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Sunday, April 27, 2014


vada by tj
vada by cheyanne
Last night I saw one of the exciting finishes in television car racing. The cars in front changed and kept on changing. With just a few laps to go Matt Kenseth was in front holding his place, blocking Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski quite successfully, not giving either one a chance to pass him. The three of them took the high rail around the curve and Joey Logano, fourth, slipped through the opening below and passed them all. A hesitate-and-you're-lost moment. The slot opened and looked like it pulled Logano through the opening like a vending machine draws a dollar bill to itself. I don't recall seeing a driver so charged during the victory interview. Logano looked like he could jump tall buildings in a single bound. I was thinking, Joey and his babydoll won't get a minute's sleep tonight. Immediately after the win, he made the coolest spin-around smoking tires I recall. He came driving in from the left at a fair speed, his rear end swung around quick as a donkey, tires smoking, kept on swinging around until he disappeared inside the billowing cloud. He picked up the checkered flag and drifted some more. He burned the back tires off the rims and drove to Victory Lane on rims. His excitement billowed from his entire being during the interview. It seemed like he was on the verge of jumping out of his skin. He didn't see the win in sight with about three laps to go, then it happened. Evidently all the drivers were electrified from the intensity toward the end, positions changing aggressively, a little slippin-n-slidin, bumpers and fenders touching, fights after the race. Keselowski lost traction, started to fishtail, car's rear end swung up the hill, the presence of the car beside him stopped the momentum and sent his rear end down the hill into another car that helped steady his balance. The wobble didn't change anybody's momentum. Keselowski is a good driver. The save was done by slick handling. A few thousandths of a second loaded with potential to take out a dozen cars or more, he pulled it together faster than thought. These are among the moments I watch racing for.
the race: danica patrick #10
I have an emotional advantage over my friends I watch the race with, not caring who wins. I'm happy for whoever crosses the finish line first. A few weeks ago it was down to about ten laps, it was looking like Earnhardt Jr had a good chance at a win. Justin was standing up, jumping up and down with anxiety all the way to the checkered flag when he exploded. I sit there never getting excited about anything except moments when a driver shows an impressive level of skill. Actually, that's all I watch in tv sports. During basketball, I'm astonished by a truly slick move, same as in football and golf. I can watch all these kinds of games, while not caring a thing about any of them, getting my enjoyment seeing evidence of a high level of skill. A hole in one is fun to see, but they amount to luck. I like to see somebody hit the ball out of a sand trap so it stops within a foot of the cup, or make a long putt after reading the green perfectly. Justin watches the skill too. This morning, Sunday, he went to a bow tournament in the next county. He goes to tournaments for the practice, for honing his skill, to visit with hunting friends. Justin doesn't care about being number one. He cares about his own ability to shoot an arrow. Hunting, he likes a deer to fall straight down, not feel a thing. That takes hitting a spot the size of a dime. He does it, too. I never let anybody hunt on my land until Justin grew up to hunting age. It wasn't that I was keeping it just for him, but after about twenty-five years or so of being a purist, I turned it over to him for hunting. I appreciate his hunting ethics. And I appreciate the people he feeds hunting. When it comes to organic, it beats eating cow that's infected with growth hormones, chemical for this, chemical for that, adrenalin from trauma. Justin has a fast, brilliant mind that never took an interest in academics. He applies his intelligence to everything he does. He has taken a job at Lowe's hardware in the building materials department. He said it's the best job he's ever had, good people to work with, good management. He's worked in factories and understands hierarchy. I'm glad for him. Lowe's has a reputation for treating its workers well, and pays more or less reasonably.

