped me put my book together and published it for me. You'll never know how much enjoyment it brought to my husband and I when we made those visits to you and Cathy's home. The time spent was never enough and only made us both yearn for more. But we made the most of it while we all could. Cathy was always full of laughter and fun and we absolutely loved those fruit pies she stuck in a sack for us to take home.

As our health deteriorated so did yours and circumstances beyond our control prevented us all from having even more time together. But we sure did enjoy those phone calls and just hearing your voice made our day. Your Faith always amazed me and you always said, “we're not gonna live in these old sickly, fleshly bodies forever.” And those famous words when we started to hang up the phone, I'll never forget, 'If we don't see each other again Susie we'll see each other in Heaven.”

Well, you've finally made it my old friend and I know you're pain free and having the best time of your life while waiting for us to come. I also know you're still writing your life stories down just like before and everyone there is cheering you on. You're up there in that beautiful Wiregrass of your childhood memories that you longed to run through so long.

We're all gonna miss you and your sweet, inspiring words will sustain us till we see you again old friend and we're waiting patiently to join you. Till then enjoy your loved ones and friends that you haven't seen in so long and when I get there I want to read more of your stories and I'll have plenty for you as well.

© Susie Swanson, 2018

In Memory of my good friend and publisher Wayne Newton. April 23, 1937—April 18 2018

Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Mother's Wheelbarrow

If you pass by my simple home
Look close and you will find
A familiar wheelbarrow on loan
In a different style and design

Each year it waits to greet spring
When the pretty flowers grow
I hear my mother in heaven sing
When she looks down upon it so

My mother and her wheelbarrow
Everywhere could be seen
Oh what a beautiful garden show
Of flowers come every spring

So many times she used it
Around every nook and bend
It's so proud and honored to sit
Holding pretty flowers in

Many pretty, waving petunias
Each day raise their hand
Hanging over all the edges
Waving to everyone they can

Along side other flowers so gay
Color enough to dye the yard red
A blinding brilliance, a special bouquet
For my mother's wheelbarrow bed

Even the little birds are happy
As they sing upon their throne
The wheelbarrow is still merrily
Helping my mother to carry on

A rusted kinship, a piece of art
It sits in my flower garden hue
Honored to share, with a happy heart
My mother's legacy to you

@ Susie Swanson, 2018

Sadly, the little wheelbarrow has been rolled away and parked in an old shed.. It spent many years in my yard after my mother passed away.. Last year was the first year in many years I didn't get to use it.. To much wear and tear and we decided to store it away before it fell on apart.. It's amazing how sometimes the simple things can mean the most. So many people have asked what happened to it and I tell them sadly, it retired just like mama.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Long Line Of Memories

I remember an old dial up telephone hanging on the wall, a most useful asset back when we were small.

The first time we got one oh what a joy and delight, the first time it rung what an awful sight.

So many hands reaching for it at the same time, I thought to my soul we were gonna break the corded line.

That went on for quite a while, like a bunch of kids in a toy store, we'd look at each other and smile.

Something had to give and mama knew it quite well. She had to break up a fight everytime she heard the ringing of the bell.

She told us you gotta take turns and stop sitting around the phone, get outside and play it's not like it's each your own.

Then occasionally mama would answer it a time or two, but the first time daddy answered we all came unglued.

He picked up the receiver and said "YEAH" instead of hello. We all fell over laughing, after that "YEAH "was his motto.

Then one day mama said, what if the president calls here someday, and daddy said , he's not apt to I voted the other way.

We didn't have Caller ID back then, everybody knew each other and everybody was a neighbor or friend.

But after a few years things progressed quite a bit. We got what was called "The Party Line" and we had to sit and sit.

And wait until other people on line got their business over and done. Now that's when it really started, I'm talking about the fun.

Since more than one household was on the same line, we had to jump fast or waste alot of time.

Quietly we'd ease the receiver up close to our ear, if we heard the dial tone we'd jump into high gear.

But more often than not so and so was already on, talking about their aches and pains and then they'd start to moan and groan.

About how many nosey people there were now days and how they like to listen in on other people's business, believe me there was no praise.

Then sometimes we'd pick it up and hear "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND WAIT YOUR TURN". Now you talk about biting your tongue and getting a face sunburn.

The few times we finally did get through somehow, we didn't talk long before someone spoke up and said, "I NEED THE PHONE NOW"

I guarantee it was the same two people all the time, on that we could always bet our last bottom dime.

These same people when we met up with somewhere, they'd act like the best people in the world and so unaware.

By now you get the point of what I'm trying to tell. In other words I can honestly say "The Party Line" wasn't so swell.

Until one day daddy came through the door, wanting us to call his old buddy that he talked to galore.

Daddy never knew how to dial the numbers right, we always did it for him but on this day it was one more sight.

I was in a hurry and quickly dialed the phone and never took the time to listen for a dial tone.

He put it up to his ear and said "YEAH" then after a few seconds passed  he said ," MERCY ME , YOU CAN'T EVEN USE THIS PHONE IN AN EMERGENCY".

Needless to say when I picked up again, I heard a dial tone and daddy talked for quite a while to his old friend.

After that we learned a new trick to having fun, we'd get daddy to pick up the receiver and all business was done.

To think we had to go through all of that back in the day. Telephones sure have come a long ways I can honestly say.

As for that old dial up telephone with the corded line, it sure did leave a long line of good and Patient memories behind.

                                                    © Susie Swanson, 2018