Monday, October 20, 2008

The Legend of Opalee Shirley part III

I'm not inventive. I don't have a good eye for building or constructing. Honestly, not only am I not good at such things, but also projects like that intimidate the mess outta me. I'm awkward with all tools, and I get splinters just looking at wood. Please don't think that I'm hatin' on myself. I mean, I know I've got some grand qualities, but creating stuff outta lumber? Umm. No.

Give me a broken heart to love on any day, but pass the hammer and nails to someone else.

You would've gladly handed them to Pa Shirley.

I'm not sure what's normal for farmin' folks. I don't know if what Pa did was common to survive. I'm not certain of much, but I choose to believe that he was extraordinary in his skills. Maybe it's just the way my best friend tells me about his daddy's life that I have decided to think he was brilliant.

He had no formal education on architecture. He watched his daddy, and learned from the community. That fascinates me more than I can explain.

Pa Doodle designed and built hog pens, bee hives, sheds, animal traps and smoke houses. I just reread my sentence. He was a bee keeper, folks. Is it me or is that the coolest thing ever? I love telling folks that he did that. Yes, my father-in-law made his own honey.

He was a survivor with these skills, but also he used his imagination to enjoy nature. Opalee Shirley built 4 story bird houses with balconies. Deano calls them bird condos. His favorite type bird was the Purple Martin. He learned what attracted them, and enjoyed watching them nesting. He also enjoyed building simple squirrel homes.

I'm pretty sure I could go on and on about how amazing I think he is. I love his love for creation, and his survivor skills. Again, these are talents that my simple mind can't comprehend.

I'm thinking that you, dear reader, probably have relatives that have similar brilliant minds. I hope you do, and I hope you know and appreciate the mind that comes with such a person.

But, here comes the doozy part of Opalee. You know I gotta give you a bit of dooziness, right?

For years the man that I love shared a pallet on the floor with his older sister in a room with his Granny, Emmer Irene. No lie, all I know about her is that she was married to a kind a gentle man, and that she was rough as a corn cob. I'd love to throw some quotes that I'm told she'd say, but I'm afraid it'd make you blush.

Deano says that Emmer was "old school." One example is that she'd wake up at chicken-thirty to start her day. She'd drink her coffee, and wake up the rest of the household to make sure their day had started as well.

I think Pa doodle loved Ma doodle a tremendous amount. Again, the man was creative in his way to survive. Even in how to survive living with his beautiful wife and tough as nails momma.

So, Opalee looks at his favorite hickory tree, and develops a plan. He puts 4 telephone poles in the ground, and built flooring for a tree house on these poles. This tree house was about 25' in the air. The home was screened in with a tin roof. Dean was sitting with me as I started typing these thoughts. He mentioned that you could hear the coyotes and crickets at night. The slight breeze blowing through trees that you loved to hear and feel on those hot Louisiana nights. They let their Doberman Pincher sleep up there with them. Pa also had a Coleman's stove up there to make strong coffee in the morning. Catty corner to this sweet house he put 4 more poles and built them a porch. Sounds sweet, eh? Can I just tell you about the bed? I like to save the best for last, ya know? He got the queen size bed and decided it'd be sweet to hang it from chains. So, it was a swinging bed in a tree house. No lie. Amazing and beautiful.

Back to surviving with a dear old momma,, a sweet wife and 4 wild kids.

Penny and Bobie loved to mess with their roommate, Granny Shirley. One morning Penny and Bobie were wide awake at 2am. They must've been 10 and 5 years old, and naughty little stinkers wired on strong LA coffee. "Oh, how fun it would be to set Granny's watch fast," the stinkpots said aloud. The boogers set that watch for 4:30am. So, they mad coffee at 2:15am, and woke up that poor old Granny at 2:20am tellin' her she over slept! She rubs those eyes with embarrassment, and sips on her coffee. She stands up, and asks why in the world Opalee and Ellen were still sleeping. She stomps outside, and unfortunately can't climb those stairs to the tree house. So, she just hollers and cusses at 'em to get outta bed at 3am! Dean says he remembers the words his daddy said back to her. You'd think there'd be some regret with my sweet husband for messin' with his granny like that. Nope. He laughed and giggled when he told me about it.

Poor Emmer Irene.

What would a good legend about a man be if there wasn't a good background with his momma?

It's late and I should edit it, eh? Maybe later. This is the my story, and I might polish it later, alligator.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Legend of Opalee Shirley - Part II

Pa Shirley was known for giving nicknames. I'm "little bit" (which is a fabulous nickname - if you've felt like a fatty patty your entire life!) Deano is "Bobie" (not bobby...say it like BoBee). His daughter, Thelma Irene, is "Penny." The eldest daughter, Dee, was nicknamed "Deedler." Oh, and the oldest son, Lee, was nicknamed "Bugs."

Bugs has gotta be one of my favorite nicknames that's been given. Deaner was tellin' the kids about Uncle Bugs a few months ago. He loved to hunt, and he stayed outside. Oh, and he made a wormery (I think that's what it's called!). So, the next time my cutie patootie son asks his daddy about his uncle that's with Jesus - he asks about Uncle Worm. I dunno. It just makes me smile.


Anyway(s), this post is about Pa.

Not only was he known for giving quirky nicknames, but he was also given a few nicknames too.

One of my faves is Papa Noah. He was known for being great with animals. He wasn't afraid at all of them, and was patient (err - stubborn) enough to train any of 'em.