cheyanne selfie with a sylum e-scapee: cheeeez
cheyanne selfie
 It wasn't long after I arrived that Cheyanne wanted the camera. OK. She had a long spell of taking selfies that kept her giggling. She laughed and laughed, making all the faces she could think of. Sometimes she turned the viewer so she could not see what she was getting, then turned it over fast to see what she got before the image went away. She was playing and I was having a ball seeing her delight using the camera. She took pictures of everybody, of Justin and Vada playing, of me and Vada playing, and a good portrait of Crystal soon after she'd walked in the door from a job photographing a wedding, plumb wore out. For the above picture, Cheyanne said to me, Make a face! Say cheeez! It has been a couple years that I've known Cheyanne, and it is fun to see we have become friends. I consciously give her as much attention as I give Vada. Cheyanne is a delicate little thing. What she's been through has a stack of papers from Social Services in four counties three inches thick. Some of what we've learned has put daddy on the warpath. There is a guy in the next county Justin has a bead on. He's in no hurry, but he knows one day they will come face to face and when they do they guy will be eating through a straw for a year. His head will look like a watermelon dropped off a fifty story building. Myself knowing  a little bit of what he did to her, I want to be there to see the guy's head explode. It will take a four-wheel drive tractor with logging chains to pull Justin off him, and I, not having a tractor, will have to stand back and watch. It took me a little while to develop some affection for Cheyanne, due to her behavioral issues from the first five years of her life. She was raised by a girl Peter Pan who dragged her kids from trailer to trailer, county to county, man to man, unable to keep a job or a man, leaving the kids with the kind of people prison hasn't caught up with yet. Once when she and Justin were horsing around, she slugged Justin a good one with her fist. She was five. Justin said, Where'd you learn how to hit like that? She named her half brother three years older.   
justin and vada by cheyanne
justin and vada by tj
 Vada, a month from 3, is individuating. Baby Vada is in the past. She has command of the language by now; her coordination is coming on fast. She brought me her new 4-string child guitar to show me she has a guitar now. Cheyanne went to her room and came back with a Deering Goodtime banjo with three strings. She held the banjo with authority and a delight in her eyes and her face I'd never seen before. It was wide-open happiness. She showed me how to make four chords. She put her fingers where they went and explained it would be like this if it had all the strings. I told her next time she sees me I'll have a pack of banjo strings and we'll put them on it and tune it. Her music teacher at school showed her the chords on a banjo and she remembered perfectly. Turns out her music teacher lives in the house behind them, the guy they hear playing a banjo from time to time. Crystal wants to hire him to give her lessons. Seeing her eyes, her entire countenance in such light holding the banjo, I wondered if this might be answer to prayer. I told Crystal that in my years with the music store, I saw child after child learning to play an instrument, keeping at it, seeming to get nowhere, then one day the music happened. Once a kid feels the music, he or she wants to feel it again, and then it's on. She has such a competitive nature, it will make her want to play better than the other kids, will make her practice. Crystal said she learns better and pays attention better with men than with women, so it's a good thing she'll be learning banjo from a man. Once she gets going, she will be in command of her life. Guitar picker and singer, Faye Wagoner, is Cheyanne's great great grandma just like she is Vada's. Vada will want to play an instrument when Cheyanne starts. Vada will be some years catching up to Cheyanne, and Cheyanne is a good teacher, too. I have somewhere in the house a cd with Alice Gerrard singing, "I'm goin around the world, I'm a banjo-pickin girl." I may give her my Abigail Washburn cds, gradually, not all at once, and introduce her to Lynn Worth, our county's banjo-pickin woman. Feeling good about my babies today.

cheyanne selfies


  1. Aawwww...what wonderful family you have around you...Those two little girls are so fortunate to have you in their lives. Sounds like you had a great SAturday with the races to watch...I am like you...Not much caring who wins unless it is a game some one in my family is especially interested in and then I root for that team...I used to love watching the drag races or the stock car races...have not done that in years...Your blog was late today so had to read it with my coffee inn afternoon but enjoyed it never the less...

  2. Catching up on comments. This post brings up more synchronicity for me, Tj. My son turns 44 today and for his birthday, he asked for a compound bow. He has a couple of work pals who are bow hunters and he's gotten the itch to take it up. The one he wants isn't cheap. So now I'm hunting for a used bow. The other connected thing, is that he also was a huge Mark Martin fan. Not a Nascar fan, but a Mark Martin fan. We had a conversation during the family dinner last night (minus Ryan who was working graveyard) about him and that he hasn't watched a race since Mark quit racing. He likes fast cars himself, and one birthday, I paid for him to go drive at the Petty place in Orlando. Something I had always wanted to do was take the Bondurant driving course in CA - but never did. Living vicariously that day in Orlando. I was born Laura Lee Clark and I have the letters in my name that say RACE CAR. Fastest I've ever gone was 120 in a friend's Corvette. I don't drive really fast any more but still do get irritated with drivers who brake at green lights. Cheyenne and Vada and music! YES it changes them and it is a good thing for you to be close to encourage their progress.

  3. Music and time can heal many scars. T.J., you can give them music. Life will have to give them time.