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Words, Sticks, and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones but Words can never hurt me.

I learned that rhyme at a young age. The big thing was to insulate myself from how kids and brothers could be mean to each other at times. Yes, I was a bit of an odd ball kid, smart for my age, questioning at times, distant at other times. Back then Autism involved six cases in the US, the whole autism spectrum did not exist. Today looking back ASD, check, ADHD, check, ODD, mild check, OCD, check – probably now would have a book for teachers then on how to deal with me… instead it was just another day, just another child. First grade teacher had been around for a long time, she had taught my great uncle (from reports he was more than a handful), she also knew all of my older brothers even though she never had them in her class. I managed well in school even though I stared out the window most of the time. Third grade I went from an A/B student to a C/D student; she didn’t get me so I got sent to a tutor, Jesus I hated that with a passion, the tutor was a nice older lady but…. Ugh! After that it as just do enough to pass. Sixth grade, Miss May, my first black teacher, she was young and demanded that I pay attention and not stare out the window… Ugh!

Through grade school the kids knew what words to use to get me to fight – I was used to take on every new kid – everyone called uncle within a minute. That mild ODD? My next older brother bore the brunt of my attacks (well he egged me on a bit too), my signal for when that energy charge had been disapated was “MOM” to which she just replied “Joe, leave your little brother alone” – you tend to develop extra strength to manage to go five to ten minutes against someone four years older. My other older brothers, they could too easily hold me off as I futilely spent that excess energy. All of that school yard fighting? I never told and the teachers never told. The school yard was the safe place to fight, grade school I think my first grade teacher kept a discrete eye out. If anybody got injured, they went in to the school nurse and claimed to have fallen in the playground (hey, the school was practical, each class had a coat room were we had an extra change of clothes – also no school busses so sometimes we arrived soaked by heavy rains so yeah, dry cloths were nice).

me at age 4 with next older brother Joe on a trip out west

Words

Words for things

Words for names

Words to laugh

Words to giggle

Words for food

Words for number two

The words we start with on life’s journey

Words for more things

Words for toys

Words for concepts

Words for feelings

Words to wonder

Words to question

Words of why

Words for letters

Letters for words

Our vocabulary expands at a huge rate of speed and we start to figure out words from letters

Age 3, meeting my first Alaskan Malamute

Words for reading

Words for stories

Words to listen to

Words to say

Words we are not supposed to say

Words of war

Words of bombs

Words of air raids

Words explaining the different alarm bells

That weekly test of the air raid sirens take new urgency

Words of fear

Words of relief

Words of new beginnings

Words of Camolot

Words of death

Words of sadness

Words of hope lost

Words of battles

Words of learning

Words of stories

Words of tales

Words of war

Words of hope

Words of bigotry

Words of hate

Words, words, words

Hugs, being kind, what is happening?

Why such vile words of hate

Words to demonize the enemy

Words of bigotry

Word of death and dashed hopes

Words of anger and flames and frustration

Words of war never ending

Words of war hungry for more bodies to devour

Words of a new hope

Words of another death

Words of fighting on the streets I wandered on my own just days and weeks before, wow, the cops actually got out of the their police cars

Words of war never ending

Words of death

Words of defiance

Words of war never ending

Words of death

Words of defiance

Words of war never ending

Jesus, how fucked up is this world? I am just making it to my teenaged years and my draft card is already stamped for Vietnam because some guy with power got mad and blamed my brother.

Words, thoughts, defeat, inevitable path to the jungle, my life is determined by some bastard

Words of learning

Words of knowledge

Words for reading

Words for rainy days

Words, WORDS? Those are letters, they make words I know but the letters make no sense, I can ‘read’ the words but what do they mean? Numbers I can understand and I can make them do what they are supposed to do, number problems with words I cannot understand ARGH! My head hurts

Words in books, they were my friends, I could live in stories and tales but I also love them for a chance to know about other places and people. They sit on the shelves mocking me with their secrets, ANGER!! VIOLENCE!! Running into the woods, the one place of constant but slow change with the seasons, the trees are constant, they don’t run and hide, I have learned these woods like the back of my hand. I run to the woods in blindness but soon place myself no matter the direction I take. What happened? Why can’t I read? ARGH!!! Crab apples, spruce gum, roots and plants, a stream… set to lay down for a think, weird my brain seems to be stuck in molasses, it was always bouncing around before in overdrive.