I am pretty sure that one of his favorite animals that he trained was Rojo. Rojo was a red rooster. I never met that bird, but I wish I could've seen Pa with that foul creature.

With much time, perseverance and scraps of bread he taught that rooster (from the time it was hatched) to fly up on his shoulder. Pa would walk outside, pat his shoulder and Rojo would zoom to his spot on his shoulders. I love it!

Another fine critter he enjoyed was a goat named Midget. Of course, I never met this animal, but I'm gonna say he was a brown dwarf goat. Now, I'm not sure how to tell you sophisticated readers the following information. I really am scratching my head on this one. So, I'm just gonna type it, and put it out there in cyberville for you to imagine. Pa would allow certain animals to roam in and out of the home and certain times of the day. Ma doodle didn't like this at all, but they didn't have doors that shut or locked. So, it was a no win battle for her.

Pa had a neighbor that was a redbone named Clyde. Some of you city folks might not know what a redbone is. Phooey, I don't even know what one is. Dean's family says redbones are Spanish Indians. Please, dear reader, don't laugh or roll your eyes at the good ol' redbones. Don't say that they don't exist. Oh, and don't think his family are racist. They really aren't! If they were, then they wouldn't allow Clyde to come eat biscuits and coffee with them every early morning!

Well, Pa loved Midget because EVERY time Clyde came over this goat would get scared and hide under the table. Then, he'd snort at Clyde.

Bobie says that Pa didn't train the wee little goat to snort at Clyde. BUT, I do know and can imagine Pa saying to the goat, "uh oh, Midget! Here comes Clyde! You better hide, little one! You better hide!" And, I think we all could agree that he had some teachable moments with that little kid goat.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Legend of Opalee Shirley

I'm not that savvy on folk tales. I know the ones about Johnny Appleseed and John Henry. I love the idea of exaggerated stories about people. Especially the folks that are worthy to be remembered.

I ache to remember all the unique individuals that have come in and out of my life. I'm thankful for the ones that are in my life today, the ones that are now with our Creator, and the ones I hope to bump into at Wal-mart soon. I've been blessed to know many great people (and, I'm sure you are one of them!).

I've written about my dad, the coal miner, who aches to be a hero. He's gentle and gives the most genuine compliments to all he meets. He rarely meets a stranger, and loves to make those around him feel comfortable. Also, growing up mom always made me try on new outfits when we got home from an exhausting day of shopping. I hated to go back there and try the ichy outfit on, but I did it anyway. And, I was always glad that I did. My dad would smile and laugh. He'd say "woo! Makes your daddy wanna cry how pretty you are!" Oh, and my favorite line, "Allison, you'd look pretty in a tater sack." I don't know what a tater sack is. I mean, a tater sack today is plastic with holes in it. BUT, I knew what the man meant, and even though I'm awkward and feel ugly as sin - I believe my daddy thinks I'm pretty.


Anyways, my dad could be and should be remembered by all, and should be a legend for being the most amazing dad ever. Now, if I could get the man to retire from the mines, then my day would be happier.


Anyways, I'm about to listen to a bluegrass station, and blog about Dean's daddy. I didn't know him very long. I met him in 1998 in rural Louisianna, and he went to be with our soveriegn Maker Febuary 2001. In those years I really didn't know much about him. He was tall, strong and a bit lanky. He had kind eyes, and he called me "little bit."

I need to find some blue grass music, or maybe some crazy cajun music.

Alrighty folks. Here begins the beginning of the muchly needed to be remembered Legend of Opalee Shirley.

First of all, what a name, eh? What in the world? Well, my dearest hubby doesn't remember the details at all of how he was named that. I vaguely recall the story myself. So! Isn't this how a legend begins?

This is how I imagine it.

Emmer Irene was heading out to the field in a wagon with her soon to be 3 year old son, Richard. I think that she had her arm around him, and he sat near her with his toddler hand on her knee. She, of course, didn't know if the love in her womb was a boy or girl. She asked Richard what the new baby should be named. The boy sat and looked around the field, and remembered a delightful little girl. I don't know if she was a cousin, or if she was someone he met in the community. But, I do believe she had curly hair, and her name was Opal. That was the name he decided that would be the name of little one. Emmer smiled and shook her head.

Richard died at the age of 3, and I'm not sure if he ever met his brother. For some reason, that always makes me want to cry.

Emmer Irene held her newborn son in an old blanket and remembered the conversation she had with her son. What I know of Emmer as a granny was that she was a tough and scarey old woman. I reckon she was quite stubborn and didn't give a rat's hiney what other's thought of her decisions. She named that beautiful newborn baby, Opalee. No middle name, and no regrets.

Opalee grew up stronger and taller than any other in his family.

He was 6'7" when I met him. He'd wrap those long arms around me with a tight hug when he'd see me, and the smile he gave Deano when we pulled up the dirt driveway still makes me chuckle. Oh, and the hug he gave his son was just loving and strong. He loved my husband so much. What a delight to see how much my father-in-law loved my best friend!

So, just because Pa Shirley was named after a little girl that his brother thought was sweet. Please, dear reader, don't think he was feminine at all. No, like I said, he was 6'7" and strong as an ox.

Dean says he'd grab snakes by the tail and whip 'em like...uhh..a whip and snap their heads against the ground with a death blow. Then, he'd cook 'em in a sauce for dinner.

No lie.

This is the beginning of my legend.

If you like it, then I'll give you more. Again, only if you like it, and ache to hear more.