Crash course in words by breaking them into pieces to figure out their meaning and relate the letters to sound. I dig and find memories of Latin and French, along with a series of vocabulary books in Italian, Spanish, French, German, Welsh and Russian. I began to make sense of the words, I need a piece of paper to guide me line to line of text to keep track. I make it thru a sentence, a paragraph then stop and try to recall and make sense of the words. A slow process for one who used to devour books…

Me with one of our cats about 10 years old

A dark place of peace and quiet but with millions of souls, infinite knowledge of past, present and future. My brain was quiet, no longer a massive barrage of words, questions, thoughts…. The thump-thump pause then thump-thump then a long long break before it would occur again, oh, the heart beating slowly, each ventricle trying to push the thickening blood. The yelling, the noise of desperate voices… stop, stop yelling, stop disturbing me, let me go back to the dark. Thinking the idea doesn’t work… mouth, what is a mouth, oh that bit on what is it, oh the head, I move them trying to form the words… they keep yelling… maybe there is more, oh vocal chords, I try that, still they keep yelling becoming even more desperate… I am missing something to make my voice work… air to vibrate the vocal chords, air, where does that come from, the lungs… there is no air left in the lungs… oh, breath to expand the lungs… the words finally come out, the yelling dies down as I say I am OK… eyes, eyes? everything is still black, slowly a spot of light appears, the size of an outstretched fingernail.


Words to learn

Words to read slowly

Words causing headaches

Words to try to understand

Words to try to comprehend

Words would go in and churn around only slowly to be understood

Words spoken at times only became sounds

Thoughts of confusion

Thoughts of hurt

Thoughts of pleasure

Thoughts of shame

Thoughts of sexuality

Thoughts of his niece that I knew since childhood

Thoughts of love and hate

But it must be a secret…

Words, words, words, WORDS, WORDS!!!!!

Words in songs

Words to hum

Words for drugs

Words of defeat

Words between friends who share but don’t speak of IT

Flashing lights, shotgun and pistol cocked ready to fire if we move

All night town, county and state have been cruising – longish hair equals harassment, bored teens wandering the streets, we stay chill, they cool down, we have to split and go separate ways.

More words

Words come easier but reading for joy is gone, it is too much work

Words for immigration away from my fate

Words to crash and burn by

Words reaching out

the boat I took to arrive in Newfoundland, a hard sail ramming through pack ice; a number of years later it sank on the spring run to Labrador after the welding on a number of steel plates broke, it had the spring beer supply and the camp trailers from my future employer

Words of a new language

Well, a distinctive form of English combined with Irish with a hint of 1700's French, pieces of language format from the 1800's with distinctive words and phrases – and that is just in the major centres. Some outports? Well put a language in isolation some 400 to 500 years…

Electricity, in many places it was in the 1960's or 70's. Roads around the same time. But some places are still only accessible by boat or helicopter or “water bomber” if things become desperate for supplies.

Big wings, massive power: the PBY Canso is basically the submarine hunter of WWII and the ocean rescue aircraft of that time – the green and orange plane. The Bombardier CL 215 was on contract that year so the yellow colour. The PBY’s are gone and NL’s water bombers have all been replaced with the newer version the CL 415 in the fleets traditional colours of green and orange. If we are in good shape regarding forest fires, you may see them at work throughout Canada and the US. Note: US Forest Service does not permit the NL pilots to do such low level pin-point water drops. Worked many forest fires and prescribed burns with mainly the Cansos, never a problem calling in drops 10 to 15 feet away from me in the right conditions. A forest fire with no wind? Sorry, nobody is going to touch that, it can flip a CL 415 and the fire front can jump 200 to 300 metres in the blink of an eye.


Words for forestry were yet to come then

College hadn’t worked out in round one

Still a few years to heal the brain to where it would work something like it used to and reading started to become easier.

All that and I wasn’t even 19 years old.


Thanks Benny Phi for giving me the idea to go further with this idea.